Tuesday

18 January 2022

2 Samuel 11:14-17

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. (v. 14)

Psalm 55:16-22

Background

Things have now got completely out of hand. What started as David not doing his duty as king by not leading his army into battle has ended with him arranging for the death of an innocent man. And in a scene straight out of a film, the order to have Uriah the Hittite killed is carried by the man himself. Suddenly David has become a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to cover his sins. And once again he does so because he has the power to do so. It seems that he is so lacking in shame at his actions, he is even willing to let the victim be the messenger of his impending demise.

The plan worked perfectly. With Uriah having been placed near the most heavily defended part of the city walls and having pushed the enemy back into the city and up against the wall, Uriah and some other soldiers are killed by archers firing from the wall.

We assume that David’s motivation was to cover up what he had done. But at the end of chapter 11 we also read that, following Uriah’s death, he took Bathsheba to be his wife. Perhaps following the failure of his schemes to cover up his actions he simply resolved to get Uriah the Hittite out of the way so that he could have Bathsheba as his wife. Alternatively, knowing that the child was his and Bathsheba was a widow, David may have been taking his patriarchal responsibilities seriously. Again, we are not told how Bathsheba felt about this but, as before, it seems she would have had little choice.

The story reveals an extremely callous side of King David as he arranges for this innocent man’s death. And this is brought home to us even more fully by his words later on in verse 25 to Joab, where he  says, to paraphrase, “Don’t worry about it, men get killed in warfare and it is all a bit random as to who gets killed and who doesn’t.” He obviously wants Joab to forget about it and concentrate on the campaign.

 

To Ponder:

  • We can all be callous (although thankfully not to the same extent as David). Honestly, before God, consider when you have been callous.
  • What do you think motivated David to act in this way?

 

First published 22 January 2019.


Bible notes author

The Revd Jonathan Mead

Jonathan is a Methodist minister. He is based in the London NW Mission circuit where he is minister of Kilburn Methodist Church and a Pioneer starting a new church community with a rule of life. He enjoys keeping fit, reading history and visiting Mediterranean destinations.

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