Idleness Leads to Temptation
“[It happened] In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”- 2 Sam 11:1 ESV (emphasis added)These are the opening lines of the account of David’s adultery. It was spring, the war season. In ancient times, armies would primarily fight during spring weather. Armies were not equipped to fight during the cold months of winter. Even if a war was ongoing, opposing sides would often cease battle for the season until the weather was right again. Then they would resume in the spring. One possible reason armies fought in warm weather was that crops were plentiful, giving easily accessible food to passing soldiers.
In those times, Kings were also generals. They led their army on the front lines of the battle. They planned military strategy, negotiated with the enemy and boosted the morale of the troops. Under normal circumstances, during a time of war in the spring, the King would be out in the field with his army. David, however was not in battle, but he “remained at Jerusalem”.
Interestingly, this battle and the fact that David stayed home is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 20 and later in 2 Sam 12:26-31. 1 Chronicles 20:1-3 mentions how David remained at Jerusalem, while Joab besieged Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites. While David did not partake in the battle himself, he took all of the glory and plunder for himself. He should have been on the front lines like a King usually would, collecting his spoils after his own victory.
“And it happened” or as verse 2 says, “And it came to pass” (2 Sam 11:2). It was when David was at home, sitting idle and neglecting his royal responsibility, it happened. These two phrases make it very clear- the following account of David’s adultery was contingent upon him staying home. If David had been at in the field, this would not have happened.
“[And it came to pass], late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.”- 2 Sam 11:2-4aDavid was at home and he arose from his couch in the afternoon where “he saw a woman bathing”. This is all predicated on the fact that “But David remained at Jerusalem”. The text makes it very clear, David staying home was very unusual. It was expected of a King to partake in battle. Leading the army was a built-in duty of Kingship (inferred from the biblical phrase “When Kings go off to war”). It’s not that relaxation is wrong, but David was being idle and lazy. While his men were out in the field, battling against the Ammonites, he sat at home. He let his men deal with the heavy toil of battle. While this happened, he sat at home on his couch and then walked around. David got so caught up in enjoying peace and relaxation he let his guard down for one moment. And it happened. And he saw. And [he] sent. The order of the events is very sequential.
David had been made King by God and at the time, it was expected that the King lead his soldiers in battle. For one reason or another, David neglected his duty. Relaxation is not wrong, but when relaxation becomes priority over God’s work, we can become idle. Just like David, it is only a short sequence from neglecting our duty, to relaxation, to idleness to temptation and then to sin.