Dispatch Two Hundred Eleven

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Forty-Fourth Bundle
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2 SAMUEL 11:1-15

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.

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. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 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. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 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. 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; 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.”

When Bathsheba the mistress discovered she was pregnant by David, she informed him of it. That’s when David’s strategy for self-defense kicked into high gear. He brought Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, home from the battlefront and told him to go to his house and “wash his feet” – a Hebraic euphemism for having sexual intercourse. His hope was that Bathsheba’s pregnancy would be attributed to Uriah’s lucky leave of absence, and that he would get off the hook.

When Uriah refused to have sexual relations with his wife – for it was the time of battle and his compatriots were risking their lives in the field – David got him drunk and tried again, but to no avail. Uriah’s commitment was wholeheartedly to the crown, even as the crown was destroying his home.

As if that weren’t enough, inclination and opportunity intersected one more time and David made arrangements for Uriah to be struck down in battle. Perhaps he was thinking that with Uriah eliminated as a possible witness for the prosecution, he could then foster the ‘leave of absence’ theory for Bathsheba’s motherly state. (Then again, there were those servants who had been with Uriah on each occasion of David’s attempted cover-up.) His window of opportunity for honesty and repentance was quickly closing. Observe the coiling fate of a desperate man!


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