David and Donald: The Idle Kings
by Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson
Originally published in The Times of Isreal, The Blogs – November 16, 2020.
“And it came to pass at the turning of the year, the season when kings go off to battle, that David instead sent Joab….” So begins II Samuel 11, and the story of David and Bathsheba.
Idling at home on his palace balcony, the King spies Bathsheba bathing and has her brought by force to his chamber. When he learns he has impregnated her, David recalls from the front her husband, the faithful soldier Uriah, to sleep with his wife. But David’s effort to “undo” his adultery fails when Uriah disobeys, recognizing what David does not – his place is with his troops. And so David stoops to even further depravity: he orders his general Joab to station Uriah in the vanguard where he will be killed, leaving Bathsheba widowed and marriageable. Had David answered his call as King and led his army at the first, he would not later have required such machinations to protect his name. But such is the corrosiveness of power.