2 Samuel 11


In this chapter, we read about one of the infamous events in the life of David, where he commits adultery with Bathsheba and orders the murder of her husband Uriah.

From this chapter, right through to chapter 20, we begin to read about David’s dreadful reign as king of Israel and his punishment from God for his actions.

We read about David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah followed by God’s judgment against David in 2 Samuel 11-12. We read about the rape of Tamar by Amnon and his murder by Absalom in 2 Samuel 13. We read about the rebellion of Absalom in 2 Samuel 14-19 and finally, we read about the rebellion of Sheba in 2 Samuel 20.

David And Bathsheba

‘In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, ‘I am pregnant.’ 2 Samuel 11:1-5

In the previous chapter we read how Israel defeated the Syrians and put them under subjection, 2 Samuel 10:15-19, David now turns his attention to Ammon and will bring them under subjection.

Notice that it’s springtime, which means it is time for war, a time when the king should leave his home and lead his men into war. As king David should have been leading his army in this war against the Ammonites.

However, on this occasion, David decides to stay at home in Jerusalem but we’re not told why. For whatever reason he stayed at home, his decision is ultimately going to lead him into temptation with Bathsheba. Bathsheba was also called Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel, 1 Chronicles 3:5. The name Ammiel is a variation of the name Eliam, which means ‘the God of my people’ or ‘the people of my God’.

Bathsheba’s father Ammiel is also said to be the son of Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 23:34, which would mean that Bathsheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel.

Uriah’s name is a compound of ‘Yah’, possibly indicating that he was a worshipper of Jehovah. Both Ammiel and Uriah are seen as ‘mighty men’, 2 Samuel 23:34 / 2 Samuel 23:39.

From the roof of his palace, David notices a woman bathing and it appears that Bathsheba wasn’t too concerned about bathing in the open but because David was higher up on his roof, he could clearly see her and how beautiful she was, Matthew 5:27-32.

Despite finding out that Bathsheba was married, he went ahead and sent for her anyway, this then led to them sleeping together, Genesis 3:6 / James 1:14 / 1 John 2:16.

Uriah was a prominent soldier in David’s army and although he wasn’t an Israelite, but a Hittite, it’s possible that he was a proselyte to the God of Israel. David’s respect for Uriah, who daily risked his life in the service of the king, should have led him to deny the temptation of sleeping with Bathsheba, but it didn’t, he showed no respect for him or God, Exodus 20:14.

Bathsheba purified herself because she was going through her monthly period, it was during a women’s monthly period where they were more able to conceive. However this reference to her purification, if you notice is written in brackets, could be referring to when she was bathing earlier at home, Leviticus 15:19-30.

After being sent home, Bathsheba sends word back to David that she is pregnant.

‘So David sent this word to Joab: ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. David was told, ‘Uriah did not go home.’ So he asked Uriah, ‘Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!’ Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.’ 2 Samuel 11:6-13

After being informed that Bathsheba was pregnant, David finds himself doing what many people do, where one sin leads to another sin, in an attempt to cover up the first sin, which in David’s case was adultery. David requests that Uriah be brought to him but when he arrives, he sleeps at the entrance to the palace.

Remember David should have been out on the battlefield fighting the Ammonites with Uriah. It’s here we see the huge difference between Uriah’s respect for David as king and David’s respect for him as his soldier. Despite being a leader of David’s army, he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to be with his wife.

David tried and tried again to encourage Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife, but Uriah had too much respect for his fellow soldiers. The reason David is desperate for him to go home to Bathsheba is simple, if Uriah has sexual relations with his wife, she could pretend that she became pregnant by him.

Uriah valued his fellow soldiers and God far more than he valued having a sexual relationship with his wife during wartime, 1 Samuel 21:5.

When David asks Uriah why he didn’t go home, Uriah told him that the ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents. It became very common for the ark to be taken into wars, as a sign that God was with them, 2 Samuel 15:24. Uriah didn’t think it was right for him to live at home whilst his fellow soldiers were camped outside.

David isn’t giving up just yet with his plan to get Uriah to go home to his wife, he invites him to stay another night, feeds him and gets him drunk. This is now David’s fifth attempt in trying to get Uriah to get home, Habakkuk 2:15-16.

This attempt also failed because Uriah totally refuses to go. This shows us how low David has become, he’s gone to all these efforts because of that one act of adultery, James 1:14-15.

‘In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.’ So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. Joab sent David a full account of the battle. He instructed the messenger: ‘When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’ 2 Samuel 11:14-21

David is getting more and more desperate to cover up his sinful behaviour with Bathsheba and comes up with yet another plan. He’s given up on trying to get Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife and resorts to giving Joab orders to send Uriah to the front line and basically leave him there so that he will be killed.

Uriah is killed in the battle by an enemy, but as far as God is concerned David is the guilty one, David is responsible for killing him, 2 Samuel 12:9.

We must wonder what was going through Joab’s mind when he received the letter from David ordering him to leave Uriah on the battlefield alone. I’m sure that he knew what was going on with David and Bathsheba but his loyalty to protect David’s reputation led him to follow David’s orders to move courageous men close to the wall of the city, where Uriah and others were killed.

The extent of David’s sin with Bathsheba is seen in the fact that not only did Uriah die on the battlefield but many of his men died as a result of it.

‘The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. The messenger said to David, ‘The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’ David told the messenger, ‘Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.’ When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.’ 2 Samuel 11:22-27

When word got back to David that Uriah had been killed on the battlefield, he felt a sense of relief because he thought he had gotten away with his sin with Bathsheba, who was probably around one month pregnant at this time. In his mind, with Uriah out of the way, he’s free to marry Bathsheba.

While David felt a sense of relief, Bathsheba mourned the loss of her husband, the mourning time was usually around seven days. After the period of mourning, David takes her as his wife as Bathsheba doesn’t appear to waste any time or put up any kind of resistance to the marriage.

It’s possible she was acting in fear or maybe she was really ambitious, but more likely because she was pregnant by David. Bathsheba now gives birth to a son to David.

Notice, however, that God wasn’t very pleased with David because of what he had done. David’s lustful look at the beautiful Bathsheba from his palace roof led to adultery with a married woman, the murder of her husband and the ultimate death of many of his soldiers, James 1:14-15.

In the next chapter, we read about how God is going to confront David for his sinful actions using His prophet Nathan. This is certainly one of those dark times in David’s life as king of Israel, not only for him but for Israel as a whole.

Go To 2 Samuel 12


"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."