The United Kingdom of Israel:
Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King
Lesson 15 David’s Sin; the Birth of Solomon
Second Book of Samuel 11:1—12:31
Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition
The New American Bible
The Revised Grail Psalms
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Glossary for Lesson 15
video overview of Lesson 15 with Matthew Phelps (21:53)
This online supplemental material coordinates with the lesson on pages 92–97 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
welcome to our study of the united kingdom of Israel
We invite groups and individuals doing this 28-lesson Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study to take advantage of our supplemental online study pages. The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King has been granted an imprimatur and can be purchased from our website shop. If you have a question for our authors, click on the “ask us your question” button on any supplemental page.
let’s review—Second Book of Samuel 7:1—10:19
In Lesson 14, “God’s Promise to David,” the LORD promises to establish David’s kingdom forever. When Nathan tells David of God’s promise, he emerges as a prophet speaking for the LORD. God’s promise is made in response to David’s plan to build a house in Jerusalem for the ark of God. David then embarks on a military campaign in which his army defeats a number of neighboring nations. He credits the victories to the LORD and dedicates the spoils of battle to God. David consolidates two rival factions of the priesthood under Zadok and Ahimelech, establishes elite bodyguards, and sets Joab over the army. David’s own sons, who aren’t in the line of Aaron, surprisingly show up in a list of David’s Inner circle of advisors. David seeks out Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth and treats him as one of his own sons. When the king of the Ammonites dies, David sends emissaries to offer his condolences, and they’re treated disrespectfully. This leads to war with the Ammonites, who enlist aid from the Syrians. Despite being vastly outnumbered, Joab and his brother Abishai successfully rout the Ammonites. The Syrians decide to make peace with Israel.
map notes—Rabbah & Thebez
Most of the action described in this lesson takes place in Jerusalem, but two other locations are mentioned. David’s men are besieging the Ammonites at Rabbah under the leadership of Joab, so it’s clear that’s where Uriah the Hittite is killed. Rabbah is situated near territory allotted to the tribe of Gad. The entire area east of the Jordan River often is referred to as the Transjordan, and the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have been allotted territory there. The Ammonites and the Amorites also dwell in that region, as do the Moabites to the south. Thebez is mentioned as the site where the traitorous son of Jerubbesheth (Gideon) died attempting to establish a monarchy. The city is located in an additional section of territory allotted to the half-tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan River. You can learn more background about Gideon and his sons in chapters six through nine of the Book of Judges. Click to enlarge the image of the map, which appears on page 95 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
deja vu—there’s something familiar about this story
The way that David seeks to dispose of Uriah the Hittite is the same way that Saul tried to dispose of David. The difference is that David is a much better military strategist—not to mention that he has Joab on his side as his military commander—so David’s plan is successful while Saul’s wasn’t.
WHAT DO YOU THINK of the prophet Nathan?
In the twelfth chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, the LORD twice sends Nathan to David—first with a message about the LORD’s displeasure with David’s sin, and later with a message that the second son born to David and Bathsheba is loved by the LORD. In the seventh chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, Nathan emerged as the person chosen by the LORD to serve as a prophet to counsel David.
? Careful readers will notice that as important as the office of prophet is in connection with the kingship, Nathan isn’t included in David’s inner circle of advisers listed in the Second Book of Samuel 8:15–18. What might explain a possible reason for this?
? The office of prophet requires that the person holding it maintain a line of communication with the LORD, speaking directly with God—and, most importantly, listening to what the LORD has to say and then acting on the LORD’s instructions. In the Old Testament, priests, prophets, and kings all are anointed as a sign that they hold those offices validly. What does it mean to be anointed, and how does anointing aid the people who receive it?
? Which Old Testament office do you think comes with the most power—priest, prophet, or king?
? Which offices are hereditary and which depend on the person being called in a more direct fashion by the LORD?
? In what ways does Jesus Christ fulfill all three Old Testament offices?
? How is it that Christians also are able to fulfill all three of these offices in the present day?
? Which office—priest, prophet, or king—are you most comfortable accepting as a Christian duty, and why?
