2 Samuel 11:2
And it came to pass in an evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look on.
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(2) In an eveningtide.—Late in the afternoon, when David had taken the siesta customary in Oriental countries, he rose from his couch and walked on the roof of his palace, which in the cool of the day was the pleasantest part of an eastern house. This palace was on the height of Mount Zion, and looked down upon the open courts of the houses in the lower city. In one of these he saw a beautiful woman bathing. In the courts of the houses it was common to have a basin of water, and the place was probably entirely concealed from every other point of observation than the roof of the palace, from which no harm was suspected.

David’s grievous fall was consequent upon his long course of uninterrupted prosperity and power, which had somewhat intoxicated him and thrown him off his guard. It is no part of the plan of Scripture to cover up or excuse the sins of even its greatest heroes and saints. This sin was followed by the deepest repentance and by the Divine forgiveness; nevertheless its punishment overclouded all the remaining years of David’s life. His fall, as St. Augustine has said, should put upon their guard those who have not fallen, and save from despair those who have.

2 Samuel 11:2. David arose from off his bed — Where he had lain down to sleep in the heat of the day, as the manner was in those countries; and where he had probably slept for some time. The bed of sloth often proves the bed of lust. And walked upon the roof of his house — To take the fresh air, for the roofs of the houses in that country were flat for this purpose. He saw a woman washing herself — In a bath, which was in her garden; probably from some ceremonial pollution.11:1-5 Observe the occasions of David's sin; what led to it. 1. Neglect of his business. He tarried at Jerusalem. When we are out of the way of our duty, we are in temptation. 2. Love of ease: idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. 3. A wandering eye. He had not, like Job, made a covenant with his eyes, or, at this time, he had forgotten it. And observe the steps of the sin. See how the way of sin is down-hill; when men begin to do evil, they cannot soon stop. Observe the aggravations of the sin. How could David rebuke or punish that in others, of which he was conscious that he himself was guilty?An eveningtide - The evening began at three o'clock in the afternoon. 2Sa 11:2-12. David Commits Adultery with Bath-sheba.

2. it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed—The Hebrews, like other Orientals, rose at daybreak, and always took a nap during the heat of the day. Afterwards they lounged in the cool of the evening on their flat-roofed terraces. It is probable that David had ascended to enjoy the open-air refreshment earlier than usual.

From off his bed; where he had lain and slept for some time; being possibly disposed to sleep after dinner, by reason of some excess committed in eating or drinking; and indulging himself in his lazy humour, which may seem very improper for so great a prince and captain, who had so many and great burdens upon his shoulders, especially in a time of war; and therefore such practices have been condemned by heathens; and Homer will not allow a general and great counsellor to sleep all the night, much less to take any part of the day for it. And therefore this is thought to be David’s first error, and the occasion of his following fall. Walked upon the roof; which was plain, after the manner, Deu 22:8.

Washing herself, to wit, in a bath, which possibly was in her garden, or in some room near to the king s palace, where she might wash herself divers ways, and for different ends; either for health, or coolness, or to cleanse herself from some kind of legal impurity; where also, the windows being open, and she careless, David might espy her. And it came to pass in an eveningtide,.... Some time in the afternoon, when the sun began to decline; not in the dusk of the evening, for then the object he saw could not have been seen so distinctly by him:

that David arose from off his bed; having taken a nap in the heat of the day after dinner; indulging himself more than he used to do to sloth and luxury, which prepared him, and led him on the more eagerly to the lust of uncleanness:

and walked upon the roof of the king's house; to refresh himself after his sleep, it being the cool of the day, and the roof of the house being flat and fit to walk upon, as the houses of Judea were; see Deuteronomy 22:8,

and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; in a bath in her garden, or in an apartment in her house, the window being open:

and the woman was very beautiful to look upon; of a fine shape and good complexion, and comely countenance; all which were incentives to lust, at which his eye was attracted to, and his heart was ensnared with her.

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his {b} bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

(b) Upon which he used to rest in the afternoon, as was read of Ishbosheth in 2Sa 4:7.

2. arose from off his bed] In the cool of the afternoon, after his midday siesta. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 4:5.

walked upon the roof] The flat roofs of Oriental houses “afford a most delightful promenade.… During a large part of the year the roof is the most agreeable place about the establishment, especially in the morning and the evening.” Thomson’s The Land and the Book, p. 39. David’s palace on Mount Zion (ch. 2 Samuel 5:9) commanded a view of Uriah’s house, which was in the Lower City (2 Samuel 11:8, go down).

