2 Samuel 11:5

2 Samuel 11:5-15. - (JERUSALEM, RABBAH.)
He who once leaves the right path little knows how far he may go astray or how great will be his perplexities and perils. Possibly he may never return; certainly he will not return without overcoming immense difficulties, and finding out by bitter experience his folly and perversity.

"The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way;
But to return and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labour lies."

(Dryden's 'Virgil.') Sin is commonly attended (as in the case of David) by -

I. GUILTY FEARS. After his sudden fall he probably felt some measure of compunction; but repressed the reproaches of conscience, and continued, in the view of men, the same as he had ever been. It is evident that, when the message (ver. 5) came to him, he was not truly penitent.

1. It awakened his fears concerning the possible exposure of his sin. Would not the wife of Uriah, on the return of her husband, be constrained. to declare the author of her shame?

2. His fears were intensified by the probable consquences of such exposure. Even if he should be able to save Bathsheba, and himself escape legal punishment, by virtue of his high position as the Lord's anointed, how could he avert the private vengeance of Uriah, or maintain the confidence, affection, and allegiance of his army and people? What other Eastern monarchs did with impunity, could not be done by him in Israel without incurring the moral indignation of the people, and causing the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.

3. He was impelled by his fears to use his utmost efforts with a view to the concealment of his sin. "And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite" (ver. 6). His endeavour to hide his transgression "as Adam" (Job 31:33) was itself a tacit acknowledgment of its disreputable character. And "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper," etc. (Proverbs 28:13). Would that men, after their first wrong step, immediately confessed their error, made reparation, and returned to the way of truth and righteousness!


1. In their attempts at concealment men are wont to employ extraordinary ingenuity (1 Samuel 18:17-30), and to hide their base designs under the cover of kindness (vers. 7-9).

2. Their crafty purposes are often defeated by simplicity and sincerity, beyond their calculation. "The ark," etc. (vers. 9-12). "This answer expressed the feelings and the consciousness of duty which ought to animate one who was fighting for the cause of God, in such plain and unmistakable terms, that it was well adapted to prick the king to the heart. But David's soul was so beclouded by the wish to keep clear of the consequences of his sin in the eyes of the world, that he did not feel the sting, but simply made a still further attempt to attain his purpose with Uriah" (Keil).

3. Although defeated, their attempts are usually repeated (ver. 13), but only to issue in greater disappointment, perplexity, and anxiety. The devices of sin are like a labyrinth, in which the sinner becomes more and more inextricably involved. They are like the meshes of a net, in which he becomes more and more hopelessly entangled.

III. INCREASING CRIMINALITY. (Vers. 14, 15.) "He sent back the unsuspicious warrior to Babbah, to Joab, with a letter, which, under the name of 'Uriah's letter,' has become notorious throughout the world. It was written with the same pen with which the sweet psalmist had written his psalms" (Krummacher).

1. The course of sin is downward into ever deeper moral abasement. "It is the nature of sin to multiply itself, and to draw the wretched sinner on to greater and greater enormities." Adultery was followed by

(1) deception,

(2) ingratitude,

(3) injustice,

(4) meanness,

(5) temptation (ver. 13; Habakkuk 2:15),

(6) treachery,

(7) murder.

"One sin another doth provoke;
Murder's as near to lust, as flame to smoke."

2. It is so because of its blinding, hardening, and enslaving power (2 Peter 2:19; Proverbs 6:22), its delusive promises of good, its specious pleas of necessity, its urgent impulses to desperate expedients. "Such are the accursed entanglements of sin; such the workings and gradations of it in the distracted, bewildered breast that admits it. Millions have been lost in these Labyrinths of guilt; but none, sure, in any more intricate and perplexing than this!" (Delany).

3. Although it may be followed by apparent and temporary success, it cannot ultimately prosper. "The Lord shall reward," etc. (2 Samuel 3:39; Proverbs 11:21; Isaiah 5:18). "The means which David took to extricate himself from the complications in which his adultery involved him appeared well chosen; but there was one thing he had not taken into consideration - that he could not here, as in former embarassments, confidently expect the assistance of God. It was God's design that David's sin should be fully manifested, for only in this way was perfect cure possible, and therefore he suffered the means to fail" (Hengstenberg). - D.

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
The transaction is recorded at length in the chapter which contains the text; and the conclusions which we may draw from a review of it are numerous.

