King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (23)

Uriah_killedKing David and Bathsheba (3)

Foul Murder: 2 Samuel 11:14-21

The Biblical text gives no hint that David was uncertain of or reluctant to take the next step.  His instructions to Joab are direct and explicit — see to it that Uriah dies in combat.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

This is nothing other than murder most foul.  There are no extenuating circumstances.  King David is using his power to kill the man whom he has wronged, for the express purpose of covering up that wrong.

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

Joab follows David’s orders to the letter.  As a direct consequence, Uriah falls.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’

Note that Joab’s primary concern is King David’s reaction to the colleratial damage caused by use of this corrupt plan of battle.  That is, because Joab had to include other warriors in the plan in order to obscure the true purpose, they too died unnecessarily.  King David apparently cared about Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth, who was caught up in this evil scenario.

If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

Joab knows that all will be forgiven if David is informed that Uriah is dead.  The depth of corruption is terrible to observe.  David has over a few weeks thrown away all honor and morality as a consequence of indulging his lust for a married woman.  He may have imagined that this massive set of sins had been covered up.  Was there any sorrow, any bad conscience at work in him?

sinJohn Calvin, in his commentary on Psalm 51:5, succinctly sums up David’s (and our) true situation.

We have no adequate idea of the dominion of sin, unless we conceive of it as extending to every part of the soul, and acknowledge that both the mind and heart of man have become utterly corrupt.

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