Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
2. Nathan’s Exhortation to Repentance. David’s Repentance. Conquest of Rabbah and Punishment of the Ammonites
2 SAMUEL 12:1–31
1AND1 the Lord [Jehovah] 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 2, 3poor.2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds. But [And] the poor3 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 [food], and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 4And 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 [and] took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. 5And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said unto Nathan, As the Lord [Jehovah] liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; 6And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.
7And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8And I gave thee thy master’s house,4 and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house4 of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover [further] have given unto thee such and such things. 9Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord [Jehovah], to do evil in his5 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. 10Now,6 therefore [And now] 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. 11Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah], 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 neighbor,7 and he shall lie with thy wives in the light of this sun. 12For thou didst it secretly;8 but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.
13And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord [Jehovah]. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord [Jehovah] also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies9 of the Lord [Jehovah] to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 15And Nathan departed [went] unto his house
And the Lord [Jehovah] struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, 16and it was very sick. David therefore [And David] besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the earth [ground]. 17And the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the earth 18[ground]; 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? [and how shall we say to him, The child is dead? he will then act badly.] 19But when David [And David] saw that his servants whispered, [ins. and] David perceived that the child was 20dead; therefore [and] David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then [And] David arose from the earth [ground], and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord [Jehovah] and worshipped; then he [and] came to his own house, and when he required [and asked], [ins. and] they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21Then said his servants [And his servants said] unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child while it was alive; but 22[and] 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 [shall] live? 23But 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. 24And 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 [Jehovah] loved him. 25And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord [Jehovah].
26And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city. 27And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, 28and have taken the city of waters. Now, therefore [And now] 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. 29And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. 30And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof [and its weight] was a talent of gold with the [and] precious stones; and it was set on David’s head. 31And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance. And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put10 them under saws and under harrows [threshing-sledges] of iron and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln;11 and thus he did unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So [And] David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. 2 Samuel 12:1–12. Nathan’s exhortation to repentance.
2 Samuel 12:1. And the Lordsent.—Nathan received his commission to David as prophet; as the Septuagint., Syr., Arab. and some MSS., rightly indicate by the addition of the explanatory phrase “the prophet” [after “Nathan”]. After the words “said unto him” the Vulgate adds “give me your opinion” (responde mihi judicium), a gloss, probably occasioned by the fact that Nathan’s discourse begins immediately with a parallel.12—David is caught beforehand in the cleverly spread net of the prophet’s parable.
2 Samuel 12:3. The poor man had “nothing at all” but one lamb, which he “kept alive,” supported, reared. It was not a pet-lamb (Keil), since the man had absolutely no other possession in cattle. As a poor man he had the means of buying only one little lamb, which he was now raising, and which he loved the more as it was his only property. [Bib.-Com.: All these circumstances are exquisitely contrived to heighten the pity and indignation of the hearer.—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:4.13 [The three designations “traveller,” “wayfarer,” “the man that came to him,” are rhetorical variations and mean the same thing substantially, though the last is obviously specially appropriate in its place. Some of the rabbis and the fathers (quoted with apparent approval by Wordsworth) make the three names set forth lust in its different stages of growth, as a passer-by, as a guest, as a permanent inmate; of course this allegorizing is out of place here.—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:5 sqq. Nathan so told his story that David must needs believe it referred to a deed of violence to be immediately punished, not supposing at all that it concerned him.14 Hence his violent indignation. The fourfold compensation for a stolen sheep was a legal provision, Ex. 21:37. The sevenfold of the Sept. is to be explained by the fact that the number seven was so common among the Hebrews. Comp. Pro. 6:31. [The Chald. says fortyfold, either by clerical error, or in a mere spirit of exaggeration. This variation may suggest the uncertainty of Böttcher’s view, that the Heb. text here has the priestly recension (according to the law in Exodus) and the Greek the laic recension. Nor is there any ground for the assertion of Thenius (and Wellhausen) that David was certainly here not thinking of the law in Exodus, and that the Greek text is the original. Though the Book of Exodus in its present shape may not have existed in David’s time, there is no reason why this law should not have been known.—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:7. Thou art the man.—The farther David was from thinking of a reference to himself, the greater the force with which this word must have struck him. The account here given of the firmness and wisdom with which Nathan approached the king is “inimitably admirable” (Ewald). The Sept. and Vulg. [not the common Vulg. text,—TR.], have: “thou art the man that has done this,” a mere explanatory addition. Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel.—The following words, as far as 2 Samuel 12:9, bring out most clearly the greatness of David’s guilt in various points: 1) from the point of view of his royal office; his crime is most sharply opposed to his divine induction thereinto; 2) his deliverance from Saul was a gracious act of God, for which he has here shown himself in the highest degree ungrateful; 3) David might unblamed have taken his predecessor’s wives (Thenius); this is the only meaning to be attached to the words: “I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom.” [Bp. Patrick and others give the later Jewish understanding of the law or custom: the king and no other person fell heir to the property and harem of his predecessor, but it did not follow that he actually married the inmates of the harem; they might be merely a part of his establishment. If it was a son that succeeded his father, he treated these women with reverence; if no blood-relationship existed between the two kings, the successor might actually take the women as his wives (Philippson). As to the morality of the act, it was a natural result of a polygamous system, and morally in the same category with it; and polygamy was allowed by the Mosaic Law.—TR.]. According to 1 Sam. 14:50 Saul had only one wife, and according to 2 Sam. 3:7 only one concubine who fell into Abner’s hands. 4) David, as king, had control of all Israel (1 Sam. 8:16), and might have increased his establishment from their daughters, without committing this crime. And I have given thee the house of Israel; instead of “house” Syr. and Arab. read “daughters,” for which change, according to the above explanation, there is no need. 5) David despised, transgressed the “word,” that is, the law of God by slaying Uriah. The Heb. text has: “in his eyes,” the margin: “in my eyes;” the difference is insignificant.15 This crime is heightened, however, by the fact that he committed the murder by “the sword of the children of Ammon.” With this added statement and the use of the stronger word “murder” [Eng. A. V. slain] instead of “slay,” the fact already mentioned is repeated, in order that the culmination of the iniquity, the using the enemies of God’s people as its instrument, may come forth more sharply.
