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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 12

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6

Second Samuel - Chapter 12

The Parable of Nathan, vs. 1-6

It probably did not take long for people to figure out what had happened between David and Bathsheba, especially since she became David’s wife so soon after being widowed and while pregnant. Yet there was no proof of their sin. But God told Nathan the prophet, and sent him with a message of judgment on the king. His sin would find him out.

Nathan presented his message as an actual report of a heartless rich man and a poor man. The rich man was the owner of great flocks and herds, while the poor man owned only one little ewe lamb, which he had bought with his meager means. Yet he loved the lamb and he nurtured it carefully. It became the pet of his children and ate and drank from the master’s hand. A traveler came to the house of the rich man, who had to prepare for him a meal. He disdained to take of his own abundance to feed the man, but took the poor man’s lamb which he dressed and prepared for the traveller’s dinner.

David was wholly trapped by the message. In great anger he interrupted the prophet. He swore by the great oath of God that the culprit who was guilty of this should die and that the should restore the lamb fourfold because he had shown no pity. David was so absorbed in his complacent feeling that he had hidden his sin, he was taken completely unawares.

Verses 7-14

The Lord’s Indictment of David, vs. 7-14

Those words of Nathan, from the Lord, to David, must be among the most pointedly convicting ever uttered. "Thou art the man." This man David so much despised and for whom he so vigorously denounced retribution, was the king himself. He had stolen the poor man’s lamb and slaughtered it. He had used it to entertain and satisfy himself. David is the man! How suddenly it must have struck him! For it was true even then, that "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper" (Proverbs 28:13).

The Lord had been good to David, and he is reminded that it is He who 1) anointed him king over Israel; 2) delivered him from Saul’s hand; 3) gave him all Saul’s estate and his harem; 4) made him king over all Israel and Judah; and 5) would have given him much more had he needed it. The charge follows: David had, foremost, despised the Lord’s commandment, by thinking he could set it aside for his own fleshly pleasure. He had committed evil by killing Uriah with the pagan sword of the Ammonites and taking his wife to his own bed.

Then came the sentence, "The sword shall never depart from thine house." For the rest of his reign David would be burdened with many sorrows and troubles. Evil would arise in his own house, instigated by his own sons, and the women of his own harem would be publicly raped by his neighbor (actually his own son), and all Israel would know it. It would not be done in secret as had been the case in the adultery of David and Bathsheba.

David had said the rich man should pay fourfold; David would pay fourfold and more with his children. First, the little boy who had been born to Bathsheba would sicken and die, that men might know one cannot blaspheme the Lord and escape punishment. As time progressed David’s beautiful daughter, Tamar, would be raped by her half brother, Amnon, the oldest son of David. In turn Amnon would be the victim of fratricide at the hand of Absalom, Tamar’s brother. Absalom would rebel against his father and be killed in battle, as he attempted to wrest the kingdom for himself. Finally, the oldest surviving son, Adonijah, would also attempt to seize the kingdom while David lay on his death bed, and would be executed.

Verses 15-25

David’s First Payment, vs. 15-25

Nathan’s task finished he returned to his home, and soon after the child of David and Bathsheba fell gravely ill. Though the Lord had said that the child would die David knew that the Lord was merciful. He had allowed David to live, though guilty of both adultery and murder, because he had confessed his sin. He hoped that he might, through prayer and fasting, succeed in invoking the same mercy on behalf of the little child. He lay constantly on the ground imploring the Lord to spare the baby. But it was not to be; David would pay his first chastisement in the loss of the baby boy.

Why would God take the little child for David’s sin? He had said by Nathan, that it was because David had given great occasion to the Lord’s enemies to blaspheme. Had the child grown up it would have been with a stigma on him, perhaps an object of shame because of his adulterous conception. Even worse, it would have appeared that David could get by with such a sin without chastisement, for the living son would be a seeming manifestation of it. It may very well be that, by the Lord taking the child, he did not grow up an ungodly man like so many other sons of David did. Whatever it may have been, God knew best, and that is what happened.

All David’s servants and the elders of his council came to him, trying to raise him from the ground, but he refused. They became concerned for his sanity. On the seventh day the baby died, but they were afraid to tell David for the shock he might suffer. When, however, he saw their whispering, he questioned them and learned that the child had died. He then arose, cleaned up, and dressed and went to the house of the Lord to worship. This is a good example of David’s resignation to the Lord’s will, setting a good example for men today to follow in their sorrows and material losses.

When David returned to his house he had them set the table for him, and he ate. The servants marveled that he would sorrow so while the baby lived, but be calm and resigned when the child had died. David answered with words of eternal truth and worth; there was hope while the baby was alive, but nothing more could be done when it had died. David had confidence of reunion with him when he died, but not before. His words teach that 1) there is conscious abode of the dead in afterlife; 2) those who die in Christ may be reunited with loved ones who have gone before; 3) souls of the innocent have their sins covered in the Lord.

David then went to comfort Bathsheba She must also have been very distraught at the illness and loss of her baby, and David did the part of a godly husband in going to her. It is interesting to note here that Bathsheba is called the wife of David for the first time. Before David got forgiveness she was called the wife of Uriah, the Scriptures even calling the baby the child of the wife of Uriah (verse 15). God blessed the couple now with another baby son, whom David named Solomon (meaning "peaceable"), "and the Lord loved him." David sent the word to Nathan, the prophet, who acknowledged the Lord’s blessing on the child by calling him Jedidiah, which means "Beloved of the Lord."

Verses 26-31

Ammonites Defeated, 2 Samuel 12:26-31 AND 1 Chronicles 20:1-3

The Chronicles account tells how Joab went to engage the Ammonites following the defeat of the Syrians, how he pillaged and ruined their land while the populace sought safety from him inside the walls of their capital city, Rabbah. Chronicles passes over in silence all the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba, murder of Uriah, coming of Nathan, and death of the child, and proceeds to the fall of the Ammonite city.

Samuel gives more details of the siege and fall of Rabbah. The reference to the city of waters is evidently the source of the city’s water supply. With that in Israel’s hands it was impossible that the beleaguered city could continue to hold out. Therefore Joab sent to David to gather all the rest of the armed men and come to Rabbah that the king might lead the attack against it and its conquest be attributed to him rather than to Joab. David acted on the advice of his captain and came and received the city.

Much spoil was taken, including the king’s crown, which weighed a talent of gold, and was valued at more than a million dollars in today’s monetary values. It weighed in excess of ninety pounds and was set on David’s head. Certainly he must not have been able to wear such a heavy object on his head for long at a time.

The people were either put into servitude, laboring with saws, harrows, axes, and brick-making (as Samuel indicates), or they were put to death by these instruments and in this manner (as some commentators think the Chronicles account indicates). That they became slaves seems the more likely.

Some lessons: 1) The Lord will not allow His sinning servant to escape chastisement (Hebrews 12:6); 2) sins of God’s people give occasion for others to continue in sin; 3) though men question, God’s decisions in judgment are right; 4) those who defy God’s people will ultimately be destroyed.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-12.html. 1985.
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