2 Samuel 11 - 12

The book of 2nd Samuel can be divided into two major sections corresponding to the two majors parts of Davidís reign. There is a rising action and then there is a falling action.

What links these two parts together is the narrative of Davidís sin.




Rising Action


Davidís Sin & Repentance


Falling Action

Davidís Reign Prospers

Davidís Reign Troubled

Chapters 11-12 form the central and pivotal section of 2 Samuel. It is presented in a chiastic format. The first section will be the road of Davidís sin. The second section will be the road to Davidís repentance and restoration.

David sends Joab to besiege Rabbah (11:1).

David sleeps with Bathsheba who becomes pregnant (11:2-5).

David has Uriah killed (11:6-17).

Joab sends a message about the murder (11:18-27).

The Lord sends David a messenger (12:1-14).

The Lord strikes Davidís son who dies (12:15-23).

David sleeps with Bathsheba who becomes pregnant (12:24-25).

Joab sends for David to come and take Rabbah (12:26-31).

This passage hardly presents David in a good light. He manages the disobey three of the ten commandments:

The good news is that this passage also tells of Davidís repentance. A further study of this repentance would be gained by a reading of Psalm 51 which presents Davidís prayer of contrition.



1. Setting for a Sin.

Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1).

Springtime was traditionally the time when military campaigns were begun. The end of the rainy season meant that the roads were in better condition.

The beginning of Davidís downfall was in his staying home from battle. He ceased being a leader and became a sender. He went from warrior king to politician. Why did David not accompany his army? Perhaps he disdained the hardships of the journey. In any case, he entrusted the matter to his cousin, Joab.

There is an interesting contrast to be suggested here between David and the Son of David -- Jesus.



Stayed at Jerusalem

Left His glory and came to earth

Took another manís wife and had him murdered.

Purchased His own bride by His own blood.

The woman became with child because of Davidís sin.

He was the child who was born to remove sin.

The child ultimately died because of Davidís sin.

He is the child who came to die for our sins.

2. Davidís Sin.

Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.

So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"

David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. (2 Samuel 11:2-4).

Jerusalem was not an overly large city. The city was more of a fortress with the houses built in terraces. The roof of such a house was often served a variety of purposes, especially when the weather was warm. For David is was a place to walk in the cool of the evening.

The steps of Davidís downfall are fourfold.

They can be described in the four verbs.

His actions started from the innocent. There is nothing wrong with seeing. And perhaps to send and make legitimate inquiries might be justified in that culture (David already had several wives and to take another in itself would not have been considered immoral).. But David stepped far over the line in taking another manís wife. When we descend into sin, we usually follow a similar progression.

We see that which we want. There is nothing wrong with desire in itself. The wrong is in what we do with such desire. If we seek to fulfill it in a way which is contrary to the laws of God, then we move into sin.

That is the way it was with Adam and Eve in the Garden. They heard the words of the serpent. They looked at the forbidden fruit. They desired to be wise. And then they disobey the command of the Lord and they take that which they desire.

David started with a look. But then he kept on looking. It has been said that you canít stop birds from flying over your head, but you donít have to let them build a nest in your hair.

David embraced the way of sin. He coveted another manís wife and then he sent for her and committed adultery with her. It was not long before his sin bore fruit.

3. Davidís Dilemma.

The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, "I am pregnant." (2 Samuel 11:5).

Davidís union with Bathsheba brought about visible results. She was pregnant and her husband would know that he was not the father, for he was away at war.

There is a principle here. It is that sin always bears fruit. The Scriptures warn that "whatever a man saws, this he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). There are some people who sow their wild oats and then hope for a crop failure.

4. Davidís Attempted Cover Up.

Then David sent to Joab, saying, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." So Joab sent Uriah to David.

When Uriah came to him, David asked concerning the welfare of Joab and the people and the state of the war. (2 Samuel 11:6-7).

David determines to cover up his sin by having Uriah sent back home, presumably to report on the progress of the military campaign.

a. Davidís first attempt.

Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house, and wash your feet." And Uriah went out of the king's house, and a present from the king was sent out after him.

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.

Now when they told David, saying, "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?"

Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, 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? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing." (2 Samuel 11:8-11).

Davidís first attempt at covering up his sin was to send Uriah home on furlough. He hopes that Uriah will have relations with his wife and that he will then be fooled into thinking that he has been the source of her pregnancy.

However, Uriah does not go home. To him this is a case of honor and loyalty. He has identified Himself with the people of God and he will not enjoy the comforts of home and wife while his fellow soldiers and the ark of the Lord are on the battlefield. He sleeps instead in the quarters of the kingís bodyguards. There is a contrast here in the honor of Uriah versus the dishonor of David.



Places his own lusts and desires first.

Places the Lord and the people of God first.

Dishonored God, himself and his loyal subject.

Honors God, king and fellow warriors.

Exercised no self control but violated another manís home and took his wife.

Determines to exercise self control and not enjoy home and wife while the ark and the men of Judah are on the battlefield.

Acted with treachery toward Uriah.

Acted with honor toward David.

