© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Old Testament
Week 14: Samuel, Saul, and David (1–2 Samuel)
1) Introduction.
a) This is another lesson that covers a large amount of reading material. (There are 4½
Gospel Doctrine lessons for this single class.
2) The Samuel Principle: Revelation adapted to circumstances (1 Samuel 1–8).
a) [SLIDE 2] Historical outline.
i) 1 Samuel 1: Hannah and Elkanah were childless, so Hannah went to the Tabernacle
to pray. They were blessed with a son, whom she named Samuel.
She placed Samuel
in the service of Eli the high priest at the Tabernacle.
ii) 1 Samuel 2: Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, committed wickedness by
demanding more than the due priestly share of sacrifices when people came to the
Tabernacle, and by committing fornication with women who loitered around the
door to the Tabernacle courtyard. Eli rebuked them, but did not restrain them or
remove them from service. An unnamed ―man of God‖ came to Eli, chastised him,
and prophesied that his sons would die and the Lord will replace them with a faithful
high priest.
iii) 1 Samuel 3: The Lord called the boy Samuel to be a prophet and told him that he
intended to destroy Eli’s house. All Israel accepted Samuel as a prophet.
iv) 1 Samuel 4: Israel brought the Ark of the Covenant before them in battle against the
Philistines. The Israelites were routed, and the Philistines took the ark to their own
land. As prophesied, Hophni and Phinehas were slain the battle. Eli, on hearing the
news, fell over and died. Phinehas’ wife died in childbirth.
v) 1 Samuel 5–6: The presence of the ark brought plagues on the Philistines. They
returned it to the Israelites, along with an offering.
vi) 1 Samuel 7: Samuel exhorted Israel to abandon the false gods of the Canaanites. He
offered sacrifice in the Tabernacle on their behalf. Israel repented, and the Lord
blessed them in their campaign to recover their lands from the Philistines. Samuel
became the last judge of Israel.
vii) 1 Samuel 8: When Samuel’s own sons turned to wickedness, the elders of Israel
implored him to ―make us a king to judge us like all the nations‖ (8:5).
Samuel took
their request to the Lord, who granted it, saying, ―they have not rejected thee, but
they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them‖ (8:7). Samuel warned the
Israelites of the abuses of power they would suffer under a king, but the elders of
Israel insisted that is what they wanted.
b) [SLIDE 3] There are two important principles contained in this story:
i) The Samuel Principle.

These are Gospel Doctrine (2013) lessons 20–24.
Samuel means ―God has heard,‖ a fitting name for Hannah to give to the son for whom she prayed.
This is contrary to Gideon’s instructions in Judges 8:23.
This section is based on a presentation given by Larry E. Dahl at the CES Old Testament Symposium, August 1995, at
Brigham Young University.
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ii) Circumstantial commandments.
c) Difficult questions these principles can help us resolve.
i) Why are the policies in the Church today regarding divorce and remarriage more
lenient than those taught by the Savior?
ii) Why has the temple garment style changed over time, seemingly to accommodate
worldly clothing styles?
iii) If the principles taught in the temple are eternal, why has the presentation of the
endowment been changed occasionally?
iv) Why is raucous music with telestial lyrics allowed at some Church functions and
within Church meetinghouses?
v) Why can a man with a beard receive a temple recommend and serve in the Church,
while that same man cannot attend BYU, serve a mission, or serve as a temple
ordinance worker?
vi) If dress and grooming standards are so important, why do they keep changing?
(1) At BYU: Women had to wear skits; men wore slacks. Then men could wear jeans,
then women. Then shorts, etc.
(2) And if these things are so changeable, why don’t we just change them to
something we want now?
vii) Why does the Church require such strict dress and conduct standards from
missionaries? Wouldn’t they be more effective if they dressed and behaved more
―normally‖ and blended in with society?
d) Key scripture passages.
i) 1 Samuel 8:1–22.
(1) Israel wanted a king so they could be ―like all the nations‖ (1 Samuel 8:1, 2–5).
(2) Saul was anointed king and all of Samuel’s predictions came to pass.
(3) Instead of getting angry and finding another people to be his chosen people, the
allowed Israel to live a standard less than what he wanted for them and tried to
make that system work for them. It was not the celestial Law; it was a lesser law.
(4) The same thing happened at Sinai: The celestial law was given, then taken away
and replaced by the Law of Moses.
(a) Paul explains this in Galatians 3:19, 24:
Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until
the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made [Jesus
]. It was administered through angels by an intermediary [Moses
Thus the law had become our guardian [KJV: “schoolmaster”]
until Christ,
so that we could be declared righteous by faith. (NET.)

