Lesson 20: King David

Reading Preparation:
  • 2 Samuel 5-12
  • Psalm 51
  • 1 Chronicles 13; 16; 22
Lesson Notes:
1. Introduction – 2 Samuel
As we noted at the beginning of Chapter 18, David is the central character throughout the book of 2 Samuel.
David R. Seeley states,
[Our focus will be on two major areas:] “Chapters 1-5, David’s rise to kingship over Judah and Israel, and Chapters 6-12, the consolidation of the empire.” (“An Introduction To 1 and 2 Samuel,” in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3. Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet. Salt Lake City: Randall Book Co., 1985, 262).
We will focus on those selected events in David’s life that will provide insight and understanding for our lives today.
2. David Becomes King of Israel
During the first seven years of David’s reign, only Judah (2 Samuel 2:4) accepted David as king (2 Sam.5:5). After the defeat of the factions of the house of Saul, David becomes king over all of Israel.
2 Samuel 5:3-4
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
Now accepted as King by all the tribes, David determines to make Jerusalem his capital.
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual notes,
“David wisely chose this city as his capital, for Jerusalem was a city between the northern and southern tribes of Israel but it belonged to neither of them because it was still held by the Canaanite Jebusites.” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual:Genesis-2 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980. [Second Edition, Revised, 1981], 289).
As noted, the Canaanite Jebusites held the city of Jerusalem. The Jebusites believed their city was so indomitable that “the blind and lame” (2 Samuel 5:6) could defend the city against David’s forces.
2 Samuel 5:8
8 And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual offers the following meaning for “gutter,”
“The manner of conquering the city has been much discussed because of the problematical word rendered ‘gutter’ (2 Samuel 5:8). The word most likely designates a channel or a shaft, as it is similarly used in Mishnaic Hebrew. The shaft running up perpendicularly from a water conduit cut into the rock fifty feet west from Gihon, discovered by Sis C. Warren in 1867, would have given people inside the city walls access to water in time of siege and would have made a possible avenue for invaders to enter and open the gates of the city from within. Joab is said to have accomplished that initial entry (see 1 Chronicles 11:6).” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980. [Second Edition. Revised. 1981], 289).
David was able to determine a conduit could bring water to a fortress, could also provide access for soldiers to enter undetected.
Jerusalem was conquered.
2 Samuel 5:7
7 Nevertheless David took the strong of Zion: The same is the city of David.
Ann Madsen makes the following observation,
“Here we find the first mention in the Bible of the word Zion. It is equated directly with the city of David, which was an eleven-acre finger-shaped hilltop south and east of the present city of Jerusalem.” (“David, The King of Israel (2 Samuel) in Studies in Scriptures, Vol. 3. Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet. Salt Lake City: Randall Book Co., 1985, 300-301).
The city of David and Jerusalem become synonymous terms. The “lame and blind” are terms now used by David to designate the conquered Jebusite defenders. Terms previous used by the Jebusites to indicate their city was so strong even the lame and bind could defend it against a potential conquer.
2 Samuel 5:10
10 And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.
3. David and the Philistines
You will recall how Goliath was a Philistine and how once David defeated Goliath, the Israelites were able to defeat the Philistines. However, the Philistines, like a thorn in Israel side, continued to rise up in battle against the Israelites over and over again. Once again David goes to battle against the problematic Philistines. Once again, David seeks the Lord’s direction. Initially Israel is victorious, however, the Philistines continue the battle. David counsels with the Lord.
2 Samuel 5:19
19 And David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
Again the Philistines come against Israel. David again sought the Lord’s direction.
2 Samuel 5:23-24
23 And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
24 And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host the Philistines.
In each of the above referenced incidents and probably several other times, David is demonstrating his willingness to be subservient to the Lord’s will by his actions. To seek the Lord’s guidance and direction before engaging in battle is in recognition that his success in battle is dependent upon the direction he receives from the Lord, rather than his own military expertise. As we demonstrate our trust in the Lord and in turn seek his guidance in all that we do, we will likewise be rewarded with the Lord’s direction.
Because of David’s obedience to the commandments of the Lord, he is blessed in being able for the first time to conquer the land promised to Abraham by the Lord.
