In the book of 2 Samuel, Chapter 11 we see David comitting a great sin which even God found unacceptable.

The sin is familiar to us. He saw Bathsheba bathing, had her brought to him, and lay with her who was another man's wife. I would like to know how this was actually possible.

  • Why would a woman bathe before the king's royal palace or somewhere a king could see her?

    The only thing said in the Bible is that he saw her after getting out of his bed and looking out.

  • Did David take some initiative to see her bathing?

  • 3
    Well they probably didn't have frosted glass back then..
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 27, 2016 at 22:50
  • just because they didn't have froasted glass means a women can bath in front of a king.you should remember he is the supreme king of Israel. Feb 28, 2016 at 13:36
  • 2
    I think it's a reasonable question and have heard various partial explanations (some of which are evident from vv. 1-2). I re-formatted the question; maybe people will like it better that way. Rikku, feel free to roll back or re-adjust as you like.
    – Susan
    Feb 28, 2016 at 17:10
  • I would have to find my sources for citation and can't guarantee that I can. Therefore a comment, instead of an answer. David was on the roof, not looking out the window (11:2). There was a set time of day when women bathed in walled areas and the men stayed off the roofs out of respect and courtesy to them. That David is on the roof during this time means he's looking.
    – Frank Luke
    Feb 29, 2016 at 15:53
  • 1
    To be fair, a roof in the middle east isn't a bad place to put a bath, especially if you don't want to lose room inside your house and aren't comfortable bathing in public! It'd also make a fairly warm and hygienic location compared to anywhere indoors. With a fairly sized wall or partition around the edge (Dt 22:8 commands this!), you'd have a nice place to bathe in private, assuming there aren't many houses higher than yours. As one of David's 'mighty men', Uriah would have probably had a home fairly close to his own, so it doesn't seem far fetched to consider such a scenario.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


Dr. Robert Chisolm, Jr., Professor of Old Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary, answered this VERY question in his article, “Cracks in the Foundation: Ominous Signs in the Davidic Narrative” (Bibliotheca Sacra, April-June 2016, pp. 154-176). That is, he addresses the moral aspects which led to the practical event of seeing Bathsheba from the roof of his palace.

The below summary captures the key points of this article.

Please click to enlarge.

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  • I think Dr Chisolm, Jr., suffers from the same spirit that moved Joseph's brothers to imagine he was boasting when he made known to them his dreams. We can't have the poppies grow too high, can we?
    – enegue
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:51
  • @enegue - the inherent liability when teaching the words of God is that we either become puffed up (1 Cor 8:1) and/or others become jealous just like the Roman Christians (Philippians 1:17) to whom Paul had written his great epistle to the Romans, who were seeking to make him jealous instead of comforting him while he (Paul) was in prison in Rome.
    – Joseph
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:58

Your question seems to be "How is this possible?" as a question of total incredulity, that a godly man like David could fall into such a sin. I'll come back to this.

Your next question is, "Why would a woman bathe before the king's royal palace or somewhere a king could see her?" She may have assumed that since the army was out to war, as was her husband Uriah, that David would surely be out with them, and so she didn't draw the curtains or whatever she normally did for privacy. If she did know David was still at home, maybe she wanted to seduce him. The text doesn't answer your question of why she bathed on her rooftop. So only speculation is possible. By the way, even if Bathsheba did something to deliberately catch David's eye, she was included in the genealogy of Jesus [Matthew 1], which is significant in several ways.

The last question about David's initiative in seeing her is equally unanswerable. He certainly did take the initiative to have her brought to his palace after he saw her. But whether he brought out his binoculars or what have you in order to spy on her, no one can say.

The big question then is "how was this actually possible?" And I'm assuming you say this because David is known as "a man after God's own heart", and the "anointed king of Israel", etc. So if he was pleasing to God, how could he stumble so dramatically?

You yourself answer this question when you say, "The sin is familiar to us." David wasn't great because he was morally strong or above others in his self-restraint. He was great because he knew God, loved God and cared for God's honor. According to St. Paul, he was great because he trusted in God to forgive his sins, [Romans 4:5-8, (quoting Psalm 32:1,2)]

5But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

7“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;

8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

As great and heroic and faithful as David was, he was a man who desperately needed God's mercy and help, and KNEW he needed God. Thus, he was a truly humble man before God. His plea was recorded in [Psalm 51:1-4]:

1Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

God doesn't prevent anyone from committing sin. He didn't put an electric fence around the Tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil, as you or I might have done; so even sinless Adam and Eve sinned. God expects us to exercise our free will in obeying His laws. When we don't, sin happens, especially to the "best" of us.

  • by saying "how was this actually possible?" i just wanted to know about the physical possiblility only, that how a women could stand naked unknowingly or knowingly before a king with all his protection and all. Mar 2, 2016 at 14:46
  • Joseph, the physical possibility is obvious: his roof overlooked hers and there weren't enough obstacles to block his view. But again, I think you are really asking, "How was it morally possible for her to allow this to happen?" That is the question I was trying to answer.
    – C. Kelly
    Mar 2, 2016 at 17:29

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