If you haven't seen it already, I would recommend "The Chosen"! The first episode of Season 2 can be viewed by clicking here!

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 11:3

So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"
New American Standard Version
    Jump to:
  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  3. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  4. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  5. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  6. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  7. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  8. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  9. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  10. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
  11. Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
  12. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
  13. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
  14. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  15. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  16. Geneva Study Bible
  17. George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
  18. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  19. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  20. The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
  21. Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  22. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  23. Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary
  24. Kingcomments on the Whole Bible
  25. The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
  26. Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical
  27. L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
  28. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
  29. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
  30. Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible
  31. Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
  32. Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  33. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
  34. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
  35. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  36. The Biblical Illustrator
  37. The Biblical Illustrator
  38. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  39. The Pulpit Commentaries
  40. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  41. Wesley's Explanatory Notes
  42. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
  43. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Adultery;   Ammiel;   Bastard;   Bath-Sheba (Bathsheba);   Covetousness;   David;   Eliam;   Hittites;   Instability;   Lasciviousness;   Temptation;   Uriah;   Wife;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bath-Sheba;   David;   Infatuation;   Lust of the Eye;   Queens;   Women;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Chastity;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Hittites;   Uriah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bathsheba;   Concubine;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ammiel;   Bath-Sheba;   David;   Eliam;   Samuel, Books of;   Uriah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Eliam;   Proselytes;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Ammiel;   Bathsheba;   Eliam;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahithophel;   Ammon, Ammonites;   Bathsheba;   Hittites;   Marriage;   Samuel, Books of;   Uriah;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ammiel ;   Bathsheba ;   Eliam ;   Uriah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Bathsheba;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Hittites;   Uriah;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ahith'ophel;   Am'mi-El;   Bath'-Sheba,;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Division of the Earth;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ahithophel;   Ammiel;   Bath-Sheba;   Eliam;   Names, Proper;   Samuel, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ammiel;   Bath-Sheba;   Eliam;   Gentile;   Hittites;   Marriage;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The daughter of Eliam - Called, 1 Chronicles 3:5, Ammiel; a word of the same meaning, The people of my God, The God of my people. This name expressed the covenant - I will be your God; We will be thy people.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Eliam - Or Ammiel, 1 Chronicles 3:5, the component words being placed in an inverse order. Bath-sheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel 2 Samuel 23:34.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Bath-sheba. Called Bath-shua, 1 Chronicles 3:5.

Eliam. Called "Ammiel", 1 Chronicles 3:5. The son of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 23:34).

Uriah. One of David"s faithful soldiers (2 Samuel 23:39. Married the daughter of Eliam (2 Samuel 11:3), who was the son of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 23:34). This relationship probably led to Ahithophel"s disloyalty (2 Samuel 15:12).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. INTRO:
    1. Mothers Day: Video & Pray for moms.
    2. I’m going to do 2 Sam.11 in 2 Parts.
      1. This week: Part 1 Redeeming a Mom; center on Bathsheba’s life.
      2. Next week: Part 2 Redeeming a Man; center on David’s most notable sin.
    3. Every Mothers Day inevitably I talk with those who say, but my mom wasn’t a good mom.
      1. I want to speak to the less-than-perfect moms.
      2. I want to speak to moms who have made mistakes in mothering/motherhood.
      3. I want to show you a God who shows mercy, gives grace, & Redeems moms!
    2. (1) In the spring - or “at the turn of the year”. March/April. Jewish New Year.
    3. And of course David’s in bed when he should have been in battle!
    4. Family Counselor J. Allan Pettersen lists in his book, The Myth of the Greener Grass:
      1. No one however chosen, blessed & used of God, is immune to an extramarital affair
      2. Anyone, regardless of how many victories he has won, can fall disastrously.
      3. The act of infidelity is the result of uncontrolled desires, thoughts, and fantasies.
      4. Your body is your servant or it becomes your master.
      5. A Christian who falls will excuse, rationalize, and conceal, the same as anyone else.
      6. Sin can be enjoyable but it can never be successfully covered.
      7. One night of passion can spark years of family pain.
      8. [Listen to this!] Failure is neither fatal nor final!
    5. Bathsheba - Not sure what you think of her?
      1. ​​​​​​​You might think she’s a seductress right out of a romantic-novel. Purposely hoping to catch the eye of the most powerful man in the known world. Who just moved in to his new palace.Which happens to command a view of her house, right across the little valley. Who also happens to know he walks his porch right before nightfall.
      2. You might think she’s an innocent victim of a crime of rape; or at least one who was taken advantage of.
      3. What do we know? We know she’s good looking (11:2); & We know she came from a God fearing family (dad’s name was Eliam/Ammiel = People of God.
    6. Outline: [1] Becoming a mom doesn’t always start off well [2] Being a mom isn’t always easy esp regarding the death of a child [3] Moms & their faulty Motherhood can always be Redeemed
  3. [1] Becoming a mom doesn’t always “start” off well! (2 Sam.11:5)
    1. David, I’m pregnant! I am with child - When is Happy Mothers Day not a Happy Mothers Day?
      1. Unmarried mothers gave birth to 4 out of every 10 babies born in the US in 2007.
      2. Number of live births to unmarried women: 1,726,566 (2008 CDC stats)
      3. Ok, thats heard enough not being married, but being married & coming up w/ someone else’s baby...even worse.
    2. We are told Bathsheba could not have resisted had she desired, for a woman in these ancient times was completely subject to a king’s will.
      1. Consequently, her part in the story is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy.
      2. Even Sarah, some centuries before, because of her beauty, had been taken into the harems of 2 kings, Pharaoh & Abimelech (though not touched).
    3. There is no indication of Bathsheba’s thoughts or feelings in the matter.
      1. I am with child was the message she sent to David; & she left him to deal with the situation.
      2. She did mourn for her husband(26) but was her grief routine, or guilt, or sincere?
    4. So, Becoming a mom doesn’t always “start” off well!
  4. [2] Being a mom isn’t always easy, esp regarding the death of a child!(2 Sam.12:15b, 19)
    1. No greater grief a mother could ever face...the death of one of her children, even a baby.
      1. With Mary, the mother of Jesus, the death of her Son was defined, or alluded to, as a sword.
      2. The massacre of the children under 2 in Bethlehem & its districts brought about, “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”
        1. Rachel? The mother of Joseph & Benj.
          1. Joseph had Ephraim & Mannaseh (2 leading tribes in the North of Israel)
        2. Ramah? – Jeremiah had heard Rachel weeping at Ramah, “where the Jewish prisoners were assembled for their long journey to Babylon”.
        3. Rachel’s descendants thru Joseph (North Is.) captured by Assyria; Her descendants thru Benj. (South Is.) now captured by Babylon.
          1. God reassured her both Eph. & Benj. would be restored (16,17)
        4. Q: Why is this quoted in Mt.2:16-18?
        5. The mothers of Bethlehem, like Rachel, could only weep cuz of their present situation; but like Rachel, the tears were not in vain & not forever. See, “These children died that Jesus might live, so Jesus could die that they might live!”
    2. So, Being a mom isn’t always easy. Especially regarding the rebellion of their child, the lack of spirituality of their child, or the death of their child!
  5. ​​​​​​​[3]Moms & Mistakes in Motherhood can always be Redeemed(Prov31; Mt1:6)
    1. It is as the Mother of Solomon where she takes her honored place among the famous women of the bible. And, as the great, great, great, great, great,...grandmother of Jesus.
    2. [1] As the Mother of Solomon.
      1. ​​​​​​​During the years of Solomon’s youth there is no record of her.
      2. But, when King David was old & dying, she carried out the most important mission of her life(moms on a mission!). The establishing of Solomon as king!
        1. 1 Kings 1, She intervened to have her son Solomon succeed his father as king of Israel.
        2. Adonijah was exalting himself to be king, & David didn’t rebuke him for it. (1:5,6)
      3. The Prophet Nathan conspired with Bathsheba to have Solomon made king as David had promised earlier.
      4. In Bathsheba’s plea before the aged king she shows wisdom, finesse, courtesy, & vision. See 1 Kings 1:28,30 (obviously she had won great respect from her husband; from the prophet; from her son)
        1. Only an intelligent, respected woman could have won so great a victory from the king.
        2. Only a righteous woman could have been sought out by the prophet Nathan.
        3. Only a much loved mother could have been so warmly greeted when she went to her son after he became king.
          1. See 1 Kings 2:19. Right side (place of power/authority) & Queen mother!
          2. Make your Mom Queen Mother today! :)
      5. Jewish tradition has it that Bathsheba recited the 31st Proverb on chastity, temperance, & the qualities of a good wife, to her son Solomon at his 1st marriage. (Edith Deen, All the Women in the BIble, pg.113)
        1. ​​​​​​​Many believe Prov.31 was written by Solomon(King Lemuel) in memory of his mother.
        2. She encouraged her son the king to: Beware of Wine, Women, & Words (vs.1-9)
        3. The rest of the chapter becomes an anthem to the virtuous woman.
        4. A Hebrew Acrostic of: How Rare she is(10); How Restful she is(11,12); How Resourceful she is(13-15); How Rich she is(16-19); How Responsive she is(20); How Ready she is(21);Her Personal Appearance(22); Her Public Applause(23); Her Popular Approval(24-25) How Right she is(26,27); How Rewarded she is(28); How Renowned she is(29-31) (John Phillips commentary on Proverbs.)
      6. The stormy scenes of her young womanhood had all passed.
        1. Though she had lost the child born of adultery, it had been her pleasure to educate for the kingdom another son to see him anointed king & then to sit by him when he began to rule
      7. Her story opens w/a dark picture of a woman as man’s seductress; but closes happily w/the picture of the ideal woman, who is a trusted companion & devoted mother.
    3. [2] As the great, great, great, great,...GrandMother of Jesus.
    4. Bathsheba is also given a special place in the genealogy of Jesus!
      1. Mt.1:6 (NLT) Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).
      2. An interesting fact about Matthew’s genealogy is the inclusion of 4 OT women:
        1. Tamar (Matt.1:3), Rahab (5), Ruth (5), and Solomon’s mother Bathsheba (6).
        2. All of these women (as well as most of the men) were questionable in some way.
          1. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes (Gen. 38:24; Josh. 2:1),
          2. Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4)
          3. Bathsheba committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5).
        3. Matthew may have included these women in order to emphasize that God’s choices in dealing with people are all of His Grace!!!
          1. Let’s remember 2 things: There is a clean path to hell as well as a dirty one. And, No one can out-sin the Grace of God!
    5. Edith Dean, in All the Women in the Bible said, “Bathsheba lives on, even today 30 centuries later, as the honored & serene mother of Israel’s wisest king, as a wife possessing a noble calmness & gentle dignity, & as a woman of queenly carriage as well as one who was “very beautiful to look upon.” (Edith Dean pg.117)
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. INTRO:
    1. Belize/Machaca: John Gotz.
    1. Prayer: (read 1 Kings 15:5) We are thankful our sins are not written down for all to read. May we learn from our friend David, during his darkest hour.
    1. Why ch.11 in 2 parts?
      1. Last week: Part 1 Redeeming a Mom; center on Bathsheba’s life.
      1. This week: Part 2 Redeeming a Man; center on David’s most notable sin.
        1. The bible never flatters its heroes. All had feet of clay. [How the mighty have fallen!]
        1. Many families this morning, have lived through this very sin. :(
        1. I again remind us, if we leave the story on adultery, we learn little; but if we learn about God’s mercy, redemption & grace, then we surely have learned something tremendous.
    1. Outline: How It Happens. How To Prevent It. How To Fix It. How to Move On.
    1. Dropping Your Guard!
    1. “The devil tempts all men; but idle men tempt the devil.” F.B.Meyer
      1. There are perils of the indulgent life, unguarded moments, leisure hours, slackness, & lack of discipline w/the flesh.
      1. Tell me if James doesn’t describe David’s situation But each 1 is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14,15
    1. David’s mid-life crisis (age 50).
      1. He took off his armor...both physical & spiritual.
      1. W/o your helmet of salvation, we don’t think like saved people; W/o your breastplate of rt, we have nothing to protect our heart;

W/o your, belt of truth, we will easily believe lies; (i.e. “we can get away w/this!”) W/o the sword of the Spirit & shield of faith, we are helpless before the enemy; W/o prayer we have no power.

    1. David’s most difficult battle, one that would even cripple his kingdom waited for him in the ease & comfort of his own palace.
      1. Our military men & women face the same things today. Oversees, away from home, even on base, there is such order, respect for rank, command, authority, “hear & obey”. Then they come home.


        1. They go from commanding troops, being respected, & now they face a toddler or teenager talking back. Your spouse can careless what rank it says on your sleeve or patch on your arm...the dog poop needs picking up & dirty diapers need-a-changin!
      1. Often for our soldiers, men & women alike, find like David did, the greater battlefield might be when they walk through the front door.
    1. David was tempted when he woke up from his mid-day siesta. (Is there a pattern/time when u sin)
    1. One sin never abides alone! Unless, it is immediately confessed.
      1. Sin hardens the heart, & makes repentance difficult.
      1. No excuse David: He made the victim carry his own death instructions; he sacrificed other lives as well as Uriah’s; he makes Joab a part of his plot; the marriage has to be hurriedly consummated.
        1. David, What were the 6 things God hates? There are six things the Lord hates - no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. Prov.6:16-19
    1. David was tempted through the look! Like Eve (Gen3:6) & Achan (Josh7:21).
      1. We must put our eyes into the Lord’s keeping.
      1. Mt.6:22,23 NLT Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.
    1. I heard a great illustration from a free Download of The Next Story by Tim Challies, from Tim Provides a framework we all can apply to any technology, he explains how and why our society has become reliant on digital technology, what it means for our lives, and how it impacts the Christian faith. (Illustration from ch.4)

    1. It was the old British war hero Admiral Lord Nelson who declared, that every man became a bachelor once he went beyond Gibraltar. That Giant chunk of rock jutting into the Mediterranean Sea guarding against anyone who wanted to sail in or out.
      1. Gibraltar was, & Gibraltar represented, anything beyond the civilized world! Beyond Gibraltar laid the frontier. When a ship sailed through Gibraltar heading south down the African coast the men were leaving the known world & heading into the unknown.
      1. Beyond civilization w/all its rules, religion, & morality lay uninhibited freedom. And here, every man was a bachelor. Every man free from the watchful eye of society could now behave however he pleased.


    1. If you know the story of John Newton you know he enjoyed all that the world had to offer him. Until God did his work of Amazing Grace in his life.
    1. Beyond Gibraltar there was no law. It was Beyond the watching eyes of friends & family & neighbors & pastors. Every man could be who he wanted to be.
    1. Without law & without oversight there was great freedom…And great captivity.
      1. In all the freedom to sin, he became bound to sin. Beyond Gibraltar you left behind accountability, & close on its heals morality!
    1. Now in our digital lives we spend much time Beyond Gibraltar, beyond accountability through visibility. Able to say & do & look at & enjoy whatever our hearts desire. It has never been easier for everyone to be who he wants to be. (choose your own status). Yet for all the freedom it brings us, it can also bring captivity.
      1. How are you protecting yourself when you digitally sail Beyond Gibraltar?
      1. Accountability? Do you have a problem giving your spouse/parent your password.
      1. Your freedom can very quickly turn into captivity. And it all comes into the eye-gate!
        1. The lust for sensual things (pornography on-line; 50% men w/in the church?) The lust for $ or the thrill of chance (gambling on-line. We as Americans are now more addicted to gambling than alcohol. Peaks at age 31-40 & is now 3x’s as common as alcoholism for that age group)

The need for constant communication w/others (all social media)

        1. I am pro-social media. I am pro-digital media. But I am also pro-healthy boundaries.
          1. A 2010 study by Oxygen Media & Lightspeed Research found...1/3 of woman ages 18-34 check Facebook when 1st wake up even before using the bathroom. 21% check in the middle of the night. 39% admit being addicted to F.B.
        1. So how does one battle: cybersex & cyberporn addiction; online affairs which have led to surprising new trends in divorce & marital separation; addictions to eBay, or online gambling, or multi-user role-playing online games?
  1. How do we resist temptation...especially Beyond Gibraltar?
  1. How do we not yield to temptation?
    1. Look back & recall God’s goodness to you;
    1. Look ahead & remember “the wages of sin”;
    1. Look around you & think of all the people who will be affected by what you do;
    1. Look up & ask God for the strength to say no.
      1. 1 Cor.10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
  1. Other Tips?
    1. Establish boundaries that keep you out of compromising situations.


  1. Don't wait until you’re tempted to weigh the consequences of your actions. Consider the consequences ahead of time.
  1. Invite someone you trust to hold you to your standards this side of Gibraltar.
  1. Cultivate healthy pursuits that keep your thoughts on things that are honorable & pure & good.
  1. Most importantly, cling to the Lord in daily dependence.1

IV. HOW TO FIX IT! (Ps.51:1-9)

    1. This Psalm will explore both the depths of sin, but also the farthest reaches of salvation.
    1. Ps.51 is a model for recovery!!!
      1. Admit the failure to yourself - For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. (3)
        1. Don’t blame others, rationalize, deny, or make excuses.
      1. Admit the failure to the Lord - Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight. (4)
        1. Wait! Against You, You only, have I sinned, Adultery/murder are hardly private wrongs?
          1. This was a biblical way of going to the heart of the matter!
        1. Of course sin can be against oneself, Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Cor. 6:18);
        1. Or against your neighbor, If your brother sins against you…, (Lk.17:3).
          1. But the sinning against God is always the length/breadth of any & every sin!
      1. See God’s faithfulness & forgiveness - Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, & cleanse me from my sin(1,2)
      1. Come to terms w/your sinful humanity - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (5)
        1. David’s whole being was affected by his sin: his eyes(3b); mind(6b); ears(8); heart(10); spirit(10); fellowship w/God(11); he lost his joy(12); & mouth(13-15, he stopped teaching & singing)
    1. Had David stopped in vs.9, it would have led him to despair.
      1. Instead, it enlarged his praying…he goes on!

V.  HOW TO MOVE ON! (Ps.51:10-17)

    1. David turns the corner & takes hold of God’s pleasure in restoring the broken.



Charles Swindoll; David, pg.134



  1. Ask God to put you together again - Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. (10)
  1. Prepare to be used again - Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. (13)
    1. This is after he has dealt with his failing & restored his relationship w/God; now he gets on with it. He deals with the new realities & makes the most of them.
    2. Once right after Dan Marino, former quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, had thrown an interception, the commentator said, “One great strength of Marino is, like all great quarterbacks, he has a short memory.” In other words, he doesn’t dwell on interceptions. He knows what he did wrong. Instead of being paralyzed by an interception, he thinks, What’s the next play?
      1. Obviously one is a mistake & the other a major transgression. But both must move push past the event or it will be crippling!
  1. Here is the worse consequence of sin in our life…loss of close fellowship w/God! (11)
    1. No, God doesn’t remove His H.S. from us today (as he did in OT)!
    1. Jn.14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
      1. When we sin against the Lord, we lose that closeness of the H.S.
  1. David didn’t lose his salvation, but the joy of Your salvation! (12)
  1. (13) Then I will teach – Yes, you’re not shelved for ever!!!
    1. Jesus to Peter, When you have turned again, strengthen your brothers!
    1. Yes, saved sinners, there will again come a time, when God will use you & even your sin situation to share with others! Build your testimony again!
  1. (14) Bloodshed – plainly name your sin! David doesn’t call it a moral lapse or an indiscretion!
    1. “Do not give fair names to foul sins!” (Spurg)
  1. (17) Broken – A whole heart is a senseless thing…but when it is broken & bruised, it is useful to God.
    1. My Society Garlic plant gives off its aroma when it is bruised.
    1. Do you like Lemon slice in your ice tea? 1st thing I do take it & bend in ½ or twist it.
      1. Then & only then does it give off its wonderful full scent/flavor.
  1. Micah 7:18,19 Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary


Now in chapter eleven.

It came to pass, after these things that Joab, and the army in the springtime when it was a good time to go out and fight, after the winter rains were over, Joab with the forces went again against Ammon. [Or the Ammonites.] And David one evening, after his afternoon siesta, was taking a stroll on his roof: and from this vantage point, [up on his roof, looking over the city,] he noticed in the courtyard of a neighboring house a beautiful woman bathing. [David began to lust after this woman.] He said to his servant, Who is that woman that lives in that house over there? And the servant said, That is Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite. So David commanded his servant to go over and to bring her to him [There David committed adultery with her. After awhile she sent a message to David that she was pregnant.] ( 2 Samuel 11:1-5 ).

So David sought to cover his sin.

His son Solomon later wrote, "He who seeks to cover his sin shall not prosper, but whoso will confess and forsake his sin, he shall be forgiven".

David sought to cover for his sin by sending for Uriah who was in the army fighting with Joab.

He sent a note to Joab, Send Uriah back from the battle. So Uriah came back, and David said, How"s the battle going, how"s Joab, how are the troops? [Asking a lot of questions concerning the battle.] He said, Go home, spend the night with your wife tonight. And David sent after him a mess of meat, so they could just feast ( 2 Samuel 11:6-8 ).

He figured that he"d go home, and go to bed with his wife, and later on when his wife would say, "Honey, I"m pregnant," that no one would ever know the difference, except for David and Bathsheba, and he figured that the whole thing could be covered over. But Uriah seemed to be a very honorable man.

[Instead of going home,] he slept that night on David"s porch with David"s servants. In the morning it was told David that Uriah didn"t go home, he spent the night there on the porch. So he called Uriah in, and he said, Hey man why didn"t you go home and spend the night with your wife, I mean after all you"ve been out fighting and you have a chance to spend the night with your wife, why would you sleep on the porch? He said, Well Joab, and all of my buddies are out there in the fields, they"re sleeping out in the fields at night: and it wouldn"t be right for me to enjoy my wife, and my own bed [when my buddies are out there in the trenches, I just couldn"t do that.] And so David said, Well tarry with me to day and tomorrow. And so he kept filling the guy"s wine glass; got him pretty drunk, [Figuring that if he was drunk enough maybe he would go home.] but he staggered out to the porch of David"s house and there he was asleep again ( 2 Samuel 11:9-13 ).

So, as sin so often does, it leads to something worse. It begins to compound, it begins to develop in its insidious manner. So David turned to a second plan, more dastardly than the first. That plan was to deliberately have Uriah killed in battle.

And so David sent a message to Joab, sealed orders by the hand of Uriah which said, When the battle gets hot, put Uriah in the front line of the hottest spot, that he might be smitten, and die. [So Joab began to assault the city of the Ammonites, and he sent an assault troop up towards the wall pursuing the Ammonites. And as they got close to the wall, the archers from the wall began to shoot at them,] and Uriah was shot and killed along with some of the other troops. So Joab sent a messenger unto David to tell him of the battle and how things were going. He said, If David gets angry because we approached the wall too close, then tell him that Uriah also is dead. And so the fellow came and told David of the battle, how that some of the men had fallen. They had been shot by the archers on the wall. [And David became sort of angry, because he said, That"s foolish come so near the wall? Joab knows better than that!] The messenger said, Well Uriah the Hittite was also killed. And David said, Let the matter rest, it is okay. Bathsheba mourned for her husband. And after her period of mourning, David took her as his wife, [figuring things were all right. But things weren"t all right. God could not allow David"s sin to go unnoticed, or to go unpunished.] The child was born ( 2 Samuel 11:14-27 ).

David figured, "Well, that"s great!" He no doubt came to love Bathsheba. His first experience with her was not an experience expressing love. It was an experience just expressing lust, but he no doubt came to love.

Even as I believe that many couples are attracted by certain physical characteristics, and later on they actually learn to love each other. Many times you"re attracted to another person by certain physical characteristics, and later on you"ll learn to hate them, as you really get to know them. So love doesn"t always follow an attraction, a physical attraction. But people say, "Love at first sight". No, it doesn"t really happen that way. Interest at first sight, attraction maybe, but love is something that grows. Love is something that develops in a relationship. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

David and Bathsheba

This narrative is of the greatest value. It shows the faithfulness and the high morality of the historian, who relates, without a single attempt at palliation, this scandalous chapter in the great king's history. Further, the position of the prophet, even in these early days, as the 'conscience' of the individual or the nation, is clearly described. What Nathan is to David, Elijah (with equal courage) is to Ahab. In other nations, even in much later times, such an act if committed by a powerful king would have gone unnoticed or unblamed.

1. After the year was expired] RV 'at the return of the year,' i.e. in the spring. When kings go forth to battle] In ancient times hostilities ceased during the winter and began again in the spring. David tarried still at Jerusalem] He was not required to be present during the lengthy operations of the siege.

2. David arose from off his bed] He had been resting during the heat of the day.

6f. The subterfuges to which the sinner is compelled to stoop are described in pitiless detail.

8. A mess of meat from the king] This was regarded as a special mark of distinction. Cp. Genesis 43:34; 1 Samuel 9:23.

9. It would seem that Uriah's suspicions had been aroused.

11. The ark] This accidental mention of the ark suggests that it was no unusual occurrence for it to be taken to the field of battle.

15. The only resource left was murder.

21. Who smote Abimelech?] see Judges 9:53.

23. We were upon them] i.e. we opposed them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

David"s adultery with Bathsheba11:1-5

While Joab was continuing to subdue the Ammonites the following spring by besieging Rabbah ("the great one," modern Amman, the capital of Jordan; cf. 2 Samuel 10:7), David was residing in Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 11:1). By mentioning the fact that normally kings led their armies into battle in the spring, the writer implied that David was not acting responsibly by staying in Jerusalem (cf. 1 Samuel 14:1-2).

". . . leading his troops into battle was expected to be the major external activity of an ancient Near Eastern ruler ..." [Note: Youngblood, p928. Cf1Samuel8:5-6, 20.]

"Our most difficult times are not when things are going hard. Hard times create dependent people. You don"t get proud when you"re dependent on God. Survival keeps you humble. Pride happens when everything is swinging in your direction. When you"ve just received that promotion, when you look back and you can see an almost spotless record in the last number of months or years, when you"re growing in prestige and fame and significance, that"s the time to watch out ... especially if you"re unaccountable....

"Our greatest battles don"t usually come when we"re working hard; they come when we have some leisure, when we"ve got time on our hands, when we"re bored." [Note: Swindoll, p183.]

David"s temptation followed an age-old pattern: he saw, he desired, and he took (cf. Genesis 3:6; James 1:14-15). He could not help seeing, but he could have stopped watching, lusting, sending for Bathsheba, and lying with her. "Very beautiful" translates a Hebrew phrase that describes people of striking physical appearance (cf. Genesis 24:16; Genesis 26:7 [Rebekah]; Esther 1:11 [Vashti]; Esther 2:7 [Esther]; 1 Samuel 16:12 [where a cognate expression describes David]). Perhaps Bathsheba was not totally innocent, but that does not vitiate David"s guilt. It seems reasonable to assume that she could have shielded herself from view if she had wanted to do so. Yet the writer never explicitly blamed Bathsheba for what happened, only David.

"The bathing itself may have been for the purpose of ritual purification and would therefore not only advertise Bathsheba"s charms but would serve as a notice to the king that she was available to him." [Note: Eugene H. Merrill, " 2 Samuel," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p467.]

Bathsheba"s father, Eliam ( 2 Samuel 11:3), was apparently the son of Ahithophel, David"s counselor (cf. 2 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 23:34). [Note: See Hayim Tadmor, "Traditional Institutions and the Monarchy: Social and Political Tensions in the Time of David and Song of Solomon," in Studies in the Period of David and Solomon and Other Essays, p247.] If Song of Solomon, this may throw light on Ahithophel"s later decision to abandon David and support Absalom when Absalom tried to overthrow David. Uriah may have been a mercenary from one of the Syro-Hittite states to Israel"s north. Alternatively he may have been the son of Hittites who had immigrated to Israel when the Hittite Empire was crumbling. [Note: Richard H. Beal, "The Hittites After the Empire"s Fall," Biblical Illustrator10:1 (Fall1983):81.] Probably he was a member of the native Canaanite tribe of Hittites that inhabited the Promised Land before the Conquest (cf. Genesis 23:3-15; Numbers 13:29; et al.).

David then "took" Bathsheba-we could translate the Hebrew word "he collected" her-and so abused his royal power. Evidently this was a "one night stand;" David and Bathsheba appear to have had sex only on this one occasion before their marriage. In the Hebrew text it is clear that Bathsheba purified herself before having sex with David. The Hebrew clause is disjunctive and could be put in parentheses: "(Now at that time she was purifying herself from her [menstrual] uncleanness.)" Having just completed her menstrual cycle, the reason for her purification, Bathsheba was physically ready to conceive. Thus Uriah, who was away at war, could not have been the father of the child she conceived.

"The only recorded speech of Bathsheba, brief though it is ["I am pregnant," 2 Samuel 11:5], sets in motion a course of action which ultimately results in her husband"s death." [Note: Lawlor, p197.]

Why did Bathsheba inform David that she was pregnant? Could she not have told her husband alone? Was she hoping that David would acknowledge her child and that the child would then enjoy royal privileges? The writer left us to guess. I think she told David because she hoped he would do something to help her. If she had told Uriah, he could have figured out that the child was not his.

About five years later David"s oldest Song of Solomon, Amnon ("faithful"), followed in his father"s footsteps ( 2 Samuel 13:14). Since David was born in1041 B.C. and this incident took place about992 B.C, David was close to49 years old when he committed adultery.

"The king who is content to be given the kingdom ( 2 Samuel 2-4) nevertheless seizes with violence the woman of his desire. The theme of seizure then erupts in the rape of Tamar, the taking of Amnon"s life and (in political form) the major incident of the rebellion of Absalom." [Note: Gunn, "David and . . .," p35.]

"This king who took another man"s wife already had a harem full of women. The simple fact is that the passion of sex is not satisfied by a full harem of women; it is increased. Having many women does not reduce a man"s libido, it excites it ... it stimulates it.... One of the lies of our secular society is that if you just satisfy this drive, then it"ll be abated." [Note: Swindoll, p182.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam.—Her name is spelt in Chronicles Bath-shua, and her father’s name is said to be Ammiel. Ammiel and Eliam are the same name with its component parts transposed, as Scripture names are often varied: God’s people and the people of God.

Wife of Uriah the Hittite.—His name appears (2 Samuel 23:39) in the list of David’s thirty chief heroes, and the whole story represents him as a brave and noble-minded soldier. David had now given rein to his guilty passion so far that the knowledge of Bath-sheba’s being a married woman, and the wife of one of his chief warriors, does not check him.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


2 Samuel 11:1-13

This was not an isolated sin. For some time, backsliding had been eating out David’s heart. The cankerworm takes its toll before the noble tree crashes to the ground. See Psalms 51:8. Joab and his brave soldiers were in the thick of a great conflict. Rabbah was being besieged and had not fallen. It was a time when kings went out to battle, but David tarried at home. It was a fatal lethargy. If the king had been in his place, this sin would never have besmirched his character.

A look, as in Eve’s case, opened the door to the devil. “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” However great our attainments and however high our standing, we are all liable to attack and failure; but when we abide in Christ, no weapon that hell can forge can hurt us. When we have sinned, our only safety is in instant confession. This David delayed for a year and till forced to it. He was more eager to evade the consequences than to deal with his transgression. Sober David was far worse, here, than drunken Uriah. The singular self-restraint of the soldier threw the sin of the king into terrible and disgraceful prominence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible


1. David’s Great Sin


1. David’s great sin (2 Samuel 11:1-5)

2. David sends for Uriah (2 Samuel 11:6-13)

3. The murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-25)

4. David makes Bath-sheba his wife (2 Samuel 11:26-27)

We see the king once more in his house. He sent Joab, his servants and all Israel to battle again against Ammon. Was it not his business as king to go forth with Israel as he had done before? Instead he remains in ease and comfort at home. Evidently he rested all day on his couch, during the heat of the day, and when the cool evening came he walked upon the roof of his house. He had been in self-indulgence and was self-satisfied with his great achievements. The spirit which characterized later Nebuchadnezzar when he walked in his palace (Daniel 4:4) puffed up with pride, which preceded his great humiliation, was no doubt David’s spirit also. Had he remained in the presence of the Lord, humble and depending on Him, as we saw him after the Lord had spoken through Nathan (7:18) this awful sin would not have happened. How often it has been repeated in the experiences of God’s people! Nor did this great sin like a mighty giant ensnare him suddenly. The way for it had been prepared. He had given way to the flesh before in taking wives and concubines. We read nothing of self-restraint or self-judgment in his life up to his fall. And had he not disobeyed the law in multiplying wives unto himself? It is written: “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Had he really walked constantly in the presence of the Lord he would have heeded the warning of His law. What warning there is for all believers! The flesh is the same today as it ever was; it does not change. We are told “to make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). Paraphrased this means, do not nourish the flesh by the indulgence of it; flee fleshly, youthful lusts. And now the culmination is reached. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; How then should I look upon a maid;” thus spake job (Job 31:1). David knew no such covenant. He looks where he should not have looked and sin soon follows. It is a solemn illustration of James 1:14-15. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” The king of all Israel had become another Achan. “I saw--I coveted--I took” (Joshua 7:20.)

“It need scarcely be pointed out, how this truthful account of the sins of Biblical heroes evinces the authenticity and credibility of the Scriptural narratives. Far different are the legendary accounts which seek to palliate the sins of Biblical personages, or even to deny their guilt. Thus the Talmud denies the adultery of David on the ground that every warrior had, before going to the field, to give his wife a divorce, so that Bathsheba was free. We should, however, add, that this view was controverted” (A. Edersheim.)

And sin follows sin. The offspring of sin is sin. What cunningness and deception followed. But honest Uriah frustrates his wicked plan. Did not David’s conscience smart under it? No doubt it was deadened. Then he becomes actually the murderer of Uriah the Hittite. When the news of the death of Uriah is announced to David, hypocrisy is crowned in the words of the King, “Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as another.” And here we read still the dreadful record, the sin of David and how God dealt with it.

“David, too, has faced that ever since, and faces it still: he will face it ever. It is put away, that sin, yet it remains, and will remain, type of all sins of his people, and of God’s dealing with them: out of the holy light of eternity they will never pass,--out of our memories never! Here is man, here is his condemnation,--redeemed, saved, justified man! Thyself, reader; myself Cease ye from man forever!--from ourselves, sinner or saint! Turn we to God forever, and let us ascribe greatness and salvation to Him alone.

“This is what an unexercised conscience can bring a David to. This is what lack of self-judgment, with temptation and opportunity, may make a saint! Shall we not cry afresh, with David himself, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’?” (Numerical Bible)

And seven days later the equally guilty woman becomes David’s wife. And she became the mother of Solomon. We find her mentioned in the genealogy of Matthew 1. Surely grace and mercy covered their sin. Yet what a trail of sorrow, misery and unrest follows, We shall find in chapters which follow the awful results. Incest, fratricide, rebellion, civil war and the king a fugitive! What a man soweth that he will also reap.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

In the whole of the Old Testament literature there is no chapter more tragic or full of solemn and searching warning than this.

Carefully pondering it, we notice the downward steps logically following each other in rapid succession. First, "David tarried at Jerusalem." It was the time of war, and his place was with the army. Instead of being there, he had remained behind, in the sphere of temptation. This is not to say that the place of peace is more perilous than that of war, but rather that any place other than that of duty is one of extreme danger.

From this, events moved rapidly but surely onward. In briefest quotation we may indicate the movement: "He saw"; "he sent and inquired"; "he took."

The king had fallen from the high level of purity to sin in yielding to the inner weakness which had already become manifested. One sin led to another, and in all likelihood his sin against Uriah, one of the bravest of his soldiers, was more dastardly than his sin with Bathsheba.

From the merely human standpoint, the unutterable folly of the whole affair is evident as he puts himself in Joab's power by sharing with him the secret of his guilt. Even more fitting than in his own use of them, his words concerning the death of Saul and Jonathan are true, "How are the mighty fallen!"

