Best of Daily Reflections: Just the Facts about Temptation

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, "This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite." So David sent messengers to fetch her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.

2 Samuel 11:1-15

When Siegfried and Roy were just boys, they started training cats. Eventually, they upgraded to lions and tigers. By the early 2000s, Siegfried and Roy had become the most-visited act in Las Vegas. Then, on October 3, 2003, their magnificent and formerly obedient white lion, Mantecore, seized Roy by the head and neck and dragged him off stage during a live performance at the Mirage Resort and Casino. Somehow Roy survived, but every dimension of his life was wounded.

If David-and-Goliath is the high point of David’s life, David-and-Bathsheba is the low point. The event itself is told almost as if detective Joe Friday from the old Dragnet series is making the report: “Just the facts, ma’am.” There are no attempts to rationalize, psychologize, or philosophize. That’s for the best. There are no excuses, just the facts.

One fact we know is that David had a serious appetite for women. In defiance of God’s command in Deuteronomy 17:17, he accumulated for himself a large harem of concubines. It’s a strange irony that having more rarely satisfies an appetite. In fact, getting more of what you’re hungry for usually increases your appetite. For David, the answer to the question, “How many women is enough?” appears to be, “Just one more.”

Here’s another fact: All of us have lion-sized appetites for something. Temptations take many forms. They often begin in small, benign, and even cute disguises that we learn to control, like Siegfried and Roy training kittens and cats. But temptations grow up to become enormous, unpredictable, and uncontrollable lions. That’s why the Bible is so severe with regard to temptation:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 5:29-30

Here’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s summary of biblical teaching on temptation: FLEE! Run for your life. Don’t look back! Don’t negotiate with temptation.

Thankfully, there’s one more fact: God is merciful. David, who fell from such heights to such depths, also rose again. There is life on the other side of failure, even though that life may never be the same. Just as cats grow to be lions, so our uncontrolled appetites have a way of consuming us. Instead, we can pray the prayer that David wrote in Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”


In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, "This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite." So David sent messengers to fetch her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, "I am pregnant."

So David sent word to Joab, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house, and wash your feet." Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, "Uriah did not go down to his house", David said to Uriah, "You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?" Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing." Then David said to Uriah, "Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, "Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die."

2 Samuel 11:1-15

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: If temptations don’t make us hate God, what do they make us do with regard to God? Why are our really dangerous temptations so hard to face? Can you name your temptations? What does it mean for you to flee from them?


Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. Amen.

Psalm 51