Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 12:13

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord ." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - David;   God Continued...;   Minister, Christian;   Nathan;   Repentance;   Sin;   Scofield Reference Index - Judgments;   Thompson Chain Reference - David;   Error;   Sin;   Sin-Saviour;   Transgression;   The Topic Concordance - Blasphemy;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Pardon;   Repentance;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bathsheba;   David;   Divorce;   Nathan;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - King, Kingship;   Murder;   Samuel, First and Second, Theology of;   Sin;   Easton Bible Dictionary - David;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Joseph;   Nathan;   Saul;   Holman Bible Dictionary - David;   King, Kingship;   Parables;   Prayer;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ammon, Ammonites;   Nathan;   Samuel, Books of;   Sin;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Nathan ;   Uriah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Nathan;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Nathan;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Confession;   Forgiveness;   Nathan (1);   Samuel, Books of;   Sin (1);   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Allegory;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Confession of Sin;   Didascalia;   Judge;   Repentance;   Satire;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for April 12;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The Lord - hath put away thy sin - Many have supposed that David's sin was now actually pardoned, but this is perfectly erroneous; David, as an adulterer, was condemned to death by the law of God; and he had according to that law passed sentence of death upon himself. God alone, whose law that was could revoke that sentence, or dispense with its execution; therefore Nathan, who had charged the guilt home upon his conscience, is authorized to give him the assurance that he should not die a temporal death for it: The Lord hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. This is all that is contained in the assurance given by Nathan: Thou shalt not die that temporal death; thou shalt be preserved alive, that thou mayest have time to repent, turn to God, and find mercy. If the fifty-first Psalm, as is generally supposed, was written on this occasion, then it is evident (as the Psalm must have been written after this interview) that David had not received pardon for his sin from God at the time he composed it; for in it he confesses the crime in order to find mercy.

There is something very remarkable in the words of Nathan: The Lord also hath Put Away thy sin; thou shalt not die; תמות לא חטאתך העביר יהוה גם gam Yehovah heebir chattathecha lo thamuth, Also Jehovah Hath Caused thy sin To Pass Over, or transferred thy sin; Thou shalt not die. God has transferred the legal punishment of this sin to the child; He shall die, Thou shalt not die; and this is the very point on which the prophet gives him the most direct information: The child that is born unto thee shall Surely die; ימות מות moth yamuth, dying he shall die - he shall be in a dying state seven days, and then he shall die. So God immediately struck the child, and it was very sick.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For a comment on David‘s words, read Psalm 32:1-11.

Thou shalt not die - Not spoken of the punishment of death as affixed to adultery by the Mosaic Law: the application of that law Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22; John 8:5 to an absolute Eastern monarch was out of the question. The death of the soul is meant (compare Ezekiel 18:4, Ezekiel 18:13, Ezekiel 18:18).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Samuel 12:13

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.

The repentance of David

If we wish to draw any lessons from the repentance of any one, it is a great assistance to us to know something of the character of the man, something of the sin from which he repented, something of the mode by which he was roused to repentance, something of the nature of the repentance itself. All these we have given to us in the case of David.

I. His general character. It is a character difficult, perhaps, to understand, but its very difficulty makes it instructive. It is full of variety, full of impulse, full of genius; it is like the characters of our own later times--complicated, intricate, vast; it covers a great range of characters amongst ourselves; it is not like one class or character only, but like many; it is like you, it is like me; it is like this man and that man. He is the shepherd, and the student, and the poet, and the soldier, and the King. He is the adventurous wanderer, strong and muscular, “his feet like steel.” He is the silent observer of the heavens by night, “the moon and the stars which God has ordained.” He is the devoted friend, the first example of youthful friendship, loving Jonathan “with a love passing the love of women.” He is the generous enemy, sparing his rival. He is the father mourning with passionate grief the loss of his favourite child: “O my son Absalom.” Again and again we feel that he is one of us--that his feelings, his pleasures, his sympathies, are such as we outwardly love and admire, even if we do not enter into them. But yet more than this, it is exactly that mixture of good and evil which is in ourselves; not all good nor all evil, but a mixture of both--of a higher good, and of a deeper evil, yet still both together. But it is the other side of his character that we are now called to consider; and yet, It is only by considering both sides together that we call draw its true lesson flora either. It was to this tender, and brave, and loving character that the Prophet Nathan came, with the Story of the hard-hearted, mean-spirited man. Every just and generous feeling in David’s heart was roused by the story: its simple pathos, now worn through and through by much repetition, was then felt in all the freshness of its first utterance: his anger was kindled against the man. No lengthened comment can add anything to the startling effect of the disclosure of this sudden descent from all that was high and good to all that was base and miserable.

II. David’s repentance and our own.

1. Let us observe how the Scripture narrative deals with the case. It does not exaggerate--it does not extenuate. David’s goodness is not denied because of his sin, nor his sin because of his goodness. The fact that he was the man after God’s own heart is not thrust out of sight because he was the man of Nathan’s parable. The fact of his sin is not denied, lest it should give occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme. This is the first lesson that we learn.

2. The sin of David, and his unconsciousness of his own sin, and so also his repentance through the disclosure to him of his own sin, are exactly what are most likely to take place in characters like his, like ours, made up of mixed forms of good and of evil. The hardened, depraved, worldly man is not ignorant of his sin--he knows it, he defends it, he is accustomed to it. But the good man, or the man who is half good and half bad--he overlooks his sin. His good deeds conceal his bad deeds, often even from others, more often still from himself. Even out of those very gifts which are most noble, most excellent in themselves, may come our chief temptations.

3. Let us observe both the exact point of Nathan’s warning, and the exact point of David’s repentance. It is most instructive to observe that Nathan in his parable calls attention, not to the sensuality and cruelty of David’s crime, but simply to its intense and brutal selfishness. It is remarkable that even deeper than David’s sense, when once aroused, of his injustice to man, was his sense of his guilt and shame before God:--“Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.” Dark as is the shade of the dark sin done to man, a yet darker shade falls over it when viewed in the unchanging light of the All-Pure and the All-Merciful. This is perhaps especially the case with these grosser sins. David is driven by the very fervour of his penitence to speak of this one sin as he would have spoken of all sins. Every one of us is in danger of falling into sins of which we have no expectation beforehand, of which, like David, we are ignorant even after we have committed them. Whatever be our special failing--self-indulgence, vanity, untruth, uncharitableness--and however it be made known to us--by friends, by preachers, by reflection, by sorrow, by the death of our firstborn, by the ruin of our house--let David’s feeling respecting it be ours.

