Biblical and Constitutional Politics
David and Bathsheba
God’s Judgement on Sexual Harassment
By Gary F. Zeolla
The following article is excerpted from my two-volume set God’s Sex Plan. If is from “Chapter Eight: The Books of Samuel” from God’s Sex Plan: Volume One: What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality. This book is now available. Sex Plan: Volume Two: What the New Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality will be available shortly.
All scripture verses are quoted from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible (ALT).
1And it happened, the year having returned to the time for kings going out [to battle], that David sent Joab and his bond-servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons [and daughters] of Ammon and besieged against Rabbah. But David stayed in Jerusalem. 2And it happened toward evening, that David arose from his bed and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, and he saw a woman bathing from the roof; and the woman [was] very beautiful in appearance.
David sends out his commander and army our to battle, but he stays in Jerusalem. Why he stays back is not stated, but as king, he could choose to go or not to go. But while he relaxes in Jerusalem, he walks about on his roof and notices a beautiful woman bathing.
It should be noted that it was common for people to walk on their roofs. That is why the Law mandated:
8“If you should build a new house, then will you make a railing to your [flat] roof; so you will not bring blood-guiltiness in your house, if should fall, the one having fallen from it [fig., if someone falls from off of the roof] (Deut 22:8).
As such, there was nothing unseeingly about David being on the roof. He was not spying on his neighbors.
Moreover, there was nothing indecent about this woman bathing outdoors, as such was the norm at the time. People did not have indoor plumbing like we do today. She probably was not aware that her bath was viewable from the roof of David’s house.
Note also that once again the physical beauty of a woman is noted, with such being mentioned twice. Again, it is not wrong to notice such. But this time, her beauty causes a whole cascade of problems.
3And David sent [a servant] and inquired about the woman. And he said, “This [is] Bathsheba [LXX, Bersabee] daughter of Eliam [LXX, Eliab], wife of Uriah [LXX, Urias] the Hittite [LXX, Chettite], is it not?” 4And David sent messengers and took her and went in to her, and he slept with her [sexually]. And she being purified from her uncleanness, then she returned to her house. 5And the woman received in [the] womb [fig., conceived]; and having sent [a messenger], she told David and said, “I am having in [the] womb [fig., am pregnant].”
There was nothing wrong with David noticing Bathsheba’s beauty. There was not even anything wrong with him inquiring about her. But as soon as he heard she was married, that should have been the end of that. Even as king, he had no right to another man’s wife, as the Law makes clear (Exod 20:14,17a; Lev 18:20; 20:10). But David let his lust get the best of him, and he ignores the Law and sends for Bathsheba.
When she arrives, David and Bathsheba have sex. It is not stated what Bathsheba’s reaction was to all of this, if she protested or offered any resistance. But she was probably so overwhelmed she didn’t know how to react. This was after all a very unbalanced relationship, with David being king and her being one of his lowly subjects. It would be like a boss/ employee relationship today, or better, the President of the United States propositioning a White House intern.
But whatever she thought, she gets pregnant. Since her husband was off in the battle that David avoided, it was clear she had not gotten pregnant by him. As we saw previously, a woman committing adultery could be sentenced to death. But since David was the father, she sends a messenger to him, probably figuring given his position, he could protect her.
But before we get to the aftermath of this affair, it must be noted that David’s lusting for Bathsheba is further proof that David was not a homosexual. That is important as some pro-homosexuals will try to evade the implications for David’s sexuality of him having many wives and many children by saying those were just politically expedient relationships. That is very doubtful, and this episode is proof of it. David’s unbridled heterosexual lust is what drove him to have sex with so many women, including this very not-politically-expedient affair.
[Note: Prior to this, this chapter studies in detail the relationship between David and Jonathan, refuting claims of homosexual advocates that theirs was a homosexual, sexual relationship.]
6So David sent to Joab, saying, “Send to me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7And Uriah arrives and went in to him. And David questioned for peace of Joab [fig., how Joab was doing] and for peace of the people [fig., how the people were doing] and for peace of the war [fig., how the war was going]. 8And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” So Uriah departed from [the] house of the king, and a gift from the king followed him. 9But Uriah slept at the door of the king with the bondservants of his lord, and he did not go down to his house.
