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Deeper Commentary

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. Uriah 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.

David "tarried" or lived (:1) in his "house" (:2), just as he was in 2 Sam. 7 when better thoughts came to him about God's house. Now he was thinking of building up his own house- for human behaviour is multi dimensional, and whilst his behaviour was indeed lustful, he also had some political agenda in the Bathsheba "thing". Saul likewise was "sitting" in his house when an evil spirit came upon him and he wanted to kill David (1 Sam. 19:9 s.w.). Again we see Saul and David parallel in their sins. The difference was that David had a heart for God and was repentant. It wasn't that their amounts of sin differed. It was their attitude to them. When he didn't have a stable house, David had correctly focused upon living or tarrying in Yahweh's house for ever (s.w. Ps. 23:6; 27:4). But having his own stable house led him away from that focus. 

This not going out to fight is in contrast to the peoples' expectation that their king was to “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam 8:19). Indeed, David's masculinity is under question here. When kings went to war, David didn't. And we are to read that he effectively fell in love and was compromised by this, whereas powerful men of the time were supposedly never compromised by their love affairs. David is never recorded as loving anyone, but his evident deep love for Solomon suggests Bathsheba was in fact his favourite woman out of many. Uriah disobeys David's command to go down to his wife and sleep with her- his disobedience to David is categorically stated, and David has lost control of the situation so that he cannot do anything about a disobedient servant. Uriah by contrast presents as the consummate male by being a brave soldier and wanting to fellowship the sufferings of his men rather than taking special privileges.  

Possibly David didn't go to the war because he wanted to try to self fulfil the promise about having rest from his enemies. See on 2 Sam. 12:10.

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. Again we see how in essence Saul and David did the same sins, but David was saved for his heart position and repentance.

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). 

David viewed Bathsheba from the roof (2 Sam. 11:2), and this was matched by the roof on which Absalom slept with David's wife, and the way the watchman sees the two messengers running with news of Absalom's death (2 Sam. 18:24), and it was on a roof that David lamented his son (2 Sam. 18:33). Uriah is killed by a man from a height above him, thus equating David with the enemy soldier who slew his faithful man, rather than with his men.

We note throughout the similarities with Ahab's coveting of Naboth's vineyard in 1 Kings 21. David likewise was in the king's house when he covets that which belongs to his neighbour (2 Sam. 11:2). He tries to get Bathsheba by offering Uriah a "present"- "there followed him a present from the king" (2 Sam. 11:8). Uriah's "I will not do this thing" (2 Sam. 11:11) matches Naboth's refusal. David summons Uriah and makes him eat and drink, just as it seems there was some kind of feast when Naboth was set on high amongst the people. David's plan to set up Uriah's death so he could take what was personally Uriah's [his wife] matches the plan of Ahab to get Naboth executed. The report sent to Jezebel that Naboth had died (:14) is recorded in the same manner as the report to David that Uriah had died (2 Sam. 11:18,24). Ahab takes possession of that which is Naboth's, just as David takes Bathsheba- and then they are both rebuked by a prophet, and both genuinely repent, although the resulting Divine judgment involved the suffering of their sons and family going forward. The similarities are intentional. We see here that the process of sin is as it were standard- whether in the slip of a righteous man [David], or yet another sin in the long catalogue of sins in a sinner like Ahab. God works to some kind of template with man, but it is also so that man passes through the same broad process of temptation and failure. 

We note in 2 Sam. 3:1-16 David's bad treatment of Michal's husband, who follows his wife with tears in a most unmasculine but genuine response to David taking her from him. Paltiel walks behind her, when a woman in those days was supposed to walk behind a man [cp. Russian 'zamuzhem', behind a husband, to describe a married woman]. Paltiel was publically shamed; the way Abner abruptly tells him to stop following his wife and go home is as if Abner treats Paltiel as a dog. He did this when he already had at least six wives; the information about his wives and children precedes the narrative about him breaking up Michal and Paltiel's marriage. Although David calls Michal his "wife" [Heb. isshi], the record calls Paltiel her husband [Heb. 'ish]. This failure is then repeated by David when he takes Bathsheba and slays Uriah, breaking up a good marriage even though he had many "sheep". He was wrong in how he treated Paltiel. But his conscience didn't kick in. And so one sin led him to another sin, against Uriah, in essence the same but of far greater magnitude. We reflect how his taking of Abigail in 1 Sam. 25 also involved the displacement of her husband, Nabal- but by the hand of providence. It's as if David intentionally misread this as meaning that he had the right to remove the husbands of women he wanted. The progression is all so psychologically credible. David wanted to test Ishbosheth and Abner's loyalty [as Abner had formerly been Saul's general], and so he asked them to get Michal back to him as his wife. He clearly didn't love Michal; it was all for the sake of politics. We must be aware that sexual rights over a woman, especially the wife of another, were seen as a sign of political dominance and control; David lived in a culture where the politics of power were sexualized. We think of Absalom sleeping with David's wives publically. And we wonder whether his taking of Abigail was similarly motivated. This usage of women rather than loving them is what led him to the failure with Bathsheba. David is recorded as being loved by many people- Jonathan, Michal, Saul's servants, all Israel etc. But he is never recorded as loving anyone himself. Nathan's parable presents David as a man with many animals, representing his women- possibly suggesting this was how he saw his wives.

