David’s Great Sin

II Samuel 11

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
November 2021

We are going to look at two important chapters in II Samuel that every Christian should know.  We are going to spend two weeks on these chapters.  We are going to look at these chapters in a completely different way.   We are going to look at David’s sin.

We are also going to see how David’s scandal compared to presidential scandals in our own day.  There are some myths that people have about David and they are some myths that people have about Bathsheba.

Today, we are going to look at the fall of a great man.  David was not just a good man.  He was a great man.   He is one of the greatest men of the Bible.  He was Israel’s greatest king.  He was greater than we will ever be.  He is mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11.

What we learn from II Samuel 11 is that even great men can fall.  King David was saved.  He was a believer fell into sin.  He did not fall into a little sin.  He fell into some big sins.

David did not want to face a physical battle, so he did not go off to war with everyone else. He stayed behind in the palace and faced another battle, a moral battle. This battle he lost. He could defeat the nine-foot-tall Philistine giant but there was a giant on the inside that he could not defeat.

David slew Goliath but this giant slew David. He was soundly defeated. This was the giant that David could not defeat. Our greatest enemies that we will ever face are not physical. They are not external. They are internal. They are invisible. They are spiritual.

This chapter is SHOCKING.  It describes David’s great sin.  It starts with a sexual SIN.  The sin becomes a CRIME.  The sin leads to violence.  It leads to bloodshed.  It leads to a homicide.  The crime turns into a COVER-UP. The cover-up is always worse than the crime. It still is today.  This led to a SCANDAL in Israel.

Everyone knows two famous stories about David.  Everyone knows the story about David and Goliath.  Everyone knows the story about David and Bathsheba.

The David and Goliath story took place when he was young.  He was so young that no one took him seriously.  David’s defeat of Goliath was the greatest victory in his life.  It was David at his best.

The David and Bathsheba story took place when he was much older.  David was a middle age man.  He was married.  He is not a kid anymore.  The story of adultery with Bathsheba is the story of David’s greatest defeat.  It is David at his worst.

In this chapter, we come to a different David than the David we talk about in church.  Here we see, not David the saint, but David the sinner.  We see David the adulterer.  We see David the murderer, the cold-blooded killer.  We see David the liar and David the deceiver. We see David the hypocrite.

In this chapter, David is NOT the hero.  He is the villain.  It is a different David than we are used to seeing.

We think of David the great giant killer. We think of David, great man of faith.  We think of David as a man after God’s own heart.  We think of David as “God’s anointed.”  He was an anointed king.

We think of the writer of Scripture.  David wrote the best devotional book of all-time.  He wrote the Book of Psalms.  He was the one who wrote “The Lord is My Shephard” in Psalm 23.  In II Samuel 11, we see a different side to David.  This David does not even look like the same man.

The David we learned about in church was a godly, spiritual man.  He wrote Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  This David wrote a letter to have a man killed in cold blood, like he is a member of the mafia.

He doesn’t kill him himself.  He gets hit men, professional killers, to do the job. This was calculated.  It was premeditated.  The same person did both.  It sounds like they are almost two completely different people

The David we learned about in church had compassion on people.  He had compassion on handicapped people and people with disabilities (Mephibosheth).  He forgave his enemies. When he finally got a chance to kill crazy the demon-possessed Saul who had been tormenting him for years, he refused to do it.

David refused to kill a bad man but, in this chapter, he kills a good man.  He kills Uriah, who was one of his best soldiers.  He returned good for evil when it came to king Saul, but he returned evil for good when it came to Uriah.

David’s Scandal & the Clinton Scandal

We have seen plenty of political scandals in our history.  Our last sex scandal in the White house involved Bill Clinton in 1998.  Sex scandals did not begin with Bill Clinton. King David had one three thousand years ago in the palace in Israel.

There are a lot of similarities between Bill Clinton’s scandal and King David’s scandal.

Both were about the same age at the time.  Both were middle-aged men.  David is about fifty.  Bill Clinton was in his fifties during his scandal.

Both were married at the time and had kids.

Both were musicians.  King David played the harp and Bill Clinton played the saxophone.

Both were political leaders (heads of state).  One was a king, and one was a President.

Both committed a secret sin.  God says what David did was in secret (II Samuel 12:12).

Both committed a sexual sin.

Both tried to cover up their sin.

Both continued in office after their sin

Even though there were many similarities, there were some important differences

One, Bill Clinton had sex with a single woman.  David had sex with a married woman.

