2 Samuel 12

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Read 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. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 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.

“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.”

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

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. 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. 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 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 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.

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 head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent 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. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

Go Deeper

2 Samuel 12 is a profound statement on how far our hearts can wander from intimacy with God. That David, referred to in Scripture as a man after God’s own heart, had grown so numb to the ways of God that he committed adultery, facilitated murder, and then married Bathsheba without conviction tells us how hardened his heart had become. 

Thankfully, David eventually comes to grasp the weight of his sin against the Lord. In today’s reading he says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” In the corresponding Psalm 51 that David wrote during this time, he continues his confession, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned” (v. 4). While David sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, and Joab, he realized that all sin goes against God and breaks His heart.  

His epiphany of the evil in his heart contrasted against God’s holiness cuts him to his core. He fasts, mourns, and wears sackcloths for days, confessing his sin and pleading with God for forgiveness and restoration. Even though his actions seem unforgivable to us, God’s forgiveness knows no bounds. David knows God intimately and so He appeals to God for restoration and grace.

And in this situation, we see the heart of God towards those who repent. While we may not have ever chosen to bless David again after such sin, today’s reading says that “the Lord loved” (v. 25) David and Bathsheba’s son, Solomon. Widely understood as the wisest and one of the richest men who ever lived, Solomon was granted blessing and honor even David was not allowed. How gracious of God and magnificent His forgiveness that He did not withhold His extravagance towards David after such failure. We treasure this unbelievable truth that, upon repentance, “as far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Let’s allow David’s story to remind us all that no sin is unforgivable and no person is unredeemable. 

Questions

  1. In what ways have you hardened your heart to the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Is there a sin in your life that feels unforgivable to you? Or is there a sin that’s been committed against you where you have withheld forgiveness? 
  3. What would it mean for your life if you really believed that God doesn’t hold your sins against you and wants to pour out blessing upon you?

Keep Digging

Read Psalm 51 and meditate on the conviction response of David to gain further insight into this passage.

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3 thoughts on “2 Samuel 12”

  1. Kathy Davidson

    The Lord sent Nathan to rebuke David after the child was born, which means David was “in sin” without conviction for 9 months. It’s crazy to me reading this that he couldn’t see his own sin right in front of him, when it was so obvious. This reminds me of the importance of community & the practice of weekly confession. 9 months is way too long to stay in unrepentant sin! But, how kind of God to not let David alone & to bring Nathan in to help show David his sin. He wanted David to repent & so He helped him get there when he was blinded to his sin. The world tells us that being called out on our sin or our errors is unkind and unloving. But it’s the opposite with God. His kindness leads us to repentance! He loves us too much to leave us in our sin. He convicts us because He cares for us & He wants our whole heart.

  2. Ella Snodgrass

    Sin is indeed a slippery slope, and once we give into it we are deceived and our reasoning is clouded. The enemy of our souls wants to thwart God’s plan for our lives and will stop at nothing to do so. That’s why he’s referred to as the “master deceiver”. However, when caught in the trap of sin, we can follow David’s example and sincerely repent. Psalm 51:17 says “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.” Far too often we attempt to rationalize/explain away our sin instead of repenting of it. Daily we must depend on God’s grace for forgiveness offered through Jesus. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift, (2 Corinthians 9:15) because happy is the man whose sins have been forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned (Psalm 32:1).

  3. The word picture Nathan gave to David illustrates that it is easier to see the sin in another rather than our own sin. He was angry, had no pity, and ready to have the man killed. Nathan’s words, “You are the man” woke David up. He saw his own ugly sin. Let’s humbly pray daily for the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and point out our sin. Otherwise we will rationalize our actions.

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