David’s Abuse of Power

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King David, chosen by God and beloved by all. Everything seemed so perfect, but David is only human, and humans are not perfect. Though we all make mistakes when someone is in a position of power, they are expected to know better because their mistakes impact more people. However, David’s mistakes were not just small, little sins that anyone could get away with, they were severe sins that he only got away with because he was in a position of power. With only one person in power it can be very difficult for the power not to get the best of you compared to a government that practices a system of check and balances. David’s story up until this point could be described as a path of successes, but with just one slip created a domino effect, each sin worst than the last.

David was God’s answer to the people’s cry. They wanted “someone who [would] “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam. 8: 20).” (Grimsrud) All he ever wanted and needed was given to him, he did not even have to fight to be king. He had “accumulated power and women and a divine promise greater than any before him,” (Wolpe) but that did not seem like enough for David because he started to slack off in his duties. In fact, his fall can be traced back to when he decided to stay back while his army went off to battle because “had he been at Rabbah with his army, his eye would not have rested upon an object calculated to act upon the corrupt principle within; but the very act of tarrying at home afforded an opening for the enemy to come in upon him.” (Mackintosh)

The reason behind this could have been that he did not want to risk losing his wealth, or that he wanted to bask in his glory for a while, or the power had honestly gotten to his head: “Perhaps he stays behind in Jerusalem because daring has given way to wonder at the prosperity that he does not wish to risk in war. Perhaps he wants to run his good fortune through his fingers like the gold coins of legend. Or it may be that David suffers from the vertigo of success.” (Wolpe) Considering what happened next the most probable answer is the latter.

While David is on the roof of his palace, he sees a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, bathing, but she is not just any woman, she is the wife of one of his soldiers. Though little is known about the affair itself and even less about Bathsheba’s true feelings about it, it is not a far-fetched idea that, with all his riches and social status, he felt entitled to such a beautiful woman even if she was another man’s wife or with his need to rule that he was “seduced by his own power (not by Bathsheba).” (Spielman)

Also noteworthy is “the scene of his looking down upon her (from his roof) [because it] is telling. David is the master of all he surveys. He is a well-known public figure. He is the ruler of the nation. He gets what he wants.” (Spielman) However, others believe that since idleness is a sin, this was all a part of the devil’s plan: “Satan will ever find mischief for idle hearts, as well as idle hands.” (Mackintosh) Anyway, the story goes that David summons her and later Bathsheba sends a message to him saying that she is pregnant. That is the only instance we hear from Bathsheba, the rest is mostly all about David. No one knows if Bathsheba went willingly upon David’s request or if she only obliged because he was the king. Either way, “despite her beauty and allure, Bathsheba does not have the ability to cause the king to lose all sense of control and responsibility any more than Goliath had the ability to cause David to be afraid.” (Spielman)

On top of all that, when David finds out Bathsheba is pregnant the first thing he is worried about is himself, his reputation, and what he can do so no one finds out what he had done because with her husband in battle it could not possibly be his. Not once does he stop to think what Bathsheba could be feeling, whether upset with being married to a man she could love and having another man’s baby or happy that this other man is David. Instead he starts scheming a cover up so that way the public does not find out he had committed adultery and his image and good name stays intact.

King David’s first plan of action is to send for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to come back home so that he can spend the night with his wife. This way when it becomes evident that Bathsheba is pregnant, everyone including Uriah will believe that it is her husband’s child. But what David did not account for is Uriah’s loyalty. He refuses to stay at home and be with his wife while his fellow soldiers are still fighting in battle and have no decent accommodations. This upset David quite a bit, but it was not going to deter from his efforts to make sure his name stays clean. The king was quick thinking and hid his disappointment from Uriah instead offering him a drink, commencing his new plan.

The king seemed to forget that honest men still exist, even though he was not one anymore. He had decided to get Uriah drunk in order to break his integrity so that he will comply. In fact, David’s “cynical view of human nature is apparent: He believes that nobility is a facade that can be shattered. A few drinks and David will have his way.” (Wolpe) Unfortunately for the king, even under the influence of alcohol, Uriah refuses the comforts of home and still wants to go back to battle. David still convinced that his plan was going to work sent him home, but in the morning, they had found that, “like Uriah’s friends who were still in battle, he slept outside on the cold hard ground, not at home with his wife.” (Spielman) He is “defeated by the rectitude of the very man he betrayed.” (Wolpe) Now King David began to panic and decided it was time for extreme measures to make sure his secret stays swept under the rug.

Now up to this point the only serious sin David had committed was adultery and trying to get away with it, but all that was going to change because Uriah was interfering with his cover up and was the only thing standing in the way to his supposed perfect plan. So, a desperate David came up with a new strategy to save himself, not thinking about anyone else because he had the power and was in control. If Uriah was not going to go home to his wife, then he was never going to come home.

The king called for Uriah and, “in a maneuver of breathtaking hauteur and cruelty, David asks Uriah himself to deliver a letter to his general Joab—without knowing that it carries Uriah’s own death sentence.” (Wolpe) Being the loyal soldier that he is, Uriah follows the order of his king. When the general receives this order, he reluctantly obeys positioning Uriah on the frontline where he would be killed. In order to make sure it looked realistic and so the king was not implicated, the general also had to sacrifice some innocent soldiers. He sends word back to the king and makes sure that the messenger relays that Uriah was one of the fallen soldiers. King David is finally content and sends a message of reassurance.

David is safe in his mind, though “he broke three main commandments—thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not commit adultery, and thou shalt not kill.” (Grimsrud) The king can relax because he will get away with adultery now that he committed murder, unlike everyone else who will suffer the consequences of his actions. Uriah, along with many innocent soldiers, lost their lives, his general Joab was forced to go against his own good conscious to allow those good men to die, Bathsheba was left without a husband, “and Israel is never the same. From now on, Israel will be plagued by violence and injustice.” (Grimsrud)

The power has obviously gone to the king’s head because he blinds himself to his people’s suffering and “to the magnitude of his responsibility and perhaps to his ability to control an alluring situation,” (Spielman) but it does not end there. He allows Bathsheba enough time to grieve and then takes her as his wife, so the baby will be born in wedlock and no one will know the truth. The king has finally finished. So, by the end “David is both poor and royal, the prodigy who rose and the star who fell.” (Wolpe) One thing is certain, “David’s abuse of power was of such a degree that in today’s world he would have no official leadership function and role remaining.” (Spielman) and the people “learn once again of the futility of the way of dominance, of grasping, of self-indulgence.” (Grimsrud)

In conclusion, King David, though was a great ruler, when put in a difficult position did not think twice about abusing his power. When he left his post in battle, he made the decision to commit adultery and in order to keep that a secret he decided the only justifiable way to cover this scandal up was to commit an even graver sin, murder. But for him that was alright because he got to keep his reputation as a good king.


Cite this paper

David’s Abuse of Power. (2021, Apr 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/davids-abuse-of-power/



What sins did David commit?
David committed several sins, including adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite.
What was David's flaw in the Bible?
David had a flaw in that he was too trusting. He trusted people who he shouldn't have and that led to him getting hurt.
What was King David guilty of?
King David was guilty of adultery and murder.
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