The Devil’s GPA and how it whacked David

June 25, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 10:28 am   Category: Devil's GPA,Money and getting gain,Scriptures,Sunday School Lessons

The Devil’s GPA whacked David. We are discussing this episode today in Sunday School in lesson 24 covering 2 Samuel 11-12. For those of you not familiar with the Devil’s GPA, it is my codename for the three major categories of temptations we find in scripture (and in life). I’ve posted on it a couple of times before. Here is a synopsis:

G: Greed and Getting Gain (plus the power wealth brings)
P: Popularity, Prominence, Praise of Men, Pride, Power (at least the influence part)
A: Appetites and Addictions

I originally based this segmentation of sin categories on the New Testament (Matthew) account of the temptations of Christ just prior to His ministry but later discovered that these are found all throughout scripture. In the NT tempations narrative the Devil’s game plan is laid for all to see.

A = Temptation #1

This is theoretically the least difficult to overcome. For Christ it was the temptation to eat after a 40-day fast. For Mormons it is the litany of appetites we are required to suppress in order to keep our covenants. Our Babylonian world constantly beckons us to partake in appealing but destructive and addictive behaviors – from drugs (of all kind), to gambling, to pornography and other sexual transgressions.

P = Temptation #2

This one is more tempting. For Christ it was the temptation to abuse His power. He was tempted to show off – to prove who He was and get the resulting respect and praise. For Mormons the requirements to get the respect and praise of men are ever at odds with the requirements to get the respect and praise of God.

G = Temptation #3

This is reportedly the most tempting and difficult to overcome of them all. For Christ it was the offer of all the treasures and kingdoms of the world in exchange for worshipping the Devil. For Mormons the basics of the offer remain the same: If we devote all of our time, talents and energy to obtaining wealth and its associated power and trappings we might get it – but we’ll lose our soul in the process.

So what happened to David? Well he was neck deep in all three of these categories as the king of Israel. At first glance one might say that he simply fell victim to his sexual appetites. But the fact is that if he were not filthy rich and supremely socially powerful the ability to satiate that particular craving may never have presented itself to begin with. But there is no denying that David’s freely made decision to satiate his appetite for the beautiful Bath-sheba is what set the tragic sequence in motion.

Idle hands strengthen “A”

Spying on Bath-sheba is an easy comparison to viewing pornography. David found himself on the slippery slope very quickly — not for inadvertently seeing her but for willfully lingering as a peeping Tom. But there is something to be said about the fact that he was probably bored and restless at home to begin with. In Elisabeth’s recent thread on pornography over at BCC several commenters made the excellent point that having a hobby one is passionate about is an important deterrent to pornography viewing or other destructive habits. A bored man or woman is far more likely to be overwhelmed by these sorts of appetites (“A”) than a busy man or woman. We should be anxiously engaged in good causes for defensive purposes as well as for the good causes themselves I think.

“G” and “P” sent David spiraling out of control

So the result of this adultery is that Bath-sheba got pregnant. David then decided that the best way to cover his sins would be to bring Uriah back from the front so he would be with his wife and no one would wonder about the timing of the pregnancy. But Uriah, out of loyalty to his comrades in the army, refused to be with his wife at home while they were fighting and dying in battle. After David’s attempts at plan A failed he moved on to plan B – that was to send Uriah out to the middle of the hottest battle and thus see to it that he was killed. Plan B worked. Now David was an adulterer and a murderer. But what was he really doing? Not murdering for fun, but rather murdering to protect “P” and “G”. He was willing to murder to protect his popularity, prominence, and pride (P). Further, doing so kept political threats to his wealth down (G). It started with “A” and adultery but the more intense temptations “P” and “G” quickly led David to be a murderer.

Yup, the Devil’s GPA whacked David good.

[Associated songs: Young MC – Bust a Move (for David’s unfortunate initial decision) and The English Beat – I Confess (for David’s resulting remorse and anguish)]


  1. willfully lingering as a peeping Tom.

    Geoff, interesting stuff.

