My studies for the Come, Follow Me lesson this week took me to 2 Samuel 5-7; 11-12; 1 Kings 3; 8; 11. The title of the lesson was “Thy Kingdom Shall Be Established for Ever.” The lesson was introduced with this information:
King David’s reign started out with so much promise. His undaunted faith in defeating Goliath was legendary. As king, he secured Jerusalem as his capital and united Israel (see 2 Samuel 5). The kingdom had never been stronger. And yet David gave in to temptation and lost his spiritual power.
The reign of David’s son Solomon likewise started out with so much promise. Is divinely received wisdom and discernment were legendary. As king, he extended Israel’s borders and built a magnificent temple to the Lord. The kingdom had never been stronger. And yet Solomon foolishly allowed his heart to be turned away to other gods.
What can we learn from these tragic stories? Perhaps one lesson is that regardless of our past experiences, our spiritual strength depends on the choices we make today. We can also see in these accounts that it isn’t our own strength or courage or wisdom that will save us – it is the Lord’s. These stories show us that Israel’s true hope – and ours – is not in David, Solomon, or any other mortal king, but in another “son of David”: Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1), the Eternal King who will “forgive the sin of [His] people” if we “turn again to [Him]” (1 Kings 8:33-34).
David had been a faithful servant of God in the past, but his past faithfulness did not give him immunity to temptation in the present. He did not go out to battle with his armies and had difficulty sleeping one night. As he “walked upon the roof of the king’s house,” he “saw a woman washing herself” (2 Samuel 11:2). The accidental viewing of a woman in the midst of her bath was not wrong. However, David chose to linger longer to watch her and then to lust after Bathsheba enough to order her to his home. There he committed adultery with her.
David’s bad decisions did not stop at that point. When he learned that Bathsheba was pregnant, he ordered her husband to return to Jerusalem. He encouraged Uriah to go home to sleep with Bathsheba, but Uriah was an honorary leader and would not leave his troops. David then arranged to have Uriah killed at the battlefront.
One wrong decision followed another, and each decision was worse than the previous one until David was in spiritual peril. The same can happen to you and me. We can make a little decision that is wrong. If we do not correct it, we might continue making decisions that gradually grow larger and more dangerous. One such area is pornography, which afflicts many of the men and women of the rising generation.
Accidently linking to a pornography site and quickly leaving is not a sin. If we choose to linger longer and to visit the site often, the sin becomes bigger and bigger. Pornography is the cause of the downfall of many people and can lead to broken marriages, broken families, and much unhappiness.
In a video titled “To Look Upon” that is included in this Come, Follow Me lesson, President Dallin H. Oaks links the downfall of King David to the use of pornography in our day. Many people are being exposed to pornography, and many are falling into its traps. June 20–26. 2 Samuel 5–7; 11–12; 1 Kings 3; 8; 11: “Thy Kingdom Shall Be Established for Ever” (churchofjesuschrist.org)
God gave us agency and allows us to make choices. However, we cannot choose the consequences to our choices. We must be aware of our choices and make course corrections when we choose unwisely. Otherwise, we will face unwanted consequences, just as King David did long ago. As President Thomas S. Monson taught, “decisions determine destiny.”