2 Samuel 11–24

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 129–31


In 2 Samuel 1–10 we read of King David’s finest years. Chapters 11–24, however, record the story of his personal tragedy and how it affected united Israel. The effects of unrepented sin cannot be avoided, even by great kings. When David tried to hide his adultery rather than repent, the course of his life was changed for eternity. As you study these chapters, look for the effects David’s sin had on his family and on the entire kingdom of Israel.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon 2 Samuel 11. Letting impure desires control our decisions removes us from the influence of the Spirit and can lead to greater sin and sorrow. (35–45 minutes)

Read the story of the switch point told by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the introduction for 2 Samuel 11–12 in the student study guide (p. 101). Ask students to remember the switch point story as they study 2 Samuel 11.

Do activity A for 2 Samuel 11–12 in the student study guide by drawing the chart on the board and using the scripture references in the first column of the chart and discussing what could be written in the other two columns. If your students have already completed the activity, invite them to share what they wrote. See the commentaries for 2 Samuel 11:2 and 11:3–27 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (p. 290) for help in answering questions students may have as you study this chapter.

After completing the activity, ask students what the switch points were in David’s life—the little decisions that sent him in a completely different direction. Point out the number of times and ways David could have switched back to the correct path and how he could have fully repented of each sin prior to sending Uriah to be killed (see the commentary for 2 Samuel 12:13 and the first part in “Points to Ponder” in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 291–92.)

On the board, draw a map showing the way to a temple or to an airport or train station that could take a person to the temple. Have a student trace the way on the board, but at every intersection where a turn is required they must flip a coin. If it falls “heads,” they must turn right; if it falls “tails,” they must turn left. Ask:

  • Would a person reach the temple using this method?

  • How does this compare to the way some people live their lives?

  • What should we base our decisions on when we come to a switch point in life?

  • What influenced David’s decisions?

Have students compare David with Joseph (see Genesis 39:7–12). Ask them how Joseph’s decisions were different from David’s and why they think Joseph was able to resist temptation and David was not.

Consider dividing the class into small groups and providing each group with a copy of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Choose the pages that you feel your students most need to read. Divide the pages evenly so that each group studies a different set of pages. Have them identify the standards that, when lived, will protect them from the sins David committed. Have the groups share with the class what they discovered.

Contrast Doctrine and Covenants 42:22–26 or 63:16–18 with Helaman 3:29–30 regarding the consequences of what we trust to help us return to Heavenly Father. Encourage students to be aware of switch points they face each day when making choices that will help them stay on the path to eternal life.

2 Samuel 12:1–23; 13:1–29. Unrepented sin cannot be hidden from God and always brings sorrow. (25–35 minutes)

Ask two students to prepare and read the dialogue between the prophet Nathan and King David in 2 Samuel 12:1–14. After their presentation, write the following on the board: rich man, poor man, many flocks and herds, and the little ewe lamb. Discuss any of the following questions you feel would be helpful:

  • What did these symbols represent in Nathan’s parable?

  • How was David like the rich man with many flocks?

  • Why do you think Nathan used a parable to reveal David’s sin?

  • Which of David’s sins was the most serious, the adultery or the murder? (see Alma 39:5; see also JST, 2 Samuel 12:13; the commentary for 2 Samuel 12:13 and the first part in “Points to Ponder” in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 291–92).

Point out that it was at least nine months after David sinned that Nathan came to him (see 2 Samuel 11:26–27). We have no record of David making any effort to repent before that time.

Draw the following chart on the board, writing only the scripture references in the columns under the headings:

The Prophet Nathan’s Prophecies Were Fulfilled

Prophesied Consequences

Fulfillment of the Prophecies

2 Samuel 12:10 (The sword would not depart from David’s house.)

2 Samuel 13:26–29; 18:14–15; 1 Kings 2:25 (Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, David’s sons, suffered violent deaths.)

2 Samuel 12:11 (Evil would rise up against David out of his own family.)

2 Samuel 15:6–14; 16:11 (David’s son Absalom rebelled and sought to overthrow his father. He even sought David’s life.)

2 Samuel 12:11–12 (David’s wives would be defiled before the people.)

2 Samuel 16:21–22 (Absalom openly defiled ten of his father’s wives. It was the custom that a man who took the wife of the former king became king.)

