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2 Samuel 11:1-15 1
1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” 6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. 10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” 12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

RomanTileBackground 2

What David said of the mournful report of Saul’s death may more fitly be applied to the sad story of this chapter, the adultery and murder David was guilty of.—“Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon.” We wish we could draw a veil over it, and that it might never be known, might never be said, that David did such things as are here recorded of him. But it cannot, it must not, be concealed. The scripture is faithful in relating the faults even of those whom it most applauds, which is an instance of the sincerity of the author, and evidence that it was not written to serve any party: and even such stories as these “were written for our learning,” that “he that thinks he stands may take heed lest he fall,” and that others’ harms (faults and punishments) may be our warnings. Many, no doubt, have been emboldened to sin, and hardened in it, by this story, and to them it is a “savior of death unto death;” but many have by it been awakened to a holy jealousy over themselves, and constant watchfulness against sin, and to them it is a “savior of life unto life.” Those are very great sins, and greatly aggravated, which here we find David guilty of.

  • He committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, 2 Sam. 11:1-5.
  • He endeavored to father a child and then pass the blame onto Uriah, 2 Sam. 11:6-13.
  • When that project failed, he plotted the death of Uriah by the sword of the children of Ammon, and made it happen, 2 Sam. 11:14-25.
  • He married Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:26, 27.

Is this really David? Is this the man after God’s own heart? How is his behavior changed, worse than it was before Ahimelech, the king prior to David? How has this light before God become dim! Let those that read this story, understand what the best of men can become when God leaves them to themselves.

Biblical Truth 3

Kings preferred not to fight wars in the winter when was wet and often cold. The roads and the land became muddy. The soldiers could not move from one area to another. People would not be able to supply the soldiers with food and the other things that they needed. In chapter 10, the Israelites had already fought the Ammonites. David wanted to defeat them completely and take their capital city. Sometimes David led the army himself (10:17). At other times, he sent Joab out to lead the army (10:7). In this battle, David had sent Joab.

Israel is a hot country after the winter. People used to get up early in the morning to do their work. They stopped in the afternoon when it became too hot. Then they went to bed. They slept until it was cooler. David’s palace had a flat roof. In the evening, it was cooler on the roof than inside the palace. There were many houses in Jerusalem. Some of them had a private garden. There would be a wall round the garden. Bathsheba probably had a bath in her private garden. People would not be able to see her. But David saw her because he was up high on his roof. He saw that she was beautiful. He had a strong desire for her.

Uriah came from the Hittite nation. This nation had become very strong and it had defeated many other nations. The Hittites ruled many nations on the east side of Israel for over 400 years. Then in the end, other nations defeated the Hittite nation. This happened about 200 years before David became king. But Hittite people still lived in many different countries. Uriah lived in Jerusalem. He was one of David’s best soldiers (23:39).

David knew God’s laws and knew that adultery was wrong. But he did not obey God’s law. David saw Bathsheba but he should not have watched her. This resulted in him having a wrong desire for her. Jesus said that such behavior is adultery too (Matthew 5:27-28). Bathsheba’s father and husband were both in David’s group of 30 brave men (23:34; 23:39). David discovered that Bathsheba was married. He should have left her alone. Instead, he used his power as king to get her. David sinned. Bathsheba could not obey both God and David. Perhaps she was afraid to refuse the king’s command. Verse 4 suggests that Bathsheba went to David only once.

A young woman bleeds each month when she is not expecting a baby. The Jewish law says that a woman is not ‘clean’ (or ‘pure’) when she bleeds. This does not mean that she is physically dirty. But she cannot go to religious events, the ceremonies of the Jewish religion. She has to make herself pure when she stops bleeding (Leviticus 15:19-24; 15:28-30). Bathsheba was not expecting a baby before David had sex with her. Verse 4 proves this. Uriah was off fighting in the war and not at his home. Therefore, Bathsheba was expecting David’s baby.