2 Samuel 12:10–12. Threat of punishment, David’s misdeed being again characterized as a factual contempt of the Lord. Instead of: “Thou hast despised the word of the Lord,” it is here said: “Thou hast despised Me.” For in His word the Lord Himself reveals Himself. For this reason, because David is guilty of despising the Lord, 1) “the sword shall not depart from his house forever,” that is, as long as the house or posterity of David shall last. From the seed of this evil deed of David sprang the poisonous fruit of the evil deeds of his sons and the consequent domestic and fraternal war. The bloody sword appears in the murder of the incestuous Amnon by Absalom (13:28, 29), in the death of the rebel Absalom (13, 14), and in the execution of Adonijah (1 Kings 2:24, 25). Thereby is Uriah’s murder punished; 2) David is threatened with disgrace through the disgrace of his wives. To thy neighbor. … in the sight of the sun—before all Israel. For the fulfilment by Absalom, see 16:22, and comp. 1 Kings 2:23 sq., where Adonijah asks for Abishag the Shunammite. [On the text in 2 Samuel 12:9, 10 see “Text, and Gram.”—TR.]
2 Samuel 12:13–23. David’s penitent confession and punishment by the death of the child of Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 12:13. I have sinned against the Lord.—This frank, short, honest confession of sin was made not some time after this discourse of Nathan, but immediately as its direct result. The power of the prophetic word laid hold of the depths of his heart and conscience; the divine truth, which inexorably laid bare his sin, put an end to all self-deception and all anxious effort to cover up and palliate his transgression of the divine word. He confesses his sin as a sin against the Lord, to show that he clearly recognizes it to be, what it essentially is, a contradiction of God’s holy will. Nathan’s answer is the announcement of the Lord’s grace 1) in forgiving the sin: The Lord will cause [or, has caused—TR.] thy sin to pass over, that is, it is not to remain before him, but to vanish, be forgiven; 2) in remitting the deserved punishment: Thou shalt not die!—As adulterer and homicide David had deserved death; but this just punishment was not executed, because he honestly repented and did not harden his heart against the Lord. [Probably the civil law in such a case could not have been enforced against an absolute king by human authority; but God could have found means to execute it. Clearly it is physical death that is here meant, not the death of the soul (against Wordsworth and Bib.-Com.).—In the Mosaic code there is no provision against such a marriage as that of David and Bathsheba; on general moral grounds it would have been pronounced wrong. Yet there were also reasons why the marriage should take place, and God Himself solves the ethical question by the mouth of His prophet, not increasing the evil by sundering the marriage tie, but so chastising the sinners that one of them at least must have remembered the lesson to the end of his life.—According to the later Jewish law the marriage was illegal; and some Jewish writers have tried hard to clear David of the charge of adultery. See Patrick’s Comm., 2 Sam. 11:27 and 4.—TR.].—This is not inconsistent with the threat of punishment in 2 Samuel 12:14, the fulfilment of which is specially founded on the provocation to blasphemy given to the heathen. Only because thou hast made the enemies of the Lord to despise16 (him). The enemies of the people of Israel were also enemies of the Lord and of the king of this people. Towards the heathen Israel’s duty was, by obedience to God’s word and commands, to set forth the theocracy and bring it to honor and recognition. Transgression of God’s command by the king himself must lead the heathen to heap shame and reproach on Israel and its God; and there must therefore be expiation by punishment. David and Bathsheba must lose their adulterously begotten child, and this should be a sign to the Lord’s enemies of the severe justice of the God of Israel. “The child also, etc.;” the statement is introduced by the word also as in keeping with what precedes (גַּם, not howbeit, but also).
2 Samuel 12:15. The Lord smote the child.—The fulfilment followed immediately on the prediction. The sickness is represented as a punishment inflicted by God; therefore is added: which the wife of Uriah had borne to David.—[It was, then, apparently not till after the birth of the child that Nathan came to David; the latter had remained many months seemingly unconscious of his sin.—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:16. David acknowledges the punishing hand of the Lord. He goes away to a retired spot, to collect himself and pour out his heart before God. The phrase “went in” refers to his going not to the Sanctuary (to which he does not go till 2 Samuel 12:20), but to a quiet room in his house, where he could be alone; Vulg.: ingressus seorsum [“he went in apart”].
2 Samuel 12:17. The elders of his house are its oldest and most trusted servants. Comp. Gen. 24:2; 50:7. So Clericus. Whether David’s uncles and oldest brothers are thereby meant (Ewald) must remain undecided.
2 Samuel 12:18. The elders hesitate to tell David of the death of the child, lest he be plunged into deeper grief, or do himself a harm. Vulg.: “how much more will he afflict himself?” [David’s affection for this child is remarkable. He was a “great lover of his children” (Patrick) and perhaps specially attached to this one by reason of his love for its mother.—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:19 sqq. David’s conduct is the opposite of what the servants expected. The solution of their perplexity lay in the fact that David had hitherto prayed for the child’s life, but now bowed humbly beneath God’s hand, and thus gains strength joyfully to bear the burden laid on him. David’s two courses of conduct in immediate juxtaposition have one common source within him; namely, humble, unconditional devotion of heart to the will of the Lord. After “and he asked” [2 Samuel 12:20] “bread” is omitted, because it is mentioned immediately afterwards. The shorter phrase is obviously original; the addition of the Sept.: “bread to eat,” is an interpretation.
2 Samuel 12:21. Render: “thou didst fast and weep for (בֵּעֲבוּר) the child, while it yet lived” [= for the child living—TR.]; so Vulg., Cler., Ew. § 341 b [Sept., Eng. A. V.]; not “while the child lived” (Ges., De Wette, Maur., Keil [Chald., Syr., Luther]), since as conjunction the word denotes only either the ground or the end.17
2 Samuel 12:22. See on 2 Samuel 12:19 sqq. David had continued to hope that the Lord would hear his prayer18 and spare the child.
2 Samuel 12:23. The continued existence of the child’s soul in Sheol is here assumed, and the hope of reunion with it expressed. “Nothing is said, indeed, of conscious existence, but this must have been supposed, in order to find consolation and repose in going to the dead” (Böttch., de inferis, § 109 sq.).
