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2Sa 11:1 It happened, at the return of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah-
This is the classic example of the devil finding work for idle hands; in 2 Sam. 10:7 David had already skipped one battle in this campaign. His remaining in Jerusalem was the set up for David's sin with Bathsheba. That he was lying down on his bed in the late afternoon rather than working would exemplify the same thing. He appears to recognize his attitude problem in Ps. 30:6: " In my prosperity I said, I shall never be (spiritually) moved" . In the lead up to the sin, God had given him victory after victory- leading him to think that he must therefore be spiritually OK because of his many physical blessings (1 Chron. 18:6 RV). His conscience had been blunted. David may have cleverly alluded to this when he comments that the ark was abiding in a tent, and therefore he would not go down to his house (2 Sam. 11:11). The tension between a tent and a house is surely intended to take David back to his words in 2 Sam. 7:2, where he laments as unacceptable the fact that he lives in a house but the ark is in a tent. And David was ‘tarrying’, living in a settled way, in a house in Jerusalem now. 

But David stayed at Jerusalem-
Or AV "tarried". This uses a Hebrew word which does not mean to wait, but rather to permanently dwell. It is also translated 'to marry'. The next verse continues "And it came to pass...", indicating that his permanent residence at Jerusalem was connected with his sin. Are we to infer that David remained at Jerusalem because of his relationship with Bathsheba? Even though they had probably got nowhere near consummating it, subconsciously this was behind David's motive in remaining. The word for "tarried" being the same for 'marriage' could imply that David was still actively married to his other wives who were there in Jerusalem.



2Sa 11:2 It happened at evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king’s house-
In the parable, the rich man had his many flocks (i.e. David's wives) with him in the city, of Jerusalem. Walking upon the roof of his house connects with several passages which associate the roof top with a place of idolatry: 2 Kings 23:12; Jer. 19:13; 32:29; Zeph. 1:5. It may be that David regularly worshipped the idol of Bathsheba in his mind, upon the bed which he had on the house top. David's sin with Bathsheba is therefore not such a momentary slip. Significantly, it was in that very place where Absalom later lay with his wives in retribution for what he had done (2 Sam. 16:22). From this we could infer that David lay with Bathsheba in that same place on the roof top. This is significant insofar as it shows how exactly the thought leads to the action. David's thoughts in that spot were translated into that very action, in precisely the same physical location. The roof top is also the place of prayer, and in this we see the schizophrenic nature of David’s spirituality; he went to pray, and then stood at the edge of the roof in order to view Bathsheba, with his hands on the railing around the roof which surely he would have erected, in obedience to the Law. And he realized that it was evening, and that in accordance with the Law a menstruating woman had to wash and be unclean until the evening. But now, he reasoned, she’s clean, and I can sleep with her. He lay with her “for”, just because, she was now purified. In this we see the mixing of flesh and spirit which is at the root of most of our failings.  

 

And from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look on-
David rightly perceived that what a man thinks alone on his bed is a litmus indicator of his essential spirituality, and he condemns Saul for plotting sin on his bed (Ps. 4:4; 36:4; 149:5). And yet the same phrase "on his bed" is used for how David plotted the sin with Bathsheba on his bed (2 Sam. 11:2). David was surely taught by his sin that he had been too quick to condemn others for their wicked thoughts upon their beds.

Bathsheba was "very beautiful to look upon". And David did just that. Our Lord surely had his eye on that passage when he spoke about him that "looks upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already" (Mt. 5:28). But it is not just in that specific sin that we can share David's experience; James 1:14,15 speaks of the process of temptation and sin, in any matter, as looking lustfully upon a woman, with the inevitable result of actually committing the sin. In this he may be interpreting David’s sin as an epitome of all failure. David is our example. Likewise the Lord’s list of the 12 evil things that come out of the heart: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness, evil thoughts…all seem to describe the completeness of David’s sin with Bathsheba. It incorporated all these things, and was not just a one time, lustful failure of the moment.  

David and Bathsheba knew each other well, and would have developed a close spiritual relationship. Having only known Uriah, both as a father and husband (2 Sam. 12:3), Bathsheba would have been strongly attracted to David, yearning for a relationship with someone other than Uriah. David would have been an alternative father figure to her, and also the same age as her husband Uriah . He would have become her physical and spiritual hero. David must have allowed his feelings for her to grow, until the sight of her quiet obedience to the Law, artlessly exposing her beauty against the setting sun, was just too much. With her husband far away, kidding himself there was a spiritual motive, David shrugged off the voice of conscience. What happened to David's family was related to David's sin. The obsessive love of Amnon for Tamar may have similarities with David's for Bathsheba (2 Sam. 13:2). 