Paul identifies the descendant (KJV ―the seed‖) as Christ in Galatians 3:16.
Paul doesn’t directly identify Moses as the intermediary (KJV ―the mediator‖), but it seems most likely, as it was he
through whom God administered the Law.
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e) [SLIDE 4] The Samuel Principle.
i) Depending upon people’s spiritual maturity, willingness and ability to live the laws
of God, God sometimes permits lesser laws than the celestial law to be the policies
and standards as a “schoolmaster” to keep us tethered to him and bring us
gradually to a higher level.
ii) [SLIDE 5] President Ezra Taft Benson:
If you see some individuals in the Church doing things that disturb you, or you feel
the Church is not doing things the way you think they could or should be done, the
following principles might be helpful:
God has to work through mortals of varying degrees of spiritual progress.
Sometimes he temporarily grants to men their unwise requests in order that they
might learn from their own sad experiences. Some refer to this as the “Samuel
principle.” The children of Israel wanted a king like all the other nations. The
prophet Samuel was displeased and prayed to the Lord about it. The Lord
responded by saying, Samuel, “they have not rejected thee, but they have
rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” [SLIDE 8] The Lord told Samuel
to warn the people of the consequences if they had a king. Samuel gave them the
warning. But they still insisted on their king. So God gave them a king and let them
suffer. They learned the hard way. God wanted it to be otherwise, but within
certain bounds he grants unto men according to their desires. Bad experiences are
an expensive school that only fools keep going to.
Sometimes in our attempts to mimic the world, and contrary to the prophet’s
counsel, we run after the world’s false educational, political, musical, and dress
ideas. New worldly standards take over, a gradual breakdown occurs, and finally,
after much suffering, a humble people are ready to be taught once again a higher

iii) [SLIDE 9] Case study: the principle of divorce as taught by the Savior.
(1) Before we discuss this illustration, I want to be clear that I’m aware there are
some here who have personally experienced divorce. The following discussion is
not intended to accuse anyone of sin or to point fingers.
(2) The rules regarding divorce under the Law given to Moses are found in
Deuteronomy 24:1–2. A husband could divorce his wife by giving her a written
(3) Matthew 19:3–9. ―Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts‖ permitted
the lesser standard found in the Law.

(a) ―But from the beginning it was not so.‖ There was higher, celestial law that
was had before Moses—―from the beginning,‖ or the time of Adam.
(4) Aside: Clarification on Matthew 19:9b.

From the Greek paidagogos (παιδαγωγός), ―guardian‖ (NET, NIV, ESV, HCSB), ―disciplinarian‖ (NRSV), ―tutor‖ (NASB),
―custodian,‖ or ―guide.‖ A paidagogos was a man, usually a slave, whose duty it was to conduct a boy or youth to and from
school and to superintend his conduct generally. He was not a ―teacher‖ (didaskalos / διδασκαλος; as in Romans 2:20).
Ezra Taft Benson, ―Jesus Christ: Gifts and Expectations,‖ address on BYU campus, 10 December 1974
The ―lesser standard‖ was codified in Deuteronomy 24:1–4.
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(a) There are innocent victims of divorce; see Mark 10:10–12. To the disciples
he clarified that the offender is he or she who initiates the divorce, not the one
who has been ―put away.‖
(5) In the Church today, because of the hardness of our hearts, we are allowed
something less than the celestial law.
(6) Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
[SLIDE 8] In the gospel view all marriages should be eternal, and divorce
should never enter the picture. But since all men…are not living (and in their
present states cannot live) the full and perfect gospel law, the Lord permits
divorce and allows the dissolution of the marriage union. Under the law of
Moses, divorce was permitted because the people were not able to live the
high gospel standard which would abolish it….
Even in the Church today the saints do not abide by the full and perfect law. It
is somewhat as it was in the days of Moses; divorce is permitted because of the
hardness of the hearts of the people, and the Lord permits his agents to
exercise the power to loose as well as the power to bind. Under our
circumstances divorced persons who remarry are not always guilty of the
crimes they would be if the highest gospel standards were in force.

