Lesson 91: 2 Samuel 11:1–12:9

“Lesson 91: 2 Samuel 11:1–12:9,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 91,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 91

2 Samuel 11:1–12:9


King David committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba who consequently became pregnant. Upon learning of Bathsheba’s condition, David tried to cover his sin and eventually arranged for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle. After Uriah’s death, the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David to confront him about his wicked deeds.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Samuel 11:1–5

David commits adultery with Bathsheba

Which Way

As class begins, consider showing students a picture of a railroad switch point. Ask students if they can explain what a switch point on a railroad track is. (A switch point is a piece of a railroad track that can move, allowing train cars to be diverted onto another track.)

Explain that President Gordon B. Hinckley, when working for a railroad early in his career, received a call from a railroad worker in the state of New Jersey. He said a passenger train had arrived without its baggage car. Invite a student to read aloud President Hinckley’s account of what had happened, and ask the class to listen for what switch points on a train track could represent in our lives.

Hinckley, Gordon B.

“We discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, New Jersey, was in fact in New Orleans, Louisiana—1,500 miles from its destination. Just the three-inch movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless employee had started it on the wrong track, and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically. That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we are pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but, if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go” (“Words of the Prophet: Seek Learning,” New Era, Sept. 2007, 2).

  • Considering President Hinckley’s statement, what do you think a switch point could represent in our lives?

Ask students to look for principles as they study 2 Samuel 11–12 that can help them make wise decisions. Some decisions we make may appear small or insignificant, but the end consequence of those decisions could greatly affect the course of our lives.

Invite a student to read 2 Samuel 11:1–5 aloud. Ask students to follow along and look for a series of decisions King David made that led him in the wrong direction. You might suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What were some of the decisions David made that led him in the wrong direction?

List students’ responses on the board near the picture of the switch point. Responses might include the following: tarried at Jerusalem instead of going to battle (verse 1); looked upon a woman washing herself (verse 2); inquired after her (verse 3); brought Bathsheba to his house even though he knew she was married (verse 4); committed adultery (verse 4).

  • What can we learn from David’s choice to stay home when it was time for kings to be with their soldiers in battle? (Students may use different words, but they should identify something similar to the following principle: If we are not where we should be, we can become more susceptible to temptation.)

Invite students to give some examples of situations that illustrate this principle.

Point to David’s decisions listed on the board. Then ask the following questions:

  • What righteous choice could David have made when he first saw Bathsheba washing herself?

  • What does the phrase “the woman was very beautiful to look upon” in verse 2 imply that David chose to do?

  • At what other points could David have controlled his lustful desires and corrected the direction he was heading? (As students respond, you might ask how the results of each corrected decision may have changed David’s experience.)

  • What principle can we learn from David’s choice to entertain lustful desires? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but help them recognize the following: If we choose to entertain lustful desires, we become susceptible to serious sins. Write this principle on the board.)

Explain that one way some people choose to entertain lustful desires is by using pornography. The word pornography refers to any pictures, videos, books, or song lyrics intended to stimulate sexual desires. Consider inviting a student to read aloud the following statement:

“Pornography in all forms is especially dangerous and addictive. What may begin as an unexpected exposure or a curious exploration can become a destructive habit. Use of pornography is a serious sin and can lead to other sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs. … It causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit and can damage your ability to have a normal relationship with others, especially your future spouse. It limits your ability to feel true love. If you encounter pornography, turn away from it immediately” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 12).

To help students understand and feel the truth and importance of the principles they have learned from the account of David and Bathsheba, you may want to show the video “David and Bathsheba: To Look Upon” (4:15). In this video, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles uses the account of David and Bathsheba to illustrate the damaging effects of pornography and to offer hope to those under its influence. Ask students to consider as they watch the video how David’s life could have been different if he had chosen not to look upon Bathsheba and then inquire after her and send for her after he saw her from his roof. This video is available on

Invite students to ponder for a moment about what they can do to both avoid and control unwanted thoughts and lustful desires.

Encourage students to go where they should be and to refuse to entertain lustful desires so they can avoid temptation and sin. Testify of the happiness that can result from learning to control desires and of the Lord’s willingness to help us succeed in doing so.

2 Samuel 11:6–27

David attempts to hide his sin

Ask students to imagine they have an opportunity to counsel David about what he should do regarding his adultery with Bathsheba.

  • What would you counsel David to do?

Invite a student to read 2 Samuel 11:6–13 aloud. Ask the class to look for what David chose to do instead of repent.

  • Why do you think David was trying to persuade Uriah to go home? (As students respond, you may want to point out that David wanted Uriah to spend the night with Bathsheba so it would appear that Uriah was responsible for his wife’s pregnancy.)

  • Why did Uriah refuse to go home?

