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David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11,12; Psalms 32,51)

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David Our Example

Bathsheba: Saint or Sinner?

David's Sin With Bathsheba

David's Repentance

A Character Study Of David


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CHAPTER 11 Jul. 25 
David and Bathsheba
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. But David stayed at Jerusalem. 2It happened at evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look on. 3David sent and inquired after the woman. One said, Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 4David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in to him, and he lay with her (for she was purified from her uncleanness); and she returned to her house. 5The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, I am with child. 6David sent to Joab, Send me Uriah the Hittite. Joab sent Uriah to David. 7When Uriah had come to him, David asked of him how Joab did, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered. 8David said to Uriah, Go down to your house, and wash your feet. Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9But 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. 10When 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? 11Uriah 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!
Death of Uriah the Hittite
12David 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. 13When 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. 14It happened in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15He 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. 16It happened, when Joab kept watch on the city, that he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew that valiant men were. 17The 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. 18Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; 19and he commanded the messenger saying, When you have finished telling all the things concerning the war to the king, 20it 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? 21who 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’. 22So the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had sent him for. 23The 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. 24The 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. 25Then 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. 26When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she made lamentation for her husband. 27When the mourning was past, David sent and took her home to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased Yahweh.


11:1 But David stayed at Jerusalem- When it was the season for a king like himself to be out in battle. The obvious lesson is that when we are doing nothing and not doing what we are intended to, then we are more prone to fall into sin. 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). His conscience had been blunted by the easy life.

11:2 He saw a woman- Christ had His eye on this passage when he spoke about him that "looks on a woman to lust after her” has committed adultery with her already (Mt. 5:28). 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 (Mk 7:15-23): 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.  

11:3 Daughter of Eliam- David and Uriah knew each other very well; they had spent David's long wilderness years together, and lived next door to each other in Jerusalem (:13; 12:1). Bathsheba had been brought up by Uriah (12:3). She was the daughter of Eliam, who had been another of David’s mighty men (23:34). Presumably he had been killed and Uriah adopted her, bringing her up from babyhood, mothering her by feeding her from his bowl and letting her sleep in his bosom. This may imply that his own wife died early, and that he brought her and his own children up alone, and then married her when she was older. A very special spiritual and emotional bond must have been forged between those who stuck with David as a down and out, and who later on shared in the glory of his kingdom. That Uriah had such easy access to David would have been unthinkable for an ordinary soldier whom David hardly knew. Nathan criticizes David for having "no pity" on Uriah, implying that David well knew the relationship between Uriah and Bathsheba. Moreover, David would have been a larger than life figure for his followers, and Bathsheba would have grown up with this image of David as the saving hero.

11:4 David sent messengers- The use of messengers is emphasized throughout the account (3,4,5,6,19,23,27); what David had done would soon become very public knowledge, and it would seem that Uriah himself understood.

For she was purified from her uncleanness- Bathsheba's evening washing of herself which exposed her nakedness would have been in response to the principles of the Law. 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. Sexuality and spirituality are related, hence sexual temptation is especially strong for people who on one level respect spiritual principle.

11:21 Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth?- Joab warned the messenger to quickly explain to David why the soldiers approached so near the wall of Rabbah, becausehe 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 and use of them to guide behaviour was therefore well known, and it presumably did not depart from him during the months between his sin and repentance of it; we can retain God’s word in our minds and act upon it whilst at the same time in other areas being deeply displeasing to God.

11:25 Don’t let this thing displease you- But those very Hebrew words are used again in :27: "But the thing that David had done displeased Yahweh". No matter how we or others may rationalize and cover up sin, God notices and judges in due time.