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II Samuel Chapter 11

Memory verses for this week: Num 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. Num 12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.

Overview of II Samuel 11: This chapter begins with the destruction of the Ammonites, and the siege of Rabbah their chief city. Attention turns to the sins of David in committing adultery with Bathsheba and what his attempts to conceal his sin.

I.  David's Great Sin

2 Sam 11:1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

The war with Ammon was still not over. It was customary in middle-eastern wars in ancient times to call a ‘cease-fire’ during the winter. David and his forces evidently put the war against Ammon on hold over the winter. The Hebrew year ended in February; that's why, the comment about how “after the year was expired.” As spring was blossoming, David again sent military units under Joab, his chief general, back into battle.

It is noted that they first destroyed the main forces of the Ammonites in battle and then proceeded to besiege the city of Rabbah which was a chief city of the region of Ammon.

For reasons untold, David stayed in Jerusalem rather than lead his forces into battle. It would prove to be his downfall. Rather than abounding in the work of the Lord, he chose to remain idle in the palace. Many Christians do the same today often get into trouble as well. It is evident that David’s relationship with the Lord wasn’t what it should have been.

2 Sam 11:2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

2 Sam 11:3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

Late one spring afternoon, David had evidently taken a nap. He went up on the flat roof of his palace. The city of Jerusalem is built upon a succession of hills.

The elite of the city built upon the highest levels to catch the slightest breeze that may blow in the summer. It is likely that David’s palace was atop a hill and he could look down on homes built at lower elevations. At one of the homes below, a woman had gone to bathe herself. It is conceivable that David had seen her there before and had gone out to look again. Little has ever been said about Bathsheba, but it could have been that this woman knew that her home was readily visible to the king’s palace. It could be that she was aware that her immodesty could be viewed from the palace and that may have even known that David had glanced her way before.

Whether Bathsheba knew the king would be there or not is irrelevant. It is clear that she displayed herself immodestly, knowing that she could be seen from the palace. For whatever culpability David faced in the coming incident, it is clear that Bathsheba’s immodesty helped provoke it.

Bathsheba may have even purposefully done what she did to get his attention. David looks upon her beauty and then inquires as to who she was. He was informed of fact that she was a married woman there in verse 3.  

2 Sam 11:4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

2 Sam 11:5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

Even though David had been told that Bathsheba was a married woman, he still takes her and commits sin with her.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:14,15

It seems apparent that Bathsheba was a willing participant in this great sin. When David should have been out serving God, he wasn’t.

“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.”

Proverbs 12:24

Sin has a way of finding itself out. It sooner or later floats to the surface. David was already beginning to reap the harvest of his great sin. As a result of their adultery, Bathsheba conceived and carried David’s child.

In the Believer's Study Bible, W. A. Criswell commented about both David and Bathsheba’s part in the sin.

Bathsheba may have been guilty of some indiscretion in her immodesty, and apparently she made no effort to resist the amorous intent of the king (note the clause “and she came to him”). David found that lust grew into adultery; adultery produced deceit in concealing iniquity (vv. 6–13); and the failure of these attempts pressured David to the desperate act of murder (vv. 14–21). Furthermore, David involved Joab as an accomplice in the crime. The truth of James 1:15 can be clearly observed in this sequence of events. Note also the awesome power of visual images when the mind is allowed to meditate at length on the object of desire. Unfaithfulness in terms of adultery unfailingly results in the disfavor of the Lord and the certainty of His judgment (v. 26).

II. David Tries to Conceal His Sin

2 Sam 11:6 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.

2 Sam 11:7 And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.

2 Sam 11:8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.

David immediately began to try and cover up his wrong doing. David sends a messenger to Joab asking that Uriah be sent to him. Bathsheba’s husband was out fighting as an officer in David’s army. The fact that Uriah was a Hittite suggests that he may not have been a Hebrew. The Hittites in David’s time were descended of Heth, the second son of Canaan. They were a division of the Canaanites.

Uriah may have been a proselyte to Judaism or at least a mercenary working for David. David’s plan was apparent. In bringing Uriah home, he would spend several nights with his wife and her child would then be thought to be his.

David played innocent asking Uriah how the war went. He then told him to go home. He even sent a gift likely of food along with him. David’s sin was not only adultery against his spouse, but against a loyal soldier in his army. It ultimately was against God.

      Psa 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

III. Uriah Sleeps at Door of King's House

2 Sam 11:9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.

2 Sam 11:10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?

2 Sam 11:11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.

2 Sam 11:12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.

2 Sam 11:13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

Sometimes even the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. David had thought out a pretty clever plan. However, Uriah would not cooperate with David’s scheme. David’s cover up was not working. Uriah was a loyal and dedicated soldier. He knew his comrades in arms back at the front had none of the comforts of home. Therefore, he ‘camped’ outside David’s palace rather than spending the night with his wife. David tried to coax him to cooperate. Uriah would not.

