2 Samuel 11

These small group studies through the lives of David and Solomon contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

David and Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11 Inductive Bible Study

  1. David commits adultery (1-5)

  2. David tries to cover it up (6-13)

  3. David has Uriah killed (14-27)

  1. David commits adultery (1-5)

Discussion Questions

  • Why is the spring the time kings go out to battle?
  • Where was David during this time? Why do you think David may have stayed in Jerusalem?
  • Where was David’s first mistake in this passage?
  • Why could he see a woman bathing from his roof?
  • Who was at fault in this adultery? What were Bathsheba’s areas of culpability?
  • How do you think of her likely reasoning, “The king commanded me, so I had to do it?”
  • Was it wrong for David to see Bathsheba? What should David have done when he saw her?
  • How can sisters today help prevent their brothers from stumbling like David did?
  • What can brothers learn from this passage?
  • How can brothers avoid falling into the same sin or types of sin that David fell into?

Verses on Lust

  • Matthew 5:28 – If you look at a woman with lust in your heart you have already commited adultery.
  • Galatians 5:16 – Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the flesh.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality.
  • 1 John 2:16 – The lust of the eyes is from the world.
  • 2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee youthful passions.
  • James 1:14-15 – Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
  • Job 31:1 – I have made a covenant with my eyes not to gaze at a virgin.
  • Psalm 119:37 – Turn your eyes from worthless things.

Teaching Points

1. In the spring when kings go out to war – Springtime was the beginning of most military campaigns. The troops did not have to contend with winter and the difficulties that accompanied it. Also, there would be plenty of time before the next winter to finish the campaign. Though his army was at war, David was not. It might not be considered that significant, except for the fact that that the author specifically mentions it. This would seem to indicate that David not going to war was abnormal and not something that would be looked on favorably by God, the army, or the country. We don’t know why David decided not to go with the army. Perhaps it was nothing more than laziness and a desire to enjoy the comfortable life of the palace rather than the harsh realities of war. It is said that an idle mind is the devil’s playground. David apparently had altogether too much free time at the palace (when he should have been directing the army.) And we will see that the results were not good.

Application: One method to pre-emptively ward off temptation is to keep ourselves busy doing good things. If we are using our time well serving the Lord there is less time and opportunity for thinking of and participating in sin.

2. From the roof he saw a woman bathing – Let’s look at this from the perspective of both Bathsheba and David.

Bathsheba – Some scholars have suggested that David’s palace was higher than the surrounding area. They also suggest that Bathsheba was bathing in a courtyard surrounded by walls on every side. Regardless of the exact setup of her house and the neighboring houses, we do know that David saw her while she was bathing. Even allowing one person to see her bathing was a mistake. Bathsheba was not being modest. See 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and Proverbs 11:22. Was Bathsheba doing this intentionally? Was it an elaborate scheme to ensnare David? We don’t know. It was either very naïve or blatantly seductive.

David – The first sight of Bathsheba was not sinful. If David was just having a walk on the roof and happened to catch sight of Bathsheba, he cannot be blamed for that first moment. The sin is in the second look or the lingering look. You see, after David first saw (perhaps unintentionally) Bathsheba, he had a choice. What could he (should he) have done? He could have immediately turned away and gone back inside. Even further, he could have issued a new law that all Israelites must only bath inside the privacy of their own homes! But this is not what David did. He kept looking long enough to notice that Bathsheba was beautiful. Then after that he could not get her out of his mind. A thought, a temptation, a lust had been born in his mind. Instead of confessing that initial lust and dealing with it, he pursued it. He allowed it to grow. Then he did the worst thing he could have possibly done. He acted on it. He sent people to inquire. Step by step David committed the worst sin in his whole life and it was disastrous on many levels. The next step after finding out who she was, David sent messengers to get her.

