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Deeper Commentary

2Sa 12:1 Yahweh sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, There were two men in one city-
That David could see into the back yard of Bathsheba's house shows that they were almost next door neighbours in Jerusalem. Nathan's parable emphasized this: "There were two men (David and Nathan) in one city (Jerusalem)". That Uriah "went not down to his house" after meeting David in Jerusalem could imply that it was just at the end of David's back garden (2 Sam. 11:13 etc.).

The one rich, and the other poor-
Reflection on the record enables us to enter a little into the nature and tragedy of David's sorrow; remembering always that David is our example. His love for Abigail, with marriage to her so wondrously arranged, would have been cruelly mocked by his falling for Bathsheba. His abuse of Uriah's loyalty (when almost certainly Uriah knew exactly what David was playing at) would have created a sadness that can only be described as ineffable. David in his early years described himself as a "poor man", indicating his humility; yet the very same word is used by Nathan in the parable about Uriah, as if to bring home to David that he had slain a man who had the humble loyalty which he had had in those early, spiritually formative years (1 Sam. 18:23 cp. 2 Sam.12:1,3,4). 

Nathan had likened Uriah to a "poor man" abused by David. But David later asks God to eternally condemn those who persecuted the "poor" (see on Ps. 109:9,16). And it seems Ps. 109 was used by David not only about his persecution at the time of Saul, but also of his sufferings at the time of Absalom's rebellion, after the time of his sin. So it seems David didn't maintain his sense of humility before Nathan.

2Sa 12:2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds-
Presumably the idea is that David had many wives and concubines. He had no sexual need for Bathsheba. To take her was selfishness and narcissism in the extreme.

2Sa 12:3 but the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up together with him, and with his children. It ate of his own food, drank of his own cup, lay in his bosom, and was to him like a daughter-
David himself had once been a poor man (1 Sam. 18:23), his family only had a "few sheep" (1 Sam. 17:28). So his abuse of the poor man with only one sheep now he was rich... was therefore the more culpable.   

David and Uriah knew each other very well; they had spent David's long wilderness years together. All that time, Bathsheba had been brought up by Uriah (2 Sam.12:3). She was the daughter of Eliam, who had been another of David’s mighty men (2 Sam. 11:3; 23:34). Presumably he had been killed and Uriah adopted her, bringing her up from babyhood, mothering her by feeding her from his bowl and letting her sleep in his bosom. This may imply that his own wife died early, and that he brought her and his own children up alone, and then married her when she was older. A very special spiritual and emotional bond must have been forged between those who stuck with David as a down and out, and who later on shared in the glory of his kingdom. That Uriah had such easy access to David would have been unthinkable for an ordinary soldier whom David hardly knew. Nathan criticizes David for having " no pity" on Uriah, implying that David well knew  the relationship between Uriah and Bathsheba. Moreover, David would have been a larger than life figure for his followers, and Bathsheba would have grown up with this image of David as the saving hero.

1 Chron. 3:5 could imply that she had no other children before those she had by David. This means that she may have been barren until that point; her conception was certainly brought about by God. Was it that they would both have been aware of the unlikelihood of her bearing children, and therefore perhaps more inclined to take a chance?

2Sa 12:4 A traveller came to the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man who had come to him, but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man who had come to him-
The parable described David's lust as a "traveller" which came to him, implying that this was not his usual frame of mind (and does the 'traveller' needing sustenance of Lk. 11:6 also refer to our sinful tendencies?). The rich man is presented as mean. He has only an appearance of hospitality and generosity towards his guest, for he will not give of his own animals, but takes the poor man's lamb. Whilst David was not typically like this, his behaviour in this matter was indeed callous and mean, beneath a veneer of respectability.

2Sa 12:5 David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, As Yahweh lives, the man who has done this is worthy to die!-
As noted on :6, this demand for the death penalty was far beyond what the law required for the theft of an animal. David's outrage shows that he was not without moral conscience. But morality can be applied in one part of a man's life but not in others; to one person but not another; to sinners but not to himself. David speaks as God in Eden: "... shall surely die" (AV). This was his problem; he was playing God.

