Recap of Chapter 12

David was voted least likely among his brothers to be anointed king.  He was the last person on the battlefront you’d pick to play the hero’s part, but David was the underdog who overcame. He confronted lions, giants and kings with bare hands and bold faith.  At last, the man after God’s own heart became the man on Israel’s throne.

But kings who stay home from battle are seldom at rest.  David’s eyes wandered and so did his heart.  He summoned the very lovely and very married Bathsheba to his palace and then into his bed. When Bathsheba sent word she was pregnant, David turned his strategy tactics toward her husband, Uriah.

He called Uriah home from the battlefield to visit his wife, expecting a night together would position Uriah as the father-to-be. The plan failed, so David concocted a surefire Plan B.  He sent Uriah back to the front-lines carrying his own death warrant: an order for General Joab to engineer a battlefield “accident” and guarantee Uriah’s death.  The plan worked.  David married Bathsheba and went back to the business of the kingdom.

Then Nathan, the prophet, came to the palace. Guilty kings never fare well when prophets arrive for a visit.  Nathan told a parable and pointed the finger of blame squarely in David’s face.  He asserted, “You are the man!” and David knew he’d met his match.  The man after God’s own heart had become the man with blood on his hands. David and Bathsheba’s marriage feasting turned quickly into mourning the death of their son. David repented of his sin, and God forgave him.  They had a second son named Solomon, which means peace.

Sadly, David was a better king than father.  David’s sin was forgiven, but its aftermath was calamitous.  His son, Absalom, attempted to usurp the throne, and his rise to power resulted in a rebellion.  David instructed his troops to be gentle with his proud son, perhaps because he connected the dots between Absalom’s behavior and his own failures as a father.  But the clash between David’s army and Absalom’s rebels was brutal.  When Absalom was found hanging from a tree limb, Joab seized the moment and killed the conspirator.  King David mourned in anguish when he heard the news.

David’s closing chapter turns the page from battles to building.  He knew that his son, Solomon, would build a house for God, so he did all he could to prepare the way.  From the overflow of David’s heart came the emptying of his bank account.  Others followed the king’s example and gave willingly to build God’s temple.  King David’s story draws to a close with poetic psalms of praise, reminders of faithfulness to Solomon and his sights set on living “in the house of the LORD forever.”

David’s Lower Story places the spotlight on one man’s sin and its tragic consequences.  Yet it also beams with the offer of forgiveness and redemption. God’s grand Upper Story reminds us that no one is righteous on their own.  God’s promise to David pointed across a millennium to a sinless King of Kings; no end of righteousness, no end of peace, and the redemption of all things.

The Artistry and Anatomy of the Psalms

When Queen Victoria had just ascended her throne she went, as is the custom of Royalty, to hear “The Messiah” rendered. She had been instructed as to her conduct by those who knew, and was told that she must not rise when the others stood at the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. When that magnificent chorus was being sung and the singers were shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” she sat with great difficulty.

It seemed as if she would rise in spite of the custom of kings and queens, but finally when they came to that part of the chorus where with a shout they proclaim Him King of Kings suddenly the young queen rose and stood with bowed head, as if she would take her own crown from off her head and cast it at His feet.

—J. Wilbur Chapman

Queen Victoria was not the first royal to understand that there is a King who is worthy of more honor and respect than any earthly queen or king.  King David knew full well that he was lower than God and therefore rendered honor and respect to Him throughout his lifetime.  David often “cast his crown” at the feet of God by writing psalms of praise and thanksgiving, and fear and lament.

I.       The Artistry of the Psalms

A. A psalm is a form of Hebrew poetry that is usually in the form of a prayer.  The psalms were collected and used in the community of faith for worship, for comfort and for teaching.

B. The psalmists—including David—use vivid imagery and life experiences to express themselves.  These figures of speech turn an ordinary prayer into an artistic and memorable expression of emotion common to all worshipers.  Many of the images reveal the earthy culture of the Israelite shepherds and farmers living close to nature.

C. In Psalms, there are 150 separate psalms which are numbered as chapters.  Of them, 73 are attributed to David.  Psalms is the longest book in the Bible.

D. If there is a single theme to all the psalms, it might be the belief in the sovereignty of God over all the creation.  Sometimes psalmists praise God in awe as He rules the universe and other times the psalmists view God as in control of their very lives and the lives of their enemies.

E. Types of Psalms:  Understanding the different types of psalms helps in understanding their purpose and meaning.  Each type has a loose structure.