4. Uzzah: Ark Steadier
David is desirous of bringing the sacred Ark of the Covenant to the city of Jerusalem, the new capital of Israel. It is while they are in the process of transporting the Ark aboard a cart pulled by oxen, that an individual loses his life. His name is Uzzah/Uzza.
2 Samuel 6:6-7 1 Chronicles 13:9-10
6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.
This incident has brought trepidation into the hearts of many God fearing individuals regarding the vindictive action of a all powerful God. David was also affected by this incident.
2 Samuel 6:8-10 1 Chronicles 13:11-13
8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perez-uzzah to this day. 11 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day.
9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me? 12 And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?
10 So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 13 So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.
How are we to understand the severe punishment of death being pronounced by a loving God, upon an individual whose crime is to reach out his hand in order to steady the sacred ark that was in danger of falling? The simplest answer is to say we just don’t have all the facts to make an accurate judgment because the penalty does not fit the circumstances.
While the simplest answer may be the most accurate, let me offer some possible options.
First, the ark of the covenant is one of, if not the most, sacred object in Israel. It had been constructed under the Lord’s direction during the time of the Exodus. We learn when the ark is being moved, “the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die” (Numbers 4:15). From the very beginning, only certain individuals could bear the ark and if they were to touch any holy thing about the ark, the penalty was death! At best it would appear that Uzzah was not authorized by the Lord to have any contact with the ark, and if he or any other individual did, they would forfeit their lives.
Second, Uzzah, however innocently and well meaning he may have been, violated a law to which a most severe penalty was attached. It is “as if” he had come upon a downed electric power line. Out of his concern for others who may also come upon the line and be harmed, he reaches out his hand to move it. Only then does he learn the line is charged and he suffers the immediate loss of his life. He violated a law and his innocence and sincere action did not prevent the natural consequence from occurring.
Lastly, I offer the following.
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual states,
“The ark was the tangible object that symbolized the presence of God, his throne, his glory, his divine majesty. Man was to approach the ark only upon strict compliance to rituals of personal cleansing and propitiation for his sins. However well-meaning his intentions, Uzzah approached casually what could only be approached under the strictest conditions. Touching the ark, the throne of the divine glory and visible pledge of the invisible presence of the Lord, was a violation of the majesty of the holy God. Uzzah was, therefore, a type of all who with good intentions, humanly speaking, yet with unsanctified minds, interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of God,… ” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, [Second Edition, Revised, 1981], 292).
5. David and the Temple
David has constructed his own palace. He desires to build a Temple where the ark of the covenant may have a permanent resting place. He addresses this matter with Nathan, the prophet, and receives the following direction from the Lord.
2 Samuel 7:12-13
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
We learn further from the scriptures why David is not allowed to build a temple to the Lord.
1 Chronicles 22:8-10
8 But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.
9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.
10 He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.
David’s actions as a military leader meant he was unworthy in the eyes of the Lord to build his holy Temple. Instead, Solomon, his son, would benefit from the peace David had established in Israel, and he will be permitted to build the Lord’s Temple.
The promise made by the Lord to David, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever” (1 Chronicles 22:10); is stated in 2 Samuel 7:16 as “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” has come to be known as the Davidic Covenant.
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual states,
“It promised that David’s lineage would continue on the throne, and unlike Saul’s lineage, would not be overthrown after his death. But it is clearly a Messianic prophecy as well. Jesus, the Messiah, was called David, he would receive the throne of David, he would hold the key of David and he would sit upon the throne of David… .Clearly, only one person can sit upon the throne of David (that is, rule over the house of Israel) forever and ever, and that one is Christ. He came into mortality as a descendant of David and as an heir to his throne both physically and spiritually.” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, [Second Edition. Revised, 1981], 290)
James E. Talmage states,
“Had Judah been a free and independent nation, ruled by the rightful sovereign, Joseph the carpenter would have been her crowned king; and his lawful successor to the throne would have been Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (Jesus The Christ. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. , 1915, [Thirty-fifth Edition, 1963], 87).
We will learn as we review 1 Chronicles 22, David did all he could do to assist with the gathering of the materials for the temple his son would be allowed to build.
6. David Honor’s Others
David does not only seek to further his own wealth, but to also honor the Lord. Though he would not be allowed to build the temple of the Lord, he could set aside the means to assist in its building (See 1 Chronicles 22).
