The King of Ammon dies and his son succeeds him. So David sends messengers to comfort him. The new king’s advisors tell him that David is spying out his land for weakness, so the new king has them arrested, then he has half their beards shaved and cuts up their clothes so half of their behinds are visible and sends them on their way. Think of it as a Bronze Age way of giving David the finger.
David hears about it and gets angry. He visits the men in Jericho and tells them to stay there until their beards grow back. Then Ammon gets ready for battle and hires Aramean soldiers to fight with David. So David sends out his general Joab to fight.
Joab finds out that he’s flanked, so he divides his forces and gives command of half to his brother with the promise that if either group is doing poorly, they’ll send to the other side for reinforcements. The Jews win the battle.
The Arameans regroup and build a larger army to attack Israel. This time, David goes himself and defeats the larger army and killing their general. After which, the Arameans are made vassals to King David.
David becomes involved in another war, this time with Ammon and sends the army to go and fight them. He stays behind this time.
So he’s walking around his palace and he notices a woman bathing on the rooftop and gets a boner.
David: Hey, who’s the girl who lives over there?
Servant: The wife of Uriah, one of your best soldiers who has been with you since you were running from Saul.
David: Oh… well… why don’t you bring her to me.
So David rapes Bathsheba. Let’s not mince words. Bathsheba was a woman in a culture where women were property. David was the king. She was taken from her home by his men to him. Women do not say no to kings when they ask for sex, especially when she and her husband are at his mercy. David took her with coercion.
I think a lot of preachers think of Bathsheba as a seductress, but the text doesn’t say that. The text doesn’t even say she was bathing nude on the rooftop. David is the primary mover here. He initiates every action.
So David forces himself on her and she becomes pregnant.
David is rightly worried. The law demands that a rapist be killed. So he sends for Uriah to tell him how the battle is going, but really to try and get Uriah to have sex with his wife so the impending child will be his instead of David’s. But Uriah is honorable and sleeps outside on the palace porch.
David: Dude, why didn’t you go sex up your wife?
Uriah: My men are sleeping outside. It would be dishonorable for me to sleep in my own bed with my wife.
David: Have some wine. Here… have some more wine… Hell, just finish a couple bottles of the stuff.
Uriah: Thankssss… (hic)… but I’ma… I’ma still just gonna lay down here…
So David wrote a letter. Uriah was to die. Joab was to put him in front of a charge and then pull the troops back leaving him there surrounded by the enemy. David even gives the notice of his execution to Uriah to carry to Joab.
So Joab follows his orders and has Uriah killed in battle. Then he sends back his own messenger letting David know the deed is done. Bathsheba mourns her lost husband and David takes her as his wife. Now Davod looks like a good guy just taking care of one of his best soldier’s widow after he died. And she bears David a son.
But the thing David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Again, note that it’s the thing David has done, not the thing “David and Bathsheba” had done.
So God tells Nathan to go talk to David.
Nathan: Hey, David. Got a story for you. There’s this rich guy with lots of sheep, fabulously wealthy, just money pouring out of his wallet. Well, he’s got a poor neighbor. The poor man has nothing except one little baby sheep that he loves. It’s his pet. He snuggles with it at night. He feeds it. He stays up with it when it’s sick. Dude loves his little baby sheep.
Well, one day, the wealthy guy gets a visitor and he’s forced to entertain, but rather than use one of his own sheep, he goes next door, takes the poor man’s sheep and kills it, prepares it, and serves it to his guest for dinner.
David: THAT MAN DESERVES TO DIE!
Nathan: Yeah, that man is you. God raised you up from obscurity. He protected you. He gave you Saul’s kingdom. He gave you wives. He would have given you more. You’ve murdered your friend and an honorable soldier and you’ve raped his wife and taken her for yourself. You will never no peace and your own house will turn against you.
David: I have sinned against the Lord.
Nathan: It’s cool. God forgives you.
Force Ghost Saul: Uh…dude… what the hell, man? All I did was not kill some guys and God sent demons to drive me crazy… What the freakin’ hell? Where was my forgiveness?
Nathan: Quiet you! Anyway, as punishment though, God’s going to kill your baby.
Nathan: Yeah, God’s going to kill a baby instead of you.
David: An innocent little baby instead of a king who just raped and murdered? That’s who God’s going to kill?
Nathan: Yeah, is that a problem?
So yes, God kills a baby. That just happened.
But David has sex with Bathsheba again and she gets pregnant again with Solomon. God loves this baby, so He doesn’t kill him. You know…unlike his dead brother… whom God just killed.
Joab sends word to David saying, “Hey, the war’s going well. You should come down here so the glory and honor will be yours instead of mine.”
So David goes to meet the army, they conquer and loot the city, kill the king, and bring out the people and “set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, and iron axes, and made them pass through the brick kiln.” Which I really hope means he made them all slave laborers instead of meaning he hacked off some body parts and threw them alive into a brick oven.
Which again… this being the bible could go either way.