II Samuel 12




vs. 1-14. The facts are:


1. God sends Nathan the prophet to David, who tells him a story of the

greed of a wicked rich man, who, to satisfy his avarice, took away and

slew the pot ewe lamb of a poor man.

2. David, accepting the story as a matter of fact, is very angry with this

man, and swears that for his deed and lack of compassion he ought to die

and restore fourfold.

3. Nathan thereupon reveals the parabolic character of his narrative, by

saying unto David, “Thou art the man!”

4. He then proceeds to state:


  1. the goodness of God to him in anointing him king, in delivering him

from Saul, in giving him the royal succession, and in guaranteeing all else

that might be needed;

  1. his despite to the commands of God — his murder of Uriah, and his

taking possession of Uriah’s wife.


5. He also declares, by way of punishment, that war would arise in his own

house; that the purity and safety of his domestic life would be invaded; and

that the punishment of his secret sin would be open.

6. On David confessing his guilt, Nathan assures him that the Lord had so

far put away his sin that he should not die, but that the child of his guilt



1 “And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said

unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 

2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:  Jehovah sent Nathan

unto David. Though David had remained unrepentant for nearly a year, for we

read in v. 14 that the child was born, yet we are not to suppose that there had been

no compunctions of conscience. A man could scarcely pass from utter callousness

to a state of mind so tender as that depicted in Psalm 51 without some preparation.

Assuredly David had suffered much mental distress, but he had given no

outward sign of contrition, and possibly, but for Nathan’s message, he

might have overpowered his conscience, and his self-reproaches have

become less frequent and agitating. More probably he was slowly ripening

for repentance, and Nathan’s words let loose the agonizing feelings which

had more and more struggled within him against his baser lusts. And the

prophet’s apologue was exactly suited to rouse up that strong sense of

justice which was so noble an element in David’s character. Doubtless it

was framed for this purpose, and Nathan knew what was the right chord to

touch. But we must not, because he was wise and skillful, refuse Nathan

our fullest admiration for his manly courage. It is a very dangerous thing to

tell princes of their sins, and especially when that prince is an absolute

monarch, and his sins adultery and murder. But the position which Nathan

held in David’s court made it his duty so to do, and there is no stronger

testimony to the power of religion and of God’s grace than that it makes

men so brave in doing their duty. We may feel sure that Nathan had long

grieved over David’s fall, and reflected upon the steps which ought to be

taken for his admonition. And now, in answer to prayer, the command

came from Jehovah bidding him go and bear his testimony. Nathan’s

parable is admirably adapted for its purpose. While making no direct

reference to adultery or murder, it puts very strongly the injustice and

heartlessness of the oppression of the weak by the strong, as exemplified in

the deed of the rich man. On many occasions David had shown a warm and

generous indignation at injustice, and a righteous pity for those wronged.

Would such a feeling be called out now? David’s conduct was bad enough,

and if there was no outburst of anger at the base deed reported to him, and

no welling up of pity for the poor man robbed of his one joy, then was his

case hopeless, and Nathan must withdraw in despair, and leave David to

his fate. But his better feelings were not destroyed, and when Nathan saw

them deeply stirred, he broke in with the stern application to the king’s

own sin, “Thou art the man!”  (v. 7) The courage and the skill of the prophet

are alike admirable.



A Faithful Reprover of Sin (v. 1)


“And Jehovah sent Nathan to David.” The sin Of David could not be hid. It

was known to his servants (ch. 11:4) and to Joab; it must have been surmised by

many from his hasty marriage; and now it was fully manifest (ch. 11:27). About a

year had elapsed. “What a year for David to have spent! What a joyless, sunless,

godless year! Were God’s words still sweet to his taste? Were they still the

rejoicing of his heart? or had he come to hate the threatening of the Law?”

(J. Wright). At length Nathan came — an example of a faithful reprover

(Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 27:6). Consider:


  • HIS BENEVOLEST AIM. He came not only to testify against sin, to

maintain the authority of the Law, etc.; but also (in connection therewith)

to benefit the sinner, by:


Ø      Leading him to repentance.

Ø      Assuring him of forgiveness.

Ø      Restoring him to righteousness, peace, and joy (v. 13;

Psalm 51:12).


“Reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23; 13:18; 17:10).

Sympathy with the holy love of God toward sinners is an essential

qualification of a faithful reprover of sin; and as it is God’s mercy that

employs agents and means for their restoration, so it is His grace alone that

makes them effectual (John 16:8).


“And so wide arms

Hath goodness infinite, that it receives

All who turn to it.



3 “But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he

had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him,

and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his

own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.”

Was unto him as a daughter. The Orientals are excessively fond

of pet animals, and, as the dog is with them unclean, its place is taken

by fawns, kids, or lambs. The description, therefore, is not overcharged,

for in many an English home the dog or cat takes its place as one of the

family. The Revised Version preserves the tenderness of the original in

translating “it did eat of his own morsel.”


4 “And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take

of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring

man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and

dressed it for the man that was come to him.:”   A traveler,... wayfaring

man,… man that was come to him.  Nathan probably used these three terms

chiefly to diversify his language, but it has served as a handle for much

allegorizing. Thus Rashi explains it of covetousness, which comes at first as

a mere “passer by,” the literal meaning of the word rendered “traveler.” But,

if admitted, it grows into “a wayfaring man,” who comes and goes on business,

and stays a longer time.  Finally it changes into “one who has come to him,”

and remains permanently. Such allegorical interpretations are common in the

Fathers, and thus Augustine compares the three stages of sin to our Lord’s three

miracles of raising the dead. The sinner is at first like Jairus’s daughter, just

dead, and repentance can restore him immediately to life; but, if sin be

persisted in, he becomes like the son of the widow of Nain, carried away to

burial; and finally like Lazarus, given over to corruption.



Nathan’s Parable (vs. 1-4)


This remarkable parable is, perhaps, the most exquisite gem of the kind

in the Old Testament. Its beauty and pathos are enhanced by the plain

matter of fact way in which the historian narrates, in ch. 11., the fall of

David and his subsequent crime. Apart from its specific purpose, it

indicates to us the occasional functions of the prophets in those times as

admonishers of kings and rulers, and consequently as representatives of the

Divine element in the history of Israel. The great variety of teaching in this

parable may be briefly indicated thus.


  • A DOUBLE LIFE. At least ten months had elapsed from the date of

David’s fall to the visit of Nathan. During that period many public and

private acts had been performed by the king in the ordinary course of life,

in addition to those referred to in ch. 11:14-27. It was his policy

to keep up a good appearance — to be in administration, in public worship,

in regard for religious ordinances, and in general morality all that he had

ever been. He passed still as the pious, just ruler and exemplary man. That

was one life. But inwardly there was another. The conscience was dull, or,

if it spoke plainly, was constantly being suppressed. The uncomfortableness

of secret sin induced self-reproach and loss of self-respect. He was an

instance of a man “holding the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

This double life is the experience of every good man who falls into

sin and seeks to cover it up. He knows too much to be really happy, but he

is too enslaved by his sin to be truly godly. The outside is fair; within is



  • FELLOWSHIP IN SIN. David and Bathsheba shared in a fellowship of

sin. They, most probably without words, communed with each other over

their guilt, and so far strengthened the chains of iniquity. Two individuals

in possession of a dreadful secret do not, dare not, speak about it. There is

simply a common understanding and a mutual support in keeping up the

appearance necessary to social reputation. It is a pitiable sight before God

and holy angels! It is a case of the fallen, the defiled, the inwardly

wretched, and the prospectively condemned, seeking to find comfort and

strength in each other’s sympathy. The channels of sympathetic feeling are

filled by a polluted stream of affection and interest.


  • A LOST CHARM. It is well known that a pure disposition and a clear

conscience lend a charm to personal life; much more does such deep and

strong piety as once characterized the “man after God’s own heart.” If we,

in reading the historic narrative of David’s early years, and the psalms, in

which his best thoughts are embodied, feel the spell of his spirit, we may be

sure that those in daily converse with him recognized a charm of the most

exalted kind. But all that was now gone, because the honesty and the purity

from which it sprang were no more. In vain did he strive to maintain the

form of godliness; in vain his careful discharge of official duties and kindly

bearing towards his friends. The “secret of the Lord” WAS LOST!   The salt

had lost its savor. To truly spiritual men he would not be as in former times.

This loss of a spiritual charm always takes place when good men fall into

sin and cover it up. The light of the spiritual eye is dim. The pure ring of

the voice is gone. The “form of godliness” is left, but the “power” is no

more. (II Timothy 3:5)


  • THE DIVINE RESERVE. At least ten months elapsed before Nathan

was commissioned by God to speak to David. The lustful look, the secret

deed, the scheme for concealment and for the death of Uriah, were allowed

to pass and issue in seeming success without one act of a decidedly

positive character, as far as we know, on the part of God either to smite

with punishment or bring to penitence. The “workers of iniquity”

flourished, and the innocent perished unavenged (Psalm 92:7; compare

Psalm 12:5; Proverbs 1:11-19). That conscience uttered its protest, and that

the laws of mind as constituted by God worked misery from the first in the

inner life of David, is no doubt true; but there was no open justice, no

obvious interposition on behalf of the oppressed, no distinct and

proportionate chastisement, no special call to repentance. Human nature

took its course, and human society remained in relation to the sinner

unchanged. Yet God is not indifferent. He slumbereth not. Government

does not relax its hold on each man. The explanation is that God is in no

haste in what He does; He reserves His action for a while for reasons more

complicated and far reaching than we can trace. The very reserve only

renders the judgment, when it comes, more impressive. Human nature is

evidently favored as a free power, which must have certain scope both for

origination of evil, maturing of evil, and filling up its own measure of

chastisement. Of God, there is a patience, a goodness, in the reserve

which need to be studied (Romans 2:4-9; I Peter 3:20; II Peter 3:9, 15).

This reserve attends many A MODERN SINNER’S cause.



himself the probability is that the coils of iniquity would have been formed

around him more and more as time advanced; for the law of habit here

holds good. (The chains of habit are too loose to be felt until they are too

strong to be broken. CY – 2018)  It is instructive to observe that the first step

towards a change in his condition was on the Divine side. God sent his prophet

Nathan, charged with a merciful purpose, though mercy was to be tempered

with judgment. Certainly David might well say in subsequent days, “My

salvation cometh from Him” (Psalm 62:1, 7). Here we have an

illustration of the great truth that God is the Author of our salvation. He

seeks us. He comes to us in our low estate. This is true of mankind as a

whole (John 3:16-17; I John 4:9, 10), of each one brought from

the ways of sin (<620419>1 John 4:19), and of the backslider (Psalm 23:3).

IT IS ALL OF GRACE!  Our Saviour’s earthly life of pleading and

seeking was a visible and audible illustration of the outgoing of the

heart of the Father towards the fallen.



simplicity of Nathan’s parable, in order to reach the conscience and heart

of David, suggest to us the fact of a certain defensive attitude of David’s

mind, which had to be broken down. It is a special weapon in a “holy war,”

designed to attack a peculiar line of defense. It is well known how men,

when they have done a wrong, are on the qui vive (on the alert or lookout)

lest the wrong should be detected and brought home to them; and the resources

of reason,ingenuity, and cunning are employed to ward off any approach to

THE INNER LIFE!   Any attempt to touch the springs of penitence or remorse,

or to arouse the fears which attend conviction, is neutralized by some counter

move of thought or resolve. Hearers of the gospel knows if they would only

testify honestly, how they too often fortify themselves against statements,

arguments, and appeals. The failure of some ministers and teachers lies in

their not knowing enough of human nature to direct their statements so as


SIN!   A study of this subject is of extreme importance to all who seek to

convince and to save men. There are various avenues to the conscience

and heart. Some are so utterly closed and guarded that it is a waste of

power to seek to penetrate through them. A fortress should be attacked in

its weakest point, and only a very special survey can find out where it is.

Nathan had reconnoitred the position, and assailed David along the best line.



approached David in friendliness, recognizing him as a man generally

mindful of his people, pitiful towards the poor and weak, and a lover of

justice. He knew that there were still elements of good in the fallen saint.

The great transgression had not obliterated all trace of the noble qualities

of former days. Where these did not come in the way of the one selfish lust

which had for the time gained dominion, they were not only cherished, but

were at hand for expression when occasion required. In proportion as these

could be strengthened and utilized, there would be hope of bringing them

to bear, by a reflected light, on THE ONE DEED in which they had been

suppressed. By a flank movement, and using a piece of history as the

instrument, he hoped to turn the whole force of David’s better qualities on

the cherished secret sin. It was an instance of a wise setting of one part of a

man’s nature against another part, so that, by a sort. of moral dynamic, the

worse should be forced out. In dealing with men we ought to avail

ourselves of their good qualities and bring them to bear on the removal of

the bad. When Christ dealt with publicans and sinners he did not make a

direct attack on their sins. There was a something in them which he made

the ground of appeal. In the vilest sinner there is some human love, or

kindliness, or sense of right. Who is wise to win souls? What are the

methods, according to varying temperaments, education, habits, and




History is a mental reflector. In Nathan’s story, which was not a parable to

David when he heard it, David saw a sin and a judgment. He was true to

his better qualities when he denounced the sin and pronounced sentence of

death. The story became to David a parable the moment the prophet said

to him, “Thou art the man!” The whole figures then become specific, and

he was the one most conspicuous against whom the judgment was

pronounced. The psychological and moral changes involved in this we

cannot now deal with; the point is that, when David’s aroused righteous

indignation pronounced judgment on the evil man, the human conscience

really forestalled the judgment of God on David’s sin by declaring its

deserts. God does not, in providence or on the day of judgment, declare

anything really new to the impenitent sinner. Conscience some time or

other has virtually given the sentence of condemnation. Those who worked

themselves up to a state of self-delusion (Matthew 7:22-23) knew a

time when the conscience witnessed against the formalities which issued in

its being seared (Ephesians 4:19; I Timothy 4:2). It is this assent of

conscience which will render the sense of injustice impossible in the future

judgments God may see fit to bring on those who “hold the truth in

unrighteousness.”  (Romans 1:18)




Ø      We should take warning from the instances in the Bible, and not

presume on God’s silence, or think that, because we are left to pursue our

own courses, it will always be so.


Ø      There are always in existence agents or agencies by which in due time

sin will be rebuked and exposed either in this life or in the life to come

(Matthew 10:26; II Corinthians 5:10).


Ø      In dealing with the lapsed we should not act on the same rule in all

cases, but deal with each according to his peculiar character.


Ø      It will repay parents, teachers, and evangelists to study human nature

and the records of biography and sacred history to find out the best

methods of reaching the conscience of the impenitent.


Ø      We should be ready, as was Nathan, to carry through the most painful

duties when God calls us in His providence to them.



The Parable of the Rich Oppressor; or, the Poor Man’s Lamb

                                                (vs. 1-4)


1. This is the first and almost the only parable contained in the Old

Testament. There is one instance of a fable of earlier date (Judges 9:8-15).

The former belongs to a higher order of teaching than the latter

(Smith’s ‘Dict. of the Bible,’ art. “Fable;” Trench, ‘Notes on the

Parables’); and it was employed most perfectly by Jesus Christ.

Compare His parables of:


  1. the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35),
  2. the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21),
  3. the rich man and Lazarus (ibid. ch. 16:19-31).


2. It was in part an acted parable (like ch.14:5-7; I Kings 20:35-43); and was at

first regarded by the king as the simple, literal statement of a case in which one

of his subjects, a poor man, had suffered wrong at the hands of another, a rich man;

and with reference to which the prophet appeared as an advocate on behalf of the

former against the latter, seeking justice and judgment. “Nathan, it is likely, used

to come to him on such errands, which made this the less suspected. It becomes

those who have interest in princes and free access to them to intercede for those

that are wronged, that they may have right done them” (Matthew Henry).


3. Its moral and spiritual aim (which is always the chief thing to be

considered in the interpretation of a parable) was to set forth the guilt of a

rich oppressor, and thereby to awaken the general sense of outraged

justice in the king concerning his own conduct.


4. “It is one of those little gems of Divinity that are scattered so plentifully

through the sacred Scriptures, that sparkle with a luster, pure and brilliant

as the light of heaven, and attest the sacred origin of the wonderful book

that contains them” (Blaikie).


5 “And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he

said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this

thing shall surely die:  6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold,

because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Shall surely die. It is strange language to declare that a man

shall be put to death and then fined four lambs; But David says nothing of

the sort, but that the man is “a son of death,” that is, a wretch who

deserves to die. The Revised Version correctly renders, “is worthy to die.”