2 Samuel 12:12 (Even though David’s sins were done privately, the Lord’s punishments would be made known to all Israel.)

2 Samuel 16:21–22 (Absalom openly took David’s concubines from him.)

2 Samuel 12:14 (The child born of the adulterous relationship with Bathsheba would die.)

2 Samuel 12:15–18 (Though David fasted and prayed for seven days, the child died.)

Divide the class into two groups. Assign one group to read the scripture references in the “Prophesied Consequences” column and list on the board what Nathan prophesied would be the consequences of David’s sins. Have the other group search the scripture references in the “Fulfillment of the Prophecies” column and list how Nathan’s prophesies were fulfilled. Discuss the tragedy of those consequences and how they might have been avoided.

While discussing the consequences of David’s sins, you may wish to read the narrative of Amnon and Tamar found in 2 Samuel 13:1–29. It is important to note that Amnon plotted with a friend on how to satisfy his lust and then afterward hated his sister and cast her out. Have students read 2 Samuel 13:15–20, 23–29 and ask:

  • What did Tamar do after she was defiled?

  • What happened to Amnon?

  • How could these also be considered consequences of David’s sin? (see the commentaries for 2 Samuel 13:1–14 and 13:15–22 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 295).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 132:39 to learn the eternal consequences for David’s sins. Tell them that Psalm 51 was written after David met with Nathan. Read that psalm with your students and discuss how David felt after that meeting. Discuss why some people wait until they are caught in their sin before they repent.

Read the statement by President Ezra Taft Benson in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for 2 Samuel 13–14 in the student study guide (p. 102). This may be an appropriate time to share your testimony of the burden that is lifted and the feeling of peace that comes with repentance.

1 Samuel 16–2 Samuel 24. Our decisions affect our future. (25–30 minutes)

David received strength from God that helped him overcome many of the obstacles in his life. However, “his sin with Bathsheba was followed by a series of misfortunes that marred the last 20 years of his life” (Bible Dictionary, "david," 654).

Write the following titles and accompanying scripture references on the board, leaving off the summaries in parentheses. Have half of the students read the scriptures from the first group and find evidence of how David obeyed and depended on God. Have the other students read the scriptures from the second group and find the misfortunes that followed David’s misdeeds. Ask both groups to send students to the board and write a brief summary of their findings.

  1. 1.

    David’s early life

  2. 2.

    David’s later life

If you have not studied these chapters with your class, your students will need background help to understand these brief accounts related to David, especially those dealing with David’s later life. Provide students with the following information to help them:

  • Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son, whom David had promised to care for (see 1 Samuel 20:14–16).

  • Tamar and Absalom were David’s children by Maacah (see 2 Samuel 3:3; 13:1).

  • Amnon was David’s eldest son, born of Ahinoam (see 2 Samuel 3:2).

You may also refer students to the chapter headings in their Bibles or provide information from Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel that relates to the scripture references. Have students compare David’s life before and after his sin with Bathsheba by reading 1 Nephi 8:24–28 and discussing what it has to do with David’s life.

Ask students to list some reasons a person who once seemed to have a strong testimony would fall away from the gospel path. (Do not discuss specific actions or names of individuals.) Ask how people who have so many blessings can separate themselves so far from the Lord.

Discuss the happiness that results from staying pure and clean. Share your testimony that those who have left the Lord’s path can repent and receive the joy of forgiveness. Share the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Lucifer will do all in his power to keep you captive. You are familiar with his strategy. He whispers: ‘No one will ever know.’ ‘Just one more time.’ ‘You can’t change; you have tried before and failed.’ ‘It’s too late; you’ve gone too far.’ Don’t let him discourage you.

“When you take the path that climbs, that harder path of the Savior, there are rewards along the way. When you do something right, when you resist temptation, when you meet a goal, you will feel very good about it. It is a very different kind of feeling than you have when you violate commandments—an altogether different feeling. It brings a measure of peace and comfort and provides encouragement to press on.

“As you pray for help, the Lord will place in your path priesthood leaders who will counsel and friends who will give support if you’ll let them. But remember, they can help only by your following the rules that Christ has set out for the journey. Any lasting improvement must come from your own determination to change (see Mosiah 3:17–20)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 95–96; or Ensign, May 1990, 74).