4. This leads us to see what is the door which God opens, in such cases as David’s, for repentance and restoration. There is the general lesson, taught by this, as by a thousand ether passages both of the Old and the New Testaments--that, as far as human eye can judge, no case is too late or too bad to return, if only the heart can be truly roused to a sense of its own guilt and of God’s holiness. “Thou desirest no sacrifice;”--consider the immense force of the words; how wise, how consoling, how vast in their reach of meaning--“Thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee; Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” So spoke David in the fulness of his penitence. So taught the Son of David in the fulness of His grace and truth. Two final lessons we may learn from David’s repentance. For others, it teaches us to regard with tenderness the faults, the sins, the crimes of those who, gifted with great and noble qualities, are, by that strange union of strength and weakness which we so often see, betrayed into acts which more ordinary, commonplace characters avoid or escape. And for ourselves, let us remember the still more important lesson that such a foundation of good as that which there was in David’s character is never thrown away. If it is not able to resist the trial altogether, it will at least be best able to recover from it. (A. P. Stanley, M. A.)

On repentance

I. As the sin had been public, so was his repentance, His penitent confession is recorded to the end of time, to be read by every child of God, and be made the vehicle of hearty confession by every penitent sinner until the day of judgment.

II. He puts utterly out of the account all his former faithful service; there is not so much as a hint of it; and if a person did not know how David had hitherto walked before the Lord, and been his faithful minister on many trying occasions in the Church of God, he could not have guessed it from any expression here. The truly contrite heart gives glory to God for all the good, and takes shame to itself for all the evil. Here is one of the difficult things in true repentance; how unwilling is the heart to lose sight of any thing which it can set against its sin! Even when it sees the vanity and sinfulness of doing this, it still clings to a lurking comfort in the thought of some merit; it is unwilling to forego every support of self-righteousness, to place itself at the bar of God’s judgment, and to be found speechless without one word of defence; yet so David did.

III. His repentance followed up by actions. See the utter resignation with which he submits to the first instalment of his punishment in the death of the child; see, again, how humbly he bears the curse of Shimei, when he cries out, “Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial;” thus cruelly reminding him of the very sins which we have been considering. How utterly dead was the spirit of self-justification in the heart of the man who could speak and act thus!

IV. Repentance in its true nature is not the work of a certain number of days or years; it lasts through life. As David says, “My sin is ever before me,” and as David showed by his humbleness of heart to the end of his life.

V. The sight of his forgiveness. God, who seeth the heart of man, saw the real worth of Erase words, “I have sinned against the Lord.” He saw in them the deeds which followed them; He knew that they were not showy blossoms, that would soon drop off, without any setting of fruit, like flowers in an unsuitable climate; He saw in them the earnest of much and good fruit, as in a tree that is in its proper soil and genuine climate. The beginning and the end are at once in the sight of God, and He knew that the words came from a heart which would make them good by the help of His grace; and therefore He accepted David’s repentance, and commissioned the prophet Nathan to say unto him, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” (B. W. Evans, B. D.)

David’s fall and recovery

1. The history of this pious and sincere servant of God is like a broken hull deeply imbedded in the sand, and the ragged masts emerging from the waves to tell others of the danger and to warn them to steer away from the shoal on which this gallant ship was wrecked. David’s sad story has a voice to every open ear, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”

2. But this history illustrates David’s character, while it brings out in parallel the character of God. Did God who has so fully recorded the particulars of his servant’s crimes--did He wink at the crime? Did God dread the exposure of David, and care to hide the crime, because the criminal was one of His own family, and household? Let him who is disposed to sneer at David’s fall, and to think that God may be partial, study well and carefully the record of David’s punishment. But is that all that David’s sin and David’s fall should teach us and has taught us of judgment?

3. Does it tell us nothing of mercy? Does it bring out nothing further, both of God’s character, and the character of His true, though fallen child? “I have sinned against the Lord:” That one thought spreads its sorrowful influence over his whole soul. “My base ingratitude against God, my foul dishonour done to God, the deep offence against his holiness, the sad requital of His unmerited goodness”--that one thought like a dark veil, shuts out all others.

4. And does not David’s feeling as a child bring out and illustrate the feeling of God as a father? “If he commit iniquity, I will punish his offences with the rod and his sin with scourges; nevertheless I will not take away my loving kindness from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” When the child who has sinned comes back with a broken spirit, and melting heart, to his wronged and injured, but still loving father, will that father refuse the pardon which is now all in all to his repenting child? Will he turn away coldly from the returning prodigal, and not forgive the offence so deeply felt, so fully acknowledged, and so evidently repeated? And so the broken-hearted David has scarcely sobbed out, “I have sinned against the Lord,” when he who knew how true and deep that sorrow was that wrung his heart, replied by his prophet, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” (W. W. Champneys, M. A.)

Conviction of sin and recovery

The history of the past is the parable of the present. The shadows of the dead are the representatives of the living. Scripture history is a perpetual illustration of passing life. The sins of different ages may not be exactly the same, and yet the illustration may be very complete.

I. Men often correctly understand a message from the Lord without observing its personal application to themselves. David listens with interest and indignation to the words of the prophet. You do wonder, as you observe the appropriateness of the words, that he does not himself see the meaning of the parable. You feel in reading it as if it did not require any exposition. You understand Nathan as soon as you hear his tale. But David heard no interpreter, and in pronouncing judgment upon the unknown offender unconsciously condemned himself, the real culprit. Yet this is so like human nature that I feel the truthfulness of the account. Just like him many of you feel under a message from the Lord. You do not think of yourselves. How many times have some of you uttered your own condemnation, while you supposed you had been pronouncing righteous judgment upon others! To you he has opened his mouth in a parable, and uttered a dark saying; but only because you have not had the true interpretation. Yet often the interpreter was there, if you had consulted him.

II. The beginning of recovery from sins to produce in the heart of the sinner deep convictions of his own sinfulness. To send a messenger to David, though he brought from the Lord the most severe rebuke of the sin, was yet an auspicious omen and sign of mercy for the sinner. Notwithstanding the grievousness and aggravation of the sin, God had not utterly cast off His servant. In wrath He remembered mercy. Mercy he did obtain; but it is for you to observe the sorrowful way he had to travel in order to find mercy of the Lord. The words of Nathan were never forgotten. Let no man think he may sin with impunity. Let no backslider comfort himself with the thought that he will be restored in due time. Restored he may be; but he will retrace every step with many tears. He will be brought back with many stripes, and made to feel, in the sadness of his soul, the evil of his sin, that never, as long as he lives, he may think lightly of it any more.

