David’s Mighty Men: Uriah, the Overlooked Warrior

When David gives his tribute to his mighty men in 2 Samuel 23, many of these warriors are expounded on and their accomplishments listed. Not so with the last few. And the very last mighty man listed, by name only, is Uriah. Uriah’s name is mentioned in the historical biblical text more than most of the mighty men, though most of those mentions are simply as the husband of Bathsheba.

We see the character of Uriah on display in 2 Samuel 11. He is a warrior engaged in battle with his band of brothers, while King David stayed at home in the convenience of his palace. While Uriah is living in the fields of battle and fighting the enemy daily, King David takes a stroll out on his palace balcony one evening and sees Uriah’s wife bathing on her roof below the palace. He calls for her and sleeps with her. Weeks later he finds out she’s pregnant. It can’t be Uriah’s baby because he has been out to war the whole time.

So David sends for Uriah to come home from the battle under the guise of getting a report from the frontlines. After their brief update of the war, David tells Uriah to spend the night before going back to the battle. He says Uriah should enjoy the break from the war and go home, eat, drink and get a good night’s sleep in his own bed – with Bathsheba, his wife. David assumed that a man like Uriah would jump at the chance to spend the night in comfort and be able to spend a romantic night with his wife he hadn’t seen for many weeks.

But Uriah’s response catches David off guard: “‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing’” (2 Samuel 11:11, NASB). So in response to Uriah’s profound integrity, David ups his game of deception.

David tells Uriah to stay another day and gets him drunk that evening, thinking maybe the drink would dull his sense of duty and rightness, like many men. But to his dismay, Uriah once again spends the night just outside with David’s servants. Instead of being amazed and respectful of Uriah’s integrity, David sends him back to the frontlines with a note for General Joab. The note essentially tells Joab to put Uriah in a position where he would be killed in battle. So Joab, also a mighty man but of less character than Uriah, does just that, and Uriah is killed in the next battle.

After Bathsheba finishes mourning for the loss of her warrior husband, Uriah, David takes her for one of his several wives. Uriah is gone and forgotten. But not by God.

In 1 Kings 15:5 we see this tribute to David: “David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” (NASB). God saw David’s treatment of Uriah, having an affair with his wife and then killing Uriah to cover up his affair as the one black mark on David’s life.

Uriah may be overlooked and forgotten by mankind. He has never been a big name in the Bible. He is almost never looked at as a hero or man of valor. But God made it clear that his warrior integrity will be memorialized. Even in the face of every major temptation to the contrary put forth by David, in God’s estimation, Uriah was a determined man of nobility, character, integrity, purity of heart and unwavering principle.

If you have ever felt like nobody knows or cares about what you have faced with integrity, just remember, even though you and your character may be overlooked and undervalued by those around you, God sees and remembers – for eternity.

Dr. Rick Taylor

Dr. Rick Taylor

Equipping Director at The Well Community Church, international speaker, and author of The Anatomy of a Disciple.