 

2Sa 11:3 David sent and inquired after the woman-
There can be no doubt that David knew exactly who Bathsheba was. His enquiring after her may therefore have been to summon her to his private audience, with all that this implied in the context of a monarch. The exclamation of the messenger " Is not this Bathsheba...the wife of Uriah?" was therefore tantamount to saying 'Surely you aren't going to? She's the wife of your faithful friend Uriah" . When experiencing temptation, the flesh can become extraordinarily blind to reason. The next verse continues: " And David sent (other) messengers, and took her...and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness" . This may imply that David set up an irrelevant spiritual pre-condition for himself: 'If she's unclean, then I must take that as a sign, and not sleep with her, because that would be against the Law'. The Law often stipulated that having washed, the person would be "Unclean until even" . David had seen her washing " in an eveningtide" . By the time she came in to him, the sun would have set; she would have been fully purified from her uncleanness. It was because of this that David lay with her; he must have reasoned 'Now that she's clean, even the Law says that I'm allowed to sleep with her! That's a sign from God'. As with us, his spiritual judgment did not completely depart in this crisis of temptation; but it became seriously warped to the point that it was no use. It is significant , in the light of this, that the statement that " David...enquired after the woman" uses a Hebrew word which is often used about enquiring of God; as if David asked God whether it was right to go ahead or not. 

 

One said, Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?-
Some anonymous servant tries to stop David in his tracks, as if to say "You surely can't do this to the wife of your faithful servant who lives in the house next door!". The question 'Who is this?' as asked by Boaz of Ruth (Ruth 2:8)  is to be understood as a statement of intended action and not read on face value. The same kind of question is asked by David about Bathsheba, even though he knew who she was because she lived next door to him and was the wife of his close friend. Likewise when Saul enquires about who David is after his victory over Goliath (1 Sam. 17:56), it is not because he doesn't know him. For David had been already at the court of Saul. The question 'Who is this?' means that the questioner wants to do something for the person being enquired after.


2Sa 11:4 David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in to him, and he lay with her-
It takes two, and Bathsheba's compliance seems to be recognized by David when he prays: "Against You, You only have I sinned" (Ps. 51:4). There is no hint in the psalms of David's regret for having sinned against an innocent Bathsheba. Her child had to die; the retribution did not just come upon David. The incident is referred to as "the matter of Uriah" (1 Kings 15:5); her name does not figure in those sinned against. "She came in unto him, and he lay with her" (2 Sam. 11:4) is an odd way of putting it; it reverses the usual Biblical reference to intercourse as a man coming in to the woman. The reason for this inversion seems to be to balance the blame. And there seems an evident similarity between the way the sin occurred within the city, and the way Dt. 22:24 says that in cases of adultery both parties were to be stoned if the sin occurred within a city and the woman didn’t cry out. Bathsheba doesn’t seem to have cried out- and so she bears equal blame, it would seem. This makes Bathsheba more of a sinner than a saint. This said, Nathan's parable describes David as killing the sweet lamb (Bathsheba); if she was partly guilty for the actual act, this may suggest a killing of her spirituality by David, at least temporarily. And so we are left with the question of interpretation- Bathsheba: saint or sinner? The record leaves it intentionally open ended, to provoke our reflection upon the text.

For she was purified from her uncleanness; and she returned to her house-
Bathsheba's washing of herself which exposed her nakedness would have been in obedience to the Law. David "lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness" adds weight to this. However, the Law didn’t actually state that the woman must wash herself after menstrual uncleanness; but the man who touched her must. So it could be that she had gone beyond the Law in washing herself; such was her spiritual perception, which was a factor in David’s attraction to her. David confessed that he had sinned against God (Ps. 51:4), using the very language of faithful Joseph who refused ongoing temptation with these words (Gen. 39:9). Could this not imply that Bathsheba wife of Uriah was similar to Potiphar’s wife? 