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And David sent and inquired after the woman,.... Who she was, what her name, and whether married or unmarried; if the latter, very probably his intention was to marry her, and he might, when he first made the inquiry, design to proceed no further, or to anything that was dishonourable; but it would have been better for him not to have inquired at all, and endeavoured to stifle the motions raised in him at the sight of her:

and one said, is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam; who in 1 Chronicles 3:5; is called Bathshua, and her father Ammiel, which is the same with Eliam reversed:

the wife of Uriah the Hittite? who either was of that nation originally, and became a proselyte; or had sojourned there for a while, and took the name or had it given him, for some exploit he had performed against that people, as Scipio Africanus, and others among the Romans; this was said by one that David inquired of, or heard him asking about her, and was sufficient to have stopped him from proceeding any further, when he was informed she was another man's wife: some sayF8Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 8. 2. she was the daughter of Ahithophel's son; see 2 Samuel 23:34.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

2 Samuel 11:1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 11:1 — "And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle" - Comments- Gesenius says the Hebrew word "the year was expired" "tesh-oo-baw"" ( תְּשׁוּבָה) (H 8666), means, "return." Strong says it means "a recurrence, be expired, an answer, return." Anderson translates it "the turn (return) of the year" Within the context of this passage, it means, "completion of a year, return of a year." Anderson says this phrase is generally understood as the springtime. 59] Evidently, kings waged wars during the spring when the weather was most accommodating for outdoors. Cold weather would have brought sickness among the troops as well as putting them at a disadvantage when besieging cities.

59] A. A. Anderson, 2Samuel, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 11, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on 2Samuel .

2 Samuel 11:1 — "that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel" - Comments- Joab was David's military general over the armies of all of Israel.

2 Samuel 11:1 — "and they destroyed the children of Ammon" - Comments- David's war with the Ammonites begins in the previous chapter ( 2 Samuel 10:1-19), so much destruction had already taken place. This addition effort was to put these people in complete submission under David's rule. The battles taking place at this time were occasioned when David sent a delegate to comfort King Hanun of the Ammonites at the death of his father Nahash. The new king humiliated David's men and sent them back to Jerusalem with half their beards shaven, and half their clothes cut off. David replied by waging a battle against the Ammonites and the Syrians who came to their aid ( 2 Samuel 10:1-19).

2 Samuel 11:1 — "and besieged Rabbah" - Comments- The Scriptures call Rabbah the "royal city" ( 2 Samuel 12:26), meaning it was the place where the king of the Ammonites lived. Anderson tells us it was the capital city, located near to where Amman, Jordan is today. 60] The name "Rabbah" ( רַבָּה) (H 7237), means "the great one" and is first mentioned in books of Deuteronomy ( Deuteronomy 3:11) and Joshua ( Joshua 13:25; Joshua 15:60) during the time of Israel's conquest of Canaan. The city of Rabbah is not mentioned again until the time of David's conquest of the surrounding nations ( 2 Samuel 11:1, 26, 27, 29; 17:27, 1 Chronicles 20:1). The later prophets of Israel will make brief references to this city as they prophesy divine judgment against the Ammonites ( Jeremiah 49:2-3, Ezekiel 21:20; Ezekiel 25:5, Amos 1:14).

60] A. A. Anderson, 2Samuel, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 11, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on 2Samuel .

2 Samuel 11:1"But David tarried still at Jerusalem" - Comments- David was idle, which can lead to an opportunity to sin. Note the sin of idleness in Ezekiel 16:49, "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

2 Samuel 11:2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king"s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

2 Samuel 11:2Comments- On the roof, David's mind must not have been in prayer. As long as David was being persecuted and needed help from God, his heart was faithful to seek God. When things became easy, idleness came in.

2 Samuel 11:3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

2 Samuel 11:3 — "And David sent and enquired after the woman" - Comments- 2 Samuel 11:3 reveals how David took time to ponder over the idea before taking this woman. He was probably making sure of her identity before taking her so that he could be certain that he could handle the responses of her immediate kin.

2 Samuel 11:3"And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam" - Comments- According to 2 Samuel 23:34, Ahithophel, David's counsellor, had a son named Eliam, who was also one of David's mighty men. According to some Jewish traditions (see Sanhedrin 69b, 107a), and a number of modern scholars, Bathsheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel. 61]

61] H. M. Speaker, "Bath-Sheba - In Rabbinical Literature," in The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol 2, ed, Isidore Singer (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1901-4), 594-595.

2 Samuel 23:34, "Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,"

2 Samuel 11:4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

2 Samuel 11:4Comments- David had a number of wives by now, and instead of this factor decreasing the chance of adultery, it made David less restrained. In Africa, where polygamy is common, local pastors will teach that polygamy tends to cause a man to become sexually out of control.

David quickly found out that her husband was a Hittite (not a Hebrew). With David's passion was aflame, he had found his reasoning justified in taking this man"s wife. The act of adultery began with the eyes, then the lust of the eyes and flesh, then pondering this sin, finding out more about the situation, then came the adultery itself ( 2 Samuel 11:4, James 1:14-15).

2 Samuel 11:4, "And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house."

, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

Just as sure as a man allows his mind to dwell on lustful things, his flesh bursts into flames with desires that are hard to control. This is why a Christian must bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:5, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"

The Lord gave me this passage of Scripture while I was single, in order to teach me how to stay in control of my vessel.

2 Samuel 11:24 And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king"s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

2 Samuel 11:24"some of the king"s servants" - Comments- Other soldiers besides Uriah died in this scheme of David.

2 Samuel 11:24Comments- David's sin cost many other lives besides Uriah. Even years later with the battle of Absalom, this was the result of his sin with Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 12:10, "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife."

2 Samuel 11:27 And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.

2 Samuel 11:27"But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD" - Scripture Reference- Note:

Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."

Comments- Note David"s confession:

2 Samuel 12:13, "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die."

Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.
Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

David Takes Bathsheba, the Wife of Uriah - 2 Samuel 11:1 to 2 Samuel 12:31 records the story of David's sin of taking Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, as his wife, and the murder of Uriah. In ancient monarchs, a king had the power to take another man's wife within his kingdom. We read in the Scriptures the story of how the Pharaoh took Abraham's wife from him when he journeyed into Egypt ( Genesis 12:10-20), and King Abimelech later took Sarah ( Genesis 20:1-18). Mullins, an Anglican missionary to East Africa, records the customs of the primitive African tribes. He notes how the local kings owned all of the land in their kingdoms, how they had the power of life and death over the people, killing them at the slightest presumption, and how they took as many wives as he desired. 57]

57] J. D. Mullins, The Wonderful Story of Uganda (London: Church Missionary Society, 1908), 194-206.

The narrative material opens and closes with Israel's battle against Rabbah, the capital city of the Ammonites. The preceding chapters record Israel's defeats of all of her enemies around about her borders, of her victories over the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, and the Ammonites. The ministry of King David reaches a peak in the chapters preceding the story of David and Bathsheba. After the king's moral failure with Uriah and Bathsheba, the narrative text records a series of events that weaken the nation of Israel, culminating in civil war and the lost of many Israeli lives, all in fulfilment of Nathan's prophecies. In the remaining chapters of 2Samuel King David will no longer be described as a man of great exploits and territorial expansion, but rather, a man of sorrow and one who extends compassion towards others. Although David had failed to raise his sons with discipline and godly fear, he will now take young Solomon and pour his life and passion for the things of God into this child.

2 Samuel 11:1 to 2 Samuel 12:31 David Takes Bathsheba, the Wife of Uriah (Polygamy in Society) - One reason that Paul limits a Christian man to one wife in the midst of these polygamous societies is that polygamy tends to bring a man into sexual promiscuity ( 1 Timothy 3:2). Polygamy is found in the lives of King David and King Song of Solomon, and because of it, both men sinned against God in this area. For King David, it resulted in adultery and murder. For King Song of Solomon, it resulted in idolatry. Having lived in Africa a number of years, I have seen how polygamy distorts a man's perception of marriage. A man who believes that he can seek additional wives has no way to define adultery. When his poverty moves him into common law relationships where a marriage ceremony is too expensive, how does one distinguish between an adulterous relationship and a common law marriage? It becomes impossible to define. A man with more power in a polygamous society is able to steal another man's wife. How does one define right and wrong is such situation? Was not this King David's sin?

1 Timothy 3:2, "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;"

2 Samuel 11:1 to 2 Samuel 12:31 David Takes Bathsheba, the Wife of Uriah (The Spirit of Adultery and Murder Often Work Together) - It is interesting to compare David's sin of adultery and murder with the testimony of Jack Hayford when he was a young minister. His testimony includes a temptation towards adultery followed by thoughts of murder. As a young minister working at the headquarters of the Four Square Church, he found himself becoming close friends with a female co-worker, even though he was married. After some time a mature co-worker noticed this unhealthy friendship. Hayford tells of his emotional experience, how he both love his wife and yet, felt affections for this new lady. He tells how he entertained the thoughts of his wife dying. As he struggled with his heart and the Spirit of God, he felt tremendous conviction, but did not know what to do. He was feeling thoughts of adultery, followed by thoughts of loosing his wife, which was a spirit of murder. But because of the intercession of others and the work on the Holy Spirit, he came to himself, approached his supervisor and arranged for a separation between himself and this female co-worker. At that point he approached his wife and revealed this struggle with her. Years later, he began to share this testimony from the pulpit and found that it was a frequent struggle with many church leaders and laymen. 58] We find these same two spirits at work in the life of David. He committed adultery, followed by murder.

58] Jack Hayford, The Anatomy of Adultery (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2004).

It is interesting to note the fact that Lamech, the first polygamist in the Scriptures ( Genesis 4:23), also committed an act of murder. We can note that the religion of Islam, which emphasizes polygamy as a part of hits religious tenets of faith is also characterized as a religion of war and terror and murder. We can note that the African nations are known for their polygamy as well as their internal wars. Thus, there seems to be a relationship between polygamy, or adultery, and the spirit of murder.

2 Samuel 11:1 to 2 Samuel 12:31 David Takes Bathsheba, the Wife of Uriah (The Setting and the Progression of Sin) - Note the setting for this sin in David's life. David has become king and subdued all people around him. In 2 Samuel 7:1 we read that the Lord gave David rest from all his enemies.

2 Samuel 7:1, "And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;"

Note that the first sin David committed in his sin with Uriah's wife was not adultery, but idleness. In his idleness his imagination found time to lead him down the path of adultery. This journey began with lust when he saw Bathsheba. This lust conceived when David sent for her. His lust turned to sin when he lay with her. This sin resulted in the death of the child that was conceived by this sin of adultery, in the murder of Uriah, and eventually in the deaths of Amnon and Absalom, David's two sons. In the darkness of his sin David pursued murder before judgment fell in his life. Sin had taken its course. Note this progress described in .

, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

This great process of sins left one black mark on an otherwise upright life ( 1 Kings 15:5).

1 Kings 15:5, "Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite."

Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.
Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

Geneva Study Bible

And David sent and enquired after the woman. And [one] said, [Is] not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the c Hittite?

(c) Who was not an born an Israelite, but converted to the true religion.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Eliam. By a transposition of letters, he is called Ammiel, in 1 Paralipomenon iii. 5. Both words signify "my people is God's." This son of Achitophel (chap. xxiii. 34,) was one of David's valiant men, as well as Urias, who is styled the Hethite, being born at Eth; (St. Jerome; Salien) or on account of his extraction, or because he or his ancestors (Haydock) had performed some great exploit against that nation; as Germanicus, Africanus, &c., received those titles among the Romans, for conquering the Germans, &c. (Calmet) --- Eth was a place near Hebron. (Adrichomius 128.) (Menochius) --- The name of Bethsabee is also different in Paralipomenon; the last b in Hebrew being changed into v. Both-shua, both-al-i-am; instead of Both-shoba, both-am-i-al. (Haydock) (Kennicott) --- The grandfather of Bethsabee is supposed to have revolted against David, to revenge the wrong done to her. (Tirinus; Cornelius a Lapide) "Let the weak tremble at the fall of the strong." (St. Augustine, in Psalm l.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

one said — literally, “he said to himself,”

Is not this Bath-sheba? etc. — She seems to have been a celebrated beauty, whose renown had already reached the ears of David, as happens in the East, from reports carried by the women from harem to harem.

Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam — or Ammiel (1 Chronicles 3:5), one of David‘s worthies (2 Samuel 23:34), and son of Ahithophel.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

One said - literally, he said to himself.

Is not this Bath-sheba ..., [ Bat-Sheba` (Hebrew #1339), daughter of the oath; or Bath-shua (1 Chronicles 3:5); Septuagint, Beersabee.] She seems to have been a celebrated beauty, whose renown had already reached the ears of David, as happens in the East, from reports carried by the women from harem to harem.

Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam - or Ammiel (1 Chronicles 3:5), one of David's worthies (2 Samuel 23:34), and son of Ahithophel.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

2 Samuel 11

1. And it came to pass, after the year was expired [at the return of the year], at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon [devastated the land and cut off stragglers], and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

2. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king"s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

3. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam [the people of God], the wife of Uriah the Hittite? [one of David"s thirty chief heroes].

4. And David sent messengers, and took her [without violence]; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

5. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

6. And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite [thus David would cover up his crime]. And Joab sent Uriah to David.

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.

8. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king"s house, and there followed him a mesa of meat [a present] from the king.

9. But Uriah slept at the door of the king"s house [in the guard chamber at the entrance of the palace] with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.

10. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?

11. And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; 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 [a noble answer].

12. And David said to Uriah, Tarry here today also, and to-morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.

13. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk [how base! how infernal!]: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

14. And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter [not with black but with blood] to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

15. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.

16. And it came to pass, when Joab observed [blockaded] the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.

17. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

18. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war;

19. And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king,

20. And if so be that the king"s 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?

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? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

22. So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for.

23. And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate.

24. And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king"s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

25. Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.

26. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead she mourned for her husband [the usual period, seven days].

27. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

["Several months must have passed since the beginning of David"s course of sin, and as yet his conscience had not brought him to a sense of what he had done, nor had the prophet Nathan been sent to him. It is to be remembered that during all this time David was not only the civil ruler of his people, but also the head of the theocracy, the great upholder of the worship and the service of God, and his psalms were used as the vehicle of the people"s devotion. If it be asked why he should have been left so long without being brought to a conviction of his sin, one obvious reason Isaiah, that this sin might be openly fastened upon him beyond all possibility of denial by the birth of the child. But besides this, however hardened David may appear to have been in passing from one crime to another in the effort to conceal his guilt, yet it is scarcely possible that his conscience should not have been meantime at work and oppressing him with that sense of unconfessed and unforgiven sin which prepared him at last for the visit of Nathan."]

This chapter reveals the character of David in its most distressing aspects. In all history can there be a blacker record than this? From end to end it is a production worthy only of the very genius of perdition. It is almost impossible to conceive that this David is the David whom we have hitherto known. His course has indeed been marked by somewhat of prevarication and duplicity, and now and again we have trembled for his integrity, but we have always felt that he was a man who, coming very near to destruction, would yet escape total ruin. Yet here he is little less than a child of the devil. His very greatness becomes the measure of his sin. All his senses are set on fire of hell. The spirit of generosity is dead within him. The spirit of justice is exiled from his nature. Falsehood, treachery, baseness hardly equalled in history, cruelty odious and detestable beyond all conceivable pitilessness, these now take possession of the king of Israel, worse spirits than troubled Israel"s first king when young David harped before him. Surely this is not the young shepherd once "ruddy, and of a fair countenance," so noble in aspect, so valiant in courage, so gifted in music, so forbearing in opposition, and so tender-hearted in his relations to Jonathan. How is the star of the morning dashed from heaven! How is the fine gold become dimmed! How are the mighty fallen! It is almost impossible to believe that this is human nature at all, so infernal is its lust, so desperate and infinite its passion. Let us not seek to excuse David. We injure the Bible, and the whole purpose of the inspired volume, if we speak so much as one word in defence of a series of actions which might have been conceived by Satan and executed within the darkness of perdition. Here is a chapter which may not be read aloud, but which is fearlessly set down m the very midst of the ancient record that it may work out some great moral issue. If we wonder why such a record should have been written, we find the answer in the character and spirit of the very Bible within which it is related. A chapter like this would have degraded any other book. But in the book of God it is right that even such chapters should be written, though they should be perused in the twilight and timidly whispered by the reader to his own listening soul. A Bible without such chapters would not have been a complete history of human nature, and such a history we certainly need if our deepest questions are to be answered, our most solemn fears to be relieved, and our brightest hopes to be realised.

The all-important sentence is the last: "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." Without that sentence the chapter would have been intolerable. From this time forth David must bear the judgment of the Lord. Do not let it be supposed that even king David could perform such a series of wrongs and cruelties, and play as skilfully on his harp as ever, and sing as jubilantly before Heaven as he ever did. If any man would point to this history as a blot upon the Bible, let him never forget that during the whole remainder of David"s life he walked under the shadow of the divine displeasure. David"s harp acquired a new tone after this infamy. Psalm were written by David after this great transgression which could not have been written before its commission. Years were added to the life of the king; he was bent down under an invisible load; his face was wrinkled with grief, and his eyes were dimmed by contrite tears. How God can make a man suffer for iniquity! "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."

We see now something of what human nature is when it is left to show itself. We are bound to go to history as the one revelation of human nature. It is in vain to invent and discuss theories of psychology; it is in vain to look upon one aspect of human nature, and to judge the whole by the part; it is in vain, too, to fix upon any given date in human history and to judge men by that standard of civilisation. The one inquiry is what men have done in their very worst moods. An answer to that inquiry will settle the whole question respecting human depravity. It is not to the point to talk of any case as extreme, the very fact that such an extreme is possible is itself a valuable consideration in this discussion. Judging ourselves by ourselves we become wise, and we comport ourselves by a regulated series of gentilities. We are bound to look at such a chapter as the first in the epistle to the Romans, if we would see what human nature is in its innermost and largest possibilities. Nor must we shrink from dwelling upon the hideous spectacle. To speak of revolted sensibilities, highly excited prejudices, and to declare that such instances are beyond the range of careful study, is simply to deprive ourselves of some of the most solid lessons of human history. We must know what sin is before we can have any adequate idea of the divine relation to it. Sin explains the cross, sin explains the atonement, sin explains Christ. If we take a superficial view of human guilt, we cannot take a profound view of the Christian gospel. What could save such a man as David in this hell of wickedness? Would some rose-water sentiment meet the occasion? Can adultery and murder be rubbed out by a mere act of forgetfulness? Is not blasphemy added to cruelty when any attempt is made to comfort a man who has done what David did? We must find the remedy of such apostasy in the very omnipotence of God. We can be but dumb, horror-stricken and utterly confounded, before our own nature as illustrated by David, and can only wait the disclosure of any possibility which may lie within the compass of God"s almightiness.

The Bible is to be judged by what God would have done, not by what man would have done. Find a single sentence which approves of David"s guilt. Happily there is no such sentence in the whole record. The spirit of the Bible, therefore, is not seen in what David did, but in the judgments which followed him and darkened his day with tremendous thunder-clouds. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." From this day forth David will be tormented by new and unexpected presentations of his guilt New appeals will address his conscience day by day. New spectres will make night hideous. The feast of the king will be troubled by a death"s-head, which his eye alone can see, glaring at him through all the artificial lights of the high festival. Man is damned even upon earth. Eternal punishment is not a question of the future only, it is a question of the immediate present. No sooner has man committed the great transgression than he enters into the darkness of perdition. Let us learn something by these tragical histories. They were written for our instruction, and fools shall we be beyond all imaginable folly if we regard these records as ancient stories destitute of modern application.


What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God? This is the gospel thou hast sent unto us, thou loving One, thou who dost care for oxen and lambs, for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and to keep the life unspotted from the world. Thou art the God of the poor; thou art the King of the whole earth: thou carest for them that perish; thou lookest with piteous eyes upon the children of men. Thou dost spare us. Thou dost spare even forfeited lives. Thou dost not plead against us with thy great power, for who could stand before the seven thunders of God? Thou art gentle to us; thy voice is full of entreaty and sympathy and love; the tone is a tone of caressing, as if thou wouldst please us and comfort us, and bring us into thy kingdom by the gentle way of persuasion. We own this to be the case: how great, then, our ingratitude, how terrible our rebellion, that against such a God we have lifted up the hand of defiance and to such clement heavens we have sent messages of disobedience! When he was come near the city he wept over it, and said, How often would I have gathered thee: thou art always seeking to gather thy universe around thee; thou wouldst not have any stray one among all the stars—among all the least of the lives that breathe. Thou dost count thy household, thou dost number thy jewels; thine is not a reckless, an un-reckoning extravagance, but a minute economy, a critical examination into lives, purposes, courses, and destinies. Thou art the Judge of the whole earth. We have been unkind to one another; we have forgotten the second commandment, because we have not heeded the first; we have not been gentle, generous, noble, forbearing, hoping all things, enduring all things, never failing; but contrariwise has been our life: a series of failures; day after day pursuing nothing, and seizing it, and finding it to be nothing, to our hearts" vexation. We have been thoughtless, if not cruel; we have not studied one another with the anxiety of love; we have been reckless; we have been without measure in our nature and judgment; we have sinned in little things; we have wearied and chafed one another when we ought to have comforted and inspired one another. We are sinners through and through; we have sought to find the link of gold, the spot of health, the gleam of light; but, lo, there is none: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. There is none that doeth good, no, not one. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. God be merciful unto us, sinners; let Jesus Christ find us, restore us, cleanse us by his priesthood, and set us among the sons of God. Make our life pure, generous, noble, rich in charity, rich in prayer. Amen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 11:1. When kings go forth to war. After the latter rain, early in May, when the campaign could open, and when the main of their harvest was saved.—Rabbah was the capital of the Ammonites, very populous, and situated on the Jabbok. The city built on its ruins is the Philadelphia mentioned by St. John. Revelation 3:7.

2 Samuel 11:2. An evening tide. Eglon, and Ishbosheth, reposed during the heat of noon. The rich still indulge in this custom, in all the warmer climates.

2 Samuel 11:4. David sent—and took her. We may infer from Bathsheba’s marriage with David, that she had given at least some proofs of virtue.

2 Samuel 11:6. Send me Uriah the Hittite. He was either a valiant man descended from that nation, and a proselyte to Judaism, or he had assumed that name on vanquishing them; the former is the most probable. Homer’s fable of Bellerophon is thought by many to be the Uriah of the sacred writings; because many circumstances in both the cases are alike. I will attempt an abridged translation.—Hipponomus was the son of Glaucus king of Epyrus, a fine and generous prince; but having killed his brother Beller, he was surnamed Bellerophon. And taking refuge with Prœtus king of the Argives, Sthenobœa the queen became enamoured with his fine appearance; but unable to draw him to her embraces, her love changed into fury, and she accused him to her husband of having insulted her modesty. Prœtus, unwilling to stain his palace with the blood of a prince admitted to protection, sent him to his father-in-law, Joabates king of Lycia, with sealed letters, containing the document of his accusation, and with orders for him to be put into a way to undo himself. Hence came the adage, “to carry Bellerophon’s letters.” Joabates, to effectuate this with honour, gave him a small guard, and sent him to fight against the Solymi, &c.

2 Samuel 11:11. The ark (of God) abide in tents. The ark while in exile had acquired so much glory, that the army would not take the field without it.

2 Samuel 11:18. Joab sent and told David. Generals could then fight better than they could write. Joab instructed the messenger, always a man of merit; to add, in case the king was angry at the unsuccessful assault, “thy servant Uriah is dead also.” So Joab knew for certainty that the king had the highest indignation against Uriah, and the messenger must now suspect it. What then must those heroes think when they heard that David in one month had married Bathsheba! No man can long conceal his sin. Here is a mirror in which all may contemplate their own hearts. Culprits will commit a hundred crimes to cover one.


Lord what is man! Who that has followed David through the vicissitudes of providence for five and twenty years, and contemplated his piety, his virtues, his victories, would have expected his lustre now to be obscured by a cloud so dark and awful? What eye that has followed him in all his rising hopes and glory, would expect to follow him on ground so tragic, where his present disgrace was more than all his former glory. David had been elevated to the throne of Israel, and all his enemies at home seemed to vie in repairing their faults. He had taken Zion, the strongest city in Asia; and in seven successive wars had vanquished all his foes. He had now no need himself to fight, for his generals were more than adequate to every difficulty. Therefore he took his ease, slept on his couch, and said, “Thou Lord by thy favour hast made my mountain to stand strong: I shall never be moved.”

From this sad case we may observe further, that prosperity is the most dangerous period of human life. David was safe in camps and wars; but now rolling in affluence, and walking on the battlements of his palace, he lost the command of his passions, and fell a victim to seduction ere he was aware. Through an open window, by the declining rays of the sun, he saw Bathsheba in an incautious situation. Ah, fatal sight! It excited impure desires, the smoke of passion beclouded the operations of reason, and he ceased to be a king. The conqueror of so many nations was vanquished by a glance of the eye. Why did he not flee; why did he not call in the aid of heaven? Why did he not recollect the words, “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to behold vanity?” Why did he not say that frantic passion is not pleasure; and why did not this man, hitherto wise and discreet, trace all the consequences of lawless love? Truly he that committeth adultery lacketh understanding, and destroyeth his own soul. Proverbs 6:32.

David, instead of shunning the temptation, sent for the woman, and she promptly approached the royal presence in her best robes. Knowing the virtues of his life, she probably hoped to hear good news from her husband, or receive some letter. But ah, indolent woman, finding thyself deceived, why didst thou not recollect thy duty to God, and thy fidelity to the bravest of husbands, fighting to advance both thee and himself? Why didst thou not resist, and cry; better to shame the king than shame thyself! Surely thou wast an accomplice in the crime; and future ages shall reproach thy name.

The deed being done, and likely to come to light, David’s momentary and frantic gratification was instantly converted into ten thousand pains. Oh the terrors of having his character, high as it stood in a religious view, exposed to the nations. He could not be ignorant that his crime was known to God, and to angels; and that it would surely be laid open by him in adjusting the rewards and punishments of a future state. He could not be ignorant that it was far the best to submit his case just as it was to God, and the public; and make such concessions and presents to Uriah as might diminish the consequences of his sin. But here passion again beclouded reason. His pride struggled a thousand ways to elude the scorn and odium of the public. Hence he sent for Uriah, and affected to enquire concerning the war, while his object was to deceive him; but God, who would neither know David nor any other man in his sins, took occasion from Uriah’s high sense of military honour to thwart the foul design. David next attempted by wine to make him violate his vow, and thereby to cover his crime. This being frustrated by the same sense of honour, the king, frantic with anxiety, resolved to make Uriah perish in the war. He thought that this would be less sinful than assassination. Oh what sins: what vain efforts it costs a fallen man to cover one of his iniquities! Here is a mirror for a man deeply initiated into the mystery of crimes. Uriah must not only bear Bellerophon’s letters; but Joab must also be a party in the transaction. Joab had shed the blood of Abner, and now he would probably rejoice to see the king in the same situation. Therefore Joab sent Uriah to assault the strongest gate, and hasted to acquaint David that Uriah had fallen. Nay, the soldiers who had deserted the brave Uriah, when cursed by their companions, would say, they had obeyed orders! We have need to pray for great men; for being high in command, their conscience is placed in a difficult situation, and they ought to be fully aware that heaven never admits apologies for guilt.

Oh what a volume of instruction is here conveyed to man. If David, mighty David thus fell, and fell from sin to sin, as a man slipping on difficult ground, in rising often receives a second fall, how should weak and frail professors tremble at the approach of sin? Let us keep our armour; let us never suffer the slightest criminal thought to lurk unmortified in the heart; for if this cedar of Lebanon fell, what has not the hyssop of the wall to fear? This we shall farther see, while we trace the tremendous series of David’s punishments, together with the depth and the fruits of his repentance.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 11:3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And [one] said, [Is] not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

Ver. 3. And David sent and inquired after the woman,] viz., Who she was, and whether maid or wife. He should rather have checked himself for looking and lusting after a forbidden beauty - he should have taken an antidote of mortification, before the venom of lust had got to the vitals. But it is hard for him who hath fallen down the ladder of hell a round or two, to stop or step back, till he come to the bottom, without extraordinary help from the hand of Heaven. Can a man commit one sin more, and but one sin more? Unclean creatures went by couples into the ark: so do sins into the soul. Fornication is the devil’s nest-egg, saith one, and causeth many sins to be laid one to and upon another.

Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam?] Or Ammiel, [1 Chronicles 3:5] who was the son of Ahithophel, [2 Samuel 23:34] who might, for the dishonour done by David to his niece Bathsheba, be the readier to conspire against him, and to take part with Absalom. (a)

The wife of Uriah the Hittite?] Bathsheba therefore was an honourable lady both by parentage and marriage, for both her father and husband were of the number of David’s worthies: the greater was his sin. Uriah might be called the Hittite, as Scipio was called Africanus, for doing some notable exploit against that accursed nation, the worst of the Canaanites. [Ezekiel 16:3]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

David's Adultery. - David's deep fall forms a turning-point not only in the inner life of the great king, but also in the history of his reign. Hitherto David had kept free from the grosser sins, and had only exhibited such infirmities and failings as simulation, prevarication, etc., which clung to all the saints of the Old Covenant, and were hardly regarded as sins in the existing stage of religious culture at that time, although God never left them unpunished, but invariably visited them upon His servants with humiliations and chastisements of various kinds. Among the unacknowledged sins which God tolerated because of the hardness of Israel's heart was polygamy, which encouraged licentiousness and the tendency to sensual excesses, and to which but a weak barrier had been presented by the warning that had been given for the Israelitish kings against taking many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17), opposed as such a warning was to the notion so prevalent in the East both in ancient and modern times, that a well-filled harem is essential to the splendour of a princely court. The custom to which this notion gave rise opened a dangerous precipice in David's way, and led to a most grievous fall, that can only be explained, as O. v. Gerlach has said, from the intoxication consequent upon undisturbed prosperity and power, which grew with every year of his reign, and occasioned a long series of most severe humiliations and divine chastisements that marred the splendour of his reign, notwithstanding the fact that the great sin was followed by deep and sincere repentance.

2 Samuel 11:2-5

Towards evening David walked upon the roof of his palace, after rising from his couch, i.e., after taking his mid-day rest, and saw from the roof a woman bathing, namely in the uncovered court of a neighbouring house, where there was a spring with a pool of water, such as you still frequently meet with in the East. “The woman was beautiful to look upon.” Her outward charms excited sensual desires.

2 Samuel 11:3

David ordered inquiry to be made about her, and found ( ויּאמר, “he, i.e., the messenger, said;” or indefinitely, “they said”) that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hethite. הלוא, nonne , is used, as it frequently is, in the sense of an affirmation, “it is indeed so.” Instead of Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, we find the name given in the Chronicles (1 Chronicles 3:5) as Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel. The form בּת־שׁוּע may be derived from בּת־שׁוע, in which ב is softened into ; for Bathsheba (with beth ) is the correct and original form, as we may see from 1 Kings 1:11, 1 Kings 1:15, 1 Kings 1:28. Eliam and Ammiel have the same signification; the difference simply consists in the transposition of the component parts of the name. It is impossible to determine, however, which of the two forms was the original one.

2 Samuel 11:4

The information brought to him, that the beautiful woman was married, was not enough to stifle the sensual desires which arose in David's soul. “When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin” (James 1:15). David sent for the woman, and lay with her. In the expression “he took her, and she came to him,” there is no intimation whatever that David brought Bathsheba into his palace through craft or violence, but rather that she came at his request without any hesitation, and offered no resistance to his desires. Consequently Bathsheba is not to be regarded as free from blame. The very act of bathing in the uncovered court of a house in the heart of the city, into which it was possible for any one to look down from the roofs of the houses on higher ground, does not say much for her feminine modesty, even if it was not done with an ulterior purpose, as some commentators suppose. Nevertheless in any case the greatest guilt rests upon David, that he, a man upon whom the Lord had bestowed such grace, did not resist the temptation to the lust of the flesh, but sent to fetch the woman. “When she had sanctified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.” Defilement from sexual intercourse rendered unclean till the evening (Leviticus 15:18). Bathsheba thought it her duty to observe this statute most scrupulously, though she did not shrink from committing the sin of adultery.

2 Samuel 11:5

When she discovered that she was with child, she sent word to David. This involved an appeal to him to take the necessary steps to avert the evil consequences of the sin, inasmuch as the law required that both adulterer and adulteress should be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).

2 Samuel 11:6-8

David had Uriah the husband of Bathsheba sent to him by Joab, under whom he was serving in the army before Rabbah, upon some pretext or other, and asked him as soon as he arrived how it fared with Joab and the people (i.e., the army) and the war. This was probably the pretext under which David had had him sent to him. According to 2 Samuel 23:39, Uriah was one of the gibborim (“mighty men”) of David, and therefore held some post of command in the army, although there is no historical foundation for the statement made by Josephus, viz., that he was Joab's armour-bearer or aide-de-camp. The king then said to him, “Go down to thy house (from the palace upon Mount Zion down to the lower city, where Uriah's house was situated), and wash thy feet;” and when he had gone out of the palace, he sent a royal present after him. The Israelites were accustomed to wash their feet when they returned home from work or from a journey, to take refreshment and rest themselves. Consequently these words contained an intimation that he was to go and refresh himself in his own home. David's wish was that Uriah should spend a night at home with his wife, that he might afterwards be regarded as the father of the child that had been begotten in adultery. משּׂאת, a present, as in Amos 5:11; Jeremiah 50:4; Esther 2:18.

2 Samuel 11:9

But Uriah had his suspicions aroused. The connection between his wife and David may not have remained altogether a secret, so that it may have reached his ears as soon as he arrived in Jerusalem. “He lay down to sleep before the king's house with all the servants of his lord (i.e., the retainers of the court), and went not down to his house.” “Before, or at, the door of the king's house,” i.e., in the court of the palace, or in a building adjoining the king's palace, where the court servants lived.

2 Samuel 11:10-12

When this was told to David (the next morning), he said to Uriah, “ Didst thou not come from the way (i.e., from a journey) ? why didst thou not go down (as men generally do when they return from a journey)?” Uriah replied (2 Samuel 11:11), “The ark (ark of the covenant), and Israel, and Judah, dwell in the huts, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord encamp in the field; and should I go to my house to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? By thy life, and by the life of thy soul, I do no such thing!” בּסּכּות ישׁב, to sit or sojourn in huts, is the same practically as being encamped in the field. Uriah meant to say: Whereas the ark, i.e., Jehovah with the ark, and all Israel, were engaged in conflict with the enemies of God and of His kingdom, and therefore encamped in the open country, it did not become a warrior to seek rest and pleasure in his own home. This answer expressed the feelings and the consciousness of duty which ought to animate one who was fighting for the cause of God, in such plain and unmistakeable terms, that it was well adapted to prick the king to the heart. But David's soul was so beclouded by the wish to keep clear of the consequences of his sin in the eyes of the world, that he did not feel the sting, but simply made a still further attempt to attain his purpose with Uriah. He commanded him to stop in Jerusalem all that day, as he did not intend to send him away till the morrow.

2 Samuel 11:13

The next day he invited him to his table and made him drunken, with the hope that when in this state he would give up his intention of not going home to his wife. But Uriah lay down again the next night to sleep with the king's servants, without going down to his house; for, according to the counsel and providence of God, David's sin was to be brought to lift to his deep humiliation.

2 Samuel 11:14-15

When the king saw that his plan was frustrated through Uriah's obstinacy, he resolved upon a fresh and still greater crime. He wrote a letter to Joab, with which he sent Uriah back to the army, and the contents of which were these: “Set ye Uriah opposite to the strongest contest, and then turn away behind him, that he may be slain, and die.”

(Note: “We may see from this how deep a soul may fall when it turns away from God, and from the guidance of His grace. This David, who in the days of his persecution would not even resort to means that were really plausible in order to defend himself, was now not ashamed to resort to the greatest crimes in order to cover his sin. O God! how great is our strength when we lay firm hold of Thee! And how weak we become as soon as we turn away from Thee! The greatest saints would be ready for the worst of deeds, if Thou shouldst but leave them for a single moment without Thy protection. Whoever reflects upon this, will give up all thought of self-security and spiritual pride.” - Berleburg Bible .)

David was so sure that his orders would be executed, that he did not think it necessary to specify any particular crime of which Uriah had been guilty.

2 Samuel 11:16

The king's wishes were fully carried out by Joab. “When Joab watched (i.e., blockaded) the city, he stationed Uriah just where he knew that there were brave men” (in the city).

2 Samuel 11:17

“And the men of the city came out (i.e., made a sally) and fought with Joab, and some of the people of the servants of David fell, and Uriah the Hethite died also.” The literal fulfilment of the king's command does not warrant us in assuming that Joab suspected how the matter stood, or had heard a rumour concerning it. As a general, who was not accustomed to spare human life, he would be a faithful servant of his lord in this point, in order that his own interests might be served another time.

