Badge of Honor
Honor can be restored when we choose to honor God !
A lifetime built on honor can be torn down in one moment in time. We find this in the story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah. I am glad that God chose to show us not only David’s successes by also his failures. It’s in his failures and loss we can learn how to find a restored honor in our own lives.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (1 Samuel 11, 12)
1. What does David’s apparent idleness suggest about being vulnerable to temptation?
2. Who was affected by David’s sin, both directly and indirectly?
3. Describe David’s first cover-up attempt (vv. 6-13). Why didn’t it work? Who was affected by David’s plot to make Uriah appear to be the father of Bathsheba’s child?
4. Think about a time as a child when you misbehaved and tried unsuccessfully to cover up your wrongdoing. Why wasn’t your cover-up successful? Why do we tend to try to cover up our wrongdoings or blame someone else when we get caught?
5. How did God feel about what David had done? Why is our sin always ultimately against God?
6. Even after salvation, we, like David, still struggle with sin and give into temptations. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in that place alone. How does God confront believers about their sins? What role does the Holy Spirit play in this process?
During this dark season of his life, honor left quickly. David penned Psalm 51. Read it aloud as your LifeGroup silently reflects on the Scripture. Then close with prayer, inviting God to help your LifeGroup members recognize His willingness to forgive and their need to ask His forgiveness.
11:1. David earlier had defeated the Ammonites (2 Sam. 10:6-14), but had not eliminated the threat they posed. Under Joab, David sent the king’s men (his own troops) and the whole Israelite army to crush the Ammonites. The Israelites quickly defeated the Ammonites in battle and besieged Rabbah, their capital city. David, who usually led his troops, remained in Jerusalem. Some Bible students suggest David no longer wished to go into battle, preferring the luxurious life of the royal court. More likely, Joab and his troops insisted David remain in Jerusalem (see 18:1-4). Undoubtedly, many enemy soldiers hoped to win glory by killing David (21:15-17). A siege could last for months or years (2 Kings 25:1-3), and David needed to be administering the kingdom from Jerusalem rather than from the battlefield. In Jerusalem, David would be safe and could continue his royal duties.
11:2-3. The roof of the palace was probably on the highest ground, providing the king a commanding view of Jerusalem. He saw a woman bathing ( “washing”); the text does not suggest she did so intentionally to lure David into an encounter. David discovered the woman’s identity—she was Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam (one of David’s elite warriors; 23:34) and the wife of Uriah the Hittite (another of David’s elite soldiers; 23:39). She also may have been the granddaughter of Ahithophel, one of David’s most trusted counselors (23:34). At any rate, her married status rendered her off-limits to the king.
11:4. David . . . slept with her—meaning he had intercourse with her. The narrative is silent about Bathsheba’s feelings about coming to the palace and submitting to the king’s wishes. Apparently the intent of the biblical writer was to place ultimate blame where it belonged—with Israel’s king. The parenthetical explanation that Bathsheba had purified herself from her uncleanness relates to Leviticus 15:19-33. The point was that sexual relations might well result in conception.
11:5-8. The news of Bathsheba’s pregnancy presented special problems for the king because her husband Uriah had been away fighting the Ammonites and thus could not be the father of the child. David sent orders to Joab without revealing the reason he was summoning Uriah. Uriah must have wondered why the king had summoned him—one of David’s valiant warriors—when a simple messenger could bring news about the war (v. 18). The words of the king to Uriah, wash your feet, suggested a time of gentle relaxing at Uriah’s house, where Bathsheba might arrange an intimate evening with her husband to make it appear that he was the baby’s father. David even sent a gift along—probably some choice food and drink.
11:10-13. David questioned Uriah about his refusal to go home as the king had invited him to do, while being careful not to appear overly eager to make sure Uriah went home.
Uriah answered David as a true soldier. With Israel’s army engaging the enemy in battle, he would not leave the battlefield to enjoy the comforts of home. Ironically, Uriah swore by the king’s own life to disobey David’s command. David delayed Uriah’s return a few days while he contrived another plan. David got Uriah drunk in an effort to get him to wander home to Bathsheba, but he did not go home. The king was becoming more desperate to cover his misdeed.
11:14. When David’s plan failed, he devised a new strategy. Uriah’s actions made a cover-up impossible, so the king decided to eliminate Uriah. David wrote a letter to Joab to send with Uriah. Uriah probably assumed the letter bore instructions about the siege. A loyal soldier of his general and king, he did not break the seal of the letter to read it. Uriah’s obedience to his king contrasted sharply with David’s disobedience to the King of kings.
11:15-16. David’s initial sin drew him into a series of more desperate actions. He devised a plan to make Uriah’s death look like a terrible tragedy of war. David’s letter instructed Joab to place Uriah in the front line where the fighting would be fiercest and then withdraw from him so he would be struck down and die. Joab had to attack the strongly fortified city and ensure Uriah’s death while seeking to minimize his losses. Uriah never knew or suspected he carried his own death sentence. Joab, a brilliant general, had to wonder what Uriah had done to deserve death, but he obeyed David’s order. Uriah became a casualty of war.
11:18-20. Messengers (not elite soldiers as with Uriah; v. 6) routinely ran between battle lines and Jerusalem to provide updates on the war (18:19-23; 1 Sam 4:12-17). Joab knew that David, an experienced military man in his own right, might respond angrily if he heard a bad report that included what he considered foolish military tactics.
11:21-25. The account of Abimelech dying from an upper millstone that was thrown from the top of the wall was a vivid example from Israel’s history (Jdg 9:50-54). The messenger must have wondered, however, why Joab’s suggestion to tell the king that Uriah the Hittite was dead might appease David’s anger. Now two people, besides David and Bathsheba, knew a piece of David’s secret. The messenger did not wait for the king’s reply to share the news of Uriah’s death. Again, when David told the messenger an encouraging word to relay to Joab, the messenger must have wondered why the king would have received the news without even challenging Joab’s strategy as Joab had anticipated he might (vv. 20-21). As is almost always the case, sin proves hard to hide for David.
11:26. The text’s description of Bathsheba only as Uriah’s wife is probably intentional to accent David’s sin. She mourned for Uriah, probably putting on mourner’s clothes (Jer 6:26), throwing dirt or ashes on her head (2 Sam 1:2), sitting in the dirt (Isa 47:1), fasting (1 Sam 31:13), and weeping. Professional mourners assisted in expressing the family’s grief and loss, and mourning typically lasted seven days (Gen. 50:10; 1 Sam. 31:13). At the same time Bathsheba mourned, many other families in Israel mourned the losses of their sons, husbands, and fathers who had died as a result of David’s plan to kill Uriah.
11:27. The time of mourning is not given. Israel mourned Moses for 30 days (Dt 34:8), but Uriah’s mourning probably was not that long. David then brought Bathsheba to his house, and soon she bore him a son. The king might have escaped detection from some who might have been in a position to report him—except that the Lord had seen the entire ugly ordeal.