2Sa 12:6 He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity!-
Ex. 22:1 stipulated that stolen lambs should be restored fourfold. The fourfold judgment could be seen as coming upon David in the deaths of Bathsheba’s child, then Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah. But David is so used to living beyond the letter of the law, that he assumes he can get this person also put to death. But that was not stipulated in the law. In many ways David had rightly seen beyond the letter of the law, to the spirit of it. This he could act at times as High Priest. But this led him where it can lead us too- to an attitude that he was personally beyond Divine principles. And this led him to the sins related to Bathsheba.

2Sa 12:7 Nathan said to David, You are the man-
It is difficult to read Rom. 2:1 without seeing an allusion to David's condemnation of the man who killed his neighbour's only sheep: "Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art  that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself". Surely Paul is saying that David's massive self-deception and hypocrisy over Bathsheba can all too easily be replicated in our experience. 

This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul-
David ought to have been moved by God's grace to him historically, to be sexually self controlled. And there we have an abiding principle.

2Sa 12:8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom-
David loved Saul, his daughters and his son Jonathan; and later David was to marry Saul's wives. These wives were given into David's bosom; in other words, they were really close in their relationship; so close, 2 Sam. 12:8 implies, that David had no real emotional need to take Bathsheba. Even while Saul was alive there was probably some attraction chemistry going on between David and those women. This may well be reflected in Saul's fury with Jonathan: "Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman... thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to... the confusion of thy mother's nakedness" (1 Sam. 20:30 AV). This hints at least two things: firstly, Saul had a bad relationship with his wife; and secondly, he suspected some kind of unfaithfulness in her, perhaps only on a mental level.  David had married Saul's wives (2 Sam.12:8)- including the mother of Jonathan and Michal. So now we can reconstruct the complex spiritual and emotional situation.

And gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that would have been too little-
Such is the wonder of God’s promise to us that we really have no excuse to sin. Every sin is in a sense a denial of His promises. God told David that he had no excuse for what he did with Uriah and Bathsheba, because he had given him so much, “and if that had been too little, I would have added unto you…” (2 Sam. 12:8). “Too little” sends the mind back to 2 Sam. 7:19, where the promises to David are described as a “little thing”; the promises were so wonderful that David should not have allowed himself to fall into such sin. And us likewise.

I would have added to you many more such things-
When David sinned with Bathsheba, God didn't read him the act about adultery, lust, murder. He reminded David instead how He had delivered David by grace from his enemies, and how He had by grace given him many wives- when this was hardly God's ideal standard. God made concessions to David's weakness- and even gave him the wives of Saul. Seeing David was married to Saul's daughter, this was actually contrary to the spirit of God's own law. But God had showed David great grace in this. And it was exactly this which God reminded David of- it was this amazing grace against which David had sinned (2 Sam. 12:7,8). And perhaps David appreciated this when he commented: "I have sinned against the Lord", rather than saying 'Yes, I've broken commandments'. This is the awfulness of sin- any sin. That we who have known such grace could so ignore it and act like we never knew.

We must recognize that there will be anomalies in the lives of our brethren- just as there are in the lives of us all (if only we would examine ourselves ruthlessly enough to see them). And in some ways at some times, God goes along with them. Thus He gave Saul’s wives to David (2 Sam. 12:8), which would’ve involved David being married to both a mother and daughter- for he had married Saul’s daughters. And this giving of Saul’s wives to David may not have occurred simply after Saul’s death. For David’s eldest son, Amnon, was borne by Ahinoam (2 Sam. 3:2), who was initially Saul’s wife (1 Sam. 14:50). Now this is not to justify sin. Adultery, taking another’s wife or husband, is all wrong. Let there be no mistake. But God at times sees the bigger, or longer, perspective, and tolerates things which we may quite rightly find intolerable. And if He loves us despite of our sin and failure- are we surprised that we are invited to show love to others in the face of their sin and failure toward us? A black and white insistence upon God’s standards being upheld in the lives of others, demanding their repentance for having hurt us, is what has caused so much division between believers. Whilst God alone will apportion the guilt for this, in the final, unalterable, ultimately just algorithm of Divine judgment, it’s worth observing that the fault for division isn’t always with the sinners, the wider thinkers, the freewheelers; but with the inflexible intolerance of those in power. See on 1 Sam. 18:20; 20:30.