III. For heinous sins a provision of mercy is made, but so made as will secure long and humbling recollections of the aggravated guilt. David was pardoned--freely pardoned--though his sin was very great upon him. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (R. Halley, D. D.)

The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

God and the sinner

I. The Lord convincing the sinner. We Observe that the impression which pierced most deeply was this--he had sinned against his God.

II. God pardoning sin. This appears particularly deserving of notice, as God’s dealing with David may well be regarded as in the case of Paul, a pattern to those who should after believe upon him to life everlasting. It is plain that pardon was here bestowed as an act of God’s free and royal grace; it was extended according to his will, at his own time, and in his appointed way. The way in which the Lord here forgave his guilty servant may appear to mere human reason as by no means the wisest; but to such a thought we may well reply, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” A deeper view would convince us that no other way could have so well displayed the attributes of Jehovah, or so secured the heartfelt humiliation and subsequent holiness of David. Again, this mode of forgiveness must have melted the soul of David into that union of self-loathing and gratitude, which constitutes genuine repentance, and gives hope and peace, without which there can be no willing obedience, while the memory of the past would ever keep alive self-distrust and watchfulness.

III. The lord chastens the restored penitent. Nathan had previously declared that the sword should not depart from his house, but that in domestic trouble his own sin should return upon him; and now he pronounced that, to mark the injury his fall had done to the cause of God, the child of his sinful affection should die. We are not to think from this that any guilt still remained charged upon him before the Lord--no, for his sin was put away--but for his own good and for our admonition, he underwent this painful discipline. Applications:

1. I think this subject speaks a word to the careless or hardened sinner. Are you trying to hope as far as you think about it, that God will pass over your sins? Beware, they must be absolutely pardoned here, or absolutely punished hereafter.

2. There is much also here for the Christian to ponder on--he will reflect with joy and great consolation upon this gracious proof of the infinite mercy of the Lord--to many a soul it has furnished a successful reply to the infected doubts of the tempter; but it unfolds an awful picture of the heart of man. While we learn here that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, let us ever remember that our own strength is but weakness, and to trust in our own hearts foolishness; for that God alone is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (H. Townsend.)

The effect of pardon

1. We have two cases of sinners who have been entirely pardoned, and whose actions after the announcement of that pardon have been left on the record of Scripture--David and Mary Magdalene. Certain distinct features appear in their cases after forgiveness, which are separate from the features of their penitence; an intensity of love proportioned to the amount of remitted debt, a life of continual carefulness, and a pathway in which they trod more or less softly to the end el their days. And all this proceeding partly from the deepest gratitude, and partly from the encouragement afforded by knowing they were forgiven. We are all familiar with the glorious effects of the pronouncing of pardons in the case of earthly criminals and earthly punishments. These may as faint shadows symbolise to us the effect on our spiritual life of the pronounced pardon of sin.

2. Under the Jewish dispensation we frequently find that a certain bodily trial was annexed as a penalty to an act of rebellion against God; and when that act of rebellion was repented of the act was cancelled.

3. But there are other conditions which we may take, as in some degree equivalent to a pronounced pardon. When a sin has bound us in its chains, and we lamenting over its dominion use every effort to subdue it and at last succeed, and form the contrary habit, we may naturally hope that that sin is forgiven. When we remain tied and bound by the chain of our sins in spite of every effort to overcome them, we may take for granted that He, Whose grace is all-sufficient, refuses on account of some lurking impenitence to grant the pardon. There is some goodly Babylonish garment hidden in the heart, and till that is given up the dark citadel will not yield. The moment the surrender is entire, God’s hand will free the captive, and the stronger man will enter the strong man’s house, take his spoils and the armour wherein he trusted. There are times when strong inward persuasions, feelings of inward joy, the witness of the Spirit may be indications of God’s forgiveness. When these feelings are permanent, real, and healthy, we may fairly argue that they can proceed from no other source than the blessed Spirit of God.

4. We must consider the result of pardon on the penitent.

David forgiven; a source of comfort to sinners

I. Heavy afflictions are no signs of an unpardoned condition. There are times, perhaps, when we find it difficult to believe this truth. A light and short affliction seldom much depresses us, for we can easily reconcile it with a Father’s faithfulness; but when succeeds blow to blow, when our troubles are peculiar, and long-continued, and harrowing, our hearts begin to fail us. We are tempted to think that a gracious God never can love the creatures whom He so sorely wounds. We could not so afflict our children; we are ready to conclude, therefore, that were we the children of a Heavenly Father, He would not so afflict us: our once peaceful assurance of His pardoning mercy gives way, and is succeeded by perplexity and doubt. Turn to the experience of David. It tells us as plainly as the most comfortless affliction can tell us that a want of spiritual consolation under calamities is no evidence of an unpardoned state. It is true the Gospel teaches us to expect special consolations in special sufferings. It is true also that the hour of affliction has oftentimes proved the happiest, though at the time the afflicted Christian has thought himself utterly forsaken. The feelings of mankind under afflictions have been as various as their afflictions themselves. An accusing conscience is not the scourge of an angry God: it is not the mark of His wrath. But an accusing conscience is a mark of nothing but this, that we are sinners, and that sin is a more evil and bitter thing than we once thought it.

II. A painful sense of inward corruption is not inconsistent with pardoning mercy. If there is any one lust which, day by day and year after year, leads us captive; any ungodly practice in which we habitually indulge; if the sin which is our fear is at the same time our delight, ever committed with greediness, though sometimes repented of with anguish, the written testimony of God declares that we have no more reason to regard ourselves forgiven than a dying man has to think himself in health. But if sin is opposed, as well as felt; if through the Spirit the base passions of our nature are habitually overcome; if sin causes grief and abhorrence in our souls as well as terror; then, my brethren, we may be assured that God, who is ever waiting to be gracious, will accept of our imperfect services, He will hear our prayers and bless us for Christ’s sake. Lessons:

1. It points out to us the persons to whom the ministers of the Gospel are to speak peace.

2. The text holds out to the sinner the greatest encouragement not to despair, if he is truly sorry for his sins, and intends by God’s help to walk in newness of life. (A. J. Wolff, D. D.)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Samuel 12:13". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"David said, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die." Then Nathan went to his house."

"I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:13). This little paragraph is the glory of David. He offered no excuses; unlike Adam, he did not blame his wife; he pleaded no extenuating circumstances. He simply said, "I have sinned against the Lord."

