God Restores: The Story of Bathsheba PDF Print E-mail

Cover4b optExcerpt from Chapter 10 of Pregnant With Promise a Bible Study published by Presbyterians Pro-Life

David is chosen by God in spite of his moral failures. In this lesson we see again how God demonstrates redemptive powers and incredible mercy toward his people. After experiencing success after success in overcoming his enemies, David makes a single terrible decision and then complicates it by attempting to cover up his sin. The consequences of this incident ripple forward through David's life bringing conflict and trouble to his family and his kingship.

The King stays home

In the Spring when all the men go out to war, King David stays home. No doubt he misses the comradery of his men and the excitement of battle. In any case he is restless and walking on the roof of the palace at just the time when Bathsheba, a beautiful woman and the wife of Uriah the Hittite, was bathing on her rooftop.
David's curiosity causes him to send out inquiries. Who is this woman? When he learns her identity, he sends messengers to bring her to him.

"She came to him and he lay with her." (II Sam. 11:4)

So few words to describe such a huge moral failure on the part of David! We are not told how Bathsheba responds. Does she protest? Is there a struggle? Is she a willing participant? Scripture is not clear on these things. We do know David is willing to go to great lengths to cover his sin.

Scripture tells us the reason she was bathing: she was "purifying from her uncleanness." According to the Levitical law, Bathsheba was to wait 7 days and make a sacrifice before she would be clean. Anyone lying with her during that time would also be unclean for 7 days.

No doubt, David thought he had kept the matter concealed and no one would ever know about his act of adultery. But then Bathsheba sends him word that she is pregnant and since her husband is away fighting battles with David's army, it is going to become clear that someone else has fathered her child.


David plans what seems to be the perfect solution—it is a simple matter for the king to call Uriah to come home to spend a few nights with his wife. Naturally, everyone will assume the child is the offspring of Uriah. There is just one problem—Uriah is extremely loyal to the men who are still on the battlefield. He takes seriously the commitment of soldiers to remain clean during battle and therefore to abstain from sexual intercourse.

Uriah refuses to go home to sleep with his wife while his comrades are out on the battlefield sleeping in the cold. He remains with David's servants and sleeps in the doorway for several nights. Eventually David realizes he is not going home and sends him back to the battle with a note for the commander, Joab.

God intervenes

David's determination to cover up his own sin results in his planning Uriah's death. He probably did not set out to commit murder. Certainly when he followed his desires and lay with Bathsheba he had no such intent. Still, that one act of passion set him on a path that led him to commit things he would not have imagined.

What about Bathsheba?

The Scripture tells us that she laments her husband (vs. 26) and she probably mourns for the usual period of seven days. At the end of that time David moves quickly to make her his wife.
She probably did not know what David had done. More than likely she interpreted the sequence of events as God's punishment for her sin with David. Added to that was the distinct possibility that she had little choice in the matter. How does one refuse the king?

David's sin does not go unnoticed by God.

"The thing that David had done displeased the LORD."

Nathan, the prophet comes to David with a message from God. He tells a story of injustice. A man with many sheep takes the only ewe of another man. The ewe is a treasured family pet, but is seized and callously slaughtered to feed the richer man's guests.

David is enraged by the account and pronounces judgment. The man should restore four times back to the poor man for the one lamb he took!

You are the man!

Nathan's next words must have penetrated David's heart with the fear of God. "You are the man!" Nathan says. He did not mean those words in the complimentary vernacular of the 20th century. This is an accusation of judgment. God, speaking through Nathan, confronts David with his sin and judges him by his own words. God has revealed to Nathan what David has done. Though he has many wives he has taken Uriah's one wife and has murdered Uriah in an attempt to cover his sin.

Mercy with punishment

Nathan goes on to pronounce God's sentence of David's punishment. First he declares that the sword shall never depart from David's house. In subsequent chapters in II Samuel this prophecy will come true as one son rapes the sister of another and is murdered in revenge and as David's son, Absalom, seeks to take his father's throne.
Secondly, Nathan tells David that his own wives will be taken by a "neighbor" who will lie with them publicly "in the sight of this sun" as punishment for David's secretive sin. This too comes to pass as recorded in II Samuel 16:20.

David responds with a repentant heart saying,

"I have sinned against the LORD."

Nathan responds with an assurance of pardon,

"The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die."

But, those words are followed by a terrible punishment that will be a heartbreaking consequence for David and Bathsheba.

"Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die."

What about Bathsheba?

Imagine Bathsheba's distress at the punishment that is pronounced. She is a victim here, even though she may have been a willing partner in lying with David. She has lost her husband and now because of her sin, her child too will die. Scripture tells us that David is repentant and acknowledges his sin. We are not told much about Bathsheba.

David's humility & prayer

David's intense prayer and fasting while the child is alive is followed by worship when the child's life ends. His actions were confusing to his family and servants, but it made sense to David because he was ultimately submissive to God's working in his life. While there was a chance he could change God's heart through prayer, he gave his full effort and earnestness to prayer. Once God's answer was clear, even though it was not the answer he wanted, David demonstrated his submission to God by ending his fast and worshiping God.

Comfort, child of promise

David comforts Bathsheba and God is gracious to restore them. Not only does he give them another child, but it is Solomon that God chooses to become King after David. The Scripture tells us that God loved this child and sent a message through the prophet Nathan that he is to be called Jedidiah which means "beloved of the Lord."
It is Solomon who will be given the task of building the temple in Jerusalem. David and Bathsheba cannot know it now, but Solomon will become the richest and most powerful king of Israel's history.

What does Bathsheba's story teach us?

Clearly this story has lessons for us about the consequences of sin. Even if we repent and are restored by God's grace and mercy, our disobedient actions sometimes set in motion events that bring us sorrow and regret. The consequences of our sin may bring pain not only to ourselves, but to those we love. David had a repentant heart and God spared his life, but his adultery and murder brought trouble and sorrow to his whole family.

When a child dies

Note David's understanding that "I will go to him." Somehow even before the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, David believed and understood that there was life after death. This fact was a comfort to him as it is to all who believe in Christ. Read the words of hope found in I Thess. 4:13-14:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, borthers, about those who are asleep that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep."

Pregnant with Promise is a Bible Study for the whole church. The biblical stories of pregnant women: Eve, Sarah, Mary, & others, hold wonderful surprises, promises, and lessons for all believers.

Learn about God, who knew and loved you before you were born. Discover that God is present in your most painful experiences.

Know that God provides for his people, keeps his promises, accomplishes the impossible, and brings blessing and life even when we deserve the curse of death.

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