2 Samuel 12:24, 25. Birth of Solomon. David comforted Bathsheba, because he himself had received comfort. The Sept. prefixes “she conceived” to our appropriately curt text “she bare a son.” And he called his name Solomon.19 Solomon’s birth is mentioned here because of its factual connection with what precedes. The name Solomon, like the similar names in Lev. 24:11; Num. 34:27; 1 Chr. 26:25 sq., was “an old and common one … it is therefore wholly without foundation to say that Solomon first received this name from the ‘peace’ of his time” (Ew., Gesch. [Hist. of Israel] III. p. 228, Rem. 1). It is probable, indeed, that Solomon’s birth occurred just after the conquest of Rabbah related below; for, as Bathsheba’s first son was conceived during the siege, this siege, if Solomon was born before its termination, would have lasted about two years [Cler., Thenius]. Nevertheless the name Solomon is to be explained not from the peace gained by the Ammonite war, but (after 1 Chr. 22:9) from the wish that peace might be allotted him as a gift of God, in contrast with the continual wars of his father’s life. And the Lord loved him.—Here instead of David, the Lord appears as subject; and so in the verb “sent” [2 Samuel 12:25] the Lord is subject, not David, since the latter had already given the name Solomon. Ewald renders: “he (David) asked through Nathan from the oracle a loftier name for his new-born son;” but this rests on the inappropriate conception of the words “Jehovah loved him” as referring to the maintenance of this child’s life [in contrast with the dead child—TR.], apart from the fact that the subject “Jehovah” is again arbitrarily changed. This last consideration is also against the rendering: “and he (David) gave him into the hand of Nathan the prophet (to bring up),” where the Piel of the verb would be required. The expression in the text (Qal with בְּיַד [to send by the hand of]) means to give a commission (comp. Ex. 4:13). Jehovah sent Nathan to David with the commission to give the child the name Jedidiah. Nathan is expressly called prophet, because he appeared in divine commission as such. This was the factual opposite of the former message [2 Samuel 12:1], God’s declaration that He had bestowed His grace and mercy on David and his child. The subject of the verb “called” is Nathan. “On account of Jehovah,” that is, because Jehovah loved him, as the name signified (= “beloved of Jehovah,” Germ. Gottlieb.)20 While Solomon was the name given him by his parents, by which he was to be called, Jedidiah, as the high name given him by the prophet, denoted the Lord’s love and faithfulness bestowed on him whose light was to illumine his whole life. [Böttcher, Thenius and Wellhausen insist on rendering 2 Samuel 12:25: “and he committed him to the care of Nathan,” etc., which agrees, says Thenius, with the general opinion (of which, however, there is not a word in the Bible) that Nathan was Solomon’s tutor. This is also the view of Victorinus Strigelius quoted by Patrick, and is certainly more in keeping with the context than the other. If the view of Eng. A. V. and Erdmann be correct we should expect some additional explanatory phrase; unless the next sentence is such a complementary phrase, in which case the subject of “called” must be the same as that of “sent,” namely Jehovah. But, as Erdmann himself points out, the subject of “called” is not Jehovah, but either Nathan or David. For this reason it seems better to take David also as subject of “sent” or delivered.” David committed him (reading the Piel) to Nathan, and Nathan gave him his higher name. Comp. similar second names in the histories of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Simon Peter.—Then. remarks of this whole narrative that its exact fidelity to nature and touching simplicity, when we recollect that the scenes passed in the interior of the palace, show that it must have been communicated by a contemporary.—TR.]
2 Samuel 12:26–31. Conquest of Rabbah and cruel punishment of the Ammonites. Comp. 1 Chr. 20:1–3.
2 Samuel 12:26 sqq. The narrative returns to 11:1. From the connection the “city of the kingdom,”21 the capital of the kingdom, is the whole city, not merely the water-town (2 Samuel 12:27) “excluding the acropolis” (Keil). Joab, as commanding general, conducting the siege, conquered the whole city; and this result is here summarily stated in advance. [But this statement does not read like an anticipative summary; the capture of 2 Samuel 12:29 seems to be different from that of 2 Samuel 12:26.—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:27 sq. Detailed account of the affair, especially how Joab, after taking the water-city, summoned the king, who had remained in Jerusalem (11:1), in order that the remaining higher part of the city might be taken under his direction to the honor of the royal name. And so it happened, though it was none the less true (2 Samuel 12:26) that Joab was the real conqueror. Vulg.: “lest, the city being taken by me, the victory should be ascribed to my name.” Luther: “that I may not have the name of it.”—To judge from the ruins of Ammon (comp. Ritter XV., p. 1145 sq.) the capital-city of the Ammonites lay on both banks of the Upper Jabbok, in a narrow valley, on the north side of which on an eminence was the citadel (“the city” 2 Samuel 12:28) towering above the whole lower city (“the water-city”). This citadel was not taken by Joab till David came, in order that the completion of the conquest might appear as the deed of the king himself. See Curt. 6, 6 (quoted by Grotius): “he (Craterus), after everything was prepared, awaited the coming of the king (Alexander), yielding to him, as was proper, the honor of the capture of the city.”—[Eng. A. V. has: “and it be called after my name.” As there seems to be no example of a conquered city’s being called after the name of the conqueror, it may be better to render (with Erdmann and others): “and my name be called (or honored) upon (in respect to) it.” However, the ordinary meaning of the phrase is as in Eng. A. V.—Joab’s conduct here is either that of a devoted servant, wishing to give his master honor or shield him from popular disfavor (on account of the affair of Bathsheba), or that of an adroit courtier, who will not run the risk of exciting his king’s envy by too much success (see 1 Sam. 18:6–8).—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:29. All the people, the soldiers that had remained at home; the besieging force had to be strengthened in order to conquer the strong Upper City.
2 Samuel 12:30. When the citadel was taken, the king of the Ammonites was either killed or captured. David took the crown from his head, and set it on his own, in order to represent himself as lord of the Ammonite kingdom. The kikkar [talent] was 3000 shekels (comp. Winer, s. v. Gewichte); the weight of the crown was 83½ [Dresden] pounds [= about 100 English pounds, for the silver talent, which was probably the current unit of weight; the gold-talent weighed twice as much.—TR.]. This heavy crown of gold and precious stones might have been worn during the short time of coronation by a strong man like David. In many places now weights scarcely less heavy are borne on the head even by women. We need not, therefore, suppose that the weight is here accidentally exaggerated (Keil), nor that the crown was supported on the throne above the head (Clericus). [Some would understand that the value, and not the weight of the crown is here given; but the text-word can mean nothing but “weight.” The Sept. has: “he took the crown of Molchom their king from his head.” This reading Molkom or Milkom instead of “their king” is adopted by Geiger (p. 306), who sees in our Hebrew text an illustration of the tendency to get rid of the names of idol deities. As our text stands the suffix “their” is strange, since the Ammonites are not mentioned immediately before (Wellh.), and we might also expect here the mention of the Ammonite king by name (Bib.-Comm.). We may therefore render: “he took Malcom’s (Moloch’s) crown from his head.”—TR.].