The sentence actually passed, of fourfold restitution, is exactly in

accordance with the Mosaic Law (Exodus 22:1), but the moral

turpitude of the offence was far greater than could be atoned for by the

legal penalty. Rightly, therefore, David expressed his indignation, and

regretted that the sentence was so light; but a judge must not strain the

law, which necessarily has regard chiefly to the outward offence.



The Blinding Influence of Sin  (vs. 5-6)


“David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man;” he declared with a

solemn oath (ch. 4:9-11) that he deserved to die (literally, “was a son of death,”

I Samuel 26:16; I Kings 2:26), and ordered restitution according to the Law

(Exodus 22:1). His severity displayed the fiery temper of the man, and the

arbitrary power of the monarch, rather than the calm deliberation of the judge;

and (like the treatment of the Ammonites, v. 31) indicated a mind ill at ease

(ch. 11:22-27; Psalm 32:3-4); for he was not totally blind to his sin, nor

“past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19); though he had no thought of the application

of the case to himself. We have here an illustration of:


  • AN ASTONISHING FACT; viz. the self-ignorance, self-deception,

internal hypocrisy, of men. Nothing is more important than self-knowledge.

It is often enjoined. “From heaven came the precept, ‘Know thyself.’” And

it might naturally appear to be easily attained, seeing that it lies so near

home. Yet how certain, how common, and how surprising its absence!

“There is not anything relating to men’s characters mere surprising and

unaccountable than this partiality to themselves/ourselves which is

observable in many; as there is nothing of more melancholy reflection

respecting morality and religion” (Butler, ‘Upon Self-Deceit’). They are

blind (at least partially) and deceived as to their sin; notwithstanding:


Ø      Their perception of the evil of sin in general or in the abstract.

Ingratitude, selfishness, oppression, pitilessness; who is not ready to

denounce these vices?


Ø      Their sinfulness in the sight of other people. Although David had sought

to conceal his sin from others, perhaps still flattered himself that it was

known only to a few, and justified or palliated its guilt to himself, but

many others besides Nathan saw and abhorred it (Psalm 36:2).


“O wad some power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,

And foolish notion.”


Ø      Their condemnation of sin in others, of the very same kind as that which

they tolerate in themselves. The resemblance between the rich oppressor

and David was so close that it is astonishing it was not detected.


Ø      Their abhorrence at another time and under other circumstances of its

guilt when thought of in relation to themselves (I Samuel 24:5).

“What! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?”

II Kings 8:13). Yet the dog did it (Matthew Henry). Next to these instances

of self-deceit of our true disposition and character, which appear in not

seeing that in ourselves which shocks us in another man, there is another

species still more dangerous and delusive, and which the more guarded

perpetually fall into, from the judgments they make of different vices

according to their age and complexion, and the various ebbs and flows of

their passions and desires” (L. Sterne, ‘Self-Knowledge’).


Ø      Their culpability beyond that of those whom they condemn. It was not a

little lamb of which he had robbed the poor man, but his dearly loved wife,

his one earthly treasure. It was not a lamb that he had killed, but a man, his

neighbor and faithful defender. His superior position and possessions

aggravated his guilt. Was he not himself “a son of death”? “What a sad

proof of the blinding influence of self-love, that men are ready to form so

different an estimate of their conduct when it is not seen to be their own!

How ignorant are we of ourselves, and how true it is that even when our

own hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all

things!” (I John 3:20 - Blaikie). For this fact let us seek:


  • AS ADEQUATE CAUSE. It is seldom due to insufficiency of light or

means of knowing sin. Is it, then, due to men’s lack of consideration of

themselves? or to the perversion of their moral judgment? Doubtless to

both; but still more to sin itself, which is essentially selfishness a false

and inordinate love of self. “For consider: nothing is more manifest than

that affection and passion of all kinds influence the judgment” (Butler);

prejudicing its decisions in their own favor. Even when there is more than

a suspicion that all is not well, it stifles further inquiry and prevents full

conviction by:


Ø      Producing a general persuasion in men that their moral condition is

better than it really is.

Ø      Directing exclusive attention to those dispositions and actions of which

conscience can approve.

Ø      Inducing unwillingness to consider the opposite, and to know the worst

of themselves. The glimpse of the truth which they perceive is painful, and

(as in the case of diseased vision) it causes them to shut their eyes against

perceiving the whole truth (John 3:20).

Ø      Inventing specious arguments in justification of the course to which they

are disposed.

Ø      Dwelling upon supposed compensations for injury done or guilt

incurred. Self-love is wondrously fertile in devising such excuses and

palliatives. David may have thought that the standard by which others were

judged was not applicable to him. “Perhaps, as power is intoxicating, he

conceived of himself as not subjected to the ordinary rules of society. In

sending an order to his general to put Uriah ‘in the hottest of the battle,

he probably found a palliative for his conscience; for what was it but to

give to a brave soldier a post of honor? No doubt the victim considered

himself honored by the appointment, while it gave occasion to the king to

solace himself with the thought that it was an enemy and not he who put an

end to the life of his subject” (W. White). (His marrying Bathsheba, also, he

may have supposed, made amends for the wrong he had done to her. (Like

so many today? – CY – 2018)  But the means which he adopted to conceal

his sin from others, and deemed a palliative of his guilt, were a special

aggravation of it (vs. 9-10).




Ø      Nothing is more ruinous than self-deception (Hebrews 3:13; James 1:12;

I John 1:8).

Ø      To avoid it there must be honest self-examination (Psalm 4:4;

II Corinthians 13:5).

Ø      We should especially guard against the blinding influence of undue

self-love (Psalm 19:12; Jeremiah 17:9).

Ø      There should also be earnest prayer to Him who searcheth the hearts, for

true self-knowledge (Psalm 139:23; Job 13:23; 34:32).


7 “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD

God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of

the hand of Saul;”  Thou art the man! Abruptly and with sudden vehemence

comes the application to David himself. So skillfully had the parable been

contrived, that up to this point David had had no suspicion that he was the

rich man who had acted so meanly by his poorer neighbor Uriah. And

now he stood self-condemned. Yet even so self-love might have made his

indignation break forth against Nathan; but probably the reproof only

completed a work that had long been secretly in progress, and brushed

away the last obstacles to repentance. I anointed thee. The solemn

anointing made David the representative of Jehovah, and thus his sin was

aggravated by the degradation in the eyes of the people, both of the kingly

office and also of Jehovah Himself. Rank and authority are given to men

THAT THEY MAY LEAD OTHERS TO DO RIGHT!  It is a fearful misuse

of them when they give prestige to sin.



Unconscious Self-Condemnation (vs. 5-7)


Great sinners are generally able to discern and condemn in others

wickedness similar to their own. This gives an advantage to those who

would convince them of their sins. Nathan made use of it in dealing with

David, and with good effect.


  • NATHAN’S PARABLE. It presents a picture of conduct sufficiently

like that of David to prepare the way for his self-condemnation, and yet so

far different that its drift should not be at once detected. It is a picture of:


Ø      Gross covetousness. For a poor man to covet some part of a rich man’s

abundance is natural, though wrong; but for a rich man to covet the

little of a poor man is monstrous wickedness. Such had been David’s

conduct towards Uriah.

Ø      Robbery.

Ø      Oppression of the weak by the strong.

Ø      Violation of feelings which should have been tenderly respected. The

attachment of the poor man to his pet lamb. The counterpart was the

affection of Uriah for his wife, and, till she was seduced, of the wife

for her husband.


  • ITS EFFECT ON THE KING. It seems surprising that he did not at

once see the prophet’s meaning and intention. Perhaps Nathan had been

accustomed to come to him to plead the cause of the injured who could

obtain no redress otherwise, and David imagined this to be his errand now.

Besides, it was a good while since David’s sins were committed; yet the

prophet had hitherto been silent about them, and would the less be

suspected of coming to administer reproof for them now. Hence, all

unconsciously, he:


Ø      Displayed hot anger against the wrong doer.

Ø      Passed a severe sentence upon him; saying that he deserved death,

and condemning him to the fourfold restitution which the Law

required (Exodus 22:1) — a remarkable illustration of Romans 2:1.

Had he been aware that he was passing sentence upon himself, he

would probably have been less severe. Or if he had remembered his

own greater crimes, he would hardly so harshly have condemned a

man whose crime was so much less heinous. But it is no uncommon

thing for great offenders to be harsh in their judgment of others

who are far less culpable than themselves.




Ø      He applied to David himself the judgment he had pronounced. Thou

art the man!” With what terrific force this must have fallen upon the king’s

ears! He was self-convicted, self-condemned. To such self-condemnation it

should be the aim of religious teachers to lead their hearers. It is not

permissible, indeed, unless in very extreme cases, to address individuals in

public in such words as Nathan’s to David; but the preacher’s work is not

effectually done until each hearer whose sin is described is brought to say

to himself, “I am the man!” To use the language of a great preacher of a

former generation (Robert Hall), “Without descending to such a minute

specification of circumstances as shall make our addresses personal, they

ought unquestionably to be characteristic, that the conscience of the

audience may feel the hand of the preacher searching it, and every

individual know where to class himself. The preacher who aims at doing

good will endeavor, above all things, to insulate his hearers, to place each

of them apart, and render it impossible for him to escape by losing himself

in the crowd. At the day of judgment, the attention excited by the

surrounding scene, the strange aspect of nature, the dissolution of the

elements, and the last trump, will have no other effect than to cause the

reflections of the sinner to return with a more overwhelming tide on his

own character, his sentence, his unchanging destiny; and amid the

innumerable millions who surround him, he will mourn apart. (Zechariah

12:12)  It is thus the Christian minister should endeavor to prepare the

tribunal of conscience, and turn the eyes of every one of his hearers on

himself.” Hearers should welcome such preaching, and thank God for the

convictions it produces, as a necessary step in the process of their salvation.


Ø      He faithfully delivered God’s message to him.


o        Reminding him of the great kindness of God to him.

o        Charging him distinctly with his crimes.

o        Pronouncing upon him the Divine sentence.


In the whole interview, Nathan acted with singular courage, and fidelity to

Him who sent him.


  • THE RESULT. David’s frank and penitent confession of his sin; and

his pardon. Had he been utterly hardened, he might have resented the

prophet’s faithfulness, dismissed him with anger, or even ordered him to

prison or death. But the workings of his own conscience had prepared him

to recognize the justice of Nathan’s words; and these now melted into

contrition the long burdened yet stubborn heart, which at length found

relief in the brief but sincere words, “I have sinned against the Lord;” to

which the prophet was able to return the consoling reply, “The Lord also

hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (compare Psalm 32:3-5).


  • Learn:


Ø      The duty of reproving sin in others. (Leviticus 19:17.)

Ø      The value of a minister or other friend faithful enough to administer


Ø      The responsibility which attaches to the power to discern and condemn

sin in others.

o        It should induce us to avoid the sins which we condemn, and others

like them.

o        increases our guilt if we commit such sins.

o        It ought to induce hearty self-condemnation and penitence when we

fall into them. The indignation we feel against the sins of others

should be turned on our own, in dealing with which there is more

hope than in endeavoring to convince and reform our neighbors;

besides which, when we have forsaken our own sins, we shall be

better fitted to reprove and amend other offenders (see Matthew


Ø      The goodness of God in first sending reprovers to warn and convert,

rather than inflicting swift punishment.


8 “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into

thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if

that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee

such and such things.  9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment

of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite

with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him

with the sword of the children of Ammon.”   I gave… thy master’s wives into

thy bosom. These words probably mean that, as the whole possessions of his

predecessor belonged, by Oriental custom, to the next occupant of the throne,

David might have claimed the entire household and the wives both of Saul and

Ishbosbeth as his own, though apparently he had not done so. As far as we know,

Saul had but one wife (I Samuel 14:50) and one concubine, Rizpah (here, ch. 3:7).

Of Ishbosheth’s family arrangements we know little, but his harem, if he had one,

would become the property of David. But independently of this, the permission

of polygamy had made it possible for him to take any of the daughters of Israel

and Judah to wife, and he had freely availed himself of this license. Yet, not

content, he had lusted after a married woman, and had gotten rid of her

husband by murder, meanly using the sword of the Ammonites to accomplish

his own criminal purpose. The word used in this clause, and rendered “thou hast

slain him,” is a very strong one, and literally means “thou hast murdered him,”

though the sword was that of the enemy.



Despising the Commandments of God (v. 9)


David, by his grievous sins, had virtually shown contempt for the well-known

commandments of God against coveting the wife of another, and

against adultery and murder. Hence the force of this remonstrance. It may

be properly addressed to all who in any way show contempt for any of the

Divine commandments; to all men, therefore, since all are in some respects

and in some degree guilty of this sin.





Ø      Those who take no pains to know and understand them. Who do not

think it worth while to inquire, in reference to their course of life, their

duty to others, or any particular action, or even their religious faith and

observances, what the will of God is; but are content to follow without

question the customs of the world around them, or their own

inclinations and habits.


Ø      Those who refuse to give heed when their attention is called to them.

Which may be by their own consciences, or by other men.


Ø      Those who disobey them. And the degree of contempt shown by

disobedience will be in proportion to:


o       their knowledge;

o       their remembrance, at the time, of the commandment, its Author,

and its sanctions;

o       the difficulties of disobedience which have to be overcome; and

o       the remonstrances of conscience, and of the Spirit of God,

which are resisted and conquered.


  • THEIR SIN AND FOLLY. They may be addressed as the prophet

addressed David, “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of

the Lord, to do evil in His sight?”


Ø      What rational ground have you for doing it? Seeing the commandment


o        is “of the Lord,” who has the highest right to the obedience of

His creatures;

o        proceeds from the perfect reason and the infinite love; and therefore;

o        is adapted to promote the good of each and all. “The Law is holy, and

the commandment holy, and just, and good (Romans 7:12). Consider

any particular commandment you have disregarded, and you will see

that all this is true of it; and that, therefore, your conduct is foolish

and wicked.


Ø      How can “you” do it? Who have been laid under obligations so weighty

by the kindness of God; who know so well His character, claims, and laws;

who have so often and in such various ways professed love and loyalty to

Him; who are bound by so many considerations to set a good example; or

(as in David’s case) are appointed to be an upholder of law, a guardian of

innocence, a protector of the public morals.  (Along the lines of Romans



Ø      How “dare” you do it? In view of:


o        the shame and moral injury you bring on yourself;

o        the evil you do to others;

o        the terrible threatenings of the Word of God against sinners;

o        His knowledge of all you do;

o        His awful holiness and justice; and

o        His almighty power to execute His threatenings.


In view also of:


o        your death, and,

o        the day of judgment, when your most secret sins will be

brought to light and punished.


10 “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house;

because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah

the Hittite to be thy wife.”  The sword shall never depart from thine house;

that is, thy crime shall not be expiated by one slaughter, but by many, so that thy

punishment shall cease only at thine own death. This sentence was fulfilled

in Amnon’s murder (ch. 13:28), who had been encouraged in his crime

by his father’s example. Upon this followed Absalom’s rebellion and

death (ch. 18:14); and finally, when in his last hours David made

Solomon his successor, he knew that he was virtually passing sentence on

Adonijah, the eldest of his surviving sons. But what a fearful choice! for

had he not done so, then Bathsheba and her four sons would doubtless

have been slain, whereas there was some hope that Solomon might spare

his brother. That Adonijah was unworthy we gather from the fact that he

had ceased to be cohen, and that this office was conferred, after Absalom’s

rebellion, on Ira the Jairite (ch. 20:26), Solomon being then too

young to hold such a position. Until he committed this crime, David’s

family had probably dwelt in concord, and it was his own wickedness

which broke up their unity, and introduced among them strife, mutual

hatred, and the shedding of blood.




                                    Thou Art the Man (vs. 7-10)


The proper purpose of reproof is conviction of sin. This purpose was

accomplished by the words of the prophet. They were like a “two-edged

sword” (Hebrews 4:12), the point of which was, “Thou art the man!”

“If ever a word from human lips fell with crushing weight and with the

illuminating power of a gleam of lightning, it was this” (Krummacher).

