Our reading today begins with the infamous story of David and Bathsheba. Up until now we have seen that God is with David, and David has been humble and obedient to God. Chapter 11 is a turning point for David. The first thing we read is that it is the time of year that kings go out to battle, yet David stayed in Jerusalem (11:1 – see 1 Sam 8:20). While this is not a direct breaking of God’s law, it shows a change of heart in David. The once humble shepherd has become a self-important king. And we see that idle hands are indeed the devil’s playground. Note that while David’s men are out in battle, David is lying on his couch (v. 2). And he sees a beautiful woman bathing from the roof of his palace. And we know what David’s weakness is. After inquiring, David is told that the woman is the wife of one of his soldiers. And not just any soldier – one of his greatest soldiers (see 2 Sam 23:39)! Yet, David “took her” and betrays his faithful soldier (v. 4). And in verse 5 we are told that Bathsheba conceived. Considering Uriah is off to war, and considering we are told in verse 4 that she was purifying herself from her menstrual uncleanness, there is no doubt that David is the father of the baby.
And we see yet again that sin begets sin. David calls Uriah back from the frontlines in the hopes that he would have marital relations with his wife, and may believe that the baby is his (vv. 6-13). But Uriah is faithful to God and will not enjoy the luxuries of home while the army if Israel is at war (v. 11). This is in stark contrast to David who laid on his couch! So David tries to get him drunk in order to get him to have sex with Bathsheba, but to no avail (v. 13). So David, who sinned against Uriah and against God, sins again against Uriah and against God. And he ensures Uriah is killed in battle (vv. 14-17). Note that the lives of the other men who also died in this plot are insignificant to David (v. 25). So David adds to his count of wives by marrying Bathsheba (v. 27). And no one was any the wiser about what happened. Except for God…
So God sends Nathan the prophet to David (12:1). His parable about the two men and the ewe lamb is taken literally by David, who condemns the pitiless rich man to death (v. 5). Then Nathan reveals to David that he is far worse than this fictional rich man for what he has done to Uriah (vv. 7-9). And God pronounces a curse on David because David has sinned against God (v. 10). The sword – the pitiless sword – will define his kingdom and his family. David’s wives will be taken by other men like he took Bathsheba (v. 11). In verse 12, God is telling David how obvious it was to Him what David did. David foolishly forgot God in all of this! And because of his sin, David’s son would die (v. 14), though God has “put away” David’s sin (v. 13). Though God forgives our sin, there are always consequences.
So the baby is born, but falls ill (v. 15). So David turns to God in repentance and prayer, begging for the child to live (v. 16). After seven days of fervent prayer, the child dies (v. 18). And David worships God (v. 20). He prayed while the child was alive, but now there was nothing he could do (vv. 22-23). When David says “I shall go to him,” he is referring to joining him someday in death. In verse 24, we read of the birth of Solomon. We see that the Lord loved Solomon – similar to how God loved David. In verse 26. we see the loyalty Joab has for David. With the victory guaranteed, Joab calls for David to lead the final battle (v. 28). And David is given the credit (v. 30).
Because of David’s sin, soldiers died. One of his greatest soldiers, Uriah, died. His son died. God cursed David to endure fighting and family strife for the rest of his life. This is only the beginning.
Psalm 32 is believed to have been written by David after the death of his son. We read that God “put away” David’s sin, that is, He forgave him (2 Sam 12:13). Here, David praises God for His forgiveness (32:1-2). The deceit that David perpetrated against Uriah and God has been forgiven, and is it no more (v. 2). We see that David suffered with guilt because of his sin (vv. 3-4), but after confessing to God, was forgiven (v. 5). David calls for all who believe to confess to God and find forgiveness (v. 6). God is still David’s refuge, but now that refuge includes forgiveness (v. 7). In verses 8 and 9, God is speaking. In verse 10, David not only speaks truth, but prophesies of his own sorrows yet to come because of his sin.
Psalm 33 is also believed to have been written by David after the death of his son. This is perhaps part of his worship after the child died (2 Sam 12:20). David, having repented and having been restored by God, has remembered where his joy is (33:1). Verse 2 and 3 are a call to worship God through song. God may have executed judgment, but He is just, and His love for David has not changed (vv. 4-5). After extolling the power of God (vv. 6-7), David calls for a proper fear of Him (v. 8). Verses 10-17 praise God for His omnipotence and omniscience. David now knows that no deed is hidden from God (vv. 13-15). But the eyes that see all the deeds, are also eyes of loving providence (vv. 18-19). David’s joy, despite his earthly circumstances, is God (v. 21).