2 Samuel 8:11
11 … king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;
David also sought to show honor to the house of Saul and upon learning that Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth is yet alive, he brings the boy into his house.
2 Samuel 9:9-10
9 And then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.
10 Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master’s son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread always at my table… .
David shares his wealth with others. He seeks to honor his Lord. He also cares for Saul’s remaining family both in remembrance of Saul’s kindness to him as a young boy as well as to show honor to Israel’s first king whom he gave allegiance.
7. David Falls
David did so much for Israel in uniting her into one kingdom. For the first time, under his direction, the chosen people controlled the whole land promised to Abraham’s seed nearly a thousand years earlier. Israel had not achieved such heights before, nor did they ever again. We must ask ourselves, how do we remember David? Do we remember David as the young shepherd boy who, through the power of God, slew a giant; His friendship to Jonathan and then to Jonathan’s son; his refusal to kill the Lord’s anointed; his desire to build a Temple to the Lord, his love of the Lord? Unfortunately, the following event from David’s life, omitted in the book of Chronicles, a parallel history of Israel, must also be addressed. It was also an important part of David’s life. It is a lesson for each of us. It illustrates the importance of our enduring to the end and the constant need to be on guard against temptations regardless of our achievements or station in life.
The event begins with a simple choice, but with serious consequences.
2 Samuel 11:1
1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him,… But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
David chose not to be with his troops, but to remain behind at home.
2 Samuel 11:2
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
It was warm on that particular evening and David found it difficult to sleep. He got out of bed and went to the rooftop, possibly to catch the evening breeze. He chanced to see a woman bathing. She possibly was also trying to seek comfort from the heat of the night. David noticed she was very beautiful. He looked. But he did not turn away. He did not go to another part of the roof. He did not try to distract himself. He continued to look and then to lust after her.
2 Samuel 11:3
3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath- sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
David becomes obsessed with her. Who is this woman? She is so very beautiful. I must meet her. David is married. Marriage vows are sacred, or should be even to a king. David does not put the woman out of his mind and attend to his wife and family.
2 Samuel 11:4
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
David uses his authority as a king to request the woman’s presence. She comes. Did she come reluctantly? Or did she come out of fear for her own well-being? Or was she so enamored with the king that she consented freely to the illicit liaison? She will also set aside her covenant of marriage and participate.
2 Samuel 11:5
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
The sexual encounter between king and subject has resulted in her pregnancy. What was private and done in secret, must be concealed, otherwise embarrassment will be the result. Neither had anticipated this outcome. What do we do next?
2 Samuel 11:6
6 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.
He devises a plan to resolve him of any responsibility. I will bring your husband back from battle. He will be available to you. He will return back to the battle and everyone will think your pregnancy is by your husband.
2 Samuel 11:8
8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.
David meets with Uriah and instructs him to go to his home and make himself available to his wife. He also sends as a present (“a present of a portion of food” (see 2 Samuel 11:8, fn. 8a).
2 Samuel 11:9
9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.
David’s plan is foiled. Uriah does not go to his own house to be with his wife. Why didn’t Uriah go to his own house? David calls him in to question his conduct.
2 Samuel 11:10
10 And when they [his servants] had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house.
In order for David’s plan to be successful it is essential Uriah return to his wife. How could he otherwise cover up his sin of adultery? David does not count on Uriah’s loyalty, maybe because his is so weak.
2 Samuel 11:11
11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.
Unlike King David, Uriah is loyal to his comrades in the army. He would not go to his home and be with his wife, knowing his fellow soldiers are camped out in the open. His honor to them, is greater than to his own wife or king.
David develops yet another plan in order to bring about Uriah’s compliance with his diabolical scheme.
2 Samuel 11:12-13
12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.
13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he [David] made him [Uriah] drunk; and at even he [Uriah] went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.
Bringing Uriah home from the battle; inviting him to be with his wife, and then getting him drunk had been unsuccessful in getting Uriah to go to his own home. David has committed the sins of coveting his neighbor’s wife. He had committed adultery. He has tried by cover up his actions so they would not come out in the open. He has broken three of the Ten Commandments. He will now commit the most serious of sins.
2 Samuel 11:14-15
14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
David is guilty of murder, taking the life of an innocent man! When David took Uriah’s life, he crossed over the line where there is no forgiveness. David responds to Uriah’s death.
First to his military general, Joab.
