2 Samuel 12:20
Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Samuel 12:20. David arose from the earth and changed his apparel — Put off the habit of a mourner, and prepared himself to appear before God. And came into the house of the Lord — That is, to the tabernacle, to confess his sin before the Lord, to own his justice in this stroke, to deprecate his just displeasure, to acknowledge God’s rich mercy in sparing his own life, and to offer such sacrifices as were required in such cases.12:15-25 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.The death of the infant child of one of the numerous harem of an Oriental monarch would in general be a matter of little moment to the father. The deep feeling shown by David on this occasion is both an indication of his affectionate and tender nature, and also a proof of the strength of his passion for Bath-sheba. He went into his most private chamber, his closet Matthew 6:6, and "lay upon the earth" 2 Samuel 13:31, rather "the ground," meaning the floor of his chamber as opposed to his couch. 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. Into the house of the Lord, i. e. to the tabernacle, to confess his sin before the Lord, and to own his justice in this stroke and the other threatenings, and to deprecate his great and just displeasure, and to acknowledge God’s rich mercy in sparing his own life, and to offer such sacrifices as were proper and required in such cases. Nor did David transgress that law, Numbers 19:14, in going thither before the seven days were expired. For neither is there the same reason of a tent, and of a dwelling-house, where the several rooms of the house are as distinct as several tents; nor is it here said, that David was in the same room, or in the same house, where the child died. Then David arose from the earth,.... From the floor on which he lay:

and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel; neither of which he had done during his time of fasting:

and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped; went into the tabernacle he had built for the ark of God, and then in prayer submitted himself to the will of God, and acknowledged his justice in what he had done; gave thanks to God that he had brought him to a sense of his sin, and repentance for it, and had applied his pardoning grace to him, and given him satisfaction as to the eternal welfare and happiness of the child, as appears from 2 Samuel 12:23,

then he, came to his own house; from the house of God, having finished his devotion there:

and when he required; ordered food to be brought in:

they set bread before him, and he did eat: whereas before, while the child was living, he refused to eat.

Then David {l} arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

(l) Showing that our lamentations should not be excessive, but moderate: and that we must praise God in all his doings.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel] He laid aside all the outward signs of mourning. Cp. Matthew 6:17.

anointed himself] Anointing the head and body with oil was and still is the regular practice in Eastern countries. It was believed to contribute to health and cleanliness. Its discontinuance was a mark of mourning. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 14:2; Isaiah 61:3.Verse 20. - Then David arose from the earth. If David's grief had been occasioned by love for the child, then its death and the consciousness that, while his guilt had caused its sickness, his prayers had not availed to save it, would have aggravated his anguish. There was much personal regard for the child, which had been made the more precious by these very eyelets. But David's sorrow was, as we have seen, that of penitence, and not that of natural affection. When, therefore, the threatened penalty had been paid by the death of the child, David felt it to be his duty to show his resignation, and therefore he went into the sanctuary and worshipped, in proof that he acknowledged the justice of God's dealings, and was content to bear the punishment as his righteous desert. These words went to David's heart, and removed the ban of hardening which pressed upon it. He confessed to the prophet, "I have sinned against the Lord." "The words are very few, just as in the case of the publican in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 18:13). But that is a good sign of a thoroughly broken spirit ... There is no excuse, no cloaking, no palliation of the sin. There is no searching for a loophole, ... no pretext put forward, no human weakness pleaded. He acknowledges his guilt openly, candidly, and without prevarication" (Berleb. Bible). In response to this candid confession of his sin, Nathan announced to him, "The Lord also hath let thy sin pass by (i.e., forgiven it). Thou wilt not die. Only because by this deed thou hast given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme, the son that is born unto thee shall die." נאץ, inf. abs. Piel, with chirek, because of its similarity in sound to the following perfect (see Ewald, 240, c.). גּם, with which the apodosis commences, belongs to the הבּן which follows, and serves to give emphasis to the expression: "Nevertheless the son" (vid., Ges. 155, 2, a.). David himself had deserved to die as an adulterer and murderer. The Lord remitted the punishment of death, not so much because of his heartfelt repentance, as from His own fatherly grace and compassion, and because of the promise that He had given to David (2 Samuel 7:11-12), - a promise which rested upon the assumption that David would not altogether fall away from a state of grace, or commit a mortal sin, but that even in the worst cases he would turn to the Lord again and seek forgiveness. The Lord therefore punished him for this sin with the judgments announced in 2 Samuel 12:10-12, as about to break upon him and his house. But as his sin had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord - i.e., not only to the heathen, but also to the unbelieving among the Israelites themselves - to blaspheme or ridicule his religion and that of all other believers also, the child that was begotten in adultery and had just been born should die; in order, on the one hand, that the father should atone for his adultery in the death of the son, and, on the other hand, that the visible occasion for any further blasphemy should be taken away: so that David was not only to feel the pain of punishment in the death of his son, but was also to discern in it a distinct token of the grace of God.
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