1. the Lord sent Nathan unto David—The
use of parables is a favorite style of speaking among Oriental people,
especially in the conveyance of unwelcome truth. This exquisitely
pathetic parable was founded on a common custom of pastoral people who
have pet lambs, which they bring up with their children, and which they
address in terms of endearment. The atrocity of the real, however, far
exceeded that of the fictitious offense.
5. the man that hath done this thing shall surely
die—This punishment was more severe than the case deserved,
or than was warranted by the divine statute (Ex 22:1). The sympathies of the king had been
deeply enlisted, his indignation aroused, but his conscience was still
asleep; and at the time when he was most fatally indulgent to his own
sins, he was most ready to condemn the delinquencies and errors of
2Sa 12:7-23. He Applies It
to David, Who Confesses His Sin, and Is Pardoned.
7. Nathan said to David, Thou art the
man—These awful words pierced his heart, aroused his
conscience, and brought him to his knees. The sincerity and depth of
his penitent sorrow are evinced by the Psalms he composed (Ps
32:1-11; 51:1-19; 103:1-22).
He was pardoned, so far as related to the restoration of the divine
favor. But as from his high character for piety, and his eminent rank
in society, his deplorable fall was calculated to do great injury to
the cause of religion, it was necessary that God should testify His
abhorrence of sin by leaving even His own servant to reap the bitter
temporal fruits. David was not himself doomed, according to his own
view of what justice demanded (2Sa 12:5); but he had to suffer a quadruple
expiation in the successive deaths of four sons, besides a lengthened
train of other evils.
8. I gave thee thy master's house, and thy
master's wives—The phraseology means nothing more than that
God in His providence had given David, as king of Israel, everything
that was Saul's. The history furnishes conclusive evidence that he
never actually married any of the wives of Saul. But the harem of the
preceding king belongs, according to Oriental notions, as a part of the
regalia to his successor.
11. I will raise up evil against thee out of thine
own house, &c.—The prophet speaks of God threatening to
do what He only permitted to be done. The fact is, that David's loss of
character by the discovery of his crimes, tended, in the natural course
of things, to diminish the respect of his family, to weaken the
authority of his government, and to encourage the prevalence of many
disorders throughout his kingdom.
15-23. the Lord struck the child … and it
was very sick—The first visible chastisement inflicted on
David appeared on the person of that child which was the evidence and
monument of his guilt. His domestics were surprised at his conduct, and
in explanation of its singularity, it is necessary to remark that the
custom in the East is to leave the nearest relative of a deceased
person to the full and undisturbed indulgence of his grief, till on the
third or fourth day at farthest (Joh 11:17). Then the other relatives and friends
visit him, invite him to eat, lead him to a bath, and bring him a
change of dress, which is necessary from his having sat or lain on the
ground. The surprise of David's servants, then, who had seen his bitter
anguish while the child was sick, arose apparently from this, that when
he found it was dead, he who had so deeply lamented arose of himself
from the earth, without waiting for their coming to him, immediately
bathed and anointed himself, instead of appearing as a mourner, and
after worshiping God with solemnity, returned to his wonted repast,
without any interposition of others.
2Sa 12:24, 25. Solomon Is
24, 25. Bath-sheba … bare a son, and he
called his name Solomon—that is, "peaceable." But Nathan gave
him the name of Jedediah, by command of God, or perhaps only as an
expression of God's love. This love and the noble gifts with which he
was endowed, considering the criminality of the marriage from which he
sprang, is a remarkable instance of divine goodness and grace.
2Sa 12:26-31. Rabbah Is
26. Joab fought against Rabbah—The time
during which this siege lasted, since the intercourse with Bath-sheba,
and the birth of at least one child, if not two, occurred during the
progress of it, probably extended over two years.
27. the city of waters—Rabbah, like
Aroer, was divided into two parts—one the lower town, insulated
by the winding course of the Jabbok, which flowed almost round it, and
the upper and stronger town, called the royal city. "The first was
taken by Joab, but the honor of capturing so strongly a fortified place
as the other was an honor reserved for the king himself."
28. encamp against the city, and take
it—It has always been characteristic of Oriental despots to
monopolize military honors; and as the ancient world knew nothing of
the modern refinement of kings gaining victories by their generals, so
Joab sent for David to command the final assault in person. A large
force was levied for the purpose. David without much difficulty
captured the royal city and obtained possession of its immense
lest I take the city, and it be called after my
name—The circumstance of a city receiving a new name after
some great person, as Alexandria, Constantinople, Hyderabad, is of
frequent occurrence in the ancient and modern history of the East.
30. he took their king's crown from off his
head—While the treasures of the city were given as plunder to
his soldiers, David reserved to himself the crown, which was of rarest
value. Its great weight makes it probable that it was like many ancient
crowns, not worn, but suspended over the head, or fixed on a canopy on
the top of the throne.
the precious stones—Hebrew,
"stone"; was a round ball composed of pearls and other jewels, which
was in the crown, and probably taken out of it to be inserted in
David's own crown.
31. he brought forth the people … and put
them under saws, &c.—This excessive severity and
employment of tortures, which the Hebrews on no other occasion are
recorded to have practised, was an act of retributive justice on a
people who were infamous for their cruelties (1Sa 11:2; Am