"The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die" (2 Samuel 12:13). This statement from the prophet Nathan relates to one of the great questions regarding the nature of the forgiveness of sins that was available to worthies of the O.T. One of the greatest scholars of our times, John T. Willis, declared that, "Here and elsewhere the O.T. teaches that God forgave sins in O.T. times (Leviticus 4:26,31,35; 5:10,13,16; Numbers 14:18; Psalms 103:3,10,12; 130:3-4)."[9] Furthermore, it is a fact that the word "forgiveness" is used in all of those references. However, there are insurmountable objections to that view.


(1) The only true basis for the forgiveness of any man's sin is lodged irrevocably and eternally in the Atoning death of Christ on Calvary, an event still future by a full millennium when David sinned. For this reason, those references cited by Willis do not state that the sinner's sins had been forgiven but that, "THEY SHALL BE FORGIVEN" (Leviticus 4:26.31,35, etc.), which is a reference to what God would do upon Calvary.

(2) Furthermore, for one to affirm that the worshippers mentioned in Leviticus 4 and Leviticus 5 were actually forgiven of their sins would indicate that the "blood of bulls, goats, pigeons and heifers can take away sins," a proposition that is flatly denied in Hebrews 10:4.

(3) That still leaves the remarkable statement here that, "God has put away thy sin." That is past tense and means that whatever was done had already been done when Nathan spoke. But was it forgiveness? It was not. Henry Preserved Smith warned us that, "It is misleading to translate this "God ... has forgiven."[10] It is this writer's opinion that in each place where the word forgiveness appears in the O.T. it is a misleading translation. Such translations are true only when the O.T. "forgiveness of sins" is understood to have been limited and conditional, the great condition being the ultimate achievement of the Son of God upon the Cross.

(4) The light from the N.T. (without which nobody, but nobody, ever understood the O.T.) reveals exactly what God did to sins in the times of the O.T. "This (the crucifixion of Christ) was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance HE HAD PASSED OVER FORMER SINS."(Romans 3:25). Well, there you have the truth! Did God forgive sins in O.T. times? No! HE PASSED OVER THEM.

(5) The prophet Jeremiah made the forgiveness of sins an identifying feature of the New Covenant, which could not have been true if forgiveness of sins had already been available to the Israelites under the Old Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35).

(6) If sins were actually forgiven in O.T. times, what was the use of the First Advent of Christ? Why was Jesus Christ, in any sense, necessary if Adam's rebellious descendants already were able to receive the forgiveness of their sins?

(7) Since most of our versions actually speak of "forgiveness" in the O.T. period, what, actually, was it? The N.T. gives valuable light upon this question also. All forgiveness under the Old Covenant was accommodative, provisional and typical of that ultimate atonement and forgiveness that came through Christ alone. Any notion that animal sacrifices could remove sins is untenable (Hebrews 10:4). Certainly no mere confession of guilt could remove it. Nevertheless, there was a definite release of guilt for those who honored God's commandments by obeying them. That type of "forgiveness" (if we may call it that) was not final and complete. There was no promise of God regarding their sins that he would "remember them no more" as in the forgiveness promised in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35). As a matter of fact, the inspired author of Hebrews stressed the fact that under the Old Covenant there was, "A remembrance made of sins year by year" (Hebrews 10:3); and that was not a reference merely to new sins committed in the intervening time, but to all of the old sins as well. (See the full discussion of this in Vol. 10 of my N.T. series (Hebrews), pp. 193-197.)

"You shall not die" (2 Samuel 12:13). Some scholars refer this promise to the death which David had proposed for the rich man in the parable, which of course by his own admission he himself fully deserved; and others apply it to "eternal death."[11] DeHoff applied it to the death due to an adulterer (Leviticus 20:10).[12] It very likely applies to both. As Smith noted, "God took away the penalty of death that David did not die; but the sin rested upon him and it wrought the death of the child."[13] Thus, sin has a double effect, separating a man from God, and producing a chain of evil deeds in the world.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord,.... Which confession, though short, was a full one, arising from a thorough conviction of the evil of the sin he had been guilty of, accompanied with real brokenness of heart, sincere humiliation, and a sorrow after a godly sort, as the fifty first psalm, that penitential psalm composed upon this occasion shows, Psalm 51:1,

and Nathan said unto David; being fully satisfied with the sincerity and genuineness of his repentance, of which he gave proof by words and deeds, and being under the direction and impulse of the Spirit of God:

the Lord hath put away thy sin; would not charge it upon him, impute it to him, or punish him for it, but freely and fully forgive it, cast it behind his back, and into the depth of the sea; cause it to pass from him and never more bring it against him, and which is the Lord's act, and his only, against whom sin is committed:

thou shall not die; though he should die a corporeal death, yet not by the immediate hand of God, or by the sword of justice as a malefactor, a murderer, and adulterer, as he, according to the law, deserved to die; nor should he die a spiritual death, though his grace had been so low, and his corruptions had risen so high; nor an eternal death, the second death, the lost wages of sin.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath g put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

(g) For the Lord seeks the sinner to turn to him.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(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.

Reader! observe how quick and immediate are the Lord's pardons upon the sinner's confession. One short verse contains both, Oh! taste and see how gracious the Lord is.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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 — How serious this confession was, we may see, Psalm 51:1-19.

Put away thy sin — That is, so far as concerns thy own life.

Not die — As by thy own sentence, verse5, thou dost deserve, and may expect to be done by my immediate stroke.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes


Here read Psalms 51:1-19.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 12:13 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.

Ver. 13. I have sinned against the Lord.] He saith not Perii, but Peccavi; not I am undone, but I have done amiss. A short word, but passionate. The greatest griefs are not always the most verbal. Saul confessed his sin more largely, but less effectually; because his confession of sin was not joined with confusion of sin, as Proverbs 28:13. "I have sinned," said he; "yet honour me before the people": and he sped accordingly, (a) as shall be showed.

And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin.] Dominus transtulit, (b) The Lord hath translated thy sin upon Christ’s back, as Mr Bradford translateth it; thou shalt not die. This was the voice of the gospel, awarding life to repentance for sin; and this was David’s comfort: like as David, He shall surely die, [2 Samuel 12:5] was the voice of the law, awarding death to sin; and this was Saul’s doom. It is wittily and pithily observed by Bernard, that Saul repented, and his word was Peccavi, I have sinned: David likewise repented, and his word is the same. The answer to Saul was Dominus transtulit, "the Lord hath taken away": the answer to David was the very same, "the Lord hath taken away." They were both kings and sinned, both were warned by prophets, both repented, both confessed, both were answered. Both their words were alike to the prophet, both their answers alike in part from the prophet, Dominus transtulit: yet never so much difference betwixt words as betwixt these two answers; for to David the answer was Transtulit peccatum, the Lord hath taken away thy sin: but to Saul a double Transtulit, but a curse with both. Dominus transtulit regnum, the Lord hath taken away thy kingdom. [1 Samuel 15:26] Again, Dominus transtulit Spiritum, God hath taken from thee his Spirit; [1 Samuel 16:14] and this latter was the greater.