The notable thing about Uriah was that he wasnít even an Israelite. He was a Hittite. The Hittites were a people who lived far to the north of Israel. They had carved out an empire with its capital in modern-day Turkey.

This particular Hittite was an honorable man. Although he was of a pagan culture, he had come to be a soldier in the army of God. And he was loyal to that army and to the God of Israel.

b. Davidís second attempt.

Then David said to Uriah, "Stay here today also, and tomorrow I will let you go." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. (2 Samuel 2:12).

Having failed in his first attempt, David determines to have Uriah remain for a couple of days in Jerusalem. Perhaps he thinks that, given time, Uriah will change his mind. But time does not whittle away Uriahís determination to remain honorably apart from home and wife.

c. Davidís third attempt.

Now David called him, and he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with his lord's servants, but he did not go down to his house. (2 Samuel 11:13).

Next David attempts to break down Uriahís resolve through the use of intoxicating beverages. He invites Uriah to a party at the palace. It is a drinking party. And when the king says to drink, you have to drink. David says to drink all night. And Uriah obeys to the extent of becoming drunk. In this, David is deliberately trying to cause Uriah to sin (the Bible speaks against drunkenness. But even in his drunkenness, Uriah does not break his resolve. Uriah drunk was a better and more noble man than David was sober.

What gave Uriah this kind of character? It is because he was looking at the King behind the king. He was looking at the Lord. This does not mean that he had no interest in his wife. But he had such a high view of God that it made his relationship with his wife something special.

What is your view of sex? Is it merely a means to pleasure for the moment? You can learn a lesson from Uriah. It is not that he placed no value in sexual relations with his wife, but he placed the concerns of the Lord even higher.

Jesus did this same thing. He came, not concerned with serving Himself, but with serving us and placing our needs above His own.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8).

Uriah is a picture of Christ. He is the one who came and identified Himself with the people of God, considering his own needs and desires secondary to those whom He came to save. He showed Himself to be honorable in His decisions and ultimately gave His own life for the sins of another.

5. A Murderous Plot.

Now in the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

He had written in the letter, saying, "Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die." (2 Samuel 11:14-15).

David now gives a message to the faithful Uriah. It is nothing less than a death sentence for the man against whom David had already sinned. David will use the honor and courage of Uriah to being about his death.

So it was as Joab kept watch on the city, that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men.

The men of the city went out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among David's servants fell; and Uriah the Hittite also died.

Then Joab sent and reported to David all the events of the war. (2 Samuel 11:16-18).

Joab cold-heartedly follows the directions of David, resulting in the death of an innocent and unsuspecting Uriah. He is an unflinching participant in the murder of Uriah.

Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. (2 Samuel 11:26-27).

David thought that he had gotten away with his sin. He thought it to be hidden from the sight of his subjects. And it was. But it was not hidden from the sight of the Lord.

We need to remember that in those times when we think that no one is looking, we are playing to heavenís packed house.



David committed his sin and then nine months went by. He thought that it had been successfully hidden, but the truth is that everyone knew about it. One person came to confront him about his sin. That one person was Nathan.

Is there a Nathan in your life? Is there someone who is there to tell you the truth about yourself? Someone who is willing to risk your friendship for the sake of your spiritual well-being?

1. Nathanís Parable.

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, "There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.

"The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.

"But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him.

"Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." (2 Samuel 12:1-4).

Nathan was the prophet of God. He had served as Davidís confidante when David was considering the building of a temple to the Lord. Now Nathan is sent to David with a special message.

Nathan brings to David a parable. But he does not say that it is a parable. It is given in such a way that David assumes the story is bother literal and true. It is also given in such a way that David does not recognize himself as the main character.

Rich man

Represents David the king

Poor man

Represents Uriah the Hittite

Poor manís lamb

Represents Bathsheba

The lamb of the poor man was his treasured possession. It was like a daughter (as in Bathsheba in which the word Bath means "daughter").

2. Davidís Reaction.

Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.

"He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion." (2 Samuel 12:5-6).

David is enraged at this report of such a heartless action. He wishes to call a sentence of death -- literally, he says that this man is a "son of death." This is a Hebraism that means such a man deserves to die. David wants to put this man to death. But since the law does not call for the death penalty in such a case, David calls for immediate restitution. Furthermore, he does so far as to bind his words with an oath: "As the Lord lives."

What really annoys you about others? What is it about someone that really gets under your skin? Chances are that it is something of which you yourself are guilty.

There is a lesson here. It is that we normally find it easier to see the faults in others than we can see them in ourselves. I donít see the main faults in my own life. That goes for you, too. Whatever you think are your primary faults are not.

David has called for a fourfold restitution. And he has bound his words with an oath. His words will be fulfilled with the deaths of four of his sons.

m Bathshebaís son (2 Samuel 12:18).

m Ammon (2 Samuel 13:28-29).

m Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14-15).

m Adonijah (1 Kings 2:25).

3. Nathanís Indictment against David.

Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ĎIt is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.

"ĎI also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!

"ĎWhy have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.

