2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 11.
David’s Double Transgression.
DAVID’S ADULTERY. — V.1. And it came to pass, after the year was expired, literally, “at the return of the year,” when spring set in, when the close of the rainy season made operations in the field possible, at the time when kings go forth to battle, starting out for the season’s campaigns, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, the military chieftains with the entire regular army; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, overthrowing their smaller cities, devastating their land, and putting the inhabitants to death, and besieged Rabbah, the capital, which was strongly fortified. But David, instead of joining his army in the field, tarried still at Jerusalem, this life of comparative ease offering the occasion for the transgression: for, as the proverb has it: An idle brain is the devil’s workshop. V.2. And it came to pass in an evening tide that David arose from off his bed, after the noonday siesta, when the cool of the evening invited people outside, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house, which was flat and parapeted, like all the houses of the Orient; and from the roof, which offered an all the wider view, since it was on Mount Zion, he saw a woman washing herself, taking a bath in the uncovered court of her house; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. There is a warning here to every woman against in tent ional or unintentional exposure, whether at bathing-beaches, in street-dress, or about the house. V.3. And David, inflamed with sensual desire, sent and enquired after the woman, made inquiry concerning her person and family relation. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba (or Bath-shuah. 1 Chron. 3, 5), the daughter of Eliam, also known as Ammiel, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite? Uriah was one of the heroes in David’s army, being at that time in the field with Joab. V.4. And David sent messengers and took her, Bathsheba evidently coming and submitting to his demands without opposition. And she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness, literally, “and she cleansed herself from her defilement,” this being demanded by the Law, Lev. 15, 18; and she returned unto her house. The great sin of adultery she had committed without serious thought, but the act of purification she religiously observed, just as many people living in open transgressions of God’s holy Law believe they may salve their consciences by small acts of charity. V.5. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. This message was sent with the object of having David find some means of avoiding the consequences of their mutual sin, since, according to the Law, Lev. 20, 10, both of the guilty ones should die. V.6. And David, acting upon Bathsheba’s hint, sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah, the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. V.7. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. Uriah, as one of Joab’s officers, could easily give this information. The entire move, of course, was merely a blind, as the sequel shows. V.8. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house and wash thy feet. It was, apparently, a gracious dismissal, with the suggestion that Uriah should take his rest and refreshment at home. The object was, of course, that Uriah, having been at his house, might pass for the father of the child begotten in adultery. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. The present was probably a dish of honor, Esther 2, 18, which he was to enjoy at home, a second inducement to have him visit his house. V.9. But Uriah, whether his suspicions had been aroused or not, slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, in the guard-room with the royal court officials, and went not down to his house. V.10. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, with a displeasure caused by his growing uneasiness over the frustration of his plans, Camest thou not from thy journey? Why, then, didst thou not go down unto thine house? The conduct of Uriah was strange, and not at all in conformity with the manner of the average person. V.11. And Uriah said unto David, the ark and Israel and Judah abide in tents, in camp before Rabbah; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields, without the comforts of home, lying on the bare ground; shall I, then, go into mine house to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As thou livest and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. It was a solemn explanation and asseveration declaring his inability to meet the king’s wishes at this time, under these conditions. V.12. And David said to Uriah. Tarry here to-day also, and to-morrow I will let thee depart. He wanted to try once more to gain his object of having Uriah return to his house. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day and the morrow, waiting to be dismissed to the army. V.13. And when David had called him, invited him to partake of a meal at his own table, he did eat and drink before him; and he, David, made him drunk, hoping that in this condition he would surely pass the night with his wife; and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. Even in his befuddled condition his sense of duty or his suspicion of the king’s plan kept him from spending the night at home. David’s example shows how a person who has fallen into sin will try to hide his disgrace from the eyes of men. God and His will are disregarded entirely. But it is impossible to remove the consequences of sin in this manner, as David was to find out.
DAVID’S MURDER OF URIAH. — V.14. And it came to pass in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. His first plan having failed, his sin-darkened heart now made ready to add murder to adultery. V.15. And he wrote in the letter, saying, set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, opposite the place where the most bitter attack might be expected, and retire ye from him, falling away from behind him while he was busily engaged in warding off the blows of the attacking enemies, that he may be smitten and die. His own bravery being of a kind to he relied upon at all times, and his retreat cut off, the supposition was that Uriah would surely fall. V.16. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, literally, “watched, found out the place where the fiercest sallies might be expected,” that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were, namely, on the part of the enemy. V.17. And the men of the city, accepting the challenge, went out and fought with Joab; and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah, the Hittite, died also. Thus Joab carried out the command of the king in permitting a man to be killed whose seemingly accidental death was desired for some special reason. V.18. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, with a report of this special engagement; v.19. and charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king, the general circumstantial report, v.20. and if so be that the kings wrath arise and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? Knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? Joab felt that such a real or simulated outburst of anger on the part of the king might be expected. V.21. Who smote Abimelech, the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall that he died in Thebez? Cp. Judg. 6, 32; 9, 53. Why went ye nigh the wall? Then say thou, thy servant Uriah, the Hittite, is dead also. Joab was sure that this information would have the desired effect in taking away the king’s anger. V.22. So the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had sent him for, his report being even briefer than that outlined by Joab. V.23. And the messenger said unto David, Surely The men prevailed against us, proved too mighty at the point of attack, and came out unto us into the field, in a sharp sally, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate, in repulsing the sally. V.24. And the shooters, the archers stationed on the ramparts, shot from off the wall upon thy servants, as the pressed so near the gate; and some of the king’s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah, the Hittite, is dead also. V.25. Then David said unto the messenger, apparently with the quiet of a commander whom such evil news could not disturb in his equanimity and in his certainty of eventual victory, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another, literally, “so and so devours the sword,” that is the fortune of war: make thy battle more strong against the city and overthrow it, the siege should be pressed until the city was taken; and encourage thou him, for the messenger evidently himself was one of the officers in the army. He indicated his confidence that the courage and ability of the soldiers of Joab would surely bring the campaign to a successful close. V.26. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah, her husband, was dead, she mourned for her husband, probably the usual seven days, Gen. 50, 10; 1 Sam. 31, 13. V.27. And when the mourning was past, David, still with the same passionate desire for the woman as before, sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son, the child begotten in adultery. The two guilty ones wanted it to appear that the interval between their marriage and the birth of Bathsheba’s child was long enough to make its birth in wedlock seem possible, an evil plan still resorted to by fornicators or adulterers to hide their sin. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. He took note of the transgression and prepared to punish it in due time. Sins of adultery and murder are of a nature to take faith out of the hearts of the believers and to make them children of wrath and damnation.