Summary: ///////it is a sad day when a Gentile shows a better character than a child of God.
Bathsheba Takes a Bath
The episode of David and Bathsheba has been preached or taught in Sunday School on many occasions. It is seen as a terrible fault in David who was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Indeed what David did was as horrible as the action of many of the Gentile kings around Israel. His prayer of repentance which is recorded in Psalm 51 is also the model of a prayer asking forgiveness. But there is more to the story than just David’s moral failings with Bathsheba. Let us take a look into this passage and find out.
The passage begins with the occasion of a war with the Ammonites. A year earlier, the Syrians, who were allies to the children of Ammon had been defeated which opened the way for Israel to attack Israel. It says this happened at the time of year that kings go to battle. The Ammonites had been defeated in the field and were besieged in their capital of Rabbah. There is more than incidental detail here as it also says that David stayed behind. This was unusual as the king as the anointed one of Yahweh was expected to lead his army. He stood in place of God as His representative. Either David considered the matter of attacking Ammon as a small matter and did not feel the need to go with his army. Militarily, this may have been true, but decisions like this can have enormous consequences. Joshua and the elders did not consider Ai as anything to sweat over, yet they were defeated because Achan had sinned in the camp. Here, this becomes the cause of a grievous sin and injustice which would lead to adultery and murder.
Uriah, one of David’s mighty men lived near David’s palace and had gone off to war wih the troops. Bathsheba, his wife was left behind. She was the daughter of Eliam, so it appears that she was of Jewish origin. But Uriah was a Hittite. The Hittites were to have been destroyed along with the tribes of Canaan land when Joshua and the Israelites came over to inhabit the land that Yahweh had promised them. But for some reason, Uriah’s family had been spared. Not only this, he was serving in the army of Israel.
Bathsheba was spotted bathing herself by David. David, who already had many wives, was aroused by her and had her summoned. David committed adultery with her. But as things happened, Bathsheba had become pregnant with David’s child. Uriah was out fighting for David, so this threatened to uncover the affair. David had to think fast. If news of this affair became public knowledge, it would serve as a major embarrassment. It might even jeopardize his rule. But David had an easy solution. He would call back Uriah from the front, wine and dine him, and then send him home to sleep with his wife.
But here a problem develops. Uriah refuses to avail himself of the opportunity. He says he cannot pleasure himself with his wife as long as the Ark of the Covenant and his comrades were out at war in Rabbah. At first this appears that this was just an expression of solidarity with his comrades and that he was acting honorably. But the fact the Ark is mentioned says more. The presence of the Ark says that this was an example of “Holy War.” When fighting such a war, the Torah says that the men were to consecrate themselves entirely to Yahweh and the battle at hand. The men were not to sleep with their wives. So this Hittite, who wasn’t a native Israelite was far more scrupulous in adhering to the Law of Moses than was King David. Uriah obeyed the king’s summons to come, and was in every wat obedient. But Uriah held higher obedience to Yahweh, who was the true king of Israel.
What happens next is even worse. David schemes to have Uriah killed by the Ammonites in battle and has Uriah bring the sealed orders for Uriah’s own demise to Joab. The feat was done, and Uriah was killed in battle. David thought the secret of His adultery was safe.
Of course it was not safe. Yahweh was not about to let David get away with this. There was sin in the camp, and it was at the highest level of government. Yahweh had to intervene for His name’s sake. Israel’s sake, and even David’s own sake. Yahweh, who is holy, does not want His good name blemished by the behavior of one of His subjects. Yahweh was not going to cover for David, and sends Nathan to expose Him. David was found out and repented. But he had to be trapped by Nathan first. David deserved to die, but the LORD spared him. But the very trouble and embarrassment that David hoped to avoid came to him with interest. And the threat to his reign came also, by his own son Absalom. David wanted to act like all the kings around him when he seized and lay with Bathsheba. He acted like the other kings in murdering people for his own well-being. Therefore, Yahweh let David suffer the palace intrigues the Pagan kings suffered from.