2 Samuel 12:31. The cruel punishments inflicted by David on the Ammonites were probably the same that they were accustomed to inflict on the Israelites or other nations in war. For their cruelties see 1 Sam. 11:2 and Am. 1:8. As they did, so it was done to them. Instead of “he put them under saws, etc.” we must read: “he cut them with saws, etc.,” as in Chron. and the Targum (שׂוּר instead of שׂום); our present text can only be rendered: “he put them into saws,” etc., a phrase that cannot be applied to the saw. Comp. Heb. 11:37, and Sueton. Caligula 27: “he cut them in two with the saw.” And with cutting instruments [Eng. A. V. axes] of iron. Instead of this 1 Chr. 20:3 has “saws” a second time, a clerical error22 for “axes” [Eng. A. V. corrects the error, and renders “axes.”—TR.].—In the next clause the Qeri, Sept. and Vulg. [and Eng. A. V.] read: “made them pass through the brick-kiln,”23 that is, burned them in brick-kilns (Keil). But the text is to be retained with Kimchi, whose explanation is essentially correct: “he passed them through Malchan, i.e., the place where the Ammonites burned their sons to their idol.” Instead of malkan (from מֹלֶך = Moloch) we may with Bött. pronounce the word milkon=milkom.24 Both denote the image of Moloch (comp. 1 Kings 11:5, 33). In the burning image human sacrifices were offered to Moloch, and “to cause to pass through (or, through the fire) to Moloch” is the usual phrase for this idol-service 25 (see Lev. 18:21; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35; Ezek. 20:31). “The design was to inflict a striking punishment on idolatry, and in so far the war was a holy one” (Then.). The milder explanation of the punishment as consisting in the imposition of severe labors, cutting wood, burning bricks, etc. (Danz and others) is inconsistent with the words of the text. However, the text does not require us to suppose that all the inhabitants of Rabbah were thus treated; it was probably only the soldiers that were in the Upper City [“and so he did to all the cities of the Ammonites.”—TR.].
By this Ammonite war (probably the last that he waged) David had extended and strengthened his kingdom toward the whole east. By all his wars (Chron. 8. sqq.) the boundaries of his kingdom were so far extended that it was secure against heathen nations. But this splendor of outward power and dominion stood in sharp contrast with the inward disintegration of the royal house and of the whole people through David’s sin.
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. David’s condition of soul in the time from his fall to his repentance may be understood from the fact that it needed such a strong impulse as Nathan’s discourse to bring him to repentance, while on the other hand the word of confession followed immediately on the discourse. This latter indicates that his conscience had accused him of sin; but frank confession had been somehow hindered, till the hindrance was set aside by Nathan’s word. The confession was preceded by a silence, which did not proceed from a contrite heart, but concealed an unquiet conscience and distracted heart. Thenius rightly says: “Psalm 32 describes what David felt before he was led to confession of sin by Nathan’s address.” The expression (2 Samuel 12:3, 4): “for I kept silence; my bones wasted away in my crying all the day; for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me,” sets forth how his silence was accompanied by consuming anguish of body and soul, wherein he felt in his conscience the oppressive burden of God’s punitive righteousness, without being thereby moved to confession of sin. “We see plainly from Psalm 32 what bitter inward struggles he endured before he yielded to the divine chastisement and grew strong enough to confess his sins openly before God” (Ewald). These inward conflicts were produced by two factors: (1) the constant “weight of God’s hand on him”—the accusing, condemning voice of conscience, the inward completion of the divine judgment; (2) his impenitent, uncontrite heart (which was the cause of his silence), which wished to “maintain its rights” by self-excuse and self-justification against the inevitable divine judgment (comp. Ps. 51:6). This was “the guile in his spirit” (2 Samuel 12:2), which was the ground of his silence (“for,” 2 Samuel 12:3). He was not upright in heart (2 Samuel 12:11), so that he did not honestly confess his sins, but concealed them (comp. 2 Samuel 12:5). Thus Psalm 32. fills out our picture of David’s condition and conduct after his sin and after Nathan’s piercing punitory discourse. Against the reference of this Psalm to the crime of David against Bathsheba it has been alleged (De Wette, Stier, Clauss, Hitzig) that in it the confession comes from inward pain of conscience, while in 2 Sam. 12 it is occasioned by Nathan’s discourse. The two facts, however, are not mutually exclusive, but mutually complementary. Nathan’s discourse is not the ground, but the occasion of David’s confession. See Hengstenberg on Ps. 32 for the particular points in which the Psalm and the history correspond to one another.
2. The deceit of the impenitent heart consists in its seeking to excuse and justify itself despite the condemnation of conscience, while it yet obtains no relief from the feeling of guilt, rather brings about a sharper reaction of conscience, and increases the pains that come from the conflict of mutually accusing and excusing thoughts. Sin is not gotten rid of by failure to acknowledge it; it rests all the more heavily on the conscience, and the closer the mouth that ought to confess is shut, the clearer sounds out the accusing, judging voice of conscience. “The roots of this deceit (which appears immediately after the Fall of man) are pride, lack of trust in God, and love of sin. Many are thereby kept altogether from confession of sin, in Pelagian self-blinding take delight in their wretchedness, and think themselves most excellent. In others are seen the beginnings of true confession; but they do not obtain the goal, because guile prevents them from acknowledging the whole extent of their harm. And even they that have really come into a gracious state, greatly embitter by guile the blessing of the forgiveness, that they have attained through sincerity. What especially exposes them to this temptation is their strict view of sin and of its condemnableness before God and the consciousness of the grace received from God and of their situation. Nature struggles vigorously against the deep humiliation which (especially for them) recognition and confession of sin carries with it. It is therefore necessary that they lay deeply to heart David’s word (2 Samuel 12:1, 2), spoken out of painful experience of the misery of guile: happy is he whose transgression is removed, etc.” (Hengst.). But it is a quality of the deceit of the impenitent heart to apply God’s word, the mirror of sin, to others rather than to itself, and thus to put away self-examination and self-knowledge in its light.
