Feast upon the Word Blog

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SS OT #24 David, Bathsheba, Psalm 51, etc.

Posted by cherylem on June 27, 2010

Some notes to add to others posted here regarding Old Testament lesson #24:

Lesson 24: David and Bathsheba (Create in me a clean heart)
Remember the Deuteronomy Kingship code (Deuteronomy 17:14-20):
• God will choose the king from among the people.
• King cannot acquire great number of horses
• King cannot make the people return to Egypt
• King must not take many wives
• King must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold
• King must follow the priestly (Levitical) law
Part of what the Deteronomistic framework does is to point out that: there is NO GOOD KING.

“The implication is that despite positive contemporary evaluations of Israel’s kings, from the perspective of the later period, from the perspective of the editors and perhaps those sitting in exile, the institution of kingship was a disaster for Israel.” (Christine Hayes, Intro to the Old Testament, Lecture 13, http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/introduction-to-the-old-testament-hebrew-bible)

David’s wives, concubines, and others:
• Saul offers his daughter Mereb (1 Sam. 18:17-19), in return for David fighting the Philistines (Saul hopes David will die in battle!) But . . . when David should have received Mereb she is given to another.
• Saul offers a younger daughter Michal, in return for 100 Philistine foreskins. (1Sam. 18:20-29). (Saul still hopes David will die in battle). David marries Michal; she returns to her father and Saul eventually gives Michal (“David’s wife!”) to another man (1 Sam. 25:44) After Saul’s death, his son Ishbosheth inherits the throne of Israel; David is king only Judah (2 Sam. 2:4, 8-11). Abner wants to defect from Ishbosheth to David. David accepts Abner’s defection if he will bring him Michal. Abner does this (though 2 Sam. 3:14-16 says Ishbosheth returns Michal) and is killed in revenge (by deceit) by Joab, Michal mocks David for dancing clad only in a linen ephod – the garment of a priest – before even the lowliest women in Israel (2 Sam 6:20). Argument about kingship between Michal and David follow. Result: Michal remains childless until she dies (no children in Saul’s line).
• Abigail. Sensible, beautiful, wealthy widow (though not a widow when she and David meet) who brings David and his people land and assets. (1 Sam. 25)
• Ahinoam of Jezreel. (1 Samuel 25:44). Possibly a wife of Saul (1 Sam. 14:50). See 2 Sam. 12:7-8. Bears firstborn son, Amnon.
• Maacah. Daughter of Talmai king of Geshur, mother of Absalom.
• Haggith. Mother of Adonijah.
• Abital. Mother of Shapatiah.
• Bathsheba. Starts out as Uriah’s wife. The text gives no blame to Bathsheba for what follows in this story (2 Sam. 11-12). The passive role she plays in 2 Samuel will be replaced in 1 Kings 1-2 with a portrait of her as a strong and active favorite wife and queen mother (mother of the heir). 1st child dies (God’s punishment. Or: did the 1st child die as a substitute for David?). 2nd child is Solomon.
• More concubines and wives. (2 Sam. 5:13.) Note: concubinage was not considered dishonorable. A concubine most likely could not bring anything of equality to the relationship, but the relationship was protected and the children were taken care of – considered legitimate.
• When David flees his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:13 – 16:14; 17:21-22) he leaves behind 10 concubines to look after the house. Absalom’s first recorded act as declared king is to have intercourse with this father’s concubines – this is a political act. See also 2nd Sam. 12:11, 1 Kings 2:13-18, 23-23. Also compare 2 Sam. 3:6-10.

What was David’s sin? Had David sinned as king before Bathsheba? According to the kingship code? Why the prohibition against many wives?

David and Bathsheba: a parallel with the fall:
“saw” Gen. 3:6
“beautiful” Gen. 3:6
the inquiry Gen. 3:1-5
death penalty Gen. 2:17, Lev. 20:10]
partaking Gen. 3:6
legally innocent before Gen. 4:2, Rom. 5:12-18
attempted cover-up Gen. 3:-7-8
interrogation by God/prophet Gen. 3:9-13; 2 Sam. 12:1-6
fear of death 2 Sam. 12:13, Gen. 3:3
failure to die (physically and immediately)
God covers the sin Gen. 3:21, 2 Sam. 12:13
Consequences for descendents: 2 Sam. 12:11, 14; Gen. 3:15; Rom. 5:12-18; Moses 6:55

Do our sins parallel the fall?

To think about: one of the great paradoxes of mortality is that a good and loving God permits our individual sins to damage other people’s lives.

Uriah: a soldier in David’s army, a Hittite. Uriah = “God is my light” One of David’s “mighty men” See 2 Sam. 23:8-39, esp. v. 39.
Who is more righteous: Uriah or David? See 2nd Samuel 11:6-13. Is Uriah more righteous drunk than David is sober?

Re: 11:9: “What is being contrasted here in terms of Uriah and David? Is there anything ironic about this verse? Uriah is among those that protect David, but it is Uriah that needed and still needs protection. David destroys and Uriah protects. David is unfaithful and Uriah is faithful. Uriah is pure and David is not. David cannot destroy his purity (but tragically he can and does destroy virtually everything else).” See https://feastuponthewordblog.org/2010/06/24/kd-ot-lesson-24-notes/

How does Uriah’s story relate to Ruth?

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Create in me a clean heart – Psalm 51.

Can David’s heart ever be as clean as it was? When we have sinned, and the consequences are significant and terrible, can we ever go back to what we were? Is this an example of sinning now, and repenting later?

Why is David considered such a great king? He unified the kingdom of Israel. But . . . David is also considered a tragic figure. See Bible Dictionary. See also Jacob 2:23-24; D&C 132:38-39.

” Because of David’s transgressions, his eternal blessings were taken from him (TPJS, pp. 188-89). The Lord granted David a continuation of life for another twenty-one years, perhaps because of his immediate and deep remorse (cf. Ps. 51), his acts of repentance, and his continued faithfulness to Jehovah (2 Sam. 12:13, 16; cf. WJS, p. 335). However, he must await in the spirit prison the redemption promised to him (Acts 2:34; WJS, p. 74). Even with the assurance of the Lord’s ultimate mercy (Ps. 86:13), David lost much that God had given him on earth, he fell “from his exaltation” and his wives were given unto another” (D&C 132:39). Yet his personal integrity appears in his insistence that he be punished in place of his people, whom he saw in vision being destroyed (2 Sam. 24:15-17).”

–Encyclopedia of Mormonism, article by Norman J. Barlow, 1992, Macmillan.

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