[SLIDE 9] Divorce is not part of the gospel plan no matter what kind of
marriage is involved. But because men in practice do not always live in
harmony with gospel standards, the Lord permits divorce for one reason or
another, depending upon the spiritual stability of the people involved. In
ancient Israel men had power to divorce their wives for relatively insignificant
reasons. Under the most perfect conditions there would be no divorce
permitted except where sex sin was involved. In this day divorces are
permitted in accordance with civil statutes, and the divorced persons are
permitted by the Church to marry again without the stain of immorality which
under a higher system would attend such a course.

[SLIDE 10] Divorce is totally foreign to celestial standards, a verity that Jesus
will one day expound in more detail…. For now…he merely specifies the high
law that his people should live, but that is beyond our capability even today. If
husbands and wives lived the law as the Lord would have them live it, they
would neither do nor say the things that would even permit the fleeting
thought of divorce to enter the mind of their eternal companions. Though we
today have the gospel, we have yet to grow into that high state of marital
association where marrying a divorced person constitutes adultery. The Lord
has not yet given us the high standard…that which ultimately will replace the
Mosaic practice of writing a bill of divorcement.

iv) [SLIDE 11] The difficult questions:
(1) We are living, in this principle, a lesser law. Can we be saved by the lesser law?
(2) Can we be saved living a lesser law than the celestial law?

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966 [2nd ed.]), 203–04.
Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 1:547.
Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 2:139.
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(3) Can you enter the celestial kingdom living less than the celestial Law?
(4) Answer: No. (D&C 88:21–22.)
(5) So are we saying that, even if the Church permits an act that we cannot be saved if
we enter into it?
(a) Read carefully the exchange between Abinadi and the wicked priests of King
Noah about whether the Law of Moses could save them. (Mosiah 13:27–32.)
(b) Though we are living a ―schoolmaster law‖ pertaining to divorce and other
principles, people who divorce under current standards and remarry in the
temple can receive all the promises of exaltation and glory.
(c) But it will require of us the same as any other commandment or celestial law:
If we’re not living it now, we must start living it before we can be saved in the
celestial kingdom.
(d) Through a process of repentance and growth we must become the kind of
people who can and will abide the celestial law.
(e) You can repent from divorce, just as you can repent from a lot of other sins.
And ―the blood of Jesus Christ…cleanseth us from all sin‖ (1 John 1:7).
(f) But we must become, eventually, the kind of people who will live the law as
given by Christ as the celestial law.
v) The Samuel Principle can help us understand where we are, put it in perspective, and
work toward living the celestial law.
(1) [SLIDE 12] Ezra Taft Benson:
Now, during all this gradual lowering of standards, the righteous should be
living up to the highest personal standards they can—not forcing those
standards on others but preparing for and awaiting a better day which surely
must come. This leads me to another principle: that a leader cannot lead
without followers. If better standards are to be observed, there must be a
better people to do it.
Only a Zion people can bring in a Zion society. And as the Zion people increase,
so we will be able to incorporate more of the principles of Zion until we have a
people prepared to receive the Lord.

(2) Just because it is permissible to live something less than the highest law doesn’t
give us license to run out and do it.
(3) This means we can’t stand back and say, ―I’m living the celestial law and these
common folks are living less.‖ We cannot sit in judgment and demand that other
people live the higher law.
(4) This gradual moving of ourselves up that ladder toward the celestial law is a
process that is guided by living, inspired prophets. We ought to be shooting as
high as we can without sitting in judgment of others or criticizing the Church for
allowing something less than celestial law.
(5) [SLIDE 13] Continuing with President Benson:

Benson, ―Jesus Christ: Gifts and Expectations.‖
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When individual actions of some Church members disturb you, here’s another
principle to consider. This is the principle of stewardship. As the kingdom
grows larger, more and more responsibilities have to be delegated and
stewardships handed out. Men respond in different degrees of valiancy to their
stewardships. God is very patient and long-suffering as he waits for some of us
to rise to our responsibilities. He usually gives a man a long enough rope and a
long enough time either to pull himself up to the presence of God or to drop off
somewhere below.

