Deception and Intrigue in the Bible

David is a popular character in the Bible. His name appears in it more often than any other human being. David is a significant and pivotal character in the biblical world of ideas. The story of David as a leader is still very much recognizable today in the contemporary setting. This political figure whose rise and decline can match any contemporary example is a paragon of what happens to one who deftly and shrewdly utilizes political power. David’s story is the longest ‘continuous story.’ It is also replete with deception and intrigue.

For David Marcus in his “David the Deceiver and David the Dupe,” the Bible is full of deception. It is used as an effective technique in storytelling where characterization is revealed. It also gives opportunity for inclusion of humor. Because the Bible is a storybook, the use of deception also creates suspense. Just as it is in contemporary military context, deception as used in the Bible also serves to help the disadvantaged camp in outwitting the enemy. David is a victim of deceit, many times over. Saul, Amnon, Absalom, and Joab are just some of the characters that manage to deceive him.

He is also a perpetrator of deceit. David was given a test by God, and the test is adultery. He comes upon the woman Bathsheba who was taking a bath, and she ‘stood revealed’ before him. This ignited some sexual passion in David who ‘immediately sent and inquired after the woman.’ Bathsheba happens to be the wife of one of David’s generals. At the height of his political power, David pursues the woman and eliminates her husband. He attempts to keep this adultery under wraps with all the tricks of duplicity. What comes out as a starker issue is not so much David’s weakness as a man but his strength as a political power.

David deceives Bathsheba as well. He had planned to abandon her. He lies about his promise to make Solomon the heir to his throne. Unfortunately for David, Bathsheba sees through the deceptions. And because biblical stories basically use the narrative technique of ‘measure for measure,’ Bathsheba’s revenge can be seen as giving the deceiver a dose of his own medicine. David’s dirty tricks carry him through, as well as cause his downfall and reversal of fortune.


david and bathsheba