  1. Individual lament: These psalms cry out for help for a need (sickness, war, slander, etc.)  The typical pattern is:  introductory cry, the lament, confession of trust, prayer for God’s intervention, expression of praise.
  2. Communal lament:  The psalmist cries out to God on behalf of the nation.  The pattern is the same as for the individual lament.
  3. Thanksgiving or praise psalms:  These poems praise God for what He has done either for the individual or for the nation.  The pattern:  proclamation to praise, the content of the praise, a lesson or instruction
  4. Descriptive praise psalms:  While the thanksgiving psalms focus more on what God has done, these offer direct praise to God for who He is–His attributes.  The pattern:  call to praise, the cause for praise, the conclusion.
  5. Didactic or wisdom psalms:  These poems instruct worshipers about living life in accordance with God’s law.  The pattern is historical or similar to wisdom literature.

II.       The Anatomy of the Psalms

A. Poetry differs from other genres of Scripture.  It is more concentrated and employs symbols, images, figures and emotional language.

B. The “bone structure” of Hebrew poetry is parallelism or repetition.  Understanding the parallelisms will help readers grasp the meaning of the figures of speech and ultimately the meaning of the psalm.  There are three main types of parallelism:

  1. Synonymous parallelism—the thought of the first line is expressed in the second line, but using different but synonymous words.  For example 

                      “Hide your face from my sins, 
                      And blot out all my iniquity” (Ps. 51:9)

      2.  Antithetical parallelism—the first line expresses one thought, while the second line is a contrast or opposition.                     

                    “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
                      But the way of the wicked will perish.”  (Ps. 1:6)

      3.  Emblematic parallelism—a figure of speech is used in the first line and explained in the second.      

               “As the deer pants for the water brooks

                So my soul pants for Thee, O God.” (Ps. 42:1)

C. A psalm stands alone as a unit.  There is an overall message to a psalm tied together to express one main feeling.  Like anatomy, you can cut a psalm apart into its pieces, but you will probably kill it in the process!

III.       The Analysis of the Psalms in The Story.

Slow down and read the psalms in such a way as to appreciate the author’s experience.

A. Ps. 59 is found on page 123.  What kind of psalm is it?  [It is an individual lament psalm.  David is crying out for deliverance.]  What is its main message?  What emotions do the figures of speech evoke?

B. Ps. 51 is on page 133.  What kind of psalm is it?  [It is an individual lament psalm.]  What is the message of the psalm?  What emotions does it express?  How is God described?

C. Ps. 32 is on page 135.  What pattern does it fit?  [It is a psalm of thanksgiving or praise.]  What images express David’s feelings?

D. Ps. 23 is the most well-known of all psalms.  What kind is it?  [It is a praise psalm for what God has done and will do for David.]  Why do you suppose this psalm brings such comfort to people?  What in David’s background or experience might have contributed to the images that he used in this psalm?  [David was a shepherd.  He would understand the care and duties of a shepherd for his sheep.]

IV.       Applications and Implications

A. David expressed every emotion to God.  It is OK for me to do the same, the good, the bad and the ugly—God knows anyway!

B. Faith is more than just intellectual assent.  It is also from the heart.

C. I can learn to pray and worship better using the psalms as a guide.

D. Manly men are also artistic and creative.  David was a warrior, king, musician and poet.

E. It is OK for manly men to express emotions, especially about God.  Plus, chicks dig men who love God J

F. The psalmists seek God because He is sovereign to act and worthy of all praise.  I should do the same.

G. The psalmists see the hand of God in all creation, the big stuff and the little stuff.  I can train myself to see evidence of God and praise Him for it too.

H. I can use Ps. 51 as a pattern for confession of my sin and Ps. 32 as a pattern for my thankfulness to God for His forgiveness.

Write a psalm

Now that we have talked about it and examined it…Give it a try. Write a short psalm.  It could be praise or thanksgiving, lament or descriptive.  Below you will find some beginning lines to help you get started.  Antithetical parallelisms are actually slightly easier to write than the others.  As another alternative, you could update Psalm 23 to a 21st century psalm.  What image of God might replace the shepherd?  If you like please share your final products. Here are some beginning lines:

  • It is important for me to do God’s will.
  • I will always praise God.
  • The person who turns away from God is in for big trouble.
  • Like a ship caught in a storm,
  • Deliver me from my enemy
  • Thank You, O God, for my spouse

Truly BeautifulStudy of David and Bathsheba

Chapter 12 of THE STORY is devoted to the story of David and Bathsheba.  David’s actions set the course of the rest of his reign as king of Israel.  David saw Bathsheba, and he wanted her because she was truly beautiful.  In Bathsheba’s case, physical beauty was not a blessing.  But as David and Bathsheba allowed God to reclaim their lives, he turned a bad mistake into something truly beautiful.  What God did 3000 years ago in David and Bathsheba’s lives brings us this assurance today: God can turn a bad start into something beautiful.