    There is some debate about David’s culpability in all this. Bruce Halpern (David’s Secret Demons), points out that since Bath-Sheba’s father was a high-ranking official in Israel (ie, he lived next door to the royal palace), he might have set up David for this very act to happen. Walking on the roof might seem like peeping tom activity to you and me, but in fact, that’s where Israelites hung out in the evenings (the houses were too hot from the day’s heat). Her father might have wanted to get closer to the throne, so to speak, and encouraged her to go out there when he knew that David would be up there. So there are other angles here which might also be pursued. Halpern’s book is standard for this sort of thing, and highly recommended.

    Indeed, David’s acts were tragic, and the text makes this perfectly clear, but culpability might not be as automatic or mechanical as one might think.

    Comment by David J — June 25, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

  2. Canonical scripture on David:

    David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.
    (D&C 132:39)

    Also relevant, suggesting David feared a far worse fate:

    For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

    Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
    (Acts 2:25-28)

    It is worth noting that Uriah is the first candidate to inherit not the throne of David, but presidency over all the patrilineal descendants of Bathsheba, including Solomon and his patrilineal descendants – the ones that are righteous enough to qualify of course – so many of the succeeding kings of Judah and Israel seem rather unlikely candidates for celestial glory.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 25, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

  3. Interesting note David – thanks. I tried to leave room for that sort of thing in the post. Even if the temptation were planted it still required choices on the part of David. Sort of like having a filthy spam email show up in the inbox or something — we can’t always control what spam arrives but we can control what we immediately delete. David made the mistake of not pulling a Joseph and fleeing the scene and the (A) sin of adultery led to more grievous sin of murder driven by (P) and (G). As Mark noted, the latter cost David his exaltation.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 25, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

  4. This is an interesting thread, despite my rant, (sorry, Geoff). One person asked about the lineage of Uriah, actually, wondering how that worked since Jesus came from the line of Bathsheba and David.

    Comment by annegb — June 25, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  5. Annegb, Hittites were “imports” into the Israelite house. The text of Samuel seems to stress for us the idea that Uriah was more than just a “convert” (for lack of a better term) — even his name smacks of orthodox Yahwism (“my light is Yah”), which implies a hefty and total conversion from his former Hittite (read: gentile) ways. Again, Halpern points out to us that since Uriah was a Hittite, his holdings in Israel (and his station as a soldier) were less than favorable for a beloved daughter of a high ranking official in the Israelite political system, which would further add to the notion of causation on her father’s part to get her out of the clutches of Uriah (who is going nowhere as far as career and status is concerned) and get her into David’s “house.” Uriah was a lowly and obedient guy.

    Mark Butler — thanks for Mormonizing the text. I never would have thought to read it like that (“candidates for celestial glory”).

    Comment by David J — June 25, 2006 @ 7:47 pm

  6. Wow Anne, that sounds like an uncomfortable situation.

    David – That theory is sounding more and more reasonable all the time.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 25, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  7. I actually heard once, and I believe, that David wasn’t damned as many people think. What I heard was that he would certainly have a price to pay, but that repentance was possible. I can’t remember the basis of that theory, though.

    Another thing, back to the question of Uriah’s lineage. That was a very good question that guy raised in church today, because David sinned, but Jesus came through that line.

    Jesus could have been born from other wives of David, why do you suppose God picked that one? When his ancestors were born as a result of sin? What do you suppose are the implications? I have no idea, I’m really curious.

    Comment by annegb — June 25, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  8. annegb (#7): Regarding David not being damned, I think the most common Mormon view comes from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It’s quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith’s Answers to Gospel Questions, v. 3 p. 145:

    A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness. David sought repentance at the hand of God carefully with tears, for the murder of Uriah; but he could only get it through hell; he got a promise that his soul should not be left in hell.

    Although David was a king, he never did obtain the spirit and power of Elijah and the fulness of the priesthood; and the priesthood that he received, and the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage.

