David's Downfall
2 Samuel 11:2-24
And it came to pass in an evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king's house…

This chapter holds out the history of David's soul downfall from the very pinnacle of the highest prosperity to which God raised him. David's downfall was double, into two sins (without repentance), namely, the sin of adultery and the sin of murder.


1. The time of David's adultery. This has a three-fold description, as(1) The time of the year, at springtime;

(2) The time of war, when David had renewed his war against the Ammonites; and(3) The time of the day, in an eventide (ver. 1, 2.) To which may be added(4) The time of David's age and reign. Common computation makes it David's seventh year, the forty-ninth of his age, and the nineteenth of his reign. But learned Dr. Lightfoot computes it to be the twenty-sixth of his reign and so the fifty-sixth of his age, seeing he was thirty years old when he began his reign in Hebron, being in the tenth year of Samuel.

2. The place of David's sin: it was his own palace where he was indulging himself to ease and pleasure, when he should have been fighting the Lord's battles in the field with his army against the Ammonites. While he kept abroad in the wars in his own person he was safe enough. It was at evening tide when David should have been at his devotion, as had been his custom (Psalm 55:17), seeing he would not be in the field to fight.

3. Upon the third circumstance, the person, the sight whereof was the occasion of David's soul fall. She is described here divers ways:(1) A woman washing herself, to wit, from her legal uncleanness (Leviticus 15:19; Leviticus 18:19.) Possibly some window was carelessly left open for air in her chamber, that was near the palace royal, where she could espie no beholder; but lust, being quick sighted, lustful David espied her through the casement that then was casually or carelessly left open.

(2) "Very beautiful to behold." This was a strong bait to David, who had been indulging himself with some excess of eating and drinking.

(3) She is described by her name, as well as by her beauty (ver. 3.) David enquired after her, who she was, when he should rather have reproved himself for looking and lusting after a forbidden object; more especially when he found she was a daughter to one and a wife to another of his famous worthies (2 Samuel 23:34, 39.)(4) "David sent messengers to fetch her." Unbridled lust, like the wild vine, will ramble over the hedge.

(5) She came from her own house into his palace, not by force but by persuasion, pretending only to speak with her; but she came not so well fortified for resisting a temptation as she should.

II. Let us turn aside with Moses to take a LITTLE PROSPECT OF THIS, A GREAT WONDER,

1. As to David, "A man after God's own heart," yet his unbridled lust had metamorphosed him into a beast, He might now well say in the words of Asaph, "So foolish was I and ignorant, and even as a beast before Thee." (Psalm 73:23.) This teacheth us, that the best of men are but men at the best; and who art thou, O man, that thinkst thou art safe and secure enough from acts Of sin? "Surely thou knowest not the plague of thine own heart" (1 Kings 8:38.)

2. As to Bathsheba, some do say she was not free from faultiness upon several accounts.

(1) That she bathed herself in her garden, so nigh to the King's court, for Uriah, being one of David's worthies, had his house assigned him near to the royal palace.

(2) That she so willingly came with the first messenger without any jealousy of a snare to her, after such too open a washing herself in the view of the court.

(3) That she so easily yielded unto David's tempting her without any reluctancy, forgetting her fidelity to her honourable husband, choosing rather to be a base harlot to a king than an honest wife to a good subject.


1. First, David's contrivement to congeal his sin from the eyes of men, in the meantime not regarding the all-seeing eye of God, etc.

(1) He sends for Uriah, that he, returning home and lying with his wife, might believe this now begotten child, to be of his own begetting.

(2) The discourse betwixt David and Uriah upon his return at royal summons (v. 7.)(3) David deals still with Uriah while sober, and dissemblingly gives him an amicable dismission (v. 8) bidding him go home and refresh thyself after thy travail, "and rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (Proverbs 5:18.) Not doubting but he would converse with his wife, and so cover both their sin and their shame.

(4) David's expostulation with Uriah, occasioned by his not embracing the King's leave to go to his house, but sleeping all night, among the king's guard (v. 9.)(5) Uriah still holds his resolution (v. 11) neither the dignity of the king (saith Peter Martyr) nor the beauty and importunity of his wife could reclaim him from his refractory humour. Thus the providence of God did counter-work all the policies and projects of David, who designed all along to have his sin concealed, when the most wise God will have it revealed; and lest the king should think it was too saucy a sullenness in a subject to be thus peremptory he renders a most pregnant reason for so persisting in his resolve.

(6) Still David, instead of repenting, proceeds from bad to worse (vers. 12, 13), when he found himself crossed in his former contrivances with Uriah while sober, he will try one trick more in making Uriah drunk, that when intoxicated he might forget his oath and lie with his wife, putting off all his former austerity.

2. The last, but worst link of that doleful chain of David's lust: So far was David still from repenting of his sin that, seeing his craft (for concealing his adultery he failed him in all the other fair means he contrived, now) resolveth upon cruelty in the use of foul methods to get this good Uriah cut off insensibly, and so to cover his adultery with murder, that so he might not live to accuse the adulteress.

(1) In order hereunto he wrote a letter to Joab (v. 14), not with black but rather with blood, and Uriah must carry this sword to Joab for the cutting of his own throat.

(2) Uriah must be set in the hottest battle, and then lurched (v 15). Joab must believe this most excellent person had some way deserved death, and he must be the executioner; yet could he not be ignorant of the law, that no criminals should die without two or three witnesses against them; therefore, he was too obsequious in obeying so tyrannical a command (v. 16, 17), but Joab haply hoped thereby to ingratiate himself with David for the murder of Abner, which he had not yet answered, for now David was like to be no less guilty than himself. Right or wrong, he'll please the king.

(3) Tidings hereof are dictated by Joab in what order the messenger must tell David (v. 18, 19), and if the king object any rashness in the enterprise, he must answer "Uriah is slain also," and that answers all objections.

(4) David was pleased, saying "Let not Joab be displeased," etc. (v. 25), where he smootheth up his general, slights the slaughter of so many gallant men, and deeply dissembleth with the messenger, that so neither his bloody command nor Joab's fawning obedience might be discovered to him. David had, been still striving against the stream in the use of fair means, and none would do to his content; but, having found success in this foul policy, oh how he hugs himself under hardness of heart.

(5) Bathsheba mourned for the death of her husband (v. 26), and no doubt it was a feigned and a merry mourning. She was inwardly pleased, both as freed from fear of his rage and punishment of an adulteress, and: as hoping now to be made a queen. Had she been sensible of her sin (afterwards doubtless she was) she would have mourned like a dove, as Queen Huzzah did (Nahum 2:7.) But after seven days of mourning (saith Josephus) the ordinary time (Genesis 50:10, 1 Samuel 31:13) the adulterer married the adulteress; and probably more haste might be made here. that she might be thought to be with child by David after they were married (v. 27.) "But the thing that David had (lone displeased the Lord," which was not simply his marrying of her, for that is nowhere forbidden in Scripture, but for his alluring her to adultery, and for murdering her husband after it.

(C. Ness.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

WEB: It happened at evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look on.

David's Dark Days
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