The following spring, the time of year when kings go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Late one afternoon David got out of bed after taking a nap and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.
He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, "She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite."
Then David sent for her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period.) Then she returned home.
Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent a message to inform David.
So David sent word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite."
When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing.
Then he told Uriah, "Go on home and relax." David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace.
But Uriah wouldn't go home. He stayed that night at the palace entrance with some of the king's other servants.
When David heard what Uriah had done, he summoned him and asked, "What's the matter with you? Why didn't you go home last night after being away for so long?"
Uriah replied, "The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and his officers are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I will never be guilty of acting like that."
"Well, stay here tonight," David told him, "and tomorrow you may return to the army." So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next.
Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn't get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance.
So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver.
The letter instructed Joab, "Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed."
So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy's strongest men were fighting.
And Uriah was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
Then Joab sent a battle report to David.
He told his messenger, "Report all the news of the battle to the king.
But he might get angry and ask, 'Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn't they know there would be shooting from the walls?
Wasn't Gideon's son Abimelech killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him?' Then tell him, 'Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.'"
So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David.
"The enemy came out against us," he said. "And as we chased them back to the city gates,
the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of our men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite."
"Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged," David said. "The sword kills one as well as another! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!"
When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.
When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was very displeased with what David had done.
So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: "There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor.
The rich man owned many sheep and cattle.
The poor man owned nothing but a little lamb he had worked hard to buy. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man's own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter.
One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing a lamb from his own flocks for food, he took the poor man's lamb and killed it and served it to his guest."
David was furious. "As surely as the LORD lives," he vowed, "any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!
He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity."
Then Nathan said to David, "You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says, 'I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul.
I gave you his house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more.
Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah and stolen his wife.
From this time on, the sword will be a constant threat to your family, because you have despised me by taking Uriah's wife to be your own.
"'Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man, and he will go to bed with them in public view.
You did it secretly, but I will do this to you openly in the sight of all Israel.'"
Then David confessed to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD. "Nathan replied, "Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won't die for this sin.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)