Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

In spring, the time of year when kings
Go forth to war, and David sings
Of conquest, and the lonely wives
At dawn plead for the distant lives
Of brown-eyed lovers under oath
To Joab, it is known to both
That front-line flesh is severed first
And valiant men must bear the worst.

In spring, the time of year when kings
Go forth to war, and valor brings
To birth great acts of self-control
And noble men love to extol
The worth of arms and fighting well,
King David stayed at home and fell.

A thousand children, aged men,
The women, and the king...and then
The thought, the image in his mind,
The impulse as the king reclined
Upon his couch. While Joab fought
And conquered Ammonites, the thought
Attacked and captured David's head:
Of lying on the royal bed
With some soft, lonely wife,
Despairing of her husband's life.

It might have only been a thought
If on the roof he hadn't caught
Bathsheba bathing in his eyes,
And felt the rush of fire arise
And burn the righteous barriers
To sin and spill the carriers
Of fantasy like nurtured oil
Against the ready white hot coil
Of his decision. What could stop
A king from feeding on the crop
Of little farmers gone to war
Or taking from their wine to pour
His feast, or plotting guile and sham
To steal a shepherd's only lamb?

And so the wicked deed was done
And she got pregnant with a son.
What now, sweet psalmist of the Lord?
Uriah will not cut the cord
Of chastity while Joab sleeps
Alone in open fields and keeps
Watch for the holy king. What now
Goliath-killer? Sling somehow
Against Uriah's noble heart
A stone of sin or wicked dart
To bring him down with you? If not,
To put him in the mortal spot
Where flesh is always severed first
And valiant men must bear the worst?

And so again the deed was done.
Not even murder did he shun?

Then God approached his chosen king
And said, "Why have you done this thing,
As though my word were dirt to you,
As though my blessings have been few,
As though with me there was no gain
And all my promises were vain?
Henceforth the sword will plague your house,
And other men will have your spouse;
The child that you have made will die.
All this is from the Lord on high."

Then David cried, "Have mercy, God!
Spare not, O Lord, the chastening rod,
But blot out my transgressions all,
And purge me from this dreadful fall.
In sin I was conceived and born
It lingers in my flesh like thorn,
And if I die it will be just,
For I have sold myself to lust.
O cast me not away, my king,
But give me life and let me sing.
I have no worthy offering
A broken spirit...all I bring."

And God, upon that very day,
Put all of David's sins away;
And made a flame of love ascend
That never flickered to the end.
And now may we repent like he
And feel the broken heart set free.

Come, broken sinners, and adore
As we light advent candle four.