Thou shalt not die.] As thou hast deserved to do, both temporally, by some sudden stroke of God’s hand, ex proprio iudicato, and externally, since hell is the just hire of the least sin; [Romans 6:23] how much more of such heinous crimes as thou hast committed! But all is remitted, and thou art rectus in curia, acquitted, and accepted. God hath his pardons ready sealed for true penitentiaries. Homo agnoscit, Deus ignoscit.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 12:13

The David of the Old Testament and the Peter of the New were alike keen, impetuous, high-wrought. Each falls in his strong point, because the strength of the good is necessarily the strength of the evil. But in both sin is the parenthesis; the thread of grace is gathered up again.

I. This was not David's only transgression. But it was the greatest, and perhaps if this had been resisted, the others would not have been committed, for sin strangely makes sin, as the mists of to-day fall in the rain of to-morrow. His great successes had brought him to that state of mind which is most open to the assaults of evil.

II. The strength of David's confession lay in the three words "against the Lord." Any one can say, "I have sinned," but you must have known God, you must have realised what sin is to God, and you must have felt something of what God is to you before you can say, "I have sinned against the Lord."

J. Vaughan, Sermons, 7th series, p. 112.

I. The first thought which strikes us in connection with this text is the rapidity with which the penitent received his answer, a rapidity so great that the pardon had actually preceded the confession, for the instant David's acknowledgment had passed his lips God's messenger said, "The Lord hath put away thy sin."

II. In these grand, simple words "put away," what immeasurable distances lie! Even the eye of Omnipotence cannot reach them. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."

J. Vaughan, Sermons, 7th series, p. 120.

I. Too little attention is commonly bestowed on the severity with which David was punished for his sins. He was punished as long as he lived, and as long as he lived he repented of those sins and humbled himself under the consciousness of them. When Nathan was sent to David, he spoke five distinct prophecies, not only "Thou shalt not die," but four others also, and these of a very different tenor; and all of them were alike fulfilled. To point out the fulfilment of these prophecies is simply to give a summary of the after-life of David. (1) First we read how the child Bathsheba had borne to David was smitten of the Lord and died. (2) The sword did not depart from his house through the whole remainder of his life. (3) This enemy was raised up to David from among the members of his own house and family. (4) As he had invaded the sanctuary of another man's home, his own hearth was no longer sacred. All this teaches us that "wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished." But, above all, it is a lesson that God is never more merciful than when He makes punishment follow upon sin.

II. Although David was severely punished, he was yet freely forgiven. The forgiveness of an offender may be granted in two ways: it may be without any conditions, or it may be granted quite as truly, quite as freely, and yet not so unconditionally. In the present case God had annexed a chastisement to His pardon and declared that it should fall upon David, and from that day forward every worldly visitation which recalled the memory of his sin brought with it a twofold blessing: it kept his conscience tender, that his fall might be his warning; and it renewed the pledge of the full and final forgiveness that had been promised to him.

R. Scott, University Sermons, p. 251.

References: 2 Samuel 12:13.—R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 54; R. C. Trench, Brief Thoughts and Meditations, p. 120; J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 57; Sermons for the Christian Seasons, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 705.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 12:13. David said—I have sinned No sooner was the application of the parable made by Nathan, but David owns his offence; and the Psalms he penned on this occasion, shew the deep sense he had of the guilt he contracted, and will be a memorial of his repentance to all future ages. See especially the 51st Psalm. His unhesitating confession, I have sinned, short, but more expressive than all the parade of eloquence, darted, as God saw it was, from a contrite, softened, penetrated heart, averted the impending stroke; and God was gracious to heal his soul with those balmy words, the Lord also hath put away thy sin: thou shalt not die. Upon the whole, let David stand as a warning to mankind of the frailty of human nature, of the deceitfulness of sin, of the danger of giving way to criminal passions, and the first violations of conscience and duty. Thus will his fall be a means of their security; and they will learn not to insult his memory, but pity the man by whom they are warned and guarded against the like transgressions. Or, if like him they offend, they may hope from his example that they shall not die, if, as he did, they acknowledge their sin, and with a broken and contrite heart earnestly implore the divine forgiveness. O what a pregnant lesson to all ages, to keep a constant guard upon their hearts, and to tremble at the thoughts of the unseen, undefinable consequences of every vicious, and particularly every lustful act! Lust is a vice as infectious to the souls, as the disease with which Providence has armed it is to the bodies of men. No lewd person knows, or can guess, to how many souls the poison of lewdness may communicate itself. The hearts of thousands may be tainted by means of one single act. The moral infection of it may spread on through successive subjects, producing in its ravages not only habits of lewdness, but thefts, perjuries, adulteries, murders—till the day of doom arrive, to call the pale astonished wretch from the long train of sins which sprung from his lust, to that dreadful condemnation, which nothing could have eluded, but an humble, contrite, perpetual repentance. Happy was it for David that he took this only expedient to obtain from God, in Christ, "that his sins should be put away, and remembered no more!"

The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die That is, has put away the guilt and eternal punishment, together with the temporal punishment of death, due to this offence by the Mosaic law.

REFLECTIONS.—If God were not to restore us in our vile and sinful departures from him, every iniquity would issue in apostacy; but he hateth putting away, therefore he delivers our souls, when we seem appointed unto death.

1. God sends Nathan the prophet to awaken David from his lethargy. David had not cast off the form of religion, though so degenerated from the power of it, but still retained and honoured the prophets and priests of the Lord, and continued a profession of godliness. Nathan instantly obeys the command, and, though prepared to reprove him sharply, yet introduces his message in such a way, as to insinuate deeper into David's conscience, and leave him self-condemned. Note; A reproof wisely administered is doubly effectual.