1. The first, and by no means the least important of these, is the proof which hence arises that none of us can lay claim to any constraining grace, which, in despite of ourselves, shall compel us to holiness and to salvation. That David enjoyed the grace of God in a very especial degree, is what no Christian can deny: and few, it is to be expected, Will suppose themselves to be more highly favoured than he was in this particular. Yet here we have a melancholy, but still a most positive and salutary proof that no portion of the grace of God, however considerable, will protect man from the most fearful enormities, unless he will employ it when given him. Our faith is not to be confidence that we shall be saved, but confidence that, if we obey. God to the best of our power, we shall be saved: and our hope must be that we may render that obedience which may be accepted through Christ; while our lives must be such as are worthy of such an hope; we must prove that we have this hope in us, by purifying ourselves, even as He is pure.

2. The next consideration which forces itself on our attention is the difference of David's circumstances at the time of his fall from those in which he is placed, when he had the best of all testimonies, that "the Lord was with him." We now see that, however prosperity and leisure are in themselves desirable, they have dangers, which to resist, requires all the strength which God has put at our disposal. David was not a novice to their blandishments. For ten years he had been in undisputed possession of the splendour and luxuries of the kingdom of all Israel. All this period had been as remarkable as the darkest days of his adversity for the most religious fulfilment of the two great comprehensive duties, the love of God and the love of his neighbour. Offensive, therefore, as the thought may be to him who feels himself secure in his own righteousness, or who imagines himself to be so firmly in the hand of the Lord that nothing can pluck him thence, it is, nevertheless, the inevitable conclusion from the melancholy truth now under consideration that no man, whatever his real holiness, or whatever his opinion concerning the decision of his future fate, is secure from the stains of even the most deadly sins. David, it appears, had hitherto been as holy in prosperity as in distress; and, it might be supposed, was now so intimate with grandeur and power as to have nothing to fear from their influence, especially when it. is considered that it was by habitual religion that he had supported himself inviolate amidst the trials of persecution and the temptations of luxury. But at. this crisis there was one remarkable circumstance. He had already done all that was required of him in active life, and there Seemed nothing now remaining but to turn his thoughts towards the interests and good government of his kingdom. When his pillow was the rock and his curtain the cave; when his sword, under Providence, procured him his daily bread from the foes of his country, and the means of existence formed the object and pursuit of life — he was pious and immovable; he must have been active, or he must have resigned his life. But now the case was widely different; he had not only all the necessities, but all the luxuries which the most refined voluptuousness could devise, attending in profusion round him: he had certainly the duty of his charge, to impress its importance on his mind; but then he had the opportunity of neglecting it; and even David, it appears, was not proof against the solicitations of this opportunity! To all of us is this example fraught with materials for the most serious personal application. The flesh itself works along with us so long as we toil for its support; but when we have once accomplished this it ungratefully turns upon us and endeavours to enslave us to its dominion. Where the necessities of life do not compel him to labour there is great danger, even to the confirmed Christian, lest the value of time and the necessity of improving it, should not be always present to his mind; while the temptations arising from the very nature of his situation are such as at all times require the very closest and most diligent circumspection. And when the unguarded moment and the temptation coincide, as they are wont to do, the example before us is a terrible demonstration of the ruin which must follow. The crime of Bathsheba cannot be long concealed: the punishment was death; either, therefore, Bathsheba must be sacrificed to the law, or her husband removed in time to allow her to become the wife of David before suspicion could arise. David no longer hesitates: the fatal order is deliberately sealed, and put into the hands of the generous, unsuspecting victim, who immediately is placed by his commander in the post most congenial to his feelings, the forefront of the hottest battle, and betrayed by his cowardly companions into the hands of an unsparing enemy. Such is the natural uniform progress of sin, wherever it takes root, though the soil be the heart of David.

(H. Thompson, M. A.)

1. This chapter reveals the character of David in its most distressing aspects. From end to end it is a production worthy only of the very genius of perdition, His very greatness becomes the measure of his sin. All his senses are set on fire of hell. The spirit of generosity is dead within him. The spirit of justice is exiled from his nature. How is the star of the morning dashed from heaven l How is the fine gold become dimmed! How are the mighty fallen! It is almost impossible to believe that this is human nature at all. Let us not seek to excuse David. We injure the Bible, and the whole purpose of the inspired volume, if we speak so much as one word in defence of a series of actions which might have been conceived by Satan and executed within the darkness of perdition.