2 Samuel 11:18-21

Joab immediately despatched a messenger to the king, to give him a report of the events of the war, and with these instructions: “When thou hast told all the things of the war to the king to the end, in case the anger of the king should be excited ( תּעלה, ascend), and he should say to thee, Why did ye advance so near to the city to fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbosheth (i.e., Gideon, see at Judges 6:32)? did not a woman throw down a millstone from the wall, that he died in Thebez (Judges 9:53)? why went ye so nigh to the wall? then only say, Thy servant Uriah the Hethite has perished.” Joab assumed that David might possibly be angry at what had occurred, or at any rate that he might express his displeasure at the fact that Joab had sacrificed a number of warriors by imprudently approaching close to the wall: he therefore instructed the messenger, if such should be the case, to announce Uriah's death to the king, for the purpose of mitigating his wrath. The messenger seems to have known that Uriah was in disgrace with the king. At the same time, the words “thy servant Uriah is dead also” might be understood or interpreted as meaning that it was without, or even in opposition to, Joab's command, that Uriah went so far with his men, and that he was therefore chargeable with his own death and that of the other warriors who had fallen.

2 Samuel 11:22-24

The messenger brought to David all the information with which Joab had charged him ( שׁלח with a double accusative, to send or charge a person with anything), but he so far condensed it as to mention Uriah's death at the same time. “When the men (of Rabbah) became strong against us, and came out to us into the field, and we prevailed against them even to the gate, the archers shot at thy servants down from the wall, so that some of the servants of the king died, and thy servant Uriah the Hethite is dead also.” The א in the forms המּוראים ויּראוּ instead of המּורים ויּרוּ is an Aramaic mode of writing the words.

2 Samuel 11:25-27

David received with apparent composure the intelligence which he was naturally so anxious to hear, and sent this message back to Joab: “Let not this thing depress thee, for the sword devours thus and thus. Keep on with the battle against the city, and destroy it.” The construction of אל־ירע with את obj . is analogous to the combination of a passive verb with את : “Do not look upon this affair as evil” (disastrous). David then sent the messenger away, saying, “Encourage thou him” ( lit . strengthen him, put courage into him), to show his entire confidence in the bravery and stedfastness of Joab and the army, and their ultimate success in the capture of Rabbah. - In 2 Samuel 11:26 the account goes back to its starting-point. When Uriah's wife heard of her husband's death, she mourned for her husband. When her mourning was over, David took her home as his wife, after which she bore him a son (the one begotten in adultery). The ordinary mourning of the Israelites lasted seven days (Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 31:13). Whether widows mourned any longer we do not know. In the case before us Bathsheba would hardly prolong her mourning beyond the ordinary period, and David would certainly not delay taking her as his wife, in order that she might be married to the king as long as possible before the time of childbirth. The account of these two grievous sins on the part of David is then closed with the assurance that “the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,” which prepares the way for the following chapter.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Adultery of David with Bathsheba

This chapter follows historically on the previous one, it is the following year, "in the spring". According to the customs of that time, the spring, when the late rain has stopped, is the time for military action to be taken again. For David it means that the time has come to defeat Moab definitively. But instead of going out at the head of the army, he stays at home and sends Joab and the whole people. It seems that he spent the whole day in bed, because we read that "when evening came David arose from his bed".

David stays at home, while he should have gone to battle. He neglects his duty and takes rest while he should have worked. Here the saying is true: 'Idle hands are the devil's playground.' If we are not busy with what we should or may do, we are on a road on which the temptation can overtake us as a traveler (2Sam 12:1-4). Someone who has nothing to do, is an easy prey for the devil. He can get on well with that. Doing nothing is creating space for sin.

David "saw". He does not seek temptation, but sees it. The temptation appears suddenly. Then it comes down to what one does. However, David's mental defense mechanism has been eliminated by his laziness. If the inner condition is prepared by laziness, desire can easily enter. The law which James mentions in his letter then comes into effect (Jam 1:14-15). Desire does not have to lead to sin, but the power to say 'no' to sin is lacking when one lives in laxness. Then the lusts find a partner in the flesh. If David had been strong, he would have made a covenant with his eyes (Job 31:1).

With us it will be exactly the same if we open ourselves up to pornographic material. Sometimes you suddenly see a picture, by accident. This can happen because you see a picture on a billboard along the road. It can also happen through a picture you see on the 'digital highway', without searching for it. What do you do then? Were you just driving, a bit aimless, or surfing, a bit aimless? Then you have opened the door wide for sin.

Sin with Bathsheba is preceded by taking more wives, after he has come from Hebron (2Sam 5:13). His many wives have demolished the threshold for his desire for another wife. Taking more wives is a violation of the king's law (Deu 17:17a). If David commits the sin of adultery, he is over fifty years old. The danger of adultery remains, even at old age and is perhaps then the greatest.

David spent the whole day in idleness. Laziness, laxness and passivity are enormous dangers for every believer. When we give in to laziness, the enemy comes, the traveler who wants to stay overnight with us (2Sam 12:1-4). This traveler is sin, lust. David comes to his sin because he does not immediately, after he has seen the washing Bathsheba, place himself before the LORD to have his thoughts purified. Instead, he holds on to that picture and informs who the woman is. He is informed in detail about her, and he is also told that she is married. However, lust has him in her grip so much that he cannot be stopped in his intention to take possession of that woman by having relations with her (cf. Jer 5:8).

David abuses his position. He also abuses Bathsheba. Because she is another person's wife, he also cheats on her husband. He lets her come and has relations with her. The history is described without sensation. It's simply the events. The mention that she has "purified herself from her uncleanness" seems to indicate that she has just had her period and that she has washed herself to that end (2Sam 11:4; Lev 12:2-5; Lev 15:19-28). At the same time it makes clear why she is pregnant immediately, because a few days after menstruation the chance of pregnancy is naturally greatest. It is usually the most fertile period. When Bathsheba discovers that she is pregnant, she lets him know. She says nothing else, but leaves everything to him (2Sam 11:5).

The question is whether we are equipped to meet sin. It is not about the sins of others, but those of me. David's sin is the sin that is committed large-scale today and that takes away the life force of God's people. The accidents in traffic and in the air are insignificant compared to the accidents in families and lives caused by this sin. Satan specializes in making sin popular and entertainment. We are no longer afraid of sin. Of the history of David and Bathsheba a film is made. Why do people want to see that film? Do we throw away a DVD if it contains erotic scenes?

Copyright Statement
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Samuel 11:3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

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. 1Ch_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, Est_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 today also, and tomorrow 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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             SECOND SECTION

The beglooming of David’s royal rule by the sins of himself and his house, and the thence resulting misfortunes

2 Samuel 11-18

I. Internal shattering of David’s rule by the grievous sins of himself and his house

2 Samuel 11-14

1. David’s deep fall during the war against Rabbath-Ammon. 2 Samuel 11:1-27

1And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings[FN1] go forth to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But [And] David tarried still at [abode in] Jerusalem 2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed and walked upon the roof of the king’s house; and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself, and the woman was very beautiful to look upon 3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 4And David sent messengers and took her, and she came in unto him, and he lay with her;[FN2] for [and] she was purified from her uncleanness, and she returned unto her house 5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

6And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah[FN3] to David 7 And when Uriah was come [And Uriah came] unto him,[FN4] [ins. and] David demanded [asked] of him [om. of him] how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered 8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed [went] out of the king’s house, 9and there followed him a mess[FN5] of meat [food] from the king. But [And] Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all[FN6] the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house 10 And when they had told [And they told] David, saying, Uriah went not down to his house, [ins. and] David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? [Art thou not come from a journey?] why then [om. then] didst thou not go down unto thine house? 11And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah abide in tents [booths]; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields [field]; shall I then [and shall I] go into mine house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? as thou livest[FN7] and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing 12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to-day also, and to-morrow I will let thee depart. So [And] Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day and the morrow 13 And when David had [And David] called him [ins. and] he did eat and drink before him, and he made him drunk; and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but [and] went not down to his house.

14And it came to pass in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set[FN8] ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten and die 16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were 17 And the men of the city went out and fought with Joab; and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; 18and Uriah the Hittite died also. Then [And] Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; 19And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of [all the things concerning] the war unto 20 the king, And[FN9] if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight [to fight]? Knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? 21Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth[FN10]? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

22So [And] the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had sent him for 23 And the messenger said unto David, Surely [om. surely] the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even [om. even] unto the entering [doorway] of the gate 24 And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants be dead [died], 25and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. Then [And] David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another; make thy battle more [om. more] strong 26 against the city and overthrow it. And encourage thou him. And when [om. when] the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, [ins. and] she 27 mourned for her husband. And when [om. when] the mourning was past [over], [ins. and] David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But [And] the thing that David had done displeased the Lord [Jehovah].


[Our text, as the harder, is to be preferred; Chron. has introduced a natural explanation.—Tr.] And they besieged Rabbah = “Rabbath of the children of Ammon,”—that Isaiah, the great city of the Ammonites. See Joshua 13:25; Deuteronomy 3:11; the present ruins of Rabbat-Amman on the Nahr-Amman (the upper Jabbok), perfectly desert and uninhabited. Polybius: Rabbathamana. But David remained in Jerusalem [the impending war with the Ammonites alone not being of sufficient importance to require his presence—Tr.]—explanatory transition to the episode of David’s adultery.

2 Samuel 11:2-5. David’s adultery with Bathsheba.—This section and the following one are wanting in Chronicles. Towards the evening [Heb.: in the evening—Tr.]—when the noon-rest was over, and the cooler part of the day had come. [In later times the evening (עֶרֶב) began at three o’clock in the afternoon; it was the time when it was getting darker, when the sun was declining, and after sunset till dark.—Tr.] David was walking (for pleasure) on the roof of the king’s house, which was built on the edge of Mount Zion, so that one could thence look immediately down into the courts of the Lower City, where Uriah’s house was,[FN12] comp. 2 Samuel 11:8. The woman that David saw was in the act of bathing (the Heb. uses the participle) in the uncovered court of her house, where, in accordance with general Eastern custom, there was a well. [Or, in her chamber, the casements being open (Patrick). In either case, the place was private, visible only from a neighboring roof; and in the East people refrain from looking down from a roof into neighbors’ courts (Philippson); so that it is on this ground an unfounded suggestion that Bathsheba was purposely bathing in an exposed place in order to attract the king’s gaze.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:3. Inflamed with sensual desire, David makes inquiry about the woman whose beauty had attracted him. “And one said (Vulg.: nuntiatum ei est), Is it not, etc.?” That Isaiah, “It Isaiah, etc.” (the negative question is often used in lively discourse). This form of expression supposes that the object or person mentioned was somehow already otherwise known.—Instead of “Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam,” 1 Chronicles 3:5 has “Bathsheba, daughter of Ammiel.” The form Bathsheba (= “daughter of the oath,” not “daughter of Sheba”) Isaiah, according to 1 Kings 1:11; 1 Kings 1:15 and other places, to be regarded as the usual, and so as the original and correct, one. The difficulty of explaining it makes it impossible to adduce the meaning in favor of the originality and correctness of the form Bathshua (Thenius), which may easily have come from the other by a copyist’s change of a single letter (ב into ו). According to Ewald (§ 273 d), Eliam and Ammiel are different forms of the same name by an arbitrary inversion of the component parts[FN13]. [From 2 Samuel 23:34, where Eliam is called the son of Ahithophel, it is supposed by some that Bathsheba was the grand-daughter of Ahithophel, and that this explains the latter’s adherence to Absalom. So Jerome, Chandler, p407, Note, and Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, p 143 sq. (Am. ed.). The supposition seems not improbable.—Tr.] Uriah was a Hittite. He belonged ( 2 Samuel 23:39) to David’s Gibborim [Heroes]. The Hittites already in Palestine in Abraham’s time ( Genesis 15:20) dwelt near Hebron ( Genesis 23:7 sqq.), afterwards near Bethel ( Judges 1:24 sqq.); Solomon reduced the remnant of them to servitude ( 1 Kings 9:20).

2 Samuel 11:4. Short but very vivid narrative of the sinful deed committed by David in spite of his learning that Bathsheba was a married woman. That David used force or artifice to get possession of the “innocent” woman (Mich.) is not indicated in the expression: “and he took her.” The narrative leads us to infer that Bathsheba came and submitted herself to David without opposition. This undoubtedly proves her participation in the guilt, though we are not to assume that her bathing there was “purposed,” in order to be seen (Thenius). She was moved doubtless by vanity and ambition in not venturing to refuse the demand of David the king. Her purification (which was according to the Law, Leviticus 15:18) was performed while she was yet in the king’s palace. [Eng. A. V, Philippson and others not so well make the purification precede her coming to the palace, putting a full stop after the word “uncleanness.”—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:5. Adultery was, according to Leviticus 20:10, punishable with death. Her message to David had in view the avoidance of the consequences of this sin (Keil).

2 Samuel 11:6-13. David’s efforts to conceal the adultery frustrated by Uriah.

2 Samuel 11:6. There is no evidence that Uriah was the armor-bearer of Joab (Josephus). He had a command in the army, as is clear from what follows, especially from the questions in 2 Samuel 11:7, which could be answered only by one whose position gave him a wide and exact knowledge of the condition of the war. David brought him to Jerusalem in order that, as Bathsheba’s husband, he might hereafter pass for the father of the child begotten in adultery. The questions addressed to him were intended to conceal from him as far as possible the purpose for which he was called, and to make the impression that he was summoned to render a military report. Washing the feet is the symbol at the same time of rest and refreshment. After David has dismissed him to his home, he sends him literally “something taken up,” what the man of rank sets before his guest from his own table ( Genesis 43:34), and then any present ( Amos 5:11; Esther 2:18). Here it was probably a dish of honor, which Uriah was to enjoy at home.

2 Samuel 11:9. Uriah, however, did not act according to David’s will and expectation, but remained in the king’s palace “at or in the door,” and spent the night there, in the guard-room ( 1 Kings 14:27-28), with the royal court-officials or the body-guard. It is possible that he did this merely out of zeal of service (comp. 2 Samuel 11:11); but also his suspicions may have been already aroused, and he may have heard something of the affair with Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 11:10 sq. [Perhaps David had sent to find out whether Uriah went home, or the servants that carried the present may have informed him.—Tr.] There is a certain tone of displeasure in David’s words already, though his question was a natural one, since Uriah’s conduct (as indicated in the question) must have been strange. Uriah’s answer [ 2 Samuel 11:11] is an explanation and justification of his not going home, together with a solemn asseveration; whereby he conceals his real ground of action, his unwillingness to meet the king’s wish. According to his statement, the Ark had been carried along into the field,[FN14]—for the war was a war of the Lord. When it, the sign of God’s presence, and all Israel, God’s host, were in tents, and Joab and the king’s officers were lying on the bare ground, how could he take his pleasure in his house? By thy life and by the life of thy soul is not a tautology, but a strengthening of the oath by repetition of the thought, the expression combining the general and the special. [See the text examined in “Text. and Gram.” The phrase “Israel and Judah” probably indicates an authorship for our Book after the division of the kingdom; yet not certainly, since there was foundation for the distinction of the two parts in the fact that Judah alone at first adhered to David. See Erdmann’s Introduction, § 6.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:12 sqq. This attempt failing, David tries to gain his end by keeping Uriah a day longer. He invited him to his table, and made him drunk, in order thus more certainly to secure his passing the following night with his wife. That night, however, Uriah again slept at the palace-door. A factual irony! David sees his plan wholly frustrated, and is now driven by his sin-entangled, sin-darkened heart to add murder to adultery. [A chronological difficulty is made here unnecessarily by some critics: it is said that the invitation of 2 Samuel 11:13 was given on the “morrow,” and this last word is joined to 2 Samuel 11:13 so as to read: “Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day. And on the morrow David called him,” etc. In that case Uriah did not depart on the morrow, as David promised ( 2 Samuel 11:12), since he slept in Jerusalem that night ( 2 Samuel 11:13), but the day after the morrow ( 2 Samuel 11:14). The difficulty is removed by supposing (as is quite possible) the invitation of 2 Samuel 11:13 to have been given on the “that day” of 2 Samuel 11:12; then the “morrow” of 2 Samuel 11:12 will be identical with the “morning” of 2 Samuel 11:14. The “calling” in 2 Samuel 11:13 does not necessarily require a more definite statement of time than is suggested in 2 Samuel 11:12.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:14-27. The letter concerning Uriah. Uriah’s death. Bathsheba David’s wife.

2 Samuel 11:14 sqq. Uriah himself must bear the letter that decrees his death. A new artifice of David’s that makes murder its minister. Uriah was to be placed in the hottest, most dangerous part of the battle, where a retreat would not be strange, and Hebrews, David well knew, as a brave soldier (one of the Gibborim or Heroes) would not so easily retreat. No reason is assigned [in the letter] for this command, which Joab could not misunderstand. He had simply to carry out the royal instructions, and so he did ( 2 Samuel 11:16 sqq.). And it came to pass when Joab watched the city (such is the literal rendering of the Heb. שְמוֹר). “We must understand by this a procedure different from the usual siege, a nearer approach, which challenged the warriors in the city to a sally” (Bunsen) [comp. Judges 1:24, where the participle of the same Hebrew verb is rendered “spies” in Eng. A. V, properly “the observing (i. e., besieging) force.”—Tr.]. Joab knew the place where the enemy’s best warriors would fight in the sally. There he put Uriah, whose bravery he knew, without needing to say to the soldiers: “leave him in the lurch” (Michaelis, Bunsen), since he could foresee that this would happen from the dangerousness of the post. In becoming the instrument of David’s murderous artifice, Joab needed not to know the ground of the order. As obedient servant of the king he carried it out the more unhesitatingly, inasmuch as it was an order of the commander of the army in relation to a soldier, who might have committed some grave offence against him, and whose seemingly accidental death might be desired by him for special reasons.

[Bible Commentary here remarks that “this reference to Judges 9:53 indicates the existence in David’s time of the national annals of that period in an accessible form, and the king’s habit of reading or having read to him the history of his country.” But Joab’s reference to Abimelech shows merely that the facts were known (possibly by tradition), not certainly that national annals existed (though it is not improbable that there were written accounts of such events). It is hardly probable that our Book of Judges existed at this time.—Tr.]—Say, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.—This the messenger was in any case to say last, as an appendix to his report, “as if Uriah, of his own accord, or even against Joab’s will, had pressed forward with his men, and so was chargeable with his own death and that of the others that had fallen” (Keil). Joab is evidently concerned to conceal the wicked deed from the messenger, and at the same time to let David know that it is accomplished.

2 Samuel 11:22 sq. David’s reception of the messenger.—The message is delivered exactly in accordance with Joab’s instructions[FN16].Text Between 2 Samuel 11:22-23 the Sept. has an insertion [Sept. reads: and David’s anger was kindled against Joab, and he said to the messenger, Why did ye approach to the city, etc., inserting nearly through 2 Samuel 11:21.—Tr.] This Thenius adopts on the ground that neither David’s presumed displeasure, nor any expression of it on the report of the messenger is mentioned. But this is unnecessary. Either the “kindling” of David’s anger, supposed possible by Joab, did not take place—or, if it did, there was no need to relate it at length; it was taken for granted, and the narration gives only the words of the messenger in reply to David’s comment on the rash affair, in order to explain and justify it. [The text here is discussed in “Text. and Gramm.” and the present Heb. reading defended—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:23.[FN17] The enemy supposed that with their superiority of numbers here they could make a successful sally. This sally led to a hot fight, wherein the Israelites pressed near to the wall within shot of the archers, and thus many were killed. The messenger therefore reports a sally of the besieged, which occasioned this dangerous approach to the wall.[FN18]

2 Samuel 11:25. David’s answer Isaiah, as it were, an extenuation of the matter, and of such nature that the messenger cannot suppose a reference to any thing more than this bloody military affair. Let not this thing be evil in thy eyes; so and so devours the sword.[FN19]—David’s words seemingly express the quiet and equanimity of a commander who does not permit himself to be disturbed by such bad news. Thus he conceals his excitement over the success of his plot. He orders the siege of Rabbah to be pressed and the city to be destroyed. The messenger is dismissed with this answer to Joab, with the further instruction: strengthen him, encourage him. Neither the isolated position of these words, nor David’s encouraging the field-commander by a messenger, makes this expression a strange one (Thenius); for we need not suppose the “messenger” so far below “his general” in rank as to make such an exhortation in the king’s message necessarily unbecoming. The “messenger” was certainly not a common soldier, but doubtless a high officer who, as his words show, had knowledge of the whole conduct of the war before Rabbah. The Sept, Syriac and Arabic translate: get possession of it, namely, the city, comp. 1 Kings 16:22. These words would then form the conclusion of the message. [Comp. also Jeremiah 20:7. But this sense of the verb cannot be established from the biblical usage. It means to press on one ( Jeremiah 20:7), to prevail against (of persons, 1 Kings 16:22), but apparently not to conquer a city. Another objection to this rendering is that it would introduce an anti-climax: “destroy it and prevail against it.” On the other hand, the signification encourage is well established, Deuteronomy 1:38; Isaiah 41:7.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:26-27. Bathsheba David’s wife. The usual mourning lasted seven days (comp. 1 Samuel 31:13). Bathsheba was probably taken to wife by David immediately after the expiration of this time of mourning. If the mourning-time of widows was no longer than the ordinary mourning, then the interval between the adultery and the marriage was doubtless short enough to allow Bathsheba’s child (begotten in that adultery) to appear to be begotten in wedlock. The concluding words of the narration: But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord[FN20] contain the moral decision from the theocratical point of view, and are, as it were, the superscription to the following history of the divine judgments that fell on David and his house on account of this sin.

[For mention of other times of mourning, see Genesis 50:10; Deuteronomy 34:8; 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 14:2. In particular cases special feeling would lead to an extension of the ordinary mourning-period.—Tr.]


1. The history of David’s fall from the height of his communion with God as “a man after God’s own heart” into the deepest depth of sin and crime contains a serious and warning lesson concerning the power of sin even over those who are under the guidance of God’s will and word, when they give place in a single point of their inner life to the yet unoccupied sinful lust therein hidden, and fail in faithfulness in the struggle against their own evil hearts, and in self-denial. [It is obvious, and yet often overlooked by assailants of the morality of the Old Testament, that the history, in chronicling this sin of the “man after God’s own heart,” does not endorse, but distinctly condemns it. It admits that such a man could commit such a sin, and afterwards enjoy the favor of God; but only on the condition that the real bent of his soul, turned aside for a while under temptation, was towards God and holiness.—Tr.]

2. The inscrutable development of many individual sins from one hidden root proceeds according to an inner natural law: the human will, by detaching the heart from the living God, surrenders itself to the power of sinful lust, and the latter through the removal of the moral forces that had hitherto held it down and controlled the outer and inner life, gets unrestrained dominion. When the life is at the highest point of communion with the living God, pride slips in and leads to an all the deeper fall. The enjoyment of experiences of divine favor and of the fruits of struggle for the kingdom of God, leaves the door of the heart open to fleshly security. Temporary rest from work and fight, though not in itself insidious, leads to moral indolence, to spiritual sloth, to carelessness and unfaithfulness in office and calling. Wicked lust, excited from without at a hidden point of the inner life, no longer finds limitations in thoughts on the solemn divine command and prohibition: Thou shalt and thou shalt not, in the warning and exhorting voice of conscience, in the restraints and hindrances of divine providence, in faithful performance of duty and labor in one’s calling, whereby the kindled fire might again be smothered. The “evil conscience” that follows the satisfaction of evil lust leads on the beaten, slippery and precipitous path to lying and deception, in order to conceal the sin from men. From the soil of the heart poisoned by one sin, from perversion from God of feeling and will in one hidden point of the heart, comes one sin after another; and not only does the fruitfulness and frightfulness of sinful lust show itself in its production of an unbroken series of wicked thoughts and desires, but “the curse of the evil deed” is made complete in that “it must continue to produce evil.”

3. It is a sign of the irresistible power of conscience, and an involuntary self-condemnation, when a man seeks in every way to conceal his sin from men, but to extenuate and justify it before God; and on the other hand unwillingness to make confession has its deepest ground in the pride of the human heart, which increases in proportion as the man becomes involved in sin, and the evil in him develops itself from the slightest beginnings into a power that exercises dominion over the whole inner life. “Whosoever commits sin, he is the servant of sin” [ John 8:14, comp. Romans 6.—Tr.]


[Hall: With what unwillingness, with what fear, do I still look upon the miscarriage of the man after God’s own heart! O holy prophet, who can promise himself always to stand, when he sees thee fallen, and maimed with the fall! Let profane eyes behold thee contentedly, as a pattern, as an excuse for sinning; I shall never look upon thee but through tears, as a woful spectacle of human infirmity.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:1. Schlier: If God has granted us some special good fortune we will never be puffed up, but will rather become little and lowly, and the higher we rise the more will we humble ourselves. An humble man always finds grace and blessing, but pride always goes before a fall.

2 Samuel 11:2. Disselhoff: Idle hours bring forth idle thoughts, and idle thoughts are nothing but dry kindling wood, that waits only for a spark to be suddenly ablaze.—All have had the painful experience that our sins often have their roots in indolence and unfaithfulness in our calling. As long as we walk and work in our office, we are encompassed with a wall. As soon as we fall out of our office, we fall away from our fortunes and become a prey to the enemy.—[Hall: There can be no safety to that soul, where the senses are let loose. He can never keep his covenant with God, that makes not a covenant with his eyes. It is an idle presumption to think the outward man may be free, while the inward is safe.—Taylor: Here, then, in the moral weakness which constant prosperity had created, in the opportunity which idleness afforded to temptation, and in the blunted sensibility which polygamy had superinduced, we see how David was so easily overcome.—Chrysostom: Youth is sometimes wiser and better than age. David the youth smote down the barbarian, and showed all philosophy (wisdom and piety), and when he grew older, then he sinned.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:2-4. Schlier: Let us watch and pray; we may well need it. What shall become of us if a feeling of security arises in us? How shall we get through with a pure body and heart if we are filled with self-conceit? Let us also carefully avoid idleness; labor is a medicine against sin.—J. Lange: One sin brings forth another, and one act of unfaithfulness to conscience draws another after it. James 1:15.—Starke: Loneliness affords the most convenient time for the temptations of Satan ( Matthew 4:1 sq.).—S. Schmid: The quieter and securer men are in things bodily, the more perilous is it for them in things spiritual.—Disselhoff: If the not fully slain ungodly impulses in the man after God’s own heart grew up so quickly and to such strength when he deviated a finger’s breadth from the way of the Lord—and the Lord allowed him to go—how will it be with the untamed lusts in our hearts? If such a story does not give one a view of the unfathomable depths of sin and of its power, he will never learn what sin is.—Starke: Rulers sin in leading their subjects into sin, for they are not lords over God’s command ( Acts 5:29; Matthew 22:21).—[Hall: Had Bathsheba been mindful of her matrimonial fidelity, perhaps David had been soon checked in his inordinate desire; her facility furthers the sin. It is no excuse to say, I was tempted, though by the great, though by the holy and learned. Let the mover be never so glorious, if he stir us to evil, he must be entertained with defiance.—Tr.]—Schlier: Human customs are carefully observed, and God’s command is trodden under foot. People attend to outward forms and usages, and live on consoled thereby in their sins.—[Henry: The aggravations of David’s sin. (1) His age, at least fifty years. (2) He had many wives and concubines—this is insisted on, 2 Samuel 12:8. (3) Uriah was one of his “worthies,” a man of honor and virtue, now jeoparding life in his service. (4) David was a king, whom God had intrusted with the sword of justice, and he made himself a pattern, when he should have been a terror, to evil-doers.—Tr.]

2 Samuel 11:6-9. Cramer: When sin has once lodged itself it becomes fruitful, and bears other sins ( James 2:10).—[Hall: It is rare and hard to commit a single sin.—Tr.]—Seb. Schmid: The most cunning devices are often, through the special Providence of God, made a laughing-stock by the simplest simplicity.—Osiander: Although the ungodly seek out all manner of cunning inventions to cloak their sins, yet it does not succeed; for God knows how, in a wonderful manner, to bring even secret sins to light ( Matthew 10:26).—Schlier: When we have sinned, how often we trouble ourselves to hide our sins from the world, but how little do we think of God’s eye and God’s judgment! How contented we are if only we stand free from censure before men, and can throw the blame upon others!

2 Samuel 11:14 sqq. Osiander: So great is the devil’s cunning and wickedness that when once he has brought a man to fall, he drives him on to more and greater sins.—Disselhoff: As the poisonous seed, laid in the bosom of the earth, comes up and brings fruit a hundredfold, as one root branches into a hundred new ones, spreads with rapid growth through the whole field and sends up everywhere the wild shoots, not otherwise is it with the sin which a man hides in his heart. Inwardly it strikes its roots deeper, broader, mightier; outwardly it brings superabundant fruit. It blinds the eyes, stops the ears, petrifies the feeling, deadens the conscience. It bursts all tender bonds, it dulls and benumbs to all else that one held dear and holy on earth. Holy fear vanishes, the reins are cast off from the heart, and mean, hateful, foul traits of character, which one had reckoned impossible, reveal themselves in mournful nakedness.—Schlier: Sin takes a man captive, so that from one he hurls himself into another, so that sin becomes wantonness and crime, yea, even abomination. He who consents to sin, knows where the corruption begins, but who will undertake to say where it ends? And what is most fearful is the blindness into which sin casts the Prayer of Manasseh, so that his eyes are holden, that he no longer knows what he is doing, no longer sees through the simplest things that were once known and familiar to him, but with eyes open rushes into ruin.

[Taylor: It may be asked, how can you account for such enormous iniquity in such a man as we have seen that David was?. … .There are some men in whom everything is on a large scale. When their good nature is uppermost, they overtop all others in holiness; but if, unhappily, they should be thrown off their guard, and the old man should gain the mastery, some dreadful wickedness may be expected. This is all the more likely to be the case if the quality of intensity be added to their greatness; for a man with such a temperament is never anything by half. … .A man of David’s nature ought to be more peculiarly on his guard than other men: The express train, dashing along at furious speed, will do more mischief if it runs off than the slow-going horse-car in the city streets. Every one understands that; but every one demands, in consequence, that the driver of the one shall be proportionately more watchful than that of the other. With such a nature as David had, and knew that he had, he ought to have been supremely on his guard, while again the privileges which he had received from God rendered it both easy and practicable for him to be vigilant.—Kingsley: Such terrible crimes are not committed by men in a right state of mind. Nemo repente fuit turpissimus. He who commits adultery, treachery and murder, must have been long tampering, at least in heart, with all these. Had not David been playing upon the edge of sin, into sin he would not have fallen. He may have been quite unconscious of bad habits of mind; but they must have been there, growing in secret. The tyrannous self-will, which is too often developed by long success and command; the unscrupulous craft, which is too often developed by long adversity, and the necessity of sustaining one’s self in a difficult position,. … and that fearful moral weakness which comes from long indulgence of the passions. … On David’s own theory, that he was an utterly weak person without the help of God, the act is perfectly like David. It is what David would natuturally do, when he had left hold of God. Had he left hold of God in the wilderness, he would have become a mere robber-chieftain. he does leave hold of God in his palace on Zion, and he becomes a mere Eastern despot.—Tr.]

J. Disselhoff: The fall of the man after God’s own heart: 1) What brought the beloved of God to so deep a fall? 2) He who once gives himself up to sin becomes its slave, and is driven ever deeper and deeper by its might.

[Hall: O God, Thou hadst never suffered so dear a favorite of Thine to fall so fearfully, if Thou hadst not meant to make him a universal example to mankind, of not presuming, of not despairing. How can we presume of not sinning, or despair for sinning, when we find so great a saint thus fallen, thus risen!—Tr.]

[ 2 Samuel 11:1. This entire campaign, with the siege of a capital and slaying of thousands, interests us now only as the occasion of David’s series of great sins. And in truth the striking excellencies or faults of one great and good Prayer of Manasseh, when permanently recorded and widely read, become more important to the welfare of the human race than the overthrow of cities or kingdoms.

2 Samuel 11:2 sqq. What a series! A lascivious look ( Matthew 5:28), actual adultery, pitiful and then base attempts at concealment, and finally a treacherous murder. How little David imagined, in the moment of lustful looking, that he was taking the first step in such a course of frightful wickedness!

2 Samuel 11:14-15. Here is the darkest moment of this terrible story. Few scenes in all the sad history of our race are so disgraceful to human nature and so utterly disheartening to the beholder, as when David, the Psalmist and King, with such a history, such experiences, such promises, sat writing this letter.

2 Samuel 11:16. It is often hard to find helpers to virtue, but always easy to find helpers in vice and crime.

2 Samuel 11:17. Uriah the Hittite—immortal by his wrongs!

2 Samuel 11:25. Alas! often do men hide wicked designs, and satisfaction at successful plotting, under the common-places of resignation to the inevitable, of submission to the conditions of existence.

2 Samuel 11:27. So he seemed to have compassed his ends and effectually concealed his crime by a still baser crime. But his conscience slept uneasily its poisoned sleep, and Jehovah was displeased!—Tr.]

[ 2 Samuel 11:2-27. David’s frightful fall. 1) The inspired writings (unlike most biographies) narrate without reserve the faults of good men2) This story serves as an encouragement to sin, or as a solemn warning against sin, according to the spirit of him that reads it. We should discipline ourselves to take a right and wholesome view of other men’s faults3) One sin leads to another; and attempts at concealment often involve one in greater difficulty, and tempt him to additional wrong. When a good man has been betrayed into crime, let him humbly confess it, and cut short the series4) If David fell, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall ( 1 Corinthians 10:12). Chrysostom: The narrow way has precipices on both sides. Let us walk it awake and watchful. For we are not more exact than David, who by a moment’s neglect was precipitated into the very gulf of sin.—Tr.]


FN#1 - 2 Samuel 11:1. So the Qeri (margin). Böttcher and Hitzig retain the Kethib “messengers,” the former understanding it of ambassadors, the latter of watchers to observe the new moon (comp. Jeremiah 31:6); but these views are not probable; it is not likely that a time of the year would be defined by an act that was performed twelve times a year, and it is unlikely that ambassadors were sent out at a special time of the year. Though the Kethibh (מלאכים) may be the harder, and so far the preferable form, general considerations strongly favor the Qeri.—Böttcher’s theory is that there existed two recensions of the history, one made by priests (which he marks PR.), the other by laymen (LR), of which the former is here followed by “Chronicles” (making Joab act independently, and softening the “Ammonites” into the “land of Ammon”), and the latter by “Samuel” (emphasizing the king’s activity, etc.). Rather we should say that the author of “Samuel” selected his material from a prophetical point of view, the author of “Chronicles” from a Levitical point of view.—Tr.]

FN#2 - 2 Samuel 11:4. Wellhausen rightly observes that the Athnach should be under עִמָּה, and the purification will then be subsequent and not previous (as in the following “for” of Eng. A. V.) to the time of וַיִּשְׁכַּב.—Tr.]

FN#3 - 2 Samuel 11:6. After “Uriah” one MS. of De Rossi, Syr, Chald, insert “the Hittite,” an instance of the tendency to assimilation.—The omission of the לֵאמרֹ (“saying”) makes no difficulty here (so also in 2 Samuel 19:15); it is easily supplied in thought, and is inserted by Sept, Vulg, Arab. (as in Eng. A. V.). Böttcher thinks that the omission belongs to the curt priest-text, the insertion to the lay-text.—Tr.]

FN#4 - 2 Samuel 11:7. Some MSS. of Kennicott and De Rossi, and Syr, Arab, Vulg, read “to David,” an illustration of the disposition of copyists and translators to make the text clearer by stating the person or thing explicitly rather than trust to the frequently indefinite Pronoun. In general, the preference is in such cases to be given to the less explicit.—Tr.]

FN#5 - 2 Samuel 11:8. “Or, a portion, gift,” literally “something lifted up” (Sept. ἄρσις). Vulg. and Chald. render food and meal, Syr. and Arab. gift. Some anonymous Greek VSS. (in Montfaucon’s Hex.) have a strange rendering: ὀπίσω ἀυτῶν παρεστηκότων τῶ βασιλεῖ “after those that stood by the king” (reading τῶν for ἀυτῶν), as if Uriah were preceded by royal officers, from whom David may have learned ( 2 Samuel 11:10) that Uriah did not go home. Schleusner suggests that they read מְשָׁרֵת (minister) instead of מַשְׂאֵת.—Tr.]

