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Thursday, May 30th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 12

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Nathan's Reproof and its Success

v. 1. And the Lord, almost a year after the first transgression, 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. Nathan chose the parable in order to bring home his reproof with all the greater force.

v. 2. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds, he is purposely represented as possessing all that his heart might desire;

v. 3. but the poor man had nothing, literally, "nothing at all. " save one little ewe lamb, the only property which his slender means allowed, 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, since he shared even his last morsel with it, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, carefully tended and shielded against all harm and danger, and was unto him as a daughter. Note that all the circumstances are pictured in such a manner as to heighten both the pity and the indignation of the hearer.

v. 4. And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he, the latter, spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd to dress for the way faring man that was come unto him, but, in an excess of base selfishness, took the poor man's lamb and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

v. 5. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, as Nathan had intended for the sake of the effective application of his parable; and he said to Nathan, as the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die, literally, "is a son of death," since his robbery of the one ewe lamb was almost like that of a human being;

v. 6. and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, as the Law required, Exodus 21:36, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. The parable had been so chosen that David could have no idea of its application to his own crime against Uriah.

v. 7. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. The accusation came with all the greater force since David was not aware of the fact that he himself was concerned. The wisdom, tact, and firmness with which Nathan approached the king are truly admirable. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, therefore his crime had been one against the royal office, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul, an act of divine kindness and grace;

v. 8. and I gave thee thy master's house and thy master's wives in to thy bosom, both the property and the harem of the king being legally given into the hands of his successor, although it does not follow that David actually married Saul's wife, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; the entire nation had promised him allegiance, and he might have had his choice of the virgins of the country; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things; His bountiful goodness was not yet exhausted.

v. 9. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, literally, "the word," that is, the law, of God, to do evil in His sight, in this double transgression? Thou hast killed Uriah, the Hittite, with the sword, in fact, though not in person, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, she who still should have been Uriah's wife now lived in a guilty marriage with David, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon, according to a well-laid plan.

v. 10. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine house, its bloodiness being evident in the murder of Amnon, the death of Absalom, and the execution of Adonijah; because thou hast despised Me, since he who despises God's Word despises Him, and hast taken the wife of Uriah, the Hittite, to be thy wife. This was the first punishment. But more was to come.

v. 11. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, as a punishment for the sin of adultery, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives, in open, incestuous intercourse, in the sight of this sun.

v. 12. For thou didst it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun, in broad daylight, in flagrant shamelessness. Cf 2 Samuel 16:22.

v. 13. And David said unto Nathan, in full acknowledgment of his sin, without the slightest attempt at excusing himself or depreciating the sin, I have sinned against the Lord, His confession is given in only a few words, but the feelings of his heart are expressed in Psalms 51. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin, literally, "has caused thy sin to pass over," not to remain before Him, to vanish, to be forgiven; thou shalt not die, the punishment which his sin properly merited.

v. 14. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, to despise the God of Israel for permitting such sins to be committed, for so they would construe the matter, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die, the fruit of the adulterous union would be destroyed, to show the severity of God's justice upon the transgressors of His Lam. God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but wants him to repent and live. Even those who hare fallen into serious sins the Lord seeks with His Word and Spirit and admonishes them to repent. Note that the purpose of every reproof of sins is to move the heart and conscience of sinners, to cause them to forsake their transgressions, and to turn to the mercy and grace of God.

Verses 15-25

The Death of David's Child

v. 15. And Nathan, having delivered the sentence of the Lord, departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, the phrasing once more calling attention to the sin, and it was very sick. The sickness in this case was a direct punishment of God upon the parents.

v. 16. David, therefore, besought God for the child, to spare its life; and David fasted, as a sign of deep sorrow and repentance, and went in, to a quiet room or retired spot of his house, and lay all night upon the earth. He bowed in meekness under the punishing hand of God, but also pleaded for merciful consideration, if he might expect such.

v. 17. And the elders of his house, his oldest and most confidential servants, arose and went to him to raise him up from the earth; but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. His grief was too great to Field to their appeals and admonitions.

v. 18. And it came to pass on the seventh day that the child died, God had deemed it best to carry out the punishment decided upon. 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 mot hearken unto our voice; how will he, then, vex himself, by being plunged into still deeper grief, in which he might do himself harm, if we tell him that the child is dead?

v. 19. But when David saw that his servants whispered, not daring to approach him with the sad news, David perceived that the child was dead, he drew his conclusions from their behavior; therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, he is dead.

v. 20. Then David arose from the earth, and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, the tent where the Ark of the Covenant had been placed, and worshiped, his humble yielding to God's chastening hand enabling him joyfully to bear the burden laid upon him. Then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

v. 21. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? They could not explain David's conduct to themselves. Thou didst fast and weep for the child while it was alive, but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.

v. 22. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, he thought in his heart, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me that the child may live? If God had spared his child. David would have regarded the fact as a proof of God's special mercy upon him.

v. 23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? He humbled himself under the mighty hand of God without giving way to fruitless grief. I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me, a clear confession of the belief in a life after death.

v. 24. And David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, with the same comfort which he himself had received, and went in unto her and lay with her; and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon, undoubtedly with the prayer that God might grant him peace in every way. And the Lord loved him, gave the child special evidences of His loving-kindness.

v. 25. And He, the Lord, sent by the hand of Nathan, the prophet, as His official representative in this case; and he called his name Jedidiah (beloved of the lord), because of the Lord. All this points forward to the object of Christ's coming in the flesh. For He is come to cover over our nakedness and disgrace before God, to change the scarlet color of our guilt into the white of perfect innocence, through the atonement gained by His blood.

Verses 26-31

Success Against the Ammonites

v. 26. And Joab, in the second year of the campaign, fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city, the city proper, without the citadel.

v. 27. And Joab sent messengers to David and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters, for it lap on both banks of the Upper Jabbok, in a narrow valley beneath its fort or acropolis.

v. 28. Now, therefore, gather the rest of the people together, mustering all those able to bear arms, and encamp against the city, the citadel on the heights, and take it, lest I take the city and it be called after my name. Joab here acted either as a devoted servant of David, who honestly wished him to have all the honor in the campaign, or as a shrewd politician, who would run no risks by gaining extraordinary successes.

v. 29. And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it, he conquered the strong acropolis.

v. 30. And he took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones (about one hundred pounds avoirdupois); and it was set on David's head, at least during the coronation ceremonies, which proclaimed him lord of the Ammonite kingdom. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.

v. 31. And he brought forth the people that were there in, in the acropolis, and put them under saws, putting them to death by sawing them apart, and under harrows, instruments or axes, of iron, and under axes of iron, knives or other cutting instruments, and made them pass through the brick-kiln, the place where they burned their children to their idol Moloch; and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. The purpose was to inflict a striking punishment upon idolatry, for the war was a holy war. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem. This great victory was another proof of God's grace and favor, for He is kind and gracious, and abundant in mercy and truth, forgiving iniquities, and transgressions, and sins.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/2-samuel-12.html. 1921-23.
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