? Which office are you least comfortable accepting as part of your responsibility as a Christian?
pray the Psalms—David’s Miserere
Psalm 51, called the Miserere from the Latin opening that translates as “have mercy,” traditionally is
considered to have been written by David, reflecting his state of mind after Nathan points out David’s sin. Read Psalm 51:10–14. What nine things does David entreat God to do in this passage? Which of these things do you think most sinners would want to ask of God? Consider whether any of these requests might appear to be somewhat surprising. Under David’s circumstances, what do you think gives him the confidence to make so many requests of the LORD? What kind of a deal does David attempt to make with God in return for God fulfilling his requests? You can learn more about the Psalms by viewing a sample lesson from the Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God Through the Prayers of the Church. Psalm 51 is included in our study of the prayers for Friday Lauds (Week I) and Friday Lauds (Week II).
you could look it up—what is repentance?
In the Second Book of Samuel 12:13, David immediately repents when his behavior is called into question by the prophet Nathan. Most people have a more difficult time coming to repentance. Learn about the link between thinking and repenting by reading Lost in Translation, an online column in which Turning to God’s Word author Matthew Phelps helps readers connect with ancient ideas expressed in the original Scriptures. New entries are posted on Tuesdays. If you’d like to receive Matthew’s comments about biblical languages by email each week, there’s a sign-up form next to the searchable archives.
WHAT DO YOU THINK about the consequences of sin?
Most men and women don’t easily accept that there are dire consequences for sin.
? In the twelfth chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, Nathan reports to David that the LORD has said David isn’t to die for his sin. This seems unlike the same God who struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark of God to steady it during transport. Why do you suppose it is that the LORD doesn’t immediately require David’s life?
? Compare the message that God sends David about sin and death with what Adam and Eve were told would happen to them if they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How do you justify the discrepancies?
? Why do you think it is that the LORD allows a second son to be born to David and Bathsheba after the death of their first son?
? What is the meaning of the name the LORD chooses to call Solomon?
? What does that name suggest about the LORD and his relationship with David?
watch the video—David’s response to the death of his child
In the overview for this lesson, Matthew discusses the Second Book of Samuel 12:19–23, in which David explains to his servants why he reacts as he does to the death of his child. What do you think is most remarkable about David’s behavior?
it remains hard to typecast Joab
Although the biblical text doesn’t dwell on it, in the eleventh chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, Joab is complicit in the death of Uriah the Hittite. We’ve already seen that Joab has few scruples about murder. Ordinarily, this might be seen as Joab willing to take any steps necessary to get ahead. In the twelfth chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, however, Joab displays impressive loyalty to David and refuses to take the Ammonite city of Rammah until David arrives to be given credit for the conquest.
Q & A—Bathsheba’s bath; consequences of sin
A participant in this Bible study has one good question concerning the timing and purpose of Bathsheba’s bath, and an excellent comment related to what’s meant by God “putting away” David’s sin.
Q: regarding Bathsheba’s bath (the Second Book of Samuel 11:4)—The biblical text reads as though after having sex with David, Bathsheba went home and purified herself. But other translations make it sound like the bath she was taking when David first saw her was for purposes of purification after her menstrual cycle. Our class wondered why it was important to include that information, other than it proves that Bathsheba was fertile at the time David laid with her. After doing a little digging, however, I think it also might be providing some insight into Bathsheba because it discloses that she was following the Jewish law of purification (seven days after her period). Members of our group already had put all the blame on David, but I feel that this information helps to quiet any thoughts that Bathsheba was guilty of seducing David.
Q: regarding “the LORD also has put away [David’s] sin” (the Second Book of Samuel 12:13—We came to the conclusion that this language refers to forgiveness, even though at first some of us thought it didn’t. David did confess and own his sin, and God knew that David was truly penitent. But all sin has consequences. Just because we’re forgiven doesn’t mean those consequences disappear.
A: regarding Bathsheba’s bath (the Second Book of Samuel 11:4)— I’ve never encountered an interpretation of this verse suggesting that Bathsheba went home and bathed after lying with David. I can see where someone might get that idea, since bathing after sex isn’t uncommon. This verse, however, is understood to refer to Bathsheba’s bath before David sent for her. The information that she was purifying herself alludes to Jewish purification laws found in the book of Leviticus 15:19–24. Admittedly, not many Christians have much interest in wading through that book of the Bible, though it provides a valuable perspective into details of Old Testament religious law. The passage in the book of Leviticus requires that a woman bathe seven days after her period. Prior to such purification, the woman would be considered unclean. Any other person also would become unclean by touching her or by touching things that had come into contact with her during that time. You’re entirely correct that this timing would have greatly increased the chances that Bathsheba was fertile when David sent for her, and we know that she did indeed conceive a child. We’re given few clues about how Bathsheba felt about the situation, but because Scripture fails to condemn her, neither can we. We do know that she mourned for Uriah after he was killed. She also, along with David, suffered the loss of the first child that was born to them. In that sense, she shared in the punishment that befell David, whether she herself was guilty of anything more than being in a position in which she would be unable to resist the advances of a determined king.