3. The grace of God does not suffer man to go on unwarned in the path of sin, but leads him to recognition and confession of sin, and to an humble bowing under the mighty hand that must smite him for his sin. The divine grace herein employs human instruments like Nathan; and the only effective means in this case of bringing men to confession is the word of God, which 1) shows them sin in its true form, in unadorned full reality, in all its baseness and shockingness (comp. 2 Samuel 12:1–6); 2) points out the fulness of the divine benefits that should have kept them from sin, in the presence of which sin appears as sheer ingratitude (2 Samuel 12:7, 8); 3) presses home the demands of God’s holy will in His word and law (2 Samuel 12:9); and 4) exhibits the inevitable results of sin as the sign of the divine retributive righteousness, under which man must bow.—When a man quietly opens his heart, as David did, to this ministry of grace (that leads to penitence), then appears its purposed working: 1) deep, penitent recognition of sin, not merely as an offence against man, but as enmity “against the Lord Himself,” so that there is an end to the blindness about the nature of sin, founded on self-love; 2) sincere, frank confession of sin as an offence against the holy God, so that now ceases the inward conflict of opposing accusations and excuses, of a condemning conscience and a pride founded on self-justifying self-love. Open confession of sin was a legal part of the sin-offering, Lev. 5:5; 16:21; Num. 5:7.—“I have sinned against the Lord. The words are very few, as with the publican in Luke 18:13. But just that is a good sign of a truly broken heart; here is no excusing, no shrouding, no belittling of sin; no hiding-place is sought; no pretext used, no human weakness pleaded” (Berl. Bib.); 3) personal experience of the comfort of the forgiveness of sin, granted to the sinner of God’s free grace, he having done nothing to deserve it. “The Lord also hath taken away thy sin” (2 Samuel 12:13). From this experience comes confidence and certainty of the grace received; 4) humble, quiet submission to the suffering inflicted by the Lord as the consequence of sin, which is to be for the chastisement, purification and trying of the penitent and believing heart (2 Samuel 12:14–23), and 5) renewed enjoyment of the friendliness and goodness of the divine love (2 Samuel 12:24, 25).
4. As Ps. 32 exhibits the frame of mind out of which David came to sincere penitence, so Ps. 51 (as the title indicates) is the echo of the personal experience of God’s grace, which alone is the source of the forgiveness of sin and blotting out of guilt (2 Samuel 12:3, 4 [Eng. 1, 2]), under the condition of penitent confession of personal transgression against the Lord deeply founded in inborn sinfulness (vers 5–8 [3–6]), and of humble supplication for grace (2 Samuel 12:9–11 [7–9]) and renewal (2 Samuel 12:12–14 [10–12]) out of a broken and contrite heart (2 Samuel 12:15–21 [13–19]). On the correspondence of the chief features of this Psalm with the history see Hengstenberg’s and Hupfeld’s commentaries thereon.—[If Ps. 51 was written or composed on this occasion, then the two last verses must probably be regarded as a later addition (the sentiment is similar to that of 53:7 (6); 79:9, and other passages). For the rest, the spiritual teaching of this Psalm and Ps. 32 is entirely independent of their historical origin.—TR.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
God does not leave men in their sins to go their own way unwarned and unchastised, but sends His messengers after them to call them to repentance.—The word of God that would call the sinner to repentance reminds him on the one hand of the fulness of the divine manifestations of grace and the manifold gifts of God’s goodness, in order to shame the sinner for his ingratitude and disobedience; on the other hand it points him to the earnestness of God’s holiness and righteousness in His commands. To this end it often clothes itself in image and similitude, in order either to work in the man receptivity for the indwelling power that awakens to repentance, if the man will give heed, or so far as this is not the case, so much the more to harden the inner man, comp. Matt. 13:10–16.
The right sort of awakening preaching consists in immediate direct application of the word of God to individual hearts, so that after holding up the mirror of God’s law, it is always said: Thou art the man! Men are always, according to their natural disposition, inclined to look not at their own sins, but at the sins of others, to judge and pass sentence on them. Such looking away from one’s self to the sins in the world around often finds its occasion and temptation in preaching upon the universal sinfulness of mankind and in testimonies against the sins of the times or of a whole people; if these testimonies are to be effectual for awakening in the hearers a true repentance, they must have their point in the word: Thou art the man!—As clearly as the sins of others, should we see and recognize our own sins; as inexorably and strictly as we judge and pass sentence upon others, should we enter into judgment with ourselves. But this is done only when we let the word: “Thou art the man,” press into our hearts.
The humble confession: “I have sinned against the Lord,” roots itself in the penitent recognition of guilt, and has as a consequence the assurance of forgiveness of all sins, not as something thereby deserved and won but as a gift of the free grace of God, which grace immediately answers the honest and penitent confession of guilt by acquitting of guilt; the sinner’s unreserved confession is followed by unconditional divine absolution.
Rescue of the man fallen into sin. 1) The compassionate God stretches out to him the receiving hand (Nathan’s mission and reproof). 2) The fallen one seizes this hand, and by its help lifts himself up in humility of heart and honest confession of guilt.—Repentance and grace: 1) How repentance is a work of grace, or how grace leads to repentance, and 2) How the experience of grace in the consolation of forgiveness is conditioned on repentance, or how repentance leads to grace.—The right sort of awakening preaching is that which 1) In view of the fulness of God’s goodness reveals the sinner’s ingratitude, 2) In view of the earnestness of God’s commands reveals the sinner’s disobedience, and 3) Puts an end to all self-justification and excuses by the earnestness of the word: Thou art the man!
True Repentance: 1) Wherein it consists. In penitent recognition and confession of sin as of enmity against the holy God (“I have sinned against the Lord”). 2) How it is attained. In the ways along which the sinner is led by seeking, pursuing and preventing grace. 3) Whither it leads. To the consolation of the forgiveness of all sins, to an humble yielding to the chastening hand of God under the sufferings which necessarily follow from sin, and to new experiences of God’s love in the joy which, after sufferings patiently borne, is granted by Him.—The painful consequences of sin are for the penitent man a means of grace. 1) In order to prove and try his faith and confidence in God’s fatherly love. 2) To chasten and instruct in righteousness, according to the holy will of God. 3) To purge from still clinging sinfulness. 4) To establish in a state of grace.
2 Samuel 12:1–4. STARKE: God does not always keep silent to the sins of the ungodly, but at the proper time sets them before their eyes, Ps. 50:21.—DISSELHOFF: That is always God’s way, first to speak to the sinner in similitudes, in dark sayings, in works and deeds. Dumb preachers, and yet calling so loud! For those similitudes in which the Lord speaks to us contain no unintelligible speech, these trumpets give no uncertain sound.—CRAMER: In the office of reproof one must not be too mild, nor yet too sharp, but must so manage that what is said shall be penetrating, shall smite the heart, shall stir and shame the conscience.—[HALL: He that hates sin so much the more as the offender is more dear to him, will let David feel the bruise of his fall. If God’s best children have been sometimes suffered to sleep in a sin, at last He hath awakened them in a fright.—Nathan the prophet is sent to the prophet David. Let no man think himself too good to learn; teachers themselves may be taught that, in their own particular, which, in a generality, they have often taught others: it is not only ignorance that is to be removed, but misaffection.—There is no one thing wherein is more use of wisdom, than the due contriving of a reprehension.—TR.]
2 Samuel 12:5. sq. SCHLIER: We see well the wrong that others do, even if it is only a trifling mote, and how little we care for our own failings, how little we mark our lapses even when it is great beams that we bear in ourselves.—[HALL: How severe justicers we can be to our very own crimes in others.—TR.]—Wilt thou judge, then judge thyself, and wilt thou be strict, then before all be strict against thyself, and wilt thou be indulgent, then before all be indulgent towards others, but towards thyself be strict and unindulgent.
