The narrative of David and Bathsheba has been of interest to commentators from all periods. This narrative focuses on the sin of David and gives insight into man’s nature as sinful and fallen, and offers the reader the lesson that this is the nature we possess. The narrative focuses on literary elements including the development of characters, the plot, and setting the narrative. This essay will summarize the narrative of David and Bathsheba and expound on the literary techniques the narrator uses.
The story of 2 Samuel 11:1-27 includes four main characters which are David, Bathsheba, Uriah, and Joab. David is a round character as he is a developed character, with his story starting in 1 Samuel 16. David was chosen by God to be the king of Israel in the place of Saul, who disobeyed and sinned against God with no proper repentance. Bathsheba is another round character in the narrative. She is only mentioned by name once (verse 3) and then referred to as the woman, or, wife of Uriah. She plays an important role as David commits the grievous sin of adultery with Bathsheba. Uriah is a flat character as he portrays one quality in the narrative, and that is dedication to the king, David. 2 Samuel 11:11 reads,
Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing” (NASB).
Joab’s character as an agent moves the story along. Joab is instructed by David to put Uriah in the front line of battle so he might be killed to cover up David’s sin of adultery. Joab is then instructed after the battle to give the report of the battle to David.
One literary element used in this story is setting the narrative. This portrays the geographical, cultural, or religious context in which the story occurs. 2 Samuel 11:1 gives the background to the story, “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.” This verse tells us the time for military activity is in the spring, after the end of the winter rains. The Israelite men of war under Joab laid siege to Rabbah with king David not joining them. It was unusual for a king not to be involved with the troops when going out for battle. This causes the setting for David’s downfall providing him an opportunity to see Bathsheba bathing and committing the sin of adultery.
The narration encompasses the basic plot movement of a story. The characters of David and Bathsheba are introduced (1-3). The initial encounter of David and Bathsheba is fast paced. David sends for her, she visits David, he sleeps with her, she leaves, she is pregnant, and she finally notifies David of her...