2–5. David’s adultery with Bath-sheba

It is one object of Holy Scripture to paint sin in its true colours. No friendly flattery, no false modesty, draws a veil over this dark scene in David’s life. It is recorded as a warning (1 Corinthians 10:11-12), that even holy men may yield to temptation and fall into gross sin; that one sin almost inevitably leads to others; that sin, even when repented of, brings punishment in its train.

With stern simplicity the inspired prophet-historian describes how “the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). The king who but a few years before had sung of “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4), and vowed to exclude from his palace all workers of deceit (Psalm 101:7) is dragged by his passion into meanness, ingratitude, dissimulation, treachery, murder. “These things were written for our admonition … Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

But if the history is a stern record of the enthralling power and the inevitable consequences of sin, it is no less a testimony to the liberating power of repentance. “Sicut lapsus David cautos facit eos qui non ceciderunt, sic desperatos esse non vult qui ceciderunt” (Augustine on Psalms 51): or in the words of Bishop Hall: “How can we presume of not sinning, or despair for sinning, when we find so great a saint thus fallen, thus risen.”

It is the necessary key to the history of the rest of David’s reign. It explains the sudden overclouding of his life; the change from triumph and prosperity to sorrow and failure. See further in the Introduction, ch. VI. § 10, p. 36, and § 16, p. 41.

This narrative is altogether omitted in the Book of Chronicles, for reasons which are explained in the Introduction, ch. III. p. 22.Verse 2. - David arose from off his bed. It was usual in Palestine, and remains so in all hot countries, to take a siesta in the heat of the day (2 Samuel 4:5); and, on awaking, David walked backward and forward on the fiat roof of his house (1 Samuel 9:25), to enjoy the cool breezes of the evening. In so doing he was probably following his usual habits; but temptation came upon him, as so often is the case, unexpectedly. We are told that it is regarded in the East as improper for one neighbour to look over the battlement of his house into the inner court of the next dwelling (Philippson). Considering the jealousy with which Orientals guard the female members of their family from intrusion, it was a wrong act on the king's part to spy into what was going on in the recesses of the adjoining house. But he did so, and suffered for it years of disgrace and misery. For he saw a beautiful woman, the wife of one of his high officers, bathing, probably to purify herself from some legal uncleanness, such as those mentioned in Leviticus 15. No blame, so far, must be attached to her. The place was regarded as perfectly secluded, and probably neither she nor Uriah had ever suspected that what went on there could be observed from the roof of the king's palace. The Aramaeans, however, gathered together again after the first defeat, to continue the war; and Hadarezer, the most powerful of the Aramaean kings, sent messengers to Mesopotamia, and summoned it to war. It is very evident, not only from the words "he sent and brought out Aram, which was beyond the river," but also from the fact that Shobach, Hadarezer's general (Shophach according to the Chronicles), was at the head of the Mesopotamian troops, that the Mesopotamian troops who were summoned to help were under the supreme ruler of Hadarezer. This is placed beyond all possible doubt by 2 Samuel 10:19, where the kings who had fought with Hadarezer against the Israelites are called his "servants," or vassals. חילם ויּבאוּ (2 Samuel 10:16) might be translated "and their army came;" but when we compare with this the חלאמה ויּבא of 2 Samuel 10:17, we are compelled to render it as a proper name (as in the Septuagint, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic) - "and they (the men from beyond the Euphrates) came (marched) to Helam" - and to take חילם as a contracted form of חלאם. The situation of this place has not yet been discovered. Ewald supposes it to be connected with the Syrian town Alamatha upon the Euphrates (Ptol. Geogr. v. 15); but this is not to be thought of for a moment, if only because it cannot be supposed that the Aramaeans would fall back to the Euphrates, and wait for the Israelites to follow them thither before they gave them battle; and also on account of 2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:3, from which it is evident that Helam is to be sought for somewhere in the neighbourhood of Hamath. For חלאמה ויּבא we find אליהם ויּבא, "David came to them" (The Aramaeans), in the Chronicles: so that the author of the Chronicles has omitted the unknown place, unless indeed אליהם has been written by mistake for חלאם.
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