2 Samuel 12:7 sqq. [HALL: The life of doctrine (teaching) is in the application. We may take pleasure to hear men speak in the clouds—we never take profit till we find a propriety in the exhortation or reproof. There was not more cunning in the parable than cunning in the application: “Thou art the man.”—TR.].—DISSELHOFF: He who is used by God to call out to another, “Thou art the man,” often does not himself know that he has performed Nathan’s service. The Lord sends His word like arrows; so many are struck, in the preaching of the divine word, exactly as if the word had been aimed at their heart alone. It is aimed at them too, only not by men, but by God Himself.—S. SCHMID: Every sin is despising God.—CRAMER: Despising the divine word is the evil fountain of all sins (Proverbs 29:18).—STARKE: With whatever one sins, with that he is also commonly punished.—SCHLIER: He who insults the word of the Lord, even this word will crush him to atoms, and he who sins against the commandment of God, even this commandment which he has despised will become to him a consuming fire. He who practises injustice and violence shall in his time himself also experience injustice and violence, and he who commits adultery will in his own honor become conscious of God’s judgment.—CRAMER: God punishes sin with sin, not that He has pleasure in sin, or that He works it or works with it, but that as a strict Judge, He pronounces sentence and inflicts and permits the evil.
2 Samuel 12:13 sq. SCHLIER: He who openly and unreservedly acknowledges himself guilty has thereby inwardly cut himself loose from sin, and broken with it in his heart.—DISSELHOFF: “I have sinned against the Lord.” There is in the Bible no confession so unconditional, no expression of repentance so short, but also none so thoroughly true. So long as sin reigns upon the earth, all penitent sinners will with this confession cast themselves down before God, into this confession will they pour out their hearts, this confession will become ever more openly, deeply, truly and movingly their prayer, and they will know how to say nothing else. [HALL: It was but a short word, but passionate; and such as came from the bottom of a contrite heart. The greatest griefs are not most verbal. Saul confessed his sin more largely, less effectually. God cares not for phrases, but for affections. David had sworn, in a zeal of justice, that the rich oppressor, for but taking his poor neighbor’s lamb, shall die the death; God, by Nathan, is more favorable to David than to take him at his word, “Thou shalt not die.” Comp. Prov. 28:13.—TR.]—CRAMER: God forgives the sin out of grace, and remits also the eternal punishment; but He reserves the cross and the chastisement, not for satisfaction, but in order to continual remembrance of sin and exercise in piety, and as a terror to others.—STARKE [from HALL]: So long as He smites us not as an angry Judge, we may endure to smart from Him as a loving Father (Heb. 12:6–9).
2 Samuel 12:15 sq. J. LANGE: God visits the parents in the children, whether graciously or in wrath.—SCHLIER: There is a distinction between punishment of sin and the outward consequences of sin, which may follow even for him who has forgiveness, only that all this is no longer a punishment of sin, but a gracious, fatherly visitation of the faithful God, who chastens His people even when He loves them, yea, even because of His love and compassion chastens them, that they may not anew fall into sin.—DISSELHOFF: Grace is free, wholly unconditioned. But yet he to whom grace is shown must remain under the chastening rod of the almighty and holy God.—SCHLIER: How should severe sickness in the house be a proof of divine favor? If God the Lord had let every thing at once go on for David according to his desire and will, who knows how soon he would perhaps again have felt secure and have forgotten the Lord who had forgiven his sins? but now that the Lord chastens him, how he learns to pray and weep, how he humbles himself, how he holds all the more faithfully to the Lord and to His word!
2 Samuel 12:17 sqq. OSIANDER: Even dear children of God are not always heard, when they pray for temporal gifts and obtain, not what they desire, but what is profitable for them (1 John 5:14).—[HALL: Till we know the determinations of the Almighty, it is free for us to strive in our prayers, to strive with Him, not against Him; when once we know them, it is our duty to sit down in a silent contentation.—TR.]—DISSELHOFF: This is the triumph of grace! It transforms the inevitable consequences of sin and horrors of damnation into a purifying fire, hot indeed, but rich in blessing, in which the objects of grace receive the image and stamp of their Redeemer. [SCOTT: Those who are ignorant of the divine life cannot comprehend the reasons of a believer’s conduct in his varied experiences; they mistake deep humility and fervent prayer for an impatience and an inordinate love to created objects; acquiescence in the Lord’s will, and cheerful gratitude under sharp trials, will be deemed indifference and apathy, etc.
2 Samuel 12:23. WESLEY (Sermon CXXXII.): Profuse sorrowing for the dead is unprofitable and sinful; and the text affords a consideration which ought to prevent this sorrow.—TR.]
2 Samuel 12:24 sqq. CRAMER: God’s promise is the cause of His love towards us, not our merit and worthiness (1 John 4:10).—SCHLIER: When we have allowed the Lord’s chastening to promote our welfare and peace, and are holding still before the Lord, even if we see around us nothing but suffering and trouble, then the Lord takes us up again and blesses us and gives us twofold for all the hardness we have had to endure. The Lord blesses much more willingly than He chastens, His fatherly hands had much rather open in beneficence than in affliction.
DISSELHOFF: The triumph of grace in all its glory. It unfolds itself in three steps: 1) Not the fallen one looks up to God, but God’s preventing grace in every way lets itself down to him, in order to awaken his conscience. 2) He who lets himself be awakened and openly and unconditionally confesses, receives full and unconditional pardon. 3) The pardoned man must remain under the sharp chastening rod of the Compassionate One, in order that he may learn more and more to know the depths of sin as well as of grace.
[CARLYLE:26 David, the Hebrew king, had fallen into sins enough; blackest crimes; there was no want of sins. And thereupon unbelievers sneer and ask, “Is this your man according to God’s heart?” The sneer, I must say, seems to me but a shallow one. What are faults? what are the outward details of a life, if the inner secret of it—the remorse, temptations, true, often-baffled, never-ending struggle of it—be forgotten? The deadliest sin were the supercilious consciousness of no sin. David’s life and history, as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider to be the truest emblem ever given of a man’s moral progress and warfare here below. All earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful struggle of an earnest human soul toward what is good and best. Struggle often baffled—sore baffled—driven as into entire wreck, yet a struggle never ended; ever with tears, repentance, true, unconquerable purpose begun anew.—TR.]