FN#6 - 2 Samuel 11:9. The omission of the word “all” in Sept. and Arab. (Vulg. has cum aliis servis) has simplicity in its favor; it would be natural to insert here a descriptive word.—Tr.]

FN#7 - 2 Samuel 11:11. The Heb. text is here supported by all the versions except Sept, which has: πῶς; ζὴ ψυχή σου, “how? as thy soul liveth,” that Isaiah, it read הֵיךְ “how?” (see Daniel 10:17) instead of חַיֶּךָ. On account of the seeming tautology of the Hebrews, Thenius and Böttcher adopt the reading of the Sept. (in which, however, the how? is intolerable, while Wellhausen would read חי יהוה “by the life of Jahveh,” or strike out the second clause: “by the life of thy soul.” But this double asseveration may easily be understood as the repetition of an excited soldier.—Tr.]

FN#8 - 2 Samuel 11:15. הָבוּ; Sept. ἐισάγαγε “bring in” = הָבֵא, but the Sing. here does not agree with the following Plu. שַׁבְתֶּם (so Wellhausen).—Tr.]

FN#9 - 2 Samuel 11:20. The Sept. repeats in 2 Samuel 11:22 the whole of the speech (with one or two verbal alterations) that Joab puts into David’s mouth in 2 Samuel 11:20-21. On the other hand the Heb. text says nothing of David’s anger, nor of any such speech, when the messenger reports to him ( 2 Samuel 11:23 sq.). Böttcher, therefore, rejecting the “monstrous repetition” of the Sept, holds that the speech in question belongs (with an introductory “and David was wroth with Joab”) at the end of 2 Samuel 11:22, that it was afterwards inserted after 2 Samuel 11:19, because it seemed necessary there, the Sept. translating from a text that contained the repetition, while the masoretic text dropped the second speech as cumbersome. So also (as to the form of the text) substantially Thenius, who omits 2 Samuel 11:21 as far as the second “wall.” The latter, however, thinks the alleged omission in the Heb. (at the end of 2 Samuel 11:22) to have been purposely made by the transcriber, in order to conceal his recognized error of insertion in 2 Samuel 11:21-22 : Wellh, on the contrary, holds that the omission was for brevity’s sake simply.—Joab’s speech, as it stands in the Hebrews, certainly shows a very lively anticipation of David’s view of the case; but Böttcher is wrong in saying that such anticipation is impossible, for Joab of course puts it only as a supposition, and Abimelech’s case would naturally occur to him. There is no need on this account merely to suppose that David actually got angry, or cited Abimelech’s history; Joab’s lively anticipation does not logically involve David’s conformity to it. But, if David did show anger, there is still no necessity for supposing that he mentioned Abimelech, and his objection to approaching the wall might easily have been taken for granted and omitted.—Then, it is after all more probable that the Sept. should make so natural an insertion than that the Heb. text should omit it. We, therefore, with Erdmann, retain the masoretic text.—Tr.]

FN#10 - 2 Samuel 11:21. Sept. Jerubbaal, the original form of the name; but probably Jerubbesheth (so Böttcher) is the correct text-reading here, this form having become common in the time of the author of our Book. The Sept-translator went back to the original form. This does not offer support to Böttcher’s hypothesis of the two recensions of our text (priestly and laic).—The Sept. also calls Jerubbaal the son of Ner, which Thenius thinks is for Zer, the last syllable of Abiezer (see Judges 6:11). It may, however, be worthy of notice that the Syriac has “Abimelech the son of Nedubbeel” (for Nerubbeel), substituting the Syr. n of the 3 sing-masc. Impf. for the Heb. Yod; and there may be some connection between this and the Sept-form.—Tr.]

FN#11 - Some interpret: “when the summer set in.” Abarbanel: “when the sun returned to the same point.” Perhaps the phrase is a general one: “when the year had rolled round, and the time came for kings to go forth.”—Tr.]

FN#12 - It is not necessary to suppose that David’s siesta and evening-walk show that he had become inert and luxurious. It was the habit of the times, and he seems to have begun his walk with no evil design.—Tr.]

FN#13 - That Isaiah, the names are composed of am = people, and el = God. Eliam = God of the people; Ammiel = people of God. For other views see the lexicons of Gesenius and Fürst.—Tr.]

FN#14 - Comp. 1 Samuel 4:4. The ark was taken along as an encouraging sign of the divine presence and favor—probably not to inquire of God (against Patrick and Bible Comm.). Such inquiry was made through the high-priest’s ephod. In Joshua 7:6 (the only case of inquiry at the ark mentioned) Joshua had a special divine Revelation, as Moses used to have. On 1 Samuel 14:18 see the discussion of the text in loco. On a rabbinical view that there were two arks, one containing the ephod, see Philippson in loco.—Tr.]

FN#15 - There written Jerubbaal. On the change of name see on 2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 9:6—and on the Sept. reading see “Text. and Gramm.” on this verse.—Tr.]

FN#16 - שָׁלַח with two Accus.; to send a person with a thing—commission him, 1 Kings 14:6; Isaiah 55:11.

FN#17 - Or = ὄτι, that, introducing substantive clause (as frequently in N. T.). Thenius unnecessarily objects to this כִּי as “referring to nothing.”—Tr.]

FN#18 - The א in יֹראוּ and מוֹראים [ 2 Samuel 11:24] is an Aramaic form.

FN#19 - The intrans. יֵרַע with the sign of the Acc. אֵת (as elsewhere the Pass. Verb is found with the Acc.) according to the sense, the active meaning coming forward against the intrans. and pass. Ew. § 277 d. [The אֵת here introduces the Acc. of general limitation.—Tr.] The sense is: Look not evilly on this thing. Comp. 1 Samuel 20:13; Joshua 22:17; Nehemiah 9:32. On בָּזֹה וְבָזֶה see Ew. § 105 b. The first time o is put for e, a. slight phonetic change easily occurring in such correlative phrases ( Judges 18:4; 1 Kings 14:5).

FN#20 -

[A. Clarke refers to the similar incident in Bellerophon’s life:

πόρεν δ ̓ ὅγε σήματα λυγρά,

Γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά.

(Il. VI:168, 169).—Tr.]

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

The account with Ammon had by no means been settled, and in the Spring David sent Joab and the armies of Israel to battle the Ammonites and to besiege their capital city, of Rabbah. We are told specifically that this was the time when kings go out to battle, but David remained at home. lt is possible his servants advised this so that their king would not be exposed to danger (ch.18:3), but David's energy of faith had waned so that he was exposed to greater danger by remaining at home.

Evident idleness led to his shameful fall, for he rose from his bed in the evening while it was still light enough for him to see from his rooftop a woman bathing herself (v.2). Honest self-judgment should have turned his eyes and his thoughts away immediately, but he was allured by her beauty. Inquiring about her, he found she was another man's wife. Why did this fact not stop him? He already had seven wives. He knew the law of God, that an adulterer should be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), but took advantage of his own position as king to break over the law of God. The woman's husband, Uriah, was a soldier in Joab's army, therefore away from home, and David sent messengers to bring her to him. After their shameful guilt of adultery, she returned to her own home (v.4).

David may have hoped that this was the end of the matter, but God intervened in His righteous government. Bathsheba sent word to David that she had become pregnant (v.5). Alarmed at this, David conceived a subtle plan to keep his sin from being discovered. He sent orders to Joab to send Uriah back to Jerusalem. Uriah may have wondered what reason David had for bringing him back, for David only inquired how the battle was going, then told Uriah to go to his house and wash his feet, for a soldier's feet need special care. When Uriah left, David sent a present after him (v.8). Whether Uriah received it did not go there, but stayed overnight with others of David's servants in the servants' quarters.

On hearing this, David questioned Uriah as to why he did not go to his house when he had opportunity after some time of being away from home (v.10). Uriah's reply must have been a pointed lesson to David as to self restraint. He had decided that, since the ark and Israel were in temporary shelters, and that Joab and the army were camping in the open, engaged in serious combat for the sake of Israel, he was not going to relax and enjoy himself at home as though he was not a part of Israel defense: he would virtually remain "on guard."

When David failed to get Uriah to go to his home the first night, then he tried another tactic, telling Uriah to stay in Jerusalem for two more days, but having him eat and drink with him till Uriah became drunk, David thinking in this way to tempt Uriah to go to his home. But this plan failed too: Uriah again slept with the servants.

David's desperation then gave birth to the awful thought of plotting to have Uriah killed. Uriah was given a letter to carry to Joab that was intended to seal his own doom. This was the reward of his devotedness to the cause of Israel! David did not even try to veil his intentions concerning Uriah: he told Joab to place him in the front line of the fiercest battle, then have all others withdraw, so that Uriah would be left as the only target for the enemy, and thus be killed (v.15). Not only would David make himself guilty of the murder of Uriah, but he would implicate Joab and others in this too. Joab of course would say he had to obey his master, but in this case he ought to have had a conscience toward God that would not allow him to obey David.

However, in besieging the city, Joab put Uriah in the greatest place of danger, evidently close to the wall. Men from the city saw an advantage in coming Out to fight, having the protection of the city behind them, and Joab's plan worked well, not for the good of Israel, but to have Uriah killed. Others also fell before the enemy, but Joab knew this was a risk he must take in order to be sure that Uriah was killed (v.17).

Joab may not have been so quick to report to David the conduct of the war if it had not been for Uriah's death. When he sends a messenger, he instructs him to tell first the events that transpired, and wait for a response from David before saying any more (v.19). Then if David was angry because of Joab's endangering his army by coming too close to the wall (a tactic Joab, as well as David, knew was dangerous), the messenger was to add that Uriah the Hittite was dead also (v.21). Joab intended to impress on David the fact that he had planned this unwise ploy because David wanted Uriah killed.

However, the messenger did not follow Joab's orders precisely. He reported what had happened in the battle, that men had come out from the city and Israel pressed them close to the gate, with the result that archers could shoot from the wall, and some of David's men were killed. But he did not wait for a response from David before telling him that Uriah was among the dead (v.24). Perhaps he saw no reason for Joab's instructions and did not want to see David's anger rise.

Of course the only news that interested David at the moment was that of Uriah's death. Likely the messenger wondered why David did not criticize Joab's action in the battle, but David only mildly told the messenger to tell Joab not to be discouraged by this setback, because "the sword devours one as well as another" (v.25). In this way he tried to disguise the relief he felt at news of Uriah's death, but this would be plainly apparent to Joab. David only added that Joab should increase the intensity of the battle so as to overthrow the city.

Of course Bathsheba did not know that David had planned her husband's death. She did mourn for her husband for a certain time (v.26). When the days of mourning were over, David sent for her and took her as his eighth wife, and she bore a son. But we are assured that what David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. This could not go unpunished.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Here is, I. David's glory, in pursuing the war against the Ammonites, 2 Samuel 11:1. We cannot take that pleasure in viewing this great action which hitherto we have taken in observing David's achievements, because the beauty of it was stained and sullied by sin; otherwise we might take notice of David's wisdom and bravery in following his blow. Having routed the army of the Ammonites in the field, as soon as ever the season of the year permitted he sent more forces to waste the country and further to avenge the quarrel of his ambassadors. Rabbah, their metropolis, made a stand, and held out a great while. To this city Joab laid close siege, and it was at the time of this siege that David fell into this sin.

II. David's shame, in being himself conquered, and led captive by his own lust. The sin he was guilty of was adultery, against the letter of the seventh commandment, and (in the judgment of the patriarchal age) a heinous crime, and an iniquity to be punished by the judges (Job 31:11), a sin which takes away the heart, and gets a man a wound and dishonour, more than any other, and the reproach of which is not wiped away.

1. Observe the occasions which led to this sin. (1.) Neglect of his business. When he should have been abroad with his army in the field, fighting the battles of the Lord, he devolved the care upon others, and he himself tarried still at Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 11:1. To the war with the Syrians David went in person, 2 Samuel 10:17. Had he been now at his post at the head of his forces, he would have been out of the way of this temptation. When we are out of the way of our duty we are in the way of temptation. (2.) Love of ease, and the indulgence of a slothful temper: He came off his bed at evening-tide, 2 Samuel 11:2. There he had dozed away the afternoon in idleness, which he should have spent in some exercise for his own improvement or the good of others. He used to pray, not only morning and evening, but at noon, in the day of his trouble: it is to be feared he had, this noon, omitted to do so. Idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. Standing waters gather filth. The bed of sloth often proves the bed of lust. (3.) A wandering eye: He saw a woman washing herself, probably from some ceremonial pollution, according to the law. The sin came in at the eye, as Eve's did. Perhaps he sought to see her, at least he did not practise according to his own prayer, Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity, and his son's caution in a like case, Look not thou on the wine it is red. Either he had not, like Job, made a covenant with his eyes, or, at this time, he had forgotten it.

2. The steps of the sin. When he saw her, lust immediately conceived, and, (1.) He enquired who she was (2 Samuel 11:3), perhaps intending only, if she were unmarried, to take her to wife, as he had taken several; but, if she were a wife, having no design upon her. (2.) The corrupt desire growing more violent, though he was told she was a wife, and whose wife she was, yet he sent messengers for her, and then, it may be, intended only to please himself with her company and conversation. But, (3.) When she came he lay with her, she too easily consenting, because he was a great man, and famed for his goodness too. Surely (thinks she) that can be no sin which such a man as David is the mover of. See how the way of sin is down-hill; when men begin to do evil they cannot soon stop themselves. The beginning of lust, as of strife, is like the letting forth of water; it is therefore wisdom to leave it off before it be meddled with. The foolish fly fires her wings, and fools away her life at last, by playing about the candle.

3. The aggravations of the sin. (1.) He was now in years, fifty at least, some think more, when those lusts which are more properly youthful, one would think, should not have been violent in him, (2.) He had many wives and concubines of his own; this is insisted on, 2 Samuel 12:8. (3.) Uriah, whom he wronged, was one of his own worthies, a person of honour and virtue, one that was now abroad in his service, hazarding his life in the high places of the field for the honour and safety of him and his kingdom, where he himself should have been. (4.) Bath-sheba, whom he debauched, was a lady of good reputation, and, till she was drawn by him and his influence into this wickedness, had no doubt preserved her purity. Little did she think that ever she could have done so bad a thing as to forsake the guide of her youth, and forget the covenant of her God; nor perhaps could any one in the world but David have prevailed against her. The adulterer not only wrongs and ruins his own soul, but, as much as he can, another's soul too. (5.) David was a king, whom God had entrusted with the sword of justice and the execution of the law upon other criminals, particularly upon adulterers, who were, by the law, to be put to death; for him therefore to be guilty of those crimes himself was to make himself a pattern, when he should have been a terror, to evil doers. With what face could he rebuke or punish that in others which he was conscious to himself of being guilty of? See Romans 2:22. Much more might be said to aggravate the sin; and I can think but of one excuse for it, which is that it was done but once; it was far from being his practice; it was by the surprise of a temptation that he was drawn into it. He was not one of those of whom the prophet complains that they were as fed horses, neighing every one after his neighbour's wife (Jeremiah 5:8); but this once God left him to himself, as he did Hezekiah, that he might know what was in his heart, 2 Chronicles 32:31. Had he been told of it before, he would have said, as Hazael, What! is thy servant a dog? But by this instance we are taught what need we have to pray every day, Father, in heaven, lead us not into temptation, and to watch, that we enter not into it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Observe the occasions of David's sin; what led to it. 1. Neglect of his business. He tarried at Jerusalem. When we are out of the way of our duty, we are in temptation. 2. Love of ease: idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. 3. A wandering eye. He had not, like Job, made a covenant with his eyes, or, at this time, he had forgotten it. And observe the steps of the sin. See how the way of sin is down-hill; when men begin to do evil, they cannot soon stop. Observe the aggravations of the sin. How could David rebuke or punish that in others, of which he was conscious that he himself was guilty?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Instead of suppressing that lust which the sight of his eyes had kindled, he seeks rather to feed it; and first inquires who she was; that, if she were unmarried, he might make her either his wife or his concubine.

Bath-sheba, called also Bath-shuah, 1 Chronicles 3:5, where also Eliam is called Ammiel. The Hittite; so called, either,

1. By his original, being born either of that race, but become a zealous proselyte; or, at least. among that people. Or,

2. By his habitation among them. Or,

3. For some notable exploit of his against that people: see 1 Samuel 26:6, and See Poole "2 Samuel 8:18".

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

David Sinks Into Spiritual Apathy Which Results In Mounting Sins Of The Most Serious Kind (2 Samuel 11:1-17).

In this chapter we are brought face to face with a David who had clearly fallen out of touch with YHWH. Nothing else can explain why he so continually ignored YHWH’s clear commandments. It can in fact only be seen as resulting from the fact that he had fallen into a state of complete spiritual insensibility, totally unlike the picture that we have of him elsewhere, both in this book and in the Psalms. This is evidenced by his continual persistence in a course of action which no spiritually sensitive man could even have contemplated.

What then brought about this abject failure on David’s part? The answer provided by the writer would seem to be that it arose because, having been so successful for so long, he decided to rest on his laurels and leave the battles to others. He took a long break from his responsibilities so as to enjoy his royal privileges. He began to see himself as important and to forget that he was but a servant of YHWH. And the result was that he grew slack in his attitude towards YHWH and discovered that Satan would provide plenty of work for his idle hands to do. This is immediately and deliberately brought out by the writer when he points out that ‘in the time when kings go forth to battle’ David ‘stayed in Jerusalem’ and left the battles to others, something which the writer deliberately contrasts with the zeal of Uriah who insisted on remaining in combat readiness even when in Jerusalem, which was the place where he and his wife lived, and in the face of every attempt to make him do otherwise. The truth, of course, was that the king should have been out directing his troops unless he had other equally urgent business on hand. What he should not have been doing was idling in his palace. The list of David’s other failures which then result from this is quite frightening.

· The first is that ‘he saw a woman bathing.’ Now in Israel women did not bathe in the open air, they did it in the privacy of their apartments. So what this tells us is that David had become a ‘peeping Tom’. Not that he probably set out to be. His first glance was probably quite accidental as he noticed through the window (unglazed) of the house opposite the palace a woman bathing. But what any decent Israelite would then have done would have been to ensure that he did not, by his interest, intrude on the woman’s privacy again. To deliberately look on a woman’s nakedness was considered to be a great sin unless you were married to her (even if she was herself unmarried) to a far greater extent than it is today. It was seen as a total betrayal of decency, and almost in terms of those days, a kind of rape, and was almost certainly punishable at law. (In Genesis 9:20-27 it was Ham’s lingering on the fact of his father’s nakedness that brought him under the curse of God). A bored David, however, decided to ignore God’s commands concerning the matter and take a longer look, gazing in at the window because he noticed that the woman was very beautiful. Indeed he deliberately sought to take it all in knowing in himself how distasteful and disreputable it was. It was inexcusable.

· The next thing was that he enquired after the woman. He must have been quite well aware that the woman was of an age when she would be married. Indeed we get the impression from the speed at which he acted that he was not too concerned about the fact. He was idle. He had nothing to do. And he had a harem full of beautiful women. But he was looking for something more exciting, and what more exciting than eating forbidden fruit? So he deliberately continued on his downward path. (There can be no excuse. Even a king in Israel knew that he must marry a woman before having sexual relations with her, whilst this was clearly only intended to be a one night stand).

· It is then stressed that he learned who she was, and that she was the wife of one of his own finest warriors who was away fighting for him in the war against Ammon, and yet he still did not hesitate. Indeed it seems that he even saw it as a bit of luck. His lusts had been aroused, and he had deliberately fed them. He was no longer thinking straightly. Sin had him in its grip. There are absolutely no grounds for excusing him. He deliberately intended to do what he knew to be wrong, engage in adultery with the wife of a loyal subject, and that as one who lived in a society where adultery was seen as a major crime against YHWH Himself. And he was himself fully aware of the law on the matter. Indeed seeing adultery as a crime was not simply limited to Israel. It was seen as a major crime in most societies. Thus the law code of Hammurabi says, ‘if the wife of a citizen is taken cohabiting with another male, they shall both be bound and cast into the water’ (the normal method of execution in that law code). The deliberate nature of David’s act is brought out by the writer. Having sent messengers to her explaining that the king wanted to see her, ‘he took her, and she came in to him, and he lay with her’. The threefoldness emphasises the deliberateness of the sin. And it all occurred because he was taking time off from serving YHWH.

· The writer then delicately brings out the heinousness of David’s sin in YHWH’s eyes when he says, ‘for she was purified from her uncleanness’. This mention of being purified from a minor element of ritual uncleanness (suggesting that her bathing had been after she had had her period) stands in stark contrast to the blackness and evil of David’s sin. Here was a pure woman concerned to please YHWH, who, having become ritually ‘clean’, is to be dragged into the deepest possible level of uncleanness by David’s activity. The pure woman of Israel is to be despoiled.

· Then, having despoiled the woman, and having almost dismissed it from his mind (after all what was the point of being a king if you could not have what you wanted?) David went on quite happily with his life. He saw it as just a brief and fleeting incident in his life, which could now to be forgotten, almost like eating a fig (he did not even have the excuse of a hopeless passion). He seems to have made no further attempt to see Bathsheba. After all, that might have caused a scandal, and he did not want to do that. But then two or three months later he received a note from Bathsheba which shook him to the core. She was pregnant at his hands, and that certainly would cause a scandal. However, he did not foresee any serious problem. All he had to do was cover it up by calling for the loyal and luckless Uriah to return from the battlefield and letting him sleep with his wife. Who then could prove for certain who the father was?

· But there was one problem that he had not foreseen. Uriah was an upright man of great integrity and loyalty. Unlike David he could not forget that his comrades were on the battlefield facing death every day. Thus he remembered that he was on active service and refused (unlike David) to take time off. He slept in the guard room of the palace with the soldiery. Keeping oneself from women was seen as religiously important when undergoing serious missions (compare 1 Samuel 21:4-5), and he would not let his comrades, and David, down, even when David made him drunk hoping that it would change his mind.

· Driven almost mad by the fear that the truth might come out David then recognised that his only hope was to arrange for Uriah’s speedy death. It was the only solution to the problem, for if Uriah was not there to testify who else would query the source of the baby? He was desperate. How sin clouds the mind. But in Israel even he could not arrange people’s deaths with impunity. So he recognised that there was only one thing to do, and that was to arrange for a ‘planned accident’. Accordingly he sent Uriah back to Joab a doomed man, bearing a note which made quite clear to Joab, under sealed military orders, what he wanted him to do. Make sure that Uriah died on the battlefield. After all, Joab was his nephew. He knew that he could trust Joab. Thus he was seeking to implicate Joab, as well as himself, in the murder. He was making his nephew, to whom he should have been an example, into a murderer. He no doubt felt sure that Joab, the ‘hard’ man (2 Samuel 3:39), would do it without a qualm. (What dreadful things people will do when they are seeking to cover up for their sins).

· Joab in fact appears to have had more of a conscience than David. He did not specifically follow out David’s cowardly orders. Nevertheless it was simple to arrange for Uriah to be put in the fiercest part of the battle, for, after all, someone had to be there, and Uriah was the kind of loyal soldier who would have volunteered for it. Even that did not work, however, until Joab or one of his officers made a tactical blunder and allowed the besieging troops to linger too close to the wall of the besieged city when they were dealing with a foray, (perhaps because Joab was so eager to see Uriah dead). And the consequence was that many of David’s faithful men died, as well as Uriah. It was multiple murder.

· The final sin was that when David heard of the deaths of his loyal soldiers, instead of being angry he dismissed the matter, simply because it had resulted in his foul purpose being accomplished. And this from a man who had always in the past had the greatest concern and respect for his men! And all because of a one night stand which had resulted from his not fulfilling his duties as a king! But at least he was satisfied that the matter was now over. His secret sin was now quietly covered up and no one would ever know the truth. He could marry the woman and adopt the child. No one would ever guess. And after all he was only doing what other kings did all the time. It is a further indication of his sad state that he never even considered what YHWH would think about the matter. It emphatically brings out that he was in a state of sad spiritual declension.


a And it came about, at the return of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel, and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1).

b And it came about at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to look on (2 Samuel 11:2).

c And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ (2 Samuel 11:3).

d And David sent messengers, and took her, and she came in to him, and he lay with her (for she was purified from her uncleanness), and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child” (2 Samuel 11:4-5).

e And David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David (2 Samuel 11:6).

f And when Uriah was come to him, David asked of him how Joab did, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered (2 Samuel 11:7).

g And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of food from the king (2 Samuel 11:8).

h But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house (2 Samuel 11:9).

g And when they had told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” (2 Samuel 11:10).

f And Uriah said to David, “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents, and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open field, shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing” (2 Samuel 11:11).

e And David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and on the following day (2 Samuel 11:12).

d And when David had called him, he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk, and at eventide he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but did not go down to his house. (2 Samuel 11:13).

c And it came about in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set you Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and you retire from him, that he may be smitten, and die” (2 Samuel 11:14-15).

b And it came about, when Joab kept watch on the city, that he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew that valiant men were (2 Samuel 11:16).

a And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab, and there fell some of the people, even of the servants of David, and Uriah the Hittite died also (2 Samuel 11:17)

Note that the parallels bring out the contrast between the lazy indolence of David and the intense activity of those who were fighting for YHWH and Israel. In ‘a’ Joab went with all Israel and besieged Rabbah, while David was lingering at Jerusalem, and in the parallel the men of the city fought back, whilst Uriah was being killed. In ‘b’ David was watching a beautiful but forbidden woman while in the parallel Joab was watching the city and concentrating on the battle. In ‘c’ David enquires after the woman and discovers that she is the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and in the parallel he calls for Uriah’s death to be arranged. In ‘d’ David lay with the woman and she conceived, and in the parallel Uriah lay in the guard house with David’s servants, refusing to go home to her because he saw it as his duty. In ‘e’ David calls for Uriah to be sent to him in Jerusalem, and in the parallel he calls on him to remain in Jerusalem. In ‘f’ David discusses the war with Uriah, and in the parallel Uriah describes the details of the war. In ‘g’ David tells Uriah to go down to his house, and in the parallel he learns that he did not go down to his house. Centrally in ‘h’ the noble Uriah sleeps in the guard house and refuses to enjoy the luxury of his home and wife.

2 Samuel 11:1

And it came about, at the return of the year, at the time when kings go out (to battle), that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel, and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.’

The return of the year was the period after the rains when men were relatively free from the requirements of the land, and when the roads were most suitable for travel. It was thus the time of the year when kings ‘go out’ (on looting expeditions or to battle). This is deliberately set in contrast with the fact that David did not ‘go out’. He ‘stayed at Jerusalem’ and sent Joab, together with his commanders and officers (his servants) and all Israel instead. He wanted to take it easy.

The purpose of their ‘going out’ was probably in order to avenge the insult described in 2 Samuel 10:4-5, when David’s messengers had been shamed. The Aramaeans having finally been subdued it was now time for the Ammonites to get what they had asked for. And the result was that the Ammonites as a whole were ‘destroyed’. That is, their towns and villages were taken and put to the sword, with the result that large numbers of the people fled for refuge to the strong fortress city of Rabbah, the capital city of Ammon. Now it was a matter of reducing Rabbah.

2 Samuel 11:2

And it came about at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to look on.’

Meanwhile David was lounging in his bed, bored and with nothing to do. And when evening came he climbed to the roof of his palace for a stroll in the fading light. It was then that fate struck. For he saw through a window of a house opposite a woman bathing. This would be drawn to his attention because, as it was getting dark, the woman’s servants had lit her oil lamps with the result that attention was drawn to her window which was lit up in the gloom. And in the dim light he realised that she was very beautiful.

No respectable woman would have bathed in the open in those days, for such a woman would have kept herself covered up at all times. Being provocative was only for prostitutes. Thus David should immediately have recognised her innocence and respected her privacy, turning away before he even realised that she was beautiful. To look on a woman’s (even partial) nakedness in those days was a very serious matter, far more serious matter then than it is today. It was the equivalent of rape. David would have been aware of this, but he was bored and so he took advantage of the situation, thereby sinning deeply.

Others consider that ‘at eventide’ simply means after the mid-day siesta and that it was therefore afternoon, and that the woman was bathing in the enclosed courtyard of her house where there would be a fountain which she saw as private, but which was visible from the roof of the palace. This, however, suggests a laxity that would not have been likely in a respectable woman of that day, especially as, even if she ignored her own servants, she would surely be well aware that she could be seen from the upper part of the palace.

It is not really likely that she was seeking to catch the king’s attention, as she would have no reason to think that he might be interested, and may well have thought that such an austere king would only punish someone who was careless about revealing their own nakedness. After all, she would argue, he had available to him the most beautiful women of the land. Besides she would not know who might be on the roof of the palace. We really cannot turn the blame on Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 11:3

And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” ’

But David not only sinned by gazing at her nakedness (even if she was partly dressed), he went even further. For he sent for his servants and enquired about the woman, and learned that she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of his faithful military officers. That should certainly have quenched his interest, for otherwise he would be both contemplating forbidden adultery, which in any ordinary person was punishable by death, while at the same time being disloyal to one of his own officers, something which was contrary to his own deepest principles. It would thus be a heinous sin against YHWH, and an act of gross disloyalty and treachery as well. The fact that he even considered it demonstrated his sad spiritual condition.

1 Chronicles 3:5 has Bath-shua (daughter of opulence) for Bath-sheba (seventh daughter, or daughter of an oath) and Ammi-el (my people are of God) for Eli-am (the God of my people). It was not uncommon for people to have two names, and Bathsheba may well have been renamed on her marriage (compare Genesis 26:34 with Genesis 36:2-3). If Ahithophel was her grandfather she certainly came from a wealthy family, and she equally certainly became a ‘daughter of opulence’ when she married David. Uriah was the kind of man who may well have altered his wife’s name to Bathsheba in celebration of their marriage oaths, something which was commonly done. The change from Eli-am to Ammi-el simply results from switching the syllables round. Both names signify the same idea, ‘My people are of God’ or ‘the people of my God’, and both names were probably in use by him. If Eliam was the mighty man of 23:34 then Bathsheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel, which may help to explain Ahithophel’s part in Absalom’s rebellion.

The fact that Uriah is called ‘the Hittite’ may indicate that he was descended from one of the mixed multitude in Exodus 12:38, or that he was descended from the ancient Hittites who had been in the land for generations and was a convert to YHWH, or that he came from a Hittite family which had come to sojourn in Israel after the demise of the Hittite Empire. Whichever is the case he had become a Yahwist (his name means ‘Yah is my light’), and had been integrated into Israelite society. He was one of David’s acknowledged mighty men (23:39).

2 Samuel 11:4

And David sent messengers, and took her, and she came in to him, and he lay with her (for she was purified from her uncleanness), and she returned to her house.’

But David was not to be denied his pleasure, whoever Bathsheba’s husband might be, and in his supreme royal arrogance he sent messengers and ‘took her, and she came into him, and he lay with her’. The threefold description brings out the completeness of his sin. Lust had conceived and had brought forth sin (James 1:15). The fact that she had just purified herself after her period only accentuates his crime. She was pure, and he took her in her purity and defiled her, and himself as well. And then ‘she returned to her house’ a despoiled woman. It was all over with the minimum of fuss. No one need ever know anything about it.

2 Samuel 11:5

And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.”

But unfortunately for David there was a problem that he had not foreseen, for the woman conceived. Notice the continued emphasis on her as ‘the woman’. There was nothing particularly personal about David’s action, it had just been a king misusing his position, having a fling and satisfying his lust. It was a one night stand, which ‘the woman’ could probably have done little about. You did not argue with the king. But the fact that she had conceived made all the difference. Now she could not just be overlooked. There were bound to be repercussions (her husband might well demand the death penalty for Bathsheba) and David’s name would be soiled. Because he was the law he himself, of course, would not be called to account for his adulterous act, which would normally be punishable by death, nor would Uriah be able to do anything about him. But Uriah could, and probably would, reject any child born and divorce his wife, or have her put to death, and either way great ignominy would undoubtedly come on David. He would thus be shunned by many of his men for what they would see as a despicable act and a betrayal of a loyal servant.

2 Samuel 11:6

And David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David.’

The thought of all this was too much for David, so he conceived a simple plan. He would bring Uriah back to Jerusalem. Uriah would then make love to his wife, dates could be blurred, and who would then be able to say that the child was not Uriah’s? So David sent a messenger to Joab, saying, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite,’ and naturally Joab did just that. No one had any cause to be suspicious.

2 Samuel 11:7

And when Uriah was come to him, David asked of him how Joab did, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered.’

When Uriah arrived he would report straight to David, and David enquired of him about the progress of the war. How was Joab doing? How were his people faring? How was the war going? They were simply the normal questions expected of a considerate king. Uriah probably felt honoured that David had called for him. (As one of David’s mighty men he had quite possibly shared his desert adventures and been with him in Philistia).

2 Samuel 11:8

And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present (mess of food and wine) from the king.’

Then David told Uriah to go home and wash his feet. That is, spruce himself up and make himself comfortable after his journey. Indeed reference to ‘the feet’ in Scripture regularly indicates more personal activities (see Exodus 4:25; Deuteronomy 28:57; Judges 3:24; 1 Samuel 24:3; Isaiah 7:20). And once Uriah had left the king’s presence, David sent after him some special delicacies in order to demonstrate his appreciation, no doubt not forgetting to include a skin of potent wine. He did all the things that a nice king would do. And it was all a lie.

2 Samuel 11:9

But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.’

But unfortunately for David Uriah was of a different calibre than he had expected. For when he left the king’s presence, instead of going home he went to the officers’ mess and spent the night among the serving soldiers who were guarding the palace. In his view he was still on active service, and he did not want to let his men down by enjoying luxuries while they were camping out in the rough ground around Rabbah. Nor did he want to defile himself by lying with his wife, even if it was only a temporary defilement. It was not the soldierly thing to do (1 Samuel 21:5).

2 Samuel 11:10

And when they had told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” ’

We can imagine David’s chagrin when he learned from his servants that Uriah had not gone home to his wife. And, no doubt feeling a little annoyed, he sent for Uriah and asked him why, as he had come from a journey, he had not gone home in order to relax? Outwardly he still appeared to be the concerned king.

2 Samuel 11:11

And Uriah said to David, “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents (booths), and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open field, shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” ’

Uriah’s reply should have quickened his conscience. Indeed we can almost see Uriah standing stiffly to attention as he gives his reply. To him as a loyal officer it was inconceivable that he should enjoy the luxuries of home while the very Ark of God, and all Israel were living in tents (or more strictly ‘booths’ - in view of the length of the siege they may well have erected temporary booths), and Joab and his fellow-officers were encamped out in the open in rough surroundings. Indeed he felt so strongly about it that he asserted by an oath that there were no circumstances under which he would do it. His integrity, grit and loyalty stand in strong contrast with the king who had remained at home to enjoy his luxuries while his men went to battle.

The mention of the Ark and not lying with his wife may well also indicate a religious motive. He did not want to defile himself even for a day by lying with his wife, thus marring the total religious dedication of the Israelite forces. He was determined to maintain his total purity before YHWH. (How this must have stung at David’s conscience).

Although it may not be seen as strictly necessary, for the Ark did dwell in a tent all the time, the mention of the Ark in a tent in this context does suggest that the natural interpretation is that the Ark had gone with them to the battlefield, where it was in its own tent and under a cover. It was the symbol of YHWH’s presence with His people as YHWH of Hosts. Compare how it went into battle in 1 Samuel 4:4-9, and how Saul had considered requiring its presence in 1 Samuel 14:18 when about to make a major attack on the Philistines after Jonathan and his armourbearer had destroyed a Philistine garrison. See also Numbers 10:33-36 where the Ark leads the way for God’s people through the wilderness. Later the Arabs would regularly carry a similar ancient casket (although nor a covenant casket) into battle.

2 Samuel 11:12

And David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and on the following day.’

Recognising that Uriah was obdurate David appeared to accept his argument and told him to remain ‘but another day’ and then he could return to his war duties. Uriah would probably think that the delay was due to the necessity to prepare despatches. There is absolutely no hint of any suspicion on his part. But the truth was that David still had another plan. He would get Uriah drunk, and then surely he would go home to his wife.

2 Samuel 11:13

And when David had called him, he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk, and at eventide he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but did not go down to his house.’