David now concocts a plan to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba. He has her husband brought back from the battle. He just assumes that when Uriah arrives in Jerusalem, he will go into his house and have sex with Bathsheba. Then he is hoping that everyone, including Uriah, will just assume the baby is Uriah’s.
Since by now Bathsheba had to have been several weeks pregnant, that hope must be based on people not being able to count and thus not realizing not enough time has passed when Bathsheba gives birth for the baby to be Uriah’s. But be that as it may, David’s plan does not work, as Uriah sleeps outside at the door of the king’s house rather than go into his house and to his wife.
10And they reported to David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house.” And David said to Uriah, “You come from a journey, do you not? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in tents, and my lord Joab and the bondservants of my lord are encamped on [the] face of the field [fig., in open fields], and will I go into my house to eat and to drink and to sleep [sexually] with my wife? How? [As] your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12Then David said to Uriah, “Stay here today also, then tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next day.
David is perplexed as to why Uriah did not go into his own house and into his wife. Uriah has been in battle for probably an extended period of time, so you would think he would have taken advantage of the comforts of his own home and those of his wife.
But we now find out that Uriah is not your ordinary soldier. He is so concerned about his commander and his fellow soldiers that he does not feel right partaking of such comforts. Maybe if David had taken time to find out what kind of man Bathsheba was married to, he would not have taken advantage of him being away. Committing adultery is bad enough, but to do so with the wife of such a faithful and brave soldier makes it doubly despicable.
But David ignores all of that and asks Uriah to stay in Jerusalem for a couple of more days. Uriah is probably anxious to get back to his duty, but he acquiesces to the wishes of the king, not having a clue what has and is transpiring.
13And David called him, and he ate before him and drank, and he made him drunk. And he went out [in the] evening to sleep upon his bed with the bondservants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. 14And it became morning, and David wrote a scroll [or, letter] to Joab and sent [it] by [the] hand of Uriah. 15And he wrote in the scroll [or, letter], saying, “Bring [or, Station] Uriah against the mighty [or, severe] [part] of the battle, and retreat from behind him, so he will be struck and die.”
David now ups the ante by getting Uriah drunk. He correctly realizes that when people are drunk, they will do things sexually that they would not do otherwise. But even that is not enough to get Uriah to go to his wife, so David now makes a disastrous decision.
Rather than trying to hide that he got Bathsheba pregnant by making it look like Uriah is the father, he now uses the power of his office to get Uriah killed. His plan was that with Uriah dead, he could marry Bathsheba, and hoping once again that people cannot count, they would think Bathsheba got pregnant after they got married.
Joab carries out David’s illegal orders, and Uriah is killed in battle, and it is reported to David (2Sam 11:16-25).
26And the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, and she mourned her husband. 27And the [time of] mourning passed by, and David sent and gathered her into his house, and she became to him for a wife, and she gave birth to him a son. But the thing which David did appeared evil in [the] eyes of the LORD.
After Bathsheba mourns the death of her husband, David finishes the last stage of his devious plan and marries Bathsheba. At this point, he probably figures that is that. He has gotten away with his adultery by covering it up with a murder.
However, the last sentence shows that God is not so easily fooled. He knows what David did, just as He knows everything we do sexually and otherwise, no matter how discrete we think we are about it.
1So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to David. And he went in to him and said to him, “There were two men in one city, one rich and one poor. 2And to the rich [man] was very many flocks and herds. 3But to the poor [man was] none but one little female lamb, which he purchased and preserved and nourished it; and it grew up with him and with his sons at the same [time]. It was eating from his bread and was drinking from his cup and was sleeping in his bosom and was to him as a daughter. 4Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he spared to take from his flocks and from his herds to prepare for the foreign traveler having come to him, so he took the lamb of the poor [man] and prepared it for the man having come to him.”
5And David was enraged with great wrath against the man, and David said to Nathan, “[As] the LORD lives, a son of death [is] [fig., he shall surely die] the man doing this [thing]! 6And he shall restore the lamb seven-fold [Heb., four-fold] who did this [thing], concerning which he did not spare [fig., because he had no pity].”
The LORD sends Nathan the prophet to David, and Nathan tells David a sad tale. It enrages David, and he pronounces judgement on the guilty man. However, the tale was as setup, and David fell for it.
