Sins of the Fathers

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.

2 Samuel 6:16
The arrival of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem by a singing and dancing King David – Van Lint – 1650

David’s wife Michal knew that her father, King Saul, who was denied the honor of bringing the Ark into its everlasting home in Jerusalem, would never have conducted himself with such vulgarity. And perhaps she knew that this celebration was premature, and that David was susceptible to the same dark forces that doomed her father.

Years earlier, when King Saul was tormented by an ‘evil spirit’, a young David was called upon to soothe him with his lyre. This worked, but Saul grew to become extremely jealous of David for his valiance in war. He attempted to kill David and get him killed by the Philistines many times. In one challenge he offered his daughter Michal to David in marriage, for the foreskins of 100 Philistines. He thought David would be slaughtered. How wrong he was. For these transgressions, he was denied he honor that was given to David.

One can appreciate Michal’s response to this scene when watching settlers today singing and dancing through the old city.

Years later, King David from his rooftop spied the beautiful Bathsheba sunbathing on her rooftop. He coveted her and decided he would have her as his wife by getting her husband Uriah killed in war. So David instructs his generals to abandon Uriah during an attack. Uriah is killed and David marries his widow. His trusted adviser Nathan confronts him with a parable:

And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

2 Samuel 12:1

Even though David committed the same sin as Saul committed against him, David was in complete denial that he had done anything wrong until Nathan explained it. We justify our sins so that they do not feel intentional. Nevertheless, we must bear the consequences of them.

Also like Saul, King David became despondent in his old age:

Now King David was old and advanced in years. And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king and be in his service. Let her lie in your arms, that my lord the king may be warm.” So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not.

1 Kings 1:1
David and Abishag – Pedro Américo, 1879

This was much better than a lyre player. Of course, back then this was not considered a sin.

King David and Bathsheba had a son, the righteous and wise King Solomon. Though he was the spawn of sin, it’s hard to know how angry God could really be about it. God chose Solomon to oversee the construction of the First Temple to commemorate the fulfillment of the covenant.

Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

1 Kings 4:20

The reign of righteousness over Israel proved to be short-lived, as Solomon too in his old age lusted after foreign women and foreign gods. Most of the successive kings of Israel as well did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

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