Summary: David models for the believer the pathway from condemnation to renewed confidence with God.
Don’t Blame Bathsheba
“In the spring, when the kings normally went out to war, David sent out Joab,
his servants, and all the Israelites. They destroyed the Ammonites and attacked
the city of Rabbah. But David stayed in Jerusalem.”
Armies have for centuries kept their top generals and leaders safe in the rear ranks or, where short distances were involved, even at home. The Ammonite capital of Rabbah was less than 40 miles from Jerusalem. David could easily control the battle through reports brought to him from his trusted general Joab. Messengers could be sent out from him to alter strategy if necessary, as we see in verses 6, 14.
Whatever David’s reasons for remaining in Jerusalem, it becomes clear that there was more than strategy involved. David was a warrior-king, the very reason he was not allowed to build the Temple for the Lord -- ordinarily, David would be leading the charge in war, fueled by a passion for God and disdain for His enemies.
David’s place was with his armies, but something was amiss. Perhaps he had become weary with battle; maybe he had grown a little “soft” surrounded by the wealth and comforts of the palace.
We don’t know for certain, but what we do know is that David was at a place of low spiritual vitality. His heart had lost its edge; he was drifting from God.
Illustration: People find it hard to understand that simply doing nothing is so dangerous to spiritual life and vitality -- but it’s really only a reflection of our normal, daily experience. Relationships fall apart because we don’t work at them. A beautiful garden is destroyed by neglect; a house crumbles around you if you don’t maintain it. Many people die prematurely, not through any accident, but simply by neglecting their health; ignoring the warning signs and not making the necessary adjustments.
As Solomon put it (Prov.24:33, 34), “You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. Soon you will be as poor as if you had been robbed; you will have as little as if you had been held up.”
David couldn’t sleep one evening (v.2) so he gets out of bed and takes a stroll on the terrace. There’s no indication that David was “on the prowl,” but how many know that when your guard is down, the Devil will set you up?
Bathsheba, bathing that evening in the privacy of her own yard, assuming she was alone, did not count on being watched. But when the king summons her to his room, it’s safe to assume that she felt obligated to obey. It was common for kings to take whomever they wished, married or not, yet it was a clear violation of God’s law.
This was not adultery on Bathsheba’s part but “royal rape.” David had blatantly abused his authority as king, shepherd of God’s flock, to indulge his own desires.
Days, if not weeks pass by. David may very well have forgotten about his tryst with Uriah’s wife, but then he receives news that she is pregnant. David knows that the child is his so, being a strategist, he concocts a foolproof plan: It’s still early in the pregnancy, so order Bathsheba’s husband home from the battle field; he’ll certainly sleep with her and discover later that he and his wife are expecting a child. Perfect.
As we know, however, David underestimates Uriah. Uriah was not a common soldier. He was one of David’s thirty valiant men -- probably why his house was so close to the palace. Uriah had served David since the early days when David was a fugitive, running from Saul. He was a Hittite by birth (they had settled in Hebron before Abraham’s arrival) but his parents probably converted to Judaism since the name, “Uriah,” means “My light is the Lord.”
Here’s where we begin to see the contrast between David and Uriah. Verse 9 tells us that Uriah didn’t even go to his house -- perhaps for fear that he might compromise his convictions. Instead, he sleeps in the servants’ court.
So here you have David -- who should have been in the fields with his troops -- and Uriah, who is so committed to David and to God that he will not even sleep one evening in the comfort of his own home with his wife. So David tells Uriah (v.12) to stick around for another day before returning to battle -- trying to buy more time.
The scheme? Get Uriah drunk and then tell him to go home to his wife. But Uriah’s convictions are stronger than the alcohol and again he stays with the servants.
Now, at this point, the treachery begins to unfold. David prepares to do the unthinkable. It’s still early in the game, David is thinking, Bathsheba’s maybe a month along in her pregnancy, so if he can get Uriah out of the picture, take the widow-Bathsheba as his wife, he could still quite feasibly hide his sin.