An Expensive Mistake


“I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.”
-Psalm 119:11 


The 2010 Winter Olympics provided many wonderful, heart-warming stories about overcoming obstacles and having great perseverance. Sadly, we also were given a few painful life lessons as well. One of them involved the Netherlands’ Sven Kramer, arguably the greatest long-distance speed skater in the world.

Last Tuesday, as he was on his way to setting a world record in the 10,000-meters, something went wrong. It seemed he had skated eight laps in the wrong lane. The video replay revealed a confused Kramer being told by his coach to change lanes, which he eventually did. However, his coach had been mistaken; Kramer was in the correct lane at the time. The mistake cost him a gold medal and a world record performance.

In a televised interview later that evening, Kramer said, “Everyone makes mistakes, but that—that was an expensive mistake.” As heart-wrenching as it was to see this mistake made on such a public stage, Kramer’s humility really moved me. His words struck me as very familiar to another man who had been known as one of the greatest kings of all time: David.

Most of us are familiar with David’s story and his notable shortcomings, one of which was his adultery with Bathsheba and the resulting murder of her husband, Uriah. What we fail to recognize, though, is that this sinful turn in his life began before he saw Bathsheba on the roof-top. In 2 Samuel 11, David sent his men to battle, but did not proceed with them. Perhaps he was tired of war or was dealing with something urgent. Regardless, he didn’t take his normal position at the head of his army in leading them to besiege the Ammonite capital of Rabbah. This seemingly benign decision meant that he was home the night he saw Bathsheba instead of out with his troops.

From that little decision to stay home came a landslide of adultery, lies, cover-up and murder. Later, one of David’s friends confronts him and he admits his sin. End of story, right? Wrong. First, the son born to David and Bathsheba dies. Then we read of the consequences of his actions as his son defiles a daughter, another son kills that one and eventually seeks to abdicate the thrown only to die in a shameful manner. David’s family is decimated as a result of a little, yet expensive, mistake. Through David’s story, we all can be reminded that we are just as susceptible to mistakes, errors and sin. It also reminds us that, though we are forgiven of our sins if we confess them, we can still accumulate horrible earthly consequences for our actions.

We are given one life to serve God and love others. We need to learn from the mistakes of others and learn that our mistakes have consequences on this earth. As we enter the spring season with proms, graduations, parties and senior trips, I exhort you to follow the words of the Psalmist. Hide God’s Word in your heart so that when that moment comes and you have a choice to make, you will hear God speaking to you and make a wise decision. Stay on the side of right, and you will be truly blessed. Don't take that drink from a friend, don't go to that party to “fit in,” don't give in to pressure to “show your love.” The consequences may be far greater than you can imagine.  


1. Have you ever made an error in judgment and seen the consequences of your decision?
2. How do you prepare for the tough decisions? (e.g. Do I take the drink? Do I go to this party? Do I let my friend drive?)
3. What temptation are you facing today to go against God’s plan? What will you do in order to say yes to God? 


2 Samuel 11-19
Psalm 51