Power Corrupts

Republican candidate Herman Cain is fighting off allegations from a number of women that he abused positions of power by abusing and harrassing them.  The details in the news are quite graphic of the nature odf the allegations.  We find such allegations to be nothing new.  In fact David what rightly accused by the prphet Nathan after using the power of the kingship to take a woman whom he desired and then arranging the murder of her husband.

It seems that with more power there is often te perception in an individual’s mind that they are moving above the law.  What the passage reminds us is that all power is subject to the one ruler of all.  All kings are subject to the king of kings.  David realises this late in the game and his family and his people reap the consequences.  However, there was a way back.  There is always a way back to God in this life.

2 Samuel 10 – 12

1 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

   When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

5When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”

6When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

7 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 8The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.

9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.”

13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.

15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers.[a] He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them.

   So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.

2 Samuel 11

David and Bathsheba

1In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,[b]and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth[c]? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

25David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

2 Samuel 12

Nathan Rebukes David

1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

4“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! 6He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

11 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

   Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[d]the LORD, the son born to you will die.”

15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[e] on the ground. 17The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.

18On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”

19David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

   “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

21His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”

22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.[f]

26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.”

29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s[g] head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent[h] of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking.[i] David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.


  1. Against whom does David have success?
  2. What leads David astray?
  3. In your opinion does the text question David’s decision to be in the palace?
  4. How have people in power abused that power in recent weeks?
  5. What responsibilities might you gain in the coming years?  How can you avoid abusing that power?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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11 Responses to Power Corrupts

  1. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. He had success against the Arameans.
    2. He sees Bathsheba and is taken with her beauty.
    3. It does seem a little odd that he did not go out with the army to fight.
    4. I am not really sure.
    5. I will gain responsibility over the children that I will teach some day. I can avoid abusing that power by reminding myself why I decided to become a teacher and remember that I have to answer to the Lord for how I teach and lead them.

  2. Rebecca Langer says:

    1. Against whom does David have success?
    David has success against the Ammonites and the Arameans.
    2. What leads David astray?
    He is not doing what he is supposed to be doing. First of all, he should be at war with his troops, and not in his palace. Second, he kept looking at Bathsheba, and kept sinning more and more.
    3. In your opinion does the text question David’s decision to be in the palace?
    YES! IT says in the text “the time when kings go off to war”.
    4. How have people in power abused that power in recent weeks?
    Well, I think that many politicians abuse that power daily.
    5. What responsibilities might you gain in the coming years? How can you avoid abusing that power?
    I will be a teacher, and I will have power over my students. I could abuse my power by not giving my full effort and my fair judgment when it comes to leading my classroom and investing in my childrens’ lives. I can avoid abusing that power by making sure that there is accountability in my life and by constantly making sure that my conduct and motives are in line with the holy scriptures.

  3. Sokloon Dy says:

    1. Against the Aramean and the Ammonites.
    2. Bathsheba’s beauty.
    3. Not really because maybe he wanted to rest from war a bit. And Joab was more than capable to carry out david’s orders.
    4. i have seen people who are in authority treat those under them unequally. The leader is prideful and always thinks that he is right.
    5. I maybe a leader in children’s ministry. the way that i can avoid abusing that power is constantly reminding myself that all power and authority come from God.

  4. Jessica Gentry says:

    1. The Ammonites and Arameans
    2. Bathsheba
    3. It is hard to tell if the text is questioning this.
    4. People abuse authority in Political positions, and police men sometimes do this.
    5. I might gain the responsibilites of being a teacher someday and in order to make sure I do not abuse that power I need to make sure I pray for humility.

  5. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) He defeated the Arameans.
    2) Since he stays home when he should have been at war, he sees Bathsheba and is tempted.
    3) I think it does, because it emphasizes the point that David stayed in Jerusalem, when most kings would have been at war.
    4) I think people in power often abuse the benifits that they have, forgetting about others.
    5) I may become a teacher, and I could avoid abusing my power by remebering what it was like to be a student.

  6. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.Against whom does David have success?
    – The Ammonites and the Arameans.
    2.What leads David astray?
    – David’s lust towards Bathsheba
    3.In your opinion does the text question David’s decision to be in the palace?
    – Probably but it is not shown obviously.
    4.How have people in power abused that power in recent weeks?

    5.What responsibilities might you gain in the coming years? How can you avoid abusing that power?
    – becoming senior. try to be active in learning and build a productive lifestyle instead of slack-off.

  7. Moon Jung Kim says:

    1.Against whom does David have success?Ammonites and Arameans
    2.What leads David astray? the lusts of the flesh
    3.In your opinion does the text question David’s decision to be in the palace? I think so. But it doesn’t emphasize it.
    4.How have people in power abused that power in recent weeks? recently I have read news about some leaders in a large enterprise in Korea had embezzled a large number of the company funds.
    5.What responsibilities might you gain in the coming years? How can you avoid abusing that power? think of Jesus’ humility and humble myself.

  8. aaron wright says:

    1. arameans and ammonites
    2. the beauty of Bathsheba
    4. i believe politicians cheat the system when they gain power
    5. responsibility of leading a youth ministry. i cant take it for granted. i must cherish my ministry and love and disciple the kids.

  9. HyeJin Lee says:

    1.Against whom does David have success?
    The Ammonites
    2.What leads David astray?
    3.In your opinion does the text question David’s decision to be in the palace?
    Yes, I think that the text questions.
    4.How have people in power abused that power in recent weeks?
    They sometimes receive bribery and make wrong judgments.
    5.What responsibilities might you gain in the coming years? How can you avoid abusing that power?
    As a teacher, I might gain a certain kind of authority and responsibility over my children. I can abuse those by exhibiting favoritism toward some students.

  10. Grace Yoo says:

    1. David has success against the Ammonites and the Arameans.

    2. Lust toward Bathsheba leads David astray.

    3. In my opinion, the text does question David’s decision to be in the palace.

    4. People in power have abused that power by treating certain people unequally and not thinking about others.

    5. Some responsibilities that i might gain in the future are finishing school and starting ministry.

  11. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. David has success against Rabbah.
    2. Bathsheba leads David astray.
    3. In my opinion, the text does not question David’s decision to be in the palace.
    5. I might gain responsibilities in my PCM, a job, or an internship. I can avoid abusing that power by asking God to keep my heart humble and making sure that everything I do is honoring to God.

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