2 Samuel 11-13
David’s Sin and Sorrow
11 When that time of year came around again, the anniversary of the Ammonite aggression, David dispatched Joab and his fighting men of Israel in full force to destroy the Ammonites for good. They laid siege to Rabbah, but David stayed in Jerusalem.
2-5 One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof of the palace. From his vantage point on the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was stunningly beautiful. David sent to ask about her, and was told, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David sent his agents to get her. After she arrived, he went to bed with her. (This occurred during the time of “purification” following her period.) Then she returned home. Before long she realized she was pregnant.
Later she sent word to David: “I’m pregnant.”
6 David then got in touch with Joab: “Send Uriah the Hittite to me.” Joab sent him.
7-8 When he arrived, David asked him for news from the front—how things were going with Joab and the troops and with the fighting. Then he said to Uriah, “Go home. Have a refreshing bath and a good night’s rest.”
8-9 After Uriah left the palace, an informant of the king was sent after him. But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance, along with the king’s servants.
10 David was told that Uriah had not gone home. He asked Uriah, “Didn’t you just come off a hard trip? So why didn’t you go home?”
11 Uriah replied to David, “The Chest is out there with the fighting men of Israel and Judah—in tents. My master Joab and his servants are roughing it out in the fields. So, how can I go home and eat and drink and enjoy my wife? On your life, I’ll not do it!”
12-13 “All right,” said David, “have it your way. Stay for the day and I’ll send you back tomorrow.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem the rest of the day.
The next day David invited him to eat and drink with him, and David got him drunk. But in the evening Uriah again went out and slept with his master’s servants. He didn’t go home.
14-15 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front lines where the fighting is the fiercest. Then pull back and leave him exposed so that he’s sure to be killed.”
16-17 So Joab, holding the city under siege, put Uriah in a place where he knew there were fierce enemy fighters. When the city’s defenders came out to fight Joab, some of David’s soldiers were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.
18-21 Joab sent David a full report on the battle. He instructed the messenger, “After you have given to the king a detailed report on the battle, if he flares in anger, say, ‘And by the way, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”
22-24 Joab’s messenger arrived in Jerusalem and gave the king a full report. He said, “The enemy was too much for us. They advanced on us in the open field, and we pushed them back to the city gate. But then arrows came hot and heavy on us from the city wall, and eighteen of the king’s soldiers died.”
25 When the messenger completed his report of the battle, David got angry at Joab. He vented it on the messenger: “Why did you get so close to the city? Didn’t you know you’d be attacked from the wall? Didn’t you remember how Abimelech son of Jerub-Besheth got killed? Wasn’t it a woman who dropped a millstone on him from the wall and crushed him at Thebez? Why did you go close to the wall!”
“By the way,” said Joab’s messenger, “your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”
Then David told the messenger, “Oh. I see. Tell Joab, ‘Don’t trouble yourself over this. War kills—sometimes one, sometimes another—you never know who’s next. Redouble your assault on the city and destroy it.’ Encourage Joab.”
26-27 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she grieved for her husband. When the time of mourning was over, David sent someone to bring her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.
12 1-3 But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.”
5-6 David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!”
7-12 “You’re the man!” said Nathan. “And here’s what God, the God of Israel, has to say to you: I made you king over Israel. I freed you from the fist of Saul. I gave you your master’s daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn’t been enough, I’d have gladly thrown in much more. So why have you treated the word of God with brazen contempt, doing this great evil? You murdered Uriah the Hittite, then took his wife as your wife. Worse, you killed him with an Ammonite sword! And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite’s wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family. This is God speaking, remember! I’ll make trouble for you out of your own family. I’ll take your wives from right out in front of you. I’ll give them to some neighbor, and he’ll go to bed with them openly. You did your deed in secret; I’m doing mine with the whole country watching!”
13-14 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I’ve sinned against God.”
Nathan pronounced, “Yes, but that’s not the last word. God forgives your sin. You won’t die for it. But because of your blasphemous behavior, the son born to you will die.”
15-18 After Nathan went home, God afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he came down sick. David prayed desperately to God for the little boy. He fasted, wouldn’t go out, and slept on the floor. The elders in his family came in and tried to get him off the floor, but he wouldn’t budge. Nor could they get him to eat anything. On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him. They said, “What do we do now? While the child was living he wouldn’t listen to a word we said. Now, with the child dead, if we speak to him there’s no telling what he’ll do.”
19 David noticed that the servants were whispering behind his back, and realized that the boy must have died.
He asked the servants, “Is the boy dead?”
“Yes,” they answered. “He’s dead.”
20 David got up from the floor, washed his face and combed his hair, put on a fresh change of clothes, then went into the sanctuary and worshiped. Then he came home and asked for something to eat. They set it before him and he ate.
21 His servants asked him, “What’s going on with you? While the child was alive you fasted and wept and stayed up all night. Now that he’s dead, you get up and eat.”
22-23 “While the child was alive,” he said, “I fasted and wept, thinking God might have mercy on me and the child would live. But now that he’s dead, why fast? Can I bring him back now? I can go to him, but he can’t come to me.”
24-25 David went and comforted his wife Bathsheba. And when he slept with her, they conceived a son. When he was born they named him Solomon. God had a special love for him and sent word by Nathan the prophet that God wanted him named Jedidiah (God’s Beloved).
