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David Wins Many Wars

Later David defeated the Philistines and took control of a large area of land around Gath.[a] He also defeated the Moabites. He forced them to lie on the ground in a long row. Using a rope to measure, those within two lengths of the rope were killed and those within every third length were allowed to live. So the Moabites became servants of David and paid tribute to him.

David went to an area near the Euphrates to set up a monument for himself.[b] At that time he defeated the king of Zobah, Hadadezer son of Rehob. David took 1000 chariots, 7000 horse soldiers,[c] and 20,000 foot soldiers from Hadadezer. He crippled all but 100 of the chariot horses.[d]

Arameans from Damascus came to help King Hadadezer of Zobah, but David defeated those 22,000 Arameans. Then David put his soldiers in Damascus, Aram. The Arameans became David’s servants and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.

David took the gold shields[e] that had belonged to Hadadezer’s servants and brought them to Jerusalem. David also took many things made of bronze from Tebah[f] and Berothai. (Tebah and Berothai were cities that had belonged to Hadadezer.)

King Toi of Hamath heard that David had defeated Hadadezer’s whole army. 10 Hadadezer had fought against Toi in the past, so Toi sent his son Joram to King David. Joram greeted him and blessed him because David had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him. Joram brought gifts of silver, gold, and bronze. 11 David took these things and dedicated them to the Lord, as he had done with all the other things he had taken from the nations he had defeated: 12 Aram, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek. He had also defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah. 13 David had defeated 18,000 Edomites[g] in Salt Valley. He was famous when he came home. 14 He put teams of soldiers throughout Edom, and the whole nation became his servants. The Lord gave victory to him wherever he went.

David’s Rule

15 David ruled over all Israel, and he made good and fair decisions for all of his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was the captain over the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the historian. 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests. Seraiah was secretary. 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in charge of the Kerethites and Pelethites,[h] and David’s sons were priests.[i]

David Is Kind to Saul’s Family

David asked, “Is there anyone still left in Saul’s family? I want to show kindness to this person. I want to do it for Jonathan.”

There was a servant named Ziba from Saul’s family. David’s servants called Ziba to David. King David said to Ziba, “Are you Ziba?”

Ziba said, “Yes, I am your servant Ziba.”

The king said, “Is there anyone left in Saul’s family? I want to show God’s kindness to this person.”

Ziba said to King David, “Jonathan has a son still living. He is crippled in both feet.”

The king said to Ziba, “Where is this son?”

Ziba said to the king, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

Then King David sent some of his officers to Lo Debar to bring Jonathan’s son from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth came to David and bowed with his face low to the floor.

David said, “Mephibosheth?”

Mephibosheth said, “Yes sir, it is I, your servant Mephibosheth.”

David said to Mephibosheth, “Don’t be afraid. I will be kind to you because of your father Jonathan. I will give back to you all the land of your grandfather Saul. And you will always be able to eat at my table.”

Mephibosheth bowed to David again and he said, “I am no better than a dead dog, but you are being very kind to me.”

Then King David called Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given Saul’s family and everything he owns to your master’s grandson, Mephibosheth. 10 You will farm the land for Mephibosheth. Your sons and servants will do this for him. You will harvest the crops. Then your master’s grandson will have plenty of food to eat, but Mephibosheth will always be allowed to eat at my table.”

Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants. 11 He said to King David, “I am your servant. I will do everything that my lord the king commands.”

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. All the people in Ziba’s family became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem. He was crippled in both feet, and every day he ate at the king’s table.

Hanun Shames David’s Men

10 Later King Nahash of the Ammonites died. His son Hanun became the new king after him. David said, “Nahash was kind to me, so I will be kind to his son Hanun.” So David sent his officers to comfort Hanun about his father’s death.

David’s officers went to the land of the Ammonites. But the Ammonite leaders said to Hanun, their lord, “Do you think that David is trying to honor your father by sending some men to comfort you? No, David sent these men to spy on your city. They plan to make war against you.”

So Hanun took David’s officers and shaved off one half of their beards. He cut off their clothes at the hips. Then he sent them away.

When the people told David, he sent messengers to meet his officers. He did this because these men were very ashamed. King David said, “Wait at Jericho until your beards grow again. Then come back home.”

War Against the Ammonites

The Ammonites saw that they had become David’s enemies, so they hired Arameans from Beth Rehob and Zobah. There were 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers. The Ammonites also hired the king of Maacah with 1000 men and 12,000 men from Tob.

David heard about this, so he sent Joab and the whole army of powerful men. The Ammonites came out and got ready for the battle. They stood at the city gate. The Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah did not stand together with the Ammonites in the field.

Joab saw that there were enemies in front of him and behind him. So he chose some of the best Israelite soldiers and lined them up for battle against the Arameans. 10 Then Joab gave the other men to his brother Abishai to lead against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said to Abishai, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, you will help me. If the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and for the cities of our God. The Lord will do what he decides is right.”

13 Then Joab and his men attacked the Arameans. The Arameans ran away from Joab and his men. 14 The Ammonites saw that the Arameans were running away, so they ran away from Abishai and went back to their city.