2 Samuel 11:25
25 Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displeased thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.
“Let not this thing displease them, for the sword devoureth one as well as another,” (2 Samuel 11:25). How insensitive is David to Uriah’s death? It appears that Uriah meant nothing to David as a human being. He was just an obstacle to his pleasure and was to be removed as he saw fit. He also had no concern regarding Bathsheba’s feelings .
2 Samuel 11:26-27
26 And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for his husband.
27 And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son…
With Uriah’s death, David’s plan can now come to fruition. He marries Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and continues the facade that the child is from their union. His honor is secured. His adulterous relationship and murder of Uriah will never be known. He believes that his secret will be safe. We must remember there are, however, always two witnesses of any discretion. One is the individual themselves and the guilt of conscience that bears silent witness. Remember Saul. The second witness, unseen, but present, is the Lord himself. David forgot that even if you are the King and can hide your sins from others, you cannot hide your sins from the Lord.
2 Samuel 11:27
27 … But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.
While you may fool others, you cannot cover your sins from the Lord. Someday, each of us will stand accountable for our actions during our lives. We will receive our just punishment or rewards administered by the Lord Himself. The second witness will not remain silent forever. Having traced through the scriptures, David’s step-by-step slide downward into serious sin, it is important that as far as we currently understand, prior to his sin of murder, David could have received complete forgiveness from the Lord.
The path would not have been easy, but through complete and humble confession to the Lord’s anointed servant, combined with a willingness to follow the outlined steps required for full repentance, David could have obtained full forgiveness and his sin would have been remembered no more by the Lord. The slate having been wiped clean through the coming atonement of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. This is true for David. It is also true for each of us who have committed serious sins against the Lord’s commandments.
Once David committed murder as was his design with Uriah, whether complete forgiveness is possible lies in the hands of He who paid the price of all sins, including murder. It is my belief David, as well as each of us, will receive from Our Lord and Savior, the minimum amount of punishment for us to obtain complete forgiveness and we will also receive the maximum amount of help in order to make this possible.
I witness the Lord of the Old Testament is the pre-mortal Lord and Savior of the New Testament, Jesus Christ. His love for each of us as his spirit brothers and sisters knows no limits. During the final judgment, He will plead our case with Our Heavenly Father, where complete and full justice, balanced by mercy, will prevail for all of God’s children.
In retrospect, I am sorry David was not with his men where he should have been, and instead where he was… alone and lustfully lingering at his neighbor’s wife who was bathing. I also wish his neighbor’s wife had exercised more discretion regarding where she chose to bathe. Unfortunately, choices were made, and the painful consequences followed. How tragic when all of this could have been prevented!
8. David and Nathan
The scriptures record,
2 Samuel 12:1
1 And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him;…
A humble servant of the Lord, Nathan, his anointed prophet, comes on an errand from the Lord to meet with the king. Nathan begins their conversation by presenting to the king the circumstances of two men, one who is rich and the other who is poor.
Allan K. Burgess shares,
“This is the parable: Two men lived in the same city–one was poor and the other was rich. The rich man had a great many flocks and herds, but the poor man only had one little ewe lamb. The poor man’s family had nourished this lamb from its birth, and it had grown up with the family until it was considered one of their children. The lamb ate from the poor man’s plate, drank from his cup, and slept in his bosom at night.
“One day the rich man had a visitor. He didn’t want to feed the visitor from his own flock, so he took the poor man’s lamb and killed and dressed it instead.” (New Insights into the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993, 161-162).
David was quick to see the injustice done to the poor man and did not hesitate to decree his punishment.
2 Samuel 12:5-6
5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
Having obtained the king’s recognition of the severity of the rich man’s actions, Nathan uttered words that must have cut David to his heart. At this moment, David must have realized his heretofore secret actions involving Bath-sheba and her husband, Uriah were known to both Nathan and the Lord.
2 Samuel 12:7
7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man…
Nathan now pronounces his message from the Lord to David.
2 Samuel 12:9-12
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
Having received the preceding rebuke from the Lord, and in lieu of David’s own prior judgment given to Nathan, there is little David can say in his own defense.
2 Samuel 12:13
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD…
While David learns his life shall be spared (2 Samuel 12:10), the final decree from Nathan’s lips must have been more than he could bear.