Two, David’s scandal led to the birth of a child.

Three, David’s scandal led to a bunch of people dying, not just Uriah (cf. II Samuel 11:17). No one died over the Monica Lewinski affair.

What he did was much worse.  Even though David’s crime was worse, when he was confronted about it, he did not deny it.  He didn’t rationalize it.  He confessed his sin.

Myths about David

It is true that David had a problem with sexual lust.  Most men today have the same problem but there is no evidence that he had some kind of sexual addiction. He was not a womanizer.  He did not have continuous affairs with multiple women.  David was not a serial adulterer.  It was a one-time act.  It was a one-night stand.

David had one affair and it became the turning point in his life.  It ruined the rest of his life.  He is never the same after this incident. How many people have done something similar?  They do one stupid thing, and their life is ruined.  It is never the same. Some have lost their job, their reputation or ministry forever.

Summary of Events

The story begins with a war.  Israel is at war with the Ammonites.  Why are they fighting the Ammonites?  You have to go back and read II Samuel 10 to get the answer. Israel eventually defeats them and makes them slaves in II Samuel 12 after they completely humiliated the Jews in chapter 10.

In II Samuel 11, the troops go out to fight but David stays behind in the palace.  Instead of being on the battlefield, he is in the bedroom.  He is in his bed.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace (II Samuel 11:2 NIV).

Preachers criticize David here.  What was he doing in bed all day?  He wasted the whole day in bed, as they have never taken a nap before.  People take naps today and they took them three thousand years ago.  This was “evening” (NIV) or “late afternoon” (ESV).

After laying down, David gets up.  Perhaps he couldn’t sleep.  He gets up and goes outside.  He walks on the roof to get some fresh air.  The roof was the coolest place in the house.  He did not have air-conditioning.  Why is he going on the roof? We don’t do that today.  We would fall off the roof.  David had a flat roof.

While he was outside from a distance, he saw a woman bathing. He sees a woman.  He sees a naked woman.  He sees a beautiful naked woman.  She was taking a bath and her name was Bathsheba.  What do we know about her?

Who Was Bathsheba?

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.” (II Samuel 11:3 NIV).

What does David find out about Bathsheba?  He learned several things.

One, she was MARRIED.  She was a married woman.  That should have put her off limits to David.  Adultery was a capital crime in the Law of Moses.  Today, adultery is no big deal.  It happens all the time but in David’s time, it was punishable by death.

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10).

Two, she was married to URIAH.  Uriah was one of David’s best soldiers.  He was one of David’s “mighty men” (II Samuel 23:23-39).

It was a select group of elite fighters, like the SEALS today.  He had a Jewish name, but he was a Hittite.  He was a Jewish convert.  Bathsheba might have been a Gentile as well.

Three, her dad’s name was ELIAM.  Eliam was also one of David’s mighty men.  He was also one of his top fighters (II Samuel 23:34).

Four, her grandfather’s name was AHITHOPHEL.  We know that from II Samuel 23:34. He was one of his most trusted advisers.  We know that from II Samuel 16:23. Bathsheba was his granddaughter.  Later in II Samuel, he commits suicide (II Samuel 17:23).

That should have stopped David in his tracks, but it doesn’t.  Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her (II Samuel 11:4 NIV).  Then she goes home.

Myths about Bathsheba

Some male chauvinist preachers actually blame her.  They see her as the bathtub temptress.  Here is a lonely wife.  Her husband was off fighting on the battlefield.   She is left alone at home.

She was beautiful.  She is immodest.  She had her eye on the king all along and used her beauty to entice David and seduce him.  She takes a bath in full view of the king.

This requires a rather creative imagination.  It sounds like a good romance novel.  It reads things into the text that are not there.

The Bible does NOT blame her.  It blames David.  Nathan does not go confront Bathsheba.  He goes and confronts David.  He said, “YOU are the man.”  He places all of the blame on David, not on Bathsheba.

She was minding her business taking a bath.  She did not know anyone was watching.  She was an object of David’s lust.  She was the victim.  She did NOT initiate the encounter.  David did.  David was on the roof and saw Bathsheba.  David investigated who she was, stalked her and took her.  He did not invite her to the palace.  He took her.

This relationship is NOT described as a romance.  It is NOT described as a love story.  It is NOT described as an affair.  David saw her, sent for her, and TOOK her.  It is one-sided.  It sounds more like rape.