2. Nathan appears a poor man's advocate to the king against a rich oppressor, and, under this fictitious character, represents the circumstances of David's guilt, and draws from him his own condemnation. He represents the case as lately happening between two men, (David and Uriah,) the one rich in flocks and herds, (for David had many wives,) the other possessing but one ewe lamb, (Bath-sheba,) which lay in his bosom, and was treated with the greatest tenderness. A traveller coming to the rich man, (Satan, who goeth to and fro in the earth to tempt, or his own inordinate concupiscence which craved indulgence,) he spared his own flocks and herds, (his own wives, and robbed the poor man of his lamb (even Uriah's wife,) to dress for the traveller (his own corrupt lust and appetite). So tender a story awakened David's anger; and, little suspecting how nearly he was concerned, he swears the offender shall die for his inhumanity, as well as his oppression. Note; (1.) Every wife has a title to her husband's singular and endeared affection. (2.) Multiplying wives never cures concupiscence, but inflames it. He who is not satisfied with one, will never be satisfied with more. (3.) Those are often severest in their censures on others, who are themselves most deserving of that severity. (4.) They who pronounce sentence in anger, will, it is to be feared, exceed the boundaries of justice as well as mercy.

3. Nathan unmasks his battery against David's conscience, and plainly charges him home with the very guilt that he had condemned. Thou art the man; thou hast not only robbed the poor man of his lamb, but of his life too. In the name of the God of Israel, that sacred name before which he used to tremble, Nathan upbraids him with his deep ingratitude: God had delivered him from Saul, had given him a kingdom, and his master's wives into his bosom; filled his house with riches, and would have done for him more if that had not sufficed him. Most ungrateful, therefore, were these returns. He boldly charges his crimes upon him; high contempt of God, and the greater baseness and cruelty to man. He had despised God's government by the most open violation of his commands; had taken the wife of Uriah to the bed of adultery, and had then murdered the husband, with the deepest treachery, by the sword of the uncircumcised, after plunging him into the guilt of drunkenness. Therefore he denounces the sentence of terrible, but most just judgment against him. The sword he had so wickedly used should smite his own house, and never depart from it; beginning in the slaughter of his son Amnon and Absalom, and, after long wars, completing the ruin of his kingdom. The adultery he had committed secretly, should be visited upon him in his own wives, prostituted in the sight of the sun; and this evil, for its greater aggravation, should arise out of his own house; a house that he would live to see defiled with murder, incest, rebellion, and full of misery and wretchedness. Note; (1.) We must deal plainly and freely with the sinner's conscience. (2.) The root of all sin is unbelief of the divine threatenings, making men think lightly of the divine law. (3.) The poisoned chalice returns justly to the lips of him that mingled it. (4.) They must pay dear for their lusts who dare indulge them, either in present punishment, or shortly in eternal torment.

4. David, thunderstruck with the application, confounded with guilt, and self-condemned, confesses the charge, owns the heinousness of his guilt against God, and is ready to sink under despair on the black review. But God, though correcting him, will not give him over unto death. He revives his failing heart with hope: Thou shalt not die, as a murderer and adulterer deserves; thy sin is put away, is forgiven, so far as relates to eternal punishment. But let him not think all was over; no, dire marks of God's displeasure he should receive, because God will vindicate his honour, which was by this wicked conduct blasphemed among the people; and, as a present striking instance of God's anger, he denounces the death of the new-born babe: though he shall not die in his sin, he shall not enjoy the fruit of it. Note; (1.) The only way to avoid the judgments that we have provoked, is by returning to God, through Jesus Christ, with humble acknowledgment of our guilt. (2.) They shall not die eternally, whose iniquity God in his dear Son has put away and forgiven. (3.) Nothing causes more reproach on God and his cause, than these scandalous falls of professors. (4.) God will make those sins bitter to his people, in which they foolishly and wickedly sought enjoyment, and by dire experience cause them to feel how evil and bitter a thing it is to transgress against him.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



2 Samuel 12:13. 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.

IT is scarcely to be conceived to what a degree sin will blind the eyes, and harden the heart. We see indeed that the ungodly world will commit every species of iniquity without either shame or remorse: but who would imagine that a person enlightened, renewed, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, should in the space of a few days be reduced by sin to a state of utter obduracy? Yet such was the change which one single temptation speedily effected on him who was “the man after God’s own heart.” The circumstances of David’s crime are so well known, that they need not at present to be enlarged upon. But his long impenitence, his apparent forgetfulness of his horrid deeds, and his excessive severity against a man whose fault bore no proportion to his own, are less noticed; though they cannot fail to strike every one who reads the account of his conversation with Nathan. By an apposite and well-wrought parable, the Prophet Nathan had led David inadvertently to pass sentence against himself; and then availed himself of the opportunity to charge home upon him the crimes he had perpetrated. Then it was, and not till then, that David felt a just sense of his guilt: though nine months at least had elapsed since his criminal intercourse with Bathsheba, yet his conscience had slept, till it was now awakened to perform its office. On this occasion he confessed his sin to Nathan; and received from Nathan a consolatory assurance, that his iniquity, heinous as it was, was pardoned.

There are two points to which the text directs our attention;

I. David’s humiliation—

There does not at first sight appear any thing worthy of notice in David’s confession: but, if we examine it carefully, we shall find in it several things which indicated a deep and true repentance.

1. He acknowledged his sin as an offence against God—

[The evil of sin in this view is generally overlooked; and the quality of actions is appreciated and determined by their effects on society. Hence the offences which are committed solely against God, such as unbelief, impenitence, self-righteousness, and the like, are never condemned by the world, or even considered as blemishing the moral character at all; while such crimes as theft and perjury render a man universally execrated and abhorred. But it is from its relation to God that sin derives its principal malignity: its chief heinousness consists in its being a violation of God’s law, a contempt of his authority, and a practical denial of all his attributes. If any sin whatever could deserve to be marked with superior infamy on other considerations, it would surely be the crimes which David had committed: yet, in adverting to these very actions, David passes over their criminality in relation to man, and notices them only as offences against God [Note: See Psalms 51:4. Joseph’s views of sin perfectly agreed with those of David. See Genesis 39:9.]. This shews that he had just views of his conduct: and that the grounds of his humiliation were precisely such as the occasion required.]

2. He made no attempt to extenuate his guilt—

[Unhumbled persons uniformly endeavour to palliate their faults. Adam cast the blame of his transgression on Eve; and Eve transferred it to the serpent [Note: Genesis 3:12-13.]. Saul, when reproved for sparing Agag and the chief of the spoil, shifted the blame from himself upon the people; and, as far as it still attached to him, excused himself as acting involuntarily, and as overawed by the people [Note: 1 Samuel 15:15; 1 Samuel 15:24.]. But David’s mouth was shut: he uttered not one single word in extenuation of his crimes: heavy as Nathan’s charge against him was, he fell under it. This was another excellent proof of his penitence and contrition: and it is certain, that wherever real humiliation is, the penitent will be more ready to aggravate his guilt, than to palliate and excuse it.]