2 Samuel 12:14
14 Howbeit, because of this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
It had been Bathsheba’s pregnancy that implicated David as the father due to Uriah’s absence at battle, and led to Uriah death. Now the son, born of David’s and Bathsheba’s sexual liaison they had sought to cover up, was also to die. One was dead and now another was to die because of their actions. The pain for David and Bathsheba must have been excruciating.
Ellis T. Rasmussen states regarding the death of their child,
“[While] the child born of their illicit union did not live,… there is no reason to look upon this as ‘punishment’ for the child for the sins of the parents.” (Introduction to the Old Testament, Part I. Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1972, [Second Edition], 185).
The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is when an infant dies, before eight years of age, they go directly to live with Our Heavenly Father in the Celestial kingdom. Their exaltation is made sure.
9. A Repentant David Seeks Forgiveness—Psalms 51
Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual states,
“In…[this] psalm to the Lord, David expresses a desire to help others repent, saying, ‘I will teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalm 51:13). Even though David forfeited his exaltation because he arranged the death of Uriah, [D&C 132:39], we can learn from his repentant attitude as he sought forgiveness for the sin of adultery. His words in Psalms 51 teach many aspects of true repentance.” (Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1996, [2001], 114).
David begins his desire for forgiveness from the Lord by expressing his need for mercy. He states, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness…” (Psalm 51:1). Our repentance begins with our acknowledgment of our need for forgiveness in response to our sins. Without our acknowledgment of our having sinned before the Lord or to His authorized representative on earth, our sincerity is incomplete.
The next step following our acknowledgment of our sin, is a sincere awareness that our actions have offended the Lord, for which we are most remorseful. David continues, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee…have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Psalm 51:3-4).
Next follows our confession to the Lord or His representative. It is essential our confession be complete and our actions not be minimized or omitted. Our confession must be complete or our sin remains unrepentant.
We then offer our willingness to provide restitution to the individual for our actions. Restitution is as important in the repentant process as is our recognition, remorse, and confession. It conveys to the Lord, our recognition, regret, and remorse for the affect our actions have had upon another person, and our willingness to make reparation. David states, ‘For thou desirest not sacrifice; else I would give it. ..The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart,” (Psalm 51:16-17). While one cannot restore an individual’s purity, one can seek the individual’s forgiveness regarding their sinful actions.
The final step is resolution. This involves the individual making a resolute determination not to again commit their sin again. This step may require a change of friends, job, or getting additional help. The sincere individual is willing to take whatever steps are necessary in order to prevent the sin from occurring again. The Psalm ends “as if” David is receiving concluding counsel, ‘Do good…build…Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,…’ (Psalm 51:18-19) .
The blessing for us is once our repentance is complete, we no longer need be troubled regarding our former actions, nor is it necessary we share our sin with another. We receive as it were a ‘clean heart and …a renew[ed]…right spirit within us” (Psalm 51:10).
The Lord has promised the repentant sinner, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool’ (Isaiah 1:18). The Lord continues, ‘I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins’ (Isaiah 43:25). Although our memory may remain, we may exercise caution to avoid even the appearance of our sin, the Lord promises He remembers them no more.
Victor L. Ludlow offers the following steps of repentance:
(1) Recognition; (2) Remorse; (3) Renounce and confess; (4) Resolution –forsake weakness and live righteously; (5) Restitution; and, (6) Remission of sins by the Lord.” (Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992, 269-278).
While we are all guilty of sin, it is essential to our gaining salvation from the Lord, we follow the steps of repentance that will lead to our forgiveness, especially if our sins are serious and require our confession to His authorized representative upon the earth. As we do so, our burden will be lightened and we will again feel a renewed closeness with the Lord. This is His promise to each of us. In this light, we may express our gratitude to David for his psalm of forgiveness.
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual concludes,
“Although David was brave and had great intellect, administrative ability, and faithfulness early in life, he failed in one important thing-to endure to the end. David was a great example in his fulfillment of his calling as king, and a tragic example in his falling from glory. We can learn from both aspects of his life.” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, [Second Edition, Revised, 1981], 292).
One last observation before we turn our attention to the book of 1 Chronicles.
