You will find echoes of Saul in chapter twelve: the prophet’s rebuke of the king , the listing of honors bestowed on the king indebting him to God, even the king’s response (“I have sinned”) found in 1 Samuel 15 are parallels between David and Saul – but they only go so far.
Some folks, eager to salvage David’s reputation, come up with all kinds of excuses for David: Bathsheba shouldn’t have been bathing in the open as she was; she should have refused the king; she and Uriah weren’t really married (because customarily soldiers divorced their wives when they went away to war – an unsupportable premise by the way). Even “Uriah deserved to die because he did not obey the king and go to his wife and home! Our world might like to give David a pass because, after all, David is an old guy, too old to go to war, feeling a loss of self-esteem and needing to “reassert his flagging manhood.”
But no such excuse is offered in scripture. David is guilty of stealing and murder – and guilty of an abuse of power and taking advantage of someone weaker.
Of course today, adultery is so common that it hardly merits notice. After all, a wife isn’t a husband’s property, why shouldn’t she have the right to do with her own body as he pleases (or he with his)?
But in point of fact, according to scripture, a husband belongs to his wife, and a wife belongs to her husband (cf. 1 Corinthians 7). Neither has the right to his or her own body or life and adultery is seen by God as the most heinous of moral failings. Nothing has happened to change that in God’s eyes. The fact that it is no longer seen that way in our eyes reveals how far from the mind of God we have wandered.
Though there are similarities between Saul and David in this matter, there is one major difference: the response when confronted. Saul is only concerned for his reputation with man. David, however, is concerned for his standing with God. It is that, despite failure and sin, that makes David, in the end, the man “after God’s own heart.”