Before diving into the main theme today, chapter 10 recounts the foolish behavior of Hanun, the son of the king of the Ammonites. David sent an envoy to show kindness, but Hanun was advised by his commanders, “David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out” (2 Samuel 10:3). They decided to humiliate the men and send a signal to David,
So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:4
From the narrative, David did not overreact to this ridiculous behavior. He sent messengers to his envoys and had them go to Jericho until their beards grew back. I suppose he replaced their robs and gave them grace. Hanun, however, knew he was an idiot and continued his foolish ways by hiring an army to attack Israel. David dispatched Joab to handle the aggression. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go well with Hanun and the Arameans no longer took contracts with the Ammonites!
Chapters 11 & 12 contain the narrative that describes David’s great sin. His lust for Bathsheba dominates his thinking and demonstrates what can happen when leaders’ actions go unchecked, the shameful abuse of royal powers. This should be required reading for any in leadership positions.
Similar to the account in chapter 10, David sends Joab out to deal with the Ammonites. I’ve heard sermons suggest David was getting lazy in his old age, but reading this today, it seems like the normal course of events: send Joab, if he needs help (doubtful), David will join the battle. In any case, David and his wandering eyes survey the city beneath him and sees Bathsheba bathing herself on a rooftop. She’s bathing because her menstrual cycle is over and she is now able to rejoin society (from unclean to clean). Clearly, she is not pregnant.
David sends for her. No pretense here. It’s not like he’s looking for a partner to play cards with. It didn’t take long to discover she was pregnant. David’s first plan is to get Bathsheba’s husband home from the battle so he would sleep with her and conceal David’s affair. Uriah, however, is an honorable soldier,
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! 2 Samuel 11:11
How can Uriah lead his men in battle if he gets a break from war while they’re out fighting? He knows his men will hear about this, so he chastens himself and sleeps at the palace entrance.
The second plan was to get Uriah drunk, so he stayed another day, but still refused to go home. Now considering David was watching Bathsheba from the palace, it’s not far to his house. Bathsheba, on the other hand, probably knew Uriah was there, but dared not go to him. This was probably a cultural breech of protocol (my guess), but certainly didn’t want him to detect she was pregnant. Anyway, as close as home was, Uriah refused.
The third plan was outright cruel. In a letter to Joab he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from his so he will be struck down and die.” 2 Samuel 11:15 Joab doesn’t blink and it’s no surprise that Uriah was killed that day. Joab sends a messenger with a warning that the king might overreact, so he reminds the messenger about Samson’s son being killed under similar battle conditions, blah, blah, blah. Joab is not fool. He knows that David had a plan to murder Uriah and he is playing along. David continues the drama by responding with words to “encourage Joab.” Seriously!
Bathsheba is told about Uriah’s death. After a period of obligatory morning, she becomes one of David’s wives.
Nathan Rebukes David
“The Lord sent Nathan to David.” (2 Samuel 12:1) David has no clue what’s about to unfold. Nathan tells a story that pits a rich man against a poor man. The rich man acts outrageously in the story and David’s anger is aroused, “As surely as the Lord live, the man who did this must die!” (2 Samuel 12:5)
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…” 2 Samuel 12:7-8
The words then get specific, revealing the secret actions of David. David immediately confesses, “I have sinned against the Lord.” You don’t say.
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.” 2 Samuel 12:13-14
The sin is forgiven. Sadly, the child dies, but David’s confession is heartfelt, he is sincere.
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. 2 Samuel 12:24
Solomon is the son of David and Bathsheba. That is remarkable, a detail that should not be overlooked. The relationship began with sin: David’s lust for Bathsheba and no signs of her complaining that the king wanted her. Both sinned, though clearly David’s was far greater. God still forgives as we know Solomon will rise to great power.