(6) Some people get comfortable living just a minimum standard to qualify for
membership or to qualify to hold a calling or to qualify for a temple recommend.
(a) This is precisely why God has different kingdoms. Some people are simply
more comfortable in a terrestrial environment than a celestial—this is why we
have a terrestrial kingdom.
(b) Don’t we have some members of the Church today for whom going to church
is just too ―churchy‖? Just not quite comfortable?
(c) God gives us all kinds of opportunity to decide where we’re going to end up.
(d) Within bounds the Lord will give us what we demand, but he’s always trying
to move us up to the higher standard and hoping we will use the minimum
standard to school ourselves to a higher law.
(7) Sometimes the law works in the reverse, and standards are raised.
(a) When Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church in the early 1970s,
the First Presidency announced that people who were married in the temple
and later committed adultery and divorced would not be allowed to remarry
in the temple the other party with whom they had transgressed. All exceptions
still go the First Presidency.

(b) More recently, the First Presidency has ―raised the bar‖ on standards of
worthiness to serve a full-time mission.
For example, young men and
women who have committed serious transgressions must go through a
rigorous and thorough repentance process before being considered for
missionary service.

f) [SLIDE 14] Circumstantial commandments.
i) The principle of circumstantial commandments is a little different, but related to, the
Samuel Principle.
ii) This has to do with the seemingly ever-changing policies that don’t seem to be based
on eternal principles (for example, standards of dress and grooming).
iii) God’s commandments can and are adapted to a particular time, or a particular
setting, or a particular circumstance, with an important purpose.

Benson, ―Jesus Christ: Gifts and Expectations.‖
Church Handbook of Instructions (2010), 1:20.
See Elder M. Russell Ballard, ―The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,‖ General Conference, October 2002
Church Handbook of Instructions (2010), 1:28–29. Some sins (such as promiscuity with multiple partners) can
completely preclude an individual from missionary service.
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iv) [SLIDE 15] Some people complain about length of skirts and shorts, etc. Look at
what we would have had to deal with in Moses’ day, and ask yourself, ―What has that
got to do with personal righteousness?‖
(1) Leviticus 19:19. ―You must not allow two different kinds of your animals to
breed, you must not sow your field with two different kinds of seed, and you must
not wear a garment made of two different kinds of fabric‖ (NET).
(2) Leviticus 19:27. ―Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the
edges of your beard‖ (NIV).
(3) Deuteronomy 22:10. ―You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed
together‖ (NET).
(4) Deuteronomy 14:1. ―Do not cut yourselves or shave your forehead bald for the
sake of the dead‖ (NET).
(a) Have any women here plucked their eyebrows lately?
v) Why?
(1) Leviticus 20:26. ―And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and
have severed you [set you apart] from other people, that ye should be mine.‖
(2) Deuteronomy 14:2. ―For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and
the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar [treasured; prized] people unto
himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.‖
vi) Bringing it to today’s world:
(1) Have you ever run into someone who said, ―How silly. You can get a temple
recommend if you drink a case of caffeinated cola every day, but you can’t get a
temple recommend if you drink a cup of caffeinated coffee.‖
(2) Or have you wondered what wearing only one set of earrings has to do with a
woman’s righteousness?

(3) Or have you ever thought, ―People throughout the Old and New Testaments
drank wine. Why did God give the Word of Wisdom to us and not them?‖
(4) Circumstantial commandments help us respond to those sorts of issues.
(a) Part of the reason we have the Word of Wisdom and ancient peoples didn’t is
because of ―evils and designs which...exist in the hearts of conspiring men in
the last days...‖ (D&C 89:4). Our unique circumstances require different
(b) But in addition to the worthwhile, honest, and practical health reasons, the
Word of Wisdom also sets us apart from the rest of the world. Without
making 613 rules,
the Lord has narrowed it down to a few and instructed us
to live those.