2. The all-important sentence is the last: "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." Without that sentence the chapter would have been intolerable. From this time forth David must bear the judgment of the Lord. Do not let it be supposed that even king David could perform such a series of wrongs and cruelties, and play as skilfully on his harp as ever, and sing as jubilantly before Heaven as he ever did. David's harp acquired a new tone after this infamy. Psalms were written by David after this great transgression which could not have been written before its commission. Years were added to the life of the king; he was bent down under an invisible load; his face was wrinkled with grief, and his eyes were dimmed by contrite tears.

3. We see now something of what human nature is when it is left to show itself. We are bound to go to history as the one revelation of human nature. It is in vain to invent and discuss theories of psychology; it is in vain to look upon one aspect of human nature, and to judge the whole by the part; it is in vain, too, to fix upon any given date in human history and to judge men by that standard of civilisation. The one inquiry is what men have done in their very worst moods. An answer to that inquiry will settle the whole question respecting human depravity. We are bound to look at such a chapter as the first in the epistle to the Romans, if we would see what human nature is in its innermost and largest possibilities. Nor must we shrink from dwelling upon the hideous spectacle, To speak of revolted sensibilities, highly excited prejudices, and to declare that such instances are beyond the range of careful study, is simply to deprive ourselves of some of the most solid lessons of human history. We must know what sin is before we can have any adequate idea of the Divine relation to it. Sin explains the cross, sin explains the atonement, sin explains Christ.

4. The Bible is to be judged by what God would have done, not by what man would have done. Find a single sentence which approves of David's guilt. Happily, there is no such sentence in the whole record. The spirit of the Bible, therefore, is not seen in what David did, but in the judgments which followed him and darkened his day with tremendous thunder-clouds. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

As for David's fall, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints. David's fall was such as is not so much as named among the Gentiles. But, past speaking about as David's fall was, it was what followed his fall that so displeased the Lord. In the words of Butler's latest editor, "it is safer to be wicked in the ordinary way than from this corruption lying at the root." As Thomas Goodwin points out in his great treatise on the "Aggravation of Sin,." it was the "matter of Uriah," even more than the matter of Bathsheba, that awakened the anger of the Lord against David. That is to say, it was David's sin of deliberation and determination, rather than his sin of sudden and intoxicating passion. It was both matters; it was both sins; but it cannot be overlooked that it was after a twelvemonth of self-deceit, internal hypocrisy, and self-forgiving silence on David's part that Nathan was sent to David in such Divine indignation. How a man like David could have lived all that time soaked to the eyes in adultery and murder and not go mad is simply inconceivable: That is to say, it would be inconceivable if we had not ourselves out of which to parallel and illustrate David, and make David both possible and natural to us.

(Alex. Whyte, D. D.).

Abimelech, Ammonites, Bathsheba, David, Eliam, Jerubbaal, Jerubbesheth, Joab, Uriah, Urijah
Jerusalem, Rabbah, Thebez
Child, Conceived, Conceiveth, Conceiving, David, Declareth, Pregnant, Saying
1. While Joab besieges Rabbah, David commits adultery with Bathsheba
6. Uriah, sent for by David to cover the adultery, would not go home.
14. He carries to Joab the letter of his death
18. Joab sends the news thereof to David
26. David takes Bathsheba as his wife

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 11:1-5

     5386   leisure, nature of

2 Samuel 11:1-17

     5040   murder

2 Samuel 11:1-27

     5714   men

2 Samuel 11:2-5

     5277   criminals
     5377   law, Ten Commandments
     5733   pregnancy
     5836   disgrace
     8777   lust

2 Samuel 11:2-17

     5290   defeat
     5817   conspiracies

2 Samuel 11:3-24

     5305   empires

David's Fall 2Sam 11:27

John Newton—Olney Hymns

How those are to be Admonished with whom Everything Succeeds According to their Wish, and those with whom Nothing Does.
(Admonition 27.) Differently to be admonished are those who prosper in what they desire in temporal matters, and those who covet indeed the things that are of this world, but yet are wearied with the labour of adversity. For those who prosper in what they desire in temporal matters are to be admonished, when all things answer to their wishes, lest, through fixing their heart on what is given, they neglect to seek the giver; lest they love their pilgrimage instead of their country; lest they turn
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

The Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt not kill.' Exod 20: 13. In this commandment is a sin forbidden, which is murder, Thou shalt not kill,' and a duty implied, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others. The sin forbidden is murder: Thou shalt not kill.' Here two things are to be understood, the not injuring another, nor ourselves. I. The not injuring another. [1] We must not injure another in his name. A good name is a precious balsam.' It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. We injure others in
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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