2Sa 12:9 Why have you despised the word of Yahweh, to do that which is evil in His sight?-
David "despised the commandment (word) of the Lord... you despised me" (2 Sam. 12:9,10). David learnt that his attitude to God's word was his attitude to God- for the word of God, in that sense, was and is God. By our words we personally will be condemned or justified- because we too ‘are’ our words. When Samuel told Eli of the prophetic vision which he had received, Eli commented: “It is the Lord” (1 Sam. 3:18). He meant ‘It is the word of the Lord’; but he saw God as effectively His word. “The word”, the “word of the Kingdom”, “the Gospel”, “the word of God” are all parallel expressions throughout the Gospels. Our attitude to God’s word is our attitude to Him.

The fact that he is condemned for having "despised the commandment of the Lord" in David's sin with Bathsheba indicates that He knew all along what God's will really was. The fact that the flesh took over does not in any way mitigate his responsibility in this. This is a direct quote from the Law's definition of the sin of presumption: "The soul that doeth ought presumptuously...because he hath despised the word of the Lord... that soul shall utterly be cut off" (Num. 15:30,31). Knowing David’s emotional nature and also the fact that he did not completely turn away from God afterwards, we would have expected a quicker repentance if it had been a passing sin of passion. It would therefore seem reasonable to assume that the sin was of presumption rather than passion. In his prosperity he had said “I shall never be moved” and he was determined that he couldn’t be (Ps. 30:6). Hearing those words from Nathan must have struck real fear into David- he was being incriminated for the supreme sin of presumption, for which there was no provision of sacrifice or repentance. It is a mark of his faith and knowledge of God as the God of love, that He is willing to go on to confess his sin, in the hope of forgiveness. "Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it" (Ps. 51:16) was spoken by David more concerning this sin of presumption for which there was no sacrifice prescribed, rather than about the actual sin of adultery. However, we must not get the impression that David was a hard, callous man. Everything we know about him points to him be a big hearted, warm softie. David's sin with Bathsheba was in that sense out of character. Yet such is the stranglehold of sin that even he was forced to act with such uncharacteristic callousness and indifference to both God and man in order to try to cover his sin.

You have struck Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon-
God saw David as if he had killed Uriah with his sword; even though David's command to Joab to retire from Uriah and let the Ammonites kill him was carefully calculated not to break the letter of the law.

2Sa 12:10 Now therefore the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife’-
Ps. 69:33 had a historical basis in David appreciating that although he had despised God in his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (s.w. 2 Sam. 12:10), God by grace had not despised him. Just as the actual murder of Uriah involved the death of other soldiers, so the bloodshed within David's family was going to be his fault.

It should be noted that the sin of adultery is not highlighted in Nathan's rebuke of David, but rather that David had "killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife". This is twice emphasized in 12:9,10. This is not to say that the sin of weakness, of the moment, was irrelevant in God's sight. But the emphasis on how he had taken Bathsheba as his wife hints that this had been his long term intention, further suggesting that his sin with her was the end result of much prior meditation. This further illuminates the way in which David speaks of his sin with Bathsheba as if it comprised a whole multitude of other sins: "I acknowledged my sin (singular) unto thee... I said, I will confess my transgressions (plural)" (Ps. 32:5 cp. 38:3,4,18). Ps. 25:7 also occurs in a  Bathsheba context: "Remember not the sins of my youth..."; as if facing up to his sin with Bathsheba made David face up to sins of years ago, possibly also in a sexual context. Indeed, David went so far down this road of self-examination that the sin with Bathsheba made him realize that it was probably associated with many others which he did not even realize: "Who can understand his own errors? cleanse (s.w. Ps. 51:1,2 re. the Bathsheba affair) thou me from secret faults" (Ps. 19:12). If our own self-examination and repentance is after the pattern of David's, we will appreciate how that each of our sins is associated with so many others. We will be aware how that each spiritual event in our life makes us either weaker or stronger in facing the next one, how that each temptation is intertwined with others, so that in reality we do not commit (say) three or four sins per day. We are constantly failing and winning, and therefore we live in God's mercy; we do not just experience it for the few seconds in which we pray to Him for forgiveness to be granted. David's sin with Bathsheba is a process we each go through in one way or another.

