Uriah, we may suppose, had now been absent from his wife some weeks, making the campaign in the country of the Ammonites, and not intending to return till the end of it. The situation of his wife would bring to light the hidden works of darkness; and when Uriah, at his return, should find how he had been abused, and by whom, it might well be expected, 1. That he would prosecute his wife, according to law, and have her stoned to death; for jealousy is the rage of a man, especially a man of honour, and he that is thus injured will not spare in the day of vengeance, Prov. 6:34. This Bath-sheba was apprehensive of when she sent to let David know she was with child, intimating that he was concerned to protect her, and, it is likely, if he had not promised her so to do (so wretchedly abusing his royal power), she would not have consented to him. Hope of impunity is a great encouragement to iniquity. 2. It might also be expected that since he could not prosecute David by law for an offence of this nature he would take his revenge another way, and raise a rebellion against him. There have been instances of kings who by provocations of this nature, given to some of their powerful subjects, have lost their crowns. To prevent this double mischief, David endeavours to father the child which should be born upon Uriah himself, and therefore sends for him home to stay a night or two with his wife. Observe,
I. How the plot was laid. Uriah must come home from the army under pretence of bringing David an account how the war prospered, and how they went on with the siege of Rabbah, 2 Sam. 11:7. Thus does he pretend a more than ordinary concern for his army when that was the least thing in his thoughts; if he had not had another turn to serve, an express of much less figure than Uriah might have sufficed to bring him a report of the state of the war. David, having had as much conference with Uriah as he thought requisite to cover the design, sent him to his house, and, that he might be the more pleasant there with the wife of his youth, sent a dish of meat after him for their supper, 2 Sam. 11:8. When that project failed the first night, and Uriah, being weary of his journey and more desirous of sleep than meat, lay all night in the guard-chamber, the next night he made him drunk (2 Sam. 11:13), or made him merry, tempted him to drink more than was fit, that he might forget his vow (2 Sam. 11:11), and might be disposed to go home to his own bed, to which perhaps, if David could have made him dead drunk, he would have ordered him to be carried. It is a very wicked thing, upon any design whatsoever, to make a person drunk. Woe to him that does so, Hab. 2:15, 16. God will put a cup of trembling into the hands of those who put into the hands of others the cup of drunkenness. Robbing a man of his reason is worse than robbing him of his money, and drawing him into sin worse than drawing him into any trouble whatsoever. Every good man, especially every magistrate, should endeavour to prevent this sin, by admonishing, restraining, and denying the glass to those whom they see falling into excess; but to further it is to do the devil’s work, to officiate as factor for him.
II. How this plot was defeated by Uriah’s firm resolution not to lie in his own bed. Both nights he slept with the life-guard, and went not down to his house, though, it is probable, his wife pressed him to do it as much as David, 2 Sam. 11:9, 12. Now, 1. Some think he suspected what was done, being informed of his wife’s attendance at court, and therefore he would not go near her. But if he had had any suspicion of that kind, surely he would have opened the letter that David sent by him to Joab. 2. Whether he suspected any thing or no, Providence put this resolution into his heart, and kept him to it, for the discovering of David’s sin, and that the baffling of his design to conceal it might awaken David’s conscience to confess it and repent of it. 3. The reason he gave to David for this strange instance of self-denial and mortification was very noble, 2 Sam. 11:11. While the army was encamped in the field, he would not lie at ease in his own house. “The ark is in a tent,” whether at home, in the tent David had pitched for it, or abroad, with Joab in the camp, is not certain. “Joab, and all the mighty men of Israel, lie hard and uneasy, and much exposed to the weather and to the enemy; and shall I go and take my ease and pleasure at my own house?” No, he protests he will not do it. Now, (1.) This was in itself a generous resolution, and showed Uriah to be a man of a public spirit, bold and hardy, and mortified to the delights of sense. In times of public difficulty and danger it does not become us to repose ourselves in security, or roll ourselves in pleasure, or, with the king and Haman, to sit down to drink when the city Shushan was perplexed, Est. 3:15. We should voluntarily endure hardness when the church of God is constrained to endure it. (2.) It might have been of use to awaken David’s conscience, and make his heart to smite him for what he had done. [1.] That he had basely abused so brave a man as Uriah was, a man so heartily concerned for him and his kingdom, and that acted for him and it with so much vigour. [2.] That he was himself so unlike him. The consideration of the public hardships and hazards kept Uriah from lawful pleasures, yet could not keep David, though more nearly interested, from unlawful ones. Uriah’s severity to himself should have shamed David for his indulgence of himself. The law was, When the host goeth forth against the enemy then, in a special manner, keep thyself from every wicked thing, Deut. 23:9. Uriah outdid that law, but David violated it.