Darby's Bible Synopsis
And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
The following commentary covers Chapters 11, 12, and 13.
The history of David and the wife of Uriah follows. David is no longer acting by faith in God's service. When the time comes at which kings go forth to war, he stays at home at his ease, and sends others in his place to fight Jehovah's battles. At ease and in indolence he falls readily into sin, as was the case when he sought for rest among the Philistines. He was no longer standing by faith. The nearer David was to God, the more ineffectual were his attempts to conceal his sin. Given up to himself for the time in chastisement, he adds a second transgression to the first; he completes it, and enjoys its fruit, now that the removal of every obstacle gives a semblance of lawfulness to his course. What a sad history! What unworthiness! He forgets his position as king, and a king from God. Was it reigning in righteousness to take advantage of his royal power to oppress Uriah? He makes himself a slave to the wretched Joab by rendering him accessory to his crime. How degrading! How much happier was he, when, though hunted like a partridge in the mountains, he had a living faith and a good conscience! But who can shun the eye of God? Accordingly God, who knows and loves him, fails not to visit his sin. This was a very great sin: David committed it in secret; God punishes it in the sight of all Israel. If David knew not how to glorify God, nor-while reigning in His name-to maintain a true testimony as to the nature of God's kingdom; if he had on the contrary falsified its character, God Himself will know how, in the sight of all men, to retrace its features through the chastisement He will send upon the man who has thus dishonoured Him, and who had taken away the only witness to His government which God had set up before men.
This history shews us how far sin can blind the heart, even while the moral judgment continues sound; it shews also the power of the faithful word of God. God manifests at the same time the sovereignty of His grace; for although He chastened David by the child's death, it is another son of Bathsheba who was the elect of God, who became king and the head of the royal family, the man of peace and blessing, the beloved of Jehovah. David submits himself under the hand of God; his heart bows under it in the depth of its affections. He understands it better than his servants do, although more guilty than they. He acts becomingly according to spiritual intelligence. There was confidence in God and intimacy with Him; and therefore David can lay open the tenderest part of his heart to God, the part in which God had wounded him; but when the will of God is manifest, he submits entirely. We see here the evident work of the Spirit. It is the same Spirit who wrought in Jesus at Gethsemane, although both the occasion and the extent of the suffering were not only different, but far otherwise important; but the heart is opened to God completely and the submission complete when God's will is known.
The sin of David has been extremely great; but we can plainly see in him the precious work of the Spirit. Confounded by the simple faithfulness of Uriah, he cannot escape the hand of God! David is pardoned, for he confesses his sin; but as to His government, God shews Himself to be inflexible, and while sparing the king-for he deserved death-He announces to him that the sword shall never depart out of his house. We have seen a similar case in Jacob's unfaithfulness. David's punishment also answers to his sins (compare 2 Samuel 11:10; 2 Samuel 11:12 with the history of Absalom). As to David's affections, the chastisement was in the death of his child, a chastisement which he deeply felt; and the public government of God was manifested in that which was done, according to His word, before all Israel and before the sun.
It is possible that the children of Ammon deserved severe judgment, and that this period was the time of their judgment; they were the insolent enemies of the king whom God had set up, and who had given proof of his kind feeling towards them. But as to his personal condition, I know not whether David would have treated his enemies in this manner when he was walking in the narrow path of faith. As a type, this judgment brings to mind the righteous judgment of the Messiah, and the dreadful consequences of having despised and insulted Him even in His glory. We learn from it also, that when a people are ripe for judgment, God will bring it upon them, even although others may seek to act in grace.
When David had shewn that he had forgotten God, and had failed in his entire dependence upon Him, the evils in his house soon broke out. He had added to the number of his wives. The root of bitterness buds and brings forth bitter fruits. Although in the main David's heart was upright before God and deeply acknowledged Him, yet, when once out of that path of humble dependence which is produced by faith and the sense of God's presence, he embittered the remainder of his days through following his own will in the midst of his blessings. There is sin in his house, wrath on account of the sin, vacillation through partiality for Absalom. Joab appears on the scene, as is the case every time that these matters of intrigue and wickedness recur in the history. This is all that need be said of the sorrowful story of Amnon and Absalom.
The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
And there came a traveller 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.
And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
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.
Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.
And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.
And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.
And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.
Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.
And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.
And he took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.
And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.