3. Verses 4-5 – David was not the only one to blame for this sin. His messengers were culpable because they didn’t stand up to his sinful instructions. Bathsheba was also responsible. She should have made up her mind to obey God rather man. Instead she gave in to either fear or flattery. It is possible that she was motivated to go to David because she was afraid at what the king would do if she disobeyed. She might have even made the excuse “I have to. I have no choice.” Instead she should have placed her faith in God for protection. I asked Christy her thoughts of Bathsheba and she said Bathsheba should have said, “If I die I die.” Or perhaps Bathsheba was genuinely flattered. She might have been excited to be noticed by someone rich and powerful like the king. She might have even imagined how much more comfortable a royal life in the palace would be than being the simple wife of a simple soldier. If Bathsheba had the moral fortitude to write a letter to David declining his command and emphasizing her loyalty to her own husband that might have been the end of it. Unfortunately we won’t know because she took the easy way out.

Bathsheba conceived and sent a message to David telling him she was pregnant. Evidently both of them were hoping that no one would discover their sin and the news that she was pregnant panicked both of them. Here was a chance for David to come clean, accept responsibility and confess. Instead we will see he keeps stacking one sin on top of another to try to “solve” this problem.

  1. David tries to cover it up (6-13)

Discussion Questions

  • What fact moved David to action starting in verse 6? What does this teach us about the nature of sin? What should David have done when he found out that Bathsheba was pregnant?
  • What does David mean in verse “go down to your house and wash your feet?” What was he trying to do?
  • Does David give up after his first attempt to cover his sin failed?
  • What do we learn from Uriah in these verses? What kind of person was he?
  • Does David give up after his second attempt to cover his sin failed?

Verses on Hiding Sin

  • Proverbs 28;13 – He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper.
  • Proverbs 10:18 – Whoever conceals hatred has lying lips.
  • John 3:19-20 – Everyone who does evil hates the light.
  • Jeremiah 16:17 – Our iniquities are not concealed from God.

Teaching Points

1. Go down to your house and watch your feet – David attempted a cover up. He was hoping that Uriah would go back to his home, sleep with his wife, and then that he would think the child was his own. Is this a good strategy? Why or why not? Even if David succeeded, he and Bathsheba would both have to live perpetually with the guilt of their adultery. Bathsheba would be forced to live a lie day after day. It was a coward’s way out.

2. Uriah slept at the entrance of the palace – Uriah was more honorable than David or Bathsheba. He believed that his place was with the army. His fellow soldiers were enduring hardship for the sake of their country and he couldn’t enjoy himself and his normal life with a good conscience until his mission was complete. See verse 11. He understood David’s implied suggestion, but he was a soldier and he had a job to do.

3. David tries one more time – David’s first attempt to talk Uriah into going back to his house and sleep with his wife didn’t work. So in his panic David tries another method. This time he gets Uriah drunk. His hope is that Uriah will lose his self control and in his drunken state forget his stated principles. Uriah does not forget. Even drunk he still stayed at the palace.

4. David schemes to have Uriah killed – Once again David does not confess his sin. His flesh is firmly in control. David is desperate to cover up his sin no matter what the cost. Why do you think he is so desperate to cover up his sin?

In his desperation, he comes up with the worse plan yet. He is going to arrange the battle in such a way that Uriah would die. Later David made the statement that “the sword devours one as well as another.” What do you think of this reasoning?

5. Verses 19-24 – Joab was complicit in this murder. As commander of the army he should have stood up to David. While David was the main culprit in all of this, no one stood up to him. No one pulled him aside and said, “What are you doing?” David himself never pulled his sons aside to challenge their behavior (see 1 Kings 1:6.) Perhaps if others had set him a better model in this, he too would have done a better job in raising his own children.

Joab knew David would be angry about the report of the battle. That tells us that this was not a normal battle and not a normal battle “strategy.” Any military commander would instantly know how foolish this battle arrangement was. Therefore it is clear that no excuses about “death in battle” happens stands up. It was pre-meditated and intentional.

6. Verse 25 – David was not repentant. Uriah’s death did not wake him up. He instead continued to excuse his sin and offer the justification that death in battle happens.

7. Bathsheba mourned for her husband according to local customs and then was brought to the palace to be David’s wife. David’s treachery was complete.