A: regarding “the LORD also has put away [David’s] sin” (the Second Book of Samuel 12:13—A clue to what’s happening here can be found by looking at the entire verse to see what’s going on before God speaks to David through Nathan, and to see how God explains the practical effect of what these words mean. In the verses immediately preceding this one, Nathan has told David that God is aware of his sin, and he’s listed some of things that are going to occur as punishment. As soon as Nathan pauses, David quickly admits: “I have sinned against the LORD.” It’s only after this that Nathan tells David that the LORD also has put away his sin. It’s fair to assume that before then the jury (God) still was out concerning whether or not David’s sin would be “put away.” Things might have gone very differently had David responded in a defensive manner.
It’s worth paying attention to all of what Nathan says to David in this sentence: “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” This reaffirms that basic covenant between God and humanity—if you sin, you die. Throughout the Scriptures, sin is equated with death. David’s own life isn’t to be immediately required—but a life still is owed. The Second Book of Samuel 12:14 records how that debt is to be paid in the case at hand. Although this punishment can seem harsh to present-day readers, the same Old Testament covenant being enacted here also underlies Old Testament religious sacrifices—and it forms the basis for how it is that Jesus’ death is able to bring about the opportunity of salvation to all men and women. Our study The Letter to the Hebrews: An Explanation of the Mechanism of Our Salvation goes into considerably more detail.
The bottom line is that you’re correct—David’s sin has been forgiven. But just as any one of us who committed sins of adultery and murder could go to the sacrament of Reconciliation and receive forgiveness from God, absolution cannot undo the consequences of sin. Even though we might be genuinely repentant and be forgiven by God, the effects of our sin remain. God puts away David’s sin—David is forgiven, but Uriah the Hittite still is dead. A clear understanding of the seriousness of sin helps Christians avoid making decisions that not only endanger our own immortal souls for all eternity but also harm other people in the here and now.
more videos—understanding the roots of the Old Testament priesthood
People in one of our study groups last week expressed interest in learning more about the biblical development of the priesthood. We recommend the follow videos, which were recorded during Matthew’s conference talks at our 2016 summer Bible study retreat. For talks from other previous retreats, also check out our video page, and watch our website for an announcement about the topic and dates of our 2018 retreat.
close with Bible-based prayer related to this lesson
Many of our Catholic study groups like to conclude their discussions with a prayer based on the scriptural focus of their lesson. If you’re uncomfortable composing your own Bible-based prayers, you can follow our four easy steps. If you prefer, you can use the following short prayer based on the Second Book of Samuel 11:1—12:31.
O God, your commandments exist to protect your people
from the consequences of sinful behavior.
Teach us to trust you and to base our decisions on what we know is right.
Grant us the humility to avoid rationalizing our failures
and to follow David’s example of sincere repentance for sin.
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,
who underwent death on the cross
to bring us the possibility of salvation. Amen.
Lesson 16 Amnon, Tamar & Absalom: David’s Children, the Second Book of Samuel 13:1—14:33
Lesson 14 God’s Promise to David, the Second Book of Samuel 7:1—10:19
our videos coordinate with the biblical text
The Scripture ranges for the videos that accompany this Catholic Bible study match the Scripture ranges for the sets of questions in The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King. You can follow along with the video as Matthew discusses Lesson 15, “David’s Sin; the Birth of Solomon,” on pages 92–97 of the study book. (Some mobile devices may only open the video overview for Lesson 15 at its beginning.)
Question 1 Second Book of Samuel 11:1–5
Question 2 Second Book of Samuel 11:6–13
Question 3 Second Book of Samuel 11:14–21
Question 4 Second Book of Samuel 11:22–27
Question 5 Second Book of Samuel 12:1–6
Question 6 Second Book of Samuel 12:7–12
Question 7 Second Book of Samuel 12:13–18
Question 8 Second Book of Samuel 12:19–23
Question 9 Second Book of Samuel 12:24–25
Question 10 Second Book of Samuel 12:26–31
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