However we have to note that David saw Bathsheba close up enough to perceive her beauty. Her house was very close to David's. She was clearly well known to him. And again the issue is raised as to why she would bathe in the open air knowing she was in full view of David's roof where he was wont to rest and walk. The close proximity of Uriah's house to David's betrays the favoured relationship he once enjoyed with David. Five times we read of him 'going down to his house' (:8-13) as if David's house was higher but Uriah's was adjacent. As discussed on :4, this washing may not have been at all related to her period. We wonder about the parallel with Ruth [David's ancestor] in Ruth 3:3, who washes herself, does herself up pretty, and goes to lay with Boaz and thereby manipulate him [quite possibly having sex with him]. We reflect too how David washes himself before having sex with Bathsheba the second time (2 Sam. 12:20,24).

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. We think of Saul asking about who David was- when David already lived at his court as court musician. The question 'Whose son / daughter is this?' was meant as a way of laying claim to the person as yours. And in this we have another parallel between David and Saul. The question, with regard to taking a woman, is that of Boaz regarding Ruth when he enquires 'Who is this?' (Ruth 2:8). 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?-
"One said" can be translated “he said to himself,”. Of course David knew who she was. In his self talk he accepted who she was and cold heartedly went ahead with his lust and possibly other, political agenda. Because she was very well connected politically within David's network of power, just as were some of his other wives. In this case we note that David firstly identifies Bathsheba as daughter of her father, before being Uriah's wife. Eliam and his father Ahithophel may have been the family David wanted to get in with. For although it was a sin of lust, it seems to me there were also political motivations for both David and Bathsheba. All the same, David rode over red lights of warning into disastrous sin.

Or perhaps  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. Eliam, son of David's adviser and familiar friend Ahithophel, was one of David's mighty men just as Uriah was (2 Sam. 23:34). David was Bathsheba's hero figure, and she and David knew each other well. 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.

The Samuel scroll from the Judean Desert (4Q51, formerly known as 4QSam) adds the detail: "Joab’s armour-bearer". The LXX follows this. In this case, David's usage of Joab to slay Uriah, his own armour bearer, was dragging yet someone else into sin and breaking up yet another relationship.

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. Robert Alter notes that in the Hebrew Bible "When the verb "come to" or "come into" has a masculine subject and "into" is followed by a feminine object, it designates a first act of sexual intercourse. One wonders whether the writer is boldly toying with this double meaning, intimating an element of active participation by Bathsheba in David's sexual summons". Bathsheba offers no resistance nor attempt to persuade David against his intentions, in contrast with Tamar when she faced rape in 2 Sam. 13:12,13: "She answered him, No, my brother, do not force me! For no such thing ought to be done in Israel. Don’t you do this folly. I, to where would I carry my shame? And as for you, you will be as one of the fools in Israel". "He lay with her" rather than 'he came in to her' could also suggest that the sex act was not at all forced [hardly "power rape"] but consensual.

We note that the same words are used for David 'sending' and 'taking' his ex wife Michal from her second husband, Paltiel (2 Sam. 3:14,15). This was a cruel thing to do as Paltiel so loved her; and David kept her as a ward of court for political reasons, apparently not sleeping with her. Nathan specifically condemned David for "taking the wife of Uriah". There was no repentance from David about this and it led to his greater sin at this time. His crude, crass hatred of the blind and lame in 2 Sam. 5 was tacitly repented of in his grace to the lame Mephibosheth in 2 Sam. 9. But there had been no such hint of repentance about his actions towards Michal. And so if sin isn't repented of, it leads to greater failure. We also wonder however if his sending and taking Bathsheba didn't also likewise have a political motive, possibly to remove Uriah as a potential threat to his throne.