CHRYSOSTOM:27 David the prophet, whose kingdom was in Palestine and temporary, but whose words as a prophet are for the ends of the earth and immortal, fell into adultery and murder—the prophet in adultery, the pearl in the mire. But he did not yet know that he had sinned; so stupefied was he. God sends to him Nathan; the prophet comes to the prophet—just as in the case of physicians, when a physician is sick he needs another physician. Nathan does not at the very door begin to rebuke and upbraid him—that would have made him hardened and shameless. … And the king said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” He did not say, Why, who art thou that reprovest me? and who sent thee to speak boldly? and how hast thou dared to do this? … But precisely in this is that noble man most admirable, that having fallen into the very depths of wickedness, he did not despair nor fling himself prostrate so as to receive from the devil a mortal blow, but quickly and with great vehemence gave a more mortal blow than he received. … This history was written not that thou mightest gaze at one who fell, but that thou mightest admire one who rose again; that thou mightest learn, whenever thou hast fallen, how to rise again. For just as physicians select the most grievous diseases and record them in the books, explaining the method of healing them, in order that by exercise in the greater they may easily overcome the lesser diseases, so also God has brought forward the greatest sins in order that they also who commit little offences may through those great examples find the task of correction to be easy.—TR.]
[2 Samuel 12:1. David keeping silence. Comp. Psalm 32:3, 4. See above, “Hist. and Theol.,” No. 1.
2 Samuel 12:5, 6. Not only may a guilty man judge severely the crimes of others, but his easy consciousness of guilt may even create an ill-humor that will dispose him to all the greater severity.
2 Samuel 12:7. “Thou art the man.” One might picture an ungrateful son, a spendthrift, a suicide, etc., and charge each, as to spiritual relations and life, upon the hearer.—TR.]
[2 Samuel 12:1–14. A pattern in reproving. It is always difficult to reprove with good results, and here the difficulties were peculiarly great. An Oriental king—who has committed a series of enormous crimes, has tried to cover them up, is now moody and irritable. See now the course pursued by the prophet. 1) He approaches the offender in private. 2) He uses an affecting parallel case to awaken the sense of justice, without arousing suspicion of his design—thus inducing the king to feel, and to express himself very strongly. 3) He suddenly and emphatically applies the story, and pours upon the wrong-doer the recital of his crimes. 4) He gladly welcomes confession and penitence, and at once turns from rebuke to comfort.
2 Samuel 12:14. “Great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” 1) Only the enemies of the Lord would blaspheme, upon whatsoever occasion. 2) Though the faults of good men are not the cause of blasphemy, it is a great evil to give occasion for it. (a) The enemies may thus partially delude themselves, (b) They will be sure to mislead others. 3) Though there be occasion, yet the comments of God’s enemies are blasphemous. E.g. (a) When they infer that God does not hate sin. (b) That God’s service makes men no better than they would otherwise be.—TR.]
[2 Samuel 12:15–23. The death of David’s child. 1) The mortal illness of a babe, always so distressing to parents, and in this case having peculiarly distressing conditions. 2) David’s persevering prayer, notwithstanding the prophet’s prediction. 3) His submission, as soon as he knew the child was dead. 4) His confidence of being reunited with the child hereafter.—TR.]
1[2 Samuel 12:1. See Josephus’ dressing up of the narrative of this chapter (Ant. 7, 7. 3–5). His additions are probably in part his own invention, and in part (as Böttcher remarks) taken from late glosses, from which also the Vulg. and Chald. may have drawn. In a few cases glosses of this sort seem to have found their way into our Heb. text.—TR.]
2[2 Samuel 12:1. ראש, instead of the usual רשּ, is found only in Sam. and Prov.; the א is always thrown out by the Masorites (Qeri) in the former book (omitted from the text in twenty-two MSS. of Kennicott), never in the latter. It may be only a scriptio plena, or it may be from a verb ראש collateral to רוש (comp. רֵאשׁ, “poverty,” Prov. 6:11). In either case it seems to have been thought by the Masorites unfit for a prose-text. The stem is not found in Aramaic.—TR.]
3[2 Samuel 12:3. Some MSS. here write ראש, see above.—Instead of כִּבְשָׂת we find in the Pentateuch כַּבְשָׂת and (by transposition) כִּשְׂבָּה (as כשב for בבש); Böttcher suggests that the slenderer vowel (i) gives here a diminutive sense, but this is doubtful.—The Imperfects תִּשְׁתֶּה ,תֹּאכַל and תִּשְׁכָּב here express customary action. Instead of כְּבַת some MSS. have לְבַת.—TR.]
4[2 Samuel 12:8. Syr. בְּנֹת, doubtless a clerical error. The Arab. follows the Syriac.—TR.]
5[2 Samuel 12:9. Some MSS. and the Vulg. read: “in my eyes,” which is approved by Norzius and De Rossi. Another reading is: in the eyes of Jehovah (some MSS., Syr., Arab.).—In the latter part of the verse the repetition of the statement that David slew Uriah has given offence to some critics, who take it to be meaningless; and Syr. omits the clause: “Uriah the Hittite thou hast slain with the sword,” and transposes the two following. Böttcher therefore conjectures for the first phrase הִטִּיתָ בְארֶֹב, “thou didst ambush Uriah,” to which Thenius objects that the חֶרֶב of the following verse requires the same word here in the text, and that the two clauses are not identical in statement, but the second is descriptive and explanatory. The Bib.-Com. suggests that the last clause of this verse should be appended to 2 Samuel 12:10, where it seems required, whereby the repetition in 2 Samuel 12:9 would be avoided. On the other hand the absence of logical symmetry favors the present Heb. reading (as making it harder), while there is yet in it a certain rhetorical force; the speaker presses home in 2 Samuel 12:9 the charge of murder, and in 2 Samuel 12:10 thinks it sufficient to state the one fact (the marrying Bathsheba) that represents the whole crime.—TR.]
6[2 Samuel 12:10. Wellhausen regards 2 Samuel 12:10–12 as an interpolation, because no reference is made to the punishments announced in them, either in the “thou shalt not die” of 2 Samuel 12:13 or in 2 Samuel 12:14; and it is true 2 Samuel 12:13 attaches itself easily to 2 Samuel 12:9. Gramberg also (in Thenius) says that no pardon would really have been granted David, if Nathan had spoken 2 Samuel 12:11, 12. To this latter Thenius properly replies, that pardon (being conditioned on a state of soul) does not necessarily involve a setting aside of the natural effects of sin. So also as to Wellhausen’s criticism, Nathan’s course of thought may be thus represented: he sets forth David’s sin (2 Samuel 12:9), denounces against his house the everlasting vengeance of the sword (2 Samuel 12:10), and an open requital of his crime on him personally (2 Samuel 12:11,12); thereupon David confesses his sin, anticipating the worst consequences for himself, and Nathan replies that (notwithstanding what had just been said) death should not now be visited on him; yet that he might not be without immediate punishment, his child should die. Thus the contrast between the punishment of 2 Samuel 12:10–12 and that of 2 Samuel 12:13, 14, will lie in the immediateness or remoteness. For the rest, it is not necessary to suppose that this scene occurred in a minute, even though we should not (with Ewald) assume a considerable interval of time in the middle of 2 Samuel 12:13 (at the Pisqa).—TR.]