“His indignation against the rich man of the parable showed that the moral

sense was not wholly extinguished. The instant recollection of guilt breaks

up the illusion of months” (Stanley). Observe that:


1. One of the most effectual means of convincing a man of sin is by setting

it before him as existing in another person. “Thou art the man!” the story

of whose crime has stirred thine indignation and called forth the sentence

of death from thy lips. Self-interest, passion, and prejudice, that darken a

man’s view of his own sin, have comparatively little influence upon him

when looking at the sin of another. Here the veil is removed; he sees

clearly and judges impartially. For this reason (among others) our Lord

spake many things unto them in parables.”  (Matthew 13:3)


2. The force of truth depends upon the particular application which is

made of it. “Thou art the man who hast done this!” (Septuagint); against thyself

thine indignation should be directed; upon thyself the sentence has been

pronounced. It is as if hitherto only the back of the offender was seen,

when, suddenly turning round, his face appeared, and David beheld

himself! “Men often correctly understand a message of God without

observing its personal application to them.” Hence the preacher, like the

prophet of old (I Kings 14:7; 18:18; 21:19; II Kings 5:26; Daniel 5:22;

Matthew 14:4), must directly, wisely, and faithfully apply the truth to his

hearers. “‘Thou art the man!’ is or ought to be the conclusion, expressed or

unexpressed, of every practical sermon.” What is a sword without a point?

“Here also is a lesson to hearers. David listened to a sermon from Nathan,

which exactly suited his own case, and yet he did not apply it to himself.

He turned the edge of it from himself to another.  The benefit of sermons

depends more upon the hearer than the preacher.  The best sermon is that

who hear most, but who apply most what they hear to their own hearts.”


3. Every man is responsible to God for the sin which he has committed.

“Thou art inexcusable, O man” (Romans 2:1), however thou mayest

have persuaded thyself to the contrary. Is the man whom thou judgest

accountable for his conduct; and art not thou for thine? Is he accountable

to thee? How much more art thou to God? No position, however exalted,

can release from responsibility to Him or exempt from obedience to His

commandment; no constitutional tendency, no temptation, expediency, or

necessity be an adequate reason for despising it (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 3:6).


“And self to take or leave is free,

Feeling its own sufficiency:

In spite of science, spite of fate,

The judge within thee, soon or late,

           Will blame but thee, O man!


“Say not. ‘I would, but could not. He

Should bear the blame who fashioned me.

Call a mere change of motive choice?’

‘Scorning such pleas, the inner voice

           Cries, ‘Thine the deed, O man!’”

(J.A. Symonds.)


4. A messenger of Heaven is always in readiness to single out the sinner,

bring his sin to remembrance, and call him to account. “Thus saith the Lord

God of Israel,” etc. (v. 7), “Wherefore hast thou despised the

commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?” etc. (v. 9). Every

wrong done to man, yea, every sin, is a factual contempt of His

commandment (Psalm 51:4). Whilst the supreme King and Judge

observes it, and is long suffering towards the doer of it, He provides many

witnesses, holds them in reserve, and sends them with His word at the

proper moment to declare all its enormity — its ingratitude (v. 8),

presumption (v. 9), disloyalty before Him, its “intense and brutal

selfishness,” sensuality, cruelty, and craft. Conscience also awakes to

confirm their testimony, with “a thousand several tongues, and every

tongue” crying, “Thou art the man!”


5. The less expected the charge preferred against the sinner, the more

overwhelming his conviction of guilt. “The further David was from

thinking of a reference to himself, the greater the force with which the

word must have struck him” (Erdmann). There could be no defense, no

extenuation, no answer (Acts 24:25; Matthew 22:12).


6. The condemnation which one man pronounces on another sometimes

recoils upon himself with increased severity. “Out of thine own mouth,”

etc. (Luke 19:22). “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from

thine house,” etc. “For a single moment the features of the king are

charged with the expression of astonishment. He gazes eagerly at the

prophet like one at a loss to divine his meaning. But, almost instantly, as if

an inward light had burst upon his soul, the expression changes to one of

agony and horror. The deeds of the last twelve months glare in all their

infamous baseness upon him, and outraged justice, with a hundred

guttering swords, seems all impatient to devour him” (Blaikie). “O wicked

man, thou shalt surely die!” (Ezekiel 33:8).


7. The conviction of sin is the first step in the way of restoration to

righteousness. The sense of sin is the beginning of salvation. “He that

humbleth himself,” etc. (Luke 14:11; I John 1:9). “If we would

judge ourselves,” etc. (I Corinthians 11:31-32). Every man must be

revealed to himself in the light of God’s righteous judgment here or

hereafter (Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:14).                                                                              


11 “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out

of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and

give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the

sight of this sun.  12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing

before all Israel, and before the sun.”  He shall lie with thy wives.

Fulfilled for political purposes by Absalom, under the advice of Bathsheba’s

grandfather (ch. 16:22). The punishment was thus complete. For the murdered

Uriah there was fourfold restitution, according to David’s own sentence.


  • First there was Bathsheba’s child lately born (v. 18),
  • then Amnon (ch. 13:29),
  • thirdly Absalom (ch. 18:14-15), and
  • lastly Adonijah (I Kings 2:24-25).


For the adultery there was open disgrace wrought upon his royal

dignity “before the sun,” in open daylight. As he had brought shame and

dishonor upon the family relations of his neighbor, so were his own

family rights violated by his rebellious son. And, as is often the case, the

sins which followed were worse than those which prepared the way. Vice

begins as a small stream trickling through the opposing dam. but it quickly

breaks down all moral restraints, and rushes along like a destroying flood.






Despisers of God (v. 10)


“Thou hast despised me.” In the dreadful sins of which David had been

guilty he had treated God with contempt. He had treated as of no account

all the kindness of God to him; had disregarded His claims; shown contempt

practically for His authority, His precepts, His observance of his conduct, His

justice and its penalties, His favor, His voice in the conscience. The charge

brought against David may be brought against many who are not guilty of

gross and flagrant crimes like his.




Ø      All sin involves contempt of Him. It shows:


o        Indifference as to His Being and perfections. If the sinner does not

boldly say, “no God,” he practically ignores Him, leaves Him out

of account in His conduct, and treats His presence and observation

of him, His hatred to sin, His threatened judgments, as of no

importance, not worthy of serious consideration. (Psalm 10:13).

o        Contempt for His authority.

o        Despisal of His kindness (“Or despisest thou the riches of His

goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that

the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance!”Romans 2:4).

o        Contempt of His wisdom, as expressed in His laws. As if the

sinner thought he could guide and govern himself better than God.

o        Low regard for His favor and friendship.


Ø      Certain kinds of sin may be mentioned as showing such contempt.


o        Unthankfulness and discontent. As if God’s gifts were not worth


o        Rejection of Christ and salvation — His best gifts, in which He

appears more fully and manifestly than in aught else. “He that

despiseth me despiseth Him that sent me” (Luke 10:16). “Hath done

despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).

o        Neglect of the Holy Scriptures. In them God comes to instruct us, to

make us partakers of His own wisdom, to make known His will, etc.

To neglect them is to show contempt of Him.

o        Negligence as to His service. As to the hours and exercises of devotion.

God invites us to converse with Him, to make known our requests,

with  the promise of gracious answers. To disregard prayer, or offer

unreal worship, is to treat Him with contempt: He is most worthy to

be praised. To decline to praise Him, or to praise in words only, is to

despise Him. In the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper He comes

specially near to us, to commune with us in Christ, to feed us with

the body and blood of His Son. To turn away from the holy feast,

or come with hypocrisy, or with hearts or hands stained with

unrepented sin, is to treat Him with contempt. And in more

active life, to be slovenly, slothful, indifferent; to offer Him

a half-hearted service; to present Him with grudged offerings;

is to show grievous disrespect to him (see Malachi 1:6-8).

o        Contempt for His people, or any of them. As if the godly were

necessarily fanatical. Or because they may be feeble, or

inexperienced (Matthew 18:10), or poor (James 2:6). Or because

they differ from us in judgment or observances (Romans 14:3, 10).

“He that despiseth you, despiseth me” (Luke 10:16).




Ø      Who is despised. “Me.” The infinite Majesty, the Source and Sustainer

of all beings, the Giver of all good, the Creator, Preserver, and

Benefactor of those who despise Him, WITHOUT WHOM they have

nothing and can do nothing; perfect in all that is good, and worthy of

all esteem and love; who is reverenced, adored, loved, and served

by the loftiest intelligences, by all the wise and good in all worlds;

the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all that is glorious

in holiness and love appears, revealing the glorious excellences of



Ø      Who is the despiser. “Thou.” So ignorant, so needy, so dependent, so

greatly blessed, so sinful, so perverted in mind and heart, and

incapable, while untaught of God, of judging aright as to the best

things. It is:


o       the creature despising his CREATOR,  

o       folly despising wisdom,

o       weakness despising Omnipotence,

o       the lost despising his Deliverer,

o       the destitute despising HIM who would enrich him

with everlasting riches.


Ø      The contrast between Him who is despised and the things which are

valued. God is rejected and treated as of little or no account; while

things which are worthless or injurious, or which if valuable have only

a limited and transient worth, are highly prized and pursued as if of

supreme worth and importance.


Ø      What is involved in despising God. It is to despise:


o       ourselves,

o       our own souls and their salvation,

o       the true riches and honor,

o       our true and everlasting happiness,

o       eternal life,


all that most deserves to be valued.




Ø      To be themselves despised. “They that despise me shall be lightly

esteemed (I Samuel 2:30). They shall rise “to shame and everlasting

contempt (Daniel 12:2),


o        exposed,  (see *** below for the idea of being exposed – CY – 2018)

o       regarded as fools, and

o       treated as worthless.




“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any

two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and

spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts

and the intents of the heart.  Neither is there any creature that is not

manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the

eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”  (Hebrews 4:12-13)


13 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things

are naked and opened (laid open) unto the eyes of Him with whom we have

to do.”   The main difficulty in this verse is as to the meaning of the word

τετραχηλισμένα tetrachaelismena (translated “laid open”). The verb

τραχηλιζω trachaelizo (which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament or

Septuagint, but is, with its compound ἐκτραχηλιζω - ektrachaelizo, not

uncommon in Philo and Josephus) has in classical Greek the sense of “seizing

by the throat,” or “bending back the neck,” as in wrestling. And this, with the

further idea of “overthrowing” or “laying prostrate,” is the prevailing sense

in Philo, from whom Wetstein quotes many passages in illustration. Taking, then,

with most modern commentators, the sense of bending back the neck as the

primary one, we have only to consider what secondary meaning is here to

be attached to it. Some take the idea to be that of being thrown on the

ground supine, so as to be thoroughly exposed to view.  See an

allusion to the Roman custom of exposing criminals “reducto capite,”

retortis cervieibus,” so that all might see their faces (see Suetonius,

Vitel.,17; Pliny, ‘Panegyr.,’ 34. 3). There is, however, no other known

instance of the Greek verb being used with this reference, which there

seems to be no necessity for assuming. The idea may be simply the general

one expressed  “that whatever shamefaced creature bows its head, and

would fain withdraw and cloak itself from the eyes of God, has indeed

the throat, as it were, bent back before those eyes, with no possibility

of escape, exposed and naked to their view.” Many of the

ancients (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ecumenius, Theophylact) saw in

τετραχηλισμένα a reference to the treatment of sacrificial victims, as

being smitten on the neck or hung by the neck for the purpose of being

flayed kern the neck downwards, or cut open thence, so as to expose rite

entrails to view. But no instance is known of such use of the word

τραχηλιζω, the idea of which may have been suggested to commentators

by the figure of the sword in the verse preceding; which figure, however,

there is no reason to suppose continued here, the idea of which is

simply COMPLETE EXPOSURE  introduced by οὐκἀφανὴς ouk

……aphanaesneither…..not manifest, not apparent.   The ancients take

the concluding expression, πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖνλόγος – pros hon haemin ho logos

as meaning “to whom our account must be given,” i.e. “to whom we are

responsible as our judge” — in the sense of λόγον δίδναι – logon didonai

give account. The Authorized Version seems better to give

the general idea of relation by the apt phrase, “with whom we have to do.”

Of course, λόγος (account) here has no reference to the Word of God, the

recurrence of the word, in a subordinate sense, being merely accidental. (end  ***)


“Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath

rejected them” (Jeremiah 6:30).


Ø      To find by wretched experience how real and how essential to their

happiness IS HE whom they have slighted. To learn the value of

His favor by the irreparable loss of it. The sin of despising Him

they will no longer be able to commit. But the doom may be

averted BY REPENTANCE as David’s case teaches (v. 13).



The Penalties of Sin (vs. 10-12)


“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house,” etc.


1. Sin is connected with suffering. The connection is real, intimate,

inevitable. Nothing is more clearly manifest or more generally admitted; yet

nothing is more practically disregarded. Men commit sin under the delusion

that they can do so with impunity. But “they that plough iniquity, and sow

wickedness, reap the same” (Job 4:8; Galatians 6:7).


2. Sin serves to account for suffering; explains and justifies its existence

under the righteous and beneficent government of God. The subsequent

sufferings of David would have been inexplicable if his great transgression

had not been recorded. “The remainder of David’s life was as disastrous as

the beginning had been prosperous” (Hale). Personal suffering, however,

often appears disproportionate to personal transgression (I Samuel 4:3);

and its reason in such cases must be sought in hereditary or other

relationships, and in the purposes to which it is subservient. The penalties

of sin (such as David suffered) take place:


  • BY DIVINE INFLICTION. “Behold, I will raise up evil against thee,”

etc. (v. 11; II Samuel 9:27). They are:


Ø      Necessitated by the justice of God. “Justice is that causality (the

relationship between cause and effect) in God which connects

suffering with actual sin” (Schleiermacher). He who

“despises the commandment of the Lord” ought to be punished.


Ø      Declared by the Word of God, both in the Law and the prophets. The

word of Nathan was a sentence, as well as a prediction of judgment.


Ø      Effectuated by THE POWER OF GOD, which operates, not only by

extraordinary agencies, but also, and most commonly, in the ordinary

course of things, and by way of natural consequence; directs and controls

the actions of men to the accomplishment of special results; and often

makes use of the sins of one man to punish those of another. Natural law is

the regular method of Divine activity. In accordance therewith the violation

of moral law is followed by internal misery and external calamity, which

are closely associated (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:4). “Vengeance is mine,

I will repay saith the Lord.”  (Romans 12:19)





Ø      The peculiarity of their form. Not only do they follow sin by way of

natural consequence, but also the manner of their infliction corresponds

with that of its commission; as that which is reaped resembles that which is

sown (I Samuel 4:1-11). (I recommend Proverbs ch 14 v14 – Spurgeon

Sermon – How a Man’s Conduct Comes Home to Him -  # 12146 –

this website – CY – 2018)  “The seeds of our own punishment are sown

at the same time we commit sin” (Hesiod). Having sinned with the sword,

his house would be ravaged with the sword; and having sinned by the

indulgence of impure passion, he would be troubled in like manner.

Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah! Amnon thought, ‘Has my father indulged in

it? — Absalom relied on the resentment of the people on account of the

double .crime. Adonijah fell because he wished to make the best of the

precedence of his birth in opposition to him who had been begotten with

Bathsheba” (Thenius).


“The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices

Make instruments to plague us.”


There is a tendency in the sin of one to perpetuate itself in others over

whom his influence extends, and so to recoil upon himself.


Ø      The publicity of their exhibition. “For thou didst it secretly,” etc.

(v. 12). Falsehood and injustice seek darkness; truth and justice seek

light. The evil, which is concealed for the sake of public honor, is

followed by public shame.


Ø      The extent and perpetuity of their infliction. “The sword shall never

depart from thine house.” “The fortunes of David turned upon this one sin,

which, according to Scripture, itself eclipsed every other” (Blunt). “One sin

led to another; the bitter spring of sin grew in time to a river of destruction

that flowed over the whole land, and even endangered his throne and life”

(Baumgarten). Who can tell the far reaching effects of one transgression

(<210918>Ecclesiastes 9:18)?




Ø      To manifest the justice of God and uphold the authority of His Law.


