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The Bible In A Year: Day 133

2 Samuel 10-12
Psalm 148-150

2 Samuel 10-12

The king of Ammon dies and when his son takes over he falls into the trap that will claim the kingdoms of more than a few people in the Old Testament, he listened to bad advisors giving bad advice. This same folly will reach David’s own grandson one day, but for now we focus on the ammonites.

David hears of the king’s death and send emissaries to offer his condolences, but they are humiliated and sent back to David. Even 3000 years ago, assaulting a diplomatic mission was a very easy way to start a war, and so it was here. David sends an army and Joab to deal with this disrespect and break of protocol. So the new king of Ammon and his advisers call up many of their Syrian allies, but it all ends badly for both the Syrians and the Ammonites. Moral of the story is be careful of who you pick as advisors, because the advice is only as wise as the man giving it.

Now we come to the famous story of David and Bathsheba. David is hanging around the palace when it’s a time that “kings go forth to battle” so that’s the author throwing a little shade at David for not doing his duty as king, and pawning the responsibility to lead his armies off on his officers. So right off the bat we know David is not doing what he’s supposed to be doing, he’s taking liberties with his position and it’s going to cost him, because we’ve all heard the old saying “idle hands are the devil’s playground.”

He sees Bathsheba on the roof of her house bathing, and he’s immediately taken by her, and asks someone who she is. Now I’ve seen this interpreted a couple different ways, and one is that her house must’ve been very close to the palace because it’s not like David had a telescope on the roof, and also the palace would be higher that the surrounding homes so if she was indeed close and on a lower rooftop she’d have to know that taking your clothes off on the roof you’re going to be seen. So maybe she wanted to be seen and maybe she knew David’s routine so that she knew he’d be standing on the balcony at that time.

Another possibility is that she assumed all the men, including the king, were away at the battlefield, that’s where her husband was after all, and so bathing on the roof in the daytime wouldn’t be inappropriate at all.

If the situation is the former, then she was probably a willing participant when David called her to the palace and laid with her. But if it’s the latter scenario, then maybe she was innocent and went along with David just because she was a subject of the king in a time and age when the king could do whatever he wanted. We don’t really get any indication on what her role or level of participation was in all this.

After he sent her home he must’ve got thinking about what he had done, but notably it wasn’t remorse that motivated his next steps, it was a cover up. He recalled her husband Uriah from the field and gave him so,e excuse why he was brought back, then he fed him and sent him home to his wife for the night. But Uriah refused to go be with his wife, or feast, or even sleep in a bed, because his comrades in arms were sleeping in the fields and dying in war. This must’ve been like a knife twisting in David’s side, because he was supposed to be out there with his men too, but instead he’s sleeping with Uriah’s wife.

David tries again and fails. Uriah is far too honorable and won’t go be with his wife while his friends are dying. So instead of cutting his losses, coming clean, and begging for forgiveness, David moves on to plan B. He decides to have Uriah killed. Undoubtedly this is the easiest way to move forward, it solves his problems and he is the king after all so he could kill Uriah himself and nobody would be able to do anything about it, but by arranging an “accident” he won’t even have to deal with that. But in this moment David forgets that God sees all, and nothing is hidden from him.

He sends Uriah back to the front with a letter to Joab. He’s to put Uriah in a dangerous position and then retreat, leaving him exposed and vulnerable. It works like a charm, and Uriah is killed in battle. Bathsheba goes into mourning, but as soon as her mourning is over, there’s David to take her as his wife.

Now the bill is about to come due for David’s sins.

Nathan the prophet comes to David and plays on his sense of justice with a parable that sends him into a rage. When David declares a harsh punishment for this man who has been so cruel and wicked, the prophet drops the hammer on him and says “you are that man!” The punishment for this sin was the child born of their illicit union would die.

The whole point of this embarrassing episode in the life of Israel’s most celebrated king was to show that kings if Israel were to be different from the kings of the nations around them. Other kings were above the law, they did as they pleased and nobody could stop them or hold the, accountable. But this wasn’t supposed to be the case with kings of Israel, they might be above the law in an earthly sense, but they were not above the divine law and they would be held accountable by God.

After David and Bathsheba’s child dies they have another child, and this one will become the heir to David and a man so wise that his name is synonymous with wisdom. Bathsheba’s son is called Solomon, and he’s destined for great things.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
2 Samuel 13-14
Song of Solomon 1
Acts 18

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