The Adultery of David with Bathsheba
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 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?” So David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am with child.” So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 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. When they told David, “Uriah did not go to his house.” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 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 down with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day, and the next. 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.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.’ And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite was slain also. Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting; and he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, then, if the king’s anger arises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone upon him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ ”
So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us, and came out against us in the field; but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall; some of the king’s servants are dead; and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one and now another; strengthen your attack upon the city, and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she made lamentation for her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:1-27).
DAVID ALWAYS HAD PROBLEMS WITH WOMEN
In a sense, it is not surprising that David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He had a problem with women that manifested itself before the sin with Uriah’s wife. We shall look at some manifestations of this problem in his life.
Saul hated David and wanted to kill him. He preferred to lure him through women and came very close to success. The Bible says that Saul said to David, “ ‘Here is my elder daughter Merab; I will give her to you for a wife; only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.’ For Saul thought, ‘Let not my hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.’ And David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, and who are my kinsfolk, my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king.’ But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife” (1 Samuel 18:17-19).
If David hadn’t had a special weakness towards women, he would have learnt a lesson from that incident. Because women were a source of great temptation to him, he did not learn the lesson. The Bible says, “Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David; and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. Saul thought, ‘Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.’ Therefore Saul said to David a second time, ‘You shall now be my son-in-law.’ And Saul commanded his servants, ‘Speak to David in private and say, “Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you, now then become the king’s son-in-law.” ’ And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, ‘Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and of no repute?’ And the servants of Saul told him, ‘Thus and so did David speak’ Then Saul said, ‘Thus shall you say to David, “The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.” ’ Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines; and David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife” (1 Samuel 18:20-27). Although the giving of Michal to David was a trap, he could not resist her. He accepted her, even though she was the daughter of the king who wanted to kill him!
David was not satisfied with one wife. He burned for more. When Nabal died, he arranged for his widow to become his wife. The Bible says, “When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from evil; the Lord has returned the evil-doing of Nabal upon his own head.’ Then David sent and wooed Abigail, to make her his wife. And when the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, ‘David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.’ And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground, and said, ‘Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.’ And Abigail made haste and rose and mounted on an ass, and her five maidens attended her, she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife” (1 Samuel 25:39-42).
As if that was not enough, the Bible says, “David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and both of them became his wives” (1 Samuel 25:43). David was far from satisfied. He burned for more women. The Bible says, “And sons were born to David at Hebron: his first-born was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, of Eglah, David’s wife” (2 Samuel 3:2-3).
The power of women over David is further illustrated in the following : “Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim” (1 Samuel 25:44). Years went by and Saul died. There were problems about succession, but when things were obvious, Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, “ ‘To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.’ And he said, ‘Good; I will make a covenant with you; but one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face, unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.’ Then David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed at the price of a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go, return’; and he returned” (2 Samuel 3:12-16). David had six wives and yet he was restless until he got Michal from her husband. He was insensitive to Paltiel’s cries! Worse still, he put the acquisition of Michal ahead of national unity!!
It is then obvious that the sin with Bathsheba was just the summit of a life that had one fundamental fault which was never corrected - the love of women! This love of women was so deeply rooted in him that he almost died in the laps of a woman. The Bible says, “Now King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. Therefore his servants said to him, ‘Let a young maiden be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait upon the king, and be his nurse; let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may be warm.’ So they sought for a beautiful maiden throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The maiden was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and ministered to him; but the king knew her not” (1 Kings 1:1-4).
So David had a problem with women all his life. He ought to have realized it from the beginning and taken serious measures to correct the fault, but he did not do it. He allowed a weak spot and that spot developed until it became a fire that almost destroyed him completely. David multiplied wives for himself. He did it in spite of the fact that he was king and knew that the Lord had said about the king that, “He shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply for himself silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17). He disobeyed the Word of God and fell. All who disobey the Word of God fall.
It is very difficult to commit just one sin. One sin often leads to another. David’s first sin was that of being absent from the place of duty. It was the time when kings went to war. David was a king. He ought to have been on the battle field. He instead sent the others to the place of battle and stayed away in Jerusalem. People who are in the wrong place are more likely to fall into sin. David’s second sin was that of idleness. Had he been preoccupied with important state affairs, he would not have fallen into the sin of adultery. However, he was idling, walking on the roof of his house. He was not preoccupied with the good and so the evil took possession of him. His third sin was that of the abuse of the mind. He used his mind to make dangerous inquiry. There was absolutely no need to inquire about the woman he saw. His fourth sin was the abuse of servants. He sent them to bring the woman to him. They knew it was wrong but because they were under authority they did it.
