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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 11

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

Second Samuel - Chapter 11

David and Bathsheba, vs. 1-5

David did not accompany Joab and the army to the war with Ammon, but remained in Jerusalem, contrary to his custom. Many have censured David, as being in the wrong place by not going with his men into the battle This may be correct. However, David’s men had urged him not to risk his life by going into battle with them after he came near being slain by the giant, Ishbibenob (2 Samuel 21:16). Since this occurred during the Philistine campaign it seems to have already occurred when the Ammonite war broke out. In such case it may be David was complying with the request of his men by remaining at Jerusalem.

The passage under study states that David arose from his bed and walked on his roof during the evening. This indicates that he may have gone to bed for the night, but arose and went to the roof top, perhaps to meditate, or to enjoy the cooler breezes he would find at this higher elevation. It was then that he observed a beautiful woman next door, bathing herself. She was Bathsheba the wife of Uriah, one of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:39); also the grand daughter of David’s counselor, Ahithophel, and daughter of Eliam, another mighty man (2 Samuel 23:34).

There has been much conjecture and suggestion relative to this incident. Was Bathsheba bathing in an improper place, perhaps trying to seduce the king? It might seem so, although as seen, it is possible David was thought already asleep in his bed. In any case the fault must lie finally with David, for the godly, moral thing for him to have done was to turn away back into his palace and to his bed. Yet he lingered, lusted, and fell into the blackest sin of his career.

Another question arises as to Bathsheba’s willingness to come to David. She may have felt compelled to come at the king’s command, but this would surely be unlikely. David was not a tyrant, and her resistance might have resulted in second thoughts on his part. It is hard to claim innocence for Bathsheba.

Regardless of all the why’s and wherefor’s of the affair the result remains the same. Sin was committed, and Bathsheba conceived a child by David while her hero husband was fighting the king’s war.

Verses 6-13

Uriah Fails to Fall to David’s Ruse, vs. 6-13

Sin unadmitted requires further sin to bolster it, so David soon fell into more wickedness. He intended to deceive Uriah into thinking the child conceived by his wife was fathered by him. Bathsheba surely must have gone along with the scheme, which further involves her in David’s sin. David pretended that he had sent for Uriah to get a firsthand report of the progress of the siege of Rabbah. He showed much courtesy to Uriah, and when he had finished his interview sent him to his house, following with a meal from the king’s table.

The ruse failed, for Uriah’s loyalty to his men, his commander, and to his country was above his desire to return to his home and the arms of his wife. Instead he spent the night in the servants’ quarters.

When David learned that his plan had failed he chided Uriah for his failure to take the opportunity of a night in his own home, especially since it was just next door to the palace. Uriah emphatically stated his feeling. He was a man with sympathetic feelings for his men who had not the opportunity offered him, but must remain far from their homes, sleeping in the open air of the Ammonite countryside. Furthermore the presence of the ark with the army emphasized the concentration of political force with God’s presence to win the war. Uriah would not forget for even one night the gravity of the times and the war in which he was engaged.

Daivd realized that his only other chance was to render Uriah physically unable to act on his priorities. He served him a feast and tried to get him drunk so he would go to Bathsheba and thus be deluded into thinking he had fathered her child. It failed, for Uriah kept his senses about him in spite of the king’s efforts. Again he spent the night with the servants of David, successfully resisting the temptation. At this point his devotion to God and His cause (though Uriah was not an Israelite, but a Hittite descendant of the people left in the land when Israel conquered it) was greater than that of David.

Verses 14-21

Uriah Murdered, vs. 14-21

In desperation David went to the last extreme by ordering the murder of the man whose wife he had taken, to cover up his adultery. As much as any man on record David illustrated the truth of words written centuries later, "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). The only thing worse is the sin which leads to the loss of spiritual life. He sent Uriah back to camp with his own death warrant in his pocket, a trusting, innocent man going to his death by order of the man he loved and served. It is no wonder that God held David’s sin so abominable!

Joab was loyal to David even in wicked acts. He surveyed the situation. Being the able commander he was he had observed where the bravest and most valiant Ammonite soldiers were stationed. He sent Uriah and his men against that sector in order to accomplish the desire of the king. Not only was the good Uriah killed, but a number of his men were also slain. Sin compounded never ends with the harm of only one person.

It was time for Joab to send a battle report to the king. When he reported that some of the men had ventured too near the wall of Rabbah and had been killed by enemy arrows he knew David would question the action. He even anticipated that David would cite the incident of Abimelech, the son of Jerubbesheth (or Jerubbaal, or Gideon), who came close to the wall of the tower of Thebez and was killed by a piece of millstone dropped on his head by a woman in the tower (Judges 9:52-53). Before David protested too far, however, Joab told his messenger how to placate the king’s expected wrath, "Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also."

Verses 22-27

David Takes Bathsheba, Vs. 22-27

Joab’s messenger faithfully reported the words of his captain to King David. However, he did not wait for David to protest-the venture too near the wall of Rabbah, in which a number of men had been lost, including that of Uriah. Perhaps he knew the reputation of David in dealing with those who brought bad news (2 Samuel 1:13-16; 2 Samuel 4:9-12), and wished to avert any such danger which might accrue him by his news. Indeed the account certainly revealed considerable carelessness on the part of the captain who sent his men to an area where certain death awaited them. Of course the reason for this sortie was to dispose of Uriah as David had instructed Joab.

David’s response was likely very astonishing to the messenger, for he uttered no outcry at all, but rather reassured him. He was relieved to know that Uriah was dead, and his sin with Bathsheba was still covered up. Others would not know that.she was not carrying the child of Uriah, David thought. The messenger was to return a hypocritical message to Joab that he not be overly concerned for the loss of a good captain like Uriah, for the sword destroyed both small and great. He was to encourage Joab, that he strengthen his attack and overthrow the city.

Bathsheba played her part in the hypocrisy, pretending mourning for her dead husband. Then when the prescribed period for mourning was past, she put away her widow’s frock and David moved her into the palace to be his wife. In time she bore him a son, the child of their adultery. All looked well on the surface, but it is known that there was great strife and turmoil in David’s heart, as revealed in Psalms 51, 32. Furthermore God’s feeling is revealed in the last words of chapter 11, "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." David had rejected the warning of Moses, "Ye have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). It is no less true of men today than in the days of Moses or David.

Some thoughts to ponder: 1) One should turn away and call on the Lord upon the first impluse to indulge in sin; 2) complicity of others in one’s sin does not dilute his own guilt; 3) sin unconfessed will grow into a greater sin; 4) one’s individual sin does not often harm him alone, but extends to those whom he loves and who respect him; 5) all sins of men are well known to God and will eventually come to light.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-11.html. 1985.
 
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