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2 Samuel 12

Nathan Rebukes David (12:1–31)

15–21 The Lord struck the child, who had just been born, and he became ill (verse 15). David pleaded with God to spare the child, but to no avail. While the child lived, David fasted as if he were in mourning (verse 16). But when he found out the child was dead, David stopped fasting. In his servants’ minds, he was doing the opposite of what was expected: mourning was supposed to take place after one died, not before!

22–23 David explained to his servants that he had fasted not in order to mourn but in order to persuade God to reverse His decision. When the child died, there was no further need to fast. Instead of the child returning to him, David would one day be going to the child—to the grave, the place of the dead52 (Genesis 37:35).

There is a message of comfort here to those Christian parents who have lost a child: they will meet their child again. Their child has gone on ahead to the place that Jesus has prepared (John 14:2).

24–25 David and Bathsheba then had another child, whom they named Solomon. “Solomon” would become the child’s throne name. But meanwhile, God directed them to name the child Jedidiah, which means “loved by the Lord.” The reason for naming him this, of course, was that the LORD loved him (verse 25). By this statement the writer is signaling to the reader that Jedidiah (Solomon) had been chosen by God to be Israel’s next king. Through Solomon, God would fulfill His promise to David: “I will raise up your offspring to succeed you” (2 Samuel 7:12).

26–28 In these verses, the writer returns to Israel’s war against the Ammonites (2 Samuel 11:1); it was during this war that David’s affair with Bathsheba occurred. Now we are told about the successful conclusion of the war.

Joab had crippled the Ammonites’ main city, Rabbah, by taking control of its water supply (verse 27). Joab then invited David to personally lead his troops in the final capture of the city. A victorious commander was customarily given the honor of renaming a conquered city, and Joab wanted that honor to go to his uncle David (verse 28).

29–31 David accepted, and led in the attack on Rabbah. David took the crown of the Ammonite king as plunder; it weighed a talent of gold (thirty-four kilograms), so it must have been worn only for brief ceremonies! Then, according to ancient custom, David brought the surviving Ammonites back to Israel where they were forced to serve as laborers (verse 31).

For the modern reader there is an important note of encouragement in these final verses. In spite of David’s very great sins, God was still willing to use him—to use him in battle, to use him to set a godly example for his nation, and to use him to write many of the Psalms through which untold millions have been blessed. All Christians fall into sin from time to time; some fall into great sins, like David’s. But that doesn’t mean that God has no further use for them. Only let them confess their sin and turn from it, and God will welcome them back into His service. Once a sin is confessed and truly repented of, that sin is erased from God’s memory (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12). And if it is erased from God’s memory, it certainly can be erased from ours!

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