We read in 1 Kings 15:5 that King David had obeyed all the Commandments except in the case of Uriah the Hettite, during his lifetime. The circumstances leading to the death of Uriah in battle were meticulously executed by David who had coveted his wife Bathsheba against the 9th Commandment, after having slept with the married lady against the 6th Commandment. On the death of Uriah, David broke the 5th Commandment, by having consciously planned and staged the battle scene (2 Samuel 11). As such, the victims of David's sins were both Uriah and his widow Bathsheba. But the mention only of Uriah in 1 Kings 15, makes one wonder if David, in the capacity of King, was exempt from the 6th and 9th Commandments.

Question: According to Catholic scholars, does 1 Kings 15:5 suggest that King David was exempt from following some of the Ten Commandments?

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    I'm inclined to think of "the case of Uriah" as meaning not only the sins of which Uriah himself was the victim but all the sins involved in the whole "case", including sins against Bathsheba and probably also against the commander whom David ordered to put Uriah into the worst part of the battle. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


The text in question was written during the reign of a very sinful king of Judah, Abijah, who reigned briefly in Jerusalem. The key point about the assessment of this king is in verse 3 which tells us:

"And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather." 1 Kings 15:3 A.V.

The key point is this comparison between the heart condition of those two kings. This is what is being assessed. A person whose heart is "right" before God will still commit sins, because nobody is sinless - nobody is perfect - but one whose heart beats for God, and not for self, will repent of their sin and accept God's disciplining of them without complaint, knowing it is justified.

On the other hand, a wicked person may go through the motions of appearing to keep God's laws, but when they sin, they have no regard for the enormity of sin in God's eyes. They will not repent, and when God deals with them, they will complain bitterly. (See Revelation 9:20-21 & 16:21.) That is why king David is brought into the equation now. Verse 4 continues,

"Nevertheless for David's sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." 1 Kings 15:4-5 A.V.

Notice that David's sin with Uriah's wife is not glossed over? It is specifically mentioned as the blot on David's copy-book. Everyone is being told that David did what was wrong by turning aside from the Lord's commands on that dreadful matter. Yet God had promised David a line of descent om the throne of Jerusalem, and God would keep his promise despite David's awful sin. Remember too that David repented, and accepted the Lord's discipline on him and his family?

So, there is no suggestion that David was exempt from some of God's commands. His sin in that respect is flagged up once more. But because his heart was right before God, that is the crucial difference between David's sins and Abijah's sins, and the outcome for Abijah shows that God had not forgiven him, whereas he had forgiven David, when David repented.


Psalm 32 deals with this clearly:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"--and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

David repented, and as a result God took away the guilt of his sin. So, in the eyes of God, David is reckoned as guiltless.

This is in contrast to King Saul in 1 Samuel 15, who when he sinned, God said of him,

11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.”

Saul sinned and he turned away from God; David sinned, yet he confessed when called out on his sin.

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