So Joab came back from the battle with the Ammonites and went back to Jerusalem.

The Arameans Decide to Fight Again

15 When the Arameans saw that the Israelites had defeated them, they came together into one big army. 16 Hadadezer[j] sent messengers to bring the Arameans who lived on the other side of the Euphrates River. These Arameans came to Helam. Their leader was Shobach, the captain of Hadadezer’s army.

17 When David heard about this, he gathered all the Israelites together. They crossed over the Jordan River and went to Helam.

There the Arameans prepared for battle and attacked, 18 but David defeated them, and they ran from the Israelites. David killed 700 chariot drivers and 40,000 horse soldiers as well as Shobach, the captain of the Aramean army.

19 The kings who served Hadadezer saw that the Israelites had defeated them, so they made peace with the Israelites and became their servants. The Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites again.

David Meets Bathsheba

11 In the spring, when kings go out to war, David sent Joab, his officers, and all the Israelites out to destroy the Ammonites. Joab’s army surrounded their capital city, Rabbah.

David stayed in Jerusalem. One evening he got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his house. From there he saw a woman bathing. She was very beautiful, so David sent for his officers and asked them who she was. An officer answered, “That is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam. She is the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

David sent messengers to go and bring Bathsheba to him. She had just purified herself after her monthly time of bleeding. She went to David, he had sexual relations with her, and then she went back to her house. Later, Bathsheba became pregnant. She sent word to him saying, “I am pregnant.”

David Tries to Hide His Sin

David sent a message to Joab. “Send Uriah the Hittite to me.”

So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go home and relax.[k]

So Uriah left the king’s palace. The king also sent a gift to Uriah. But Uriah did not go home. He slept outside the door of the king’s palace, as the rest of the king’s servants did. 10 The servants told David, “Uriah did not go home.”

Then David said to Uriah, “You came from a long trip. Why did you not go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The Holy Box and the soldiers of Israel and Judah are staying in tents. My lord Joab and my lord’s officers are camping out in the field. So it is not right for me to go home to eat and drink and sleep with my wife. As surely as you live, I will not do this.”

12 David said to Uriah, “Stay here today. Tomorrow I will send you back to the battle.”

Uriah stayed in Jerusalem until the next morning. 13 Then David called Uriah to come and see him. Uriah ate and drank with David. David got him drunk, but Uriah still did not go home. That evening, Uriah again slept at the palace with the rest of the king’s servants.

David Plans Uriah’s Death

14 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and made Uriah carry the letter. 15 In the letter David wrote: “Put Uriah on the front lines where the fighting is the hardest. Then leave him there alone, and let him be killed in battle.”

16 Joab watched the city and saw where the bravest Ammonites were. He chose Uriah to go to that place. 17 The men of the city came out to fight against Joab. Some of David’s men were killed. Uriah the Hittite was one of them.

18 Then Joab sent a report to David about what happened in the battle. 19 Joab told the messenger to tell King David what had happened in the battle. 20 “The king might get upset and ask, ‘Why did Joab’s army go that close to the city to fight? Surely he knows that there are men on the city walls who can shoot arrows down at his men? 21 Surely he remembers that at Thebez a woman killed Abimelech son of Jerub Besheth when she threw the top part of a grinding stone down from the wall. So why did he go that close to the wall?’ If King David says something like that, tell him, ‘Your officer, Uriah the Hittite, also died.’”

22 The messenger went in and told David everything Joab told him to say. 23 The messenger told David, “The men of Ammon attacked us in the field. We fought them and chased them all the way to the city gate. 24 Then the men on the city wall shot arrows at your officers. Some of your officers were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 David said to the messenger, “Give this message to Joab: ‘Don’t be too upset about this. A sword can kill one person as well as the next. Make a stronger attack against Rabbah and you will win.’ Encourage Joab with these words.”

David Marries Bathsheba

26 Bathsheba heard that her husband Uriah had died, so she mourned for him. 27 After her time of sadness, David sent servants to bring her to his house. She became David’s wife and gave birth to a son for David. But the Lord did not like what David had done.

Nathan Speaks to David

12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. Nathan went to him and said, “There were two men in a city. One man was rich, but the other man was poor. The rich man had lots of sheep and cattle. But the poor man had nothing except one little female lamb that he bought. The poor man fed the lamb, and the lamb grew up with this poor man and his children. She ate from the poor man’s food and drank from his cup. The lamb slept on the poor man’s chest. The lamb was like a daughter to the poor man.

“Then a traveler stopped to visit the rich man. The rich man wanted to give food to the traveler, but he did not want to take any of his own sheep or cattle to feed the traveler. No, the rich man took the lamb from the poor man and cooked it for his visitor.”

David became very angry with the rich man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who did this should die! He must pay four times the price of the lamb because he did this terrible thing and because he had no mercy.”