So later that day Uriah was invited to eat with the royal courtiers in the king’s palace, and there David ensured that he was plied with plenty of food and drink, so that he ended up at the end of the day drunk. But when night fell, drunk or not, Uriah simply returned to the guard-house with his fellow-officers. He did not go down to his house. He was probably very grateful to the king for his generosity. What a nice king. It would never have crossed his mind that by his failure to go home he was signing his own death sentence.

2 Samuel 11:14

And it came about in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.’

The next day he reported to David in accordance with what had been agreed (2 Samuel 11:12) in order to receive the despatches that he would be required to take to Joab. And with them he received a personal letter to Joab, written by the king himself. (David would not want anyone to know what he had written).

2 Samuel 11:15

And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set you Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire you from him, that he may be smitten, and die.” ’

Little did Uriah know what David had written. Indeed it is a sign of how kingship and luxury had for a short while dragged David down and seared his conscience. For what the letter required of Joab was a straightforward act of treachery and murder. He was to send Uriah to the hottest part of the battlefield, and then suddenly withdraw his supporting troops leaving Uriah exposed so that he would be smitten and killed. The sheer callousness of it can only make us grow cold. Indeed, as we shall see, even the hardened Joab shrank from doing it. He was prepared to send him where the battle was fiercest, after all someone had to be sent there, but he was not prepared to actually betray him on the battlefield. In fact he probably recognised how difficult it would be to persuade any of his men to do it. They would be totally unwilling to betray a good and loyal officer. How Joab must have sneered in his heart at David’s words. David had so often made him feel guilty, and now here was David doing something that even Joab shrank from. That was the trouble with these very religious men. In the end they turned out to be worse than anyone else.

2 Samuel 11:16

And it came about, when Joab kept watch on the city, that he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew that valiant men were.’

Joab obeyed half his instructions. Watching the course of the fighting carefully he sent Uriah into battle where the most valiant men were fighting because it was the most dangerous place to be. And that would have been in accord with Uriah’s own wishes. He had proved himself that kind of man. But even Joab would not betray his comrade-in-arms on the battlefield.

We may see these words as signifying that he placed him in a position where he would face the finest warriors inside the city as they came out on a sortie, or simply as putting him among the valiant men of Israel selected out for the most dangerous assignments. Indeed, it is difficult to see how there could be any particular spot where such valiant men could uniquely emerge, unless among a number of gates, one was known to be manned by an elite group.

2 Samuel 11:17

And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab, and there fell some of the people, even of the servants of David, and Uriah the Hittite died also.’

The battle grew hot and a party came out of the city to engage with the Israelites, and there they fought with Joab and his men, before again withdrawing inside the city gates. One of their aims was to draw the opposing troops under the city wall where they could be shot at by the archers and slingers stationed on the walls. The valiant men of Israel then obliged, and pressed up to the gates, eager to pursue the enemy. And Joab, who should have stopped them, did not do so. It is doubtful if he ordered them to pursue the enemy up to the walls, for that would have counted against him, but it is very possible that he saw what was happening and knew that he should have sounded the retreat so that his men would not come under the threat of the arrows and missiles from the walls, but deliberately delayed, having in mind what David had asked of him, in the hope that Uriah would be killed. And sure enough that was what inevitably happened. Uriah was killed. But so were many of the valiant men who were fighting alongside him. The insidious plot had thus become multiple murder of some of Israel’s finest warriors. That is how sin goes.

Note how the writer finishes off with the indication that David’s dastardly plot had succeeded. ‘And Uriah the Hittite died also.’ He likes these succint added statements. Compare ‘and the thing which David had done displeased YHWH’ in 2 Samuel 11:27. (See also ‘and Asahel’ in 2 Samuel 2:30).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Sam 11. David, Bath-sheba, and Uriah (J).

. In the spring, at the beginning of the season suitable for military operations, Joab and the army set out to besiege Rabbah (Jeremiah 49:2*); David stayed at home. He committed adultery with Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who was in the field with Joab. Uriah would be a ger (2 Samuel 1:13*); his name, "Yahweh is light," shows that he was a worshipper of Yahweh.

. David makes an unsuccessful attempt to conceal the facts. Note that the Ark was taken into the field as a talisman (2 Samuel 11:11), as in 1 Samuel 4:3.

. By David's instructions, Joab arranges that Uriah is slain by the enemy. On hearing the news, David marries Bath-sheba.

2 Samuel 11:21. Cf. Judges 9:50 ff.—Jerubbesheth: Jerubbaal (cf. 1 Samuel 14:49*).

2 Samuel 11:22. After this verse, LXX, probably giving the correct text, adds that David was angry and addressed the messenger in very much the words of 2 Samuel 11:20 f.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


2Sa . "After the year," etc., rather, at the return of the year, i.e., in the spring when kings were accustomed to begin military operations. "His servants," the military chieftans about his person. "All Israel," i.e., the whole army. "The children of Amnion." "It was usual, when some strong point was attacked, to ravage the land far and near by incursion parties." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "In an eveningtlde," etc. When the mid-day rest was over, and noon was past. "Walked upon the roof." This was an eastern custom, and the place and hour often used for religious meditation. "Saw a woman," etc. Either at the well in the court-yard of her house or, as some suggest, in her chamber, the casements being open. "In either case, the place was private, visible only from a neighbouring roof; and in the East people refrain from looking down from a roof into neighbouring courts, so that it is an unfounded suggestion that Bathsheba was purposely bathing in an exposed place in order to attract the king's gaze." (Tr. of Lange's Commentary.)

2Sa . "Bathsheba." … "Eliam." In 1Ch 3:5, she is called Bathshua, daughter of Ammiel. "Ammiel has the same meaning as Eliam, and is, indeed, the same word, its compound parts being inverted, and means "God's people." (Wordsworth.) From 2Sa 23:34, where Eliam is called the son of Ahithophel, it is supposed by some that Bathsheba was the grand-daughter of David's counsellor, and that this may explain his adherence to Absalom. "Uriah the Hittite." One of David's heroes. The Hittites were dwelling in Palestine, as far back as the days of Abraham. (Gen 15:20; Gen 23:7.)

2Sa . "David sent," etc. "David had probably hoped that she was unmarried, but now that his passion was inflamed the knowledge that she was a wife did not deter him from his purpose." (Wordsworth.) "The narrative leads us to infer that Bathsheba came and submitted herself to David without opposition. She was moved doubtless by vanity and ambition in not venturing to refuse the demand of the king." (Erdmann.) "For she was purified," etc. Rather, when she was purified, etc., she returned. (See Lev 15:18.)

2Sa . "And sent and told David." Adultery was punishable with death. "This involved an appeal to him to take the necessary steps to avert the evil consequences of the sin." (Keil.)

2Sa . "Wash thy feet," etc. "These words contained an intimation that he was to go to his own home." (Keil.)

2Sa . "Slept at the door," etc. "In the guard room (1Ki 14:27-28) with the royal court officials or the bodyguard. It is possible that he did this merely out of zeal of service, but also his suspicions may have been already aroused, and he may have heard something of the affair with Bathsheba." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "The ark," etc. This seems to indicate that the ark had accompanied the army. "As thou livest," etc. Literally, by thy life and the life of thy soul. "This is not a tautology, but a strengthening of the oath by a repetition of the thought." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "When Joab observed," literally, watched. "We must understand from this a procedure different from the usual siege, a nearer approach, which challenged the warriors in the city to a sally." (Bunsen.)

2Sa . "And Uriah the Hittite died also." "Joab could foresee that this would happen from the dangerousness of the post. In becoming the instrument of David's murderous artifice, Joab needed not to know the ground of the order. As obedient servant of the king, he carried out the order unhesitatingly, inasmuch as it was an order of the commander of the army in relation to a soldier who might have committed some grave offence against him, and whose seemingly accidental death might be desired by him for special reasons." (Erdmann.)

2Sa . "If so be that the king's wrath," etc. "Joab assumed that David might express his displeasure at the fact that Joab had sacrificed a number of his warriors by approaching close to the wall, if such should be the case, to announce Uriah's death to the king, for the purpose of mitigating bis wrath." (Keil.)

2Sa . "When the mourning was past," etc. The usual mourning of the Israelites lasted seven days. (Gen 1:10; 1Sa 31:13.) It is not known whether it was longer in the case of widowhood. It is obvious that David would make Bathsheba his wife as early as possible.



I. Times of prosperity and inactivity are times of special temptation. In all the days of David's adversity he maintained an unsullied reputation. In this day of his prosperity he was guilty of a series of the blackest crimes. Men by great successes in life become a special mark for the great enemy of the race, and the more so in proportion as they have hitherto been loyal to God and goodness. At such times the path of active duty is the least likely to lead into temptation. If David had been at this time at the head of his army it is likely he would have escaped this dark stain upon his life, for plenty of work is a preventive of certain kinds of sin. While a brook is in motion its waters are pure, but if their flow is stopped they become stagnant; so there are men who cannot pass from a life of activity to one of repose without degenerating in character. It seems as though David, with all his intense devotion and deep religious emotion, was of this class. He had been on the throne for a considerable number of years, but until now had probably had little leisure, and the constant demands upon his energies had kept the arrows of the tempter from piercing the weak place in his armour. How much safer he would have been in the thickest of the fight before Rabbath-Ammon than upon his house-top in Jerusalem.

II. Even good men have evil tendencies, of whose strength they have no conception. A vessel filled with gunpowder looks very trim, and clean, and safe, but the black powder is there in the hold, only needing a single spark to make its power felt. A lake seems filled with the purest water, but a stone cast into it will stir up the mud at the bottom and change it into a thick and turbid pool. A tendency to a certain disease may lie dormant for years in the constitution, and suddenly circumstances may favour its rapid development, and it may carry off its victim in a few days. So is it with the human soul. If any human eye had marked David as he sought his roof on this day, could they have dreamedth at there were the possibilities of such a fall within him? Had he any conception himself of the strength of his passion, and the weakness of his will on the side of righteousness?

III. If sin is not resisted when in the heart it will sooner or later become manifest in the life. When the sensual thought in relation to Bathsheba entered David's heart he did not bid it depart, but dallied with it until even the knowledge that she was the wife of another seemed no obstacle to him. Even the best man while in this world needs ever to stand sentinel over his inner life, lest before he is aware a sinful desire lay hold of him and speedily pass from the region of thought into that of action. For sin never remains hidden in the soul unless it is fought and conquered there. If the spring be not cleansed the streams must reveal the fact, and if the root be not good the fruit must betray it.


2Sa . This entire campaign, with the siege of a capital, and the slaying of thousands, interests us now only as the occasion of David's series of great sins. And in truth the striking excellencies or faults of one great and good man, when permanently recorded and widely read, become more important to the welfare of the human race than the overthrow of cities or kingdoms.—Tr. of Lange's Commentary.

While Joab is busy laying siege to Rabbah, Satan is to David, and far sooner prevailed.—Trapp.

2Sa . There can be no safety to that soul, where the senses are let loose. He can never keep his covenant with God, that makes not a covenant with his eyes.—Bp. Hall.

David had once prayed, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;" and should have still continued his suit: that as he might keep a door in God's house, so God would keep the doors and windows of his,—those otherwise windows of wickedness, and loopholes of lust, the eyes; through which the old serpent easily windeth himself into the heart, and maketh himself master of the, whole man. This made good Job to step from a prayer into a vow (Job ). Yea, from a vow to an imprecation (2Sa 11:7.), as knowing the danger of irregular glancing, or inordinate gazing.—Trapp.

2Sa . David should rather have taken an antidote of mortification, before the venom of lust had got to the vitals. But it is hard for him who hath fallen down the ladder of hell for a round or two, to stop or step back till he come to the bottom, without extraordinary help from the hand of Heaven. Can a man commit one sin more, and but one sin more?—Trapp.

2Sa . Had Bathsheba been mindful of her matrimonial fidelity, perhaps David had been soon checked in his inordinate desire; her facility furthers the sin. The first motioner of evil is most faulty; but as in quarrels, so in offences, the second blow (which is the consent) makes the fray. Sin is not acted alone; if but one party be wise, both escape. It is no excuse to say, I was tempted, though by the great, though by the holy and learned: almost all sinners are misled by that transformed angel of light. The action is that we must regard, not the person. Let the mover be never so glorious, if he stir us to evil, he must be entertained with defiance.—Bp. Hall.

2Sa . David hath forgotten that himself was in like sort betrayed in his master's intention, upon the dowry of the Philistines' foreskins. I fear to ask, who ever noted so foul a plot in David's rejected predecessor? Uriah must be the messenger of his own death, Joab must be a traitor to his friend, the host of God must shamefully turn their backs upon the Ammonites, all that Israelitish blood must be shed, that murder must be seconded with dissimulation: and all this to hide one adultery. O God, thou hadst never suffered so dear a favourite of thine to fall so fearfully, if thou hadst not meant to make him an universal example to mankind, of not presuming, of not despairing. How can we presume of not sinning, or despair for sinning, when we find so great a saint thus fallen, thus risen!—Bp. Hall.

It is a sign of the irresistible power of conscience, and an involuntary self-condemnation, when a man seeks in every way to conceal his sin from men, but to extenuate and justify it before God, and on the other hand unwillingness to make confession has its deepest ground in the pride of the human heart, which increases in proportion as the man becomes involved in sin, and the evil in him develops itself from the slightest beginnings into a power that exercises dominion over the whole inner life. "Whosoever commits sin, he is the servant of sin."—Tr. of Lange's Commentary.

2Sa . Even the best actions are not always seasonable, much less the indifferent. He that ever takes liberty to do what he may, shall offend no less than he that sometimes takes liberty to do what he may not.

If anything, the ark of God is fittest to lead our tunes; according as that is either distressed, or prospereth, should we frame our mirth or mourning. To dwell in ceiled houses, while the temple lies waste, is the ground of God's just quarrel.—Bp. Hall.

2Sa . It has been said, "But such a sin is so unlike David's character." Doubtless it was, on the theory that David was a character mingled of good and evil. But on David's own theory, that he was an utterly weak person without the help of God, the act is perfectly like David. It is David's self. It is what David would naturally do when he had left hold of God. Had he left hold of God in the wilderness he would have become a mere robber-chieftain. He does leave hold of God in his palace of Zion, and he becomes a mere Eastern despot.—Kingsley.

Let it be noted that when Satan comes to a man, he makes his appeal to that particular part of his nature where passion is strongest and principle is weakest. Now in David what that was might be very easily discovered. From an early period of his career, he had been especially susceptible in the very matter in which now he fell. This is evident from his marriage of Abigail, and also from the great latitude in which he allowed himself, after his settlement in Jerusalem, in respect to his harem. Polygamy, though not forbidden by the Mosaic law, was regulated and discouraged; but David proceeded as if it had been a perfectly warrantable and legitimate thing, and this conduct on his part undoubtedly tended to weaken his impression of the sanctity of marriage. That sense of delicacy and chastity, which has such a purifying and preserving influence on the life, could not flourish side by side with the polygamy in which he permitted himself; and so, though he thought not of it at the time, his taking of many wives to himself prepared the way for the revolting iniquity which he committed. Here, then, in the moral weakness which constant prosperity had created, in the opportunity which idleness afforded to temptation, and in the blunted sensibility which polygamy had super-induced, we see how David was so easily overcome.

But it may be asked, How can you account for such enormous iniquity in such a man as we have seen that David was? To this I answer, that we may explain it by the absence for the time being of that restraining influence which his better nature was wont to exercise over his life. Passion had dethroned conscience; and then, owing to the intensity of his character, and the general greatness of the man, his sins became as much blacker than those of others, as his good qualities were greater than theirs. In every good man there are still two natures striving for the mastery. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh." The new nature is generally in the ascendant, but sometimes the old evil nature will re-assert its supremacy, and the effect of this temporary revolution will be determined by the temperament and characteristics of the individual. Now there are some men in whom everything is on a large scale. When their good nature is uppermost, they overtop all others in holiness; but if, unhappily, they should be thrown off their guard, and the old man should gain the mastery, some dreadful wickedness may be expected. This is all the more likely to be the case if the quality of intensity be added to their greatness; for a man with such a temperament is never anything by half. But it was just thus with David. He was a man of great intensity and pre-eminent energy. He was in every respect above ordinary men; and so when, for the time, the fleshly nature was the stronger within him, the sins which he committed were as much greater than those of common men, as in other circumstances his excellencies were nobler than theirs. We often make great mistakes in judging of the characters of others, because we ignore all these considerations; and many well-conducted persons among us get great credit for their good moral character, while the truth is that they are blameless not so much because they have higher-toned principles than others, as because they have feeble, timid natures, that are too cautious or too weak to let them go very far either into holiness or into sin. But David was not one of these. Everything about him was intense; and hence, when he sinned, he did it in such a way as to make well-nigh the most hardened shudder. In all this, observe, I am not extenuating David's guilt. It is one thing to explain, it is another thing to excuse. A man of David's nature ought to be more peculiarly on his guard than other men. The express train, dashing along at furious speed, will do more mischief if it runs off the line than the slow-going horse-car in our city streets. Everyone understands that; but everyone demands, in consequence, that the driver of the one shall be proportionately more watchful than that of the other. Now with such a nature as David had, and knew that he had, he ought to have been supremely on his guard, while again the privileges which he had received from God rendered it both easy and practicable for him to be vigilant.—Taylor.

Thus far the story belongs to the usual crimes of an Eastern despot. Detestable as was the double guilt of this dark story, we must still remember that David was not an Alfred or a Saint Louis. He was an Eastern king, exposed to all the temptations of a king of Amnion or Damascus then—of a sultan of Bagdad or Constantinople in modern times. What follows, however, could have been found nowhere in the ancient world, but in the Jewish monarchy.—Stanley.

For a king to take the wife of a poor man—how light a fault may this have appeared to one with the power and privileges which David possessed. Supposing there was a fixed law against adultery, did this law apply to the ruler of the land? Was he not in some sense above law? Such are the arguments and sophistries which would occur to one who was wrestling with his conscience either to give him leave to commit a wrong, or not to torment him for it when it was done. And then, if the husband of this woman stood in the way of the full gratification of his purpose, or of the concealment of it, was there anything strange that he, who was exposing thousands of his subjects to the chances of battle and death, should expose this one? Why was his life more precious than that of any other Israelite? Was it precious simply because it was so convenient to his master than he should lose it? And so the deeds were done.… And David, no doubt, performed all his official tasks as before, went daily to the services of the tabernacle, was probably most severe in enforcing punishment upon all wrong doers.—Maurice.

2Sa . Such is the solemn qualification which the Holy Scriptures append to a record of successful wickedness.… From the moment when a lawless desire first planted itself in David's heart, till the full completion of that desire in the sinful act and its consequences, there had not been one single impediment in the way of his gratification which had not been easily, triumphantly surmounted; not one misgiving of conscience obstinately importunate; not one agent in the crime reluctant or inaccessible to persuasion; not one adverse circumstance to interfere with the exact order of the meditated plan.… "But the thing displeased the Lord." This is the point of contrast between the text and its immediate context; between the smooth and easy course of king David's transgression, and the few emphatic words which close the record and carry the question from the judgment of earth to the tribunal of heaven … The words first of all afford a testimony to the perfect insight of God into our hearts and lives, to His … present observation of them, His judgment upon them both present and future.… Every single thing that we say and do either pleases or displeases God. If it has no other value, it is made pleasing to Him by a pervading spirit of faith, by an habitual regard to Him, on the part of him who does it, or displeasing, whatever its apparent merit, by the habitual absence of this spirit.… God for a whole year looked upon David with disapprobation and disfavour. It is not said that David was aware of this. The contrary is rather to be inferred … But we see clearly … that all the prayers and all the praises of that whole year went for nothing with Him to whom they were addressed.… It is a solemn thought that there are multitudes with whom this is so all their life long; multitudes with whom this is so for an integral portion, it may be, of their threescore years and ten.… But it is not only upon our intercourse with God that this deplorable condition acts so fatally: it puts our life all wrong: it is impossible that anything can be in its place.… Remember, finally, this state is not necessarily, nor perhaps, commonly, a temporary state. It may last till death: and then:—! It is the tendency of such a state to prolong, to perpetuate itself; it contains in itself a blinding, searing, deadening power.… If these things be so, let us not disguise it. Our eternal life depends upon knowing the truth; first the truth of man, and then the truth of God; first our state as it is, and then the change promised. Vaughan.

Even in David's fall Satan is defeated and God is glorified by means of Satan's devices, which appears as follows, viz:—

1. We have here a strong proof of the veracity of Holy Scripture. David's sin was committed in private. He was a king, a powerful king, beloved by his people, and—as is clear from his penitential Psalms—he was sincerely contrite for his sius; and in the rest of his life he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (1Ki ). Besides, one of the worst consequences of the publication of his sin would be that he would have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme (2Sa 12:14). Might it not therefore have been expected that a veil would have been thrown over his sin, and that it would not have been exposed to the eyes of the world in Holy Writ? If Holy Scripture had been the work of man, the considerations would have probably prevailed, and David's sin would not have been exposed to our view; or, if it had been revealed the historian would have extenuated it, as many of the Hebrew Rabbis have done. But the Author of this book is the Holy Ghost.… He reminds us that we have to do with One who is no respecter of persons.… and in reading the Bible we have the satisfaction of knowing that in it there is no suppression of facts, no disguise or extenuation from worldly motives; that in the Bible alone we have the revelation of the perfect Historian, "Ne quid falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri non audiat." …

2. This history is also a moral test of the readers of the Bible. The consequence of David's sin is stated by Nathan (2Sa ). But woe to the enemies of the Lord! Woe to those who blaspheme Him! For it is written, "All thine enemies, O Lord, shall feel thine hand," etc. (Psa 21:8). The enemies of the Lord may turn the food of Scripture into poison, and may abuse David's sin into an occasion of selling themselves into the hands of the tempter, but the friends of God will take warning from his fall … and thus will derive a blessing from the Divine record.…

3. If David's sin had not been recorded we should have been astonished, perplexed, and staggered by the series of tribulations which followed him henceforth to the grave. But this sad scene explains them all … If we had a similar view of men's secret sins, if we had a clear insight into our own as they are seen by God, the anomalies of the present state of things in this world would in a great measure disappear.…

4. The failings of a David and a Solomon reminds us also that no human examples are to be substituted for the Divine law as a rule of life, and that there is no spotless example but that of Christ.—Wordsworth.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(2) And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (3) And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? (4) And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. (5) And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

This sin of David had everything in it that was aggravating. He had wives in abundance, for so in those days, the law, though not commanding, yet winked at it, or allowed it. He was getting in years at this time, not being less, at least, than fifty. The woman he lusted after, was not only the wife of another man, but of one of his faithful servants; and at the very hour when he was injuring him in the tenderest point, this servant was jeoparding his life for David in the high places of the field. He was, moreover, base, in the highest degree, to the woman whose chastity he violated; for certainly the rank and power of David became the great motive with her in prevailing over her honour. And, lastly, to mention no more, as a king, whose office it was to set a good example; as a servant of the Lord; as one who had himself felt, in the case of his own wife, Michal, Saul's daughter, the very painful condition of a conduct so detestable in others; all these, and several more considerations, tended to give the most finished aggravation of David's transgression. Well may we exclaim with Job, Lord! what is man, that thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? Job 7:17.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 11:3. David sent and inquired after the woman — Thus, instead of suppressing that desire which the sight of his eyes had kindled, he seeks rather to feed it; and first inquires who she was; that if she were unmarried he might make her either his wife or his concubine. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba? — This seems to have been an answer given by some one to David’s inquiry. Uriah is called a Hittite, because he was such by nation, but a proselyte to the Jewish religion; and for his valour made one of the king’s guards among the Cherethites and the Pelethites; which was the reason, perhaps, that he had a house so near the king’s.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

The Biblical Illustrator

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 11:3". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Samuel 11:2-24

And it came to pass in an eventide.

The fall and punishment of David illustrated

I. The circumstances of David previous to His fall. For several years he had been in a state of great trouble: But it was not in this state of trial and affliction that he offended. During this period we see him exercising, in a remarkable degree, the faith, the resignation, the humility, the patience, the meekness of the servant of God. But now God had brought his troubles to a close. For some years he had been the most powerful monarch in that quarter of the world. These were his circumstances when he fell.

II. Consider the peculiar temptation which is suffered to present itself to David, and the way in which he encountered it. The temptation arose, a temptation sudden and great. He gives way to the seduction. He calmly descends from his palace with a determination to bring the evil of his heart into act, and to perpetrate the crime which the tempter had suggested to him. This we may conceive to have been the turning point in David’s career. Oh! had David paused but for one moment; had he retired a while to deliberate upon his Conduct; had he put up one prayer for Divine help; had he passed on even to the duties of his kingly office so as to divert his thoughts into a different channel; the snare might have been broken, and he have escaped. But, alas! David is left a melancholy monument of what the best man may become when he forsakes his God, and when his God, in consequence, abandons him.

III. The state of David after his first sin, and his progress to new offences. What must David have felt after the perpetration of the first crime? Immediately the sense of the Divine presence, the inspiring hope of Divine favour and eternal glory, would withdraw from him. The consequences of his crime were becoming visible, and the once noble and generous David now resorts to low artifices to conceal his guilt. He sends for the injured husband. He treats him with a subtlety unworthy both of himself and of his loyal subject, endeavouring to impose upon him a spurious offspring. When deceit, however, would not prevail on Uriah, a fresh crime must compel him. Crime leads on to crime. David, therefore, urged by a dread of detection, determines to add murder to adultery.

IV. The criminal schemes of David had now taken effect, and Uriah could no more disturb the bed of his seducer and murderer. But when there remained no obstacle to enjoyment, the Divine Hand suddenly arrested him in his guilty career. God sent Nathan the Prophet to convince him in his guilt.

V. The dreadful consequence of this transgression. Where God forgives, He does not always wholly spare. He may so pardon the sin as not to inflict upon the sinner eternal condemnation, and yet punish him severely. And such was the case of David. Besides the wound his soul had sustained, and which, perhaps, might never afterwards be entirely healed, we find the remainder of David’s life harassed by perpetual sorrows.

1. It may teach us to guard against declension in grace, and watch against temptation. If temptation is urgent flee from it and think of the fall of David.

2. Charity and tenderness in judging of those who fall. Call them not, as the world are too apt to call them, hypocrites. David was no hypocrite--but David fell.

3. Finally, let us beware of employing the fall of David as a plea for sin, and of presuming that such a restoration as his to favour and holiness will be granted to ourselves. Before we can build upon the hope of a restoration such as his our circumstances must be those of David. (J. Venn, M. A.)

David’s great trespass

How ardently would most, if not all readers of David’s life have wished that the first verse of this chapter had been--“And David died, and was gathered unto his fathers; and his son reigned in his stead.” The golden era of his life has passed away; his sun has begun to go down; and what remains of his life is chequered with records of crime and chastisement, of sin and sorrow. What we now encounter is not like a spot but an eclipse; it is not a mere pimple that slightly disfigures a comely face, but a tumour that distorts the countenance and drains the whole body; of its vigour. There is something quite remarkable in the fearless way in which the Bible unveils the guilt of David; it is set forth in all its enormity, without an attempt to excuse or palliate it; and the only statement introduced in the whole narrative to characterise his proceedings are these quiet but terribly expressive words with which the chapter ends--“But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” In the bold and fearless march of Providence, we often see the hand of God. What mere man, framing the character of one designed to be a pattern of excellence, and to bear the designation “the man after God’s own heart”--would have dared to ascribe to him such wickedness as this? The truth is, that though David’s reputation would have been far brighter, if he had died at this point of his career; the moral of his life, so to speak, would have been less complete. In some way that we cannot rightly explain, he does not appear to have been duty sensible either of the guilt or of the danger of this tendency. He does not appear to have watched against it as against other sins, nor to have taken the same pains, through grace, to subdue it. In the passage now before us we find a catastrophe, resulting from this state of things, which was truly the beginning of sorrows. The king of Israel becomes familiar with sorrows and trials, compared to which any that he had suffered when flying and biding from Saul were light indeed. The lust which he has spared and indulged, re-appearing in his children, introduces incest and murder into the bosom of his family; it violates the sanctity of his home; and in place of the comely order, and the sweet tranquility of brothers and sisters dwelling together in unity, his palace becomes an abode of brutal appetites and murderous passions--the stain and horror of which time can neither lessen nor remove. Such a fall as David’s could not have been altogether instantaneous. It must have been preceded by a spiritual declension, probably of considerable duration. The likelihood is that the great prosperity that was now flowing in upon David in every direction had had an unfavourable effect upon his soul. For a long period the very extremities of his situation had driven him to dependence on God--necessity was laid upon him; but now that necessity was removed. Add to this the fact mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, and so mentioned as to imply that it is a significant one--that at the time when kings go forth to battle, David allowed his army to go without him, and “tarried still at Jerusalem.” This seems to imply that the king had fallen into a luxurious, self-indulging mood; that he was disposed to sit still and enjoy himself rather than accompany his brave soldiers to the self-denying labours and dangers of the field. Next, let us notice the manner in which David was led on from step to step of sin. His first sin was--suffering himself to be arrested by the sight of the woman; his fall began with a sin of the heart; had he made a covenant with his eyes, like Job, he would have nipped the temptation in the bud; he would have been saved a world of agony and sin. Let us try to gather up briefly, first, the principal kinds of sin of which David was guilty on this occasion; and then, their chief aggravations.

The aggravations of these sins were great.

Transgression: its progress and, consummation

I. The origin of David’s transgressions. Seldom, if ever, is it the case that crime, to any enormous extent, is perpetrated by men even of the common Stamp, upon sudden and momentary impulse. There is almost invariably to be observed a regular gradation in sin, until it towers in all the fierce and frightful ascendancy of open guilt. Thus was it here. Despise not the fear of extreme iniquity, as if you were incapable of such a thing. If David fell, who once stood so high and ‘holy in Christian character, to what a depth may we yet fall, we who have never yet attained to any thing like his early piety:, his primitive godliness.

II. The progress of sin now opens before us. Indolence and sensuality worked out their regular and invariable effect upon the erring monarch. He rises from his bed in the evening time--the bed of luxury, every passion pampered, every avenue to sin wide open, nothing further necessary to bring about his ruin than some external object to move the overt act of evil. The wife of Uriah, one of his principal and most faithful generals, becomes the object of temptation. The temptation triumphs, and the first work of iniquity is accomplished. Sin now becomes compulsory; the fear of detection and infamy, perhaps of personal danger from the just wrath of Uriah, drives the royal culprit to every mean and despicable expedient in order to conceal his transgression. Sin now drives on the soul to violence; and with cold and unfeeling treachery Uriah is made the innocent messenger of his own destruction. What a series of close-linked iniquities--indolence, luxury, lust adultery, hypocrisy, falsehood, treachery, murder! And this is not all; we have here but the single series of crimes; there is a complication likewise which we must not overlook if we would read off the history in all its forcible and solemn instructiveness. Bathsheba is made an accomplice in sin, a moral victim to the guilty passion of the king, while her husband is sacrifced to his fears. Here are souls and bodies of men, precious lives, sported away under the hellish dominion of triumphant guilt! What complicated crime! What an awful history!

III. The consummation of evil. All that we have hitherto looked at belongs only to substantial guilt; guilt branded, it is true, with atrocity, but the consummation of evil still remains for our reflections. Many months had elapsed since the commencement of this wretched business, and a long period of time, too, had intervened between the death of Uriah and the visit of Nathan, to awaken the royal transgressor to repentance. Throughout this whole interval, there was no movement of remorse towards heaven in the heart of the king; he feared the reproof of man, and the wrath of man, as we have seen, and laboured by murderous efforts to avoid them; but there was yet no remorse towards God, no recognition of his turpitude, as viewed by the Most High, no fear of Divine censure, of Divine indignation, no effort to arrest or even deprecate the wrath of Jehovah. Thus, then, David had fallen into practical infidelity; every active consideration of God’s existence, omniscience, and justice had vanished away. What a mystery is sin; it possesses us to self-destruction, while it diminishes nothing of our sagacity or skill in arraying and condemning the guilt of others. It is enough for satanic malice and purpose, if the soul be filled with every holy sentiment, and wisdom, and quality for external occupation, provided it remain dead to its own interests, unmoved by its own guilt! This prostration of judgment, this death of conscience, consummated the spiritual misery of the fallen monarch. How long should such a state have lasted, if God had not specially recalled the sinner to repentance? For ever! There was no human power, no natural remedy left for his restoration. To reclaim him, fear had failed, and conscience had failed, and memory of past obedience had failed. Reason was stupified, and stupified for ever, if God had not, in his faithfulness and mercy, sent a special waffling to his soul, calling forth repentance. Let us pause here one short moment, while we collect together the admonition, which may be adduced from what we have now perused.

1. And first, as we saw the steady, onward progress of sin, from the almost imperceptible germ of indolence and luxury, to the actual crime of murder, and the utter infatuation of all spiritual sense and judgment, let us hence, I say, beware of the least compliance with iniquity. We often trifle with sins of small account, set limitations to our compliance with the follies or luxuries, or harmless indulgences of the world, as they are termed.

2. Reflect with horror on the complication of sin. For our self-gratification alone it is that we are led on to crime at first; that gratification must have victims; aye, if the besetting evil within us be but pride or covetousness, it must have victims. Some must suffer for our indulgence, many will become hardened by our example in guilt; for often the man who is called, in the false language of the world, his own enemy alone, will have to answer, perhaps, for the eternal death of others.

3. Trust nothing to your own shrewdness of discernment between good and evil your own spiritual-mindedness and holiness, about the external objects and other men. Our profession is worth nothing, our spiritual attainments no proof of personal approbation with God, of personal holiness, while they range beyond self. We must deal with self, prove self, pass judgment on self, and live in communion, secret union with Christ, or our religion is but sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.

IV. The return to virtue. Mark the proof; here is a king, with all the powers of life and death over his subjects, in his own will, in his own hands. He is confronted by a man of humble state, of lowly lot, a man devoid of ally earthly influence. By this man he is accused of a grievous murder, and that, too in broad noon day, before his courtiers and counsellors, on his very throne of judgment; and so far from yielding to resentment at so daring an intrusion, or expressing the least displeasure at the abrupt and public accusation with which he is so assailed, he sinks at once into contrition, and confesses his iniquity--“I have sinned against the Lord.” This is what we need, a thorough conviction of our sins now; we shall have it certainly in the world to come, if it be not here attained. But conviction there is too late for anything but eternal torment; we must have it here, that under a thorough sense of our lost condition, we may apply to the rich mercies of the Redeemer for pardon.

V. Pardon I And may pardon be had for such iniquities as adultery and murder--for such extremes of crime? Yes, for all transgressions; the vilest may hope; this history is for our encouragement, to seek that grace which never was denied to suppliant man--“Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.”

VI. No encouragement to careless sin, and fruitless admission of criminality, with the secret or avowed purpose of continuance in crime. That from which nature shrinks with more alarm than all the threatenings of eternal misery can inspire is present suffering; that was inflicted, in all its severity, upon David. (C. M. Fleury, A. M.)

Sloth and sin

I. David at this time enjoyed great prosperity. The promises made in adversity have not been forgotten. His devotion to God is fervid and growing. There were no rebellions at home. The land was quiet. The great wish of his heart had been formed into an avenue through which the service could be rendered to God.

1. Prosperity enervated him. Prosperity is a danger to men of David’s mould. Contrast the readiness with which he went forth in the old days when Saul hunted him as a bird! He was standing in high places! He needed clinging grace.

2. Prosperity induced sloth. Our inner life is very responsive to our outward condition.

II. When opportunity and temptation meet there is struggle. Without reserve the Bible tells the shameful story--shows how one sin drags after it another until it compels you to write against the name of the man (not free from the weakness of human imperfections, yet sincere and upright)--to write against that man the horrible list of crimes, deception, adultery, injustice, treachery, and murder.

III. The influences which sapped the wall of his will. You feel instinctively such a fall could not have been instantaneous--fifty years old, a devoted, upright man of God to so fall. The tempest has not strength in it to snap such an oak if the heart of the tree is sound. The sacred narrative shows the weakness, reveals the secret decay.

1. Close the doors of imagination against carnal imagery; make a covenant with your eves and keep it. There was a “prepared plate” in the camera of David’s mind, or the beauty of Bathsheba had been as nought to him. Take heed where you go for your recreations. Idle strolling may in some moods lead to pitfalls. He concealed when he should have confessed. Better to have crept to the mercy-seat covered with his filth than, as he did, wait in the palace with his sin. (H. E. Stone.)