    . . . “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing (redemption) shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you,” &c. (Acts 3:19-21.) The time of redemption here had reference to the time when Christ should come; then and not till then, would their sins be blotted out. Why? Because they were murderers, and no murderer hath eternal life. Even David must wait for those times of refreshing, before he can come forth and his sins be blotted out. For Peter, speaking of him says, “David hath not yet ascended into heaven, for his sepulchre is with us to this day.” (Acts 2:29.) His remains were then in the tomb. Now, we read that many bodies of the Saints arose at Christ’s resurrection, probably all the Saints, but it seems that David did not. (Matthew 27:52-53.) Why? Because he had been a murderer. . . . (pp. 239, 188.)

    Bruce R. McConckie also discusses this in The Promised Messiah p. 452 using Isa. 55:3-4 as support that David’s soul will not remain in hell.

    Comment by Robert C. — June 25, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

  9. Also, here’s an argument that David will end up in the Terrestrial Kingdom (not Telestial; presumably D&C 132:39 precludes Celestial, though I don’t see how lower degrees of the Celestial Kingdom could be ruled out if one takes a view that there are several degrees in the CK and only the highest is termed exaltation…):

    Although it is often assumed that David will inherit a telestial glory, the “times of refreshing,” as the Prophet made clear, occur in connection with Christ’s second coming when only celestial and terrestrial souls are resurrected.* It seems, therefore, that in the infinite mercy of God, David will obtain a terrestrial salvation. (From “The Two Davids” by Rodney Turner in Witness of Jesus Christ: The 1989 Sperry Symposium on the Old Testament edited by Richard Draper, Brigham Young University.

    * See Acts 3:19-21 and D&C 88:95-100.

    Comment by Robert C. — June 25, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

  10. I am referring to the tradition that a person who marries a widow raises up seed unto the widow’s first husband. So Bathsheba will likely remain married to Uriah in the eternities, and preside over Solomon and his righteous descendants in the patriarchal / family order. i.e. Solomon will likely be counted the son of Bathsheba and Uriah, and not the son of Bathsheba and David. And if not Uriah, then someone else, according to D&C 132.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 3:17 am

  11. That which is most misunderstood is that David committed an unpardonable sin. D&C 132 makes it very clear that David was already entered into his exaltation within the holy priesthood but then fell from it through murder. Some say that he did not have the neccesary knowledge and priesthood to be able to commit such an act. According to the D&C though, he not only had the neccesary priesthood and knowledge, he was already sealed up unto his exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom through the higher priesthood.

    The story of David really begs the question that if one can inherit Terrestrial or Telestial glory after being blessed by the Lord and commit such sins as murder.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — June 26, 2006 @ 8:05 am

  12. Jim F. made an interesting argument in the tread following his post on this lesson that David’s initial sin might very well have been rape and not just adultery. I think he has a point.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 26, 2006 @ 10:15 am

  13. Geoff, interesting indeed. I picked up Halpern’s book online for about $7 (w/ shipping), and it’s a nice hardback copy too. Well worth the read (caveat: it’s graduate-level reading). Israelite monarchy is a passion of mine.

    Comment by David J — June 26, 2006 @ 10:36 am

  14. Thanks for the tip. I might just have to add the Halpern book to my overly long reading queue.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 26, 2006 @ 10:43 am

  15. Rob (#11), I don’t think David’s sin is comparable to a traditional first degree murder. It would be interesting to know what the modern legal precedents are on such an act, but sending someone to the battlefield, hoping that he might die performing his regular duties as a military leader, is not exactly like slitting his throat with a knife.

    Serious enough, given the circumstances, that David lost his exaltation, but Acts 2:27 is our best reference that he himself repented enough to obtain a promise that he would eventually be saved, and that Peter credited his account (in the Psalms of David).

    In any case, the scripture could have said that David will be left in hell forever, but chose fallen from his exaltation instead, something that almost all of us are in danger of from time to time. D&C 132:27 is not quite relevant for the vast majority of us because we (presumably) have not had our calling and election made sure, a knowledge that comes by revelation, nor had that state confirmed in the proper place. No amount of ordinance will make a calling and election sure if heaven does not agree. That is what the holy *spirit* of promise is.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

  16. Mark,

    If you closely read section 132 it can be discerned that all sins and blasphemies are forgivable after one has entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (through the higher priesthood) except for murder. When the the Lord reveals that David didnt sin against him except for the case of uriah, this means that all of his other sins were forgiven. He was sealed by the Holy spirit of promise because otherwise he could not of possibly lost his exaltation. If he was not sealed by the proper authority you would have a strong case, but in this case it is clear that he was sealed up already.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — June 26, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

  17. Mark, Rob,

    At the risk of opening a huge can of worms, I have to disagree with both of you.

