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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE SIN OF DAVID

[155] MANY nations made war against David, but by the help of God he triumphed over them all. Among his chief enemies were the Ammonites, who had joined their forces with the king of Syria and invaded the land of Israel. David went out against them at the head of his army and defeated them with great slaughter. Then he returned home to Jerusalem, but he sent Joab with the army into the land of the Ammonites to lay waste the country and besiege their cities.

One evening David went, as was his custom to walk on the roof of the palace. A little way off he saw a woman of great beauty, and on inquiring her name he learned she was called Bathsheba, and was the wife of a man named Uriah, who was in the army under Joab. David fell in love with Bathsheba on account of her beauty, and he determined he would make her his wife. He sent for Uriah to come to the palace. And David spoke kindly to him, and inquired about the army and about the siege. But at the end of three days he sent him back with a letter to Joab. In this letter he told Joab that Uriah had offended him, and he wished to have him punished. Therefore he directed that in the next battle Uriah should be placed in some position of great danger, and when the enemy approached all the other soldiers were to fly and leave him to be slain.

Joab did as he was told. He set Uriah in the front of the battle, and when the Ammonites made a sally out of the city, all the soldiers that were near Uriah fled away. Uriah re- [156] ceived the enemy alone, and, though he fought bravely and slew many of them, he was himself soon overpowered and slain.

When Daivd learned from Joab that Uriah was slain, he made Bathsheba his wife. But the Lord was angry at what David had done. And He sent Nathan the prophet to upbraid the king for his wickedness.

Nathan came and said, "O king, I wish to ask thy advice in a certain matter. There were two men living in the city, one of whom was rich and the other was poor. The rich man had many flocks of cattle and sheep, but the poor man had only one ewe lamb. This he brough up with his children and let her eat her food with them, and loved her as if she were one of his daughters. A stranger came to visit the rich man, and instead of killing on of his own flock in order to feast him, he sent for the poor man's lamb and took her away by force, and killed her for the stranger's feast."

David was angry at this, and said "that the rich man was a wicked man for doing this, and he should be made to give to the poor man four lambs for the one he had taken away, and he should be punished with death also."

Then Nathan answered, "Thou art the man of whom I speak. For the Lord made thee king over Israel, and made thee rich and great, and gave thee wives and children, yet hast thou caused Uriah, who was a poor man, to be slain in order that thou mightest marry his wife, whom he loved. Know, then, that God will punish thee for thy wickedness, and one of thy own sons shall rise up against thee and drive thee from the kingdom."

David bowed down his head to the ground and confessed with tears that he had sinned. Nathan, touched by his sorrow, told him that if he truly repented the Lord would forgive him at last and give him back his kingdom. Having said these words, he departed.

God gave a son to David and Bathsheba, whom David [157] greatly loved. But a sickness came upon the child, and David was so troubled that he refused any food for seven days, and lay upon the floor and wept. On the seventh day the child died, and the servants were afraid to tell David. "For," they said, "if he grieved so much while the child was sick, how much greater will be his grief when he learns that it is dead!" But when David looked at them and saw them whispering together, he knew what had happened. And he said, "is the child dead?: and one of the servants answered that he was. David rose and washed himself, and took a white garment, and went into the tabernacle and prayed. Then he came out and sat downt o eat. His kindred and his servants were much surprised at this, and one of them asked him how it was that he who had grieved so much while his child was sick, grieved no longer now he was dead. David answered, "While the child was alive I fasted and wept, thinking in this way that God might allow it to live, but now the child is dead, there is no longer any occasion for grief, which would now be useless."

When he had said this, they commended the king's wisdom and understanding.

Afterwards God gave to David and Bathsheba another son, who, by the command of Nathan, was called Solomon.


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