King David knew God disproved of polygamy—and that marriage is only between one man and one woman and has been that way from the beginning: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24). Moreover, God commanded explicit laws regarding marriage for Israel’s kings: “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” (Deut. 17:17). Furthermore, all kings of Israel were commanded by God to write the entire law and read it daily, to have God’s law upon their minds. “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes.” (Deut. 17:18-19).
Yet King David clearly violated God’s law of marriage with his polygamous lifestyle. He had eight wives: Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Macaah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, and Bathsheba, not to mention his numerous concubines, many of which bore him children. The exact number of concubines David possessed is not revealed in Scripture, but by examining certain passages, one could surmise the number was considerable. For example: “…David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David.” (2 Sam. 5:13).
Furthermore, Scripture reveals more information about King David’s concubines. When David was fleeing from his son Absalom, who was trying to kill him (fulfilling Nathan’s prophecy 2), the King hastily vacated his residence in Jerusalem: “So the king went out and all his household with him. But the king left ten concubines to keep the house.” (2 Sam. 15:16–emphasis added). David commissioned “ten concubines” to stay behind and look after the royal house he vacated. Perhaps many more concubines left with King David. Regardless, David’s collection of wives and concubines was a direct violation of God’s law, to which King David was certainly privy (cf. Deut. 17:17a).
“Then it happened”, is howthe eleventh chapter of 2 Samuel begins. Many times, the Bible employs such strong transitioning language to alert the reader that a drastic change of events is about to occur. Such was the case with King David, as David had just sent his military commander Joab and his army to engage in battle with the Ammonites, but for some undisclosed reason King David stayed behind at his house in Jerusalem.
From his roof top the king caught sight of a beautiful woman, in whom he instantly inquired of her identity: “And one said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’” (2 Sam. 11:2-3). Even after finding out that Bathsheba was married to Uriah (one of his esteemed military “mighty men”3), David pursued her, took her and laid with her. (2 Sam. 11:4). Bathsheba reported to the king, “I am pregnant.” (2 Sam. 11:5), and David must have been stunned to say the least, for his surreptitious sin had surfaced. And like the covering up of sin so often does, it leads to more sin and more collateral damage. Such was the situation with the “man after God’s own heart”. David slyly attempted to cajole Uriah to forsake his allegiance to God, comrades-in-arms; and take a respite from battle to spend some intimate time with his wife Bathsheba. Deviously, David had hoped to legitimately pin Bathsheba’s conception on her own husband, thus freeing him from the quagmire he now faced. However, his plan failed miserably, the loyal Uriah refused to visit his wife, knowing his fellow soldiers were facing the perils of battle. (2 Sam. 11:6-13).
David known for his great wisdom must have been desperate, because he was now using it to devise wickedness. He wrote a letter to his commander Joab and sent it with Uriah back to the battlefront, where they were engaged with the Ammonites (2 Sam. 11:1, 14-17). Blinded by his iniquity, David plotted to have Uriah killed, by thrusting him where the fighting was the fiercest and death was certain. The New American Commentary on 1, 2 Samuel explains: “undoubtedly the letter that Uriah carried was…sealed with [David’s] royal signet ring so that its contents would have been unknown to anyone but Joab. Uriah was unwittingly carrying his own death warrant.”4
Unfortunately for Uriah, David’s nefarious plan succeeded, Uriah who was exceedingly loyal to David, never suspected betrayal from his king. A messenger from the battle frontline recounted the tragic unfolding of events to David: “The men [Ammonites] prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate. Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall; so some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” (2 Sam. 11:23-24–brackets added). Sadly, King David’s sins from his night of adultery ended up growing exponentially. What began as a nonsensical evening of adultery, ameliorated into a well-devised season of deception, culminating in murder.
Furthermore, not only was King David’s faithful servant and “mighty man” Uriah killed, but also several of David’s military men were needlessly slaughtered (1 Sam. 11:24). So abominable was David’s sin that he violated [the last] five of the Ten Commandments. By the time his sin reached full bloom, he had breached every commandment relating to his fellow man. At the onset David’s sin included: adultery (7), covetousness (10), and stealing (8); but because his iniquity metastasized to include lying (9) and murder (6). There is never a positive outcome when one chooses to sin, many can be affected; many can be left in its wake. Therefore: “Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.” (Prov. 4:25-27).
See part 4 of David’s sin—in next article of, David: A Man After God’s Own Heart
2 Nathan’s prophecy: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.'”(2 Sam. 12:10-11)
3 “Mighty Men“, both Eliam, the father of Bathsheba [v. 4] and her husband Uriah [v. 4], were part of David’s [thirty] “mighty men” (2 Sam. 23:34, 39). The “mighty men” were David’s bravest warriors, his most outstanding soldiers, so much so they were memorialized in Scripture (2 Sam. 23:8-39, 1 Chr. 11:10-47). Additionally, these men were responsible for helping David become king (1 Chr. 11:10), yet he disregarded their enduring loyalty and allegiance to him and was blinded by a moment of lust. Note: sixteen additional “mighty men” are referenced in 1 Chr. 11:41-47, making a total of 46 men named.