Nathan Tells David About His Sin

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that rich man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I chose[l] you to be the king of Israel. I saved you from Saul. I let you take his family and his wives, and I made you king of Israel and Judah. As if that had not been enough, I would have given you more and more. So why did you ignore my command? Why did you do what I say is wrong? You let the Ammonites kill Uriah the Hittite, and you took his wife. It is as if you yourself killed Uriah in war. 10 So your family will never have peace! When you took Uriah’s wife, you showed that you did not respect me.’

11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am bringing trouble against you. This trouble will come from your own family. I will take your wives from you and give them to someone who is very close to you. He will have sexual relations with your wives, and everyone will know it![m] 12 You had sexual relations with Bathsheba in secret, but I will punish you so that all the people of Israel can see it.’”[n]

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan said to David, “The Lord will forgive you, even for this sin. You will not die. 14 But you did things that made the Lord’s enemies lose their respect for him, so your new baby son will die.”

David and Bathsheba’s Baby Dies

15 Then Nathan went home. And the Lord caused the baby boy who was born to David and Uriah’s wife to become very sick. 16 David prayed to God for the baby. David refused to eat or drink. He went into his house and stayed there and lay on the ground all night.

17 The leaders of David’s family came and tried to pull David up from the ground, but he refused to get up. He refused to eat with these leaders. 18 On the seventh day the baby died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the baby was dead. They said, “Look, we tried to talk to David while the baby was alive, but he refused to listen to us. If we tell David that the baby is dead, he might do something bad to himself.”

19 David saw his servants whispering and understood that the baby was dead. So David asked his servants, “Is the baby dead?”

The servants answered, “Yes, he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the floor. He washed himself. He changed his clothes and got dressed. Then he went into the Lord’s house to worship. After that he went home and asked for something to eat. His servants gave him some food, and he ate.

21 David’s servants asked him, “Why are you doing this? When the baby was alive, you cried and refused to eat. But when the baby died you got up and ate food.”

22 David said, “While the baby was still living, I cried and refused to eat because I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ 23 But now the baby is dead, so why should I refuse to eat? Can I bring the baby back to life? No. Some day I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.”

Solomon Is Born

24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife. He slept with her and had sexual relations with her. Bathsheba became pregnant again and had another son. David named the boy Solomon. The Lord loved Solomon 25 and sent word for Nathan the prophet to give Solomon the name Jedidiah.[o] So Nathan did this for the Lord.

David Captures Rabbah

26 Rabbah was the capital city of the Ammonites. Joab fought against Rabbah and captured it. 27 Joab sent messengers to David and said, “I have fought against Rabbah and have captured its water supply. 28 Now bring the rest of the army together and attack Rabbah. Capture this city before I do, or else it will be called by my name.”

29 So David gathered all the soldiers together and went to Rabbah. He fought against Rabbah and captured the city. 30 David took the crown off their king’s head.[p] The crown was gold and weighed about 75 pounds.[q] This crown had precious stones in it. They put the crown on David’s head. David took many valuable things out of the city.

31 David also brought out the people of the city of Rabbah and made them work with saws, iron picks, and axes. He also forced them to build things with bricks. He did the same thing to all the Ammonite cities. Then David and the army went back to Jerusalem.


  1. 2 Samuel 8:1 area of land around Gath Or “villages controlled by the mother city” or “Metheg-Ammah.” See 1 Chron. 18:1.
  2. 2 Samuel 8:3 David went … for himself Or “David went to take control of the area near the Euphrates River.”
  3. 2 Samuel 8:4 David … soldiers This is found in the ancient Greek version and a Hebrew scroll from Qumran. The standard Hebrew text has “1700 horse soldiers.”
  4. 2 Samuel 8:4 He crippled … horses Or “He destroyed all but 100 chariots.”
  5. 2 Samuel 8:7 shields Or “bow cases.”
  6. 2 Samuel 8:8 Tebah This is found in some ancient Greek copies. The standard Hebrew text has “Betah.” See 1 Chron. 18:8.
  7. 2 Samuel 8:13 Edomites This is found in the ancient Greek and Syriac versions and a few Hebrew copies. The standard Hebrew text has “Arameans.”
  8. 2 Samuel 8:18 Kerethites and Pelethites These were David’s special bodyguards. An ancient Aramaic version has “the archers and stone throwers.” This would mean these men were specially trained in using bows and arrows and slings.
  9. 2 Samuel 8:18 priests Or “important leaders.”
  10. 2 Samuel 10:16 Hadadezer The ancient Greek version has “Hadarezer.” Also in verse 19.
  11. 2 Samuel 11:8 relax Literally, “wash your feet.”
  12. 2 Samuel 12:7 chose Literally, “anointed.” See “anoint” in the Word List.
  13. 2 Samuel 12:11 and everyone will know it Literally, “in the sight of the sun.”
  14. 2 Samuel 12:12 so that all … can see it Literally, “before all Israel and before the sun.”
  15. 2 Samuel 12:25 Jedidiah This name means “loved by the Lord.”
  16. 2 Samuel 12:30 their king’s head Or “Milcom’s head.” Milcom was a false god that the Ammonites worshiped.
  17. 2 Samuel 12:30 75 pounds Literally, “1 talent” (34.5 kg).

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