Leading Question: When a leader commits a great mistake, can we still trust him or her?
- 2 Samuel 11
- A Man After God’s Own Heart? When God rejected Saul, Samuel said that God would select a king who was a “man after his own heart” (1 Sam 13:14). But that was before the Bathsheba affair. Can we justify all of David’s acts because at one point he was said to be a man after God’s own heart?
Note on the story of Bathsheba. It has been argued that Samuel/Kings tell all the bad things about David and Solomon because the author wanted to show that even Israel’s best kings had contributed to the fall of Israel. By contrast, the Chronicler omits all the bad things about the kings because his purpose was to give hope to a discouraged people. The story of Bathsheba isn’t even mentioned in Chronicles. Does this contrast help us know how to use stories today?
It should also be noted that Bathsheba appears in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, a genealogy that lists four women. Including women at all in a Jewish genealogy was a radical act. But in this instance even more so because each of the four women would seem to be disqualified from being in a royal genealogy: Tamar committed incest with Judah, her father-in-law; Rahab was a foreign prostitute from Jericho; Ruth, the only “good” girl in the list, was a Moabite, prohibited by law (Deut. 23:3-6); Bathsheba was an adulteress, a fact underscored by the fact that Matthew does not even give her name; she is simply the “wife of Uriah” (Mat 1:6).
- A story about David, Bathsheba, or Uriah? Clearly in this instance Uriah is a “background’ character. Or is he? After all, we hear more from Uriah than from Bathsheba. She doesn’t say a word in 2 Samuel 11. Is his honesty a deliberate foil for David’s evil?
- David’s faithful warrior. What kind of man/warrior was Uriah the Hittite? When he refused the king’s urging to be with his wife, was it an act of honor, or rebellion, or both? Is that kind of abstention an “honor” that is no longer applicable in our culture?
- Provocation. To what extent was Bathsheba responsible for her difficulties? Could she have been more careful? Could she have refused the king?
- No death penalty for adultery. No OT narrative records the death penalty for adultery. It is a law, but never enforced. How should this “fact” shape our thinking about “penalties” today?
- A foreigner more faithful than God’s leader? Uriah was a foreigner who was more faithful than the king. Should that affect our attitudes toward foreigners today? Toward fallen rulers?