“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, . . .” (II Samuel 11:1a)
I just have to comment here. I looked it up, and yes, when it was good weather for “going to war” off would go military leaders and rulers. I guess the people of Israel really got what they wanted! A king who would go to war regularly, loss the lives of soldiers, drain the resources of the nation, and make “mortal” enemies at every opportunity. Who in the nation would want to miss out on that?!?!
“David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” (Verse 1b)
It seems, however, David would. So he stayed home. And got into trouble there!
“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.” (Verses 2-5)
“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.” (Verses 6-9)
David had a plan. A very simple plan. That would provide the solution to a very complicated problem. This is no longer simple shepherd David who guarded his sheep and played a lyre singing songs to God. This is King David who has learned manipulation and plotting at the level of a royal court. But, Uriah the Hittite was a simple man, and a man loyal to his king and kingdom.
“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?” 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.” (Verses 10-11)
A simple plan for a complicated problem. The problem is, as I stated, Uriah is a simple man, much like David had been. So many the simple plan needs a bit more agenda to it. Some help and nurturing along.
“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, 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.” (Verses 12-13)
Principles, integrity, honor, firm resolve. These are, I am told, the qualities of a good soldier. And Uriah was a good soldier. And what happened to Uriah, happens to many good soldiers.
“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 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.” (Verses 14-15)
There are so many things I could say, beloved reader. So many directions I could go. Remember I said the story of David’s kingship would take some twists and turns? This is the first twist. It is also a cautionary tale about war and violence. About believing that people can be expendable for one’s own purpose and agenda. It is also a sad story about honor people who do what is told and expected of them, and the way war “wastes” such people. It also the story of being accountable for one’s actions and not being swayed by circumstances and situations. King or not, Bathsheba should have shown as much honor as her spouse did. But who can say “no” to a king.
And finally, this is a story of hope. Redemption, recommitment and renewal. David remained a man of God, despite how many wrong twists and turns he took. And if God can redeem David after all this, surely God will redeem us too. We are never gone so far, beloved reader, that God cannot bring us back to the God-self. Selah!