One Naked Woman and a Mid-Life Crisis

What is it about mid-life that reminds me of adolescence?

Is it the same for you?

I spent my teen-age years watching friends make decisions that either looked wise and potentially fruitful or spectacularly stupid and likely to end in rehab, jail time or living in a one-room basement apartment at their parents’ house spending their days phoning in to talk radio.

My friends are all in their fifties or older now and I’m having déjà vu.

Just when you thought it was safe to coast to glory, it turns out that sin isn’t just a young person’s game.

Mid-life stirs up a kind of restlessness, a sense of wondering “is this all there is?” and a desire to grab what feels like it should have been yours by now. Some of us handle that better than others. Some of us just crash and burn.

Like King David.

David had lived the glory days. He’d had adventures, seen battle, married princesses and dined with kings. More than that, he knew the friendship of the Almighty God and enjoyed a depth of relationship few others enjoyed.

And yet, one little Bible verse ushers in David’s greatest battle with sin and moral failure. David was probably in his forties when the Holy Spirit records these events:

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” 2 Samuel 11:1

At the time when kings go off to war, the King of Israel decides to phone it in from back at the castle.

Who can blame him, really? War is a young man’s sport, right? David had proven himself. There were songs written about his battle prowess. He was a warrior of great acclaim.

No one knows why David stayed behind. Perhaps he was beginning to feel his years. Perhaps he was bored with battle. Perhaps he decided he’d earned a reprieve. We don’t know.

But the next verse sounds like a once mighty lion prowling and restless looking for something to engage his wild side in the night: “2One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,”

Perfectly innocent so far, right? David can’t sleep. He’s taking a walk. The woman is on her rooftop (which would have been fairly typical in the flat roof world of Israel). What man wouldn’t notice a beautiful woman? Nothing wrong with that, right?

Maybe he would just make an inquiry.

3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

Well, there you go. Now you know who she is and she’s off limits. In fact, her husband is off fighting the battle where you are supposed to be. A brother in arms.

Not really a brother, though, not really. A subordinate. You are king, after all. Commander-in-chief. You have earned your way to this place. This is all yours, after all, and everyone here owes what they have to you. You’ve been so good up ‘til now. Certainly you deserve a little – reward.

4Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home.”

Hey, you’re only human, man. It’s not such a big deal. The sky isn’t falling.

Maybe it is.

5The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Things unravel quickly from here. There’s an attempt at a cover up. Conspiracy. Murder. The baby dies.

But worst of all, verse 27b says this: “the thing David had done displeased the LORD.”

The man whose heart was a heart after God worked his way into adultery, deception and murder in one short chapter.

Life comes at you fast.

I think there’s a clue for us in the first verse of this story.

When we start hanging back, taking ourselves off the frontlines, thinking we can let other believers do the heavy lifting, thinking that we’ve put in our years and now it’s time for the next generation to run the show – maybe that’s a time to have a long chat with the Lord.

We may change our outlet for ministry but there is no retirement from building the kingdom of the Lord – well, none that is to be enjoyed on this side of the veil.

Eternity is our time to reap rewards, to revel, to rest.

But on earth –

we go out fighting, baby. That’s how we roll. Even when we are old and gray, the Lord has a place for us in battle.

Hanging back in the castle just leads to – well – nothing good, that’s for certain.

Ask David.

Mid-life is real. The questions are real. The issues are real. The dangers are real.

The opportunity is there for amazing adventure or for spectacular failure.

Choose wisely, loved ones. The rewards are real.

Ask David.

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    The Conversation

  1. “And even when I am old and gray, O God,do not forsake me until I declare Thy strength to this generation…”Psalm 71:18, my new writing motto!

  2. Felicia says:

    As always, Lori, LOVE IT! One thing I noticed for the first time recently – Uriah was not only a subordinate and a brother-in-arms, but he was one of the “30 Mighty Men” who were with David when he was fleeing Saul’s attempts to kill him. Just 30 men, living in caves, running for their lives and trying to protect David. For me, this put a whole different face on David’s actions – this wasn’t just someone else’s wife, this was the wife of a friend, a brother who had risked his own life for David’s. I know sin is sin and David says, “Against you alone, O Lord, have I sinned,” but this just made it so much more personal to me.

  3. That’s an inspiring verse, Marcia.

    Felicia, thanks for that tidbit! The whole incident is reprehensible, isn’t it? But in the face of the Lord’s love, all of our sin looks as ugly as this terrible incident in David’s life and yet He provides forgiveness and redemption. Now, there’s something worth writing about!

  4. Heather says:

    I always tell me kids that trouble comes when we aren’t doing WHAT we need to do WHEN we need to do it. Idleness is a huge enemy. Not that God doesn’t give us rest – He does! But, taking that rest when it is not the right time can bring about trouble. We can feel so weary and want to take that rest prematurely rather than waiting on God. I think we always have to keep our final rest before us and look to that instead of quitting early.

  5. Really great post, Lori!