7[2 Samuel 12:11. The Yod in רֵעֶיךָ is to be regarded as radical (though some MSS. omit it) and the word as singular.—TR.]
8[2 Samuel 12:13. The masoretic note here is: “Pisqa (division) in the middle of the verse.” This doubtless indicates that a pause was felt to be desirable between David’s solemn confession of sin and Nathan’s announcement of pardon; but whether it is also intended to indicate an interval of time must remain undetermined.—TR.]
9[2 Samuel 12:14. So all versions and MSS. Geiger thinks that this is a case similar to 1 Sam. 25:22, where the “enemies” is inserted to avoid an irreverent or injurious expression. But in that passage (see the discussion there in “Text. and Gram.”) the word “enemies” is obviously out of place, while here it suits very well; and the possibility of the causative sense of the Piel must be omitted. Yet if the Heb. text be retained, we must suppose some publicity given to David’s crime; and the reading: “thou hast despised Jehovah,” would agree well with the context.—TR.]
10[2 Samuel 12:31. Chron. (20:3) has וישר, “he sawed,” which is adopted by Erdmann, Bib.-Com., and most critics. The Heb. phrase here is unusual and hard, and the reading of Chron. has against it only that the verb sawed does not agree well with the instruments of threshing and cutting. Therefore a general sense, cut, has been assigned to the verb, which, however, is doubtful. It is held by some that our Heb. text means only that David put his prisoners to work with saws, etc.; but the words will hardly bear this interpretation. Chald. has “sawed” (מסר), and so the Vulg. (probably a paraphrase).—TR.]
11[2 Samuel 12:31. Erdmann: “made them enter their Moloch,” retaining the Kethib, as he explains in his exposition. Eng. A. V. adopts the Qeri, which seems the better reading.—TR.]
12[It is doubtful whether this phrase belongs to the Vulgate text. It is not found in our present printed edition, nor in the Codex Amiatinus; and the expression is not Hebrew but Latin (Wellhausen).—Josephus’ language “he asked him to tell him what he thought” (Ant. 7, 7, 3) is a natural introduction in Josephus’ expansive manner, and does not necessarily suggest a corresponding phrase in his Greek text.—TR.]
13 לְאִישׁ, anarthrous, defined by the Article with the following adjective. See Ewald, § 293 a.
14[Especially as no murder is introduced into the parable. No doubt it was part of Nathan’s plan, as Dr. Erdmann suggests, to conceal the immediate reference from David. He therefore does not minutely imitate the circumstances of David’s crime. and the interpretation of the parable must simply take the central thought and apply it. Here was a man that wronged his neighbor by depriving him of valuable property; the wrong is heightened by the fact that the aggressor has much and the sufferer little. Such an aggressor was David. Farther than this it is not proper to carry the interpretation of particulars. Abarbanel’s explanation (given by Patrick) is too minute.—TR.]
15[In Hahn’s ed. of the Heb. Bib. both text and margin have “his eyes” (with a mere orthographic difference); but in some other edd. (see De Rossi) the Qeri or margin is as Dr. Erdmann states.—TR.]
16 נִאֵץ Piel Inf. Abs.; the i for assonance with the following Perfect, Ew. § 240 c.
17[Sept., changing the accents, has: “what is this that thou hast done for the child? while it yet lived thou didst fast, etc.,” and this is adopted by Thenius (after Hitzig), and declared by Wellhausen to be the only possible construction of the words. The latter, however, points out the two difficulties in this construction, that we do not expect any qualifying phrase after “thou hast done,” and that the curtness and isolation of the חַי is hard. He therefore reads בְּעוֹר (as in 2 Samuel 12:22) “while the child was yet alive” instead of בעבור, for which, says Böttcher, there is no need. The construction of Eng. A. V., though not without its difficulties, may be retained, though Wellhausen’s suggestion commends itself as more natural and grammatical.—TR.]
18Kethib יְחַנֵּנִי Impf. Qal, Qeri וְחַנַּנִי Perf. with Waw consecutive.
19[Solomon, in Heb. Shelomoh. = “peaceful.” Other names from the same stem are Shalmai (Ezr. 2:46. margin), Shelomi (Num. 34:27), Shelumiel (Numb. 1:6), Shelemiah (1 Chr. 26:14), Shelomith (Lev. 24:11; 2 Chr. 11:20). Sept. and Vulg. write Salomon, and New Test. (Greek) Solomon, which our translators have adopted (Bib.-Com.). The Arabic form is Suleiman, Syr. Sheleimun. The final n comes from the attempt of the Sept. to give the name a Greek appearance, or, it may really have taken this form in Egypt.—TR.]
20[The first part of the name Jedidiah means the same as David. Comp. Amadeus.—TR.]
21[There is a disposition to assimilate the two designations in 2 Samuel 12:26 and 27, city of the kingdom and city of water. In 2 Samuel 12:27 Syr., Arab., Chald., and some Heb. MSS. read as in 2 Samuel 12:26, and Wellhausen proposes to read 2 Samuel 12:26 as 2 Samuel 12:27. Certainly if Joab had already captured the whole city, there would be no room for David’s capture (2 Samuel 12:29), and so Keil’s explanation must be adopted if we retain the Heb. text.—TR.]
22 מְגֵרוֹת for מַגְזֵרוֹת.
23 מַלְבֵּן instead of Kethib מלכן.
24Böttcher: The Kethib needs no change, for מִלְבֹּן is a Hebraized form of מִלכֹּם, the ending om being augmentative.
25[As Dr. Erdmann remarks, the standing formula is “to pass through to Moloch,” and the Heb. text cannot be so rendered; it is “in” malkon. It is a further objection to this view that the phrase was used distinctly of the worship of Moloch, and would hardly be used of an act of punishment. But if the Qeri be adopted, the phrase is still hard, because of the preposition: “he made them pass through in the kiln,” the usual phrase omitting the preposition. No satisfactory translation of the words has yet been offered.—TR.]
26“Hero-Worship.” Quoted more fully by Taylor.
27Collected and abridged from a number of passing allusions.
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.