2 Samuel 11:1-12:25, Psalm 51, Psalm 32
King David, the great warrior who leads his Mighty Men to take more of the land God promised his people, stayed home from battle. Perhaps he was bored with his success.
The king couldn’t sleep. He got up from his bed and went up to his rooftop for some air. He looked out upon the land the Lord had given His people. His Mighty Men had built homes near his own in Jerusalem. He could see the Tent of Meeting nearby as well.
A soft light caught the king’s eye. He peered and saw a stunning woman bathing. He was mesmerized by her beauty.
David called to his servants, “Who is the woman who lives there?”
One answered, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
Her husband and father are away at battle, thought the king. He said, “Send messengers. Bring her here.”
When the woman entered his presence, she said, “My king, how may I serve you?”
David gazed at her beauty. “Your husband is away?”
“Yes, my king. He is in battle at Rabbah.”
“Perhaps while he is away, you would accompany me.”
Embarrassed by his interest, she said, “What if we are found out?”
“He is away,” David said. “How will he know?”
How can I say, “No” to the king? she thought. What if my husband loses favor because of my refusal?
David gently took her to his bed and lay with her. Afterwards, she purified herself from her uncleanness and returned to her house.
Several weeks later, she reasoned that she had conceived and went to see King David.
“I am pregnant,” she said.
“No! Oh, no!” the king said, pacing. “Do not worry. I know what to do.”
As she left his palace, he called his messenger. “Ride to Joab immediately and say to him, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’”
Uriah returned to Jerusalem and reported to the king, who asked, “How are Joab and the men?”
“He is well, my lord,” Uriah responded. “The men fight valiantly.”
David continued, “Tell me the state of the war.” Uriah reported on the battles and victories. “Good to hear. Good to hear,” David said. “Thank you for the good report. Now go down to your house and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house.
King David sent his servant out with a present for Uriah and his wife, but Uriah did not go down to his house. Instead, Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord.
The next morning, the servants told the king that Uriah did not go down to his house. David summoned him. When he entered the king’s presence, David said, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?”
Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.”
David replied, “Stay here today also, and tomorrow I will let you go.”
David invited Uriah to dinner, and he ate and drank. David made him drunk. In the evening, Uriah went out to lie on his bed with his lord’s servants.
Again, the servants said, “Uriah did not go down to his house.”
David, worried, considered a new plan. He wrote a letter to Joab, saying, “Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” He secured the letter with his royal seal and sent it with Uriah as he returned to Rabbah.
Joab considered his orders. If only Uriah dies, he reasoned, all the men will know he died by the hand of the king. These men must remain loyal to the king.
Joab put Uriah among valiant men and sent them near the city. Ammonites came out from the city to fight while others shot arrows from the city wall. Some of David’s men fell, including Uriah.
Joab sent a messenger to Jerusalem to report the events of the war. When the messenger entered the king’s presence, he said, “The men prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate. Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall, so some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.”
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.
When the time of mourning was over, David brought her to his house, and she became his wife. She bore him a son.
What David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord, so He sent the prophet Nathan to speak to the king.
When he entered the king’s presence, Nathan said, “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.
“The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.
“But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb, which he bought and nourished. The lamb was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, and the rich man was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd to prepare for the wayfarer. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”
Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel:
‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel, and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. If that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!
‘Why have you despised the word of the Lord* by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife.
‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me.
‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household. I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel.’”
* The king is responsible for knowing the law according to Deuteronomy 17:18-20, and of course adultery is against the law (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18) as is murder (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17)—both of which had legal consequences of capital punishment (Leviticus 20:10; 24:17).
Then David cried and said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord!”
Nathan said, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” Nathan left.
David, sobbing, ran to the Tent of Meeting and cried out to the Lord, singing:
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness. According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Let the bones that You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.”
(Psalm 51:1-13, but go read the whole chapter!)
Then the baby boy Uriah’s widow bore to David became very sick. David inquired of God for the child. He fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. On the seventh day, the child died.
David saw that his servants were whispering together. He asked, “Is the child dead?”
They said, “He is dead.”
David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He came into the Tent of Meeting and worshiped. When he returned to his palace, his servants set food before him and he ate.
David comforted his wife Bathsheba,^ and lay with her. She conceived again and gave birth to a son, whom he named him Solomon.
^ Bathsheba is referenced by name in 2 Samuel 11:3 and 12:24. In between, she is referred to as Uriah’s wife, leaving the emphasis on David. Some Jewish and Christian scholars assert that David raped Bathsheba. I do not go that far because the Hebrew word for force used in the story of Shechem raping Dinah (see Genesis 34:2) and in the story of Amnon raping Tamar (see 2 Samuel 13:12-14) are not used in the story of David and Bathsheba. Yet the emphasis on David’s actions, the social status of women and wives at the time, David’s position as king, Bathsheba’s grandfather Ahithophel conspiring against David (1 Samuel 15:12, 31), and David recompensing Bathsheba by making her Queen Mother all indicate that Bathsheba was not pursuing adultery.
David returned to the Tent of Meeting and worshiped the Lord in song:
“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!
“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the guilt of my sin.
“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. You are my hiding place. You preserve me from trouble. You surround me with songs of deliverance.
The king heard God’s response:
‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
‘Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones, and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.’”
(Psalm 32:1-8, 10-11 NASB with a few words in verse 6 from NLT)