3. He manifested no displeasure against his reprover—

[Men in general, and great men in particular, are very apt to take offence, when told of their faults. They think themselves at liberty to insult God as much as they please: but no one must take the liberty to maintain the cause of God in opposition to them. Some indeed have been found, in different ages, who have ventured to speak with faithfulness to monarchs: but they have always done it at the peril of their lives [Note: See 1 Kings 13:4; 1 Kings 21:20; 1 Kings 22:8 and 2 Kings 1:9 and 2 Chronicles 16:10.], and not unfrequently have paid the penalty of death for their presumption [Note: 2 Chronicles 24:21; 2 Chronicles 25:16 and Matthew 14:3-5; Matthew 14:10.]. But in the present instance no displeasure at all was manifested: on the contrary, we have reason to think that Nathan was more endeared to David than ever by his fidelity, since David afterwards called one of his own children by the prophet’s name [Note: 2 Samuel 5:14.]; and shewed confidence in him to the latest hour of his life [Note: 1 Kings 1:24; 1 Kings 1:27; 1 Kings 1:32-34.]. In this therefore we have a further evidence of the sincerity and depth of David’s repentance.]

4. He was willing to take shame to himself even before men—

[There is nothing which men will not do in order to conceal their guilt from men: they will “add iniquity to iniquity,” and perpetrate murder itself, in order to avoid the shame to which their crimes have exposed them. How keenly was Saul affected by Samuel’s refusal to honour him before the people! The dread of that public dishonour pained him more than all the denunciations of God’s wrath [Note: 1 Samuel 15:25-30.]. But the reproaches of men, however severe, were of no account in David’s eyes: that which pained him was, that he had given occasion for those reproaches, and that God would be dishonoured by them: and therefore, though he thereby published and perpetuated his own shame, he wrote some of his penitential Psalms, and set them to music for the use of penitents in that and all succeeding ages. Being “vile in his own eyes,” it was a matter of small concern to him that he was vile also in the eyes of others: he lothed and “abhorred himself,” and therefore submitted readily to be abhorred by others.]

The truth of his repentance being manifest, we proceed to notice,

II. His acceptance consequent upon it—

Very remarkable was the answer of the prophet to the royal penitent. We remark from it that David’s acceptance with God was,

1. Immediate—

[There was no interval of time between the confession of David and the reply of Nathan. The very instant that David repented, God forgave him. This is particularly noticed by David himself as a marvellous expression of God’s love and mercy; “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin [Note: Psalms 32:5.].” We should have expected that God would suspend his forgiveness, till David should have evinced the truth of his repentance by a subsequent life of piety: but “God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours; yea rather, they are as much above ours as the heavens are above the earth [Note: Isaiah 55:8-9.].” God acts in a way worthy of himself. His grace is his own, to dispose of according to his sovereign will; and he dispenses it to whomsoever, and in whatever way, he sees fit. He shews, if we may so speak, peculiar pleasure in manifesting his compassion towards repenting sinners. He represents himself as falling on the neck of the returning prodigal, and as interrupting his confessions by testimonies of his parental love and pardoning grace. Towards the dying thief also our incarnate God displayed the same readiness to forgive, in that he not only complied with his petition, but far exceeded, without one moment’s hesitation, his most enlarged desires [Note: Luke 23:42-43.].

Thus has he given us a practical comment on his own gracious declarations, and demonstrated, for our comfort, that he is “slow to anger and ready to forgive.”]

2. Attested—

[Nathan spake, not as a man who suggested only a surmise or doubtful opinion, but as a prophet who was inspired to declare what God had really done. God willed not that his repenting servant should be kept in suspense; and therefore ordered Nathan to communicate to him the joyful tidings, not that God would put away his sin, but that he had put it away, and that the penal consequences of his transgression should never come upon his soul. It is thus that God frequently acts towards his people: as he made known to David by his prophet, so he reveals to them by his Spirit, that their iniquities are forgiven, and their sins covered [Note: See Isaiah 6:7; Isaiah 38:17; Zechariah 3:4.]. He desires not the constrained service of a slave, but the willing and grateful obedience of a child. “Though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies [Note: Lamentations 3:32.];” and will cause his believing people to enjoy an assured sense of their acceptance with him [Note: Isaiah 12:1 and Romans 8:15-16.].]

3. Complete—

[The sins which David had committed were from that very moment “blotted out as a morning cloud:” neither his adultery nor his murder, nor one particle of guilt of any kind, was imputed to him. There were indeed some temporal judgments entailed upon him: the fruit of his adulterous commerce was blasted, and the child stricken with death. David’s own wives were all defiled publicly by his son Absalom: and the sword, according to Nathan’s prediction, never departed from his house. These things however were merely temporal, and were designed as much for the benefit of others as for his correction: they tended to impress on all a sense of the malignity of David’s crimes; and to shew that, however God might pity and forgive a sinner, he utterly and unchangeably abhorred sin. But, notwithstanding these remembrancers of his iniquity, his sin was “cast, as it were, into the very depths of the sea;” as ours also shall be, if we truly repent; nor will God ever remember them against us any more for ever [Note: Micah 7:18-19; Hebrews 8:12.].]

We may learn then from this subject,

1. The benefit of a judicious and faithful Ministry—

[The method which Nathan used in order to reach the conscience of David, was extremely judicious: and when he had succeeded in making a breach, then he commenced a direct attack, “Thou art the man.” Had he been less cautious, he had probably shut the ears of his royal master; and had he been satisfied with offering some oblique hints, he had failed to impress his callous mind. But by a happy union of wisdom and fidelity, he gained his point [Note: Proverbs 25:12.]. Well was it for David that he had such a prophet in his court; for, without his admonitions, he might probably have become more and more obdurate, till he had perished in his sin. Thus should all esteem themselves highly favoured of God, if they have a minister, who, while he fears not the faces of men, has a tender love for their souls. They should gladly listen to his admonitions, and thankfully receive his reproofs: they should make it a continual subject of their prayers, that his word may come with power to their souls, to awaken them to a sense of sin, and to bring them to the enjoyment of salvation.]

