In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. 5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”
6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance 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, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths;[a] 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 such a thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, 13 David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and 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.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” – 2 Samuel 11:1-15
Have you ever read a Bible story you thought you knew well but ended up being surprised or even shocked by details you had missed before? That’s exactly what happened to me a few months ago when I was preparing to teach about the story of David and Bathsheba in youth Sunday School. Of course I knew the story involved adultery and murder, but I hadn’t paid much attention to the voyeurism, rape (based on the power deferential between a king and a common woman), brutal deception, and essentially forced drunkenness that David also commits against one of his own loyal soldiers in this deeply disturbing narrative. I knew how attentive and smart our youth are too and that they wouldn’t miss the embarrassingly egregious scandal of this king who was supposedly “a man after God’s own heart.” Needless to say, it was a pretty awkward Bible study with our teenagers that morning.
Relevant applicant for Christian living today can be difficult to find in stories like these, but I think there are few important take-aways. First of all, it reminds us of the brokenness and evil that even the best of God’s people are capable of. Unchecked lusts and sinful desires in the hearts of even the most saintly people can lead to unspeakable evils, so remaining close to God in prayer and confession is essential. It’s also important to remember that David faced real, devastating consequences for his sins in the loss of his child and the general chaos and rebellion in his family that he would deal with for the rest of his life. Finally, there was forgiveness and redemption for King David when he truly repented and turned back to the Lord. Thanks be to God that even the darkest details of our lives don’t leave us without the hope of the Gospel if only we would repent and realign our hearts with God’s will!