David and Bathsheba

After so many splendid victories achieved by David, after such frequent triumphs over his enemies, nothing remained but the subjugation of those passions that are excited by prosperity and wealth: but these were enemies more difficult to subdue than the Philistines and the other powerful nations whom this valiant warrior had vanquished. “He that ruleth his spirit is stronger than he that taketh a city.” David was smitten with the charms of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a brave and generous soldier, who was at that time fighting the battles of his country, and engaged at the siege of Rabbah. Contrary to the laws of God, to every sentiment of honour, and every dictate of generosity, he led her to violate her nuptial engagements. What shall we say to this conduct? Shall we with some well-intentioned but injudicious commentators extenuate the crimes of David? No; he himself, when his eyes were opened to behold the depth of the abyss into which he was fallen, would not attempt to diminish the horror of his transgressions. He was guilty of crimes than which none more enormous are to be found in the black list of sins.

1. Are there any who are ready to justify their enormities from the example of David? Who are saying to themselves, “If David, notwithstanding these enormous crimes, was a saint of God, and obtained pardon, I am safe?” Let such consider his habitual conduct, his splendid virtues, and his deep repentance. In examining his habitual conduct, we behold a heart devoted to God. He fell into acts of the greatest wickedness; but these were not permanent, but diametrically opposite to his general walk and conversation. Justice requires also that we should contrast his murder and adultery with the splendid actions of his life. “David,” says the sacred historian (1 Kings 15:5) “did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” Think of his confidence in God; of his trust in the everlasting covenant; of the magnanimity and clemency that he so often displayed; of his zeal for the glory of God; of his humility; of his acquiescence in the severest dispensations of providence; of the pious emotions which glow in his psalms, and were felt in his heart; and after taking this general review of his life, say if there are many who from the bed of death can look back to more numerous or more splendid monuments of piety and virtue. Consider, too, the depth of his repentance. Behold him prostrate in the dust, dissolved in tears, pleading for the life of his soul; looking back with unutterable anguish to his conduce; bearing the agonised remembrance of it to the grave; never palliating his crimes; fleeing for pardon to unmerited grace.

2. This subject teaches us that one sin gradually leads us to another; that he who enters upon a criminal course knows not where he shall stop in his course; that he who indulges impetuous passions and inordinate appetites will shortly be deprived of the power of saying to them, “Hitherto shall ye come and no farther;” and that, therefore, our only safety is to be found in resisting the first approaches to crime, and “abstaining from all appearance of evil.” Oppose, then, the beginnings of evil; beware of cherishing one sinful thought; you know not to what lengths of guilt and shame it may carry you; you cannot tell where its destructive consequences will end.

3. This subject addresses those who, like David, have departed from the ways of the Lord; have violated their engagements; have wounded their consciences; have grieved the Spirit of God and His saints. There is a sacrifice which has sufficient virtue to expiate all your accumulated guilt. By the application of the blood of Jesus, and the communication of his Spirit, you shall obtain the restoration of peace with God, and strength to serve Him in time to come; like David and like Peter recovered from your falls, you shall again participate of his favour and love.

4. In reviewing this history, we are naturally led to ask, Why did Providence permit this shameful fall in David? or, to extend the question, Why does God allow sin to remain, and sometimes to break out forcibly in his regenerate children? This question cannot easily be answered. It is not for want of power to prevent it; for He could perfectly sanctify them. It is not for want of hatred to their sin; it appears as odious, more odious in them than in others. It is not for want of love to them; he regards them as his friends and his children. Why, then, does he not render them immaculately holy? The following are, perhaps, some of the reasons of this dispensation. These do not at all justify the offender, though they vindicate the providence of God, and show its omnipotence in educing good from evil itself.

David’s fall

What led to David’s great sin? He did by another what he ought to have done himself. Notice verse l, “When kings go forth;” “David sent Joab;” “David tarried still.”

1. The indulgence of the flesh in a little thing led to indulgence in a greater. (Romans 13:12-14; Romans 8:12-13; Galatians 5:16.)

2. One sin leads to another, or requires another to cover it.

3. See the hardening effect of sin! The tender-hearted David becomes a monster of cruelty! (Read, after 2 Samuel 11:26; 2 Samuel 12:26 to end.)

4. The degradation of sin! Joab taken into counsel.

5. The Lord’s unseen contemplation of man’s actions. (Verse 27. Hebrews 4:13; Proverbs 15:11.) I, the great onus of the crime. For Christians the terrible ingredient of wilful sin is this: They crucify Christ afresh. They cause His name to be blasphemed. (Romans 2:24.) This makes our responsibility; hence 1 Peter 2:12; 2 Corinthians 6:3.

II. David’s repentance. Notice immediate confession on conviction of his sin. His confession brief, heartfelt, going to the root of the matter. (R. E. Faulkner.)

David’s dark days

If the heart is lifted up, if pride and self-conceit take the place of humility and manly self-forgetfulness, the soul is likely to lose its hold upon God and its close communion with Him, and there is danger of temptation prevailing over high principle, danger of the “natural man” usurping the place of the “spiritual man,” danger of a fall. So it was with David. The height of his success and the splendour of his triumph may have thrown him off his guard. He was a strong man with a passionate nature, and through his passions he fell. It was a true instance of St. James’s awful statement. He was “drawn away of his lust, and enticed;” and when lust had conceived it brought forth sin; and sin, when it was finished, brought forth death. One deliberate sin has this terrible property about it, that, unless checked at once, by honest confession and return to God, it is sure to lead on to other sins. Such was the case with David. He tried to cover up the crime he had committed by various efforts to deceive Uriah, and make it impossible for the dark secret to be known.

2. A year had passed away since David’s fall. He had returned to Jerusalem in triumph. The dead Uriah was probably forgotten. The child of guilt was burn, and loved by David with a passionate tenderness. The dreadful story, however, was not, we maybe quite certain, all forgotten by the king himself. However much the commission of the crimes of adultery and murder had injured or blinded his conscience--as wilful sin always does--still, “the man after God’s own heart,” the man who had shown through many temptations “an honest and good heart,” the man who had loved and trusted God so faithfully, could not have rested quite at his ease under the terrible memory that he had allowed base passion to conquer his better self.

3. God was looking in mercy upon His servant, and Nathan was sent to him to bring him to the fulness of a sincere repentance, and to restore trim to peace with God. Nathan did his duty fearlessly and completely. Whatever sorrows there are and must be to penitents who have deeply fallen, still “God is the God of comfort,” and He comforted David. Bathsheba was now his wife. Another child was born to them and David--with the sense of restored peace with God--called him Solomon, “the peaceful.” (W. J. Knox Little, M. A.)

David’s downfall

This chapter holds out the history of David’s soul downfall from the very pinnacle of the highest prosperity to which God raised him. David’s downfall was double, into two sins (without repentance), namely, the sin of adultery and the sin of murder.

I. Remarks upon the concomitant circumstances Are:--

1. The time of David’s adultery. This has a three-fold description, as

2. The place of David’s sin: it was his own palace where he was indulging himself to ease and pleasure, when he should have been fighting the Lord’s battles in the field with his army against the Ammonites. While he kept abroad in the wars in his own person he was safe enough. It was at evening tide when David should have been at his devotion, as had been his custom (Psalms 55:17), seeing he would not be in the field to fight.

3. Upon the third circumstance, the person, the sight whereof was the occasion of David’s soul fall. She is described here divers ways:

II. Let us turn aside with Moses to take a little prospect of this, a great wonder,

1. As to David, “A man after God’s own heart,” yet his unbridled lust had metamorphosed him into a beast, He might now well say in the words of Asaph, “So foolish was I and ignorant, and even as a beast before Thee.” (Psalms 73:23.) This teacheth us, that the best of men are but men at the best; and who art thou, O man, that thinkst thou art safe and secure enough from acts Of sin? “Surely thou knowest not the plague of thine own heart” (1 Kings 8:38.)

2. As to Bathsheba, some do say she was not free from faultiness upon several accounts.

III. David’s adding murder to his adultery, instead of repenting for his sin.

1. First, David’s contrivement to congeal his sin from the eyes of men, in the meantime not regarding the all-seeing eye of God, etc.

2. The last, but worst link of that doleful chain of David’s lust: So far was David still from repenting of his sin that, seeing his craft (for concealing his adultery he failed him in all the other fair means he contrived, now) resolveth upon cruelty in the use of foul methods to get this good Uriah cut off insensibly, and so to cover his adultery with murder, that so he might not live to accuse the adulteress.

Susceptibility to sin

Professor George Lincoln Goodale, speaking of the cultivation of plants, said: “It is impossible for us to ignore the fact that there appear to be occasions in the life of a species when it seems to be peculiarly susceptible to the influences of its surroundings. A species, like a carefully laden ship, represents a balancing of forces within and without. Disturbances may come through variation from within, as from a shifting cargo, or in some cases from without. We may suppose both forces to be active in producing variation, a change in the internal condition rendering the plant more susceptible to any change in its surroundings. “Under the influence of any marked disturbance a state of unstable equilibrium may be brought about, at which times the species as such is easily acted upon by very slight agencies.” Analogous to the learned scientist’s observation of growing plants is the experience of every growing human life. We cannot pass over its ever-repeated evidence that there are occasions when character, to use Dr. Goodale’s phrase, “seems to be peculiarly susceptible to, the influence of its surroundings;” and disturbances, whether from within or without, produce such a state of “unstable equilibrium,” that the character is “easily acted upon by any very slight agencies.” Then is it that, by the merest little only, life’s important steps are taken, and lead to either success or failure. (Homiletic Review.)

A man’s weak hours

A man is weak, not by the power that assails, but by the want of defensive power. It made no difference where the assault was made at Gettysburg on the third day, by the adversary that attempted to pierce the centre of the lines; and it made no difference that they came after a perfect whirlwind of cannonading; for the resisting power was greater than the attacking power. That is an hour of weakness when the resisting power is weak. Now, nothing is weaker than the conscience when it is paralysed by the touch of avarice. There is such an appetite in some natures for gold that, although at times they are manly and good in a thousand respects, at other times, when avarice dominates, their moral sentiments are paralysed by it; and those are their weak hours. There are some men whose weak hour is connected with their passions. There are some men whose weak hour is in the lower grade of pleasures. There are some men whose weak hour is in eating. There are other men whose weak hour is in drinking. Oh, how many noble men have been girdled, how many men of genius have been utterly destroyed, how many persons of hope and promise have been completely overthrown, by intemperance! (H. W. Beecher.)

Watchfulness against riotous appetites imperative

The fleshly passions are like mutinous sailors, to be kept below deck. “Never allow your lower nature anything better than a steerage passage. Let watchfulness wall: the decks as an armed sentinel and shoot down with great promptness anything like a mutiny of riotous appetites.” Says the apostle: “Mortify--literally, kill your members which are upon the earth.” (E. P. Thwing.)

Sin, a malicious guest;

“Sin is an ill guest,” says Manton, “for it always sets its lodgings on fire.” Entertained within the human breast, and cherished and fondled, it makes its host no return but an evil one. It places the burning coals of evil desire within the soul with evident intent to fire the whole man with fierce passions. Let these passions be suffered to rage, and the flame will burn even to the lowest hell. Who would not shut his door on such a guest? Or, if he be known to be lurking within, who would not drag him out? How foolish are these who find delight in such an enemy, and treat him with more care than their best friend. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Looking at a wrong thing perilous

Weak dallying with forbidden desires is sure to end in wicked clutching at them. Young men, take care! You stand upon the beetling edge of a great precipice, when you look over, from your fancied security, at a wrong thing; and to strain too far, and to look too friendly, leads to a perilous danger of toppling over and being lost. If you know that a thing cannot be won without transgression do not tamper with hankering for it. Keep away from the edge, and shut your eyes from beholding vanity. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Satan ever near the idle

David’s giving himself to ease and pleasure was the root of all his wretchedness. Standing waters gather filth. Flies settle upon the sweetest perfumes when cold, and corrupt them. As the crab-fish seizeth upon the oyster gaping, so doth Satan upon the idle. No moss sticketh to the rolling stone: which if it lay still would be overgrown. The rankest weeds grow out of the fattest soil. The water that hath been heated soonest freezeth; the most active spirit soonest tireth with slacking. The earth standeth still, and is all dregs; the heavens ever move and are pure. Beware of ease and idleness: here began David’s downfall. Say not of this, as Lot did of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” The parvity of a sin taketh not away the pravity of it: and a less maketh way for a greater, as wedges do in wood-cleaving. Pompey desired that all his soldiers might come into a certain city; when that was denied he said, “Let nay weak and wounded soldiers come in;” they did, and then soon opened the gates to all the army. (J. Trapp.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 11:3". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Expositor's Bible Commentary



2 Samuel 11:1-27.

HOW ardently would most, if not all readers, of the life of David have wished that it had ended before this chapter! Its golden era has passed away, and what remains is little else than a chequered tale of crime and punishment. On former occasions, under the influence of strong and long-continued temptations, we have seen his faith give way and a spirit of dissimulation appear; but these were like spots on the sun, not greatly obscuring his general radiance. What we now encounter is not like a spot, but a horrid eclipse; it is not like a mere swelling of the face, but a bloated tumour that distorts the countenance and drains the body of its life-blood. To human wisdom it would have seemed far better had David's life ended now, so that no cause might have been given for the everlasting current of jeer and joke with which his fall has supplied the infidel. Often, when a great and good man is cut off in the midst of his days and of his usefulness, we are disposed to question the wisdom of the dispensation; but when we find ourselves disposed to wonder whether this might not have been better in the case of David, we may surely acquiesce in the ways of God.

If the composition of the Bible had been in human hands it would never have contained such a chapter as this. There is something quite remarkable in the fearless way in which it unveils the guilt of David; it is set forth in its nakedness, without the slightest attempt either to palliate or to excuse it; and the only statement in the whole record designed to characterize it is the quiet but terrible words with which the chapter ends - "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." In the fearless march of providence we see many a proof of the courage of God. It is God alone that could have the fortitude to place in the Holy Book this foul story of sin and shame. He only could deliberately encounter the scorn which it has drawn down from every generation of ungodly men, the only wise God, who sees the end from the beginning, who can rise high above all the fears and objections of short-sighted men, and who can quiet every feeling of uneasiness on the part of His children with the sublime words, "Be still, and know that I am God."

The truth is, that though David's reputation would have been brighter had he died at this point of his career, the moral of his life, so to speak, would have been less complete. There was evidently a sensual element in his nature, as there is in so many men of warm, emotional temperament; and he does not appear to have been alive to the danger involved in it. It led him the more readily to avail himself of the toleration of polygamy, and to increase from time to time the number of his wives. Thus provision was made for the gratification of a disorderly lust, which, if he had lived like Abraham or Isaac, would have been kept back from all lawless excesses. And when evil desire has large scope for its exercise, instead of being satisfied it becomes more greedy and more lawless. Now, this painful chapter of David's history is designed to show us what the final effect of this was in his case - what came ultimately of this habit of pampering the lust of the flesh. And verily, if any have ever been inclined to envy David's liberty, and think it hard that such a law of restraint binds them while he was permitted to do as he pleased, let them study in the latter part of his history the effects of this unhallowed indulgence; let them see his home robbed of its peace and joy, his heart lacerated by the misconduct of his children, his throne seized by his son, while he has to fly from his own Jerusalem; let them see him obliged to take the field against Absalom, and hear the air rent by his cries of anguish when Absalom is slain; let them think how even his deathbed was disturbed by the noise of revolt, and how legacies of blood had to be bequeathed to his successor almost with his dying breath, - and surely it will be seen that the license which bore such wretched fruits is not to be envied, and that, after all, the way even of royal transgressors is hard.

But a fall so violent as that of David does not occur all at once. It is generally preceded by a period of spiritual declension, and in all likelihood there was such an experience on his part. Nor is it very difficult to find the cause. For many years back David had enjoyed a most remarkable run of prosperity. His army had been victorious in every encounter; his power was recognized by many neighbouring states; immense riches flowed from every quarter to his capital; it seemed as if nothing could go wrong with him. When everything prospers to a man's hand, it is a short step to the conclusion that he can do nothing wrong. How many great men in the world have been spoiled by success, and by unlimited, or even very great power! In how many hearts has the fallacy obtained a footing, that ordinary laws were not made for them, and that they did not need to regard them I David was no exception; he came to think of his will as the great directing force within his kingdom, the earthly consideration that should regulate all.

Then there was the absence of that very powerful stimulus, the pressure of distress around him, which had driven him formerly so close to God. His enemies had been defeated in every quarter, with the single exception of the Ammonites, a foe that could give him no anxiety; and he ceased to have a vivid sense of his reliance on God as his Shield. The pressure of trouble and anxiety that had made his prayers so earnest was now removed, and probably he had become somewhat remiss and formal in prayer. We little know how much influence our surroundings have on our spiritual life till some great change takes place in them; and then, perhaps, we come to see that the atmosphere of trial and difficulty which oppressed us so greatly was really the occasion to us of our highest strength and our greatest blessings.

And further, there was the fact that David was idle, at least without active occupation. Though it was the time for kings to go forth to battle, and though his presence with his army at Rabbah would have been a great help and encouragement to his soldiers, he was not there. He seems to have thought it not worth his while. Now that the Syrians had been defeated, there could be no difficulty with the Ammonites. At evening- tide he arose from off his bed and walked on the roof of his house. He was in that idle, listless mood in which one is most readily attracted by temptation, and in which the lust of the flesh has its greatest power. And, as it has been remarked, "oft the sight of means to do ill makes ill deeds done." If any scruples arose in his conscience they were not regarded. To brush aside objections to anything on which he had set his heart was a process to which, in his great undertakings, he had been well accustomed; unhappily, he applies this rule when it is not applicable, and with the whole force of his nature rushes into temptation.

Never was there a case which showed more emphatically the dreadful chain of guilt to which a first act, apparently insignificant, may give rise. His first sin was allowing himself to be arrested to sinful intents by the beauty of Bathsheba. Had he, like Job, made a covenant with his eyes; had he resolved that when the idea of sin sought entrance into the imagination it should be sternly refused admission; had he, in a word, nipped the temptation in the bud, he would have been saved a world of agony and sin. But instead of repelling the idea he cherishes it. He makes inquiry concerning the woman. He brings her to his house. He uses his royal position and influence to break down the objections which she would have raised. He forgets what is due to the faithful soldier, who, employed in his service, is unable to guard the purity of his home. He forgets the solemn testimony of the law, which denounces death to both parties as the penalty of the sin. This is the first act of the tragedy.

Then follow his vain endeavours to conceal his crime, frustrated by the high self-control of Uriah. Yes, though David gets him intoxicated he cannot make a tool of him. Strange that this Hittite, this member of one of the seven nations of Canaan, whose inheritance was not a blessing but a curse, shows himself a paragon in that self-command, the utter absence of which, in the favoured king of Israel, has plunged him so deeply in the mire. Thus ends the second act of the tragedy.

But the next is far the most awful. Uriah must be got rid of, not, however, openly, but by a cunning stratagem that shall make it seem as if his death were the result of the ordinary fortune of war. And to compass this David must take Joab into his confidence. To Joab, therefore, he writes a letter, indicating what is to be done to get rid of Uriah. Could David have descended to a lower depth? It was bad enough to compass the death of Uriah; it was mean enough to make him the bearer of the letter that gave directions for his death; but surely the climax of meanness and guilt was the writing of that letter. Do you remember, David, how shocked you were when Joab slew Abner? Do you remember your consternation at the thought that you might be held to approve of the murder? Do you remember how often you have wished that Joab were not so rough a man, that he had more gentleness, more piety, more concern for blood-shedding? And here are you making this Joab your confidant in sin, and your partner in murder, justifying all the wild work his sword has ever done, and causing him to believe that, in spite of all his holy pretensions David is just such a man as himself.

Surely it was a horrible sin - aggravated, too, in many ways. It was committed by the head of the nation, who was bound not only to discountenance sin in every form, but especially to protect the families and preserve the rights of the brave men who were exposing their lives in his service. And that head of the nation had been signally favoured by God, and had been exalted in room of one whose selfishness and godlessness had caused him to be deposed from his dignity. Then there was the profession made by David of zeal for God's service and His law, his great enthusiasm in bringing up the ark to Jerusalem, his desire to build a temple, the character he had gained as a writer of sacred songs, and indeed as the great champion of religion in the nation. Further, there was the mature age at which he had now arrived, a period of life at which sobriety in the indulgence of the appetites is so justly and reasonably expected. And finally, there was the excellent character and the faithful services of Uriah, entitling him to the high rewards of his sovereign, rather than the cruel fate which David measured out to him - his home rifled and his life taken away.

How then, it may be asked, can the conduct of David be accounted for? The answer is simple enough - on the ground of original sin. Like the rest of us, he was born with proclivities to evil - to irregular desires craving unlawful indulgence. When divine grace takes possession of the heart it does not annihilate sinful tendencies, but overcomes them. It brings considerations to bear on the understanding, the conscience, and the heart, that incline and enable one to resist the solicitations of evil, and to yield one's self to the law of God. It turns this into a habit of the life. It gives one a sense of great peace and happiness in resisting the motions of sin, and doing the will of God. It makes it the deliberate purpose and desire of one's heart to be holy; it inspires one with the prayer, ''Oh that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all Thy commandments."

But, meanwhile, the cravings of the old nature are not wholly destroyed. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit lusteth against the flesh." It is as if two armies were in collision. The Christian who naturally has a tendency to sensuality may feel the craving for sinful gratification even when the general bent of his nature is in favour of full compliance with the will of God. In some natures, especially strong natures, both the old man and the new possess unusual vehemence; the rebellious energizing of the old are held in check by the still more resolute vigour of the new; but if it so happen that the opposition of the new man to the old is relaxed or abated, then the outbreak of corruption will probably be on a fearful scale. Thus it was in David's nature. The sensual craving, the law of sin in his members, was strong; but the law of grace, inclining him to give himself up to the will of God, was stronger, and usually kept him right. There was an extraordinary activity and energy of character about him; he never did things slowly, tremblingly, timidly; the wellsprings of life were full, and gushed out in copious currents; in whatever direction they might flow, they were sure to flow with power. But at this time the energy of the new nature was suffering a sad abatement; the considerations that should have led him to conform to God's law had lost much of their usual power. Fellowship with the Fountain of life was interrupted; the old nature found itself free from its habitual restraint, and its stream came out with the vehemence of a liberated torrent. It would be quite unfair to judge David on this occasion as if he had been one of those feeble creatures who, as they seldom rise to the heights of excellence, seldom sink to the depths of daring sin.

We make these remarks simply to account for a fact, and by no means to excuse a crime. Men are liable to ask, when they read of such sins done by good men, were they really good men? Can that be genuine goodness which leaves a man liable to do such deeds of wickedness? If so, wherein are your so-called good men better than other men? We reply, They are better than other men in this, - and David was better than other men in this, - that the deepest and most deliberate desire of their hearts is to do as God requires, and to be holy as God is holy. This is their habitual aim and desire; and in this they are in the main successful. If this be not one's habitual aim, and if in this he do not habitually succeed, he can have no real claim to be counted a good man. Such is the doctrine of the Apostle in the seventh chapter of the Romans. Anyone who reads that chapter in connection with the narrative of David's fall can have little doubt that it is the experience of the new man that the Apostle is describing. The habitual attitude of the heart is given in the striking words, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." I see how good God's law is; how excellent is the stringent restraint it lays on all that is loose and irregular, how beautiful the life which is cast in its mould. But for all that, I feel in me the motions of desire for unlawful gratifications, I feel a craving for the pleasures of sin. "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." But how does the Apostle treat this feeling? Does he say, "I am a human creature, and, having these desires, I may and I must gratify them"? Far from it I He deplores the fact, and he cries for deliverance. "wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" And his only hope of deliverance is in Him whom he calls his Saviour. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." In the case of David, the law of sin in his members prevailed for the time over the new law, the law of his mind, and it plunged him into a state which might well have led him too to say, ''O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?"

And now we begin to understand why this supremely horrible transaction should be given in the Bible, and given at such length. It bears the character of a beacon, warning the mariner against some of the most deceitful and perilous rocks that are to be found in all the sea of life. First of all, it shows the danger of interrupting, however briefly, the duty of watching and praying, lest you enter into temptation. It is at your peril to discontinue earnest daily communion with God, especially when the evils are removed that first drove you to seek His aid. An hour's sleep may leave Samson at the mercy of Delilah, and when he awakes his strength is gone. Further, it affords a sad proof of the danger of dallying with sin even in thought. Admit sin within the precincts of the imagination, and there is the utmost danger of its ultimately mastering the soul. The outposts of the spiritual garrison should be so placed as to protect even the thoughts, and the moment the enemy is discovered there the alarm should be given and the fight begun. It is a serious moment when the young man admits a polluted thought to his heart, and pursues it even in reverie. The door is opened to a dangerous brood. And everything that excites sensual feeling, be it songs, jests, pictures, books of a lascivious character, all tends to enslave and pollute the soul, till at length it is saturated with impurity, and cannot escape the wretched thraldom. And further, this narrative shows us what moral havoc and ruin may be wrought by the toleration and gratification of a single sinful desire. You may contend vigorously against ninety-and-nine forms of sin, but if you yield to the hundredth the consequences will be deadly. You may fling away a whole box of matches, but if you retain one it is quite sufficient to set fire to your house. A single soldier finding his way into a garrison may open the gates to the whole besieging army. One sin leads on to another and another, especially if the first be a sin which it is desirable to conceal. Falsehood and cunning, and even treachery, are employed to promote concealment; unprincipled accomplices are called in; the failure of one contrivance leads to other contrivances more sinful and more desperate. If there is a being on earth more to be pitied than another it is the man who has got into this labyrinth. What a contrast his perplexed feverish agitation to the calm peace of the straightforward Christian! "He that walketh uprightly walketh surely; but he that perverteth his way shall be known."

Never let anyone read this chapter of 2 Samuel without paying the profoundest regard to its closing words - "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." In that "but" lies a whole world of meaning.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

The Pulpit Commentaries


2 Samuel 11:1

After the year was expired; Hebrew and Revised Version, at the return of the year; that is, as Josephus paraphrases it, "the next spring." It seems quite certain that the war with Hadarezer did not take place in the same year as the defeat of the Syrians at Medeba. For the gathering of his mercenaries by Nahash would occupy a long time, and it was done so leisurely, that not only did news of it reach Jerusalem, but David was able to collect his forces, and instead of awaiting the invasion, could deliver his attack on the enemy's ground. The battle at Medeba took place in the autumn, and, as it was impossible to keep the field with winter so near, Joab marched back to Jerusalem, intending in the spring to return to the siege of Rabbah. But David quickly had information that a more serious war was impending, and, instead of sending Joab, he now gathers "all Israel," and, after gaining a victory, it is plain that he marched into the Syrian territories, and compelled by his presence the allies of Hadarezer to transfer their allegiance to him. Simultaneously with this war he had to meet the attack of the Edomites, for which purpose he detached Abishai with a portion of his army; and it was necessary also to post garrisons in their country, and in Atom of Damascus. It was while he was thus occupied in the Aramean states that he gathered the "much brass" spoken of in 2 Samuel 8:8. The Ammonites would necessarily be left to themselves while these great events were going on, but now, after a respite of a year and a half, David sent Joab, and his servants, that is, his officers—the word "servant" in Oriental courts being constantly used to designate those, high in rank near the king's person—and all Israel; that is, an army gathered from all the tribes. In accordance with the cruel customs of ancient warfare, they began by laying the whole country waste, and putting all whom they found to the sword, and thus destroyed the children of Ammon before laying siege to the capital, into which all the people by these harsh measures had been forced to go for refuge. In the Hebrew there is a curious spelling, the word "kings" being written melakim, with an aleph to represent the long a. It is a mistake to suppose that a different word, malakim, "angels" or "ambassadors,'' is meant, as it is nothing more than an archaic method of spelling, instances of which have been made rare by the extreme fastidiousness of Hebrew scribes. There is, however, another example not far off, where the Hebrew word for "poor" is also written with an inserted aleph.

2 Samuel 11:2

David arose from off his bed. It was usual in Palestine, and remains so in all hot countries, to take a siesta in the heat of the day (2 Samuel 4:5); and, on awaking, David walked backward and forward on the fiat roof of his house (1 Samuel 9:25), to enjoy the cool breezes of the evening. In so doing he was probably following his usual habits; but temptation came upon him, as so often is the case, unexpectedly. We are told that it is regarded in the East as improper for one neighbour to look over the battlement of his house into the inner court of the next dwelling (Philippson). Considering the jealousy with which Orientals guard the female members of their family from intrusion, it was a wrong act on the king's part to spy into what was going on in the recesses of the adjoining house. But he did so, and suffered for it years of disgrace and misery. For he saw a beautiful woman, the wife of one of his high officers, bathing, probably to purify herself from some legal uncleanness, such as those mentioned in Leviticus 15:1-33. No blame, so far, must be attached to her. The place was regarded as perfectly secluded, and probably neither she nor Uriah had ever suspected that what went on there could be observed from the roof of the king's palace.

2 Samuel 11:3

Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam. In 2 Samuel 23:34 Eliam is said to be the son of Ahithophel, and thus Bathsheba would be his granddaughter. Mr. Blunt, in his 'Undesigned Coincidences,' p. 143, et seq; sees in this the explanation of the adherence to the side of Absalom of a man so high in King David's service. It was the result of his indignation at David's profligate treat-meat of so near a relative. In 1 Chronicles 3:5 she is called "Bathshua, the daughter of Ammiel." The latter is a transposition of Eliam, both names being compounded of Am, people, and El, God. Uriah the Hittite. We read in 2 Samuel 23:39 that he was one of David's "mighties," and it is remarkable that we should thus find high in rank in David's army a member of that grand race who had disputed with Egypt and Assyria the empire of the East. Their head now was Toi, King of Hamath.

2 Samuel 11:4

David sent messengers, and took her. David's fall seems as sudden as it was complete; but we may feel sure that there had been gradual preparation for it during the previous period of great prosperity. David had always been a man of strong passions, and the large harem he had set up at Jerusalem, so far from satisfying him, only intensified his lust. And now he who had previously shown himself so chivalrous and noble stoops to robbing one of his own officers of his honour. And stern and terrible was the punishment. When he sent those messengers, who were some of the vile people who hang about great personages, ready to minister to their sins, he was preparing the way for his daughter's disgrace, for the murder of Amnon, for Absalom's rebellion and death, and for the death of Adonijah. From that day his own house was the scene of horrible crimes, feuds, scandals, and miseries of every kind; and the long interval after his repentance, between the birth of Solomon and David's death, is passed over in gloomy silence. No act of the penitent king after his restoration to the throne is deemed worthy of record. He was pardoned, but his place henceforward was not in the light of God's favour, but in shadow and retirement. Men who fall so grievously must be content to be removed into the outer court. Of Bathsheba it must be said that she remained a faithful wife, and bare David four sons besides the one who was the fruit of their adultery, and that she retained her influence over him to the last (1 Chronicles 3:5; 1 Kings 1:15-31). For she was purified from her uncleanness; Hebrew, and she purified herself from her uncleanness; that is, having committed an act of gross immorality, she nevertheless carefully observed the ceremonial enactment commanded in Le 2 Samuel 15:18. She went home unrepentant, and with her conscience defiled, but was all the more scrupulous in performing the rite that purified her outwardly.

2 Samuel 11:5

The woman … told David. Her crime was one that made her liable to the penalty of death (Le 2 Samuel 20:10), and Uriah was a man likely to exact it; consequently she was in great alarm, and the king shared her anxiety. Already was the punishment beginning to be required from both the guilty sharers in the wickedness.

2 Samuel 11:8

A mess (of meat); really, a royal present (see Esther 2:18; Jeremiah 40:5; Amos 5:11, where it is translated burdens of wheat, but really means presents of wheat, forced from the poor); though originally a portion of food sent to a guest from the table of the giver of a feast (Genesis 43:34). Uriah, as one of David's thirty-seven heroes, would hold a high rank in the army, though the statement given by Josephus, that he was Joab's armour bearer, is probably a mere conjecture, made with the view of explaining what seemed to him strange, that a foreigner should hold so distinguished a place among the captains of Israel. David sends for him, on the pretext that he wanted full information of Joab's plans, and the state of the army, and the progress of the siege of Rabbah. And so prompt is Uriah, that he goes to the king still soiled with travel, and without calling at his house. And David makes his inquiries, listens with apparent interest to the narrative of the war, and, after receiving a full report, bids Uriah go home and rest and refresh himself after the journey. He sends him, moreover, a present, such probably as was usual after special service, but large and liberal, so as to put Uriah in good humour. But the old soldier cared for war more than for pleasure, and, instead of going to his house, spent the night in the guard room with the soldiers and others who were in attendance upon the king (see 1 Kings 14:27, 1 Kings 14:28). All would be eager for news of friends and relatives, and it was a far greater delight to Uriah to chat with his old comrades than to be resting luxuriously in his own home.

2 Samuel 11:11

The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents. The presence of the ark with the army in the field is puzzling, and shows us how little we know of the religious practices of the Jews, as, but for this chance mention of it, we should have affirmed that it was never taken out of its place in Zion, and that in previous times the conduct of Eli's sons in carrying it out of the sanctuary to war was an irregular act. The Jews themselves feel the difficulty, and some of their rabbins affirm that this was not the ark of the covenant, but a chest containing the ephod whereby inquiries were made of Jehovah. Certainly in 1 Samuel 4:3, 1 Samuel 4:4 it is expressly called "the ark of the covenant;" and in 2 Samuel 6:2 "the ark of God." The use in our version of the special word "ark" obliges us to think of the ark of the covenant, whereas really it is a general word, rendered "chest" in 2 Kings 12:9, 2 Kings 12:10. It is said, too, that the war with Ammon was not a holy war, nor was it of such importance as to call for David's presence at the head of his troops. But, on the other hand, if it was not the ark of God, why did Uriah lay so great stress upon its presence in the field? Moreover, we find the ark with Saul in his war with the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:18), where it is expressly called "the ark of God," and is used for the purpose of inquiring the will of Jehovah. On comparing 1 Samuel 7:2 with 2 Samuel 6:3, we should have imagined that the ark abode uncared for at the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, did we not plainly find it in attendance upon Saul. We are thus compelled to conclude that David sent it, with its attendant priests, with Joab, that he might consult the Deity by its moans. In the Talmud ('Shek. Jerus.,' 9. 2) the idea of there being an inferior or second ark used for this purpose is condemned. David, in his remonstrance with Uriah, shows signs of displeasure, and the conduct of the latter suggests the idea that his suspicious had been aroused. The war was going on prosperously; he had been summoned home on an honourable pretext to give the king a report of it; and it is, to say the least, strange that he should have cared so little for a wife, to whom apparently he had not long been married, and for his domestic affairs, as not even to go to his house, which was close by. The tone, too, of Uriah's answer is excited, and his military ardour too warm. David had assumed that, as a matter of course, he would hasten to visit his wife, and Uriah's unexpected refusal upsets his devices, and leaves him with all his difficulties increased rather than done away with. Very probably, in the conversation in the guard room, Uriah had received hints that his wife was too high in the royal favour. For "tents" the Hebrew has "booths," and so the Revised Version; and for "fields" the singular, "field." The Israelites still lived mostly in tents, and in war were content with very slight and temporary shelter, and if there were any parks, or enclosures, they were called Naioth, while "the field" was the open unenclosed land, which formed the mass of the country. The separate mention of "Israel and Judah" is no indication of the book having been written after the disruption of the kingdom. Uriah had been in David's service when he was king only at Hebron, and had taken part in the long war between Judah and the house of Saul.

2 Samuel 11:13

He made him drunk. David thus adds sin to sin, and, in order to accomplish his vile end, he degrades the brave soldier whom already he had dishonoured. But even when intoxicated Uriah kept to his determination; and though on this second night there would not be the same pleasure in chatting with old comrades seen again after long absence, he still sleeps in the guard room. And thus there were witnesses that he had not gone to his house.

