Please note: You might want to familiarize yourself with the story of David and Bathsheba if you don’t know it very well. You can find their story in 2nd Samuel 11 and 12. P
lease read 2nd Samuel 10 as well so that you have a pretext for the story at hand.
David and Bathsheba’s story actually begins in 1st Samuel 11, where we saw Saul take on King Nahash and really clean his clock. Here are some of the important details:
According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, and also Anthony Campbell and Mark Obrien, authors of Unfolding Deuteronomistic History: Origins, Upgrades, Present Text, Nahash, King of the Ammonites had brought the tribes of Gad and Reuben under his subjection. His regular practice with them was to gouge out their right eye. There were hardly any Israelites living on the east side of the Jordan River that hadn’t had their right eye gouged out. About 7000 men had escaped Nahash’s reign of terror and were living in Jabesh. Nahash desires to reclaim them, thus starting a war.
So this is the history between the Ammonites and the Israelites – so I cannot explain why David then says, many years later, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” 2nd Samuel 10:1-2 esv
Some scholars believe that this is evidence that Nahash aided David in some way when he fled from Saul.
So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites. 2nd Samuel 10:2 esv
Now, David doesn’t do any of this messaging personally – he’s always sending these servants back and forth to speak for him. His men are humiliated (2nd Samuel 10:4), and a huge war begins with the Ammonites.
7 And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men. 2nd Samuel 10:7 esv
So while Joab and the mighty men are duking it out with the Ammonites, David is walking around on his roof…watching a woman taking a bath.
And she isn’t just any woman. She is the wife of one of his mighty men. Not only that, she is the daughter of Eliam, he is also one of David’s mighty men, or we see them referred to as The Thirty.
Let me be clear, David suddenly gets Bathsheba’s husband and her father out of town, while he himself stays at home to relax in the palace. I think that’s interesting!
Here’s what else I think: This woman does not just happen to be taking a bath on her roof at the same time the king is walking around above her. I think they were well acquainted with one another and had had something going on in their heads for a while. David, however, had the power and the means to do something about it.
2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2nd Samuel 11:2-5 esv
This fling turned into more than just a late afternoon roll in the hay. Very rarely does a woman get pregnant the first time around. I think that Bathsheba had stayed with David for a while – while her husband and father are out on the battlefield attempting to overcome the Ammonites.
I can’t imagine what went through their minds. Their sin was punishable by death, which they both knew, and now the proof of what they’d done was on its way. And apparently David has a sudden glimmer of realization that it isn’t worth dying for. But, he has the power and the means with which to formulate an amicable solution.
Perhaps he thought: I’ll call her husband back to the palace. After all, he’s one of my top men. It’s perfectly normal that I ask him questions about the battle. I will then treat him like one of my own sons, who are not on the battlefield, pretend that he is special to me, and then I’ll send him home to Bathsheba. She’s a smart girl. She’ll know what to do and we’ll make Uriah think the baby belongs to him….
But it didn’t go like that.
9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 2nd Samuel 11:9-11 esv
David must be so blown away. Uriah has some impeccable moral character. He can’t stand the thought of his comrades fighting on the battlefield while he luxuriates in the comforts of home and woman.
I find it incredibly ironic that the man David sought to remove from the city so that he could freely pursue his wife, he now calls back to cover what he’s done with her – and he can’t get Uriah to take the bait!
Something else that points to Uriah’s character is his personal self-discipline when it comes to the Law. He knows that if he has relations with his wife he’ll be considered ceremonially unclean and have to wait a day or so before he can rejoin the other soldiers.
David had to have been thinking, wow…what am I going to do with this goody-two-shoes. I know… I’ll get him so hammered he doesn’t know up from down, send him down to the wife, and Bathsheba can take it from there.
But it didn’t go like that.
12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. 2nd Samuel 2:12-13 esv
Even getting him drunk did not make Uriah compromise his faith. That’s some self-will.
David is beyond freaking out at this point. The only solution appears to be Uriah’s death.
When David realizes that Uriah stayed away from Bathsheba he writes a letter to Joab – a man he knows is brutal and beyond moral scruples – and invites him into the plan to have Uriah killed. Uriah, devoted soul that he is, unwittingly carries his own death sentence and delivers it into the hands of his executioner. I love what George Williams wrote about this:
…and so this false step also led to the moral wreckage of this chapter when David further surrendered himself into the hands of Joab.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
Joab does what’s expected, and through messengers he and David basically congratulate one another on a job well done.
Bathsheba mourned for her dead husband one week, and married David the next. They’d gotten what they wanted. They were together at last, and no one could stop them now…
Honestly, does this remind anyone but me of the Forensic Files?
Please come back next week for An Affair to Remember Part 2 in our series, The Lion of Judah.
If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.
© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom