David and Bathsheba 1562
Oil on Wood
Jan Matsys (1509–1575)
Musée du Louvre, Paris
David and Bathsheba's Sin
There are few mentions of Solomon in the Bible until shortly before he was anointed king. We are told that he was the son of King David and Bathsheba. As one might recall, King David's relationship with Bathsheba was the cause of much trouble for him, evidently much more than has normally been appreciated. The narrative of these events can be found beginning in 2 Samuel 11.
A short recap of the story of David and Bathsheba begins with David walking on the roof of his palace and spotting the very beautiful Bathsheba bathing. He was infatuated and soon seduced her. Alas, Bathsheba was another man's wife.
Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (JPS)
David's affair with Bathsheba was fruitful and she summarily sent word to David that conception had occurred. This child was Solomon's older brother that only lived a few days. Unfortunately, this all happened while Bathsheba's real husband Uriah the Hittite was away serving in King David's army. In a failed attempt to cover up this indiscretion, David brought Uriah back to town from the army and arranged for him to have some free time so that he could be with Bathsheba. To no avail, David hoped that Uriah would sleep with her so that her unfortunate manifestation of infidelity would not be recognized for what it actually was. Had this scheme worked, Uriah would have thought that the child was his and everything would have been covered up.
Plagued with ill fate, King David could not get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba even after many attempts. Finally, David implemented plan B, thereby arranging for Uriah to be placed in the front lines of battle after returning to active duty. When the battle grew fierce, King David had the rest of the troops withdraw from around Uriah correctly surmising that he would be killed. Some might consider this to be murder by proxy.
Despite King David's concerns about Uriah's wrath, more importantly, God was angry with David about this whole affair and sent judgment onto him and his household. Although God forgave David's sins, he had to endure serious consequences. Frequently, those whose sins are forgiven endure their punishment on this side of eternity. As part of the judgment, God said that the sword would never depart from David's house because of these events. It is extremely important to remember that the sword would never depart from David's house because this is an important clue in the subsequent words of the prophets.
2 Samuel 12:10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from thy house; because thou hast despised Me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Some of the consequences that befell David’s household included the incident(s) of Amnon, Tamar and Absalom; but the first manifestation of judgment was that the child that Bathsheba was carrying whose conception initiated all of these events died seven days after birth. Since it is evident that they conceived Solomon at this time it is apparent that he was of dubious origin.
2 Samuel 12:15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore unto David, and it was very sick. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
2 Samuel 12:18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead; for they said: 'Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke unto him, and he hearkened not unto our voice; how then shall we tell him that the child is dead, so that he do himself some harm?' (JPS)