2 Samuel 11:14

David wrote a letter. David now uses the knowledge he had acquired in the schools of the prophets for vicious purposes. For it to be a blessing, knowledge must be sanctified to holy use. The letter would conceal from Joab the truth, and only let him know that Uriah, during his visit to Jerusalem, had incurred the king's serious displeasure; and we may be quite sure that Joab would be very indignant when he learned, as he certainly soon would, that David had made him his tool, and caused him to murder one of "the mighties" in order to cover the shame of his adultery. The only fair side of the picture is that it shews the high state of morality among the people. The crimes of kings and great men are usually lightly pardoned, and especially that of adultery. Even in our own and other Christian countries this is the case; but David has to resort to extreme measures rather than face the indignation of his subjects. Unfortunately, the shedding of blood was not looked upon with equal horror. Possibly the leaving it to the relatives to requite it made the suppression of murder the business, not of the state, but of "the avenger of blood." At all events, Joab without much compunction carries out David's orders, caring to know no more than that Uriah was out of favour. And what is more extraordinary, David remains utterly callous for a whole twelvemonth (see 2 Samuel 12:15), and his conscience does not even smite him for the additional meanness of sending the order for Uriah's murder by the hand of the injured man himself.

2 Samuel 11:16

When Joab observed the city; Revised Version, kept watch upon the city. This does net mean, as some suppose, that Joab sent a body of men to examine the fortifications with a view to an assault, and so provoked a sally. The verb simply refers to the ordinary operations of a siege, which usually resolved itself into a long blockade, continued until starvation compelled a surrender; and to hasten this the people of the villages were forced into the town, by the rule that all left outside were put to the sword. To maintain the blockade, men were posted at all fit points round the city, and these were constantly assailed by the besieged. Joab then placed Uriah at a post which was especially the object of attack; and when the usual sally took place and was repulsed, Joab seems to have ordered Uriah to pursue them up to the very gate, where they would be exposed to a shower of arrows from the walls. Others fell besides Uriah, and that the loss was considerable, and the result of bad generalship, though designedly such, seems probable from the deprecation of the king's anger in 2 Samuel 11:20.

2 Samuel 11:18

Then Joab sent. Joab now performs another act in this iniquitous drama, and goes through the form of sending the king a report of the disaster which had followed upon his approaching too near the walls. With well-feigned hypocrisy, he makes the messenger believe that David will be displeased at the loss of life, and will blame him for his want of caution. But it is curious that the messenger is instructed to mention the death of Uriah only after the king has given utterance to his anger. Possibly the meaning of this is that the loss of one so high in rank, and the king's near neighbour, is so serious a matter that it must be gradually broken to him, lest his indignation at Joab should be too violent. Probably there was also the suggestion that Uriah had been himself too rash, and had incurred his fate by his own fault. The reference to the fate of Abimelech ( 9:53) proves that the history of the times of the judges was generally known. Very probably not only records of the several events existed, but the Book of Judges was already written In Samuel's schools the youth of Israel were instructed in the annals of their country, and men like Nathan and Gad, and ethers who aided Samuel in his work, would be sure quickly to turn their attention to the orderly arrangement and digest of the records in their possession.

2 Samuel 11:21

Jerubbesheth; in 6:32 called Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon. (On the substitution of Besheth, or more correctly Bosheth, for Baal, see notes on 2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 9:6.) It is remarkable that the LXX; Vulgate, and Syriac all read here Jerubbaal, though, like the Hebrew, they have Ishbosheth and Mephibosheth. Probably the change, which was not made until after the days of Jezebel, was only gradually carried out by the scribes.

2 Samuel 11:23

The men prevailed against us. The real meaning is "the men made a sortie against us in force, and came even to the open field; but we were upon them (and drove them back) unto the entry of the gate, and the archers from off the wall shot at thy servants," etc.

2 Samuel 11:25

Let not this thing displease thee. David professes to be satisfied with Joab's apology, and bids him, if the war is in the main going on prosperously, not to be too much distressed at a temporary reverse. As for Uriah's death, of course it is to be regretted, but such is the fortune of war, and the sword devours now one and now another. The last words, encourage thou him, have provoked comment, as though the messenger was to aid and abet Joab. They simply mean "Give him a message of encouragement from me," the exact form of which is left to the messenger, but of which his report would be that the king wished Joab to take courage.

2 Samuel 11:26

And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. There is something pathetic in this repetition of the name of the murdered man, and his close relationship with Bathsheba is dwelt upon by his being twice called "her husband," and she "Uriah's wife." Having been the cause of his murder, she is careful to make for him the customary mourning. How long it lasted is uncertain. The mourning for Aaron (Numbers 20:29) and that for Moses (Deuteronomy 34:8) were each for thirty days; while that for Jacob at Atad (Genesis 50:10) and that of the men of Jabesh-Gilead for Saul (1 Samuel 31:13) lasted only for seven days. Both these, however, were under such exceptional circumstances as made them no rule; but in Ecclesiasticus 22:12 we read, "Seven days do men mourn for him that is dead," and the national lamentation for Judith lasted the same time (Judith 16:24). Probably, however, the mourning of a widow for her husband would last a month.

2 Samuel 11:27

She … bare him a son. This would be the child whose death is recorded in the next chapter. Afterwards she bare David four sons (1 Chronicles 3:5), of whom one was Solomon, and another Nathan, the ancestor of our Lord. The thing … displeased the Lord. It was probably during the time of David's victories that success began to work in him its usual results. Too commonly men who have conquered kingdoms have been vanquished by their own strong passions; and David had always evinced a keen appetite for sensuous pleasures. Even at Hebron he had multiplied unto himself wives, and now, raised by repeated victory to be the lord of a vast empire, he ceased to be "base in his own sight" (2 Samuel 6:22), and lost his self control. And, as was to be expected in a man of such strong qualities, his fall was terrible. But this declaration of the inspired narrator is not made solely for ethical reasons, but is the key to all that follows up to the end of 2 Samuel 20:1-26. In this chapter we have had the history of David's sin; a year's respite succeeds, as if God would wait and see whether the sinner's own conscience would waken up, and bring him to repentance; but it slumbers on. Then comes the message of reproof, fellowed by earnest penitence, and severe punishment. It was, perhaps, during this year of hardened persistence in crime that Amnon and his cousin Jonadab also gave the reins to their passions, and prepared the way for the first of the series of crimes that polluted David's home. An early repentance might have saved the son; but the absence of paternal discipline, the loss of respect for his father, and the evil influence of that father's bad example, all urged on the son to the commission of his abominable crime.


2 Samuel 11:1-17

The facts are:

1. During the prosecution of the war against Ammon in the spring, David remains in Jerusalem.

2. Walking one evening on his house top, he sees a woman washing herself, and observes her beauty.

3. Curiosity being awakened, he sends to inquire after her, and learns that she is the wife of Uriah.

4. Sending a royal message to her, she, as a loyal subject, waits upon him, whereupon he commits adultery.

5. Discovering in the course of a little time that the fact would come to light, he sends for Uriah from the war, under pretext of gleaning information concerning it, but really that, by Uriah's sojourn with his wife, the fact may be concealed.

6. Uriah, possibly suspicious of wrong, excuses himself from doing as David desires, on the plea that military duty and patriotism required of him absolute abstention from domestic pleasures.

7. Failing in the first attempt, David makes him drunk, in hopes that, when stupid, he would go to his home; but in this also he fails.

8. Subsequently he sends him back to Joab, with a secret instruction that he would set him in such a position as to ensure his death, which instruction Joab faithfully carries out.

The beginnings of great sins.

By universal consent the deed of David here recorded is regarded as a great sin—a very great sin, because it was a breach of the commandment which guards the purity of human life, and because committed by one blessed with more than ordinary privileges, and in an abuse of regal authority over a probably unsuspicious subject. The deed is ever base and criminal, but that such a man should commit the crime when God was prospering him in all his affairs, when his people were bravely risking their lives in defence of their country, and after he had spent so long and blessed a life in fellowship with God, is one of the marvels and mysteries of human nature. In the narrative we have set forth the origin and progress of the sin, so far as relates to its ostensible character. Scripture gives us outward facts in their natural order. But we know that in one outward fact of human life there are involved many mental and moral movements, and these are connected in the continuity of life with antecedents which, in part at least, account for their occurrence. It is not difficult, by bringing our knowledge of the laws of mental and moral movement to bear on the facts here recorded, to get a clue to the real beginnings of this great sin, and of great sins in general.

I. INTENSE ABSORPTION IN PROSPEROUS AFFAIRS DIMINISHES THE ENERGY THAT OTHERWISE WOULD GO TO SPIRITUAL CULTURE. Man, considered physiologically and physically, is a store of energy, and he can give out only what he possesses. The totality of his thoughts and acts is the outcome, and generally speaking the measure, of his store. What portion of it is spent in excess in one direction is just so much taken from another direction. The usual law of forces here applies. For some time David had been intensely absorbed in consolidating his power. The amount of work involved in all the changes he initiated and brought to completion must have been far in excess of what falls to an ordinary monarch, and this in proportion to the utter disorganization of affairs under Saul and Ishbosheth. Such an absorption most probably trenched upon the nervous and moral energy he had at one time concentrated directly on the culture of the spiritual life. Some few men seem gifted with the faculty of sudden transitions of energy, so that, while intensely absorbed in business or secular studies at one moment, they can, by an act of will, become equally absorbed at once in religious pursuits. Possibly David was one of these; but even in their case they cannot escape the weakening effect on the finer sensibilities of a protracted absorption in purely temporal affairs, especially if they are very prosperous. We see many instances of this in the lives of professedly religious men.

II. HABITS OF LIFE MAY UNCONSCIOUSLY BE FORMED WHICH GENERATE A CLASS OF FEELINGS PROVOCATIVE OF TEMPTATION. Habits grow in silence and too slowly to be noted, and every unconsciously formed habit brings with it its corresponding class of feelings, which also, rising gradually, are apt to obtain an unobserved permanence in life. The usages of Eastern courts in reference to polygamy acted in a subtle way on David's life, so that he gradually formed the habits peculiar to that abnormal form of domestic life, and we need no Divine revelation to inform us of the class of inferior feelings that would thereby be surely though slowly engendered. The man in modern times who, by reason of his affluence, combined with a certain habit of body, fares sumptuously every day, does not, while he is getting into the practice of so doing, reflect on the possible effect of all this, in days not far distant, upon his animal tendencies in a certain direction, and his corresponding moral safeguards. There can be no question that the physical, mental, and moral habits of life of a polygamous household are such as would furnish good soil for a sensual temptation, which, in the case of a man unduly absorbed and preoccupied in mere secularities, would be still more perilous. Many a religious man is weak from sources similar to this. Our Lord even warned his apostles, after they had had the benefit of his teaching for two years, to take heed lest at any time their hearts be" overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life" (Luke 21:34).

III. LEISURE SUPERVENING ON GREAT ACTIVITY BRINGS THE WEAKER SIDE OF NATURE INTO PROMINENCE. The protracted exertions of years had now issued in a compact kingdom and internal order. Saul's family was cared for. Administration was organized and labour divided (2 Samuel 8:14-18). The war against the Syrians was in the hands of a powerful force, under a skilful general. David, in Jerusalem, had leisure unknown in former years. Now it is a fact in the history of human nature that, when great energies cease to be in demand, and the force of life no longer goes out in its wonted volume in its ordinary course, then the feelings and tendencies which, meanwhile, have been unconsciously generated by slowly formed habits of social life, are apt to take more prominence, and find less resistance, in consequence of the probably impaired power of the spiritual element (see division I). It is well known among young men that more moral falls occur during seasons of leisure than at any other time. Leisure following on great prosperity requires for its safe use more than ordinary wisdom and spiritual health. Adversity, though taxing energy to the utmost, tends to draw the heart nearer to God, so that when there is leisure from it the soul is in a better condition to guard against the evils incident to such a season.

IV. AN UNCONSCIOUS DECLINE OF REALITY IN COMMUNION WITH GOD MAY SET IN ON A MAN'S OBTAINING A RECOGNIZED POSITION IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD. The subtlety with which spiritual declension sets in is admitted by all who know anything of religions experience. The best of men are the objects of assault from the powers of darkness, clothed, it may be, as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Once let a man, by some subtle insinuation, begin to think that now, having served God so many years and written such useful and sincere utterances of his experience, he has a distinctly recognized position,—then, in that very thought, there is an element of danger. From that hour watchfulness may be less keen, routine may set in, and grey hairs may come "here and there upon him" while he "knoweth it not" (Hosea 7:9). Undoubtedly David had attained such a recognized position in the religious world. His people would accord it; and, in the cessation of strain in civil and political exertions, he might, in an unguarded hour, especially if the lower feelings (see division II.) began to put forth their force, indulge in self-complacence. Communion with God might continue in full form, but its original intense reality would have passed away. Herein, perhaps, is the secret of the decline of religion in many a quondam professor. There are in the Church not a few who have left to them only "the form of godliness."

V. UNDER THE CONDITIONS THUS FAR CONSIDERED DISTINCT SUGGESTIONS COME THROUGH THE SENSES WITH DOUBLE FORCE. There are conditions under which suggestions through the eye, ear, or animal passions fall as powerless as snow on the solid rock. The real power of a temptation through the senses lies in the state of mind which we are in at the time. David had probably seen beautiful women many a time during his exile, and while king in Jerusalem; but the healthy, well guarded spirit was unhurt by the sight. Beauty anywhere is, to a healthy spiritual nature, an object of pure admiration as a work of God. It was because David was not his old self that this sight was as fuel to a smouldering flame. It takes but little to create radical changes and commotions, as seen in chemistry, when the primary elements of things are brought into contact; and so is it when certain elemental conditions of the moral man and his surroundings are concerned. Joseph was pure and spiritually healthy when the suggestion of evil came upon him, and it only produced a recoil (Genesis 39:8, Genesis 39:9). Great stress is laid on this in the Bible. "To the pure all things are pure." "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

VI. THERE IS A DISTURBING FORCE IN CERTAIN PASSIONS BY WHICH REASON, THE WILL, AND SPIRITUAL INSTINCTS ARE WEAKENED. It is a psychological fact that all emotion affects the exercise of the pure reason for the worse. It is in the experience of men that such passions as were aroused in David by the sight he witnessed from the roof of his house, more than any—except, perhaps, those involved in drunkenness—disturb or cripple the action of reason and of the will. Of course, they weaken the spiritual instincts in proportion as they find scope. Thus the powers which may be considered as the guardians of purity, the foes of evil, are not in their normal condition, and consequently the chances are, unless something happens to prevent such an issue, that the unhallowed feelings will gain further ascendency. In this we see that the perfect man is attainable only in Christ. The triumph of spiritual religion in our nature is coincident with the most perfect development of that nature. Hence, also, spiritual power among men is dependent on inner purity.

VII. WHEN ONCE THE REIN IS GIVEN TO SUCH PASSIONS, THE FALL HAS TAKEN PLACE IN ESSENCE. When David saw and looked on her, with a certain thought in his mind and feeling in his heart, he had virtually done the deed of which we have a record. In the spiritual sphere, thought and desire are tantamount to deed. The one is but the fuller form of the other. Sin lies in intent and purpose, whether it be actualized in outward fact or not. Hence our Lord's strong words (Matthew 5:27, Matthew 5:28). The mystery of David's sin really lies in the creation within himself of the base feeling indicated in the terms of 2 Samuel 11:2. All that followed was a development of this (James 1:14, James 1:15). It is a question whether Christian people have, as a rule, recognized the solemn truth taught by Christ and seen in David's case. The seventh commandment has a bearing on the daily mental life.

VIII. AN INWARD FALL BRINGS ON SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, LOSS OF SELF-RESPECT, WITH FURTHER ENFEEBLED REASON AND WILL-POWER. Such an inward fall as David's on the roof of his house at once brought a cloud between him and his God, caused him to feel that he was a degraded man, and placed him, in that abandoned mood, under weaker safeguards against the growth of the evil passion. Unless a sudden and sharp repentance—a shocked cry to God for special help—came forth, there was no hope of his being the same man as formerly. Every hour during which the intrusive evil passion retained ascendency only hastened his final overthrow. Men so circumstanced become blind and stupid; they know their degradation, but are under a spell by which it becomes greater; consequences suggested in feeble or strong tones by the reason are not considered; the will, lately crippled for good, now goes over in full strength to the side of evil. Facilis descensus Averni. The particular passion may vary in the different deeds of evil which occasionally shock the religious world, but in every case there is a gradual decline, and it is only the last few stages of it which form the subject of surprise among men. Not murder as seen in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth,' nor fraud as seen in occasional modern revelations, nor youthful excesses as when the parent's heart is broken, are sudden in origin. A series of mental and moral changes precede that which attracts the notice of men and forms the occasion of a social condemnation.


1. The fidelity of Scripture writers may be referred to as evidence of Divine inspiration. The cool impartiality with which the best king of Israel is represented as having fallen into the vilest of sins, and this without note or comment, is certainly not of man.

2. Moral causes are deepest and most wide reaching in the sphere of human life; the change here indicated in David's moral condition was of pernicious influence ever after on his rule, his court, his private life, and the general prosperity of the kingdom.

3. The season of great prosperity in temporal affairs, and of elevation in religious privilege, should, on account of the peril it brings, be a season of keenest and most earnest watchfulness.

4. So powerful are the inferior propensities of human nature, even in the case of most favoured men, that it is possible for them to sweep away in their outburst the reputation built up on the best purposes and actions; and hence the importance of a most jealous guard against everything in appetite, sight, and sound, that may develop their power.

5. Seeing the extraordinary extremes of human experience in the life of David, we may note and weigh well the undeveloped possibilities for good or evil, for joy or pain, for usefulness or harm, that lie within the scope of every human being in the future state, even more than in this.

6. Feminine obtrusiveness, even when no danger is actually perceived in it, may all the time be operating on some one for evil; and hence the duty of the most guarded modesty of manner and personal appearance. We do not fully estimate the harm done to human thought and feeling by the ocular impressions produced by certain forms of dress and bearing.

7. It is good to have leisure from toil, but much grace is needed to use leisure so that in it the tempter may not gain power over us.

8. The dangers of eventide leisure are conspicuous, especially to the young and to the ardent.

9. It adds to the guilt of a man if, being in a position of authority or influence, he exercises his official influence to gain power over others for proposes of evil.

The crooked ways of sin.

We have in 2 Samuel 11:6-13 an account of the devices by which David sought to escape the human discovery of his guilt. The perhaps sleepless nights spent in painful thought as to what could be safely done are not alluded to—only the product of his thinking. After what was said in 2 Samuel 11:5, it was certain that exposure in the most palpable form would ensue if the woman's husband remained away at the war. To bring him home, and get him in an apparently natural way to spend a little time with his wife, at once seemed most feasible. The failure of this scheme, either through the patriotism or the awakened suspicions of Uriah, caused another night of thought and scheming, and, as the case was urgent, he was made drunk, in hope thereby his patriotism or suspicions would yield to natural propensities. Once more the force of events is against the scheme; and, as a last resort, seeing that Uriah could not be made out to be the father of the coming child, he must, with as good an appearance as possible, be put out of the way so that the king, in accordance with the rights of Eastern monarchs, might take his wife, and the expected one thus appear to be prematurely born in wedlock. Concerning these crooked ways of sin observe—

I. THE FIRST STEP OF THE IMPENITENT SINNER IS TO CLING TO HIS SIN. When such a sin as David's is committed, God is offended, conscience outraged, self-respect disregarded, and human condemnation rendered imminent. The whole of this disruption and confusion in the moral sphere is recognized at once as being a consequence of the deed done. Now, it is obvious that these consequences are not only to be dreaded, and, if possible, to be avoided, but also that the first act of a sound mind would be to abominate and seek to get dissociated, in every sense of the term, from the sin which entailed them. The sin, and not the consequences, is the evil thing—the most terrible and hurtful thing. And the first step of a truly penitent mind would be to shrink from it, to loathe it, to seek to cut it off if possible from self as the accursed thing. But note here that David shows no sign of this. The evil nature adopts the deed, identifies itself with it, seeks to live on in association of thought, feeling, and interest with it. God, purity, conscience, self-respect,—all may go; the soul will have its sin, and, by cherishing this sentiment towards it, virtually persists in its repetition. So did Adam, Achan, and Ananias; and so do all the poor debased souls that sink into iniquity without the grace of true repentance.

II. THE SECOND STEP IS TO RECOGNIZE THE POSSIBILITY OF EXPOSURE BEFORE MEN. The guilty man knows that God is aware of his crime. His action in this respect is a very singular phenomenon. There may be secret dread of God's coming judgment; the certainty of God's knowledge and power to punish may be so strong as even to render life inwardly wretched, and to produce the passivity and helplessness proper to an unavoidable fate. Possibly this sort of desperation urges to a warding off of such consequences as would come did men but know as much of the sin as God. At any rate, what the narrative sets before us is not an endeavour to escape from God and his anger; it shows us rather that, as soon as the mind can collect itself after the indulgence in sin, it recognizes the possibility of men becoming acquainted with the deed done. That was the thought which lay at the basis of Achan's covering up his spoils; that is the thought which starts in the mind of the thief, the liar, the adulterer, the false professor. The fear of man is a very potent influence. The fear of God is real, but it carries with it a hopelessness of effort. This induces gloomy desperation, but not thought and action to prevent discovery.

III. THE NEXT STEP IS TO CONSIDER THE POSSIBLE MEANS OF ESCAPE FROM HUMAN EXPOSURE. A guilty man pays unconscious homage to holiness in that he begins to think how he can prevent men knowing what he has done. David the hero, who trembled not before Goliath, now spends hours in thinking how he may escape the consequences of his own people knowing what he has done in private. Is it simply fear of civil and social loss? Is it merely dread of physical pain? No; even the guilty testify that sin is abominable; that sin is deepest personal disgrace; that sin is too black and ugly to bear even the gaze of imperfect men. No doubt David saw that he would suffer loss of respect among the best of the land; that the force of law would be weakened; that turbulence might arise in his kingdom by reason of others following his example; and that he would no longer be able to figure before the nation as the illustrious reformer of religion. The thousands who daily live in dread of, and consider how they may escape, human exposure! What restless nights! what deep-laid plans! what feverish concern!—all to cover up sin from feeble man! And yet God knows all, and will bring to judgment. Truly sin renders the operation of the mind very perverse. God knows all and judges all, and yet all effort is to keep man from knowing! Nothing is done Godward, except to harden the heart against him, and go on in sullen desperation. This is sin!—this the accursed evil of the universe!

IV. IN SEEKING TO ESCAPE HUMAN EXPOSURE, THE FIRST CONTRIVANCE IS TO SIMULATE THE ORDER OF PROVIDENCE; i.e. to create, by innocent natural means, an order of events that shall have in them and their results an appearance of providential succession. David does not commit another positive sin to cover up the first. The sin-stained soul again, notwithstanding its degradation, pays homage to righteousness, in its deliberate effort to hide its past deed by deeds that are within the province of right; for David had a right to send for any officer to give him information as to the progress of the war (2 Samuel 11:6, 2 Samuel 11:7), and it was only generous to allow him to go and rest at home (2 Samuel 11:8). Lord Bacon has taught us that, by carefully studying the processes of Nature to see how she works, we, on submitting to her ways, become her conquerors, by being able to set her at work in circumstances of our own creation. The scheme of an impenitent sinner, when wishing to hide his sin from the knowledge of man, is very much of that kind. He knows the order of providential events, and he tries to create circumstances by which, in the judgment of men, Providence shall be credited with the deed he himself has done. Uriah, not David, shall be made to appear as the father of the child. How this perverse ingenuity works still is familiar to all who know only a little of mankind. The cleverness with which trains of events are set in motion so as to assuredly direct attention from the doer of evil, is amazing. The devil was always a great schemer, and his dupes catch his spirit.

V. THE FAILURE OF SCHEMES INVOLVING NO POSITIVE SIN IN THE DETAILS IS SOON FOLLOWED BY DEEDS DISTINCTLY EVIL. If Providence cannot be simulated, because of the uncontrollable nature of its agents (2 Samuel 11:9-11), then homage to righteousness must cease, and positive evil must be done (2 Samuel 11:13-15). The one desired end—escape from human exposure—must, by good or evil means, be secured. The knowledge that God knows and is angry counts for nothing. The despair of escaping God, combined with a mad identification of one's interests with the evil committed and still cherished in the heart, seems to operate on the mind in such a way as practically to banish him from thought or care. All thought is on man, and at any cost man must be kept in ignorance. It is against even the conscience, stained and hardened as it is, to do definite evil, if possible—so mighty is the moral law in the worst of men—but preservation of self from exposure is now the first law, to which right, generosity, every true and holy sentiment and obligation, must bow.

VI. IN HAVING RECOURSE TO DESPERATE MEASURES OF EVIL, THERE IS SOME REGARD TO APPEARANCES. It is only the very uttermost moral degradation—that, perhaps, of fiends in hell—that can perpetrate fresh evils with utter freedom, and without any reserve of decency or tacit recognition of the majesty of law. Every hour spent by David in elaborating his scheme brought him more within the coil of iniquity, and gradually reduced his moral sensibilities towards zero; but even when in his despair he meditated the death of the man whose life might lead to exposure of his sin, he could not slay him with his own hand, he could not say even to Joab, "Slay him." Appearances must be saved, and some homage paid, by the lingering sense of right, to the Law of God, by a contest being created in the interests of the kingdom, so that in fighting for his country the doomed man might die by the hand of the enemy. Of course, David did not kill him! Of course, it was an incident in the natural order of warlike events!

It was not the King of Israel that raised the arm to slay, but the wicked Ammonites! Such is the crooked logic of sin. Our Saviour has described Satan as a liar as well as a murderer (John 8:44). It is evidently very difficult to crush out all light from the conscience. There is a continuous protest in the performance of guilty deeds; but so obstinate and desperate in alliance with sin is the heart of an impenitent man, that this protest, this remnant of light, is only used to grace the performance of positive evil with a semblance of naturalness and innocence. The crooked ways of sin are traversed by all men who in any measure hug their iniquities, and try to avoid the consequences which it is feared would come were the deeds of darkness exposed to view. There are many acting in this way every day.


1. Men in positions of power have many means at hand for hiding their sins from public view (2 Samuel 11:6); but they should be warned of their corresponding peril and increased guilt if they use those means.

2. Real hypocrisy lies in doing things with the appearance of right and to give an impression of right conduct, when the real aim is evil, and the present motive is subordinate to that aim (2 Samuel 11:6-11); consequently, just pains should be taken in exposing to men the horrible wickedness of their course, and in getting them to recognize more distinctly, as a governing power in life, the perfect knowledge of God.

3. There are always forces working unconsciously against the designs of hypocritical men, rendering, as the action of Uriah did (2 Samuel 11:11-13), the way of transgressors hard. It is vain to fight against God.

4. The man who, in the day of success and real goodness, scorns the unprincipled and hardhearted (2 Samuel 3:29-39), may so fall as to be glad of such men to carry out his evil designs (2 Samuel 11:15)—a warning this to him "who thinketh that he standeth."

5. He who makes use of another as his instrument of evil henceforth becomes weak in all his relations to him. Masters who employ their servants to carry on evil transactions lose influence over them, and virtually place themselves in their power.

2 Samuel 11:18-27

Complicity in evil.

The facts are:

1. Joab, having executed the wicked commission, sends word to David as to the progress of the war.

2. He furnishes the messenger with a means of appeasing the probable wrath of David on his learning that the conflict was more serious than either he or Joab looked for, namely, an announcement of Uriah's death.

3. The messenger carefully describes the seriousness of the engagement with the enemy, and concludes by referring to the death of Uriah.

4. David sends back an encouraging message to Joab, and professes to acknowledge the inevitable losses and chances of war.

5. On suitable sorrow being shown by the widow, for the loss of her husband, David takes her to himself as a wife.

6. The deed of David is displeasing to God. The narrative here gives us the maturing of David's scheme, and the general character of the secret negotiations carried on with Joab in order to bring his purpose to pass. We have, then, an instance of accomplices in crime, revealing to us truth, and illustrating facts in connection with human life in all ages.

I. MEN INTENT ON A GREAT EVIL ARE FORCED TO BRING OTHERS INTO THEIR WICKED SECRETS. Providence kindly frustrated David's attempt to cover his sin by means of Uriah's free action; and it therefore became necessary, in his desperate wickedness, to seek the end in view by means of Uriah's death. But unless David committed murder with his own hand, which his conscience would not allow, he must find some one whose ingenuity, with his own, would bring it to pass, and save appearances. Such is the logic of evil. God in his mercy has filled the world with obstacles to the committal of sin and to persistence in it when once committed; but such is the baseness of the human heart that this, instead of being regarded as a help in the warfare with evil propensity, is turned into a reason for seeking the aid of another's wits and agency. It is a further fall in evil when men are thus impelled to drag others into the meshes of their sin. So hardened does the heart become by dalliance with sin and indulgence in it, that even the character and souls of others are to be ruined in order to gratify self and hide iniquity for a few years from human view.

II. THERE ARE GENERALLY MEN TO BE FOUND READY TO CARRY OUT THE EVIL PURPOSES OF THEIR SUPERIORS. Even in the chosen nation a Joab was to be found, cruel, hard of heart, habituated to acts of severity, and glad to have the opportunity of retorting in spirit, if not in words, the former reproaches of his master (2 Samuel 3:29, 2 Samuel 3:39). It is a sign of the marvellous change that had come over David, that he, who had so bitterly reproached this man for cruelty and hard heartedness, now turns to him for the purpose of using those very qualities for accomplishing his own cruel design. The presence of such a man in Israel for doing the evil work of his superior is typical of a universal fact. There is a vast amount of reserve evil in the world, waiting only for some influential will to draw it out into activity. The power of superiors over subordinates sometimes extends to the moral sphere. In strict fact, a king has only power, in virtue of his office, over the legal actions of his subjects, and a master over the legal actions of his servants; but when a king or a master, in excess of his right, extends his authority into the moral sphere, it too often happens that the subordinate whose conscience is not sensitive allows the authority due to the legal position to pass over to the moral sphere and break down the defences of conscience. This is an abuse of influence on the one side, and an abandonment of most sacred duties on the other. The wicked heart is apt to find excuses in the fact that a superior leads the way, and that, if guilt lies anywhere, it is on him.

III. MEN BENT ON AN EVIL DESIGN WILL EVEN RISK THE RUIN OF THE INNOCENT IN CARRYING OUT THEIR SCHEMES. David knew very well that Joab could not carry out his instructions without, not only exposing Uriah to the certain risk of death, but also placing other men, not concerned in this domestic trouble, in positions of peril; for the meaning of the instructions was plainly to create a position of extreme peril, which in war can only be done by engaging a troop. What if several innocent men fell in this "hottest battle"! Uriah, at all events, would be amongst them! The more the progressive conduct of the king is scrutinized, the more base and abominable does it appear. This dreadful sin is not confined to David. Monarchs and diplomatists, who from motives of vanity or mere love of power bring on war, really cause the death of innocent men and the wailings of widows in carrying out their designs. What if thousands of men fall! Some regal or other obstacle to ambition or pride will at least be got rid of! That is the moral side of too many wars. The same in a measure applies to men who will be rich, though it cost the health, the poverty, and often lives of workmen. What of all that? Wealth must be secured! Other instances are to be found in modern life.

IV. MEN IN CARRYING OUT NEFARIOUS DESIGNS ARE CAREFUL TO CONFORM TO THE DECENCIES OF OUTWARD LIFE. Bad men understand one another. There is a freemasonry in evil. Joab knew what he was about when he anticipated that David would manifest signs of wrath on hearing of his fruitless attack on the city. Each evil doer played his part with skill. The messenger was to remind David of historic parallels (2 Samuel 11:21), and to tell him that the rash man Uriah, who led the bootless assault, had been punished for his rashness by death. No court martial would be necessary, lamentable as the affair certainly was! Heart answers to heart. The anger ceases; maxims concerning the chances of war come to one's aid (2 Samuel 11:25); the lessons of failure must be laid to heart; the general at the head of the army must not be discouraged. All this was very proper—in harmony with the proprieties of life. Men doing evil are inwardly ashamed of it, and are compelled to keep up the appearance of doing and being good. It is the outward conformity with the decencies of life that enables wicked men to go on in their evil ways for years. They follow the teaching and example of their chief, who is a liar in deed and word, and who, to perfect his schemes, assumes, if necessary, the form of an "angel of light."

V. EVIL MEN BRING THEIR DEVICES TO A SUCCESSFUL ISSUE WITH ONE NOTABLE EXCEPTION. The success of David was complete. Uriah was safely put away; Bathsheba was the king's wife within a date to prevent convincing exposure; the army and the people were kept in ignorance of actual facts; the future was hopeful; but there was one fact on which the infatuated king did not reflect—the Lord was displeased. The brethren of Joseph seemed to succeed in getting rid of a troublesome brother, but God saw their wickedness, and this counted for more than they then imagined. The wicked husbandmen succeeded in freeing themselves from annoyance when they killed the heir (Matthew 21:38); but there was One to reckon with of whom they did not think. The conspiring scribes and Pharisees doubtless congratulated themselves that their plans for getting rid of the "babbler" who caused them so much trouble were wonderfully successful; but there was One whose "power" was not secured to their side (Acts 2:23, Acts 2:24). Kings and diplomatists and exactors of unjust labours and secret defrauders, and evil livers may succeed in keeping up appearances, in passing as honourable men, and in securing their heart's desire; but there will always be one factor in the case with which they some day will have to reckon—the displeasure of the Lord.


1. It is a disgrace to a master to be in league with a servant, and it puts the master within the servant's power. Many a subordinate is in possession of secrets which, if used, would blast character and ruin earthly prospects. The coils of iniquity!

2. Every new device to hide sin, and every effort to keep up appearances, only blinds the mind the more to the actual state of the soul in its relation to God.

3. In all our affairs, and especially when tempted to persist in courses of sin, we should endeavour to remember that we shall have to reckon with One who knows all and is already displeased.

4. That a man professing religion can go on in a secret course of sin without giving due heed to the knowledge which he must possess of God's knowledge of himself and deeds, is a striking sign of the utter deterioration of his spiritual sensibilities and his being nigh unto perdition.


2 Samuel 11:1-5


David's fall into sin.

"But David tarried still at Jerusalem" (2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Chronicles 20:1).

1. He was about fifty years of age; had been reigning in Jerusalem upwards of twelve years; dwelt in a stately palace on Mount Zion; and possessed numerous sons and daughters, a splendid court and a powerful army. He had been "preserved whithersoever he went," subdued his enemies, and returned in triumph. His natural gifts and fervent piety (Psalms 24:4; Psalms 101:7) were even more extraordinary than his material prosperity; and he now stood on the pinnacle of human greatness and glory.

2. "We might well wish, in our human fashion, that, as he stood at this elevation, he had closed a life hitherto (as far as was possible before Christianity) almost entirely spotless, and bequeathed to posterity a wholly unclouded memory, and the purest type of true royalty. But the ascent of the dizzy height is always attended by the possibility of a slip and then of a headlong fall" (Ewald).

3. "Rising from the couch where he had indulged in his noonday siesta to an undue length, David forthwith ascended to the roof of his house. So ambition commonly follows excess; nor do they whom the contagion of luxury once corrupts readily seek after moderate and lowly ways. But that ascent of David, alas! was a prelude to his deplorable downfall. For he ascended only that he might fall, beholding thence, as from a watchtower, Bathsheba the wife of Uriah, and immediately becoming passionately enamoured of her".

4. It was the turning point of his career, which was henceforth marked by a long series of calamities. And "it is sad to think that the cup of life, alter being filled for him by God and made pure and sweet by previous suffering and self-restraint, should have been recklessly poisoned by his own hand" (Binney).

"His steps were turn'd into deceitful ways:

Following false images of good, that make

No promise perfect."


His fall occurred (serving as an instructive warning to others)—

I. AT A SEASON OF SLOTHFUL RELAXATION. In the spring of the year, "when kings go forth to war," instead of going forth with his army to complete the subjugation of Ammon, "David sent Joab," etc; and abode in Jerusalem. Formerly, when "the Lord had given him rest" (2 Samuel 7:1), he spent his leisure in a worthy manner, and displayed an ardent and even excessive zeal; but now, in choosing rest for himself, he showed a lack of zeal, and his unhappy choice was followed by disastrous consequences. "His actual fall into sin seems to have begun by the abdication of his functions as captain of Israel" (Maclaren); which was itself the effect of "previous relaxation of the girded loins and negligence of the untrimmed lamp." Inactivity (voluntarily chosen, without adequate reason, and regardless of opportunities of useful service) is commonly:

1. Induced by a course of successful enterprise, and the attainment of great prosperity. If adversity has slain its thousands, prosperity has slain its tens of thousands. "When his pillow was the rock and his curtain the cave; when his sword, under Providence, procured him his daily bread from the foes of his country, and the means of existence formed the object and pursuit of life,—he was pious and immovable; he must have been active or he must have resigned his life. But now the case was widely different. He had not only all the necessaries, but all the luxuries which the most refined voluptuousness could devise, attending in rich profusion around him. He had certainly the duty of his charge to impress its importance on his mind; but then he had the opportunity of neglecting it, and even David, it appears, was not proof against the solicitations of this opportunity" (Thompson, 'Davidica').