Ellis T. Rasmussen notes,
“It appears that David promised Bathsheba that her next son would be his royal heir, for actions later were taken upon such an assumption. (See 2 Samuel 12:24 and 1 Kings 1:17, also, 1 Chronicles 22:9).” (Introduction to the Old Testament, Part I. Provo: Brigham Young Press, 1972, [Second Edition], 186).
Upon David’s death, Solomon is to become Israel’s third king. It would seem this pronouncement by David to Bathsheba would have brought her comfort during her period of mourning for both her husband and her first son.
2 Samuel 12:24
24 And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.
10. Introduction to Chronicles
As we turn our attention to the book of Chronicles, it is important to understand the relationship which it has with the books of Samuel and Kings. Simplistically stated, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel cover the same historical period as 1 Chronicles. 1 Kings and 2 Kings cover the same historical period as 2 Chronicles.
The Old Testament Seminary student study guide states,
“The books of 1-2 Chronicles were written sometime after the return of the Jews from exile… [while] some of Chronicles seems to simply quote [from Samuel and Kings]… Chronicles emphasizes different points. For example, Chronicles includes much more detail about temple articles and temple events since at the time Chronicles was written the Jews had a temple but no kings” (Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002, 118).
The Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual adds,
“The purpose of Chronicles was to help the returning exiles remember their relationship with the Lord and with the former united nation of Israel. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9 and the account of the success of the Davidic kingdom in 1 Chronicles 10-29 reminded Israel of the Lord’s hand in choosing and guiding his people. Nearly half of the material in Chronicles was taken from the books of Samuel and Kings, but the author included only material he felt helped the people see themselves as God’s chosen people. Almost everything that would detract from that image, such as David’s sin against Uriah and the rebellion of Absalom, was left out. In 2 Chronicles 1-9 the writer emphasized the glory of the temple Solomon built and the importance of temple worship. Nothing was written about Solomon’s foreign wives or his idolatry. The history of the kings of Judah, particularly in 2 Chronicles 10-32, illustrates that having a king or even a temple was not a guarantee of divine protection and blessing. Only when the king and the people were obedient to God’s laws were the promises of the Abrahamic covenant realized.” (Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1998, 144).
There are two separate histories of Israel in the Old Testament.
David R. Seely clarifies,
“The Old Testament contains two separate histories of Israel. The longest and most familiar of the two is found in the books from Genesis through 2 Kings, which recount in sequence the events from the creation of the world in Genesis to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Exile in 2 Kings 25. The second history is found in the books of Chronicles and Ezra and Nehemiah… It begins with Adam, in 1 Chronicles and continues through the return from the Exile, the rebuilding of the temple, and the restoration of Israel recounted in Ezra and Nehemiah… a reader will begin at Genesis and read a continuous historical narrative to the end of 2 Kings and will then start reading the history over again with Chronicle and continue through Nehemiah.” (“Kings and Chronicles,” in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993, 4).
It is my belief the value to having both histories of Israel is the perspective each history provides serves to further our understanding of God’s covenant people and the challenges they faced. They also help us as we strive to learn from their experience. As noted, neither “having a king or even a temple was a guarantee of divine guidance and blessing.”
David R. Seely continues,
“In Hebrew the name of the book of Chronicles (dibre hayyamim) can be translated “daily events,” or perhaps simply as “annals.” In the Greek Septuagint it was called “the things left out” (paraleipomena)… While much of the story is the same as that in Genesis through Kings, there are many additions, deletions, and significant differences in the way it is told that make it a very valuable source in the study of biblical history.” (“Kings and Chronicles,” in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993, 8-9).
The following parable may add to our understanding.
“A certain man wanted to know about a house in a faraway place. He found two separate descriptions written by men who had been in the house at various times. The house had twelve rooms and the furniture had been changed from time to time over the years. While both accounts told something about each room, one was more detailed about the rooms in the north wing and other told more about those in the south wing. Neither of the two separate accounts of the house were thorough in their description. In order to get a more complete and balanced view of the house, the man decided he should read both accounts.
“Explanation: The man is each of us reading the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The house is the house of Israel. The twelve main rooms are the twelve tribes. The northern wing is Israel. The southern wing is Judah. Changing the furniture is the succession of kings, prophets, and people.” (Old Testament: Part Two Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Supplement. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, 31).
As we proceed in this chapter we will examine the book of 1 Chronicles, Chapters 13, 16, and 22. Their importance will become clear as we continue our narrative. In Lesson 25 of our Old Testament lessons, we will address 2 Chronicles 13-21 and as we continue, in Lesson 30, we will examine 2 Chronicles 29-32.