Ø      To exhibit the evil of sin, and deter the sinner himself and others from its



Ø      To humble, prove, chastise, instruct, purify, and confirm the sufferer. “If

he commit iniquity, I will chasten him,” etc. (ch. 7:14; Deuteronomy 8:3, 5;

Job 5:17; Psalm 94:12; Hebrews 12:6). This last effect is wrought only on

those who turn to God in penitence and trust. The forgiveness of sin and

restoration to righteousness do not counteract, except in a limited degree,

the natural consequences of past transgression; but they transform

punishment into chastisement, and alleviate the pressure of suffering

and sorrow by Divine fellowship, and the inward peace, strength, and

hope which it imparts. “In general the forgiveness of sin has only this

result — punishment is changed into fatherly chastisement, the rod into

the correction of love. ( ...... “My son, despise not thou the chastening

of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:  For whom the

Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He

receiveth.  Hebrews 12:11)  Outwardly the consequences of sin remain

the same; their internal character is changed. If it were otherwise, the

forgiveness of sins might too readily be attributed to caprice” (Hengstenberg).

“The personal forgiveness indulged to the King of Israel, in consideration of

his penitence, did not break the connection between causes and their effects.

This connection is stamped on the unchanging laws of God in nature; and

it becomes every man, instead of arraigning the appointment, to bring

support to his domestic happiness by the instrumentality of a good

example” (W. White). His family, his kingdom, and even his own character,

were permanently affected by his sin. “Broken in spirit by the

consciousness of how deeply he had sinned against God and against

men; humbled in the eyes of his subjects, and his influence with them

weakened by the knowledge of his crimes; and even his authority in

his own household, and his claim to the reverence of his sons, relaxed

by the loss of character; David appears henceforth a much altered man.

He is as one who goes down to the grave mourning. His active history

is past — henceforth he is passive merely. All that was high and firm

and noble in his character goes out of view, and all that is weak

and low and wayward comes out in strong relief. The balance of his

character is broken. Alas for him! The bird which once rose to heights

unattained before by mortal wing, filling the air with its joyful songs, now

lies with maimed wing upon the ground, pouring forth its doleful cries to

God” (Kitto, ‘Daily Bible Illust.’).


 13 “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And

Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin;

thou shalt not die.”  I have sinned against Jehovah. Saul had used the same

words, and had meant very little by them; nor had he added “against

Jehovah,” because his purpose was to appease Samuel, and prevail upon

him not to disgrace him before the people. David’s confession came from

the heart. There is no excuse making, no attempt at lessening his fault, no

desire to evade punishment. Psalm 51 is the lasting testimony, not only to

the reality, but to the tenderness of his repentance, and we may even feel

here that confession was to him a relief. The deep internal wound was at

length disclosed, and healing had become possible. Up to this time he had

shut God away from his heart, and so there had been no remedy for a soul

diseased. It was because his sorrow was genuine that comfort was not

delayed. Jehovah also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Now,

death was the legal penalty for adultery (Leviticus 20:10), and though it

might not be easy to exact it of a king, yet, until it was remitted, David

would be in the eyes of all “a son of death” (see on v. 5); and how could

he administer justice to others while the death sentence for a capital crime

was hanging over himself? Had not the prophet been authorized to use his

dispensing power as the mouthpiece of Jehovah, David could not have

remained king. And we can see no reason for supposing, with Ewald and

others, that a substantial interval of time elapsed between David’s

confession and Nathan’s absolution. The sole conceivable reason for such a

view would be the supposition that David’s repentance began and was

completed with the one stab of shame which pierced through him when he

heard Nathan’s sudden reproach. Such a mere thrill, following upon such

persistent callousness, would have merited little attention. But if months of

brooding sorrow and secret shame had been humbling David, then his open

confession was the proof that the Spirit’s work had reached the goal, and

was now complete. And we gather from Psalm 51:3 that such was the

case. “My sin,” he says, “is ever before me.” It had long haunted him; had

long occupied his thoughts by day, and broken his rest at night. Like a

flood, his iniquities had gone over his head, and threatened to drown him;

like a heavy burden, they had pressed upon him so as to break him down

(Psalm 38:4). Both these psalms tell of long continued sorrow of heart;

but with confession had come relief. He had offered to God the sacrifice of

a broken spirit, and knew that it had not been despised. We shall see

subsequently that his time and attention had been much occupied with the

Ammonite war, and this had probably helped him in evading the secret

pleadings of his own conscience.



The Convicted Sinner


The fitness of the parable is revealed in its sequel. Nathan, laying aside the

character of a friendly visitor relating a story of wrong, now assumes the

functions of the prophet of God, and turns the whole light and force of

David’s just indignation in upon himself, and, with an incisiveness most

irresistible, brings an accusation of guilt without naming the actual deed

done; states the aggravating circumstances arising out of the exceeding

goodness of God in the past; declares the retribution about to come; and,

on witnessing the true penitence of the sinner, announces the fact of

forgiveness, but qualifies the announcement by foretelling an event of

blended justice and mercy. The commission of sin is unhappily common

enough, and also, we may thankfully admit, the conviction of sinners is an

event of frequent occurrence. Few sins exhibit the peculiar aggravations of

this one of David, and few convictions are more sudden and thorough than

his; but as there are common qualities in all sins and true convictions of sin,

we may regard this case of David’s as setting forth features in human

experience and Divine procedure universally true.



David all along knew of the existence of the sin, but had conducted himself

as though it were not. In general terms he would doubtless speak of sin as

an evil of deepest dye, and desire its banishment from mankind. Such

sentiments were at the base of his deep interest in Nathan’s story, and gave

rise to the outburst of indignation. Sin was evil, the sinner ought to be

punished, the doer of this deed must come under the ban of law. All this

was quite correct. It was orthodoxy. The friendly visitor could not but

admit its force. But it was just here, when David was dealing with

generalities, and was eager to see general principles applied to a particular

case, that Nathan brought him away from the general to the particular,

from others to himself. “Thou art the man!” This was a straight charge.

Nathan held a twofold position — he was a man in Israel, a subject and

neighbor, a pious friend of David’s; he was also a prophet, a

representative of God, and in that capacity a superior to David. When,

then, the friendly visitor said, with an unrecordable tone and gesture,

“Thou art the man! it was evident to David:


Ø      that his deed, long kept secret, was known to his most influential and

incorruptible subject and friend; and


Ø      that God was speaking straight to his conscience. Even so far as related

to Nathan as a good man in Israel, the revelation of his acquaintance with

the deed was startling and astounding; but the most potent element in the

utterance was the direct charge of God. A sinner cannot look on the Holy

One — he dare not. The conscience knows the awful voice of God, and,

when that voice speaks straight to it, all thought of men and opinions

vanishes, and the soul in its solemn individuality feels itself in the actual

presence of the Eternal. In true conviction the man “comes to himself.”

(Luke 15:17)  The deed of evil is brought home. In a light not of earth,

self is seen to be undone, because the sin, hitherto professedly not a

reality, is now forced on self as its own offspring.



charge is brought home, and before the paralyzed man can speak, the

prophet, in the name of God, with swift words reminds him of his

privileges and the manifold blessings and honors God had showered on

him or was ready to grant if needed. He was a chosen servant of the

Eternal, called to perform a part in the working out of a great future for the

world; he had filled a position of honor and influence; he had been

charged with high and holy duties; he had been blessed with plenty, and

more than ordinary provision for the necessary cravings of nature (vs. 7-8).

Yet, “Thou art the man!” None can doubt that here was sin of the most

aggravated character. No sin is excusable or free from Divine

condemnation; otherwise it were not sin, but weakness or fault. But some

sins are worthy of being punished with “many stripes” (Luke 12:47)

because of being committed under special circumstances, e.g. the possession of

religious light and feeling; the occupation of a position of power, and the being

recipient of manifold tokens of Divine care and love. But be the privileges

many or few, when God brings home the guilt to the conscience, the sin is

revealed in the light of past mercies. The swift review of David’s

advantages by Nathan finds its analogue in the swift floating before the

mind of the circumstances of one’s position which render the sin so utterly

inexcusable. Men see in a few moments the reasons for their utter shame

and self-abasement. This is a feature in all true conviction, and tends to the

proper prostration of the soul before God. Saul of Tarsus knew this. It is

an unspeakable mercy that God does set our sins in the light of HIS




“Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord?” (v. 9).

No sooner did the light flash on the conscience to set forth the aggravated

character of the sin, than with unrelenting incisiveness the “wherefore”

followed to probe those depths of the heart from whence the evil sprang.

The question really contains an inquiry and a statement. Why? “Thou didst

despise.” The eye of the sinner is turned in upon himself, to search out and

behold those vile feelings and false principles out of which issued the

preference of self-will over THE HOLY WILL OF GOD which had been so

clearly expressed in the Law of the Lord and in the special intimations of

Providence. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately

wicked: who can know it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9)  The time of conviction is a

time of probing and searching. It is well for men under conviction to face

the real facts, and get at the causes that lie out of sight. There must be some

dreadfully subtle evils lurking within to induce a man to “despise”

the august majesty of God’s will BY SETTING IT ASIDE?   Was it not

in reference to this probing, and probably in reference to this very deed,

that the psalmist said, “Search me, O God” (Psalm 139:23-24; compare

ch. 51:5-6, 10)?



prophet ceases not; without giving the convicted man time to speak, he

passes on to tell of the retribution that is sure to come by the will of God.

The man of whom Nathan once spoke such good things (ch. 7:12-17)

is now informed of coming trouble in life; that this trouble will be

the same in kind with that of his sin — murder and adultery; (I recommend

Proverbs ch. 14 v. 14 – Spurgeon Sermon – How a Man’s Conduct Comes

Home to Him - # 1246 – this website – CY – 2018)  that it will not

be secret, as was his, in performance, but open, to his disgrace; that it will

arise out of his own house, consequent in a measure on the mischief

wrought by his own sin on his domestic life. Had David not fallen, he

would have been a different man, and consequently his private influence at

home among his children would have been more holy and powerful; his

relation to his kingdom would have been more satisfactory, and therefore

moral and political circumstances would probably, arise of so important a

character as to have prevented the creation of the conditions out of which

the troubles now recorded in his later history arose. He was to reap

according to his sowing. In the conviction of sin, the recognition of

personal guilt is the chief element, as we have seen; but just as

here the messenger revealed the aggravation of the guilt, probed the heart

for causes, and referred to coming retribution, so in the simple processes of

mind attending true conviction there is an anticipation of punishment — an

assurance that evil is coming on the soul as a consequence of sin done. Sin

is transgression of law; law involves authority to vindicate its

righteousness; and, as soon as the conviction of sin is real, the logic of

conscience points to coming judgment. Whether it be a temporal judgment,

as in Old Testament references, or eternal, as in New Testament

references, the experience is virtually the same.



in silence till the prophet had delivered his charge. The time was brief, but

the power accompanying the words was Divine. Swifter than lightning the

spell of hypocritical concealment was broken. The bonds in which the

unholy passion had long held the soul were snapped asunder. The eye of

conscience, turning in upon self, gave fresh life to the old suppressed

loyalty to righteousness and God, and, as a consequence, the confession

came, “I have sinned against the Lord.” The question as to whether the

historian here simply gives a summary of what passed, and intended to

include also the fifty-first psalm, or whether literally this is all that was said

and done, does not affect our purpose. There is here a recognition prompt,

unqualified, of sin, not as a fault, a weakness, but of sin as known by

conscience and stamped with the curse of God and man. It is also a

recognition of sin as against God, not as a wrong done to Uriah,

Bathsheba, or Israel, or his own family. (Remember Joseph’s response

to Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him, “....how then can I do

this great wickedness, and sin against God.”  Genesis 39:9 – CY – 2018)

The conscience is not indifferent to the injuries done to men, but when fully

aroused, and face to face with sin as sin, it seems to see only God. Hence

the expression in Psalm 51:4 – “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,

and done this evil in thy sight....  Again, there is pain and shame, not

because of what men may say or do, not because personal influence will

now be weakened, but because it is sin.  It is the sin which troubles and

appalls the truly convicted soul. Moreover, there is abstention from all

claim to consideration; no excuse, no palliation. The convicted one can

only say, “I have sinned.” There is obviously an inward bowing of the

spirit before the holy God; an absolute surrender as:


Ø      undone,

Ø      condemned,

Ø      helpless,

Ø      LOST!


The very brevity of the confession bespeaks the depth of penitential woe.

Contrast the wordy confession (I Samuel 15:17-25; compare Luke 15:18-19;




Nathan stood by the prostrate silent king, and whether this confession was

the literal whole or not, we do not know; but he saw enough to enable him

to say in the name of God, “The Lord hath put away thy sin” — a

statement clear and unreserved, intended to go home to the smitten heart.

The forgiveness of sin has to do with a personal relation of God to man.

(“But there is forgiveness with thee.”  Psalm 130:4   “.... with Him there

is plenteous redemption.”  Ibid. v. 7 – CY – 2018)  It is the restoration of the

personal relation of favor and fellowship which had been interrupted by sin.

It is conditional on true repentance, the objective ground being the sacrificial

death of Christ — under the Old Testament dispensation by anticipation

(Romans 3:25), and under the New by retrospective reference. God is the sole

Judge of the reality of repentance. He looketh at the heart. He knew that

David’s conviction had issued in the state’ of mind known as true repentance,

and foreseeing this before it occurred, he commissioned the prophet to

“declare and pronounce” to David “being penitent,” the remission of

his sin. “Thy sins are forgiven thee!” Blessed words! How often brought

to penitents since our Lord uttered them! But the pardon left untouched

the natural consequences of sin referred to in vs. 19-20, because a personal

relation does not alter the course of the forces which a man sets in motion

on earth by his sin. Also, the child born must die, not to its injury, but gain,

yet in judgment, so that the father should not find comfort in the fruit of his

sin, and in mercy, lest there should be a living memorial of his guilt and

shame to which men might point and further blaspheme the Name of the

Lord.  (No doubt, there have been myriads who have experienced a

living memorial of their guilt and shame.  May God have mercy upon

us all!  CY – 2018)  The same holds good of our forgiveness; it is free, full,

but qualified by the continuance of some ill consequences which chastise

us all our days. The sinner never entirely gets rid of all the earthly effects

of his sin while on earth; they work in his flow of thought and feeling, and

often in the checks on his influence, and possibly on the character and

health of others. The full redemption comes with the glorified body and

the new heavens and earth.  (II Corinthians 5:1-6; II Peter 3:10-13)




Ø      The first thing to be sought in men in order to their salvation is a due

recognition of themselves as sinners in the sight of God. A general

recognition of the evil of sin as distinct from consciousness of personal

guilt may really be a cover for unpardoned sin.

Ø      The tendency and drift of God’s messages to men living in sin is to bring

them to a right mind in reference to their personal position in His sight, as a

preliminary to their seeking forgiveness.

Ø      Much will be found to depend, in respect to religious views and action,

on the apprehension men have of what Sin really is and their own guilt. A

prepared state of mind is necessary to get good out of gospel statements.

Ø      The Christian religion especially lays stress on intense individuality in

our relationships to God (He is a “one on one” God – CY – 2018) and to

good and evil, and aims to bring us to a true self-knowledge.

Ø      It is an astonishing illustration of the tremendous power of our lower

tendencies that they may even gain ascendancy over men of most exalted

privileges and whose very position would suggest superiority to them.

Ø      The essence of sin abides in all times, though the form may vary; for as

Adam preferred the suggestion of the evil one and so despised the word of

the Lord, so did David; and on this method did Satan vainly seek to win over

Christ in the wilderness.

Ø      It is of extreme importance to remember that we may carry about with

us deep laid and subtle tendencies which may assert their power in an

unguarded hour; and hence we should often probe our heart, and search

and see by the help of God whether there be any evil way within us.

(Psalm 139:23-24)

Ø      It should operate as a deterrent to know that OUR SINS will entail

unavoidable social and physical troubles as long as life lasts.

Ø      We are authorized in speaking to the truly penitent of the free and full

forgiveness which God has in store for them, and which through His

abounding grace THEY MAY HAVE AT ONCE!

Ø      In the fuller sense of the words it may be declared to the penitent that

they shall not die (John 3:16).

Ø      The evil deeds of professors are a stumbling block to other men, and

give occasion to them to blaspheme, and as this must be a most bitter

element in the life of the restored backslider, so it is a warning to all

Christians to take heed lest they fall (I Corinthians 10:12), and so bring

occasion for reproach on THE NAME WHICH IS ABOVE EVERY NAME!

            (Philippians 2:9)



The Acknowledgment of Sin (v. 13)


“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.”


1. The words of the prophet were a decisive test of the character of David.  Had he

treated the messenger and his message as others have done (I Samuel 15:12-21;

I Kings 13:4; 21:20; 22:8; Jeremiah 36:23; Luke 3:10; Acts 24:25), his partial

blindness to his sin would have become total, and he would have fallen to a still

lower depth, perhaps never to rise again. But his genuine piety, as well as the

exceeding grace of God (ch. 7:15), ensured a better issue; and the confidence in

his recovery, which Nathan probably felt in coming to him, was fully justified.