See President Gordon B. Hinckley, ―Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,‖ General Conference, October 2002
According to the Talmud, there are 613 commandments in the Law given to Moses. See
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(c) Our dress and grooming standards are the same: We look in the mirror every
day, and it reminds us that we are covenant people, set apart from the world,
with a special assignment to be a city on a hill and a light on a candlestick.
(d) We dress ourselves every day and we eat every day. We sometimes eat in
social settings where prohibited drinks are commonly served. Whether they’re
inherently evil or not is not the question; it’s a reminder to us and to others
that we’re a covenant people. Not self-righteously above others, but a
covenant people.
(e) Consider also the time in which we live. Two generations ago all the leaders of
the Church had beards; now that’s inappropriate because of our
(i) Is BYU itself a special circumstance that may require special rules?
(ii) Is a mission a special circumstance that may require special rules?
(iii) Is ordained temple service a special circumstance that may require
special rules?
(5) And so we get these commandments from God that aren’t inherently good or evil,
but are a reminder that we’re different—that we are not to marry outside the
covenant, that we are not to partake of the things of the world, etc.
(a) The important thing is to remember where the commandments come from. If
we have a burning witness in our hearts the God’s servants and the First
Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who hold the keys of the kingdom and
receive revelation for the Church, that solves all the other problems.
(b) Then, when these brethren tell us what to do in our current circumstances, we
won’t ―kick against the pricks‖ (Acts 9:5; 26:14; D&C 121:38); we’ll put it in
perspective and be obedient.
(6) [SLIDE 16] Joseph Smith:
That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right
under another.
God said, “Thou shalt not kill;” at another time He said, “Thou shalt utterly
destroy.” This is the principle on which the government of heaven is
conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the
children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no
matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long
after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good
things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave
it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be
considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in
part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by
special revelation.

g) If we want to have a happy and peaceful existence in the kingdom of God we must
understand the Samuel Principle and the principle of circumstantial commandments
and follow those who have been placed to lead the kingdom.

Joseph Smith, letter to Nancy Rigdon, about August 1842. History of the Church 5:134–35
(http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/5/8.html#134); Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 256
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3) [SLIDE 17] The rise and fall of Saul, the first king of Israel.
a) After the Lord gave his consent for Israel to have a king, he revealed to Samuel that the
king he should anoint was Saul, a Benjamite (1 Samuel 9:15–16).
i) Saul was publicly made king, and proved himself in battle as a leader of Israel
(1 Samuel 10–11).
b) Very shortly after Saul began his reign, Samuel’s dire predictions began to come to pass.
i) Saul lead a campaign against the Philistines. When Samuel failed to appear on the
scene and his army began to desert him, Saul took matters into his own hands and
offered sacrifices himself to appeal for the Lord’s blessing. Samuel appeared and
chastised him for not following the Lord’s commandment (1 Samuel 13:1–14).
(1) This incident sums up Saul’s character, and the reason for his eventual downfall:
He was unwilling to strictly obey God’s commandments, and instead fell back on
his own strength and intuition. He was a great warrior, but he didn’t rely on the
c) The Lord’s support for Saul ended when Saul kept the best of the flocks and herds after
his successful battle against the Amalekites, contrary to Samuel’s command (1 Samuel
15:1–3, 7–11). Samuel told Saul, ―Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he
hath also rejected thee from being king‖ (15:22–23).
4) David was anointed king as Saul’s replacement.
a) The Lord directed Samuel to anoint a new king. When Samuel encountered the sons of
Jesse, he thought Eliab should be the new replacement, but the Lord told him
Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused
him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance
[Hebrew: “to the eyes”], but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7.)
b) The Lord instead directed Samuel to anoint David, and the Spirit of the Lord rushed
the young man (1 Samuel 16:13).
5) [SLIDE 18] David defeated Goliath and becomes Saul’s rival and successor.
a) Following David’s anointing as the future king under the hand of Samuel (1 Samuel 16)
and his stunning victory against Goliath (1 Samuel 17),
Saul made David his military
i) The people of Israel credited David with ten times the success of his king. Saul knew
that nothing less than his kingdom was at stake and carefully watched David from
then on (1 Samuel 18:5–9).
b) David formed a close friendship with Jonathan, Saul’s son (1 Samuel 18:1–4), and also
married Michal, Saul’s daughter (18:20–27).

The Hebrew word translated came upon in the KJV means to ―push forward‖ or ―rush upon.‖
A note on Goliath’s height: KJV 1 Samuel 17:4 says that his ―height was six cubits and a span.‖ A cubit was
approximately eighteen inches and a span nine inches, so, according to the Hebrew tradition, Goliath was about nine feet, nine
inches tall. However, some Greek manuscripts, the historian Josephus, and a manuscript of 1 Samuel from the Dead Sea
Scrolls all read ―four cubits and a span‖ here—that is, about six feet, nine inches. While this seems more reasonable, these are
likely later attempts to make the story a little more plausible. Exactly how tall Goliath was, we’ll never know; the point of the
story, though, is that he was enormous.
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c) Saul was possessed by an evil spirit,
and from then on he repeatedly tried to kill
both directly (e.g., 1 Samuel 18:10–11; 19:1, 10–11) and indirectly (e.g., 18:13,
17, 21, 25).
David fled for his life, and remained a fugitive for about ten years.

