The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb
David and Bathsheba
II Samuel xi: 1 to
25; Psalm 51.
David first became king he went with his army upon
the wars against the enemies of Israel. But there
came a time when the cares of his kingdom were many,
and David left Joab, his general, to lead his
warriors, while he stayed in his palace on Mount
One evening, about sunset, David was walking upon
the roof of his palace. He looked down into a garden
near by, and saw a woman, who was very beautiful.
David asked one of his servants who this woman was,
and he said to him, "Her name is Bath-sheba, and she
is the wife of Uriah."
Now Uriah was an officer in David's army, under Joab;
and at that time he was fighting in David's war
against the Ammonites, at Rabbah, near the desert,
on the east of Jordan. David sent for Uriah's wife,
Bath-sheba, and talked with her. He loved her, and
greatly longed to take her as one of his own
wives,—for in those times it was not thought a sin
for a man to have more than one wife. But David
could not marry Bath-sheba while her husband, Uriah,
was living. Then a wicked thought came into David's
heart, and he formed a plan to have Uriah killed, so
that he could then take Bath-sheba into his own
David wrote a letter to Joab, the commander of his
army. And in the letter he said, "When there is to
be a fight with the Ammonites, send Uriah into the
middle of it, where it will be the hottest; and
manage to leave him there, so that he may be slain
by the Ammonites."
And Joab did as David had commanded him. He sent
Uriah with some brave men to a place near the wall
of the city, where he knew that the enemies would
rush out of the city upon them; there was a fierce
fight beside the wall; Uriah was slain, and other
brave men with him. Then Joab sent a messenger to
tell King David how the war was being carried on,
and especially that Uriah, one of his brave
officers, had been killed in the fighting.
When David heard this, he said to the messenger,
"Say to Joab, 'Do not feel troubled at the loss of
the men slain in battle. The sword must strike down
some. Keep up the siege; press forward, and you will
take the city.' "
And after Bath-sheba had mourned over her husband's
death for a time, then David took her into his
palace, and she became his wife. And a little child
was born to them, whom David loved greatly. Only
Joab, and David, and perhaps a few others, knew that
David had caused the death of Uriah; but God knew
it, and God was displeased with David for this
Then the Lord sent Nathan, the prophet, to David to
tell him that, though men knew not that David had
done wickedly, God had seen it, and would surely
punish David for his sin. Nathan came to David, and
he spoke to him thus:
"There were two men in one city; one was rich, and
the other poor. The rich man had great flocks of
sheep and herds of cattle; but the poor man had only
one little lamb that he had bought. It grew up in
his home with his children, and drank out of his
cup, and lay upon his lap, and was like a little
daughter to him.
"One day a visitor came to the rich man's house to
dinner. He did not take one of his own sheep to kill
for his guest. He robbed the poor man of his lamb,
and killed it, and cooked it for a meal with his
When David heard this, he was very angry. He said to
Nathan, "The man who did this thing deserves to die!
He shall give back to his poor neighbor fourfold for
the lamb taken from him. How cruel to treat a poor
man thus, without pity for him!"
And Nathan said to David, "You are the man who has
done this deed. The Lord made you king in place of
Saul, and gave you a kingdom. You have a great
house, and many wives. Why, then, have you done this
wickedness in the sight of the Lord? You have slain
Uriah with the sword of the men of Ammon; and you
have taken his wife to be your wife. For this there
shall be a sword drawn against your house; you shall
suffer for it, and your wives shall suffer, and your
children shall suffer, because you have done this."
When David heard all this, he saw, as he had not
seen before, how great was his wickedness. He was
exceedingly sorry, and said to Nathan, "I have
sinned against the Lord."
And David showed such sorrow for his sin that Nathan
said to him, "The Lord has forgiven your sin; and
you shall not die on account of it. But the child
that Uriah's wife has given to you shall surely
Soon after this the little child of David and Bath-sheba,
whom David loved greatly, was taken very ill. David
prayed to God for the child's life; and David took
no food, but lay in sorrow, with his face upon the
floor of his house. The nobles of his palace came to
him, and urged him to rise up and take food, but he
would not. For seven days the child grew worse and
worse, and David remained in sorrow. Then the child
died; and the nobles were afraid to tell David, for
they said to each other, "If he was in such grief
while the child was living, what will he do when he
hears that the child is dead?"
But when King David saw the people whispering to one
another with sad faces, he said, "Is the child
And they said to him, "Yes, O king, the child is
Then David rose up from the floor where he had been
lying. He washed his face, and put on his kingly
robes. He went first to the house of the Lord, and
worshipped; then he came to his own house, and sat
down to his table, and took food. His servants
wondered at this, but David said to them, "While the
child was still alive, I fasted, and prayed, and
wept; for I hoped that by prayer to the Lord, and by
the mercy of the Lord, his life might be spared. But
now that he is dead, my prayers can do no more for
him. I cannot bring him back again. He will not come
back to me, but I shall go to him."
And after this God gave to David and to Bath-sheba,
his wife, another son, whom they named Solomon. The
Lord loved Solomon, and he grew up to be a wise man.
After God had forgiven David's great sin, David
wrote the Fifty-first Psalm, in memory of his sin
and of God's forgiveness. Some of its verses are
mercy upon me. O God, according to thy loving
According to the multitude of thy tender mercies
blot out my transgressions
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin,
For I acknowledge my transgressions;
And my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
And done that which is evil in thy sight.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Hide thy face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me,
Cast me not away from thy presence;
And take not thy holy spirit from me,
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
And uphold me with a free spirit.
Then will I teach trangressors thy ways;
And sinners shall be converted with thee.
For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I
Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou will not
David and Bathsheba