11. 1 Chronicles 13 (2 Samuel 6)
This chapter contrasts comparably with 2 Samuel 6. However as noted, due to the clarity that Chronicles offers, we quote from Chronicles as we previously addressed the matter of Uzzah steadying the ark. The two verses are stated for comparison.
1 Chronicles 13:9-10 2 Samuel 6: 6-7
9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. 6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
It is important to understand the decision to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem was not David’s decision alone as we learn in 1 Chronicles.
1 Chronicles 13:3-4
3 And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at in the days of Saul.
4 And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
Following the sudden death of Uzzah, as both 2 Samuel 6:11 and 1 Chronicles 13: 14 clearly state, the ark is left with the family of Obededom for three months during which time the family is blessed.
12. 1 Chronicles 16
We learn in 1 Chronicles 15, that David arranged for “the children of Aaron, and the Levites” to carry the ark properly during the last part of the journey so he would avoid such an offense as occurred to Uzzah while it was being transported on the cart (see 1 Chronicles 15:12-15). Finally, the ark is brought to Jerusalem amidst great celebration and thanksgiving. David reminds Israel in his psalm of praise, not recorded in 2 Sam.6, of their relationship to the Lord.
1 Chronicles 16:15-17
15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
16 Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
He also reminds Israel to worship the Lord and not turn to idol worship as their neighbors have done.
1 Chronicles 16:25-26
25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
He reminds them to be grateful for the goodness and mercy of the Lord.
1 Chronicles 16:31, 34
31 Let the heaven be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.
34 O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
He also reminds them to continue to turn to the Lord for guidance and deliverance from their enemies for they are the Lord’s covenant people.
1 Chronicles 16:35-36
35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give things to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
36 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD.
The words of David are reminiscent of the words Moses spoke to the children of Israel as he again reminds Israel they are the covenant people of the Lord. The blessings of the Lord, however, are predicated upon their obedience to his commandments, both as a king and as a people.
13. 1 Chronicles 22
1 Chronicles 22 focuses upon David gathering the supplies necessary for his son, Solomon to build the “house of the LORD God” (1 Chronicles 22:1). This includes the gold, silver, brass, iron for nails, the masons to hew the stones, and workers to bring the cedar wood from the Zidonians and Tyre (1 Chronicles 22:2-4). He calls his son, Solomon, and “charged him to build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:7).
You will recall that though it was David’s desire to build a House for the Lord, his request was denied. David tells his son, Solomon, why.
1 Chronicles 22:8
8 But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.
Because the record of Chronicles omits David’s illicit relationship with Bathsheba and the death of Uriah, it also omits this as a reason why David would be disqualified to build the temple unto the Lord.
The promise of the Lord to David that his son, Solomon, would be allowed to build the temple is stated.
1 Chronicles 22:9-10
9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; … and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.
10 He shall build an house for my name, and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.
David continues his counsel to his son, Solomon.
1 Chronicles 22:11-13
11 Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee.
12 Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God.
13 Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.
In conclusion, David is anxious his son not delay building the house of the Lord.
1 Chronicles 22:18-19
18 Is not the LORD your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side? for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before the LORD, and before his people.
19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.
It appears that the importance of building the temple is a greater priority for David than it has been for his son. So it is with many fathers who, as they grow in years, come to truly understand what is really important is life and what is not. Unfortunately, this is often a lesson that comes to us through our experience and is not easily taught to those who are younger in age and experience.
14. Conclusions
As we conclude this chapter, and the latter years of David’s life, I am saddened. David, who was great in the eyes of the Lord; who was such an example in his earlier years in keeping the commandments of the Lord, my heart aches for you. Had you come to yourself after your transgression with Bathsheba and sought repentance as sincerely and earnestly as you did after Nathan’s parable, you could have received complete forgiveness. How I wish you had not sought to cover your sin, but instead confessed.
I must learn from your example that it is often the “small” choices we make that are extremely important in our lives. Our choices, yours and mine, determine the course we follow and the eventual reward we will receive. I must learn from your experience, to always remember to be diligent and to turn away from the daily temptations that come into my own life. David, if you who were so righteous; can fall, if I let my guard down, I too will fall.