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. We learn from Nathan's parable that Uriah was older than her and more of a father figure than a husband. There is no mention of her having had children. It could be that she was trapped in a fruitless relationship with Uriah, a Gentile, and felt she had no chance to make it as a woman in Israel. Her public naked bathing within David's line of vision certainly raises questions- because married women are portrayed in scripture as looking out from behind windows or lattices and such washing would not usually be done in the open air, in a place in full view of the neighbour's roof. So we can never discount the possibility that she was more than complicit in the matter. And this fits with another theme in this whole story- that there is so much ambiguity. Why didn't David go out to war? Why was Bathsheba bathing outside, and in David's line of vision? Why didn't Uriah sleep with his wife? Was Bathsheba purified from her period, or does the text say she purified herself after she had sex with David? Was Bathsheba raped or was she looking for this outcome to become queen? Why the strange expression "she came in to him"? Was this a simple sin of male lust or were there other, political, reasons why David wanted to marry yet another powerful, well connected woman [like Michal, Abigail, Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur, and Ahinoam]? And so many other open questions. Summed up in the comment that "the thing" David did displeased Yahweh. But the exact components of "the thing" aren't listed. Surely the record is written to provoke our reflection. David clearly bears the blame. But the ambiguities surrounding Bathsheba suggest to me that whilst her blame was far less than his, she was also not completely the innocent victim, especially if she had not had children by Uriah and was more of a daughter to him than a wife, as suggested by Nathan's parable. The ambiguities are intentional, I suggest, because human motivation and actions are so impossibly complex to analyze.

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. The law in Lev. 18:19,20 taught that there could only be sex after a woman was cleansed from menstrual uncleanness, and goes straight on to warn about sleeping with your neighbour's wife- as if speaking directly to David: "You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness. You shall not lie carnally with your neighbour’s wife".

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? 

However it's possible to translate: "He lay with her; she purified herself from her uncleanness and returned to her house". This gives no impression of rape but rather of a calm interaction between the two. She doesn't return to her home and wash, she does it at David's home. We again note the interplay between spirituality and sexuality, and the strange relationship between flesh and Spirit. In this case we note she was obedient to the law in washing after intercourse (Lev. 15:18). Possibly David alludes to this when in the penitential Psalms he begs to be washed clean by God; he reflected that washing after this act of sex had not cleansed his heart. This alternative translation avoids the problem that the legislation about women ending their periods in Lev. 15 doesn't actually state that she must wash in water at the end of her period. Throughout Lev. 15 it is commanded no less than 12 times that after certain bodily emissions a person but must bathe in water after their uncleanness. But this is specifically absent when talking about a woman who has come to the end of menstruation. Women were commanded to wash in water after sex, not at the end of their period cycle. I am inclined to conclude that there is [again] a purposeful ambiguity in the text here. Was Bathsheba's washing after her period, going beyond the letter of the law in this case; or after her sex with David? The ambiguity is to provoke us to exercise herself as to whether or to what degree Bathsheba was guilty of anything in this encounter. And the exercise helps us in our own self examinations. 

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, 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.  

Bathsheba was liable to execution for adultery. So she informs David from various motives, not least to save her own life. Again we have an example of ambiguity in the record, an invitation to reflection... upon with what spirit she informed David of her pregnancy. 

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.

David goes to such lengths to try to cover up Bathsheba's pregnancy by him. This rather factors against the idea that David wanted Bathsheba as his wife and that he had political reasons for taking her, as he did in his taking of previous women. There was definitely an element of lust involved and hot headed action. But again we note the ambiguity of it all; for the evidence that Bathsheba somehow wanted the encounter cannot easily be pushed aside. Why the lack of communication between Uriah and Bathsheba during his return to Jerusalem? Uriah had a "gift" from David in his hand but he apparently never goes a very short distance to his own house. He just kips on the floor in the guardhouse at David's place. Why? Was he somehow angry with Bathsheba? If all was well in the relationship, it would be normal to visit and comfort her and at least ask her the truth of all the gossip. If indeed she had clearly been raped, would he not have wanted to comfort his beloved wife? Was he not angry with her too? Because of... ?

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" (Is. 6:2; Ez. 16:25)

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 with your 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!-
See on 2 Sam. 7:1. It could be argued that soldiers on duty had to be sexually abstinent, as any personal emission of semen made them unclean (Dt. 23:10) and we note David's claim that his warriors had not touched women in 1 Sam. 21:5. So although not at the battle front, Uriah felt he was still on duty and therefore would not lie with his wife. 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". If indeed Ps. 132 was written later, then 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.

