Bathsheba, David’s Great Sin
1 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.
2 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. 3 David sent word and inquired about the woman. Someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 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. 5 The woman conceived; and she sent word and told David, “I am pregnant.”
6 Then David sent word to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him (d)how Joab was, how the people were doing, and how the war was progressing. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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?” 11 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.” 12 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. 13 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.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it (g)with Uriah. 15 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.” 16 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. 17 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. 18 Then Joab sent word and informed David of all the events of the war. 19 And he commanded the messenger, “When you have finished reporting all the events of the war to the king, 20 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? 21 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.’”(A)
22 So the messenger left, and he came and told David everything that Joab had sent him to report. 23 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. 24 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.” 25 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.”
26 When Uriah’s wife [Bathsheba] heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 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.
a. 2 Samuel 11:1: I.e. after the spring harvest provisions for the armies were plentiful.
b. 2 Samuel 11:2: In middle eastern homes the roof was often used as a living space or patio.
c. 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).
d. 2 Samuel 11:7: In each of these inquiries the noun shalom is used.
e. 2 Samuel 11:8: The Hebrew word suggests food, but the actual nature of the gift is not specified.
f. 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.
g. 2 Samuel 11:14: Lit by the hand of.