  • In what ways did Uriah’s actions, which were motivated by devotion to Israel, contrast with David’s actions? (Uriah showed great integrity and self-control, but David’s actions were selfish and unrestrained.)

Invite a student to read 2 Samuel 11:14–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what David did to hide his sin of adultery.

  • What sin did David commit in order to hide his adultery?

  • What can we learn from David’s attempt to hide his sin? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: Seeking to hide our sins can lead to additional and more serious sins.)

  • What are some other examples of how hiding sins can lead to more serious sins?

Summarize 2 Samuel 11:18–25 by explaining that when a messenger reported the death of several of David’s soldiers, including Uriah, David replied with indifference, saying, “the sword devoureth one as well as another” and encouraged his army to continue in battle.

Invite a student to read 2 Samuel 11:26–27. Ask the class to look for what David did next.

  • What did David do after Uriah was dead?

Explain that David thought that no one had found out about his sins and that he had successfully hidden them.

  • What do we learn from verse 27 that counters the idea that one can successfully sin in secret?

2 Samuel 12:1–9

David’s sins are exposed, and he experiences serious consequences

Explain that the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David, and Nathan told him a parable (a story with symbolic meaning). Invite a student to read 2 Samuel 12:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Nathan was teaching David.

  • What does it mean in verse 4 that the rich man “took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it”? (He killed the lamb and prepared it as a meal for his guest.)

  • Why was this a cruel thing for the rich man to do?

Ask a student to read 2 Samuel 12:5–6 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what David said should happen to the rich man.

  • What punishment did King David propose for the rich man who stole the poor man’s lamb?

Invite a student to read 2 Samuel 12:7–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and imagine how it might have felt to be in David’s position as he listened to the prophet say these words.

  • If you had been in David’s position, how might you have felt when the prophet Nathan said, “Thou art the man”? Why?

  • How was David like the rich man in the parable?

  • What can we learn from this account of Nathan exposing David’s sins? (Students may identify a variety of truths, including the following: We cannot hide our sins from God.)

  • Considering what you have learned from the account of David and his sins, why do you think it is important that we admit our mistakes and sins and correct them early?

Testify of the truths identified in this lesson, and invite students to ponder how they will apply these truths. You may want to encourage students to consider carefully where their decisions—even those that seem small—are leading them. Also encourage them to repent of their sins quickly rather than trying to hide them.

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Scripture Mastery Review

Using tests and quizzes allows students to assess their mastery in locating, understanding, or memorizing scripture mastery passages. It can also help them determine which passages they know well and which they still need to master. As students perform well on tests and quizzes, their confidence in their knowledge of the scriptures will grow.

Students have studied ten scripture mastery passages so far in this course. Create and administer a scripture mastery test on these ten passages. This could be done using the scripture mastery bookmark or cards, and you could administer the test on paper or verbally. (Some testing ideas can be found in the appendix of this manual.)

Commentary and Background Information

2 Samuel 11. The seriousness of David’s sins

David sinned when he became involved with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. “In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious. They defile the sacred power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5)” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 36).

David further sinned when he orchestrated Uriah’s death to hide his sin of adultery. Because of this sin, David fell from exaltation (see D&C 132:39). However, he pleaded with the Lord for forgiveness (see Psalm 51) and asked the Lord to not “leave [his] soul in hell” (Psalm 16:10).

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted:

“Forgiveness will come eventually to all repentant souls who have not committed the unpardonable sin (see Matt. 12:31). Forgiveness does not, however, necessarily assure exaltation, as is the case with David (see D&C 132:38–39)” (“The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 21, note 15).

2 Samuel 11:1–5. Unworthy thoughts

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested a method to drive away unworthy thoughts:

“If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them you will have a happy life.

“This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. … Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.

“Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were.

“As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away” (“Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 28).

2 Samuel 11:6–27. We cannot hide our sins

Elder Spencer V. Jones of the Seventy taught about the perils of trying to hide our sins and encouraged us to repent now:

“At times, consequences of sin may appear to be very subtle to the sinner. We may even convince ourselves … that no one will be able to detect our sins and that they are well concealed. But always to our Heavenly Father and often to spiritually sensitive leaders, parents, and friends, our sins are glaringly apparent. …

“‘When we undertake to cover our sins … the heavens withdraw themselves; [and] the Spirit of the Lord is grieved’ (D&C 121:37). We lose our spiritual gifts. …

“If the Spirit is pricking your heart to correct something in your life, know this: your soul is precious. Heavenly Father wants you to be part of His eternal family.

“I lovingly plead, ‘Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance’ (Alma 34:33). Start the process now. Remove the stench of sin with the remedy of repentance. Then, through the Atonement, the Savior can wash you clean” (“Overcoming the Stench of Sin,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 88, 89).