2 Samuel 12

Nathan Rebukes David

1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.
2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle,
3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die!
6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.
9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
11 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.
12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the LORD, the son born to you will die.”
15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.
16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[b] on the ground.
17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’
23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him;
25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.[c]
26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel.
27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply.
28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.”
29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it.
30 David took the crown from their king’s[d] head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent[e] of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city
31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking.[f] David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Nathan's parable-David confesses his sin. (1-14) The birth of Solomon. (15-25) David's severity to the Ammonites. (26-31)

Verses 1-14 God will not suffer his people to lie still in sin. By this parable Nathan drew from David a sentence against himself. Great need there is of prudence in giving reproofs. In his application, he was faithful. He says in plain terms, Thou art the man. God shows how much he hates sin, even in his own people; and wherever he finds it, he will not let it go unpunished. David says not a word to excuse himself or make light of his sin, but freely owns it. When David said, I have sinned, and Nathan perceived that he was a true penitent, he assured him his sin was forgiven. Thou shalt not die: that is, not die eternally, nor be for ever put away from God, as thou wouldest have been, if thou hadst not put away the sin. Though thou shalt all thy days be chastened of the Lord, yet thou shalt not be condemned with the world. There is this great evil in the sins of those who profess religion and relation to God, that they furnish the enemies of God and religion with matter for reproach and blasphemy. And it appears from David's case, that even where pardon is obtained, the Lord will visit the transgression of his people with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. For one momentary gratification of a vile lust, David had to endure many days and years of extreme distress.

Verses 15-25 David now penned the 51st Psalm, in which, though he had been assured that his sin was pardoned, he prays earnestly for pardon, and greatly laments his sin. He was willing to bear the shame of it, to have it ever before him, to be continually upbraided with it. God gives us leave to be earnest with him in prayer for particular blessings, from trust in his power and general mercy, though we have no particular promise to build upon. David patiently submitted to the will of God in the death of one child, and God made up the loss to his advantage, in the birth of another. The way to have creature comforts continued or restored, or the loss made up some other way, is cheerfully to resign them to God. God, by his grace, particularly owned and favoured that son, and ordered him to be called Jedidiah, Beloved of the Lord. Our prayers for our children are graciously and as fully answered when some of them die in their infancy, for they are well taken care of, and when others live, "beloved of the Lord."

Verses 26-31 To be thus severe in putting the children of Ammon to slavery was a sign that David's heart was not yet made soft by repentance, at the time when this took place. We shall be most compassionate, kind, and forgiving to others, when we most feel our need of the Lord's forgiving love, and taste the sweetness of it in our own souls.

Cross References 44

  • 1. S 2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Kings 20:35-41
  • 2. Psalms 51 Title
  • 3. 2 Samuel 14:4
  • 4. 1 Kings 20:40
  • 5. S Genesis 34:7
  • 6. Romans 2:1
  • 7. S 1 Samuel 14:39
  • 8. Exodus 22:1; Luke 19:8
  • 9. 2 Samuel 14:13; Daniel 4:22
  • 10. S 1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Samuel 16:13
  • 11. 1 Kings 20:42
  • 12. S 2 Samuel 9:7
  • 13. S Numbers 15:31; S 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:19
  • 14. S 2 Samuel 11:15
  • 15. 1 Kings 15:5
  • 16. Psalms 26:9; Psalms 51:14
  • 17. 2 Samuel 13:28; 2 Samuel 18:14-15; 1 Kings 2:25
  • 18. 2 Samuel 16:11
  • 19. Deuteronomy 28:30; 2 Samuel 16:21-22
  • 20. S Deuteronomy 17:17
  • 21. 2 Samuel 11:4-15
  • 22. 2 Samuel 16:22
  • 23. S Genesis 13:13; S Genesis 20:6; S Numbers 22:34; 1 Samuel 15:24; 2 Samuel 24:10
  • 24. Psalms 32:1-5; Psalms 51:1,9; Psalms 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 44:22; Zechariah 3:4,9
  • 25. Proverbs 28:13; Jeremiah 2:35; Micah 7:18-19
  • 26. Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 24:17
  • 27. Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24
  • 28. S 1 Samuel 25:38
  • 29. 2 Samuel 13:31; Psalms 5:7; Psalms 95:6
  • 30. S Genesis 37:35; S 1 Samuel 1:7
  • 31. S 2 Samuel 3:35; Daniel 6:18
  • 32. Matthew 6:17
  • 33. S Genesis 41:14; Job 1:20
  • 34. Judges 20:26
  • 35. John 3:9
  • 36. Isaiah 38:1-5
  • 37. Genesis 37:35
  • 38. S 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 13:39; Job 7:10; Job 10:21
  • 39. 1 Kings 1:11
  • 40. 1 Kings 1:10; 1 Chronicles 22:9; 1 Chronicles 28:5; Matthew 1:6
  • 41. Nehemiah 13:26
  • 42. S Deuteronomy 3:11; 1 Chronicles 20:1-3
  • 43. 1 Chronicles 20:2; Esther 8:15; Psalms 21:3; Psalms 132:18
  • 44. S 1 Samuel 14:47

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition; Masoretic Text "for the enemies of"
  • [b]. Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint; Masoretic Text does not have "in sackcloth" .
  • [c]. "Jedidiah" means "loved by the " Lord"."
  • [d]. Or "from Milkom’s" (that is, Molek’s)
  • [e]. That is, about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms
  • [f]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.

Chapter Summary


Nathan is sent to David to charge him with his sin, and convince him of it by a parable, 2Sa 12:1-6; which being accommodated and applied to David's case, brought him to a conviction and acknowledgment of it, and repentance for it, which was forgiven him, 2Sa 12:7-13; though he is told the child begotten in adultery should die, and it was quickly struck with sickness and died; and David's behaviour during its sickness and at its death is recorded, 2Sa 12:14-23; after which Solomon was born to him of the same woman, and had the name of Jedidiah given him by the Lord, which signifies the beloved of the Lord, and as a token of reconciliation, and a confirmation of his sin being forgiven him, 2Sa 12:24,25; and the chapter is concluded with the taking of the city of Rabbah, and the spoil in it, and the usage of the inhabitants of it, 2Sa 12:26-31.

2 Samuel 12 Commentaries

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