2. Hardly was the sentence pronounced, “Thou art the man!” before the

long repressed confession broke from his lips (I Samuel 7:6; 15:24-31),

“I am the man! Who says this of me? Yet — God knows all — yes, I

am the man. I have sinned against the Lord.”


“Never so fast, in silent April shower,

Flushed into green the dry and leafless bower,

As Israel’s crowned mourner felt

The dull hard stone within him melt”



The ruling principle of his nature was like a spring of water which, though

choked and buried beneath a heap of rubbish, at length finds its way again

to the surface. “The fundamental trait in David’s character is a deep and

tender susceptibility, which, although even for a time it may yield to lust or

the pressure of the world, yet always quickly rises again in repentance and

faith” (‘Old Test. Hist. of Redemption’). “If in this matter Nathan shows

himself great, David is no less so. The cutting truth of the prophetic word

shakes him out of the hollow passion in which he has lived since first he

saw this woman, and rouses him again to the consciousness of his better

self. His greatness, however, is shown in the fact that, king as he was, he

soon humbled himself, like the lowliest, before the higher truth; and,

although his penitence was as deep and sincere as possible, it did not cause

him either to lose his dignity or to forget his royal duties” (Ewald).


3. There is no part of his life for the proper understanding of which it is so

necessary to read the history in connection with what he himself has

written — “the songs of sore repentance,” which he “sang in sorrowful

mood” (Dante). Psalm 51. (which inscription reads – A Psalm of David,

when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba),

‘The prayer of the penitent;’ the germ of which lay in this confession, but

which was composed after the utterance of the word, “The Lord also hath

put away thy sin;” for “the promise of forgiveness did not take immediate

possession of his soul, but simply kept him from despair at first, and gave him

strength to attain to a thorough knowledge of his guilt through prayer and

supplication, and to pray for its entire removal that the heart might be renewed

and fortified through the Holy Ghost” (Keil). “It is a generally acknowledged

experience that there is often a great gulf between the objective word of

forgiveness, presented from without, and its subjective appropriation by man,

which hesitating conscience is unable to bridge without great struggles”

(Tholuck). Psalm 32.,The blessedness of forgiveness;’ written

subsequently. Other psalms have been sometimes associated with his

confession, viz. Psalm 6., 38.; three others, viz. Psalm 102., 130., 143.,

make up “the seven penitential psalms.”


4. David is here set before us as “the model and ideal of and the encouragement

to true penitence.” Consider his acknowledgment of sin as to:


  • ITS MATTER; or the conviction, contrition, change of mind and will,

which is expressed. For words alone are not properly confession in the

view of Him who looketh at the heart.” Having, by means of the prophetic

word, been led to enter into himself (Luke 15:17), and had his sin

brought to remembrance (“the twin-brother of repentance”), its

aggravation described and its punishment declared, he not only recognizes

the fact of his sin; but also:


Ø      Looks at it as committed against the Lord; the living God, the Holy One

of Israel; and not simply against man. “Thou hast despised me” (v. 10).

“For my transgressions do I know, And my sin is ever before me. Against

thee only have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thine eyes,” etc.

(Psalm 51:3-4.)


Ø      Takes the blame of it entirely to himself, as individually responsible,

inexcusable, and guilty; thus accepting the judgment of conscience,

without indulging vain and misleading thoughts.


Ø      Feels sorrow, shame, and self-condemnation on account of its nature

and enormity; transgression, iniquity, sin (Psalm 32:1-2); rebellion

against the supreme King, disobedience to His Law; debt, pollution,

guile, leprosy, bloodguiltiness (Psalm 51:14). He expresses no fear of

consequences, and deprecates them only in so far as they include

separation from God and loss of the blessings of his fellowship.


Ø      Puts it away from him with aversion and hatred, and purposes to

forsake it completely (“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper:

but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” 

Proverbs 28:13); which confession implies and testifies.


“For mine iniquity will I confess;

I will be sorry for my sin.”

(Psalm 38:18.)


  • ITS MANNER; or the evidence afforded of its sincerity by the

language employed and the attendant circumstances. Observe:


Ø      Its promptness, readiness, and spontaneity. As soon as he became fully

alive to his sin, he said, “I will confess my transgressions unto Jehovah”

(Psalm 32:5).


Ø      Its brevity. Two words only: “I have-sinned against-Jehovah.” “There is

in the Bible no confession so unconditional, no expression of repentance so

short, but also none so thoroughly true” (Disselhoff). “Saul confessed his

sin more largely, less effectually. God cares not for phrases, but for

affections” (Hall).


Ø      Its frankness and fullness, without prevarication or extenuation. “The

plain and simple confession, ‘I have sinned against God,’ is a great thing,

if we remember how rich the corrupt heart is in the discovery of excuses

and apparent justification, and that the king was assailed by one of his

subjects with hard, unsparing rebuke” (Hengstenberg).


Ø      Its publicity. He had sought, to hide his sin, but he did not seek to hide

his penitence. He would have it set “in the sight of this sun,” even as his

chastisement would be; in order that the ways of God might be justified

before men, and the evil effects of transgression upon them in some

measure repaired. It is for this purpose, among others, that confession is

made a condition of forgiveness (Job 33:27-28; I John 1:9; Romans 10:10b).

“The necessity of confession (to God) arises from the load of

unacknowledged guilt. By confession we sever ourselves from our sin

and we disown it.  Confession relieves by giving a sense of honesty.

So long as we retain sin unconfessed, we are conscious of

a secret insincerity” (F.W. Robertson, vol. 5.).


  • ITS ACCOMPANIMENT; or the further thoughts, feelings, and

purposes which should be present in every potential confession.


Ø      Faith in the “loving kindness and tender mercies” of God (Psalm 51:1).


“But with thee is forgiveness,

That thou mayest be feared.”

(Psalm 130:4, 7.)


Ø      Prayer for pardon, purity, the Holy Spirit (I Samuel 16:4-13);

steadfastness, freedom, joy, and salvation (Psalm 51:7-12).


Ø      Submission to the will of God (Psalm 32:9; 38:13).


Ø      Consecration to His service (Psalm 51:13-17). “They were not many

words which he spoke, but in them he owned two realities:


o       sin and

o       God.


But to own them in their true meaning — sin as against God, and God as

the Holy One, and yet God as merciful and gracious — was to return to

the way of peace. Lower than this penitence could not descend, higher than

this faith could not rise; and God was Jehovah, and David’s sin was put

away” (Edersheim). “It was not his sin, but his struggle with sin, which

makes his history remarkable” (D. Macleod). “David experienced in a

greater degree than any other Old Testament character;


o       the restlessness and desolation of a soul burdened with the

consciousness of guilt,

o       the desire for reconciliation with God,

o       the struggle after purity and renovation of heart,

o       the joy of fellowship,

o       the heroic, the all-conquering power of confidence in God,

o       the ardent love of a gracious heart for God;


and has given in his psalms the imperishable testimony as to what is the

fruit of the Law and what the fruit of the Spirit in man” (Oehler, ‘Theology

of the Old Test.,’ 2:159). “The charm of his great name is broken. Our

reverence for David is shaken, not destroyed. He is not what he was before;

but he is far nobler and greater than many a just man who never fell

 and never repented. He is far more closely bound up with the sympathies

of mankind than if he had never fallen” (Stanley). Even Bayle is

constrained to say, “His amour with the wife of Uriah and the order he

gave to destroy her husband are two most enormous crimes. But he was

so grieved for them, and expiated them by so admirable a repentance,

that this is not the passage in his life wherein he contributes the least to

the instruction and edification of the faithful. We therein learn the frailty

of saints, and it is a precept of vigilance; we therein learn in what

manner we ought to lament our sins, and it is an excellent model.”



The Forgiveness of Sin (vs. 13)


“And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou

shalt not die.”


“The absolver saw the mighty grief,

And hastened with relief; —

  ‘The Lord forgives; thou shalt not die’

  Twas gently spoke, yet heard on high,

And all the band of angels, us’d to sing

In heaven, accordant to his raptured string,

  Who many a month had turned away

  With veiled eyes, nor own’d his lay,


  “Now spread their wings and throng around

  To the glad mournful sound,

  And welcome with bright, open face

  The broken heart to love’s embrace.

The rock is smitten, and to future years

Springs ever fresh the tide of holy tears

  And holy music, whispering peace

  Till time and sin together cease.”

(Keble, ‘Sixth Sunday after Trinity.’)


In the interview of Nathan with David much may have passed which is not

recorded. But it is improbable that (as some have supposed) there was a

long interval between the confession of sin and the assurance of

forgiveness, or that the latter was given at a second interview (v. 15).

Perceiving the sincerity of the king’s repentance, the prophet forthwith

declared that Jehovah also put away (literally, “caused to pass over,”

ch. 24:10;  Zechariah 3:4) his sin, remitting the penalty of death, which the

Law appointed and himself had pronounced (v. 5); and became a

messenger of mercy, “one of a thousand” (Job 33:23), as well as of

judgment. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

(Romans 5:20) Consider remission, pardon, forgiveness of sin, as:


  • NEEDED BY A SINFUL MAN. Forgiveness of sin is a change of

personal relation between God and man; in which there is incurred by

man through his violation of Divine Law:


Ø      Release from condemnation;

Ø       the removal of the displeasure and wrath (Psalm 38:1) of God;

Ø      the blotting out of transgressions (Psalm 51:1; 32:1-2; Isaiah 43:25;

Romans 8:1);

Ø      deliverance from death (Ezekiel 18:21).


Since “all have sinned,” all have need of deliverance; but only those

who are convinced of sin:


o       value,

o       desire, and

o       seek it.


It also involves:


Ø      Restoration of communion with God; which is hindered by sin, as the

light of the sun is intercepted by a cloud. “It is the foundation of all our

communion with God here, and of all undeceiving expectations of our

enjoyment of Him hereafter” (Owen, in Psalm 130.).


Ø      Renewal of the heart in righteousness; which, though separate from it in

thought, is never so in reality, and which was longed for by David with the

same intensity and prayed for in the same breath (Psalm 51:9, 10). How

lamentable is the condition of that man on whom the wrath of eternal,

holy love abideth(John 3:36)


  • GRANTED BY A MERCIFUL GOD. Forgiveness of sin is an act or

gift, which:


Ø      God alone can perform or bestow; the prerogative of the supreme

Ruler, against whom sin has been committed (Daniel 9:9; Mark 2:7).

The Lord hath put away thy sin.” “To pardon sin is one of the jura

regalia, (rights which belong to the king only, in this case, “King of

Kings” – CY – 2018), the flowers of God’s crown” (T. Watson).


Ø      Proceeds from His abounding mercy and grace (Exodus 34:7). “It is

impossible THIS FLOWER should spring from any other root”

(Psalm 51:1).


Ø      Rests upon an adequate ground or moral cause; which, although little

known to David, was always present to the mind of God (I Peter 1:20),

shadowed forth in the mediatorial sovereignty” of former ages and

manifested in Jesus Christ, “in whom we have forgiveness of sins”

(Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7).


         “Here is the might,

And here the wisdom, which did open lay

The path, that had been yearned for so long,

Betwixt the heaven and earth.”

(Dante, ‘Par.,’ 23.)


  • ANNOUNCED BY A FAITHFUL MINISTER. The prophet said not,

“I forgive;” he simply declared what God had done or purposed to do

(I Samuel 15:28); and in this sense only can there be absolution by

man. “To forgive sins is the part and inalienable prerogative of God. To

absolve is to dispense and convey forgiveness to those who have the right

dispositions of heart for receiving it; and this is the part of God’s

messengers and representatives, whether under the Old or New

dispensations” (E.M. Goulburn). The claim of any other power is a

groundless assumption. The language employed in the New Testament

refers either to cases of discipline in the Church, or to the declaration of

the forgiving love of God, the reconciliation of God in Christ, and the

assurance of its reality (Matthew 18:15-20; John 20:23; II Corinthians 2:10);

this assurance depending for its beneficial influence, on:


Ø      Its accordance with the revealed Word of God (Jeremiah 23:28;

Galatians 1:8).


Ø      Its utterance by a faithful, holy, merciful servant of God, in his

ministerial and representative character. “The power of absolution

belonged to the Church, and to the apostle through the Church. It was a

power belonging to all Christians: to the apostle, because he was a

Christian, not because he was an apostle. A priestly power, no doubt,

because Christ has made all Christians kings and priests” – Revelation

1:6 - (F.W. Robertson, vol. 3.).


Ø      Its communication to and reception by such as are truly penitent. “The

poet said with a great deal of justice, that no sinner is absolved by himself;

yet, in another sense, the sinner is absolved by that very self-accusation;

and, sorrowing for his sins, is freed from the guilt of them” (Leighton).



assurance of the blessing of forgiveness:


Ø      Is usually gained through many struggles and fervent prayers. David

prayed for pardon after the prophet’s assurance of it. “Psalm 51. shows us

how David struggles to gain an inward and conscious certainty of the

forgiveness of sin, which was announced to him by Nathan” (Delitzsch).

“Under the Old Testament none loved God more than he, none was loved

by God more than he. The paths of faith and love wherein he walked are

unto the most of us like the way of an eagle in the air — too high and hard

for us. Yet to this day do the cries of this man after God’s own heart sound

in our ears” (Owen).


Ø      Is personally realized through faith in the Word inspired by God and

declaring His mercy. “They that really believe forgiveness in God do

thereby obtain forgiveness.”


Ø      Is commonly attended with peace, refreshment, and gladness, “sweet as

the living stream to summer thirst.” Happy is he who can say from the

heart, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins!”


“Blessed is he whose transgression is taken away,

Whose sin is covered;

Blessed is the man to whom

Jehovah doth not reckon iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no guile.”

(Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:7.)



Confession and Pardon (v. 13)


Two things are very surprising in this narrative:

Ø      the awful wickedness of David, and

Ø      the abounding mercy of God.




Ø      Very prompt. The prophet’s address awakened no resentment. There

was no attempt at evasion, palliation, or self-justification. How could there

be? He at once acknowledged his sin. This was the result, not only of

Nathan’s faithful reproof, but of the king’s own previous mental exercises.

The time which had elapsed since the commission of his sins, or some part

of it, had been a sorrowful time for him. Burdened with conscious guilt,

but not subdued to contrition, he had been wretched (see Psalm 32:3-4).

Nathan’s admonitions completed the work; the king’s heart was melted

to penitence, and he unburdened his soul by a frank confession.


Ø      Very brief. Like the prayer of the publican (Luke 18:13). When the

heart is fullest, the words are fewest. Not the length of a confession,

but its meaning and sincerity, are the important thing. It is so with

confessions of men to each other: a word, a look, or an action without a

word, is often sufficient, always better than a long speech.


Ø      Very appropriate. Acknowledged sin — sin “against the Lord.” Nathan

had laid stress on this point, and David responds accordingly. He had

grievously wronged Uriah, Bathsheba too, and had sinned against the

people under his rule; but most had he sinned against God. (Joseph

refused to do this (Genesis 39:9)  Hence David’s language in Psalm 51:4.

Only as sin is thus viewed is “godly sorrow” possible.  (II Corinthians 7:10)


  • HIS FORGIVENESS. Which was:


Ø      Immediate. It startles us that so great a sinner should have been so

speedily pardoned, so soon assured of pardon. We might have deemed

some delay more suitable. But God is ever ready to forgive; He waits only

for the sinner’s penitent confession. There is no reason for delay of

forgiveness except the sinner’s impenitence and unbelief. The MOMENT

these are subdued, PARDON IS GRANTED! This was assured by the

promises of the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 55:7 (“Let the wicked

forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:  and let him

return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to


CY – 2018). In the New Testament we have the same assurances,

and the difficulties which arise from the penitent sinner’s conviction

of the rightness of the punishment threatened to transgressors

(his conscience being on the side of the Divine justice) are removed

by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.


Ø      Free. Burdened with no conditions, no demand for penances, or

compensations, or sin offerings. The sin was too serious for these. So

David felt (Psalm 51:16). Only a perfectly free pardon could meet the

case. New love and service would follow; but these would spring from

gratitude for forgiveness, not from the expectation of securing it. The

attempt to merit or earn pardon for past transgressions by voluntary

sufferings, by multiplied prayers or ceremonies, or by future obedience, is

ABSURD on the face of it, and as contrary to the Old Testament as to the

New. It was to the “multitude of God’s tender mercies” (ibid. v. 1)

that David appealed; and it is to the same abounding grace as shown in

the ospel that we must trust.