2. The boundless extent of God’s mercy—

[Who would have conceived it possible that such sins as David’s should be so soon forgiven? But, “as God’s majesty is, so also is his mercy.” “He delighteth in mercy;” and “waits that he may be gracious unto us.” His message to us is, “Only acknowledge thy transgressions that thou hast sinned against the Lord thy God [Note: Jeremiah 3:13.].” And for our encouragement he declares, “If any say, I have sinned, and it profited me not; I will deliver him from going down into the pit, and his soul shall see the light [Note: Job 33:27-28.].” Let us then carry all our sins to him: whether they have been more or less heinous in the sight of men, let us not continue under the guilt of them, when they may be so speedily removed: let us remember, that, in and through Christ, God is reconciled to a guilty world; and that, while “they who cover their sins shall not prosper, whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy [Note: Proverbs 28:13.].”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I have sinned against the Lord; I now freely confess that sin which I have hitherto so wickedly smothered; and I have deserved all these and far heavier judgments for it; and I am more troubled for my sin against my sovereign Lord and gracious God, than for the shame and punishment that follow it. How serious and pathetical this confession was, we may see, Psa 51.

The Lord also hath put away thy sin, i.e. so far as concerns thy own life and eternal salvation; both which were forfeited by this sin.

Thou shalt not die, as by thy own sentence, 2 Samuel 12:5, thou didst deserve, and as thou mightest expect to do by my immediate stroke; though possibly thou mightest elude the law before a human judicature, or there be no superior to execute the law upon thee.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.I have sinned against the Lord — David’s heart is now laid open to his eyes, and he sees, and shudders at, his enormous crimes, and feels that death is his just desert. But for him there is yet a voice of mercy.

The Lord’ hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die — Amazing grace! Pardon seems to be in waiting for the sinner to confess and repent.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 12:13. David said, I have sinned against the Lord — Overwhelmed with shame, stung with remorse, and oppressed with a dreadful sense of the divine vengeance, impending, and ready to fall upon himself and his family, he could only give utterance to this short confession. How sincere and serious it was, what a deep sense he now had of his guilt, and from what a softened, penetrated, broken, and contrite heart, his acknowledgment proceeded, we may see in the psalms he penned on this occasion, especially the 1st. The Lord also hath put away thy sin — That is, so far as concerns thy own life. Thou shalt not die — As, according to thy own sentence, 2 Samuel 12:5, thou dost deserve, and mightest justly expect to do from God’s immediate stroke; though possibly thou mightest elude the law before a human judicature, or there should be no superior to execute the law upon thee. There is something unspeakably gracious in this sudden sentence of pardon, pronounced by the prophet in the instant of David’s confession of guilt and humiliation before God, even if we consider it as only implying exemption from the stroke of temporal death, and the granting him space for repentance, and for making his peace with God, with respect to his spiritual and immortal interests. And this seems to be the true light in which we ought to view it. If the psalm we have just mentioned was written after the event of Nathan’s coming to him, as the title of it signifies, and as is generally allowed, it is evident David did not yet consider himself as pardoned by God, or in a state of reconciliation with him. For, in that psalm we find not any thanksgivings for pardon actually obtained, but several most fervent supplications and entreaties for it as a blessing not yet granted. It may, therefore, be true enough, as Dr. Delaney supposes, that David’s pardon was not obtained by the instantaneous submission which he expressed, when he said, I have sinned; but that a long and bitter repentance preceded it; and yet that able divine may be mistaken, as it seems evident from the whole narrative he is, in supposing that repentance took place before Nathan was sent to him. The sacred historian gives no intimation of David’s being awakened to a proper sense of guilt, or of his being made truly penitent for it, till the application of Nathan’s parable. Then, and not before, it appears, he began to feel the compunction and distress expressed in that and the 32nd Psalm, during the continuance of which, day and night God’s hand was heavy upon him: his moisture was turned into the drought of summer, and his bones waxed old through his roaring all the day long. Some time after, but how long we are not told, he was made a partaker of the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered; and that on his own certain knowledge and experience: for he says, I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Sinned. His confession was sincere, and very different from that of Saul, 1 Kings xv. 24. "The expression was the same; but God saw the difference of the heart." (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxii. 27.) --- Sin. He has remitted the fault and the eternal punishment, and he has greatly diminished the temporal chastisement, and will not inflict instant death, as he seemed to have threatened, ver. 10. (Calmet) --- "The speedy remission shewed the greatness of the king's repentance." (St. Ambrose, Apol. 2.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

I have sinned. Psa 51 is the expansion of this.

sinned . . . sin. Hebrew. chata". App-44.

hath put away. Divine forgiveness instantly follows the sinner"s confession (1 John 1:9). Compare Job 42:6, Job 42:8, Job 42:10. Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah 6:6, "then flew". Luke 15:18, Luke 15:20, "his father ran", &c.

thou, &c. Some codices, with two early printed editions, read "and (or therefore) thou wilt not die".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) I have sinned.—The same words were used by Saul (1 Samuel 15:24; 1 Samuel 15:30), but in a totally different spirit. Saul’s confession was a concession to the prophet for the purpose of securing his support, and with no real penitence; David, in these few words, pours out before God the confession of a broken heart.

Thou shalt not die.—David had committed two crimes for which the Law imposed the penalty of death—adultery (Leviticus 20:10) and murder (Leviticus 24:17). As an absolute monarch he had no reason to fear that the sentence would be put in force by any human authority; and the Divine word is to him of far more importance as an assurance of forgiveness than as a warding off of any possible earthly danger. The phrase is thus parallel to, and explanatory of, the previous clause, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
1 Samuel 15:20,24; 1 Kings 13:4; 21:20; 22:8; 2 Kings 1:9; 2 Chronicles 16:10; 24:20-22; 2 Chronicles 25:16; Matthew 14:3-5,10
I have sinned
24:10; 1 Samuel 15:24,25,30; Job 7:20; 33:27; Psalms 32:3-5; 51:4; Proverbs 25:12; Proverbs 28:13; Luke 15:21; Acts 2:37; 1 John 1:8-10
The Lord
Job 7:21; Psalms 32:1,2; 130:3,4; Isaiah 6:5-7; 38:17; 43:24; 44:22; Lamentations 3:32; Micah 7:18,19; Zechariah 3:4; Hebrews 9:26; 1 John 1:7,9; 2:1; Revelation 1:5
Leviticus 20:10; Numbers 35:31-33; Psalms 51:16; Acts 13:38,39; Romans 8:33,34
Reciprocal: Genesis 39:9 - sin;  Genesis 42:21 - they said;  Exodus 21:12 - GeneralLeviticus 13:23 - GeneralNumbers 22:34 - I Have sinned;  Judges 10:15 - We have sinned;  1 Chronicles 21:8 - I have sinned;  Psalm 32:5 - acknowledged;  Psalm 103:3 - forgiveth;  Jeremiah 14:20 - for;  Hosea 14:2 - away;  2 Corinthians 7:10 - repentance;  Hebrews 10:28 - despised

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".