2Sa 11:5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, I am with child-
It is possible to infer that for all their spiritual closeness, David and Bathsheba experienced a falling out of love immediately after the incident- as with many cases of adultery and fornication. In contrast to their previous close contact, she had to send to tell him that she was pregnant. In addition, before David's repentance he appears to have suffered with some kind of serious disease soon after it: "My loins are filled with a loathsome (venereal?) disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh" (Ps.38:7). It is even possible that David became impotent as a result of this; for we get the impression that from this point onwards he took no other wives, he had no more children, and even the fail safe cure for hypothermia didn't seem to mean much to David (1 Kings 1:1-4). Therefore "My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore" (Ps. 38:11) must refer to some kind of venereal disease. The Hebrew word translated "lovers" definitely refers to carnal love rather than that of friendship. It may be that an intensive plural is being used here- in which case it means 'my one great lover', i.e. Bathsheba. We have commented earlier how Amnon's obsessive love for Tamar was an echo of David's relationship with Bathsheba. There may be a parallel in the way in which afterwards, "Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he loved her" (2 Sam. 13:15). All this would have been yet another aspect of the emotional trauma which David went through at this time; to fall out of love with the woman for which he had almost thrown away his eternal salvation. And in addition to this, all Israel would have got to know about what had happened- with a fair degree of exaggeration thrown in, we can be sure.  


2Sa 11:6 David sent to Joab, Send me Uriah the Hittite. Joab sent Uriah to David-
The record stresses how much David and Bathsheba relied on sending messages through the servants (2 Sam. 11: 3,4,5,6,19,23,27)- and remember that Bathsheba probably couldn't read, necessitating verbal communication. The palace servants would have gossiped and chatted about little else. When Uriah "slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord" after an evening with them in the bar, there can be no doubt that he came to know the score. He must have guessed the contents of the message which he took back to Joab; and when the command came for him to go on a suicide mission against Rabbah, he went in conscious loyalty to a master whose every intrigue he knew perfectly. This would explain why he refused to go and sleep with Bathsheba; he knew what David was up to. And David would have known that Uriah almost certainly knew what had happened.


2Sa 11:7 When Uriah had come to him, David asked of him how Joab did, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered-
For an individual soldier to have been recalled from the front for a personal interview with David was highly unusual. And on the way back, Uriah surely suspected what had happened or would happen, more or less. David's apparent interest in the war and his troops is presented here as so hypocritical.


2Sa 11:8 David said to Uriah, Go down to your house, and wash your feet-
Their houses were next to each other, perhaps "go down" referred to a path between the two properties. "Feet" are used as a euphemism; the idea clearly was "And have sex with your wife". 

Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and a gift from the king was sent after him-
It was now clear to Uriah what had happened. David was trying to buy his silence, and to get him to sleep with his wife so that it would appear any resulting child would be his and not David's.


2Sa 11:9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and didn’t go down to his house-
Uriah realized clearly what had happened, and was angry. He would rather sleep with the servants than sleep with his wife. He didn't go to see his wife because he was apparently angry with her too- suggesting he suspected she was a willing party to the affair. The servants would have been aware of what had happened; see on :6. And that evening as he purposefully slept with them and they chatted as men do, he would have been confirmed in his guesses. The "gift" sent after him (:8) would have been still in his hand as he slept the night with the servants. They all knew what had happened.


2Sa 11:10 When they had told David, saying, Uriah didn’t go down to his house, David said to Uriah, Haven’t you come from a journey? Why didn’t you go down to your house?-
The degree to which David acted in a coolly thought out way is brought out by a few hints in 2 Sam. 11:10-12. His comment to Uriah surely implied 'You've been away a long time- and you don't want to have sex withyour wife? Well, you must have been unfaithful then, like most of you soldier boys'. Remember that this was David talking to a man who had risked his life for him during the wilderness years. How sin totally ruins loving fellowship! See on :12.

 

2Sa 11:11 Uriah said to David, The ark, Israel, and Judah, are staying in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open field. Shall I then go into my house to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing!-
Uriah lets David know that he knows what's going on; for he uses no euphemisms nor indirect hints, but states plainly he will not be sleeping with his wife. He was clearly very angry with David.

Uriah doesn't swear as Yahweh lives, as is commonly found in the Bible, but by David's own life. Perhaps he felt that Yahweh was no authority to David to make an oath by. We note that this way of swearing by the life of the person being spoken to [rather than by Yahweh] is used of men to Saul (1 Sam. 17:55), by Uriah to David when he knew David had slept with his wife (2 Sam. 11:11) and by Hannah to Eli (1 Sam. 1:26). In every case the implication is that the speaker didn't think that the person being addressed really feared Yahweh.