    Mark: No amount of ordinance will make a calling and election sure if heaven does not agree. That is what the holy spirit of promise is.

    I know the explanation you offer of the Holy Spirit of Promise (HSoP) here is the one given by Joseph Fielding Smith, but I think the scriptures directly refute it. D&C 132 says that people are sealed by the HSoP “of him who is anointed” (vs. 7), “through him whom I have appointed” (vs. 18), and “by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood” (vs. 19). That seems to me to say quite clearly that the HSoP refers to an ordinance performed by an authorized priesthood holder (presumably one with the sealing power).

    Rob: If you closely read section 132 it can be discerned that all sins and blasphemies are forgivable after one has entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (through the higher priesthood) except for murder.

    I assume you are referring to verse 27:

    The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant (D&C 132:27)

    The phrase “and assent unto my death” following “shed innocent blood” seems to indicate that we should not interpret “shed innocent blood” as referring to murder generically. The point I am making is fairly standard and can be found in many commentaries on D&C 132:27. Have I missed your meaning, or are you interpreting “shed innocent blood” in vs. 27 to mean any murder?

    Comment by Jacob — June 26, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  18. Mark,

    I should have said, I don’t disagree with the point you are making, only the terminology. I associate the ratification from heaven with the “oath” portion of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, not with the HSoP.

    Comment by Jacob — June 26, 2006 @ 6:31 pm

  19. Jacob,
    I like the point you made abot the HSoP. The point I was making about Davids sin being unforgivable was murder. He had already entered into the covenant and then he shed innocent blood.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — June 26, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

  20. Jacob,

    I appreciate the point, but the very name “Holy Spirit of Promise” makes that assertion problematic, and as it happens there is a lot of additional scripture and information that bears the alternative out. When ever there is a possible ambiguity or even a flat out contradiction we must generally refer to other scriptures to clear it up. “Calling and election sure”, “more sure word of prophecy”, and “second comforter” are New Testament terms.

    Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

    For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

    Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    (2 Peter 1:2-11)

    The first thing we can see here that that work and diligence in purifying ones character is a prerequisite for having ones calling and election made sure. The next question is how do we know that our CES has been made sure. Well verse 19 provides the answer:

    We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

    Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
    (op cit, v19-21)

    The implication here is that one knows that ones calling and election has been made sure by the more sure word of prophecy, indicated by the “day star” rising in his heart – an intense personal revelation in other words – and not just an event, but a continual spiritual assurance.

    Joseph Smith verified this interpretation in the following statement:

    We have no claim in our eternal compact, in relation to eternal things, unless our actions and contracts and all things tend to this. But after all this, you have got to make your calling and election sure. If this injunction would lie largely on those to whom it was spoken, how much more those of the present generation!

    1st key: Knowledge is the power of salvation. 2nd key: Make your calling and election sure. 3rd key: It is one thing to be on the mount and hear the excellent voice, etc., and another to hear the voice declare to you, You have a part and lot in that kingdom. (May 21, 1843)
    (TPJS, 306)

    So my main point here is that the having ones calling and election made sure is made known unto the person by personal revelation, known as the more sure word of prophecy, and not by an ordinance. And further more, I assert that the Holy Spirit of Promise is the same thing as the “day star” rising in one’s heart, and that it remains as a Second Comforter through out one’s life, whether one has any additional ordinances or not.

    This interpretation is supported by the following D&C passage:

    And again we bear record-for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just-

    They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given-

    That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

    And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
    (D&C 76:50-53)

    “Sheds forth upon *all those* who are just and true”, not just some relatively small minority.