David was the most powerful man in the country.  He sent messengers to take her.  We are not told that she is given any choice in the matter.  She has no voice.  She only says three words in the chapter: “I am pregnant.”  It is only two words in Hebrew.

We do not even know if she saw David when she was bathing or even know he was there.  She probably thought he was off on the battlefield.  Let’s imagine what life was like for Bathsheba.  It might look like she had everything.  She was drop-dead gorgeous but she had many problems.  She suffers trauma and tragedy in her life.

1) She did not have any children.  Kids were a big deal in that day.  Married women in that day wanted to have kids and she did not have any yet.  She tried but did not have any, like other women had.

2) She is separated from her husband for months at a time.  He is off fighting the Ammonites in battle (II Samuel 11:1), and she is left home alone.

3) She is raped by the king (II Samuel 11:4 ESV).  The king called her to the palace.   She did not know why.  She probably assumed that he was going to tell her that her husband was killed on the battlefield but finds out that she is called there for another reason.  Women had no rights.  This was a patriarchal society.

4) Her husband is murdered, and she becomes a widower (II Samuel 11:26-27). We are told that she mourned for him.  When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. (II Samuel 11:26 NIV).  She did not want him to die.  She loved her husband. She grieved for him after he died.

5) She gets pregnant, has a baby, and her baby dies.  After losing her husband, who she loved, she loses her baby. It was her first baby.

6) Finally, she is forced to marry her husband’s murderer and rapist.

7) Her grandfather kills himself.  He commits suicide.

Bathsheba did not have an easy life, but she does marry the king, moves into the palace and becomes David’s most famous wife.  One of her sons becomes the next king (Solomon) and she becomes an ancestor to the Messiah.  Bathsheba is in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.

David’s Three Plans

What happens next in the story?  Bathsheba gets pregnant. David now has a problem.  What David did is not what people would do today.  They would just have an abortion.  That is how many today deal with an unwanted pregnancy.  That was not an option for David, so he ordered Uriah home, so people will think it is his child.  There were no DNA tests back then.

Uriah came home to Jerusalem for three days and still did not go home to his wife.  The OT says that soldiers were not to have sex when they were at war (Deuteronomy 23:9-11).

Uriah the Hittite is more righteous than David the Jew.  David did not go to war and had sex with another man’s wife.  Uriah went to war and refused to have sex with his own wife.  The Hittite was living better than the Jew.

When the first plan did not work, David went to Plan B.  He fed Uriah some food and got him drunk.  Drunkenness is a sin.  David led him to sin, but he still refused to sleep with his wife.  Uriah had more integrity drunk that David had sober.

When that did not work, he went to Plan C.  He had Uriah killed.  He did not kill him. He used the Ammonites to do it.  He sends him to the front of the line and pulls the troops back.  David commits adultery and then cold-blooded murder.  He plots a man’s death.

When David hears the words “Uriah your servant is dead,” David did NOT feel guilty.  He felt relieved.  In fact, Joab said when you tell David about how many people died in the battle and you want to cheer David up, just say, “Uriah also is dead.”   Then, David married Bathsheba. David covered up the sin more by marrying Bathsheba, which was legal at this point.

God gave David some time to repent but he didn’t, so he sent Nathan the prophet to him.  Nathan confronts David to his face and says, “You are the man.  You are guilty.”

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. 8 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. (II Samuel 12:7-8 NIV)

God blessed David abundantly.  He prospered him.  He gave him all kinds of success and David still commits adultery.

“Why should I forgive you? Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes.’ (Jeremiah 5:7 NIV).

You can’t feel sorry for David.  It is not like he can’t get his needs met at home.  He’s not sexually deprived.  He had multiple wives.  He had seven wives before Bathsheba.[1] He was married to a lot of beautiful wives already. This was NOT about sex.

After confronting David, Nathan told him what the consequences of his sin would be, consequences he would have to deal with the rest of his life.  One of those consequences is that Bathsheba’s baby will die.  No matter how much he prays and fasts, the baby dies.

What was David’s response?  He could have said, “I did not have sex with that woman.”  He could have pulled a Bill Clinton.

He could have pulled a King Saul and blamed other people.  He could have blamed Bathsheba.

Instead, he confessed.  Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (II Samuel 12:13 NIV).  He took full responsibility for his actions. He says, “It’s my fault. I am to blame.”

Next week, we will look at lessons and applications from the fall of King David.

[1] II Samuel 3:1-5 mentions six wives plus he married Michal.

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