In verse 12, after having initially failed, David tried a different scheme. If he could cause Uriah to get drunk, surely then he would go home and sleep with his wife. David therefore invited him to a meal and made sure that Uriah was amply supplied with alcohol. However, Uriah remained steadfast in his resolve. Note how that one sin can cause you to commit another and then another. God forbids strong drink to the Christian man or woman, and we are warned to not put that before others.

      Prov 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

      Prov 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

      Prov 31:5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

      Isa 5:22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

      Isa 5:23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

      Isa 28:7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

      Rom 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.


IV. Uriah is Murdered

2 Sam 11:14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

2 Sam 11:15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.

After the first few plans fail, David was becoming desperate to cover his sin. Now murder seemed the only option. Note how harsh a road sin can take us down. Things may seem initially harmless, but soon the Devil has us in a position where we can't win. Only God can be trusted. Satan is a liar from the beginning, and is the father of lies.

David's new plan was to murder Uriah, and then quickly marry Bathsheba to make her pregnancy seem legitimate. David thought he finally had a fail-safe plan. Only Joab, the commander on the scene, would be aware of David’s intention to have Uriah killed in action and even he would not really know why.

David’s fingerprints would not be upon Uriah’s death. His sin would be covered and he would get away with what he had done. Truly, David had become sorely backslidden. A little sin can sure drag a man or woman a way, way down. The irony of it all is that Uriah carried his own death warrant and did not know it.

2 Sam 11:16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.

2 Sam 11:17 And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

Upon receiving the private letter from David, Joab did as ordered. Though David did not ‘pull the trigger,’ he was the one who had ordered Uriah’s death. Added to David’s dark and lengthening list of sin was murder of one totally innocent. Moreover, his victim had remained loyal to his king to the bitter end.

Joab did not initially know the motive for David’s orders against Uriah. However, as events would eventually unfold, he surely put two and two together. There is little doubt that Joab eventually figured out why David wanted Uriah dead.

Significant is the fact that Joab would later become disloyal to David. He had seen his king’s treachery and disloyalty to one of his soldiers. If you want people to respect you and be loyal, you much show respect and loyalty to them. David would also reap the disloyalty of Joab who lost respect for him as king.

V. Joab's Report to David

2 Sam 11:18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war;

2 Sam 11:19 And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king,

2 Sam 11:20 And if so be that the king's wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall?

2 Sam 11:21 Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

2 Sam 11:22 So the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had sent him for.

2 Sam 11:23 And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate.

2 Sam 11:24 And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king's servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

Joab sent David a report of the recent battle action. Fearing that David might be angry because his forces had suffered a setback in the battle, he counseled the messenger to make sure that he informed David that Uriah had died. He knew that would satisfy David.

We find in verse 22 that the messenger did as instructed and reported the action to David. Details of Uriah’s death by arrows are noted. Of further irony is how that Uriah is repeatedly referred to as David’s servant. The prick of conscience of what David had done was already beginning to come to pass.

2 Sam 11:25 Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.

Upon hearing the news, David sanctimoniously replied to the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. Though David portrayed himself as concerned about what had happened, he was secretly delighted.

2 Sam 11:26 And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

2 Sam 11:27 And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.

Bathsheba thus portrayed herself as a widow in mourning. Perhaps she did actually mourn the death of her husband, but that is unclear. The period of mourning may have been as short as seven days. See I Samuel 31:13 for an example of another example of mourning after the death of Saul and his sons.

      1 Sam 31:12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.

      1 Sam 31:13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

It would seem that she too was eager to cover her adultery and was more than willing to quickly marry David to cover up what they had done. Moreover, here was an opportunity to become a wife of the king. That she did. In the course of time, she bore him a son. David perhaps thought he had gotten away with his terrible sin

No one seemed the wiser. However, One had witnessed it all. “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” God saw it all and was very displeased.

David’s sin would soon find him out. Some things we control in life, many we do not. The reaping after the sowing is something that happens to us all.

      Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

      Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

J. Vernon McGee said this about Chapter 11.

We have now come to the second and last section of the Book of 2 Samuel, which I have labeled “The Troubles of David.” We have seen the “Triumphs of David” in the first section. Under the blessing of God, David has become one of the great kings of the earth. However, the sin recorded in this chapter places David under the judgment of God. From here on David will have trouble. His life will be a series of heartbreaks.

This sin causes the enemies of God to blaspheme—until this day. Leering and suggestive, they exclaim, “This is the ‘man after God’s own heart’!”

The sin of David stands out like a tar-baby in a field of snow, like a blackberry in a bowl of cream. It may cause us to miss the greatness of the man. Remember that sin was the exception in David’s life—not the pattern of it.

The Word of God does not play down the sin of David; it does not whitewash the man. God doesn’t say it is not sin. God is going to call it sin, and David will be punished for it.

Internet Bible Studies are prepared and distributed free of charge. The lessons may not be sold without consent. If you have questions or wish to discuss the lessons, or possibly need help in finding Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, contact David Parham at 940-322-4343.

Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

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