7And Nathan said to David, “You are the man having done this! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I Am, I anointed you to [be] king over Israel; and I Am, I rescued you out [the] hand of Saul. 8And I gave to you the house of your lord and the wives of your lord into your bosom, and I gave to you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if that be [too] little, I would add to you more than these! 9Why did you belittle the word of the LORD to do the evil in His eyes? You killed Uriah the Hittite with [the] sword, and you took his wife to yourself for a wife, and you killed him with [the] sword of [the] sons of Ammon. 10Now therefore [the] sword will not depart from your house until [the] age [fig., forever], because you have set Me at naught, and you took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be to you for a wife.’
11“Thus says the LORD, ‘Listen! I will raise up against you evil out of your house, and I will take your wives before your eyes and will give [them] to your neighbor, and he will sleep [sexually] with your wives in the sight of this sun [fig., in broad daylight]. 12For you did [it] secretly, but I will do this thing in the sight of all Israel and in front of this sun [fig., in broad daylight].’”
David’s hypocrisy, murder, and adultery all are exposed at once. David is the guilty man in the tale, and the LORD took notice and will now judge David. Using the power of his office to have sex with a married woman, to have her husband killed, and to take her as his own wife is despicable, and now the sword will be upon David’s house as he put it upon Uriah.
David committed his sin with Uriah’s wife in private; but now, in a case of “you reap what you sow,” David’s wives will be given to another man, but he will sleep with them in broad daylight, to the shame and humiliation of David.
But it is worth noting, Bathsheba is not mentioned as being guilty of sin, and no judgment is placed upon her. That is because David was the sole guilty party due to the unbalanced relationship between them.
13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD!” And Nathan said to David, “And the LORD has put away your sin; by no means shall you die. 14Nevertheless, because spurring on, you spurred on [fig., you have given great opportunity] to the enemies of the LORD by this thing, your son also, the one having been born to you by death, will die [fig., will surely die].”
David repents. His one line here is not the full extent of his repentance. That is recorded in Psalm 51. God forgives him of his sin, just as He will forgive us when we sin, sexually and otherwise, if we repent. That forgiveness is recorded in Psalm 32. As a result of it, God graciously forgoes the death penalty that should be inflicted upon David (Exod 21:12; Lev 20:10). But that does not mean he is off scott free. His son will die.
The theological and ethical questions raised by the son dying and the following narrative of 2Samuel 12:15-23 are addressed in my book The LORD Has It Under Control, so they will not be pursued here. But it is enough for us here to note that the child does in fact die. Thus, David did not get away with his sin.
Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Assault:
During the time I was working on this two-volume set, an avalanche of allegations of sexual harassment and assault began to become public against powerful men in Hollywood, in the news media, and in politics. These allegations include charges of men using the power of their offices to coerce unwilling women into having sex with them. But some go even further to charges of sexual assault, rape, and even pedophilia. Some of the charges are by men accusing powerful homosexual men of assaulting them. Many of the incidents go back decades, to when the most powerful man in America had such charges leveled against him.
Anyone who was in at least their teens in the 1990s know what I am referring in the last sentence and when I mentioned about the President of the United States propositioning a White House intern. I am of course referring to President Bill Clinton and him having sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the oval office. Lying about that affair under oath led to him being impeached by the House of Representatives, though the Senate did not convict him, and he remained in office.
The cause of President Clinton lying under oath was a legal hearing over charges he had sexually assaulted another woman, Paula Jones, when he was Governor of Arkansas. That case was settled court of court, with him paying a $850,000 settlement to Paula (Los Angeles Times).
But that was not the only allegation against President Clinton. Several other women also brought allegations of sexual assault and rape against him, going back to the 1970s when he was District Attorney in Arkansas. But through all of these allegations, the media and his own political party defended him, while vilifying the women who brought the allegations. His own wife, Hillary, who had political aspirations of her own, not only stood by his side but was also complicit in the vilifying of the women, leading to their lives being destroyed (Sean Hannity).
These allegations were so completely covered up that many people back then and even today do not know about these other allegations, with many still thinking the whole impeachment process was just about consensual sex in the oval office. But it was not. It was far more serious than that.
