Relationships –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.”
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.
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.’”
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 11:1-27

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.

  • 2 Samuel 12:1-25

Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: “Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and add my word to what you have said.”
So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him. Bathsheba bowed down, prostrating herself before the king.
“What is it you want?” the king asked.
She said to him, “My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the Lord your God: ‘Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.’ But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it. He has sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. My lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to learn from you who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise, as soon as my lord the king is laid to rest with his ancestors, I and my son Solomon will be treated as criminals.”
While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. And the king was told, “Nathan the prophet is here.” So he went before the king and bowed with his face to the ground.
Nathan said, “Have you, my lord the king, declared that Adonijah shall be king after you, and that he will sit on your throne? Today he has gone down and sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep. He has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. Right now they are eating and drinking with him and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But me your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he did not invite. Is this something my lord the king has done without letting his servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
Then King David said, “Call in Bathsheba.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him.
The king then took an oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”
Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.”
Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!”

  • 1 Kings 1:11-37

David reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years, and these were the children born to him there:
Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. These four were by Bathsheba daughter of Ammiel.

  • 1 Chronicles 3:4b-5

and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

  • Matthew 1:6

A Quote

[2 Samuel 11:27] When David had succeeded in stealing Uriah’s wife he no doubt felt he had scored a real conquest, but subsequent events showed instead that he had suffered a stunning defeat. He was never the same after his ‘conquest.’ What the armies of the alien could never do on the field, David himself accomplished by one act of wrongdoing; that is, he brought about his own defeat. When he met Goliath he turned what looked like defeat into victory. When he met Bathsheba he turned a long record of victories into shameful defeat.
“One thing about all this is that we cannot always be sure at the time just who is winning unless we keep our hearts very pure and our minds cool and God-possessed. When the soldiers of Pilate flung Christ to the ground and began to drive nails, everything looked as if our Lord had ended a failure. Surely this ignominious death would not come to a man of God. There must be some mistake. The man Jesus had been an idealist, a visionary. but now His hopes and the hopes of His followers were collapsing under the brutal attacks of tough, practical men. So reasoned the onlookers. But our Lord could die with the same calm in which He had lived. He had known all along how things would turn out. He had looked beyond the cross to the triumphant resurrection. He knew His apparent defeat would eventuate in universal glory for the human race.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

We know that Bathsheba was very attractive and David, who was a man after God’s own heart, faltered when he saw her.

Bathsheba let David know that she was pregnant.  David knew that her husband, Uriah, one of David’s great warriors, would know that he was not the father when he got back home.  He could have Bathsheba stoned to death for adultery.  David thought that if Uriah came home and slept with his wife, no one would know that the child was really David’s, but Uriah was an honorable soldier.

David then devised a means of killing Uriah without it looking like murder.  Then he marries Bathsheba.  When the infant is born, it gets sick and dies.  David again sleeps with Bathsheba and she produces another son, Solomon.  She actually produces four sons: Shummua, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon.  Both Nathan and Solomon are in the genealogies of Jesus, Solomon in the Matthew genealogy and Nathan in the Luke genealogy.

But we also know about Bathsheba is that she was, or at least became, very politically savvy.  Adonijah, before David had died, set himself up as king.  And Bathsheba had been given reassurance that Solomon would be king.  While Adonijah allies with Joab and Abiathar the priest.  The four, other than David, that were not invited were Solomon, Zadok the priest, Benaiah the warrior, and Nathan the prophet.  Those four, along with Bathsheba went to king David and David had Solomon anointed as king.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We can quickly infer that Bathsheba did not sit in the palace doing nothing between the time that her four sons were born and when David was getting old.  Bathsheba had David’s ear.  At least, with Solomon as David’s choice, we can infer that Bathsheba had been running interference for some time, especially after the Absalom problems.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

We might fill in a few gaps that Bathsheba used her influence to broaden the political alliances.  Benaiah, regardless of how great a warrior and how virtuous, would not have been a match for Joab and the entire army.  Was it Benaiah that reminded the army that Joab would not be in charge if he had not murdered Amasa?  Did Bathsheba make those alliances?  Was the army secretly fed up with Joab?  Or was it divine intervention and God made sure it would happen as it did?

And whether this is gap filling, inference, or just a lesson learned, the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew mentions several women by name: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and finally Mary.  There is one more woman mentioned, Solomon’s mother who had been Uriah’s wife.  I recently watched a panel discussion on one of my favorite television shows, Hard Questions.  The episode was all about sexual immorality, the sanctity of marriage, etc.  One of the pastors said that not mentioning Bathsheba by name may have stemmed from the fact that David’s relationship with Bathsheba began with adultery, and after they were wed, Bathsheba had not gotten a divorce from her husband due to an acceptable reason.  Actually, Uriah could have gotten a divorce from Bathsheba, but Bathsheba remarrying would not negate the adulterous wife.  I have no idea if this was the reason for the mention of her in this manner or not.  It shows that God can and often does show Mercy, but there will be forever this reminder found in Holy Scripture.  God can separate us from our sin, but human beings have a hard time forgiving and forgetting.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

We read in the Bible where David is the man after God’s own heart, but we must remember that David is not divine.  He is a man.  He sinned by lusting.  He sinned by adultery.  He sinned by murder, in a way.

As for the murder, part of Jerry Clower’s famous coon (raccoon) hunting story is that this man would knock a coon out of the tree.  It was not a death sentence.  If the coon had a mind to do so, he could whip all fifty of them dogs and walk away… if he had a mind to do so.

The reason why Clower’s joke is funny is that no raccoon is going to survive such a battle.  Neither could Uriah.  The deck was sufficiently stacked against him.

But, even in this lustful, adulterous, murderous beginning for the relationship, God showed mercy.  He ensured the infant born of the affair was taken away to heaven, but Bathsheba had four sons and one of them became king and another of them was in the family line from David to Jesus.  That is a lot of Mercy.

For David and Bathsheba, it worked out eventually, but lust, adultery, and murder rarely work out for the common man.  God can forgive, but the world does not forgive that easily when it comes to murder.  It helps if you are the king and the physical blood is not on your hands, but I think most countries on earth would frown on even the king doing that today.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.

A Closing Prayer

We look to You for guidance.  We know that adultery is wrong.  It harms both partners, actually all three partners.  If a child results, then there are four harmed.  Even with lust, the relationship between the lustful person and You is harmed.  We are saying, in essence, is that what You have provided is insufficient.  God, when we sin against You, it all seems to boil down to the bookend Commandments.  It all comes down to putting ourselves and our desires before You.  And we are coveting something that we do not possess.  Please, Lord, for the sake of our relationship with You and our relationships with others here on earth, be our guide and help us to see the harm in such thoughts, far before those thoughts become actions.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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