8. The thing David had done displeased the Lord – Before this phrase it looks like the story is over. Uriah was gone. The sin had remained secret. David’s plan seemed to have worked. But here the author adds a very important observation. God knew what David had done. And God was not pleased by it. The rest of the chapter is historical narrative, merely reporting the facts as they happened. Here we get a glimpse into God’s thoughts about all of this.

God is always watching. God sees whatever we do. We may be able to fool the people around us. We may even be able to fool ourselves. But we will not fool God. He will not fall for our excuses or justifications because He sees the truth. He sees our secret intentions and motivations exactly as they are. Whenever we face temptation, we should remember that God is watching and we cannot keep anything secret from him. See Luke 8:17.

  1. David has Uriah killed (14-27)

Discussion Questions

  • Does David give up after his third attempt to cover up his sin?
  • What is David’s next plan?
  • How do you think of this plan? Is this the same as murder (after all, Uriah is a soldier)? Why or why not?
  • What do verses 19-21 show about David and Joab’s millitary “strategy” in this battle?
  • Did anyone else suffer because of David’s sin? Who? What does this teach us about the peril of sin and its consequences?
  • Based on vese 25 was David penitent for what he had done? What did verse 25 show about his attitude?
  • There is one line in this chapter that is not merely historical narrative. What is it? (But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.)
  • What principles can we learn from this chapter? What do we learn about sin? About lust? About covering up sin? How can we avoid the same mistakes that David made?
Next: The Consequences of David’s Sin

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2 Comments

  1. Jennifer November 16, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Hi

    I have a different perspective on this story. I think Bathsheba is the one primarily responsible.

    David was the king so Bathsheba was certainly attracted to him. She knew he would see her bathing. In verse 2 David did not sin of his own volition because Bathsheba ‘s nudity overwhelmed his masculine need for sex.

    In verse 3 it is hard to know what David was thinking. His motives might have been mixed. No doubt he had adultery on his mind but he also might have wanted to merely tell Bathsheba to cut it out.

    In verse 4 when Bathsheba appeared before him she was probably immodestly dressed to ensure David would lust. After lusting again in verse 4, David committed adultery with her.

    David’s real sin throughout this incident was pride, not lust. After seeing Bathsheba bathing and lusting after her, he could have just sent the messenger to inform her to stop; instead, he overestimated his ability to resist her immodesty and spoke to her personally. His attempt to cover his sin afterwards was another manifestation of pride; he thought he could deceive everybody including God.

    As a Christian woman I have to realise that while lust is a sin for a man it is also a sin for a woman to dress immodestly, in fact more. A woman has control of her desires and her immodest dress requires aforethought. A man can’t control his needs so it is very hard for him not to lust.

    Once my younger sister was dressed immodestly in front of my husband. Since I had not been taking care of him he lusted after her. I didn’t shame him for this but instead realized my sister sinned by not covering up and I sinned by neglecting his sexual needs. I rebuked my sister and had relations with my husband.

    As far any others who are involved, it is unclear where David’s wife was in this chapter. Did she die or leave him? If she was there, it doesn’t look like she was taking care of him. If so, Michal deserves some blame too.

    • savedbyhim01 November 17, 2018 at 7:34 am - Reply

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I agree that Bathsheba should share the responsibility in what happened. She should not have been bathing in an area where other people could see her. In addition, she should not have gone further with David. It is unlikely David would have taken her kicking and screaming as he wanted to keep things private so at the very least she was probably a reluctant accomplice and perhaps more as you suggested.

      I am not sure about the details such as what she wore when she visited David since the Bible does not tell us. But it is true that women should dress modestly.

      Personally, I do not absolve David of blame at all either (as clearly God did not when He sent Nathan to rebuke David). Even if Bathsheba was intentionally seducing David (which the text does not make clear), David should have found some means to resist that and was responsible for his own sin.

      There is a lesson here that both women and men share responsibility before the Lord to protect both their own heart and mind and their brothers and sisters in the Lord.

      Blessings, Jason

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