Democrats and liberals protected former President Bill Clinton after Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathleen Willey accused him of nonconsensual sexual impropriety. Feminist icon Gloria Steinhem insisted that Clinton’s defense of abortion rights was more important than the imbalance of power between himself and White House intern Monica Lewinsky (Washington Examiner).
As this avalanche of new allegations have been occurring, many are alleging that these powerful men were emboldened to engage in their sexual improprieties, knowing that President Clinton had been defended and the charges against him covered up. It is further alleged that it has taken years or even decades for some of these charges to come out, as the women and men who were assaulted were afraid to bring allegations against their powerful abusers due to having seen how the women who brought allegations against President Clinton were vilified.
That is how these powerful men got away with all of these sexual improprieties for decades, with a multitude of women and men being assaulted in the process, another example of how one man’s sexual sin can reverberate to the detriment of many others.
But somehow, the dam was breached, and as each woman has come forth with her allegations, other women were emboldened to also come forth with theirs via the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements; but now, rather than being vilified, they are being hailed as heroes. And again, along the way, even men who were so assaulted by powerful homosexual men have come out with allegations as well, leading to the flood of allegations being heard as I was working on this two-volume set, with each day bringing a new allegation.
The charges against former President Clinton are also now being looked at afresh, with the new generation not being so willing to brush aside the claims of his accusers (New York Times). This is especially the case since during the time I was working on this section, new allegations of sexual harassment from new accusers against Clinton began coming out. These concern events that occurred in the early 2000s, after he left office (Rush Limbaugh).
In the narrative of David and Bathsheba, we see God’s opinion of all of this. The LORD was furious with King David when he used the power of his office to coerce a married woman into having sex with him, then used that same power to cover it up by having her husband killed. And God would be just as furious with a President, a Governor, a District Attorney, a Senator, a Senatorial candidate, a movie producer, an actor, an employer, or anyone else in any position of power who uses his office and its power to coerce sex from powerless women and men and to use that same power to cover it up. God would also be furious with anyone else who is complicit in the cover-up, enabling such men to continue their predatory behaviors.
However, that does not mean every allegation of sexual harassment and assault should be believed, as God would be just as furious at those who bring false allegations of wrongdoing and at people being wrongly convicted of such in a court of law or even in public opinion. As such, Bible-believers should resist the temptation to rush to judgment on any particular case until all the facts are known.
It is out of the scope of this book to discuss all that the Bible has to say about deciding guilt in legal matters, but it does have a lot to say on it, starting with the Ninth Commandment, “You will not give false testimony against your neighbor, [giving] false testimony” (Exod 20:16; see also Numb 35:12; Deut 19:15-21; Prov 18:13,17; 1Tim 1:10; 5:19).
24And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and he went in to her and slept [sexually] with her; and she conceived and gave birth to a son, and he called his named Solomon, and the LORD loved him. 25And he sent [word] by [the] hand of Nathan the prophet and called his name Jedidiah [“beloved of the LORD” – LXX, Jeddedi], for the LORD’s sake.
David comforts Bathsheba over the death of their child. Though she was not guilty of sin, she suffered as a result of David’s sin. That is often the case when people sin; they drag others into the consequences of their sin.
David and Bathsheba have sex again, now as man and wife, and another son is born. The text says the LORD loved that son. Thus, even though their relationship started in sin, the LORD brings something good out of it, to the benefit of Bathsheba, showing God did not hold her responsible. God blesses her with a son, who would go on to become David’s successor as King of Israel.
However, the negative aftereffects of David sins are not over. They now affect others in David’s family. Again, that is often the case; when we sin sexually, the negative effects of our sin reverberate to others….
Scripture verses are quoted from:
Analytical-Literal Translation of the Old Testament: Volume I: The Torah. Copyright © 2012 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
Analytical-Literal Translation of the Old Testament: Volume II: The Historical Books. Copyright © 2013 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
New York Times. November 13, 2017. I Believe Juanita.
Rush Limbaugh radio show. 11/20/17.
Sean Hannity radio show. Various episodes, with interviews with Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.
Washington Examiner. Liberals ‘move on’ from defending Bill Clinton’s sexual conduct.
What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality
David and Bathsheba: God’s Judgement on Sexual Harassment. Copyright © 2018 by Gary F. Zeolla
The above article was posted on this website March 15, 2018.
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