2 Samuel 8 — The KJV translates כהנים as “chief rulers” (v. 18) rather than “priests” (ESV/NRSV/NET/NIV). The TWOT supports this translation by saying that the word means “principal officer or chief ruler, priest” (959a). BDB mentions a “chieftain exercising priestly functions,” which is close to the NLT’s “priestly leaders” here. But I think “priest” is best here since it captures David’s priestly kingship. David and his descendants are priests, just not Levitical priests.
2 Samuel 11 — We already see the problem. This was the season that kings go out to battle but David remained in Jerusalem (v. 1). He was already out of position. And what happened? He succumbed to lust and covetousness and fornication (vv. 2-4). What’s worse is that not only did he send Uriah to die (v. 15), but he made Uriah carry his own death sentence unknowingly (v. 14)! And now that I think about it, David urged Uriah to go to his house (vv. 8, 10), but for what? It’s almost as if he wanted Uriah to find out that his wife had been unfaithful. It’s almost as if he got a kick out of it.
2 Samuel 12 — David’s disobedience here (and we’ll see this again later) had serious consequences in the death of his son (which was inflicted by God, hard as that might be to swallow) and the fact that Israel and Judah would always been at war with someone. In a way, David was a bigger let down than Saul, because we expected more of David. God hand picked him. God anointed him and declared him king from the beginning. And in the end, he proved to be like the king before him and every king that would come after him, a screw-up. But this is not surprising. Israel’s true King was always God. The LORD is King of the universe. Every prototype was defective and the world awaited the true King to become incarnate in Christ. Jesus took all the screw ups of Israel’s former kings and fixed them through his perfect obedience, sacrifical death, and vindication through resurrection. Where mere kings have always failed, the true King succeeded beyond measure.