Adultery is a serious sin. In the Old Testament, God said that the guilty man and woman should die (Leviticus 20:10). So, David had a problem. Bathsheba’s baby did not belong to Uriah. David wanted Uriah to go home to his wife. Later, everyone would believe that Bathsheba was expecting her husband’s baby. David pretended that he wanted to hear about the war and the soldiers. In verse 8, David’s gift showed that he was pleased with Uriah. ‘Wash your feet’ probably meant ‘have a rest and enjoy yourself at home’. But Uriah would not go home. He was not an Israelite but he was loyal to the Lord. Deuteronomy 23:9-11 may show that men should not have sex during a war. (See also 1 Samuel 21:4-5.) Uriah obeyed this rule even when he was away from the battle. Uriah had a duty to the other soldiers. He was not selfish. He would not enjoy himself while the other men were in the war. He had a good character and high moral standards. He was an honest man. Uriah’s good behavior is very different from David’s bad behavior.

David realized that Uriah would not change his decision. So, David used his power in the wrong way again. Usually it is an honor to eat and drink with the king. But David did not care about Uriah. David just wanted Uriah to go home and have sex with his wife. This would have solved David’s problem. People often cannot control their behavior when they drink too much alcohol. But Uriah still would not go home. The next day, David decided that Uriah had to die, in spite of Uriah’s innocence. This was murder. Uriah did not know what David wrote to Joab. But Uriah had to carry the letter that led to his own death. Joab did not know the facts. But he had to obey David. Uriah died in the battle. And other soldiers died too.

Items for Discussion

  1. Are there special risks with regard to sin that leaders face? What are they?
  2. Why do you think we are given so much “graphic” detail on David’s sin?
  3. What is it that you have learned about sin through David’s personal failures?
  4. Did God grant any special privileges to David that were not available to anyone else? What can you conclude about our God?
  5. How can one’s experience with sin help others?

 

Acts 12:19b-23
19b Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply. 21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

Background

Citizens of today’s nation-states are not unlike those of Roman times. People often succumb to an almost religious reverence for the power of the state. Theophilus and his peers lived under regimes where homage to the emperor was not only a civic duty but a welcome way of expressing appreciation for the “safety net” the emperor had provided. But the demand for this total loyalty would turn into total opposition when that same state would face Christian citizens who confess, “Jesus is Lord!”

The narrative of Herod’s opposition and demise can help Christians face political opposition with discerning confidence. The state (government) cannot stop the church in its mission.

Biblical Truth

When Herod left Jerusalem, he went to Caesarea. Tyre and Sidon were ports by the Mediterranean Sea, close to Caesarea, which was also a port. Perhaps the traders in Tyre and Sidon took trade away from Caesarea. Perhaps that is why Herod was angry with Tyre’s people and Sidon’s people. However, we do not know exactly why Herod argued with them. But the people from Tyre and Sidon wanted to make peace with Herod. Wheat grew in Galilee and those people needed this wheat for food. Herod was ruling over Galilee. So, they persuaded Blastus, Herod’s official, to help them.

Herod and the people from Tyre and Sidon wanted to be friends again. They wanted to do this in public. Perhaps Herod was trying to be popular again. So, they chose a day when they would meet. It was probably a special day, like the Emperor’s birthday. The Jewish writer Josephus also wrote an account of this occasion. He described the clothes that Herod wore. Someone had made them from silver cloth. They shone in the sun. For that reason, the people shouted that Herod was a god. Josephus wrote that Herod did not stop them. Josephus also described Herod’s death.

Items for Discussion

  • Is government, the state as Matthew Henry calls it, at war with Christians?
  • In what ways do leaders of today make the same subtle claims that they are “God?”
  • What is the role of a Christian when we encounter a “Herod?”
  • Why is the old adage “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” true?

Discussion Challenge

  • How do we equip our church to survive in a world that is against us? Discuss the following strategies:
    • Capitulation – embrace changing world views
    • Discernment – teach each other to recognize God’s ways
    • Stay quiet, out of sight – don’t rock the boat but be faithful
    • Activism – Share the Gospel, share Christ, even at our own expense
    • Ignore the issue – God is in charge, He will fix everything
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