d) During his years on the run, David personally encountered Saul twice, but both times
spared the king’s life (1 Samuel 24:1–15; 26:1–15; cf. Psalm 142).
e) After Saul and Jonathan were both killed in the same battle with the Philistines
(1 Samuel 31:1–6), David moved to Hebron and was anointed king. (2 Samuel 2:1–3).
f) Saul’s thirst for the blood of David is a model of type of behavior that drives the Spirit
out of our lives and leaves us bitter, hateful, and alone. On the other hand, David’s
attitude toward Saul, despite Saul’s behavior, is a model for how we should hold the
Lord’s anointed leaders in respect, even when we don’t agree with them.
6) David the king.

a) [SLIDES 19 & 20] So, David became king over all of Israel and set up his capital in
Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:5–10). He chose this location, perhaps because:
i) It was near Bethlehem, David’s ancestral city;
ii) It was relatively central within Israel as a whole, making administration easier; and
iii) It was not associated with any Israelite tribe, and so David would not be perceived as
favoring one tribe over another.
b) Up to this point, David followed the Lord, obeyed, and received all that Samuel
promised him and more. David’s kingdom was made mighty; he received wives and
and had many children. (2 Samuel 5:12–13.)
c) But, like a Shakespearean tragic hero, this was to be David’s peak: His personal flaws
lead to his downfall.
7) David’s pride builds.
a) 2 Samuel 7:1–7. David realized that he was living in an impressive palace made of cedar,
while the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent (KJV ―curtains‖).
i) The Lord rhetorically asked Nathan the prophet if God has ever commanded a
change in the Ark’s status. The Lord is able to do his own work; if he wanted a temple
of cedar and other precious things, he would have asked for it. The Lord then gave a
rather interesting lecture to David on how the he brought David from humble
beginnings to being king over Israel. It is almost as if the Lord was saying, ―I don’t
need you to do me any favors, David. I gave you everything you have; if I want
something, I can ask for it.‖

