Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 11

Verse 1

2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 11

Whilst Joab besieged Rabbah David committeth adultery with Bath-sheba, 2 Samuel 11:1-4. And hearing that she was with child, he sendeth for Uriah her husband out of the camp, to cover his shame. He will not go to his own house, neither sober nor drunk, 2 Samuel 11:5-13. David sendeth him again into the camp with a letter to Joab to expose him to death, 2 Samuel 11:14-17. The news of which Joab sendeth to David: he marrieth Bath-sheba, 2 Samuel 11:18-27.

After the year was expired; when that year ended, and the next begun, which was in the spring time, Exodus 12:2.

When kings go forth; which is when the ground is fit for the march of soldiers, and brings forth provision for man and beast.

To battle: these words are to be understood here, as Genesis 10:11 14:8.

Rabbah; the chief and royal city of the Ammonites, Deuteronomy 3:11.

Verse 2

From off his bed; where he had lain and slept for some time; being possibly disposed to sleep after dinner, by reason of some excess committed in eating or drinking; and indulging himself in his lazy humour, which may seem very improper for so great a prince and captain, who had so many and great burdens upon his shoulders, especially in a time of war; and therefore such practices have been condemned by heathens; and Homer will not allow a general and great counsellor to sleep all the night, much less to take any part of the day for it. And therefore this is thought to be David’s first error, and the occasion of his following fall. Walked upon the roof; which was plain, after the manner, Deuteronomy 22:8.

Washing herself, to wit, in a bath, which possibly was in her garden, or in some room near to the king s palace, where she might wash herself divers ways, and for different ends; either for health, or coolness, or to cleanse herself from some kind of legal impurity; where also, the windows being open, and she careless, David might espy her.

Verse 3

Instead of suppressing that lust which the sight of his eyes had kindled, he seeks rather to feed it; and first inquires who she was; that, if she were unmarried, he might make her either his wife or his concubine.

Bath-sheba, called also Bath-shuah, 1 Chronicles 3:5, where also Eliam is called Ammiel. The Hittite; so called, either,

1. By his original, being born either of that race, but become a zealous proselyte; or, at least. among that people. Or,

2. By his habitation among them. Or,

3. For some notable exploit of his against that people: see 1 Samuel 26:6, and See Poole "2 Samuel 8:18".

Verse 4

David sent and took her from her own house into his palace, not by force, but by persuasion, as desiring to speak with her.

She came in unto him; into his palace and chamber, as he desired. For she was purified, to wit, from her menstruous pollution, according to the law, Leviticus 18:19; which is here noted as the reason, either why David pursued his lustful desire, or why she so easily yielded to it, because she was not under that pollution which might alienate her from it; or rather, why she so readily conceived, that time being observed by Aristotle and others to be the most likely time for conception.

Verse 5

Consider therefore what to do for thy own honour, and for my safety, whom thou hast brought into a most shameful and dangerous condition.

Verse 7

Frivolous questions, which any common messenger could have answered; which probably made Uriah suspect that there was some other secret cause why he was sent for. And he might understand something, either by David’s messengers, 2 Samuel 11:4, or by some of his own family, concerning her being sent for to the court; which, together with other circumstances, might give him cause of further suspicion. Yet such might be the questions (though not here particularly mentioned) concerning those heads, as every private person might not be acquainted with, nor able to resolve, but such only as were acquainted with the counsel of war.

Verse 8

Go down to thy house; not doubting but he would there converse with his wife, and so cover their sin and shame.

Wash thy feet; as travellers there used to do. There followed him a mess of meat; seemingly as testimony of David’s respect and affection to him; but really to cheer up his spirits, and dispose him to desire his wife’s company.

Verse 9

With all the servants of his lord; with the king’s guard. This he did, either upon some suspicion of the matter; see 2 Samuel 11:7 or by the secret direction of God’s wise and irresistible providence, who would bring David’s sin to light.

Verse 10

When they had told David; whether of their own accord, or being first asked by David, it doth not appear.

Camest thou not from thy journey, wearied with hard service and travel, and therefore didst need refreshment? nor did I expect or desire that thou shouldst now attend upon my person, or keep the watch.

Verse 11

The ark, it seems, was now carried with them for their encouragement and direction, as was usual: see Numbers 10:35 1 Samuel 4:4.

In the open fields, to wit, in tents which are in the fields.

And to lie with my wife: he might possibly add these words, to insinuate his apprehension of the king’s design, and to awaken his conscience to the consideration of his sin, and of the injury which he had done him. His meaning is, Now when God’s people are in a doubtful and dangerous condition, it becomes me to sympathize with them, and to abstain even from lawful delights. Whereby he might possibly intimate how unworthy it was for David in such a season to indulge himself in sinful and injurious pleasures. But David’s ear was now deaf, his heart being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Verse 13

When David had called him, i.e. being invited by David.

He made him drunk, or, he made him merry, as the word oft signifies. He caused him to drink more than was convenient.

He went out to lie on his bed; which it doth not appear that he did the night before; but now his excess in eating and drinking might make it more necessary for him.

With the servants of his lord, i.e. in some chamber in the king’s court, where the king’s servants used to take their repose.

Verse 15

So far is David from repenting upon these just and great occasions, that he seeks to cover one sin with another; and to hide his adultery with murder, even the murder of a most excellent person, and that in a most malicious and perfidious manner.

Verse 16

Placed there to defend it, because that part of the city was supposed either the weakest, or the place designed for the assault. Joab having formerly committed a base murder upon Abner, was ready to execute this wicked command of the king; that so he being involved in the same guilt with him, might the more willingly receive him into favour.

Verse 21

Jerubbesheth, called also Jerubbaal, Jude 9:1. See Poole "2 Samuel 2:8". Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also; which he knew would be acceptable news to the king, and therefore allay his wrath. This indeed might make the messenger suspect that David had a hand in Uriah’s death; and possibly Joab might say so for that very reason, that these matters by degrees being known, David might be hardened in sin, and so Joab might have the greater interest in him.

Verse 23

We beat them back, and pursued them even to the gate.

Verse 25

Let not this thing displease thee; be not dejected or discouraged by this sad occasion.

Encourage thou him, i.e. Joab, to proceed in the siege.

Verse 27

When the mourning was past; which was seven days, Genesis 1:10 1 Samuel 31:13. Nor could the nature of the thing admit of longer delay lest the too early birth of the child might discover David’s sin.

David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife; by which it appears that David continued in the state of impenitency for divers months together, and this notwithstanding his frequent attendance upon God’s ordinances; which is an eminent instance of the corruption of man’s nature, which is even in the best; and, without Divine assistance, is too strong for them; of the deceitfulness of sin, and of the tremendous judgment of God in punishing one sin, by delivering a man up to another.

The thing that David had done, i.e. his adultery and murder, as is evident from the next chapter.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/2-samuel-11.html. 1685.