I.  A Bad Mistake Times Two. 2 Samuel 11:1—12:25

1. In the spring time what usually occupied the kings?  (11:1)

2. In the space before the arrow briefly note the events that are related in 2 Samuel 11:2—5. After the arrow with each of the, note what choice Bathsheba had in the matter.

v.2                                                                                           →

v.3                                                                                           →

v.4                                                                                           →

v.5                                                                                           →

3.  In your opinion, was Bathsheba a victim or a party to the sin that was committed?

One of the tallest buildings, David’s palace would have been constructed with a railing or battlement around a flat roof with openings to view the area and for protection.  In fact the Israelites were to build a wall around their roofs to avoid liability for a fall (Deuteronomy 22:8).

Uriah’s home was located in close proximity to the palace for David to be able to see Bathsheba, bathing on her roof.  Women were commanded by God’s law to cleanse themselves after a period.  It was common practice for a woman to bath after the day’s work, at night, in the privacy of the roof top.

4.  What additional atrocity did David commit after learning of Bathsheba’s pregnancy? (11:14)

5.  What happened to Bathsheba next? (11:26-27)

6.  What displeased God?  (11:27b)

II. Truth and Consequences.  2 Samuel 12:1—23.

1.  What did Nathan use to convict David of the truth of his sin? (12:1—10)

2.  What is the meaning behind the heartfelt words from God that Nathan related? (12:7—9)

3. What consequences did the Lord declare? (12:11—18)

4.  How did David react to God’s truth and consequences? (12:13)

5.  The Lord struck the child with an illness and, in spite of David’s pleading and fasting, the baby died seven days later.  What losses did Bathsheba endure because of her encounter with David?

6.  Describe David’s anguish and his reaction to the death of the son. (12:18—22)

III. A new life for Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 12:24-25; 1 Kings 1; 2:1—25)

Bathsheba’s attributes go beyond beauty. David’s remaining years were plagued by family turmoil and war, as God promised.  But the rest of Bathsheba’s story reveals a woman with strength and character.  She was honored by David and Solomon.  She was respected by Nathan the prophet, as well as others in the kingdom. God gave a new life to Bathsheba, and she helped bring his treasure to the world.

1.  How did God Bless Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 12:24)

2.  Who did God love?  What does this mean to you? (2 Samuel 12:25)

3.  Why did Nathan consult with Bathsheba about Adonija? (1 Kings 1:9—13)

4.  What shows David and Bathsheba’s relationship at this point? (1 Kings 1:16—21, 31)

Adonija was determined that as the oldest living heir of David, he should have the throne, despite David’s proclamation.  Knowing the Queen Mother’s influence on Solomon, Adonija involved her in a plot which could actually have resulted in their deaths.

5.  Describe what actions of Solomon show respect toward his mother. (1 Kings 2:19—20)

6.  Was Bathsheba naïve or wise in her approach to Solomon with the request from Adonija? (1 Kings 1:21—27)

One has to wonder how David, described as someone God loves (cf. Acts 13:22) could stray so far off the path of godliness.  He let his desires take over, hurting innocent people in his wake. Yet we know that God loves all of us as well.  This is still the same struggle for followers of God today.  Praise God, the perpetrator and the victim alike can find help and healing.

IV. A New Life for You and Me (Psalm 51)

1.  Read Psalm 51:1-2.  David confessed and asked God to deal with three kinds of sin.  Note them:

Blot out my____________________________.

Wash away my _________________________.

Cleanse me from my_____________________.

2. David pled with God: “ …create a new heart within me “(Psalm 51:10).  How does this happen for you and me? (1 John 4:16; Acts 2:38, Ro. 6:1—14)

3.  Why then, do Christians struggle with sin? (Romans 7:21—24)

4. In Romans 7:7—8:37 we read how Christians who love God and follow Christ can be victorious over sin.  How does the writer describe those who remain faithful, despite the difficulties? (Romans 8:37-39)

5.  Share how God has helped you make something truly beautiful of your life, even after a bad start.

Key Question:  What do you need to let God do in your life to make it more beautiful to Him?