2 Samuel 11
Bathsheba, David’s Great Sin
Then it happened in the spring, [a]at the time when the kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all [the fighting men of] Israel, and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David got up from his couch and was walking on the [flat] [b]roof of the king’s palace, and from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very beautiful in appearance. David sent word and inquired about the woman. Someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David sent messengers and took her. When she came to him, he lay with her. And [c]when she was purified from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent word and told David, “I am pregnant.”
Then David sent word to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him [d]how Joab was, how the people were doing, and how the war was progressing. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet (spend time at home).” Uriah left the king’s palace, and a [e]gift from the king was sent out after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s palace with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not [just] come from a [long] journey? Why did you not go to your house?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in huts (temporary shelters), and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Should I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.” Then David said to Uriah, “Stay here today as well, and tomorrow I will let you leave.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. Now David called him [to dinner], and he ate and drank with him, so that he [f]made Uriah drunk; in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, and [still] did not go down to his house.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it [g]with Uriah. He wrote in the letter, “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and leave him, so that he may be struck down and die.” So it happened that as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew the [enemy’s] valiant men were positioned. And the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among the servants of David fell; Uriah the Hittite also died. Then Joab sent word and informed David of all the events of the war. And he commanded the messenger, “When you have finished reporting all the events of the war to the king, then if the king becomes angry and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot [arrows] from the wall? Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth (Gideon)? Was it not a woman who threw 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 also dead.’”
So the messenger left, and he came and told David everything that Joab had sent him to report. The messenger said to David, “The men indeed prevailed against us and came out to us in the field, but we were on them and pushed them as far as the entrance of the [city] gate. Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” Then David said to the messenger, “Tell Joab this, ‘Do not let this thing disturb you, for the sword devours one [side] as well as another. Strengthen your battle against the city and overthrow it’; and so encourage Joab.”
When Uriah’s wife [Bathsheba] heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the time of mourning was past, David sent word and had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done [with Bathsheba] was evil in the sight of the Lord.
- 2 Samuel 11:1 I.e. after the spring harvest provisions for the armies were plentiful.
- 2 Samuel 11:2 In middle eastern homes the roof was often used as a living space or patio.
- 2 Samuel 11:4 This casual observation reflects the hypocrisy of David and Bathsheba’s sin. Evidently they both bathed and observed other ritual requirements of the Mosaic Law regarding sexual relations (Lev 15:18 etc.), as if that somehow mitigated the much graver sin of adultery. Both participants in adultery were to be punished by death (Lev 20:10).
- 2 Samuel 11:7 In each of these inquiries the noun shalom is used.
- 2 Samuel 11:8 The Hebrew word suggests food, but the actual nature of the gift is not specified.
- 2 Samuel 11:13 At this point David was hoping that Uriah’s drunkenness would make him forget his decision to stay with the troops, and that he would go home and have relations with his wife. David apparently thought that Bathsheba could later persuade Uriah that the child was his, even though she would be giving birth early.
- 2 Samuel 11:14 Lit by the hand of.
2 Samuel 12
Nathan Rebukes David
And the Lord sent Nathan [the prophet] to David. He came and said to him,
“There were two men in a city, one rich and the other poor.
“The rich man had a very large number of flocks and herds,
But the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb
Which he had purchased and nourished;
And it grew up together with him and his children.
It ate his food, drank from his cup, it lay in his arms,
And was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler (visitor) came to the rich man,
And to avoid taking one from his own flock or herd
To prepare [a meal] for the traveler who had come to him,
He took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for [a]his guest.”
Then David’s anger burned intensely against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die. He shall make restitution for the ewe lamb four times as much [as the lamb was worth], because he did this thing and had no compassion.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you as king over Israel, and I spared you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house, and put your master’s wives into your [b]care and under your protection, and I gave you the house (royal dynasty) of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have given you much more! 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. You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will stir up evil against you from your [c]own household; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in [d]broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and [e]in broad daylight.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has allowed your sin to pass [without further punishment]; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have given [a great] opportunity to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme [Him], the son that is born to you shall certainly die.” Then Nathan went [back] to his home.
Loss of a Child
And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, and he was very sick. David therefore appealed to God for the child [to be healed]; and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his household stood by him [in the night] to lift him up from the ground, but he was unwilling [to get up] and would not eat food with them. Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he would not listen to our voices. How then can we tell him the child is dead, since he might harm himself [or us]?” But when David saw that his servants were whispering to one another, he realized that the child was dead. So David said to them, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” Then David got up from the ground, washed, anointed himself [with olive oil], changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came [back] to his own house, and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate.
Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive you fasted and wept, but when the child died, you got up and ate food.” David said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I thought, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me and the child may live.’ But now he is dead; why should I [continue to] fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him [when I die], but he will not return to me.”
David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and David named him Solomon. And the Lord loved the child; and He sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah (beloved of the Lord) for the sake of the Lord [who loved the child].
Now Joab fought against [f]Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal city. Joab sent messengers to David and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; I have even taken the city of waters. So now, assemble the rest of the men, and camp against the city and capture it, or I will take the city myself, and it will be named after me.” So David gathered all the men together and went to Rabbah, then fought against it and captured it. And he took the crown of their king from his head; it weighed a [g]talent of gold, and [set in it was] a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought the spoil out of the city in great amounts. He also brought out the people who were there, and put them to [work with] the saws and sharp iron instruments and iron axes, and made them work at the brickkiln. And he did this to all the Ammonite cities. Then David and all the men returned to Jerusalem.
- 2 Samuel 12:4 Lit the man who had come to him.
- 2 Samuel 12:8 Lit bosom.
- 2 Samuel 12:11 This prophesy was fulfilled by David’s lawless children: Amnon’s attack on his half-sister Tamar (13:14) and his subsequent murder by his half-brother Absalom (13:28, 29); Absalom’s escape to a foreign land (13:38) and his three years in exile, followed by his estrangement from David for two more years (14:28); Absalom’s deliberate, rebellious attempt to win the hearts of the people and supplant his father (15:6); David’s flight from Jerusalem, with the mass of the people against him (15:14), the terrible battle in the forest of Ephraim, won by David’s forces, with Absalom killed in flight (18:6). David’s heartbreak is echoed repeatedly in the history of these tragedies (2 Sam 13:1; 19:4) and in some of his psalms. Even when David was dying, his son Adonijah was attempting to usurp the throne, and was later executed as a traitor (1 Kin 1:5; 2:25).
- 2 Samuel 12:11 Lit the sight of this sun.
- 2 Samuel 12:12 Lit before the sun.
- 2 Samuel 12:26 The modern city of Amman, Jordan, is located approximately on the same site as Rabbah.
- 2 Samuel 12:30 I.e. about 75 lbs. If the crown actually weighed 75 lbs. it must have been used primarily as a decorative symbol of power.