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David and Bathsheba

David and Bathsheba(1951)

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In the 11th century B.C., Israelite military leader Joab is patroling his army's camp outside the city of Rabbah, the stronghold of their enemies the Ammonites, when he realizes that David, the King of Israel, is missing. Joab is infuriated to learn that David has joined Uriah on the nightly patrol mission, and sends a hundred men to find him. After a brief battle with the Ammonites, the wounded David returns safely to camp, accompanied by Uriah, who worships the king. Although David longs for the days when he, like Uriah, was a simple captain, he returns to the safety of Jerusalem and turns his attention to other affairs of state. Upon his arrival, Nathan, a well-respected prophet, assures David that God approves of his plan to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David is disturbed by the quarreling of his sons, Absolom and Amnon, and by the nagging of his wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, Israel's previous king, whom David admits he married for political purposes rather than for love. Despite her harsh outspokenness, Michal loves David and is crushed by his confession. Soon after, while David paces his balcony, he sees a lovely woman bathing in the courtyard of her house, below in the city. Although David learns that she is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, he cannot resist meeting her and invites her to dine at the palace. At dinner, Bathsheba reveals that she has a loveless marriage, as Uriah is only interested in battle. David tries to seduce Bathsheba, who confesses that she deliberately bathed where she knew he could see her. Bathsheba warns David that she will not have a casual affair with him, however, and instead demands his love. David and Bathsheba fall deeply in love and spend much time together, during which she questions him about his days as a shepherd boy. David describes his youth, his devotion to God and his service to Saul. While walking one day, the couple encounter an old shepherd, and his declaration that Saul's late son Jonathan should have been king reminds David of his boyhood friend, and also of the contention surrounding his reign. David and Bathsheba are returning to the city when they see a woman accused of adultery being stoned to death, and the violence casts a pall on their happiness. David then greets Nathan, who has arrived with the Ark, although tragedy strikes when a helpful soldier, trying to right the falling Ark, falls dead upon touching the sacred relic. Warning that God is exhibiting his wrath, Nathan demands that the Ark be kept outside the city walls until God has been appeased. Upon returning to the palace, David learns from Bathsheba that she is pregnant, and rather than have her face accusations of adultery, David sends for Uriah with the hope that he will spend the night with Bathsheba and thereby make the baby seem legitimate. Unwilling to allow himself any comfort denied to the other soldiers, Uriah sleeps alone, and David, his scheme thwarted, sends a secret dispatch to Joab, ordering that Uriah be placed at the front of the battle, then deserted. Michal, who knows of Bathsheba's pregnancy, overhears as David gives the fateful order, which results in Uriah's death. After the required month of mourning, Bathsheba and David marry, although their affair is common knowledge among the people, who blame them for the terrible drought that has descended upon Israel. The couple's infant son dies soon after birth, which Nathan interprets as further proof of God's displeasure. Nathan leads an angry crowd to the palace and demands that Bathsheba face their justice. David refuses to surrender his beloved, and, remembering the merciful God of his youth, goes to pray at the tabernacle containing the Ark. David becomes immersed in his prayer and while laying his hands upon the Ark, remembers how he slew Goliath and proved the prophet Samuel's proclamation that he had been anointed by God. With true repentence in his heart, David ends his reverie and is surprised to see that a heavy rain has begun. Knowing that David has made peace with God, the people praise him as he returns to the palace, where he and Bathsheba watch the rain with contentment.