In the King James version, we see 2 Samuel 11:4 comprising three parts that divide the event where David and Bathsheba indulged in a sexual activity. The three parts of this verse are separated by semicolons. Note that a semicolon closely and logically connects two “independent” clauses or sentences.
The first part of the verse says David sent messengers to Bathsheba and took her. It clearly shows that he wanted to bring her to his palace, and he did. However, the second part of the verse tells us that “she came” to him and “he lay” with her. It gives an impression that she did not show resistance and decided to come to him. And after she comes to him, he sleeps with her.
Both David and Bathsheba had sinned against the Lord, and there’s no way to tell Bathsheba alone was responsible. Having said that, Satan had deceived David through Bathsheba, which caused him to fall into great sin. Let’s study the event in more detail.
Bathsheba could have said no to David
Bathsheba knew adultery is sin, and so did David, but they decided to go through with it anyway. Interestingly, she did not put up a fight to avoid going to the king’s palace, or show disagreement to the king’s message. Even if the king wanted to see her, she could have honored God and her marriage more than him and followed God’s commandment over his desire.
Also, you don’t want to give way to or participate in the king’s sin because it can affect or bring God’s judgment on the entire kingdom, including you, and not just the king. We’ve seen this happen in the Old Testament.
Furthermore, the Bible mentions people, including women, who have taken a stand against the authority or the king to stay in line with God’s will. For example, Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah refused to obey an Egyptian king’s commandment to kill male Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:17). Rahab, a harlot, did not give up the two spies sent by Joshua when the king of Jericho asked for them. Instead, she made a wise move to protect the spies (Joshua 2:4).
Prophetess Deborah, who was probably the only female judge of the time, led Israel out of the oppression of a king of Canaan. She also joined Israel’s army that went up against the Canaanite army (Judges 4:9). The commander of the Canaanite army was eventually killed by a woman.
Not to forget, the great Queen Esther went against king Ahasuerus’ law to put forth her petition to save Jewish lives from a massacre. She went before the king despite knowing that anybody who entered the inner court without being summoned would be put to death (Esther 4:16).
Therefore, it’s baseless to say that Bathsheba couldn’t disobey the king when he called for her and that she couldn’t do anything to avoid the sin. It all comes down to whether you’re really willing to stay holy and ready to commit to God’s will no matter what.
What happened after David took Bathsheba?
Going back to 2 Samuel 11:4, we see some interesting choice of words by the writer. After David sent messengers to Bathsheba and took her, it says “she came” to him and not she was brought to him. If David had already taken her, it’s obvious that she would be in his palace or presence. There was no need to mention she came to him. It sounds redundant, but actually isn’t.
There’s a reason the sentence “she came to him” is mentioned in 2 Samuel 11:4. The Bible wants to make a clear distinction between David taking Bathsheba and she coming to him. These are two different parts of the same event which are even separated by a semicolon to indicate a distinction between them. Every word and every punctuation in the Bible has a meaning and is used for a reason. Nothing is just randomly included in the Holy Book.
Secondly, when you take someone by force, you forcibly bring them with you or take them to whatever place you’ve arranged for them. You don’t expect them to come with you or to you on their own. You don’t expect them to move toward danger, but run away from it.
However, 2 Samuel 11:4 mentions that Bathsheba came to David after he took her, which is a bit odd to read. Besides, messengers are only supposed to give and receive messages. They’re less likely to carry out a soldier’s duties like getting somebody to the king. Notice that David sent messengers and not soldiers to Bathsheba.
Why did Bathsheba come to David?
When I read 2 Samuel 11:4, I view the event in a different way, especially because of the usage of words here. One thing you need to understand about the Bible is that it’s very specific and accurate. At the same time, it doesn’t give out all the details, but only those you need to know. Therefore, when it does mention something, even though that thing is pretty obvious, you need to pay extra heed and try to understand what it wants to say.
According to me, David first sent messengers to Bathsheba, and when she agreed to come to him, he sent one of his subjects, maybe someone of a soldier’s rank, to get her. After she is in the king’s palace or presence, the second part of the verse after the semicolon unfolds. Now, we see her coming to him. And only after she comes to him, he sleeps with her.
The second part of 2 Samuel 11:4 in the King James version mentions “she came in unto him.” The phrase ‘come in unto someone’ or ‘go in unto someone’ used here is the same phrase used in multiple verses talking about a person having sexual relations with another. For example, Genesis 16:4 uses the same phrase to mention Abram had slept with Hagar. Genesis 6:4 also uses the same phrase to mention sons of God (fallen angels) had sexual relations with daughters of men (human females).
Let’s consider the sentence “she came in unto him” is not necessarily related to being involved in a sexual activity. Meaning, even if we consider she simply entered his room, came toward or to him, or moved into his direction, the question still remains—why would she do that in the first place? Did he summon her after he took her? Did somebody bring her to him after she was taken? Did he force her to come to him after she was taken? I don’t read that in the Bible.
A final thought
The second part of 2 Samuel 11:4 not only reveals Bathsheba indulging in a sexual activity with David, but also initiating it—at least in this verse. Yes, you may say David was the one who sent messengers to Bathsheba and took her (after she agreed to come to him in my opinion). But when it came to the actual moment when they indulged in a sexual activity, we see Bathsheba taking charge or making the first move. Following which, David lays with her.
We haven’t yet talked about Bathsheba bathing at a place that was visible or open enough, making it possible for David to look at her with a naked eye. There’s a lot more to the event where David and Bathsheba were involved in a sexual sin. We’ll see the third part of 2 Samuel 11:4 and the temptation of David in a future blog post.