But there is another take on the connection with Ps. 132. We note that Uriah mentions that the ark, along with David's troops, is in a tent and not in a house, and so Uriah will not go down to his house. Uriah will not sleep in his house whilst the ark of God isn't in a house; he is alluding to David's similar oath which David hadn't kept. For this is clearly to be connected with David's vow that "I will not enter my house or get into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids' until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the mighty one of Jacob" (Ps. 132:3-5). The ark was still in a tent; and David was in his house, he had got into his bed- whilst the ark was still in a tent. Uriah's mention of the ark surely alludes to this situation. This is Uriah criticizing David and asserting his own greater fidelity to Divine things. We note too his point blank refusal to be obedient to David's command to go down to his house.

So David's sin gives the lie to his apparent passion for the ark. God had responded to his "vow" by telling David that God didn't want this. Instead, God would build him an eternal family through his Messianic Son, and he would [by implication] be resurrected to witness this. But instead of rejoicing in that, instead David was just involving himself in opportunistic sex and thus showing no regard for the great promises made about his family. For David was hardly paying any attention to his family and seed by casually sleeping with another man's wife and getting her pregnant. In this we see the progression of theme in 2 Samuel. David's refusal to accept God's grace in the covenant made with him led him to still want to build a temple, and this lack of focus upon the grace to be shown to his own "house" or family led him to the sin with Bathsheba.

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-
Was David literate? Probably not. We think of how Jeremiah in Jer. 36:1,4 is told to "take yourself a scroll and write" but in fact he calls Baruch to write it.  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. We likewise wonder whether Joab was literate, and in this case, why did David write a letter? Presumably to avoid giving the message to a messenger who would travel with Uriah back to the battle front. Again we see David's maximum efforts to keep the "thing" secret, when in fact, everyone knew- including Uriah himself.

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. David appears desperate and foolish in trying to cover his sin by getting Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba and then getting Uriah killed, even requiring other men to be killed in order to make Uriah's death appear nothing specific. And yet the record stresses how many messengers were involved in the whole "thing". All attempts to cover sin will ultimately come to nothing in that the day of judgment will reveal all "the secrets of men" to all. David clearly has the belief that what he has done is secret when in fact it obviously isn't; and that is the mentality of all sinners. And that is exactly God's point in 2 Sam. 12:12 "For you did it [so David thought] secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel".

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.

We note how there are three accounts of the engagement in which Uriah was killed. The actual account; Joab's account of it which he told the messenger to tell David; and then what the messenger actually tells David. We see how covering sin leads to dishonesty and catches up so many others in the web of dishonesty. The transparent life before God involves humility and the associated immediate confession and repentance, and thus avoids all this. And all this lying stands in hard contrast to the David of the Psalms, who so loves to protest his integrity and honesty compared to others. One function of the sin with Bathsheba was to lead David to self knowledge and recognition that he failed to rightly perceive his own sinfulness.

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.

The scene in 2 Sam. 18:33 is of David sitting between the gates and going up over the gate to get news of Absalom and weeping there for his death. It was from a wall above a gate that the archers shot from and killed Uriah (2 Sam. 11:23,24).

We note that Uriah was killed by archers; David's son Absalom was also killed by three arrows fired into his chest (2 Sam. 18:14). This was to help David see the pain he had caused to Uriah's loved ones. Saul too was hit by archers before he ended his own life. It could be that Joab was resented the murder of his armour bearer Uriah [according to LXX and Josephus], and so he in turn murdered David's son Absalom with arrows.

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. The record doesn't make any mention of Bathsheba's mourning being anything personal; compare it with Jacob's mourning for Joseph, which mentions how Jacob refused to be comforted by anyone. Or Paltiel's mourning at the loss of Michal.

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. Perhaps the connection with God's displeasure about the "thing" of wanting a human king was because David was effectively rejecting God's kingship. He wanted to be king and have his kingdom in the here and now, rather than believe the promises about his Messianic son having his true and eternal kingdom.

We note how the word "Yahweh" hasn't occurred in the narrative until now, reflecting how God was far from David's thoughts in all this. What David did was evil [Heb.] in His sight; whereas David had declared to Joab that this "thing" was not to be "evil" in Joab's eyes (:25). The chapter opens with David 'seeing' Bathsheba [:2] and concludes with a comment as to how Yahweh 'saw' things.