‘When kings normally go out to war…’

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“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1).

Recipe for trouble. David got lazy. He sent someone else to fight his battles and lounged around his palace “when kings normally go out to war.” Sure enough, one afternoon, after His afternoon nap, he was lounging around on his porch and spied a beautiful woman bathing on a rooftop below. After inquiring about her and finding out she was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite who was off fighting the Ammonites where David should have been, he had her brought to him and he slept with her. When he later found out she was pregnant, he sent for her husband, Uriah, to come home from the battlefield. There David wine and dined him, gave him gifts and sent him home to his wife. But Uriah didn’t go home. He spent the night with the palace guard.

When David asked him why he hadn’t gone home, Uriah said, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing” (2 Samuel 11:11). Of course, David was totally shamed by Uriah’s loyalty, because, in the same situation, David knew he would have done the same thing. Now, unfortunately, he has no choice but to confess his adultery or try and cover it up by having Uriah removed. So he sent him back out with a message for the general outlining his own death. Uriah was so loyal that David knew he wouldn’t read it. Joab was to put him in the heat of the fighting and then pull back until he was killed, which was exactly what happened. After a period of mourning, David brought Bathsheba into his palace and took her as one of his wives. “But the Lord was displeased with what David had done” (2 Samuel 11:27). No kidding.

This is when Nathan the prophet came and told David a story about a rich man who had numerous cattle and sheep and a poor man who had one little lamb. “He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest” (2 Samuel 12:3-4).

David was furious. “Any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!” This is when Nathan pointed his famous boney finger at David and said, “You’re the man!”

David repented (see Psalm 51), and God forgave him, but there were consequences for his actions. “Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view.  You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel” (2 Samuel 11:12-13). Not only this, but the child of this adultery got sick and died. All in all, it was a costly move that sprang from the one spring afternoon when kings normally go out to war.

And yet, God always redeems something out of our mistakes and even our sins. The second child born to David and Bathsheba was Solomon, who followed David on the throne, was the wisest and wealthiest king to ever rule Israel, built the famous temple to the Lord, and left us his writings in our Bibles to ponder and learn from (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon).

That is also why Bathsheba is the fourth woman included in the lineage of Jesus. “Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah)” (Matthew 1:5-6). (Even Uriah made it in.)

The final picture of Bathsheba is a touching scene that takes place when she is old, David has died, and Solomon is king. She went to her son, the king, to speak for one of Solomon’s brothers who had tried to beat him to the throne. “So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand” (1 Kings 2:19).

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3 Responses to ‘When kings normally go out to war…’

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    I once had a Sunday School teacher tell the class he felt it was Bathsheba fault because she was “bathing on a rooftop.” I spoke up and replied maybe that was the custom back then, which he thoroughly rejected…

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