Ø      Declared. Nathan pronounced the king’s absolution: “The Lord also

hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” Men would like a similar

assurance to themselves individually; and the system of some Churches is

constructed to meet this wish. On confession of sin to a priest, he

pronounces absolution. But this practice is unwarranted and delusive.

Confessedly the absolution is worthless unless the sinner be truly penitent;

and if he be, it is useless; and in multitudes of cases it is most harmful,

fostering baseless hopes. If men could read the heart, or had, like Nathan, a

special message of pardon from God in each case, they might safely

pronounce absolution. But in ordinary cases none can know the reality of

repentance until it is proved by the life; and therefore none can safely

assure the sinner of his actual forgiveness until such assurance is needless.

The repenting sinner, coming to God by faith in Jesus Christ,



o        by the promises of God, and

o        by the Spirit of God in his heart applying the promises to the individual

and enabling him to confide in them, and commencing in him the

Christian ife. A new heart is given with pardon; and this, with its fruit

in the onduct, becomes a growing evidence of pardon.


Ø      Yet with a reservation. The penalty of death, to which David had

virtually condemned himself, was remitted; but other penalties were not.

One was specifically mentioned — the death of the child (v. 14); and the

others, denounced (vs. 10-12) before the confession and forgiveness, we

know from the subsequent history were inflicted. And it is often the case

that the painful consequences of sin continue long after pardon is granted,

perhaps till death. Shall we say, then, that the forgiveness is not real and

full? By no means. But because it is real and full the pardoned sinner must

suffer. Suffering, however, changes its character. As from God,  is no

longer penal infliction, but fatherly chastisement and discipline:


o        to maintain a salutary remembrance of the sin (so it will not be

done again! – CY – 2018),and produce constant gratitude and humility;

o        to perseverve in obedience and promote holiness;

o        to vindicate to others the justice of God, and warn them against sin.

And as to the penitent himself, his suffering produces no bitterness,

abjectness (experienced to the maximum degree – something bad),

or sullenness. Love to Him that chastises, kept alive by

the sense of His forgiving and fatherly love, enables him to yield

himself to the chastisement, thankful, resigned, acquiescent, and

earnestly seeking to realize the intended profit.




Ø      Admire, adore, trust, and proclaim the pardoning love of God.

Ø      Let sinners repent of, confess, and forsake their sins, that they may

obtain forgiveness. For, notwithstanding the love of God and the

sacrifice of Christ, no IMPENITENT sinner shall be forgiven.

Ø      Let no penitent despair. Not even the backslider, and though his sins

have been as bad as David’s.

Ø      Let none presume. One of the worst and most persistent consequences

of David’s sin and pardon has been the encouragement to sin, which

foolish and wicked persons have derived from them, or — shall we

say? — (“Shall we continue in sin that grace may a bound?  God

forbid.”  Romans 6:1 – CY – 2018) - pretended to derive. For so

foolish and impious is it to turn the narrative to such a purpose that

it is difficult to believe in the sincerity of those who do so. Rather

they love their sins, and are glad of anything that may quiet

somewhat their consciences in committing them. Let any such

consider that the proper effect of the narrative is to render sin odious

and to awaken a dread of it; and that the sins of those who read it

and persist in sin are rendered doubly guilty. Such are hardening their

hearts and promoting in themselves incapacity to repent, and so

incapability of being forgiven.




Giving Occasion to Blaspheme (v. 14)


“Nevertheless, because by this deed thou hast surely caused [literally,

causing,’ etc., ‘hast caused,’ etc.] the enemies of Jehovah to speak evil

[‘despise,’ ‘contemn,’ ‘abhor,’ provoke,’ ‘blaspheme’],” etc. A scorner,

being in company with a devout man, took occasion to speak

contemptuously of those whom he called “the Old Testament saints,” and

especially of David as “a man after God’s own heart,” asking, “And what

did he do?” “He wrote the fifty-first psalm and the thirty-second Psalms,” was

the reply; “and if you cherish such feelings as he there expresses, you will be a

man after God’s own heart.” “But,” he persisted, “tell me what he did

besides.” “He did that which the Prophet Nathan said would cause the

enemies of God to blaspheme.’” The scorner felt the rebuke, and was

silent. Even to this day the pernicious influence of his sin appears; but, on

the other hand, the fact of its having been recorded is an evidence of, at

least, the truthfulness of Scripture; whilst the invaluable lessons taught by it

more than compensate for the evil effects it produces. “The sacred writer is

perfectly aware of the tendency of this passage of David’s history, and yet

he is not directed by the Holy Spirit to suppress it. It might have been

suppressed. The failings of David are not less useful than his virtues, if we

will only faithfully improve the warnings they afford us. It is only to the

enemies of the Lord that they afford occasion of blasphemy. They, indeed,

will never want occasion; and we are not to be denied the salutary

examples which the Scriptures hold forth to us because there are those

who wrest them to their own destruction. (II Peter 3:16)  But it is chiefly in

the failings of the good that the enemies of the Lord find cause of triumph”

(Thompson, ‘Davidica’). Concerning the sin of David and other godly men,

observe that:




(blameworthy) inasmuch as their profession of godliness, especially when

hired with eminent position, increases their responsibility, and furnishes

special motives to a consistent course of conduct; conspicuous, inasmuch

as their apparent superiority to others:


Ø      Attracts the attention of men to them more than others, and makes it

impossible that their failings should pass unnoticed.

Ø      Naturally leads men to expect more from them than others.

Ø      Produces a deeper impression by the contrast exhibited between what is

expected from them and what is actually done by them. The transgression

of David was in itself great; but it was all the greater, in the view of men,

because committed by one of acknowledged piety, and “in the fierce

light that beats upon the throne, and blackens every blot.”



INFLUENCE ON OTHER MEN. The sin of every man has a baneful

effect on his fellow men; but that of a godly man, in an eminent degree,



Ø      Causing them not only to despise him, but also others, who are

associated and identified with him in religious faith and service, as (like

him) unworthy of respect, insincere, and hypocritical.

Ø      Inciting them to contemn religion itself; doubt the Word of God,

distrust the reality of piety everywhere, and even speak evil of God Himself;

wherein it is commonly implied that sin is sanctioned by religion, or at least

is not prevented by it because of its essential weakness. A false impression

of the requirements and character of God is given.

Ø      Lessening the restraints of holy example, hindering the acceptance of the

truth, multiplying excuses for neglect, encouraging indulgence in sin.

Ø      Affording means of opposition to the faith, whereby others still are

made to stumble. “This observation gives us a deep insight into the whole

position of David. In him the good principle had attained to supremacy; the

godless party had seen this with terror, and now they mocked piety in its

representative, who, because he held this position, ought to have kept

watch over his heart the more carefully, and afterwards made use of the

first opportunity of throwing off the burdensome yoke” (Hengstenberg).

“Towards the heathen Israel’s duty was, by obedience to God’s Word

and commands, to set forth the theocracy, and bring it to honor and

recognition. Transgressions of God’s command by the king himself must

lead the heathen to heap shame and reproach on Israel and on Israel’s

God” (Erdmann).



OWN CHARACTER. It is only “the enemies of the Lord” who despise the

Lord, His Word, or His people.


Ø      Their enmity disposes them to make use of the sin of another as a reason

in favor of the course upon which their heart is already set (everybody

is doing it); thus:

o       silencing the voice of conscience,

o       increasing their pride and self-deception, and

o       confirming themselves in unbelief and disobedience.


Ø      It also indisposes them to regard it in a proper manner; to consider the

strength of his temptation, the depth of his penitence, the earnestness of his

aspirations after righteousness; that the conduct of one man does not prove

the character of all with whom he is associated, still less the truth of the

religion they profess, or the character of the God they serve; that it may

not be sanctioned by God, but forbidden, reproved, and punished by Him;

that it is not the standard of practice, which is found in the Law of God

alone; and that “every man must give account of himself to God.” Those

who stand may be led by it to take heed lest they fall, and those who fall to

hope to rise again; but the enemies of the Lord see in it nothing but an

excuse for persisting in the evil of their way. “Bees will collect honey and

spiders poison from the same plant, according to their different natures”


Ø      Their sin is not lessened by the sin of another, but rather increased by the

use they make of it. Nevertheless, “all conduct of ours which tends in the

slightest degree to strengthen that system of false reasoning, by which

sinners confirm themselves in their sins, and undermine the faith and

practice of others, is sin of the deepest dye (Thompson).



UNPUNISHED. “The child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.


Ø      To manifest the justice and righteousness of God. The penalty of death

which he had incurred was transferred from the guilty father to the

innocent son.

Ø      To humble him more deeply on account of his sin, and to produce in him

the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). “For the most

grievous sins a provision of mercy is so made as to secure long and

humbling recollections of the aggravated guilt” (Halley).  (The

forgiven sinner has no more conscience of the sin, but it is different

with the memory.  God forgives and forgets but I remember and I

trust that, when forgiven, it will help me not to want to do the same sin

again. Hebrews 8:12; 10:2 -  CY – 2018)

Ø      To counteract the evil effects of his sin, and “that the visible occasion of

any further blasphemy should be taken away.” “God in His wisdom did take

away this child, because he should have lived but to be a shame unto

David” (Willet). This was only the beginning of a long course of



o       in his family (ch. 13.),

o       his person (Psalm 41., 55., 39.), and

o       his kingdom (ch, 14.).


Judgment was mingled with mercy; yea, it was itself the

chastisement of love. “What was the answer to his prayer?


o       First, the death of Bathsheba’s child.

o       Next, the discovery of hateful crimes in his household.

o       Finally, the revolt of the beloved Absalom.


These answers to a prayer for forgiveness? Yes, if forgiveness be what

David took it to mean — having truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6),

knowing wisdom secretly” (Maurice).


14 “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to

the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born

unto thee shall surely die.” 


Religion Reproached through the Conduct of the Religious

(v. 14)


David’s wickedness gave occasion for reproach of religion by the ungodly

among his subjects, and by the heathen peoples around. Indeed, it

occasions blasphemy and contempt of religion down to the present day.



OF RELIGION. The conduct must be that of professedly religious men,

and the more strict their profession, and the more prominent their position,

so much the greater the mischief they do.


Ø      Great inconsistency between profession and conduct. Gross immorality,

fraud, falsehood, avarice, intemperance, hasty temper, revenge, etc.


Ø      Unworthy presentation of religion itself.


o       Ignorant rant,

o       unctuous cant,

o       too much insistence on mere doctrinal refinements which

have little or no bearing on practical life,

o       elaborate ceremonialism,

o       fierce strife in a Church,

o       sectarian bitterness and exclusiveness,

o       indifference to the well being of the general population,

o       clerical pretensions,

o       ambition, or

o       avarice,

    all in their various ways and degrees occasion “the enemies

of the Lord to blaspheme.”



REPROACH RELIGION. “The enemies of the Lord.” Not His friends;

they know too well the value of religion; reverence and love it too much.

The effect of such conduct on them is sorrow, self-examination, and

greater watchfulness and prayer, lest they also should be overcome by

temptation. Also prayer and effort (if possible) to restore those who have

sinned. To take occasion from the inconsistencies of Christians to despise

and revile their religion is a manifest sign of enmity to God. It is also a

mark of great ignorance of the religion they revile; for, did they understand

it, they would perceive its opposition to the sins and follies of its professed

adherents; and that its truth and goodness remained the same, whatever

their conduct. Or, if it be said that it is only the profession of religion that is

spoken of with contempt, it is plainly unjust to cast a slur on all who make

it because of the sins of a few of their number.




Ø      The slanderers are themselves injured. To occasion them to blaspheme

is to occasion the increase of their guilt, and the greater hardening of their

hearts; whereas it should be the aim of good men to do all that is possible

to bring them to the knowledge of the truth and the experience of



Ø      Discredit is brought upon religion. Hence some who might have been

disposed to inquire into its claims, and others who were preparing to make

an open profession of godliness, are deterred from doing so. In this view

the inconsistencies of Christians are a serious matter. They help to promote

in society a sentiment adverse to earnest godliness and the profession of it.

Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth

not with me scattereth abroad.”  (Matthew 121:30)


Ø      The hearts of true-hearted and consistent Christians are wounded and



Ø      Above all, and including all, THE NAME OF GOD IS DISHONORED

 and the progress of His kingdom checked.  Finally, let inconsistent

professors of religion ponder the words of our Lord (Matthew 18:7,

Revised Version), “Woe unto the world because of occasions of

stumbling!  for it must needs be that the occasions come; but

woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!”



(vs. 15-31)  The facts are:


1. The child born to David becoming very sick, he entreats God for its life

by prayer and fasting.

2. He persists in refusing the consolations which the elders of his

household offer him.

3. The child dying on the seventh day and David observing the whisperings

of his servants, at once ascertains by direct inquiry the certainty of it.

4. His servants noticing that, on ascertaining the fact of the child’s death,

he lays aside the tokens of grief and resumes his usual manner, are

amazed at his conduct.

5. Whereupon he justifies his conduct, and intimates his expectation of

some day going to the child.

6. Bathsheba is comforted by David, and bears to him another son,


7. Joab, carrying on war against Rabbah of the Ammonites, and being

about to bring the war to a conclusion, urges on David that he should

come and enjoy the honor of taking the city.

8. David, complying with this request, takes possession of Rabbah, and

acquires the king’s crown with much spoil.

9. He completes his conquest of the Ammonites by causing some of them

to endure great sufferings.


15 “And Nathan departed unto his house.  And the LORD struck the child that

Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.”  Thou hast given great

occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme; Hebrew, thou hast made the

enemies of Jehovah to despise; that is, to despise Jehovah’s government, the theocracy,

of which David was the visible head and earthly representative. Jehovah’s enemies

are not the heathen, but Israelitish unbelievers, who would scoff at all

religion when one in David’s position fell into terrible open sin. But the

death of the adulterous offspring of David and Bathsheba would prove to

these irreligious men that Jehovah’s righteous rule could reach and punish

the king himself, and would thus vindicate his justice from their reproach.



16 “David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and

went in, and lay all night upon the earth.  17 And the elders of his house

arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not,

neither did he eat bread with them.  18 And it came to pass on the seventh

day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that

the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive,

we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he

then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?   19 But when David

saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead:

therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said,

He is dead.”  David... went in. He went, not into the sanctuary, which he

did not enter until after the child’s death, but into some private room in his

own house. There he remained, passing his nights stretched on the ground,

and fasting until the seventh day. His fasting does not imply that he took no

food during this long interval, but that he abstained from the royal table,

and ate so much only as was necessary to maintain life. Now, what was the

meaning of this privacy and abstinence? Evidently it was David’s

acknowledgment, before all his subjects, of his iniquity, and of his sorrow

for it. The sickness of the child followed immediately upon Nathan’s visit,

and we may feel sure that news of his rebuke, and of all that passed

between him and the king, ran quickly throughout Jerusalem. And David at

once takes the position of a condemned criminal, and humbles himself with

that thoroughness which forms so noble a part of his character. Grieved as

he was at the child’s sickness, and at the mother’s sorrow, yet his grief was

mainly for his sin; and he was willing that all should know how intense was

his shame and self-reproach. And even when the most honorable of the

rulers of his household (Genesis 24:2), or, as Ewald thinks, his uncles

and elder brethren, came to comfort him, he persists in maintaining an

attitude of heart stricken penitence.


20 “Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed

himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the

LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when

he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast

done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but

when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.” 

Then David arose from the earth. If David’s grief had been

occasioned by love for the child, then its death and the consciousness that,

while his guilt had caused its sickness, his prayers had not availed to save

it, would have aggravated his anguish. There was much personal regard for

the child, which had been made the more precious by these very events.

But David’s sorrow was, as we have seen, that of penitence, and not that

of natural affection. When, therefore, the threatened penalty had been paid

by the death of the child, David felt it to be his duty to show his

resignation, and therefore he went into the sanctuary and worshipped, in

proof that he acknowledged the justice of God’s dealings, and was content

to bear the punishment as his righteous desert.


David went into the holy tent, and worshipped. His worship would now be

of a different character from that which he had offered in his own privacy.

