In 1984, Tina Turner recorded"What's love got to do with it?" a song that expressed confusion about love and physical attraction.
Most Americans are similarly confused. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 85% of women and 91% of men have premarital sex, and more than half of divorces in America involve adulterous affairs.
Our culture's sexual confusion sometimes becomes very public like the recent sexual scandal of Tiger Woods. But physical relationships minus love are nothing new: King David and Woods have sadly similar stories:
- Both men were respected and admired.
- Both “had it all”—fame, fortune, and family.
- Both risked it all for sexual pleasure
- Both paid a hefty price.
What did love have to do with it? Nothing. Woods and David were controlled by lust. (1)
The prophet Nathan gave an arresting illustration of love versus lust when he confronted King David in 2 Samuel 12. He compared Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to a poor man with one cherished lamb and compared David to a rich man who killed the poor man’s lamb for a single meal. Uriah loved Bathsheba; David used her to feed his lustful appetite.
- Genuine love involves friendship and respect. David slept with Bathsheba when he barely knew her. He had no respect for her or he’d have been concerned with the consequences their affair had on her life, relationships, and soul.
- Genuine love involves honesty. David and Bathsheba’s relationship (like all extramarital affairs) was built on deception. They dishonored God, their marriage vows, and their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
- Genuine love involves commitment. If Bathsheba had not gotten pregnant or if they’d successfully tricked Uriah, their relationship would probably have ended that night.
Modern secular studies confirm that commitment is essential for successful relationships:
“Many studies have found that those who live together before marriage have less satisfying marriages and a considerably higher chance of eventually breaking up…the very act of living together may lead to attitudes that make happy marriages more difficult.(2)
Perhaps David and Bathsheba eventually grew to love each other, but nothing in Scripture reveals a close, ongoing relationship between them. When David grew old, he didn’t have a close relationship with any of his wives but chose to keep warm at night by sleeping with a young virgin (1 Kings 1:15-17). (3)
I wonder what Bathsheba thought growing old in a palace full of David’s other wives amid the lust and murder that became part of David’s family legacy. Did she sometimes ponder the way Uriah had cherished her as his only wife? Did she ever wonder what love had to do with it?
A single night of lust changed her life forever.
(1) Fortunately, lust can’t destroy our most important relationship if we repent of it. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 is a testament to this—David suffered severely for his sin but remained close to the Lord through genuine repentance.
(2) “Top Ten Marriage Myths,” by David Popenoe, health.discovery.com, Love and Relationships Center
(3) There are no good examples of polygamy in Scripture. Although God allowed it, it was not part of his original design for a healthy marriage and the Bible narratives confirm this.
Gail Purath developed a curriculum called "The Bible's Love Story" which highlights the life of David as well as other Old Testament examples of faith and failure. She writes one-minute devotions for women on Bible Love Notes and manages the WOW site.
originally posted as part of a Scripture reading plan: Week 15--April 11-17: Scripture Reading:1 Sam. 26-31; 2 Sam. l 1-15; Ps. 51-53; Devotion: 2 Samuel 12, Ps.51