2 Samuel Chapter 11

As the king in Israel, David had led the army to victory against many nations. Because he had depended upon the Lord and not relied upon his own strength, the Israelites had been able to experience much peace and growth. However, we learn in this chapter, that even great men like David, who had been righteous and faithful, can experience temptation like everyone else. The Israelites continued to battle with other nations around them, and their borders grew in size. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

At a time when tradition called for the king to go into battle, David sent Joab to lead the men of Israel. The Ammonites were destroyed and besieged, but David did not go with them. Instead he remained in Jerusalem.

2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

David was walking upon the roof of his home one evening, when he saw a beautiful woman bathing. David wanted to know who she was, and was told that she was Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah. David wanted her, and gave into his temptations and took her and lied or slept with Bath-sheba. She returned to her home and sent word to David that she had conceived a child.

6 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.
7 And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.
8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.
9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.
10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?
11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.
12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.
13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

David asked Joab to send her husband to him. Uriah went to David and David asked him how things were going with Joab and the battle. David told Uriah to return to his home with a meal as a gift, but Uriah stayed at the door of the king’s house and ate and slept there with the king’s servants. When David learned of this, he asked Uriah why he had not returned home. Uriah told him that others were staying in tents, and Joab and the other men were sleeping in the fields. He did not feel it was right to go to his house to eat, drink and be with his wife, while others were not allowed that same privilege. He refused to do it. It is interesting that Uriah would use this argument against going home, seeing as this was the humble attitude that David had taken when he wanted to build a temple for the Lord. Uriah seems to have been a good and loyal man who did not want to take advantage of this situation just because the king had allowed it. David told Uriah to stay for that day and the next, as he had with the servants, and he did not return to his home.

My guess is that David intended to cover up his transgression with Bath-sheba, and the resulting pregnancy, by having Uriah sleep with his wife and think that the baby was his own. When this didn’t work out as David had planned, he decided to do something even worse.

14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.
17 And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

When the morning after came, David sent Uriah back to Joab with a letter. The letter commanded Joab to send Uriah into the front of the battle lines, so that he would die in battle. Joab did some of what was commanded by David, which resulted in the death of Uriah in the battle.

18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war;
19 And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king,
20 And if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall?
21 Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

Joab sent a messenger to tell David all that had happened in the war. Joab told him, that if David got mad about how close they allowed the battle to get to the city wall, the servant was to then tell David that Uriah had died also. Joab was supposed to set Uriah up front to fight, and then leave him there to die. Instead, he remained with Uriah along with other men, and more had died. It seems that Joab was afraid that David would be mad that others had died, and that more could have died, because Joab did not follow his commands to the letter. I don’t think that Joab felt it right to allow a man to die in battle in this way.

22 So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for.
23 And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate.
24 And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.
25 Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.

The messenger did as he was told to do. David sent a message back to Joab, telling him that Joab did not need to be displeased with the news, but that he should fight stronger and overthrow the city. The messenger was given a charge to encourage Joab.

26 And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.
27 And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Bath-sheba learned of her husband’s death, and mourned for him. When the time of mourning was over, David brought her into his house and married her. She had a son. All this that David did, was not right in the sight of God.

David had been a great leader and king for Israel. This was the only time in our records, where he gave into a temptation. He would have lost the influence of the spirit by making this choice. It was bad enough with his sexual sin, because it is abominable to the Lord, but instead of repenting, David went even further by planning the death of Uriah and accomplishing his design. He made a bad choice and then it seems that he did all he could to try to cover up his sin. We cannot hide sins from the Lord. Sadly, we can read in the modern revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 132:39, that David lost out on his eternal reward because of what he did. It reads, “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”

This is a reminder to me, that I must remain alert to the temptations of the adversary. As our current prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has said, “decisions determine destiny“. I think David’s first mistake in this may have been, that he made the decision to remain at home at a time when he was expected to fight with his men. The Lord had called and anointed him as their king, and he was not fulfilling his calling at that time. When we are in the right places at the times we should be, the Lord can help us avoid temptations. I have been given a calling in church, extended to me by priesthood authority from the Lord, and therefore I should be there to fulfill that calling. If I am doing the will of the Lord, there won’t be room for temptations to creep up on me. I have also been given a calling as a mother in my home. If I am there for my children, doing the things that the Lord expects me to do for them, I will be blessed with greater strength to avoid the temptations that may otherwise influence me. At any time, we can ask ourselves, “How is this decision shaping my destiny?” No one is immune to temptation, but there are ways to be strong in the face of it. Just as bad decisions brought bad eternal results to David, good decisions can result in good things for eternity. I hope that I can remain faithful to the Lord for the rest of my life, and I know that by following the commandments of the Lord found in the scriptures and teachings of modern prophets and apostles, I can have the strength to do it.

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