"ĎNow 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.í" (2 Samuel 12:7-10).

As David hears Nathanís account, his anger grows against this rich man. This man who has sinned. This man with the cold heart. He pronounces his indictment against "the man." It is at that very moment that Nathan points at David and says: "You are the man!" This is a pronouncement of his sin. He has already pronounced judgment upon himself. He will suffer the consequences of his sin. Because of his sin, the sword will never depart from his house. Because of his sin, others will die.

There is a contrast here between David and Davidís descendant. A thousand years later, the Son of David would stand in this same city before a Roman governor who would proclaim, "Behold the man!" (John 19:5).



He figuratively took another manís lamb and killed it.

He WAS the figure of the Lamb who was put to death.

He sinned against God.

He was obedient to the point of death.

Anointed to be king.

Anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Murdered a man in order to take his wife.

Gave up his own life to purchase a bride.

He sinned resulting in death to a number of his sons.

He took our sins upon Himself, resulting in life to all who believe.

Jesus is the Second David. He is the man. He is the One who died in your place. If you will behold the man, you will life.

If you come before the Lord wanting to hear and to judge the sins of others, you will go away empty. But if you come to hear of the terrible truth of your own sins, then you will be ready to receive Godís salvation.

The words of Nathan are presented in the format of a covenant lawsuit. The format of this lawsuit is such that we first read of the suzerainís past faithfulness to the vassal. David has acted the part of an unfaithful vassal to his Lord, the God of Israel.

"Thus says the Lord, ĎBehold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.

"ĎIndeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.í" (2 Samuel 12:11-12).

The rest of the book of 2nd Samuel is going to be a fulfillment of this prophecy. David has succeeded in conquering all of his surrounding enemies. But God is going to raise up an enemy from his own household. One from his own family will rise against him. And in the same manner that he has taken another manís wife, one will come and will sleep with his wives. Instead of doing such a deed in secret, this will be accomplished openly and in the sight of all Israel. All shall witness the shame of David. From the same rooftop on which David had initially looked down to see Bathsheba, his son Absalom will conduct a rooftop orgy with the wives of David (2 Samuel 16:20-22).

Three of Davidís sons will repeat the sins of their father.


Will rape Tamar (2 Samuel 13:8-14).


Will take the royal harem (2 Samuel 16:22).


Will seek to take his deceased fatherís concubine (1 Kings 2:13-17).

4. Davidís Confession.

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. (2 Samuel 12:13).

As I first read this, I am inclined to object, "David, it was against URIAH whom you sinned." After all, David had defiled Uriahís house. And he had taken Uriahís wife. And he had betrayed and lied to Uriah. And he had ordered Uriahís death.

And yet, David voices his repentance in saying that he had sinned against the Lord. A further commentary of Davidís confession is seen in Psalm 51. There he goes so far as to say:

Against Thee, Thee ONLY, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge. (Psalm 51:4).

This tells me something about sin. Sin is primarily that which is against God. To speak of sinful actions which are between consenting adults and which "donít hurt anyone" ignores the fact that sin is an action which is against God.

As David confesses his sin, Nathan assures him of Godís forgiveness. Though he is deserving of death, he will not die. But that does not mean his sin will not have lasting results.

5. The Results of Davidís Sin.

"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." (2 Samuel 12:14).

David was forgiven his sin. But the effects of that sin were not obliterated by this forgiveness. Uriah was still dead. Bathsheba was still pregnant. And the enemies of God had an occasion to speak ill of God. Furthermore, the child born out of their illicit union would die.

6. The Death of Davidís Child.

15 So Nathan went to his house. Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick.

16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.

17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them.

18 Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, "Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!"

19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead."

20 So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

21 Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food."

22 He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ĎWho knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.í

23 "But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:15-23).

The death of Davidís child and the events surrounding it are portrayed through the eyes of Davidís servants. They watch as David enters into a fast, refusing to eat or even to move from his prone position as he pours out his heart to the Lord.

This goes on for seven days. At the end of that time, the child dies.

The servants are reluctant to tell David the news, fearing what might be his reaction. However, when he learns that the child has died, David breaks his fast, cleans himself, and worships before the Lord, explaining that the child will not not return, but that he will one day go to the child.

Of what is David speaking? Is he just speaking of that fact that the child has gone to the grave and he will also one day go to the grave? Perhaps. But it seems difficult to see how this would have been a comfort to David. Perhaps instead, this is an indication of Davidís understanding of a life after death.

7. The Birth of Solomon.

Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the Lord loved him 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the Lordís sake. (2 Samuel 12:24-25).

A second son is now provided. This is Solomon who will one day succeed David to the throne. The name Solomon means "peace." But he is also given a second name - Jedidiah - "Beloved of Yahweh."

At the beginning of this chapter, Nathan rebuked the king. Now Nathan comforts the king with these words. In the future, Nathan would warn and advise the king. And when the day came for Solomon to be anointed as the new king of Israel, it would be Nathan who would anoint him.

There is a lesson here. Nathan was a friend to the king. And sometimes friends have to say things that hurt. Nathan was that kind of friend.

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