1 Samuel 16:14, 15, 16, 23, and 18:10 say that ―the evil spirit [was] from God‖ (compare Judges 9:23). Evil here doesn’t
necessarily mean ―demonic,‖ but can simply indicate a spirit set about to cause mischief. The Joseph Smith Translation
changes the verse to read ―the evil spirit which was not of God.‖
Saul seems to be mentally unbalanced; note his erratic behavior in 1 Samuel 18:10–11; 19:9–10; 19:23–24; 20:30–33;
and 22:16–19. Was he suffering from paranoid schizophrenia?
In an ironic twist, Saul made David the commanding officer of his armies in the hope that he would be killed in battle
(1 Samuel 18:17, 25), and yet David later tried the same tactic when he wanted to get rid of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah
(2 Samuel 11:15).
David was about 20 years old when he was forced to leave Saul’s palace and he was 30 when he became king (2 Samuel
I am grateful to my friend Greg Smith of Raymond, Alberta, for allowing me to liberally borrow from the notes he
prepared for Gospel Doctrine on this material.
A concubine is a wife of a lesser stature with fewer legal rights.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Samuel, Saul, and David Week 14, Page 11
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
ii) I suspect that David is at this point already growing a bit proud. It’s a small bit of
pride, perhaps, but I think his military success and wealth were finally starting to go
to his head.
(1) This pride is insidious, and it expressed itself in David seeking to ―give something
back to God,‖ but to do it in a rather public and ostentatious way—building a
glorious temple—and to make it publicly clear that David had ―given back‖ to the
(2) Ironically, of course, David’s pride soon lead him to secret acts that he had to kill
to keep secret.
iii) 2 Samuel 7:12–14. The Lord told David, via Nathan, that one of David’s descendants
(Solomon, we learn later) would be commanded by the Lord to build a temple for the
b) 2 Samuel 8–10. David won military victories over all the surrounding nations. The Lord
protected him and brought success to the Israelite army (8:6, 14).
i) All the nations that were subject to Israel’s enemies were now subjects of Israel itself
(10:19). Everything was coming up roses.
8) David’s downfall.
a) [SLIDE 21] 2 Samuel 11:1. This story begins ―after the year was expired‖ (KJV),
meaning at the start of the new year, which, in the Jewish calendar, began with the
spring equinox.
i) Wars were typically fought in the spring, after planting, since you could draft your
farmers into the war effort while you waited for crops to grow. This was the
customary time, but David didn’t go as he did in the past—he remained at Jerusalem.
ii) It has often been pointed out that David’s first mistake was not being where his duty
required him to be. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that initial
mistake made things more dangerous for him later when temptation came along.
There may have been no overt sin in David’s decision to remain behind; however,
shirking even innocuous-seeming duties can have their consequences beyond what
we expect.
b) [SLIDE 22 & 23] 2 Samuel 11:2. Sometimes David is unfairly criticized for being up
on his roof in the first place. Why bother to go there if he wasn’t looking for trouble?
But, for thousands of years, houses in the Near East have been designed with patio-type
roofs. It’s very warm in Jerusalem, even well into the evening, so many people will retire
at the end of the day to the rooftops to escape the heat.
i) David’s problem was not where he was at that specific moment, or what he saw, but
his reaction: Instead of turning around and going inside, he stopped and reflected on
her beauty.
c) [SLIDE 24] 2 Samuel 11:3. David’s slide quickened as he acted on what he
encountered rather innocently. ―It can’t hurt,‖ he doubtless rationalized, ―to find out just
who this gorgeous creature is. Perhaps she’s single.‖
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Samuel, Saul, and David Week 14, Page 12
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
i) Like David, I suspect that it is virtually impossible, in our world, not to encounter
moral temptations of this sort. Anyone who uses the Internet can, quite innocently,
be confronted with either photos or people in revealing or even pornographic attire
or poses. But we can remove ourselves and not waste time ―inquiring after‖
something we’ve stumbled onto. But, I suspect it is entirely too easy to stumble onto
something unsavory, and then ―inquire after it‖ sufficiently to get deeply enmeshed
in it, all in the safe privacy of one’s home or office.
(1) At any rate, David has just clicked onto ―www.hotgirlsonroof.com,‖ and he is
continuing to browse.
d) 2 Samuel 11:4. This verse recalls the warning which Samuel gave to Israel about
wanting to have a king. Samuel told them that the king ―will take your sons…and he will
take your daughters…and he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your
oliveyards…‖ (1 Samuel 8:11–18).
i) The king will take, and take, and take. And here he did: David sent messengers, and
took Bathsheba. (And, lest we not spread the blame around properly, note that she
responds to his offer.)
ii) The parenthetical comment ―for she was purified from her uncleanness‖ heightens
the tension of the narrative. According to the Law, a woman who has an ―issue of
blood‖—which includes her monthly menstrual cycle—is ritually unclean for seven
days (Leviticus 15:19). After the seven days, she is then ―purified,‖ or ritually clean,
and cleared for sexual relations. But that means she’s also approaching ovulation,
meaning she’s at greater risk of becoming pregnant. Presumably, both of them know
this, and yet continue to act as they do. They therefore both display a rather casual
and reckless disregard for the consequences of their actions. It’s a wonderfully
subtle, yet revealing, bit of text.
e) 2 Samuel 11:5–8. David’s response is so typical of those who sin: Their first reaction is
to try to cover it up.
i) In this case, he calls Bathsheba’s husband back from the front lines, makes small talk
about how the war is going, and then orders him to go home and relax (even sending
a little gift
along to encourage him to take his ease). The plan, obviously, is to get
Uriah to have sexual relations with his wife so Uriah—and everyone else—will think
he’s the father of Bathsheba’s child.
f) 2 Samuel 11:9–11. But Uriah didn’t go home—he slept at the palace door with the
king’s servants. David was a bit upset about this. Uriah explained why he didn’t go—the
whole army is out fighting the war. Part of the tradition of the time required that men
engaged in Israel’s wars abstain from sexual relations; to do so made them ritually

