And there came a travelers to the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come to him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 Samuel 12:4. There came a traveller unto the rich man — This aptly signifies David’s roving affection, which he suffered to wander from his own home, and to covet another man’s wife. The Jewish doctors say it represents the evil disposition or desire that is in us, which must be carefully watched and resisted when we feel its motions. But took the poor man’s lamb — Nathan, in this parable, omits touching the murder committed to cover the adultery, perhaps in order that David might not readily apprehend his meaning, and so be induced, unawares, to pronounce sentence of condemnation upon himself.2 Samuel 14:2-11; 1 Kings 20:35-41). The circumstances of the story are exquisitely contrived to heighten the pity of David for the oppressed, and his indignation against the oppressor 1 Samuel 25:13, 1 Samuel 25:22.
2Sa 12:1-6. Nathan's Parable.
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.A traveller: this some make to be the devil, whom David gratified by his sin; but it rather seems added for the decency of the parable.
and he spared to take of his own flock, and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that came unto him; when his heart was inflamed with lust at the sight of Bathsheba, he did not go as he might, and take one of his wives and concubines, whereby he might have satisfied and repressed his lust:
but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that came to him; sent for Bathsheba and lay with her, for the gratification of his lust, she being a young beautiful woman, and more agreeable to his lustful appetite. The Jews, in their Talmud (r), observe a gradation in these words that the evil imagination is represented first as a traveller that passes by a man, and lodges not with him; then as a wayfaring man or host, that passes in and lodges with him; and at last as a man, as the master of the house that rules over him, and therefore called the man that came to him.And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. “The apologue of the rich man and the ewe lamb … ventures to disregard all particulars, and is content to aim at awakening the general sense of outraged justice. It fastens on the essential guilt of David’s sin; not its sensuality or its impurity, so much as its meanness and selfishness … A true description of a real incident, if like in its general character however unlike to our own case in all the surrounding particulars, strikes home with greater force than the sternest personal invective.” Stanley’s Lect. II. 90.Verse 4. - A traveller,... wayfaring man,... man that was come to him. Nathan probably used these three terms chiefly to diversify his language, but it has served as a handle for much allegorizing. Thus Rashi explains it of covetousness, which comes at first as a mere "passer by," the literal meaning of the word rendered "traveller." But, if admitted, it grows into "a wayfaring man," who comes and goes on business, and stays a longer time. Finally it changes into "one who has come to him," and remains permanently. Such allegorical interpretations are common in the Fathers, and thus Augustine compares the three stages of sin to our Lord's three miracles of raising the dead. The sinner is at first like Jairus's daughter, just dead, and repentance can restore him immediately to life; but, if sin be persisted in, he becomes like the son of the widow of Nain, carried away to burial; and finally like Lazarus, given over to corruption. 2 Samuel 11:26 the account goes back to its starting-point. When Uriah's wife heard of her husband's death, she mourned for her husband. When her mourning was over, David took her home as his wife, after which she bore him a son (the one begotten in adultery). The ordinary mourning of the Israelites lasted seven days (Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 31:13). Whether widows mourned any longer we do not know. In the case before us Bathsheba would hardly prolong her mourning beyond the ordinary period, and David would certainly not delay taking her as his wife, in order that she might be married to the king as long as possible before the time of childbirth. The account of these two grievous sins on the part of David is then closed with the assurance that "the thing that David had done displeased the Lord," which prepares the way for the following chapter.
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