No longer entreaties for the life of the child, but:


Ø      expressions of submission to the will of God at length made plain;

Ø      acknowledgment of God’s righteousness and loving kindness in

what He had done;

Ø      prayers for support and consolation and sanctifying grace,

for himself and the sorrowing mother, and that God would,

through this painful stroke, glorify His own Name.


22 “And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I

said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the

child may live?”  God; Hebrew, Jehovah, usually rendered “Lord.” Similarly

in Genesis 6:5 in the Authorized Version we find God in capital letters, as

here, for the Hebrew Jehovah.


23 “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back

again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” 

I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. These words indicate,

first of all, much personal feeling for the child. Hence some

have supposed that, as Solomon is placed last of Bathsheba’s four sons in

ch. 5:14 and I Chronicles 3:5, three other sons had already

been borne by her, and that consequently this child, the fruit of their

adultery, would now have been seven or eight years of age. It is certainly

remarkable that in v. 16 David calls him “the lad” (so the Hebrew),

though in every other place he is styled “the child.” On the other hand, we

gather from v. 14 that probably he was as yet the only child, and this is

the more reasonable view, even if Solomon was the youngest son (but see

note on v. 24). But secondly, the words indicate a belief in the continued

existence of the child, and even that David would recognize and know him

in the future world. Less than this would have given no comfort to the

father for his loss. Now, it is true that we can find no clear dogmatic

teaching in the early Scriptures upon the immortality of the soul. Job could

give expression to no such hope in 7:6-10, and the belief in a world to

come would have solved the difficulties of himself and his friends, which

really are left unsolved. (I think the writer wrong because Job 19:25-27

is full of belief!  CY – 2018)  Even in the Psalms there are words that border on

despair (see Psalm 6:5; 30:9; 88:11 [63:3 says that God’s lovingkindness is

better than life!  CY – 2018]; 115:17); nor had Hezekiah any

such belief in continued existence as could solace him in the expectation of

an early death (Isaiah 38:18-19). This hopelessness was not unnatural

at a time when the doctrine had not been as yet clearly taught. On the other

hand, in Psalm 17:15 and 16:9-11 We find proof that David did believe

in his own immortality. For though the latter words have a second and

higher meaning, yet the primary sense of Psalm 16:10 is that David’s

own soul (or self) would not always remain in Sheol, the abode of the

departed, nor would he, Jehovah’s anointed one, see such corruption as

would end in annihilation.


David explained and justified his conduct to his astonished servants. They

expressed their perplexity. He explains by reminding them of the utter

uselessness of further fasting and weeping. The dead cannot be recalled to

life. The living will go to the dead; the dead will not come back to the

living. It is true that this consideration has often a terrible effect in

increasing the anguish of bereavement. It adds despair to sorrow. The

feeling that it is impossible to recall the departed; that no more will the

loved one be seen, or heard, or embraced; that the rest of life must be spent

without the society that was so dear and seemed so essential to happiness,

is overpowering. Nevertheless, the sense of the unalterableness of the fact,

and the utter uselessness of prolonged sorrow, has ultimately a calming

effect. Men come at length to reconcile themselves to the unchangeable.

But there is greater peace and consolation in the truth that the

unchangeable is the expression of the will of the infinitely Wise and Good.

Believing this, we reconcile our minds, not to a mere hard, stern fact, but

to the will of our Father in heaven, who loves us, and pains us because He

loves us. The second expression employed by David in reference to the

impossibility of regaining his child is worthy of notice. “He shall not return

to me.” It reminds us that when our friends are dead all opportunity, not

only of enjoying their presence and society, but of benefiting them, and

otherwise doing our duty to them, is gone. A cause for regret and

penitential sorrow if we have failed in our duty to them; and a reason for

greater care in doing our duty to those that remain, and for seeking their

forgiveness while we may for any wrong we have done to them. There is

consolation, too, in reference to those who have been taken from us, that

they cannot return, when we have good assurance that they are in heaven.

We cannot wish them to return from heaven to earth. We thank God for

their complete deliverance from sin and sorrow, and all liability to those



David expressed his own expectations as to the future. “I shall go to him”

(v. 23). Whither? To the grave? to Sheol (equivalent to Hades)? or to

heaven? The precise thought of David in these words is hardly

ascertainable. He may have intended to say only that he must join the child

in the region of death. Probably, however, he expressed a hope of

conscious reunion in the future world; and the Christian, taking up the

words, can express by them a fuller and more confident hope of rejoining

his little children and Christian relatives and friends in a state of blessedness

than was possible to Old Testament believers, though glimpses of the

glorious future were at times enjoyed by them. “Not lost, but gone before”

is a thought that is daily comforting thousands. And it is felt how much

better it is that the desire for reunion should be fulfilled yonder rather than

here — that we should go to our departed friends into that world of

perfection and joy, not they come back to us into this world of

imperfection and trouble. Only let us take care so to live that such hopes

may be reasonable. Think how terrible the thought, “I shall go to him,” as

cherished by one impenitent sinner in respect to another who has gone to

his doom! How dreadful the reunions hereafter of those who have lived

together in ungodliness and sin here, and encouraged and helped each

other in the practice of them! Better to have died in infancy! Better not to

have been born!



David’s Behaviour in Affliction (vs. 15-23)


In one of the chambers of David’s palace his little child lies smitten with a

fatal malady. In another the king, divested of his royal robes and clothed in

sackcloth, prostrates himself in profound sorrow and abasement. He prays,

weeps, fasts, and lies all night upon the ground. His oldest and most

confidential servants endeavor to comfort him, and beseech him to take

food, in vain. At length the blow falls; and his servants fear to

communicate the intelligence, lest it should plunge him into a dangerous

paroxysm of grief. But their reserved demeanor and soft whispering

among themselves indicate what has happened; and their answer to his

question, “Is the child dead?” confirms his conclusion. Contrary to their

expectation, however, he rises up, washes and anoints himself, puts on

becoming garments, goes into the house of the Lord (the tabernacle

adjoining the palace), and pours forth his heart in lowly adoration. Then,

returning, he asks for bread, and eats. Astonished at his conduct, they

inquire the reason of it; and he replies (in effect) that he has acted, not from

thoughtlessness or indifference, but from a due regard to the will of God

and the altered circumstances of the case. Whilst the life of the child hung

in suspense, he might hope, by prayer and humiliation (since God deals

with men according to their moral attitude toward Him), to avert the

threatening calamity; but now he is gone it is useless to indulge in

lamentation; the will of God must be submitted to without repining

(I Samuel 3:18). “Those who are ignorant of the Divine life cannot

comprehend the reasons of a believer’s conduct in his varied experiences”

(Scott). “How little can any one of us understand another! The element of

conscious sin gave to David thoughts and feelings other than the ordinary

ones, and beyond the appreciation of those who looked for the usual signs

of grief” (R. Tuck). “In the case of a man whose penitence was so earnest

and so deep, the prayer for the preservation of his child must have sprung

from some other source than excessive love of any created object. His

great desire was to avert the stroke, as a sign of the wrath of God, in the

hope that he might be able to discern, in the preservation of the child, a

proof of Divine favor consequent upon the restoration of his fellowship

with God. But when the child was dead he humbled himself under the

mighty hand of God, and rested satisfied with his grace, without giving

himself up to fruitless pain” (O von Gerlach). Consider:



was a great lover of his children” (Patrick); and to such a father the

sufferings of his child must have been naturally a severe affliction. But:


Ø      He also perceived therein a just chastisement of his transgression. It is a

common fact of experience (no less than a solemn declaration of Scripture)

that the sufferings of a child are often the immediate and inevitable fruit of

the father’s sin. This is, indeed, by no means always the case. In most

instances no moral cause thereof can be discerned, save the sinfulness of

the race to which he belongs, and which is subject to the universal law of

sorrow and mortality.


Ø      He perceived therein, moreover, a merciful administration of such

chastisement. “Thou shalt not die. Howbeit, ....the child shall die.”

(v. 14). His life was spared in mercy to himself and his people. He was

afflicted in such a manner as would be most conducive to his benefit.

His child was smitten to stop the mouths of blasphemers. The innocent

suffers for the guilty; suffers — who shall say (believing in the perfect

wisdom, righteousness, and love of God) either unjustly or to his own

ultimate disadvantage?


Ø      And he believed in the Divine susceptibility to human entreaty; and that

it might be possible for the impending blow to be turned aside. “Who can

tell whether God will be gracious to me?” (v. 22). He evidently regarded

the prediction of the prophet, though absolute in form, as really conditional

(Isaiah 38:1,21; Jeremiah 18:7-8). We have to do, not with an iron

fate, but with a loving Father, “full of pity and merciful” (James 5:11;

 Psalm 34:15; 103:13).




Ø      His grief was not merely natural, but spiritual; penitential sorrow for sin,

exhibited in solitary, thoughtful, continued self-abasement, fasting,

weeping, and genuine purposes of amendment (Psalm 51:3-4, 13). This

is the end of God’s afflictive discipline; and, when attained, it may be

hoped that the immediate occasion thereof will be removed. Even when

affliction is not directly due to personal transgression, it should lead to:


o       reflection,

o       humiliation and

o       “godly sorrow”


Ø      It was associated with fervent supplication. And David besought God

for the child” (v. 16). “He herein only showed his natural affection, still

subordinating his prayer to the will of God; as Christ did to show His

human condition when he prayed that the cup might pass from him”

(Wilier). What evils does prayer avert, what blessings does it obtain,

both for ourselves and others!     


Ø      Although the immediate object in view was not gained, his prayer was

not unavailing. He received light, strength, and comfort; was kept from

despair and enabled to endure in a right spirit whatever might occur. God

always hears the cries of his children; but He often withholds what they

ask.  He fulfils their requests in a higher way, transforms the curse into a

blessing, and gives them abundant tokens of His favor (v. 25). “If we ask

anything according to His will, He heareth us,” etc. (I John 5:14-15).



David arose from the ground,” etc. (v. 20). Deeming it vain to strive

against and mourn over an event which could not be altered, and which he

regarded as the expression of the settled determination of God

(Deuteronomy 3:26), he acted accordingly:


Ø      With loyal submission to His sovereign, wise, and beneficent will;

strengthened by the conviction that he himself would, ere long, “go the

way of all the earth,” and be at rest; and by the hope of meeting his child

again in God (v. 23). “Religion,” it has been remarked, “is summed up in

one word — submission. The chief virtue of Christianity and the root of all

the rest is readiness under all circumstances to fulfill the will of God in

doing and suffering.”


I have written in the disclaimer of this website – www.adultbibleclass.com,

an excerpt from Dwight L. Moody:


“Someone has said that there are four things necessary in studying the Bible:  Admit, Submit,

Commit, and Transmit.   First, admit its truth; second,  submit to its teachings; third, commit it

to memory; and fourth, transmit it.  If the Christian life is a good thing for you, pass it on to

someone else.  You know it is always regarded a great event in the family when a child can

feed itself.  It is propped up at the table, and at first,  perhaps, it uses the spoon upside down,

but by and by it uses it all right, and mother, or perhaps sister, claps her hands and says “Just see,

baby’s feeding himself”.  Well, what we need as Christians is to be able to feed ourselves.


Ø      With resolute restraint upon his natural feelings of sorrow and regret.

“The unprofitable and bad consequences, the sinful nature, of profuse

sorrowing for the dead, are easily deduced from the former part of this

reflection (‘Wherefore should I fast?’ etc.); in the latter (‘I shall go to

him.’) we have the strongest motives to enforce our striving against it —

a remedy exactly suited to the disease” (John Wesley).


Ø      With cheerful performance of immediate, practical, appropriate duties;

in due attention to personal appearance and needs, public worship in the

house of God (“weeping must not hinder worship”), edifying conversation

with friends, consoling counsel to the sorrowful (v. 24). In this manner

bereavement is most easily borne and most effectually sanctified, and

God is most worthily served and glorified.



Providence and Natural Affection (vs. 16-23)


The mercy of God to David was immediate, and it continued throughout

his life; the judgment with which it was tempered was chiefly to come in

days hence, but it began in the severe sickness of Bathsheba’s child. It is

not an unusual thing for a father to have to face the loss of an infant; in

such cases natural affection will manifest itself in unmistakable forms. The

extraordinary way in which David’s feelings were excited by the

apprehended death of this child is to be accounted for by reasons springing

out of the peculiar circumstances of his position. These will appear as we

proceed to consider the struggle between natural affection and the order of





ORDINATION OF GOD. The declaration of the prophet (v. 14), that

the child should die, was accepted by David as an ordination of God, and

the severe sickness which came on soon after Nathan’s departure was

interpreted by the king as the first stage in the execution of it. But David

was not conscious of a rebellious spirit in the exhibition of such distress,

and in such earnest entreaty that the intended cause of providential

judgment might be averted. Human affection is as much a part of the order

of Nature as is the law of gravity, and its spontaneous action is as natural

as is the falling of a weight to the earth. Affection is nothing if it does not

feel. There is no law requiring it to be annihilated, if that were possible, in

presence of the inevitable. To the pious Hebrew all changes in nature were

brought about by God; they were the outcome of His will, as surely as

would be the death of this child according to the word of the prophet.

Divine ordinations were silent and spoken. Yet the silent ordinations in

daily providence were modified by prayer and to meet new conditions; and

why, then, might not this spoken one be modified at the entreaty of an

agonized parent? As a father, he could not help thinking of this infant as a

severe sufferer in being deprived of the blessing of life through no fault of

its own. If spared, the child might be a perpetual memorial of befitting

sorrow and shame, and so would help to keep him lowly and penitent. Nor

could he but feel for the poor woman cruelly sinned against, and whose

grief would be consequent on her husband’s sin. Moreover, precedents

were not wanting in the case Of Abraham (Genesis 18:20-33) and of

Moses (Exodus 32:30-35), in which men pleaded against what seemed

to be inevitable. Subsequent to David’s time, we know that men were

permitted to pray against the apparently inevitable (Joel 2:12-14). Our

Saviour gave utterance to human sensibility when he prayed that, if

possible, the cup might pass from Him. God has never expressed

displeasure at the utterance of the sorrows which spring from natural

affection, for feelings often struggle thus with the course of providence.

Stoicism has no place in Christianity. The physical order is subordinate to

the moral.




David’s anguish arose, not from the fact that he was a father, but from the

knowledge he had that the providence that was bringing death to his child

was connected with his own sin. That another should suffer for his sin, and

this other a little child, was indeed a bitter reason for pleading with God.

Although the course of providence, which connects the suffering of

offspring with the sins of parents, is in the widest moral bearings of the

fact, both just and merciful, yet it is not always seen to be so. Nevertheless,

the great anguish of the evil doer on that account is not a protest so much

as a lament over his own sin, and a prayer that, if possible, this organic

issue of sin may, by some intervention, be prevented or modified. The

educational value of that feeling on the life of a repentant sinner is of great

worth in itself, and really leads to the formation of a character that shall, in

the order of providence, do much to lessen the evils that otherwise would





GOD. A great change had recently come over David. The alienation of the

backsliding heart was gone. As of old, so he now brings his sorrows and

troubles to his God. The overwhelmed heart flies to the Rock that is high.

He sits not with the scornful, mocking at the ways of Providence, and

seeing evil where only there is mysterious judgment. The best and tenderest

feelings of human nature, where sanctified by the spirit of piety, turn

instinctively to God for help, and they find prayer as the form in which

their yearnings are expressed. Some men fancy that they only see and feel

the apparent severities of the providential order, and that sullen vexation

and displeasure are the only appropriate conditions of mind in relation to it.

Christians see and feel quite as much, but their bruised spirit finds refuge in

Him who ordains all in justice and mercy, and implores Him, so far as may

be wise and good, to let the penitent, entreating heart count for something

among the elements which determine the ultimate issues.





GOD. David was right in feeling as he did, in expressing his feeling in

earnest prayer, in waiting as long as there was hope of reversal of the

sentence. He acted as a father, as a husband, as a penitent. But when once

the human desire and human view of wisdom and kindness were proved, by

accomplished fact, not to be in accord with Divine wisdom, then, as

became a trustful, restored child of God, David ceased to plead and to be

in anguish. “Not my will, but thine be done!” was the spirit of his action. It

was his duty and privilege now to rest in the Lord, and believe that He will

bring to pass the kindest and wisest issue. The death of the child is

accepted as the best thing, and the evils once supposed to issue from the

event are now believed to be qualified by a love which maketh all things

work together for good. It is the sign of an enlightened mind when a man

can thus rise from his griefs, and conform his mental and moral-and social

life to the unalterable will of God. It takes time for a good man to recover

from the natural, and, therefore, reasonable, outflow of his feelings; but

when he does recover, he retains all the sanctity and softening influence of

his anguish in combination with a calm spirit, concerned now in ministering

to the consolation of others (v. 24), and cheered by the hope of a time

when the breaches caused by sin will be healed (v. 23).




