David and Bathsheba
The ancient king of Israel falls in love with a captain’s wife and sends her husband to his death in battle so that he can marry her.
Three thousand years ago King David (Gregory Peck) is wounded fighting in a night patrol against the Ammonites. He returns to Jerusalem. The prophet Nathan (Raymond Massey) tells David that God does not need a temple. David’s sons Amnon and Absolom quarrel. David gives Amnon a vineyard and Absolom an Egyptian dagger. David’s first wife Michal (Jayne Meadows) is Saul’s daughter, and she complains that he prefers other wives.
David sees Bathsheba (Susan Hayward) bathing below and learns she is the wife of Captain Uriah. David invites her to dine with him, gives her a necklace, and kisses her. Bathsheba says that she wants to please David as his wife.
David and Bathsheba lay on a hillside and talk. An old shepherd tells David how Saul and his son Jonathan died fighting. Later David remembers the battle and laments Jonathan’s death.
David drives a chariot with Bathsheba, and they see an adulteress stoned. Nathan warns David not to touch the ark of the covenant. A soldier touches it and dies. Nathan orders a tabernacle erected there.
Bathsheba tells David that she is with child. He says that Uriah must die so he can marry her. David sends for Uriah and entertains him with a dancing girl and wine. David asks Uriah about his wife. Uriah says he could punish her if she broke the law. He asks to lead the fight in the most dangerous place.
Michal is jealous of Bathsheba and says that Uriah is sleeping with the guards. David finds Uriah, who says he took an oath to renounce his home until the battle is over. David orders Abishai (James Robertson Justice) to send Uriah into battle to be killed.
David hears a report that the enemy surrendered and that Uriah was killed. David sends a message to Bathsheba to prepare for their wedding. Nathan tells David that drought will punish their sins. He says people are dissatisfied with David and favor Absolom, who wants to be judge. Bathsheba complains that she has not seen David for a week, but he reassures her that he loves her.
A windstorm causes misery. Bathsheba’s son is dying, and David has prayed for seven days. He calls the Egyptians liars. Nathan comes in and tells David a parable of a rich man who took from a poor man. David says he deserves to die, and Nathan says David is the man. David says his son is dead. Nathan says that David’s house will suffer violence. David refuses to punish Bathsheba and asks where are her accusers. Michal and Absolom come forward. David plans to leave with Bathsheba, but she says she is guilty of Uriah’s death too. She asks David to play his harp, and he recites his 23rd psalm. David says he lost God, but Nathan has found the God of justice. David says that Bathsheba shall not die, and he tells Nathan that she is not coming. David goes to the tabernacle and prays, confessing his faults. He asks that his people and Bathsheba be forgiven and that he be punished. He touches the ark amid lightning.
The boy David is summoned, and Samuel says the Lord has chosen him. Young David volunteers to fight Goliath and kills him with a stone.
King David lets go of the ark and hears rain. Nathan says they have glimpsed faith in God, and David returns to Bathsheba.
This biblical drama explores the sin of adultery and the ancient punishments used to discourage it. When David asks to take responsibility for his action, he is forgiven.