The KJV rendering ―and there followed him a mess of meat‖ oversteps the Hebrew by assuming that the gift was food
(―meat,‖ in 1611 A.D., meant ―food‖ of any type). The Hebrew simply reads ―and there went out after him [Uriah] the gift of the
An example of this is seen in 1 Samuel 21:4–5, where the priests gave holy shewbred to David’s war party on condition
that the men have kept themselves clean by avoiding intercourse with women. (See Marsha White, ―Uriah,‖ Eerdmans
Dictionary of the Bible, edited by David Noel Freedman [Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,
2000], 1348.) The tradition to ―keep themselves from women‖ when engaged in Israel’s wars is also likely one reason for which
men who were recently married were excepted from duties in war for a full year following their wedding (Deuteronomy 24:5).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Samuel, Saul, and David Week 14, Page 13
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
i) Uriah even swore a solemn oath that he would not go home.
Unlike David the king,
Uriah the Hittite—born a foreigner, a non-Israelite—kept the law and his covenants,
not just for his own sake, but because of the impact this would have on others. He is
completely honorable, where his lord was not.
g) 2 Samuel 11:12–13. So, David tried again, unsuccessfully, to get Uriah to sleep with
Bathsheba, this time by getting him drunk.
h) 2 Samuel 11:14–17. Backed into a corner, David conspired to murder Uriah, and—in a
final twist of irony—sent Uriah to the front line carrying the order for his own execution.
i) When a messenger returned with the sad news, David played the innocent: ―Don’t let
this thing upset you. There is no way to anticipate whom the sword will cut down.‖ (NET
2 Samuel 11:25.)
j) After Uriah was killed, Bathsheba mourned for him. David then took her as a wife, and
she bore a son. And then the ominous postscript: ―But the thing that David had done
displeased the Lord.‖ (2 Samuel 11:26–27.)
k) 2 Samuel 12:1–6. The Lord sent his prophet to rebuke David. Nathan told a story or
parable to David. David, in his role as judge in Israel, reacted predictably with outrage,
and condemned the offender to death, invoking the most serious oath one could make
(―as the LORD liveth!‖).
l) 2 Samuel 12:7–10. The parable strikes home impressively: ―Thou art the man!‖
i) Nathan detailed all the blessings the Lord had bestowed on David, adding, ―And if all
that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well!‖
(NET 2 Samuel 12:8b; KJV ―such and such things.‖) Nathan told him that all these
blessings would be taken away from him in a visible and shocking manner (2 Samuel
ii) David begged for forgiveness, and Nathan told him that the Lord had ―put away‖
(forgiven) his sin, so David would not be condemned to die; rather, the son
Bathsheba had borne would die (2 Samuel 12:13–14).
iii) David fasted and prayed for seven days, but the child died (2 Samuel 12:15–18). After
this, David had a second child by Bathsheba, a son they named Solomon (2 Samuel
m) Conclusion.
i) Nathan prophesied that strife and murder would follow David’s house.
(1) This came to pass, but (ironically) had nothing to do with Uriah’s murder. Uriah’s
family did not stir up a blood feud with David.
(2) Rather, David’s lax attitude toward moral sin lead to him tolerating the rape of
his daughter, Tamar, in his own household, by Amnon, his firstborn son. It is this
event that lead Absalom, another of David’s sons and Tamar’s full brother, to
murder Amnon. (2 Samuel 13.) Absalom then led an insurrection against David,
his father, and was killed by David’s own soldiers. (2 Samuel 15–18.)

―As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.‖ In the Near East, an oath taken by the life of something—
and especially taken by one’s own life or by the life of God himself—cannot be violated without the most severe consequences.
See Hugh Nibley’s comments in An Approach to the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988 [2nd
ed.]), 128–29.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Samuel, Saul, and David Week 14, Page 14
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
ii) The Lord did not need to smite David down with some sort of Ten Plagues or divine
judgment. He merely left David to the effects of his attitude toward sin, and they
brought to pass more punishment than David could have imagined.
(1) As Elder Boyd K. Packer observed:
Often, very often, we are punished as much by our sins as we are for them.

iii) David’s story is tragic twice over, because his sin lead him to commit sin of which he
could not be completely forgiven. He will be resurrected,
but he has lost his
David's wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan,
my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in
none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife;
and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he
shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the
Lord (D&C 132:39).
9) [SLIDE 25] Next week we’ll be taking a break. In two weeks:
a) Solomon, the divided kingdom, Elijah and Elisha (1–2 Kings).

Boyd K. Packer, ―Why Stay Morally Clean,‖ General Conference, April 1972 (http://www.lds.org/general-
―For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell‖ (Psalm 16:10a). ―Hell‖ is the KJV translation of the Hebrew word sheol, the
dwelling-place of the spirits of the dead (corresponding to LDS view of the postmortal spirit world). Compare ―You will not
abandon me to Sheol‖ (NET); ―Because you will not abandon me to the grave‖ (NIV).

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