Ø      It becomes us to regard all death in our homes as connected with sin,

and we should always give due weight to its moral causes in our

consideration of the course of providence.

Ø      Men not familiar with the secret life of a Christian are not in a position

to understand his conduct on special occasions, just as David’s servants

could not understand his conduct in relation to the death of the child.

Ø      We should avail ourselves of such light concerning the future as may be

vouchsafed, in order to obtain consolation amidst the bereavements of

life (v. 23; I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Ø      The doctrine of recognition in heaven is certainly in accord with

sanctified instincts, and may be held as variously hinted at in Scripture

(v. 23; compare Matthew 17:3-4; I Thessalonians 2:19).


24 “And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her,

and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name

Solomon: and the LORD loved him.”  He called his name Solomon. It is

rashly assumed that Solomon’s birth followed next in order after that of the

deceased child. More probably there was a long interval of time, and son

after son was born, with little increase of happiness to the family polluted by

Amnon’s sin and troubled by its miserable consequences. While we must not

lay too great stress upon Solomon calling himself “a little child” (I Kings 3:7)

after his accession, yet it forbids our believing that he was more than just

grown up, It was the remarkable ability of Solomon, his goodness and

precocious talent, which made him so great a comfort to his parents, and

which received Jehovah’s seal of approval in the name Jedidiah (Beloved

of Jehovah) . This name would scarcely be given him until his good and great

qualities were developing; and as it was a sort of indication that he was the

chosen and elect son of David, and therefore the next king, we shall probably

be right in believing that this second mission of Nathan, and this mark of

Divine favor to David’s youngest child, did not take place until after Absalom’s

death, possibly not until Solomon was ten or twelve years of age. The

name Solomon means “the peaceful,” and answers to the German

Friedrich. It was given to the child in recognition that David’s wars were

now over, and that the era of quiet had begun, which was to be

consecrated to the building of Jehovah’s temple. It was the name given to

the infant at his birth, and was a name of hope. Alas! this peace was to be

rudely broken by the rebellion of the son whom David, in vain expectation

and with all a father’s pride, had named Absalom, “his father’s peace.”



The Death of a Child (v. 23)


“I shall go to him.” David had at least a glimpse of the future life. The

expectation of going to his child in the grave would have afforded him little

comfort. But whatever meaning may be attached to the words as uttered by

him, they may be profitably considered by us in the light of the gospel.


o       Reason sheds only starlight on the future;

o       the revelations of the Old Testament only twilight;

o       but Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness,

illumines it with daylight.


The Christian parent, bereaved of his little child, has:



DEPARTED, in the unseen, spiritual, eternal world, “the Father’s house;”

where he:


Ø      Retains his conscious personality (neither ceasing to be, nor “swallowed

up in the general sea of being”).


Ø      Attains the highest perfection of which his nature is capable (his

capacities of knowledge, holiness, and happiness being gradually



Ø      Remains in permanent security (forever freed from the temptations and

sorrows of this life). On what grounds does such a persuasion rest?


o        The nature of a child — spiritual, immortal, blameless, “having no

knowledge between good and evil” (Deuteronomy 1:39).


o        The character of God; his justice and benevolence, and his fatherly

relationship (Jeremiah 19:4; Ezekiel 16:21; Joel 2:16; Jonah 4:11),

which, though consistent with the suffering of the innocent in this

world (because of the beneficent purposes to which it is subservient),

is not so with their final condemnation.


o        The teachings and actions of Christ, and His redemptive work

(Matthew 18:1-14; 19:13-15; 21:16; I Corinthians 15:22). “They

belong to the kingdom of heaven.” Whatever disadvantages they suffer

from their relation to Adam are more than surpassed BY THE


“He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry

them in His bosom; and shall gently lead those that are

with young.” (Isaiah 40:11).



DEPARTED; implying:


Ø      Hope of personal salvation on the part of him who cherishes it.


Ø      Belief in the individual recognition of those who are known on earth.


“I have heard you say

That we shall see and know our friends in heaven

If that be true, I shall see my boy again.”

(‘King John,’ act 3. sc. 4.)


Ø      Expectancy of common participation in the heavenly fellowship, service,

and joy of the Lord.


“Ah! thy merciless stern mercy hath chastised us,

   Goading us along the narrow road;

Thy bird, who warmed and dazzled us a moment

   Hath returned to thine abode.

Lord, when we are purged within the furnace,

   May we have our little child again?

All thine anguish by the olives in the garden,

   All thy life and death are vain,

   If thou yield us not our own again!”

    (Reden Noel, ‘A Little Child’s Monument.’)



derived from what has been said, the fact that it comes from a Father’s

hand, and the benefits which it brings by


Ø      teaching patience in the trials of life;

Ø      moderating attachment to its blessings;

Ø      spiritualizing affection for those who are left;

Ø      intensifying desire for the heavenly home.


“Let us consider:


Ø      to whom they have gone,

Ø      from what they have been taken,

Ø      for what they have been taken, and

Ø      how this bereavement will appear to us


(W.M. Taylor).



“‘Tis sorrow builds the shining ladder up,

Whose golden rounds are our calamities.



Tokens of Restoration (vs. 23-24)


In vs. 23, 24 we have two statements which incidentally reveal the reality

and completeness of the restoration of the fallen king to the favor and

care of God.


(1) The name (Solomon) given by himself, probably at circumcision, to his


(2) the name (Jedidiah) which the prophet was instructed to give to the

     son, not as a substitute, but as a supplement. The one indicated David’s

     sense of peace with God and in himself, the other God’s abiding favor.

     Here, then, we may observe:



is not a state rendered problematical by the observance of conditions

extending over a long period. David was at peace with God, and God did

regard him with unqualified favor. Old things had passed away — the

displeasure of God, the fear and apprehension of the man; the relation of

complacent delight and tender care on the one side, and filial love and trust

on the other, was now complete. It is important to keep this truth clear. It

is bound up with the great doctrine of justification. God once accepting

and forgiving a sinner becomes and remains to him a gracious God,

forgetting all the past and cherishing only love and tender interest. It is a

misreading of the gospel, and implies an ignorance of the most blessed

Christian experience to imagine that a really forgiven one is kept in

suspense and dread, or that God is holding back the fullness of His favor

till we have repented a little more, or more fully perfected our general life.

WE ARE ACCEPTED IN CHRIST!   When He restoreth” our “soul”

(Psalm 23:3), it is actual, not possible, germinal restoration.



CIRCUMSTANCES, The inward token in David’s case was the assured

peace of a conscience purged by the grace of God (Psalm 51:7-10, 12),

which came in answer to his penitential cry. The outward token

was the life of another child, the peaceful order of the kingdom, and

especially this welcome message of the prophet (v. 25). The reality of


OF PARDON WAS SPOKEN, the confirmatory signs of it — to strengthen

the heart and ward off subtle temptations of the evil one-came in process of

time. No doubt fallen Peter found pardon during the dark night of his penitence;

but the outward token, which was also an instruction to the other disciples not

to distrust and shun him, came in the gracious message of the angel of the

Lord, “Tell His disciples, and Peter” (Mark 16:7), and again in the exhortation

and encouragement given in the presence of those who might otherwise have

distrusted him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). The ordinary sign of

full restoration is in the “witness of the Spirit” (Romans 8:14-16), and

the outward care and blessing vouchsafed to our work of faith and labor

of love (John 15:7-8). God will be sure to give His people sometoken

for good” (Psalm 86:17).




PEOPLE. There is something truly wonderful in this grace shown to

David. Not only is he forgiven and treated in all things spiritual as though

he had not sinned; not only permitted to reign over Israel, and enter into

close, though it may be very subdued, fellowship with God; but God goes,

as it were, out of the ordinary course of providence, and sends a messenger

to give him, in this other name for his child, a special sign of full

restoration. Thus the occasional doubts suggested by the evil one, the

possible distrust of the prophet in Israel and those under him, and the

sneers of the profane, are all anticipated by the love that slumbers not and

that cares most tenderly and minutely for all the need of the reconciled

ones. “How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God!” (Psalm 36:7);

            It is “better than life!”  (ibid. ch. 63:3)    “He is rich in mercy”

(Ephesians 2:4); and “plenteous in redemption.”  (Psalm 130:7)


25 “And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his

name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.”  He sent. Some commentators make

David the subject of the sentence, and translate, “And he, David, sent in the

hand of Nathan, and called,” etc. They suppose that this means that Nathan

was entrusted with Solomon’s education; but “in the hand” is the ordinary

Hebrew preposition, meaning “by,” and the sense plainly is that God sent a

message by Nathan. David had already called the child Solomon, and now

Jehovah, some years afterwards, gives him an indication of His special favor

by naming him Yedidyah. The word is formed from the same root as David,

that is, “lovely,” with the addition of the Divine name. As we have already

pointed out, this was no slight matter, but the virtual selection of Solomon

to be David’s successor, and probably, therefore, was delayed until he had

given indication of his great intellectual gifts. His elder brothers would not

be passed over without valid reasons.



The Birth of Solomon (vs. 24-25)


(References: I Kings 1-11; I Chronicles 22-29; II Chronicles 1-9.; Psalm 72;

Proverbs 1:1; Ecclesiastes 1:1; Song of Solomon 1:1.)


Where a while ago a dead child lay amidst signs of grief, there now lies a

living child amidst signs of gladness. In him David sees a gift of God, an

answer to prayer which seemed to be denied, “a pledge of pardon and a

sign of hope.” In him we see one who was destined to become the wisest

of men, the most glorious of monarchs — Solomon (whose name occurs

only here and ch. 5:14, in this book) —


“The lofty light, endow’d

With sapience so profound, if truth be truth,

That with a ken of such wide amplitude

No second hath arisen.”

(Dante, ‘Par.,’ 10.)




1. His parentage. David, Bathsheba; from whom he inherited physical

strength and beauty, mental and moral qualities, a piercing insight, large

heartedness, skill in ruling, sensuous susceptibilities, etc., royal rank and

privileges. “The history of a man’s childhood is the description of his

parents’ environment” (Carlyle).


2. His birth. After David’s fall, repentance, and forgiveness, and the death

of his unnamed infant (see, however, I Chronicles 3:5); when Rabbah

had fallen, peace was established, and prosperity abounded. The time was



3. His name. (I Samuel 1:20.) “And he called his name Solomon”

(equivalent to “the man of peace,” “pacific,” Friedrich), “because he

regarded his birth as a pledge that he should now become a partaker again

of the peace of God” (Keil); or perhaps in allusion to the peaceful

condition of the kingdom and “from the wish that peace might be allotted

him as a gift of God, in contrast with the wars of his father’s life”

(Erdmann; ch.  7:12; I Chronicles 22:9). “And Jehovah loved

him,” and spared his life, in contrast with that of the dead child. “And he

[Jehovah] sent by the hand [through] Nathan the prophet; and he [Nathan]

called his name Jedid-jah [Jedid equivalent to ‘David,’ ‘darling;’ ‘beloved

of Jab,’ his own name being combined with that of Jehovah], because of

the Lord,” who loved him; a practical declaration on the part of Jehovah

that the Lord loved Solomon, from which David could and was intended to

discern that the Lord had blessed his marriage with Bathsheba. Jedidiah,

therefore, was not actually adopted as Solomon’s name” (Keil). “The pious

father, in his happiness, entreated the oracle, through Nathan, to confer on

the newborn child some name of lofty import, and Solomon, as his parents

called him, received through the prophet the glorious additional name of

Jedidiah. The sadness of the fate of his first child rendered the omens under

which the second stepped into its place the more auspicious; and we can

easily understand that of all his sons this one became the dearest” (Ewald).


4. His education; or the influences that went to form his character; of

Nathan, to whom it may have been entrusted; of David, during his

declining years; of Bathsheba (ch. 11:3); of a home and court

where polygamy prevailed; of all the learning of the age; of the revolt of

Absalom, and other public events. “A shepherd life, like his father’s,

furnished, we may believe, a better education for his kingly calling. Born to

the purple, there was the inevitable risk of a selfish luxury. Cradled in

liturgies, trained to think chiefly of the magnificent ‘palace’ of Jehovah, of

which he was to be the builder, there was the danger first of an aesthetic

formalism, and then of ultimate indifference” (Smith, ‘Dict. of the Bible’).


5. His prospects, after the death of Absalom, if not even before (ch. 7:12;

I Chronicles 22:9; I Kings 1:13); his accession and eminence.


6. His closing years.


7. His prefigurement, not in personal character but royal office, of “THE

PRINCE OF PEACE!” “We must not confine our view to David’s personal

life and reign. After we have seen him fallen and suffering for sin, we must see

him rising again and reviving in a more glorious reign, in Solomon his son,

who began to reign while David his father was still alive, in order that the

continuity might be more clearly marked. And above all, we must

contemplate him as culminating upward and attaining the climax of his

glory, which God had revealed to him, and for which he yearned with

devout aspiration, in Christ, the Divine David and the Son of David, the

Solomon, the Jedidiab, the Builder of the Church visible on earth and

glorified in heaven” (Wordsworth).


26 “And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and

took the royal city.  27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have

fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.  28 Now therefore

gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it:

lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.  29 And David gathered all

the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.”

Joab… took the royal city. As the siege of Rabbah would be

conducted by the slow process of blockade, it might easily be prolonged

into the second year, and so give ample space for David’s sin and its

punishment by the death of the child. But more probably the narrator,

having commenced the history of David’s sin, completes the story before

returning to his account of the war. Thus the capture of Rabbah would

occupy some of the interval between David’s adultery and Nathan’s visit of

rebuke, and would lessen the difficulty, which we cannot help feeling, of

David remaining for nine or ten months with the guilt of adultery and

murder resting upon him, and no open act of repentance. Some short time,

then, after Uriah’s death, Joab captured “the city of waters.” This is not a

poetical name for Rabbah, but means the “water city,” that is, the town

upon the Jabbok, whence the supply of water was obtained. The citadel,

which occupied a high rock on the northwestern side, must, therefore, soon

be starved into submission, and the whole of “the royal city,” that is, of the

metropolis of the Ammonites, be in Joab’s power. He therefore urges

David to come in person, both that the honor of the conquest may be his,

and also because probably the blockading force had been reduced to as

small a body of men as was safe, and the presence of a large army was

necessary for completing the subjugation of the country, which would

follow upon the capture of the capital.



THE DUTIES OF HIS DAILY LIFE. Joab was not only left to carry on

the war alone, but he even felt it to be right (v. 28) to stir up the king

that he might come and take part, and so share in the honor about to be

won. The secret of this most probably lay in the fact that, during and after

David’s entanglement with Bathsheba and crime against Uriah, he was not

in a mind to enter upon the perils of war. A woman’s spell was on him; his

conscience was secretly troubled; he who feared not the lion or the giant

now fears lest, if he go to the war, he should be slain. Therefore he tarries

in Jerusalem (ch. 11:1-25). His sins rendered him INCOMPETENT to

do what otherwise he would have done, and it required even an urgent

request from his general, coupled with an assurance that the city was

virtually captured already (vs. 27-29), to induce him to move. There are

sins which sometimes drive men to desperate deeds and perilous places,

and give apparently more zest to life; but in the case of good men, a known

habit of sin impairs their energy in life; it creates an abiding fear; it

paralyzes certain incumbent moral actions; it keeps from entering on work

which otherwise would be cheerfully undertaken; it makes him less a man.


30 “And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight

whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was

set on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in

great abundance.”  Their king; Hebrew, Malcam. This is another mode of

spelling Milcom, the god of the Ammonites, and is found also in

Zephaniah 1:5, and probably in Jeremiah 49:1, 3; Amos 1:15.

Strictly, Milcom or Malcom is a proper name for the supreme deity,

formed from the word melec, a king, or, as it was pronounced in other

Semitic dialects, Moloch. Grammatically, Malcam also means “their king,”

and even so belongs to Milcom. For the crown weighed a hundred pounds,

a ponderous mass, which no man could possibly bear, and, least of all,

when making, as was the case with the Ammonite king, his last stand for

his life. But after the capture of the city, it was lifted from the head of the

idol, and placed formally upon David’s head, and held there for a few