    Now I am going to try to avoid talking about post-endowment ordinances, other than to say that I interpret the scripture you refer to as a formalization of an event or promise that is already occured. The person has (or should have) already received the Holy Spirit of Promise prior to the occasion, and I imagine this is known to the appropriate authorities by revelation.

    I generally understand Joseph Fielding Smith’s position to be similar, and for similar reasons.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

  21. Here is a relevant statement, from Joseph F. Smith:

    Whoever will keep the commandments of God, no matter whether it be you or any other people, they will rise and not fall, they will lead and not follow, they will go upward and not downward; God will exalt them and magnify them before the nations of the earth, and he will set the seal of his approval upon them, will name them as his own. (Joseph F. Smith, “A Sermon on Purity,” Improvement Era, May 1903, p. 506)

    And of course I should not forget the following scripture:

    The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.
    (D&C 131:5, Joseph Smith, May 17, 1843)

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 11:24 pm

  22. Let me clarify another point where I made an improper reference. Quoting D&C 132:26:

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

    Now one could interpret this to strictly be a formal ordinance from the phrase, “according to mine appointment”, but I believe that is an unwarranted assumption, because several scriptural sources indicate one can know one’s calling election is made sure, or receive the Holy Spirit of Promise, without this ordinance taking place.

    Now we use the term “ordinance” a little too narrowly in the Church. The literal definition is “that which God ordains” – so technically the Word of Wisdom or any other divinely mandated practice is an ordinance, but more specifically any decision that God makes is an ordinance.

    “According to mine appointment” is a practical synonym for “according to my decision, decree, or ordain-ance”, i.e. God decides when a person’s calling and election is made sure, not anyone else. The more sure word of prophecy is the means by which we personally (or otherwise) know he has made that decision, and the secondary ordinance is the formal ratification of such by the proper authorities, as well as encompassing several other aspects which we do not need to discuss here.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

  23. Mark,

    I think we agree on basically everything except the semantics of the topic, so I won’t make a big deal of it. However, I can’t help myself from making a couple of responses.

    In #22, you quote verse 26, but ignore the verses I cited (7, 18, 19). Verse 19 is especially explicit with the phrase “by him.” Doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room in my opinion.

    I think you are using terms too loosely. Yes, “calling election sure” and “second comforter” are related, but they are not the same thing and there are clear and consistent distinctions between them in the scriptures and writings of Joseph Smith. Others of the terms seem to be distinct, though related, as well.

    When I was at BYU I submitted papers to the “student symposium” and one of them was on the HSoP. It dealt at some length with all the scriptural references except one. Foolishly I left out D&C 76 (the verse you quoted about the HSoP shed for on all those who are just and true). Obviously they didn’t want a paper on the HSoP (and I knew as much) but I was interested to see what reaction it would get from the reviewers. Well, it was reviewed by Joseph Fielding McConkie, and he, of course, zeroed in on that verse and used it as the reason to reject my whole premise. I thought at the time it should be obvious to a professor of religion that D&C 76 was given in 1832, four years before Elijah restored the sealing power, and that it would, for that reason, stress the spiritual significance of the HSoP over any association with an ordinance that was to be restored much later. D&C 132, on the other hand, came much later and integrated Joseph Smith’s more developed understanding of these terms and their implications. This was not obvious to him, and apparently not to you either. It could mean I am wrong, which wouldn’t be so terrible, but I wanted to tell the story in any case, since it always makes me smile, and I learned a good lesson never to let the one-scripture-which-will-be-used-against-you go without commenting on it.

    Comment by Jacob — June 27, 2006 @ 1:10 am

  24. Jacob,

    I do not think I have conflated any of the terms improperly. In particular CES is an event, second comforter is a personal spiritual relationship, the HSP and the day star rising in your heart is a feeling, the MSW is the semantics or prophecy confirming CES, and the second anointing is an ordinance.

    I agree that D&C 132:19 definitely reads in favor of your interpretation, so all I can say is Joseph Smith appears to have been bivocal about the subject, perhaps he should have introduced a new term. Either way the difference is a matter of formality. Many of the Lamanites received the Holy Ghost prior to baptism – this appears to be a similar situation.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 2:31 am