2. Indicative of a state of spiritual declension.

3. Conducive to the indulgence of sinful propensities; exposing to the peril of falling into "the snare of the devil." Want of proper occupation tends to develop the hidden evil of the heart. "Standing waters gather filth" (Matthew Henry). "Idle hours bring forth idle thoughts, and idle thoughts are nothing but dry kindling wood that waits only for a spark to be suddenly ablaze" (Disselhoff). "The industrious man hath no leisure to sin; the idle hath no leisure or power to avoid sin" (Hall). David "may have been quite unconscious of bad habits of mind; but they must have been there growing in secret. The tyrannous self-will, which is too often developed by long successes and command; the unscrupulous craft, which is too often developed by long adversity and the necessity of sustaining one's self in a difficult position;—these must have been there. But even they could not have led David to do the deed he did had there not been in him likewise that fearful moral weakness which comes from long indulgence of the passions—a weakness which is reckless of conscience, of public opinion, and of danger either to earthly welfare or everlasting salvation" (C. Kingsley). "This single act can only be regarded as the expression of his whole disposition of mind" (Hengstenberg).

II. UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF STRONG TEMPTATION; or the desire of self-gratification. For "each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust [desire], and enticed," etc. (James 1:13-15). "Lust is egoistic desire under the incitement of impulse. But the action is not yet performed; it still lies with the man to combat the lust, or by the free choice of his will to yield himself to it" (Martensen, 'Christian Ethics'). It:

1. Arises in most cases from impressions made upon the senses by external objects. "And it came to pass in an eventide," etc. (2 Samuel 11:2). The eye is the most common inlet of temptation. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food," etc. (Genesis 3:6). Achan first saw, then coveted and took (Joshua 7:21). "David at this time had forgotten the prayer, 'Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.' We see, therefore, how dangerous a thing it is to suffer the eyes to wander. Job made a covenant with his eyes" (Wilier). "They who abuse the eye deserve to have the inward eye darkened" (Gregory).

2. Derives its force from various circumstances; such as

3. Becomes by such means an absorbing passion (Matthew 6:28, Matthew 6:29); blinding the mental vision, perverting the moral judgment, and influencing (though not absolutely compelling) the choice of the personal will, by which sin comes into actual existence. "There is a black spot, though it be no bigger than a bean's eye, in every soul, which, if once set a-working, will overcloud the whole man in darkness, and something very like madness, and will hurry him into the night of destruction" (Arabic saying). To escape this fatal issue there is need, not merely of resolute resistance and fervent prayer, but also of instant flight. "The temptation of the flesh is overcome and impure passion mortified by flight, and not by fighting face to face. He then who flies fastest and furthest is most sure of victory. Once more I say to thee, Fly! for thou art as stubble. Therefore fly, fly, if indeed thou wouldest not be overtaken, led captive, and slain!" (Scupoli).

III. AGAINST THE RESTRAINTS OF RECOGNIZED OBLIGATION. "And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba," etc.? (verse 3). Whilst he knew not who she was, there might be at least some excuse (considering the position of an Oriental monarch, and the common practices of the age) for his passion (2 Samuel 3:1-5); but now that he was informed that she was "the wife of Uriah," the claims of a higher law than his own inclination must have risen up distinctly before him; and he had to choose between renouncing his evil desire or breaking through the numerous restraints placed in his path. These restraints are:

1. Set up by the express commandments of the Divine Law, which says, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife;" "Thou shalt not commit adultery;" "Thou shalt not steal" (2 Samuel 12:4-6).

2. Strengthened by the special responsibilities of peculiar position and relationship; such as David held, as King of Israel, under Jehovah, with respect to his subjects, and more particularly his faithful servant Uriah.

3. Enforced by the terrible consequences threatened against transgressors (Le Job 20:10; Deuteronomy 28:15). It is nevertheless possible to burst through all such restraints. And in the exercise of his freedom and the abuse of his power, David set them at nought, and "despised the commandment of the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:9). "When lust has conceived, every restraint generally increases its vehemence, the thoughts of future consequences and the consideration of the presence, purity, and justice of God are excluded; his Law and authority are disregarded; faith and fear and love are out of exercise; and the enhanced imagination of the satisfaction to be found in indulgence possesses and engrosses the soul" (Scott).

IV. WITH THE PERSISTENCY OF WILFUL PRESUMPTION. "And David sent messengers, and took her," etc. (verses 4, 5). Regarding himself as a special favourite of Heaven, he perhaps imagined (as others have done) that he might leave the ways of lowly obedience and self-denial, and go whithersoever he pleased, and yet be preserved from harm (Deuteronomy 29:19; Psalms 19:13; Matthew 4:6); and under this delusion he persisted in his purpose, and fell from his moral elevation into the depths of sin and to the verge of destruction. "How are the mighty fallen!" By such persistency:

1. The sinful purpose of the heart is confirmed and completed in outward action.

2. The guilt incurred is aggravated.

3. The natural consequences of sin become more serious and extensive; and, in some respects, they cannot possibly be averted (Job 12:11-14).


1. No man, however holy, is exempt from the liability of falling into sin. "Be not highminded, but fear;" "Let him that thinketh he standeth,' etc. "If such a strong and tall cedar as David fall, how ought weaker Christians to fear and to pray that God would deliver them from temptation!" (Guild).

2. Material prosperity and outward show are frequently associated with moral failure and secret iniquity. Whilst the conquest of Rabbah went forward, David became the victim of his own unfaithfulness.

3. The fall of men into sin is to be attributed to themselves—their voluntary choice of evil; and not to their circumstances, or constitution, or the withholding from them of the help of God. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God," etc.

4. It is of unspeakable importance to maintain the exercise of the spiritual life in full vigour, and to watch against the first approach of evil. "The narrow way has precipices on both sides; let us walk it awake and watchful, for we are not more exact than David, who by a moment's neglect was precipitated into the very gulf of sin" (Chrysostom).

5. By the record of the sins of good men (1 Samuel 21:2), the truth and worth of the Word of God are plainly shown. "If such a story does not give one a view of the unfathomable depths of sin and of its power, he will never learn what sin is" (Schmid).

6. In the whole course of history One alone has appeared "without sin;" he was tempted and overcame, and he is the Succourer of them that are tempted.—D.

2 Samuel 11:4


The Books of Samuel furnish abundant materials for instructive studies of female character, in

Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam (Ammiel, 1 Chronicles 3:5), the granddaughter of Ahithophel the king's counsellor (2 Samuel 23:34), and well known (2 Samuel 11:3) as the wife of Uriah the Hittite. "Eliam and Uriah must have been thrown much together, being beth of the same rank, and being each one of the thirty-seven officers of the king's guard" (Blunt, 'Undesigned Coincidences'). She was:

1. Endowed with perilous gifts—extraordinary beauty (2 Samuel 11:2), ardent temperament, quick perceptions, ambitious aims. Something of her natural character may be inferred from 1 Kings 1:15-21 and 1 Kings 2:13-21, "a woman ignorant of ruling, but skilled in love matters."

2. Destitute of adequate safeguards, such as would have been afforded by the presence of her husband, who was away at the siege of Rabbah; careful moral training; and firm religious principles (Proverbs 11:22).

3. Overcome by a great temptation. "And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came," etc. "There is no intimation whatever" (as Delany endeavours to show) "that David brought Bathsheba into the palace through craft or violence; but rather that she came at his request, without any hesitation, and offered no resistance to his desires. Consequently, she is not to be regarded as free from blame" (Keil). "One is even disposed to suspect that she was a designing, ambitious woman, who laid a snare for the king. Nothing is told us concerning her in order that the iniquity of David might not be relieved" (R. Tuck, 'The First Three Kings of Israel'). She, like others, admired the king, felt flattered by his attentions, and had not sufficient moral strength to resist his wishes or control her own inordinate vanity. "Had she been mindful of her matrimonial fidelity, perhaps David had been soon checked in his inordinate desire" (Hall). Yet she was a woman "more sinned against than sinning" (1 Kings 2:27; 2 Samuel 12:4).

4. Observant of customary ceremonies. "And she was purified," etc. "More scrupulous about the ceremonial law than the moral" (Le 1 Kings 15:18). "She also mourned for her husband when she heard of his death (1 Kings 2:26), but not for her sin which caused it" (Guild); being chiefly concerned about appearances; for her sin had been kept, as far as possible, a profound secret.

5. Visited by deserved chastisement. Beset by tormenting anxieties and terrible fears, knowing the penalty due to her transgression; and, subsequently, overwhelmed with grief on account of the affliction and death of her child; nor was this the only retribution she experienced.

6. Treated with merciful consideration. (1 Kings 2:27.) As David himself, the supreme administrator on earth of the Divine Law, did not suffer death, "and it is easy to perceive that, to leave this single act of criminality unpunished in a great king, was for the advantage of the people" (Michaelis, 'Laws of Moses,' 1 Kings 1:37), as he was expressly exempted from it by the word of the prophet (2 Samuel 12:13); so, in the exercise of his royal prerogative, he very properly dispensed with the penalty in the case of the partner of his guilt. Like him, also, she probably repented of her sin; and "mercy glorieth against judgment" (James 2:13). Evil was even overruled for good (2 Samuel 12:24; 1 Chronicles 3:5; Matthew 1:6; Luke 3:31). It has been thought (though without sufficient reason) that the counsels contained in Proverbs 31:1-31. were given by her to her son Solomon. "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised," D.

2 Samuel 11:5-15


Entanglements of sin.

He who once leaves the right path little knows how far he may go astray or how great will be his perplexities and perils. Possibly he may never return; certainly he will not return without overcoming immense difficulties, and finding out by bitter experience his folly and perversity.

"The gates of hell are open night and day;

Smooth the descent, and easy is the way;

But to return and view the cheerful skies,

In this the task and mighty labour lies."

(Dryden's 'Virgil.')

Sin is commonly attended (as in the case of David) by—

I. GUILTY FEARS. After his sudden fall he probably felt some measure of compunction; but repressed the reproaches of conscience, and continued, in the view of men, the same as he had ever been. It is evident that, when the message (2 Samuel 11:5) came to him, he was not truly penitent.

1. It awakened his fears concerning the possible exposure of his sin. Would not the wife of Uriah, on the return of her husband, be constrained. to declare the author of her shame?

2. His fears were intensified by the probable consquences of such exposure. Even if he should be able to save Bathsheba, and himself escape legal punishment, by virtue of his high position as the Lord's anointed, how could he avert the private vengeance of Uriah, or maintain the confidence, affection, and allegiance of his army and people? What other Eastern monarchs did with impunity, could not be done by him in Israel without incurring the moral indignation of the people, and causing the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.

3. He was impelled by his fears to use his utmost efforts with a view to the concealment of his sin. "And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite" (2 Samuel 11:6). His endeavour to hide his transgression "as Adam" (Job 31:33) was itself a tacit acknowledgment of its disreputable character. And "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper," etc. (Proverbs 28:13). Would that men, after their first wrong step, immediately confessed their error, made reparation, and returned to the way of truth and righteousness!


1. In their attempts at concealment men are wont to employ extraordinary ingenuity (1 Samuel 18:17-30), and to hide their base designs under the cover of kindness (2 Samuel 11:7-9).

2. Their crafty purposes are often defeated by simplicity and sincerity, beyond their calculation. "The ark," etc. (2 Samuel 11:9-12). "This answer expressed the feelings and the consciousness of duty which ought to animate one who was fighting for the cause of God, in such plain and unmistakable terms, that it was well adapted to prick the king to the heart. But David's soul was so beclouded by the wish to keep clear of the consequences of his sin in the eyes of the world, that he did not feel the sting, but simply made a still further attempt to attain his purpose with Uriah" (Keil).

3. Although defeated, their attempts are usually repeated (2 Samuel 11:13), but only to issue in greater disappointment, perplexity, and anxiety. The devices of sin are like a labyrinth, in which the sinner becomes more and more inextricably involved. They are like the meshes of a net, in which he becomes more and more hopelessly entangled.

III. INCREASING CRIMINALITY. (2 Samuel 11:14, 2 Samuel 11:15.) "He sent back the unsuspicious warrior to Babbah, to Joab, with a letter, which, under the name of 'Uriah's letter,' has become notorious throughout the world. It was written with the same pen with which the sweet psalmist had written his psalms" (Krummacher).

1. The course of sin is downward into ever deeper moral abasement. "It is the nature of sin to multiply itself, and to draw the wretched sinner on to greater and greater enormities." Adultery was followed by

"One sin another doth provoke;

Murder's as near to lust, as flame to smoke."

2. It is so because of its blinding, hardening, and enslaving power (2 Peter 2:19; Proverbs 6:22), its delusive promises of good, its specious pleas of necessity, its urgent impulses to desperate expedients. "Such are the accursed entanglements of sin; such the workings and gradations of it in the distracted, bewildered breast that admits it. Millions have been lost in these Labyrinths of guilt; but none, sure, in any more intricate and perplexing than this!" (Delany).

3. Although it may be followed by apparent and temporary success, it cannot ultimately prosper. "The Lord shall reward," etc. (2 Samuel 3:39; Proverbs 11:21; Isaiah 5:18). "The means which David took to extricate himself from the complications in which his adultery involved him appeared well chosen; but there was one thing he had not taken into consideration—that he could not here, as in former embarassments, confidently expect the assistance of God. It was God's design that David's sin should be fully manifested, for only in this way was perfect cure possible, and therefore he suffered the means to fail" (Hengstenberg).—D.

2 Samuel 11:6

Uriah the Hittite.

Like Ahimelech (1 Samuel 26:6), he belonged to a notable people (Genesis 23:3; Ezekiel 16:3; 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6), had adopted the faith of Israel, and joined David in exile; he was one of the famous "thirty" (1 Chronicles 11:41; 2 Samuel 23:39), married Bathsheba (the young and beautiful daughter of a brother officer), to whom he was fondly attached (2 Samuel 12:3), and had a house overlooked by the king's palace. The story of this man, "immortal by his wrongs," constitutes a little tragedy. He was:

1. Greatly distinguished for his heroic courage. For more than twenty years he had taken part in the conflicts of David, and contributed to his victories; and, by the valour which he displayed, gained and kept an honourable position.

2. Grievously wronged by his royal master. Having been secretly dishonoured by the king, he was specially sent for, treated with guile, and tempted to become an unconscious agent in concealing the crime. "Were honour driven out of the world, it should find a refuge in the breast of kings."

3. A noble example of patriotic devotion. "The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents," etc. (2 Samuel 11:11). He "may be regarded from a moral standpoint as a type of the marvellous power and self-control for which those troops, then in their prime, must have been distinguished" (Ewald). In contrast with the indulgent habit (2 Samuel 11:1) of the king, he exhibited sympathy, self-denial, zeal, and determination: "I will not do this thing."

"The ark of God is in the field,

Like clouds around the alien armies sweep;

Each by his spear, beneath his shield,

In cold and dew the anointed warriors sleep.

"And can it be? thou liest awake,

Sworn watchman, tossing on thy couch of down;

And doth thy recreant heart not ache

To hear the sentries round the leaguered town?

"Oh, dream no more of quiet life;

Care finds the careless out; more wise to vow

Thine heart entire to faith's pure strife;

So peace will come, thou knowest not when or how."

('Lyra Apostolica.')

4. A pitiable instance of a common failing. (2 Samuel 11:13.) He was susceptible to the power of temptation, even as others. Though proof against indulgence in one form, he was overcome by it in another. But he did not entirely lose his self-control. And the guilt of the tempted is far surpassed by that of the tempter. Intoxication weakens the sense of duty, strengthens the force of the passions, is often used as an incitement to vice, and is a fruitful source of incalculable moral, and physical evil in the individual, the family, and society (1 Samuel 25:37, 1 Samuel 25:38; 2 Samuel 13:38).

5. The unsuspecting bearer of his own death warrant. "And David wrote a letter to Joab," etc.—the first letter mentioned in the Bible—telling him "that he had offended him," etc. (Josephus). And without suspecting its contents, he delivered the treacherous missive.

6. The hapless victim of his unswerving fidelity. "He assigned Uriah a place where he knew that valiant men were" (2 Samuel 11:16). "Honour is pretended to poor Uriah; death is meant. He was not the first or last that perished by his friends" (Hall). "He fell unconscious of his wife's dishonour" (Stanley). "Thus fell this brave man, a sacrifice to his own heroic virtue and his prince's guilt. He fell, but not alone; some of his brave companions in arms stood by him to the last, nor deserted him in death" (Delany). The report of his fate was received by the king with the cold and commonplace reflection, "The sword devoureth one as well as another" (2 Samuel 11:25). "That the sin of David was fulfilling some righteous judgment of God against Uriah and his house, I doubt not—for God often makes his enemies his instruments and, without sanctifying the means, strikes out of them good. Still, a sin it was, great and grievous and offensive to that God to whom the blood of Uriah cried from the ground" (Blunt).—D.

2 Samuel 11:16-21


Complicity in sin.

Here are three men: David, a great but sinful king, bent on the destruction of a faithful servant; Uriah, a brave but injured soldier, sent unconsciously to his doom; and Joab, an able but unscrupulous general (2 Samuel 3:22-30), become a willing agent and ready accomplice in his execution "with the sword of the children of Ammon" (2 Samuel 12:9).

1. There is seldom wanting a suitable accomplice in effecting a sinful purpose, however iniquitous it may be. The character of Joab was well known to David. "It was his very wickedness that commended him to the king as the most fitting instrument for carrying out his infamous design." He had formerly deprecated his wickedness (2 Samuel 3:29, 2 Samuel 3:39); but now that he had himself fallen into sin, he associated himself with it, and made use of it for his own ends, although, as he afterwards found, to his own cost. "How Joab must have rejoiced when David sank down to his own level!"

2. In serving another, such an accomplice is chiefly concerned about serving himself. He seeks supremely his own advantage. Joab acted not from loyalty, but self-love. "To make himself great, powerful, indispensable, was the object of his life" (Plumptre). "Possibly he had some information that Bathsheba had been with David" ('Speaker's Commentary'). Anyhow, perceiving the design of the king against Uriah, he served him, in order that he might gain complete power over him; and in this he succeeded. "When David made him a partner and secret agent of his guilty purpose touching Uriah, he sold himself into his hands, and in that fatal letter he sealed away his liberty and surrendered himself up to this his unscrupulous accomplice" (Blunt). "All fellowship in sin begets despotism." Henceforth Joab did with the king very much as he pleased.

3. No authority of man can justify the violation of the Law of God. How often have men imagined that the command or sanction of one in authority has been a sufficient warrant for doing what their own consciences condemned, and laid the blame of their conduct on the instigator thereof rather than on themselves! Joab probably needed little self excuse; but it ever he should want a defence, he might plead the king's letter. He was reckless of human life; to effect his purpose made a greater sacrifice of it than the king intended (2 Samuel 11:17), and became more hardened than ever in wickedness. "We ought to obey God rather than men."

4. There may be exemption from punishment when there is no exoneration from blame. "How must this example needs harden Joab against the conscience of Abner's blood! while he cannot but think, 'David cannot avenge that in me which he acteth himself'" (Hall). Nevertheless, his guilt, in the sight of God, remains; and judgment comes at last (Ecclesiastes 12:14).—D.

2 Samuel 11:21


Warnings from history.

"Who smote Abimelech," etc.? "History is philosophy teaching by example." It is full of doctrines, principles, examples, warnings (1 Samuel 12:8-12). This event, which had taken place two hundred and thirty years before, was familiar to Joab and others; and, viewed as a warning, likely to be recalled by the king to point his reproof ( 9:53). Of such warnings observe that they—

I. ARE OF IMMENSE SERVICE; in making general lessons concerning danger and duty:

1. More distinct.

2. More impressive.

3. More beneficial.

They are beacon lights, danger signals, startling voices; and leach that in the way of inconsideration, rashness, and presumption, there is imminent peril; that destruction may come unexpectedly, suddenly, and by a feeble hand—"a woman slew him;" and that; (although neither Joab nor David laid it to heart) every violation of God's Law is surely followed by retribution ( 9:56, 9:57). They are "written for our admonition" (1 Corinthians 10:11).


1. Intelligently studied.

2. Constantly remembered.

3. Practically observed.

They are "written for our learning" (Romans 15:4). "The world exists for the education of each man. There is no age or state of society or mode of action in history to which there is not something corresponding in his life. Everything tends in a most wonderful manner to abbreviate itself and yield its whole nature to him" (Emerson).


1. For some immediate personal advantage.

2. From the persuasion of immunity, though others perish (2 Samuel 11:17).

3. With a plausible excuse, when remonstrated with.

"Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also." "Joab quoted God's Word, but was not careful to keep it" (Wordsworth).


1. By the occurrence of similar events (1 Kings 2:34). "The history of the past is a prophecy of the future."

2. In the bitter experience of the obdurate.

3. With ever-increasing clearness and force to successive generations. "Remember the days of old," etc. (Deuteronomy 32:7).—D.

2 Samuel 11:22-27


Concealment of sin.

Order of events:

1. Report of Uriah's death (2 Samuel 11:22-25).

2. Bathsheba mourns (seven days, 1 Samuel 31:13) for her husband (2 Samuel 11:26), being probably unacquainted with the manner in which it was brought about.

3. David makes her his wife.

4. Joab takes Rabbah, except the citadel (2 Samuel 12:26).

5. David, on receiving Joab's message, goes to Rabbah and conquers the city (2 Samuel 12:27-31).

6. David and all the people return to Jerusalem.

7. Bathsheba bears a son (2 Samuel 11:27).

"When I kept silence my bones waxed old

Whilst I continually groaned;

For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me:

My moisture was turned into the drought of summer."

(Psalms 32:3, Psalms 32:4.)

The life of David has an outward and an inward aspect: the one described in the history, the other by himself in his psalms; each the necessary complement of the other. They are, in general, closely connected and correspond, the outward being the expression of the inward, and explained by it. But sometimes they appear at variance, and in some respects present a melancholy contrast; as in the period that followed his transgression. He had succeeded in hiding it from public view; but he could not hide it altogether from himself. Consider concealment of sin in relation to—

I. THE OUTWARD LIFE. Many a man carries in his breast a guilty secret, unsuspected by others. He may be the object of their admiration and envy, and distinguished (as David was) by:

1. Apparent sincerity in public and in private life. He judges offenders in the gate, or receives news (from the battlefield) with words of resignation or encouragement (2 Samuel 11:25). "Alas! how often do men hide baseness and satisfaction at successful plotting under the commonplace of resignation to the inevitable, of submission to the conditions of existence!" He goes to the house of God (2 Samuel 7:8), "returns to bless his household" (2 Samuel 6:20), and maintains the form of private devotion. Yet he is inwardly "like the troubled sea when it cannot rest," etc. (Isaiah 57:20).

2. Restless activity (2 Samuel 12:29), which, though it appear to be a display of admirable energy, is really pursued as a welcome diversion from disquieting thoughts. "The enterprise promised an opportunity of escaping from himself; and he probably went thither in the maddest of all attempts, that, namely, of outrunning a guilty conscience" (W.M. Taylor).

3. Earthly prosperity. "And he took the king's crown," etc. (2 Samuel 12:30). In this there was, probably, something of vain glory (1 John 2:16). It was the culmination of his victories over the heathen. But the honour of wearing the crown of "their king" (or Milcom, Moloch) was a poor compensation for the dishonour he had done to his own, and the loss of uprightness of heart; his triumph over idolatry a miserable set off against his overthrow by Satan.

4. Unusual severity. (2 Samuel 12:31.) The effect of sin is to harden the heart.

"I waive the quantum o' the sin,

The hazard of concealing;

But och! it hardens a' within,

And petrifies the feeling!"


It also perverts the judgment. He who is wanting in a due sense of his own sinfulness is apt to be a severe judge of others (2 Samuel 12:5; Matthew 18:28; Matthew 21:41; Romans 2:21). A conscience ill at ease makes the temper sullen and irritable; and a repressed feeling of justice in relation to a man himself sometimes finds relief in the infliction of cruel vengeance on other men. "An evil conscience is the concealed root of bitterness from which spring a thousand poisonous plants, to shed their baleful influence upon the possessor and upon society at large" (McCosh).

II. THE INWARD LIFE. The experience of David was marked by:

1. Obstinate silence. (Psalms 32:3.) He not only sought to conceal his transgression from men, but also sullenly refused to admit "the iniquity of his sin" to himself, or acknowledge it before God. The impulse to confession in such a man must have been strong; but he struggled against it with all his might (Psalms 32:9), as others have done.

2. Self-deceiving guile. "The deceit of the impenitent heart consists in its seeking to excuse and justify itself despite the condemnation of conscience, while it obtains no relief from the feeling of guilt, but rather brings about a sharper reaction of conscience, and increases the pains that come from the conflict of mutually accusing and excusing thoughts" (Erdmann). "The roots of this deceit, which makes its appearance immediately after a fall into sin, are pride, lack of trust in God, and love of sin" (Hengstenberg).

3. Spiritual deprivation. For during these long, weary months of silence the light of God's countenance was hidden, the joy of his salvation lost (Psalms 51:8, Psalms 51:12). "His harp was out of tune, and his soul like a tree in winter, with the life in the root only" (Matthew Henry). "We are not to conceive of him as one who had quite fallen, nor as one spiritually dead, but as sick unto death. It is certain that he had not quite lost all desire after God, that he had not entirely given up prayer; doubtless there were still many fruits of faith perceptible in him; but his soul was checked in its flight toward God, a curse rested upon him, which made solitary communion with the Divine Being for any length of time intolerable, and moved him to seek distractions in order to escape the torment of conscience and keep it from attaining to full life."

4. Inexpressible misery; consisting of "the burden of the heart weighing on itself, the burden of a secret, the sense of hypocrisy, the knowledge of inward depravity, while all without looks pure as snow to men" (F.W. Robertson); the remembrance of sin that cannot be forgotten (Psalms 51:3), the remorse of conscience that cannot be quieted, the sense of Divine displeasure, the dread of approaching woes (Psalms 51:11); continuing without cessation; consuming the vital energies, and exhausting the physical strength (Psalms 38:6). "Whithersoever the sinner may turn himself, or however he may be mentally affected, his malady is in no degree lightened nor his welfare in any degree promoted until he is restored to God" (Calvin, in Psalms 32:1-11.). "I will reprove thee" etc. (Psalms 50:21). Although for a season concealed, it will be in due time revealed (Matthew 10:26). "Not only was the fruit of the sin to be first of all brought to light (2 Samuel 11:27), and the hardened sinner to be deprived of the possibility of either denying or concealing his crimes; God would first of all break his unbroken heart by the torture of his own conscience, and prepare it to feel the reproaches of the prophet …. Nathan's reproof could not possibly have berne its saving fruit if David had been still living in utter blindness as to the character of his sin at the time the prophet went to him" (Keil). "No language ever described so vividly the sense of a weight at the heart—a weight that cannot be uplifted; and it was the weight of God's own presence, of that presence which he had once spoken of as the fulness of joy. With this oppression, like that of the air before the thunderstorm, came the drying up of all the moisture and freshness of life, the parching heat of fever. Did the Prophet Nathan bring all this to his consciousness? No, surely. The Prophet Nathan came at the appointed time to tell him in clear words, by a living instance, that which he had been hearing in muttered accents within his heart for months before. He came to tell him that the God of righteousness and mercy, who cared for Uriah, the poor man with the single ewe lamb, was calling him, the king, to account for an act of unrighteousness and unmercifulness. Nathan brought him to face steadily the light at which he had been winking, and to own that the light was good, that it was the darkness which was horrible and hateful, so that he might turn to the light and crave that it should once more penetrate into the depths of his being, and take possession of him" (Maurice).—D.

2 Samuel 11:27


God's displeasure at sin.

"And the thing that David had done displeased Jehovah" (1 Chronicles 21:7). This is the only remark which the sacred historian makes on the conduct of David. It reveals its true nature as with a sunbeam; "contains the moral decision from a theocratic point of view, and is, as it were, a superscription of the following history of the Divine judgments on David and his house on account of this sin" (Erdmann). The Divine displeasure (indignation, anger, wrath) is—

I. REAL. Jehovah is the living, personal, supreme Ruler of men, and to him each man is responsible for his actions. As he is capable of being pleased, so he is of being displeased. His wrath is no less real than his love, wisdom, or power; like, yet unlike, that of man, being above all human imperfection. The Scriptures declare that he is displeased with men when they do evil. "The wrath of God is revealed," etc. (Romans 2:18). This is confirmed by conscience, in which his displeasure is reflected as a clouded sky in the surface of a lake.

II. DESERVED. Sin is rebellion against his authority, disobedience to his Law, opposition to his holiness, ingratitude toward his goodness; a transgression of the covenant, "a coming short of the mark," iniquity (Psalms 32:1). Every wrong done to man is a dishonouring of God (Psalms 51:4). In the sin of David there were elements of peculiar and aggravated guilt (2 Samuel 12:7-9). But in every case it is "exceeding sinful," "the abominable thing which he hates" (Jeremiah 44:4). It is the one real evil in man.

"Sin alone is that

Which doth disfranchise him, and make unlike

To the chief good; for that its light in him

Is darken'd?


III. IMPARTIAL. The Holy One of Israel is unaffected by any of those influences that make human displeasure at wrong doing partial and defective. He is neither blind nor indifferent to the sins of his children (2 Samuel 7:14). They have not, any more than others, a licence to sin. David, "his chosen," is not above the Law, nor exempt from due punishment. "For there is no respect of persons with God" (Romans 2:11). "Without respect of persons, the Father judgeth according to every man's work," etc. (1 Peter 1:17; Amos 3:2); estimating it according to its exact moral "weight" (1 Samuel 2:3).

IV. UNAVOIDABLE. However men may conceal it from others, or endeavour to hide it from themselves, they cannot hide it from God (Job 22:13). What pleases men may displease him (1 Thessalonians 2:4). His knowledge is infinite; his righteousness and justice essential, unchangeable, and eternal. Wherever and whenever sin exists, the holy energy of his wrath must burn against it; "for our God is a consuming fire," an "almighty foe to ill." Although delayed, it is not extinct. "A year had passed since his fall. The child of his sin had been born. And all this time God was silent. Yet like a dark cloud on a summer's day hung this sentence over him, 'But the thing that David did," etc. Soon it would burst in a storm of judgment."

V. EFFICIENT AND DREADFUL. As "in the king's favour there is life," so in his displeasure there is death. It is manifested in the punishment of the sinner, both inwardly and outwardly; as in the case of David (2 Samuel 12:10, 2 Samuel 12:11). Every future moment must answer for the present. The penalties of transgression in this life are numerous and terrible. And who shall tell what will follow hereafter, when the wind becomes a whirlwind?

VI. MINGLED WITH MERCY. God is displeased with sin rather than with the sinner (except in so far as he voluntarily identifies himself with it); whom, in his essential nature, he loves; who possesses the capacity of restoration; whose salvation he seeks; and to whom, on his repentance, punishment becomes chastisement, a means of purification and blessing (2 Samuel 7:15). "There is no more terrible, there is no more instructive, portion of the Word of God than this whole record. The long death sleep of that once living soul; its awakening under the prophet's voice; its deep repentance; its free forgiveness; its long, heavy, repeated, almost incessant chastisement;—speak to every ear which is not altogether deaf lessons of the holiness and truth, of the severity and love, of the justice and mercy, of the Lord our God, which is borne perhaps with equal force in no other record of his ways with man" ('Heroes of Hebrew History'). "O God, thou hadst never suffered so dear a favourite of thine to fall so fearfully, if thou hadst not meant to make him a universal example to mankind, of not presuming, of not despairing. How can we presume of not sinning, or despair for sinning, when we find so great a saint thus fallen, thus risen?" (Hall).—D.


2 Samuel 11:27

David's fall.

"But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." One guarantee, even to the most unlettered, of the truthfulness of sacred history is the impartiality of its accounts of its greatest heroes, whose sins and follies are faithfully recorded as well as their virtues. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter, are cases in point. David is another instance, whose fearful sins are recorded in this most distressing chapter, ending with the significant words of our text, "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord."

I. THE WICKEDNESS WHICH DISPLEASED GOD. Many things done by good men of old times which appear to us very culpable, were in them innocent or excusable, on account of the different standard by which their conduct was regulated, and the different public opinion of their days. But the sins of David recorded in this chapter were not of such a description. The law of nature everywhere and in all times, as well as the laws of the revelation known to David, are clear and emphatic in condemning them.

1. The sins themselves.

2. Their aggravations.

3. How they were possible.


1. The message by Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-12); who boldly reproved David in the name of the Lord, and announced the punishments which would fall upon him.

2. The death of the chill.

3. Family scandals, sins, and sorrows.

4. Absalom's rebellion, and all the humiliations and troubles it involved.

5. Joab's increased ascendency. "There was a guilty secret between the two" (Trench). The worst part of his punishment sprang from sins like his own, and was probably occasioned by them, at least in part.


1. Do nothing, however pleasant, or gainful, or common among men, or seemingly safe, to the account of which may be appended the terrible words, "The thing … displeased the Lord."

2. Let none presume on their security against even disgraceful sin. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12); "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." (Matthew 26:41)

3. Guard against the beginnings of evil. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). David had already committed adultery when he gazed lustfully on Bathsheba (comp. Matthew 5:28). Pray, as David did afterwards, "Create in me a clean heart" (Psalms 51:10). The beginning of sin is, like that of strife, "as when one letteth out water" (Proverbs 17:14). The trickling of water through a small crevice in an embankment may seem inconsiderable; but, unless stopped, it may issue in widespread devastation and misery. One sin leads to another and another, and all to pain and sorrow. Gehazi's covetousness led him to falsehood and robbery, and then to lifelong leprosy, transmitted to his children's children (2 Kings 5:20-27). Peter's self-confidence prepared the way for cowardice, falsehood, and profanity, followed by bitter anguish. The pilferings of Judas from "the bag" issued in the betrayal of his Lord; and then remorse and suicide.

4. How vain are all attempts to conceal sin and prevent punishment! God is looking on all the time the sinner is cunningly endeavouring to hide his sin (see Job 34:21, Job 34:22). "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).—G.W.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
Jeremiah 5:8; Hosea 7:6,7; James 1:14,15
or, Bath-shua. Eliam. or, Ammiel.
1 Chronicles 3:5
23:39; 1 Chronicles 11:41
Reciprocal: Genesis 10:15 - Heth;  Leviticus 18:20 - General2 Samuel 12:3 - one little;  2 Samuel 12:4 - took the;  2 Samuel 23:34 - Eliam;  Psalm 101:3 - set;  Proverbs 6:29 - he that;  Proverbs 7:8 - GeneralMatthew 1:6 - her

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

He inquired — Instead of suppressing that desire which the sight of his eyes had kindled, he seeks rather to feed it; and first enquires who she was; that if she were unmarried, he might make her either his wife or his concubine.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

DAVID’S ADULTERY, 2 Samuel 11:2-5.

The foul crime here recorded was the turning point in David’s life and reign. He had now reached the acme of his power and glory; the borders of his kingdom had become greatly enlarged, and most of the surrounding nations were tributary to his throne. The Ammonites yet hold out, but we shall soon see them utterly subdued. The coming wars and troubles of David are to be among his own people and in his own house, and these a punishment of sin. When we contemplate the splendid character of David, and the glory of his many triumphs; when we survey at a glance his exaltation from a humble shepherd-boy to the widely-honoured king of Jehovah’s people, and think of his many unrivalled excellences of mind and heart, we are ready to wish that his life had closed before these crimes of adultery and blood-guiltiness had polluted his mighty soul and darkened his life-history with an ineffaceable stain. It was probably this feeling that led the writer of Chronicles to pass over this whole section of David’s history, as if he would fain leave it in eternal silence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3.A woman washing herself — For the sake of healthfulness and refreshment after the heats of a summer day. But her washing in such an exposed place was imprudent and immodest, and has justly subjected her to the charge of a desire to be seen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.