The Sin of a King: Analysis of 2 Samuel 11:1-27

Pages: 7 (1573 words) Published: June 1, 2014


David: The Sin of a King
Analysis of 2 Samuel 11:1-27

Submitted to Dr. Adeeb Mickahail, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course

OBST 515-D18
Old Testament Orientation 1


Lisa Campbell
December 3, 2013
The story of David and Bathsheba as found in 2 Samuel11:1-27 tells us about King David’s sin. How can we as Christians apply the model from this story to our own lives? There are many principles that can be found within the narrative as well as different literary features that help us to interpret it. Using the example of David and the sin of adultery he commits, Christians can learn to apply it to their lives in today’s society. Today sex and adultery is plastered on every television and movie screen across America; Christians must learn from David’s experience to follow God’s laws and to stand up to the entertainment industry and stop them from continuing to minimize the sin of adultery.

The narrative of 2 Samuel 11:1-27 uses irony and multiple literary techniques to make it an appealing account for the reader. The story uses implied themes, narrative level of scenic presentation versus summary, and mirrored plot to tell the story of David and Bathsheba.

The story contains irony which is seen throughout; it begins in the exposition by stating that “. . . the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. . . . But David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Sam 11:1 NIV).1 As seen in this verse, while at that particular time the king would go to war with his soldiers; however it states that David stayed home. This sets the story in motion; if David had been with his men in battle, he might never have committed the sin of adultery. The major question is, why was the king in the city while his nation is fighting on the battlefield? By telling the reader the king stayed in the city, the narrator is making it possible for a meeting with Bathsheba and later with the death of Uriah.2

Bathsheba is introduced by the narrator; although very little is said about her. The narrator briefly describes Bathsheba, “The woman was very beautiful” (2 Sam 11:2). This is the time that the reader should see the emotions and thoughts concerning our main character, David; however they are not there. The narrator states that David sent someone to find out who the woman was and then to bring her to him and then he sleeps with her. The reader is left to question what David was thinking and feeling concerning Bathsheba. Was he in love with her or was it just a moment of passion? The narrator leaves it to the supposition that David lusted for a married woman.3

The theme of a story is the central issue while an idea is the meaning and lesson that is contained in the story. Neither of these are directly stated in a narrative, they are implied and the reader must interpret it. In the story of David and Bathsheba, the use of thematic structure with David’s sexual offence followed by Uriah’s murder is seen.4 Also seen is the structure of scenic presentation versus summary in this narrative which is related to time. During scenic presentation the flow of the narration is slow, but in summary the time flows much quicker. In this narrative, the beginning and end are summaries and run fast. However, the sections in the middle which are concerned with Uriah run rather slow. These verses are full of direct speech causing the time to flow slowly.5

The plot of the David and Bathsheba narrative mirror the story of Judah and Tamar. Also in the plot of the Judah story, the death of two sons leads to a sex scandal; with the David narrative, the sex scandal leads to the death of his two sons. When reading the two stories there are several events that parallel each other. The first is that both narratives have an illicit sexual relationship which produces a child. They have a period of waiting in...

Bibliography: Bar-Efrat, Shimon. “Some Observations on the Analysis of Structure in Biblical Narrative.” Vetus Testamentum 30, no. 2 (April, 1980): 154-173. Accessed November 3, 2013.
Cohen, H. Hirsch. “David and Bathsheba.” Journal of Bible and Religion 33, no. 2 (April, 1965): 142-48. Accessed November 3, 2013.
Copenhaver, Martin B. “He Spoke in Parables.” The Christian Century, 111, no. 21 (July 13,1994): 681. Accessed November 30, 2013.
Diamond, James A. “King David of the Sages: Rabbinic Rehabilitation or Ironic Parody?” Prooftexts 27, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 323-426. Accessed November 3, 2013.
Ho, Craig. “The Stories of the Family Troubles of Judah and David: A Study of Their Literary Links.” Vetus Testamentum 49, no. 4 (October, 1999): 514-531. Accessed November 3, 2013.
Perry, Menahem, and Meir Sternberg. “The King through Ironic Eyes: Biblical Narrative and the Literary Reading Process.” Poetics Today 7, no. 2 (1986): 275-322. Accessed November 3, 2013.
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