We can discern in Ps. 132:3 an allusion to the words of David's faithful friend Uriah whom he effectively murdered: "Surely I will not come under the roof of my house, nor go up into my bed...". He refused to go up to his bed nor come under the roof of his own house because he preferred identity with God's suffering people, His "house". David later remembered these words, and alludes to them when he thinks of arranging the building of the temple. The words of Uriah haunted him, and he commendably vows to follow his noble example. In this we see David's humility and repentance.

2Sa 11:12 David said to Uriah, Stay here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart. So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day, and the next day-
"Depart" uses a word translated 'to put away' in Mal. 2:16. divorce was only possible for adultery.  The implication was 'Tomorrow you can divorce her and there'll be no problem- and I bet you've been unfaithful yourself while away on duty!'. The man after God's own heart had truly fallen from Heaven to earth- knowing what he was doing. 


2Sa 11:13 When David had called him, he ate and drink before him; and he made him drunk. At evening, he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but didn’t go down to his house-
That David could see into the back yard of Bathsheba's house shows that they were almost next door neighbours in Jerusalem. Nathan's parable emphasized this: "There were two men (David and Nathan) in one city (Jerusalem)" (2 Sam. 12:1). That Uriah "didn't go down to his house" after meeting David in Jerusalem could imply that it was just at the end of David's back garden. Even when drunk, he retained his deep inner sense of purpose. To be made drunk is also a figure for being extremely angry (Is. 63:6). Those who make others drunk are cursed in Hab. 2:15.


2Sa 11:14 It happened in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah-
David may well have learned to write in order to produce his Psalms, but now he puts that skill to an evil use. Or maybe he got someone else to write it, which again meant that the story would have continued to seep out to the public. To give Uriah the letter would suggest Uriah travelled alone. He surely guessed what it said. He could have destroyed it, but just as he refused to lay with his wife, so he goes along with David's evil plan. He preferred to die than lose his integrity.


2Sa 11:15 He wrote in the letter saying, Send Uriah to the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck, and die-
As noted on :18, David wrote a letter in order to avoid giving a message to a servant to deliver verbally. But literacy levels in ancient Israel were very low, especially for village boys like David and Joab, both from Bethlehem rather than anywhere bigger. David's attempt to cover what he had done would have probably required Joab to get someone to read the letter to him anyway. All attempts to cover the sin led to it becoming ever more well known.


2Sa 11:16 It happened, when Joab kept watch on the city, that he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew that valiant men were-
Joab's part in all this should not be overlooked. He had argued back against David over Abner and had himself gone and killed him, and he would later remonstrate with David over Absalom. He could likewise have refused to be a part in all this. It was likely his spiritual jealousy of David which led him to be such an eager participant in the scheme, wanting to bring David down spiritually to his own level. We see here the same articulations of human nature which are in our own lives.


2Sa 11:17 The men of the city went out, and fought with Joab. Some of the people fell, even of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also-
David was therefore guilty of more than one murder in all this, and as a soldier himself ought to have known how wrong it was. True soldiers never abandon their wounded, let alone betray their own side to death. David's actions were going to infuriate just about everybody in Israel.

2Sa 11:18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war-
"The things concerning the war" appears to be a technical term for a standard military report (:19). It was apparently delivered verbally rather than in writing, so David's letter to Joab was a vain attempt to not risk telling a messenger what to say verbally. But it is doubtful whether Joab could read well, and so Joab was in any case unlikely to have been the only person to know David's command about Uriah. 


2Sa 11:19 and he commanded the messenger saying, When you have finished telling all the things concerning the war to the king-
This continues the theme noted on :6, that the extensive use of messengers and exposing them to the intrigues was sure to mean that what had happened would become well known. Hence the significance of Uriah refusing to go to his home but sleeping and hanging out with the servants. The more men seek to cover sin themselves, the more it is made apparent. That is the lesson for us all.

