David unites both north and south. The capital is now Jerusalem, but Israel is still not without rancor. The former king, Saul, is dead; yet, some of his sons still survive. How will David deal with their threat to his rule?
2 Samuel 21 reveals further information, which took place earlier in the chronology of David’s life. Of Saul’s seven surviving sons, out of 11, David delivers them over for execution. He arrests them and hands them over to the Gibeonites, an enemy of the Israelites.
Only after, David chooses to show mercy to the survivors of Saul’s family line, those who pose no danger to his rule. To honor a previous pledge, David also doesn’t want to persecute the descendants of Jonathan, his close friend (1 Samuel 20:14-15, 24:20-22).
David’s Undeserved Mercy
Read 2 Samuel 9:1-8, 11b-13
Mephibosheth: The son of Jonathan, the grandson of Saul, meaning “from the mouth of shame.” A childhood accident left his legs paralyzed.
- Why does the text make a point to tell us Mephibosheth was lame in both feet?
- Though David is both a saint and sinner, how does he show goodness and faithfulness as the King of Israel in dealing with Mephibosheth?
The actions of David toward Mephibosheth reflect the stance of God toward us, for Mephibosheth brings nothing David needs, earns nothing, and can repay nothing. Still, David prefers to call the young man to himself, which is an act of sheer mercy and undeserved grace.
Read 2 Samuel 10:1-5
- What does David choose to do with a traditional enemy of Israel after their king dies?
- What happens?
“shaved off half the beard”: Considered an insult, for Israelites usually reserved shaving for times of mourning (Isaiah 15:2, Jeremiah 41:5).
“cut off their garments in the middle”: Naked from the waist down, the Ammonites mock and humiliate David’s ambassadors like prisoners of war (Isaiah 20:4).
Read 2 Samuel 10:6
- After those developments, what begins between the Ammonites and Israel?
The Syrians wallow in defeat, whom the Ammonites hired as mercenaries (2 Samuel 10:17). The Ammonites, however, are still a real threat, which David as the ruler must still resolve.
David’s Great Sins
Read 2 Samuel 11:1
- What does the text imply with “when kings go to war,” and David sends Joab instead?
Read 2 Samuel 11:2-3
- Whom does David see and what does he seek?
“inquired”: Hebrew, darash. Earlier, 2 Samuel tells us David inquired about the Lord’s will for his life, using the Hebrew word, “sha’al” (2 Sam 2:1; 5:19, 23). Darash does mean “inquire” but is stronger, also meaning “demand” and in some instances “worship.” The point the text makes is about David’s intensity, which is more powerful toward Bathsheba than God!
Read 2 Samuel 11:4-5
- What now happens with Bathsheba?
“Uriah the Hittite”: From the Hittite nation and a convert to Judaism. The Hittites established a kingdom in what is today Turkey and western Syria but were also in the Promised Land when Israel conquered the land under Joshua. By David’s time, they no longer posed much of a menace.
Uriah belonged to the “Thirty,” a group of about 30 warriors who rallied around David when he fled from Saul. The “elite forces” of their day, their skills on the battlefield far surpassed the others. One of Israel’s fighting elite, he dedicated his life and abilities to defending God’s people.
Read 2 Samuel 11:6-11
- What does David do with Uriah?
- What do you think were David’s motives?
- What does Uriah not do?
- Though Uriah meant no disrespect to his King, how do his words chastise David?
Read 2 Samuel 11:12-13
- What now happens? Why?
- What doesn’t happen?
Read 2 Samuel 11:14-17
- After David’s Plan A and B both fail, what does he now plan?
- Was his plan successful?
What a stunning contrast to David. David sleeps with the wife of Uriah, who risks his life in the name of his King. Uriah shows more concern for God’s covenant than David, God’s anointed person to be its protector.
Read 2 Samuel 11:25-27
- What does David’s response to General Joab about Uriah’s death reveal?
- What happens to Bathsheba?
Read 2 Samuel 12:1-4
- What is Prophet Nathan doing in his conversation with David?
- Why do you think he would use a parable about sheep?
“eat… drink… lie”: What Uriah refused to do with his wife in 2 Samuel 11:11.
“like a daughter”: Nathan described the ewe lamb was “like a daughter.” The Hebrew for “daughter” is bath—a sneaky allusion to the name Bathsheba.
Read 2 Samuel 12:5-6
- What does David come to believe about the parable Nathan tells him?
- What is his response?
- What does David fail to realize?
Through a parable, Nathan gives David enough rope to hang himself.
Read 2 Samuel 11:7-9
- Nathan confronts David with what?
Read 2 Samuel 11:10-12
- What will now take place with David’s house?
“The sword” (2 Sam 12:10), “which struck down Uriah” (2 Sam 12:9) will turn against David’s house, killing three of his sons (Amnon, 2 Sam 13:28-29; Absalom, 2 Sam 18:15; Adonijah, 1 Kings 2:24-25). Evil will rise in David’s house (12:11) when his son, Absalom, stages a rebellion against him (2 Sam 15-18). Another man will “lie with [David’s] wives in the sight of the sun,” in broad daylight (2 Sam 12:11) when Absalom unites himself with the king’s royal harem in full view of Israel (2 Sam 16:21-22).
Read 2 Samuel 12:13-14
- What does David do?
- What will happen to the child, whom Bathsheba will bear?
To scorn the Lord comes with consequences, if not now, in eternity (2 Sam 12:14). In repentance, a remorseful David writes Psalm 51, the most reflective song of repentance in Scripture. Bathsheba will conceive a second child (David’s 10th) destined to inherit the throne of Israel, whose name will be Solomon.
Other psalms relating to this time in David’s life are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 102, 130, and 143.
In the days ahead, where will David go when he seeks spiritual advice and counsel? Perhaps, to Nathan, although the scriptures do not tell us. We will also meet the prophet when David is on his deathbed, and one of David’s sons is trying to usurp the kingdom from Solomon. Nathan remains faithful to the man, whom he served for so long.