* * *
26-30 Joab, at war in Rabbah against the Ammonites, captured the royal city. He sent messengers to David saying, “I’m fighting at Rabbah, and I’ve just captured the city’s water supply. Hurry and get the rest of the troops together and set up camp here at the city and complete the capture yourself. Otherwise, I’ll capture it and get all the credit instead of you.” So David marshaled all the troops, went to Rabbah, and fought and captured it. He took the crown from their king’s head—very heavy with gold, and with a precious stone in it. It ended up on David’s head. And they plundered the city, carrying off a great quantity of loot.
31 David emptied the city of its people and put them to slave labor using saws, picks, and axes, and making bricks. He did this to all the Ammonite cities. Then David and the whole army returned to Jerusalem.
13 1-4 Some time later, this happened: Absalom, David’s son, had a sister who was very attractive. Her name was Tamar. Amnon, also David’s son, was in love with her. Amnon was obsessed with his sister Tamar to the point of making himself sick over her. She was a virgin, so he couldn’t see how he could get his hands on her. Amnon had a good friend, Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was exceptionally streetwise. He said to Amnon, “Why are you moping around like this, day after day—you, the son of the king! Tell me what’s eating at you.”
“In a word, Tamar,” said Amnon. “My brother Absalom’s sister. I’m in love with her.”
5 “Here’s what you do,” said Jonadab. “Go to bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to visit you, say, ‘Have my sister Tamar come and prepare some supper for me here where I can watch her and she can feed me.’”
6 So Amnon took to his bed and acted sick. When the king came to visit, Amnon said, “Would you do me a favor? Have my sister Tamar come and make some nourishing dumplings here where I can watch her and be fed by her.”
7 David sent word to Tamar who was home at the time: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare a meal for him.”
8-9 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house. She took dough, kneaded it, formed it into dumplings, and cooked them while he watched from his bed. But when she took the cooking pot and served him, he wouldn’t eat.
9-11 Amnon said, “Clear everyone out of the house,” and they all cleared out. Then he said to Tamar, “Bring the food into my bedroom, where we can eat in privacy.” She took the nourishing dumplings she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she got ready to feed him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, sister!”
12-13 “No, brother!” she said, “Don’t hurt me! This kind of thing isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this terrible thing! Where could I ever show my face? And you—you’ll be out on the street in disgrace. Oh, please! Speak to the king—he’ll let you marry me.”
14 But he wouldn’t listen. Being much stronger than she, he raped her.
15 No sooner had Amnon raped her than he hated her—an immense hatred. The hatred that he felt for her was greater than the love he’d had for her. “Get up,” he said, “and get out!”
16-18 “Oh no, brother,” she said. “Please! This is an even worse evil than what you just did to me!”
But he wouldn’t listen to her. He called for his valet. “Get rid of this woman. Get her out of my sight! And lock the door after her.” The valet threw her out and locked the door behind her.
18-19 She was wearing a long-sleeved gown. (That’s how virgin princesses used to dress from early adolescence on.) Tamar poured ashes on her head, then she ripped the long-sleeved gown, held her head in her hands, and walked away, sobbing as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon had his way with you? Now, my dear sister, let’s keep it quiet—a family matter. He is, after all, your brother. Don’t take this so hard.” Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s home, bitter and desolate.
21-22 King David heard the whole story and was enraged, but he didn’t discipline Amnon. David doted on him because he was his firstborn. Absalom quit speaking to Amnon—not a word, whether good or bad—because he hated him for violating his sister Tamar.
23-24 Two years went by. One day Absalom threw a sheep-shearing party in Baal Hazor in the vicinity of Ephraim and invited all the king’s sons. He also went to the king and invited him. “Look, I’m throwing a sheep-shearing party. Come, and bring your servants.”
25 But the king said, “No, son—not this time, and not the whole household. We’d just be a burden to you.” Absalom pushed, but David wouldn’t budge. But he did give him his blessing.
26-27 Then Absalom said, “Well, if you won’t come, at least let my brother Amnon come.”
“And why,” said the king, “should he go with you?” But Absalom was so insistent that he gave in and let Amnon and all the rest of the king’s sons go.
28 Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. Then he instructed his servants, “Look sharp, now. When Amnon is well into the sauce and feeling no pain, and I give the order ‘Strike Amnon,’ kill him. And don’t be afraid—I’m the one giving the command. Courage! You can do it!”
29-31 Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what their master ordered. All the king’s sons got out as fast as they could, jumped on their mules, and rode off. While they were still on the road, a rumor came to the king: “Absalom just killed all the king’s sons—not one is left!” The king stood up, ripped his clothes to shreds, and threw himself on the floor. All his servants who were standing around at the time did the same.
32-33 Just then, Jonadab, his brother Shimeah’s son, stepped up. “My master must not think that all the young men, the king’s sons, are dead. Only Amnon is dead. This happened because of Absalom’s outrage since the day that Amnon violated his sister Tamar. So my master, the king, mustn’t make things worse than they are, thinking that all your sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
34 Absalom fled.
Just then the sentry on duty looked up and saw a cloud of dust on the road from Horonaim alongside the mountain. He came and told the king, “I’ve just seen a bunch of men on the Horonaim road, coming around the mountain.”
35-37 Then Jonadab exclaimed to the king, “See! It’s the king’s sons coming, just as I said!” He had no sooner said the words than the king’s sons burst in—loud laments and weeping! The king joined in, along with all the servants—loud weeping, many tears. David mourned the death of his son a long time.
37-39 When Absalom fled, he went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. He was there three years. The king finally gave up trying to get back at Absalom. He had come to terms with Amnon’s death.