2Sa 11:20 it shall be that, if the king’s wrath arise, and he asks you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Didn’t you know that they would shoot from the wall?-
David was known for how his emotions flared up. Despite his undoubted physique stamina, David was a broken man, even quite early in his life, prone to fits of introspection; dramatic mood-swings (cp. 1 Sam. 24:14 with 25:6,22,34;), sometimes appearing a real 'softie' but hard as nails at others (consider Ps.75:10 and the whole of Ps.101); easily getting carried away: be it with excessive emotional enthusiasm for bringing the ark back, in his harsh response to Hanun humbling his servants, his over-hasty and emotional decision to let Amnon go to Absalom's feast when it was obvious what might well transpire, his anger "flaring up" because of incompetency (2 Sam.11:20 NIV),  or in his ridiculous softness for Absalom.


2Sa 11:21 who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Didn’t a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also’-
Joab warned the messenger to quickly explain to David why the soldiers approached so near the wall of Rabbah, because he knew that David would immediately quote an example from the history of Israel, to prove that such an approach was unwise. David's familiarity with the spiritual records of Israel's history was therefore well known, and it presumably did not depart from him during the nine months. Psalm 38 speaks of how the guilt of his sin weighed so heavily upon him (Ps. 38:4 NIV), whereas Ps. 32:5 describes how the guilt of sin has now been lifted from him- implying that he wrote Ps. 38 some time after the sin, but before repenting properly. The point is, he didn’t crash completely, he didn’t turn away from God in totality- he was still writing Psalms at the time! 

The fact Joab told the servant to say this is proof enough that he too knew what had happened. It is to his shame that he went along with the evil plan. It was almost as if he wanted it to happen, remembering how David had said Joab was "too hard for me", the spiritual man. And Joab almost wants David's planned sin to happen so he can get equal with David. For in all this David was indeed being "hard" himself, very hard.


2Sa 11:22 So the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had sent him for-
The obedience of David's servants is emphasized. His sin was therefore the worse because he abused loyalty. No wonder he lost so much loyalty because of what he did.


2Sa 11:23 The messenger said to David, The men prevailed against us, and came out to us into the field, and we were on them even to the entrance of the gate-
David uses the same word when he reflects that his sins had "prevailed against me" (Ps. 65:3), showing that finally he did finely appreciate the nature and many dimensions of his sin. For Israel to flee before their enemies who were stronger [s.w. "prevailed"] than them is the language of the curse for breaking the covenant. And this was what David had done and was leading Israel into. His spiritual perception was totally subdued beneath his desire to cover his sins in the eyes of men, although the record continually shows that the more he tried to, the more evident his sins became.


2Sa 11:24 The shooters shot at your servants from off the wall; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also-
The servant also knew all that was going on. So he doesn't wait (as advised) for David to rant about the loss of men near the city wall, he tells David immediately that Uriah was dead. He knew that was the bottom line David wanted to know. We note that in this evil plan, other men died along with Uriah, perhaps to give the murder some semblance of bad luck.


2Sa 11:25 Then David said to the messenger, Thus you shall tell Joab, ‘Don’t let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Make your battle stronger against the city, and overthrow it’. Encourage him-
"Let not this thing displease you" were David's words to Joab. But those very Hebrew words are used again in :27: "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord". It displeased God spiritually; and it is therefore reasonable to think that David was saying to Joab 'Now don't think that there's anything really spiritually wrong with what I've done'. Doubtless David tried even harder to persuade himself of this than he did Joab. 


2Sa 11:26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she made lamentation for her husband-
The record leaves us invited to imagine how sincere was her lamentation. Was it a mere formality, as :27 suggests, or from the heart? If from the heart, she would likely have been angry with David and hardly the wife he wished for.


2Sa 11:27 When the mourning was past, David sent and took her home to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son-
The record is purposefully vague about her feelings. We are left to speculate.

But the thing that David had done displeased Yahweh-
God's apparent silence doesn't mean that judgment won't come. David himself perceives this in Ps. 50:21, either having learned from his experience, or having only taught the theory in that Psalm, which he now was to personalize. The phrase used here is only found in 1 Sam. 8:6 about the displeasure concerning "the thing" of Israel wanting a king. The entire sentence is copied word for word in Hebrew. We are left to wonder what the parallels were between these apparently quite different sins. The point is that although human failure may be markedly different (wanting a human king as opposed to arranging murder and adultery), the essence was the same. There was an assumption by both David and the people that they could act as they wished, despite knowing God's revealed will. They despised His word and acted according to their immediate desires, justifying themselves. And here we see the worrying similarities with our own sins, in essence.