David’s fifth sin was the weakening of the army by calling Uriah to Jerusalem. All the soldiers were needed at the battle front but he was prepared to weaken them in order to accomplish his purpose. His sixth sin was that he sent a false gift to Uriah. The gift that he sent to Uriah’s house was not a gift of love. If was a cover-up gift. It was a gift of betrayal. His seventh sin was that he made Uriah drunk. His eighth sin was that of corruption. He corrupted Joab. He caused him to carry out a false strategy so that Uriah might be killed. His ninth sin was that he married Bathsheba. He added another wife to the many whom he already had. His tenth sin was that he did not repent. Until the prophet told him of all these sins, he went about as if all was well.
ASSOCIATES IN SIN
There are some sins which no one can commit alone. One of these is adultery in act. The following sinned directly or indirectly with David in this sin:
- The messengers who were sent to bring her to him.
- The messenger who was sent by Bathsheba to tell him of her pregnancy.
- Uriah who was made drunk.
- The servants who made Uriah drunk.
Have you ever used someone to promote your sexual impurity? Have you ever allowed yourself to be used to advance sexual immorality? Did you carry a message, letter or gift that was a part of an immoral deal? Did you move away in order to leave someone alone so that he might sin? Are you planning some sin that will not only ruin you but also cause others to sin? Think now and stop it!
THE CONSEQUENCE OF SIN
David repented and was forgiven by the Lord. However, his sin led to the following consequences for himself and others:
- Uriah died.
- Other soldiers of Israel died.
- The son conceived in sin died.
- Amnon committed fornication with his half-sister Tamar.
- Absalom killed Amnon.
- Absalom rebelled.
- Absalom committed adultery with David’s concubines openly.
- Absalom was killed.
- Many Israelites died in the rebellion of Absalom.
The sin of David ate deep into his family. Things became totally confused after he committed that act of adultery, which was the worst sin of his life before the Lord.
In addition to the above, his son Solomon, born of Uriah’s wife, was totally taken up with women. He had one thousand women in his life. Furthermore, as an accompanying sin, Solomon’s love of women led to idolatry, a thing David never did. The sin of a man will lead to a multitude of sins in his children. If a man deliberately commits one sin, his descendants may commit two, three or more.
The Lord forgave David, but He also told him, “You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife as your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife” (2 Samuel 12:9-10).
The history of Israel up to the present day, testifies to the fact that the sword has never departed from David’s house. All the multitude of Jews who have perished because of this, and all the multitude of people who have been killed by the Jews, have all perished because of the adultery of David.
Have you ever asked yourself, “What will be the consequence of this act in ten months, ten years, one thousand years and in eternity?” Should you not face this before you plunge into ruin? Please, think of your future and that of others. The pleasure of a few minutes may lead to eternal disgrace and agony. Please be wise! Be wise!!
THE SIN OF A MAN AFTER GOD’S HEART
The adultery of David was a most serious thing, because David was a man after God’s own heart. He pleased God in all that he did except in the matter of Uriah’s wife. That sin was like a dark spot on a spotless horizon and it hurt the Lord very much. It also hurt David’s relationship with God and with man severely and, therefore, had the consequences that it had.
All who walk close to the Lord should be more careful. All who have a privileged position and relationship with the Lord should beware. Their mistakes can be most far-reaching in consequence. One such person was Abraham. He was a friend of God. He walked with God but was not patient enough to wait for the Lord to give him a son by his wife Sarah. He rushed ahead of God and had Ishmael with his wife’s maid Hagar. The consequence of that sin is the nearly one billion Ishmaelites (Muslims) who are on earth today and who are lost to Christ.
May all heed this warning and do everything to ensure that their brilliant spiritual careers do not know one major failure.
WHAT OF BATHSHEBA?
Women like Bathsheba are not a blessing. She had no moral integrity. She was not a help to her king. When David sent for her, she should have helped him by not going, or when he suggested sin to her she should have helped him by saying to him, “My king, this will ruin you, ruin the kingdom, ruin me and you will suffer too much for it. Please let it not be done.” Had she reasoned that way and acted that way, she would have saved the king, the kingdom and her husband.
She yielded. She was like one who had been waiting for such a thing to happen. There is no indication that she repented.
It cost her a husband.
It cost her a son.
She gave birth to the next king but her son Solomon, “inheriting” immorality doubly from father and mother, “married” one thousand women and went after their gods.
Women are needed in the spiritual horizons of our day, who will help God’s generals in their moments of madness to come to their senses. Are you one such? God bless you if you are. Amen.