2 Samuel 12:13-14 - 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. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” 2 Samuel 12:22-23 - 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.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:29 -So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. Read all of 2 Samuel 11-12.
Hollywood loves a Bible chapter like 2 Samuel 11, because King David’s sins of adultery with the beautiful Bathsheba and David’s calculated and cold-blooded murder of her loyal husband Uriah make for an exciting and colorful movie. And, of course, Hollywood would do everything possible to play up the drama and intrigue. But from the divine perspective, 2 Samuel 11 is not an exciting chapter. It’s a very sad chapter, and a tragic transition point in David’’s life. From this point on, for the rest of his life, David suffered the consequences of his terrible sins. 2 Samuel 12, however, is an encouraging chapter in several ways. After David was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he immediately confessed his sin. As a result, we see God’s plan and purpose of restoration at work, and David was comforted in the assurance that his great sins were forgiven. Because David’s sins had reflected disreputably on the Lord, God’s plan included severe discipline. Discipline is always part of God’s work of restoring a sinner to fellowship with Himself. But even in the death of David and Bathsheba’s child, we find that David was comforted. This is certainly an indication that God will comfort grieving parentstoday, and that believers can be drawn closer to Him through the grieving process. And near the end of the chapter, God’s grace is clearly seen in the birth of Solomon. What a comfort the birth of this child must have been to David and Bathsheba. Let’s examine this chapter in a little more detail, and appreciate the biblical teaching that God can comfort and restore us in the midst of guilt and grief.
Background NotesDavid thought he had successfully covered up his sins, and had “gotten away with it” by marrying Bathsheba as soon as the mourning period for her murdered husband was over. But the sin was not hidden from the all-seeing eyes of the Lord. We read at the end of chapter 11 that “the thing David had done displeased the Lord” (v27). Probably about a year went by between chapters 11 and 12. If we didn’t have the book of Psalms, we might get the impression that David had covered up his sin so well that even he had forgotten about it! But from the Psalms we learn that David’s conscience was overwhelmed with guilt, and the hand of the Lord was heavy upon him during this period of time. Listen to David’s words in Psalm 32:3-4: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me, and my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Psalm 51 is David’s psalm of confession, as we see from the title: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” Here are some of the lines from this psalm: “Have mercy on me O God, according to Your unfailing love, according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight” (v1-4). “Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create within me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (v 9-10). “Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness” (v14). So even before the prophet Nathan confronted David, God was working in David’s heart. David was overwhelmed with the realization of his bloodguilt before a holy God, and that his sins were responsible for the separation that had come between him and the Lord.
Doctrinal / Teaching Points1. God comforts us in our guilt. The prophet Nathan presented David with an account of a rich man who owned many sheep and cattle. When a guest came to his home, however, the rich man robbed a poor man of his one little lamb, a family pet, and killed it for a meal. Of course this story was a parable, but at first David believed it was a real case and became very angry. David’s anger burned against the man, and said to Nathan,“As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!” (v5). Little did David realize that he was judging himself when he pronounced that the guilty man should make fourfold restitution! “He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (v6). You can imagine David’s shock and horror when Nathan looked him straight in the eye and said: “You are the man!” The good news here is that David immediately took responsibility and confessed his sin, and God graciously forgave him (v13-14). Think of the comfort that David must have experienced in the midst of overwhelming guilt when God declared that his sins were forgiven. And what a comforting truth for us. God comforts us in our guilt. However, in no way does the comfort of God condone our sin, nor does it remove the consequences of our sin. In reference to the consequences of David’s sins, as David had pronounced that there should be fourfold restitution for the rich man’s sin, so there would be fourfold consequences to David’s forgiven sin. Nathan outlined God’s fourfold discipline in verses 7-14:
- “You struck down Uriah the Hittite [Bathsheba’s husband] with the sword…Therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah to be your own” (v9-10). At least three of David’s sons, Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah, met violent deaths. See 2 Samuel 13 and 18, and 1 Kings 2.
- “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you” (v11). In chapter 13 we read of the rape of David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon, and the murder of Amnon by Tamar’s brother, Absalom. Later on, David’s son Absalom rebelled against his father, and attempted to usurp the throne of Israel from David. See 2 Samuel 15-18. And in 1 Kings 1, at the end of David’s life, yet another son attempted to take the throne which David had promised to Solomon.
- “I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel” (v11). During Absalom’s rebellion, David’s concubines were taken from David’s palace harem and publicly violated on the roof of the palace (2 Samuel 16:21-22).
- “Because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” (v14). Because David had brought great and widespread disrepute upon the holy name of the Lord, the consequences in David’s life would be severe. The child born of David and Bathsheba’s adulterous relationship became ill, and despite David’s prayers and pleading, he died.