Not believing in God and not believing in His word of the Gospel are paralleled in 1 Jn. 5:10. God is His word. The word “is” God in that God is so identified with His word. David parallels trusting in God and trusting in His word (Ps. 56:3,4). He learnt this, perhaps, through the experience of his sin with Bathsheba. For in that matter, David "despised the commandment (word) of the Lord... you despised me" (2 Sam. 12:9,10). David learnt that his attitude to God's word was his attitude to God- for the word of God, in that sense, was and is God. By our words we personally will be condemned or justified- because we too ‘are’ our words.

2Sa 12:11 This is what Yahweh says: ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house-
David in the Psalms records how he hated those who 'rose up' against him, and that includes Absalom. Saul 'rose up' against David (s.w. 1 Sam. 25:29; 26:2), and  then evil men 'rose up' against David out of his own family (2 Sam. 12:11 s.w.), especially Absalom who rose up against his father (2 Sam. 18:31,32 s.w.). But David has a tendency to assume that all who rose up against him were arising against God. It's not always so that our enemy is God's enemy. Relationships and the hand of God in human affairs and relationships is more complex than that. And David in Ps. 139:21,22 goes further, to assume that his hatred of people is justified, because they must, he assumes, hate God because they are against him. Solomon seems to make the same mistake when he alludes to such 'risings up' in Prov. 28:28. We must note that "all in Asia" turned away from Paul personally (2 Tim. 1:15), and yet according to the letters to the seven churches of Asia in Rev. 2,3, there were many faithful individuals amongst them.   

And I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he will lie with your wives in the sight of this sun-
Uriah had been David's neighbour. David's neighbour Absalom was to sleep with his wives; perhaps at this time Absalom also had a house next to David's. David was described as Saul's "neighbour"; Saul had abused his neighbour David, and now David was acting no better than Saul. He was only treated differently because his repentance was more genuine.

2Sa 12:12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun’-
"Under the sun" is Solomon's favourite phrase in Ecclesiastes, as he describes what he considers as the fallen position of himself, his kingdom, and humanity generally. The only other Biblical usage of the phrase outside of Ecclesiastes is in 2 Sam. 12:12, where the consequences of David's sin with Solomon's mother were to be worked out openly and publically "under the sun". It could be that despite trying to whitewash David and his sin in Proverbs, Solomon at the end of his life feels he is for ever living with the consequence of that sin of his parents; and thus he blames everything he sees as wrong with his life upon that. This would be a typical thing for a man to do, in psychological terms. And I have noted throughout Proverbs how often Solomon is having a dig at Absalom and others who played their part in the outworking of the consequences of the sin.  

2Sa 12:13 David said to Nathan, I have sinned against Yahweh-
It is amazing how sudden David's proper repentance seems to have come. There is no reason to be unduly afraid of a sudden, emotional confession of sin, prompted by a certain circumstance, as David's was by Nathan's parable. Psalm 51 may well have been prayed but moments after Nathan finished his parable. And Psalm 32, describing the joy of David's repentance, would have followed soon after. "Purge me... and I shall be clean... create in me a clean heart" (Ps. 51:7,10) shows that David understood the 'me' which needed cleansing as being his own mind. This was clearly a result of the great level of self-examination which brought forth his real repentance. "Against thee, thee only have I sinned" (Ps. 51:4) was a conclusion wrung out of so much reflection about what he had done; as is his recognition that his "sin" had involved many "transgressions" (Ps. 51:3). 

There are an interesting set of allusions to David’s sin with Bathsheba in Micah 7, almost leading us to wonder whether Micah too had a femme fatale in his life- whom he speaks of in Mic. 7:10 as “she that is mine enemy… shame shall cover her”. He says that “I have sinned against the Lord” (Mic. 7:9), using the very same words as David does in 2 Sam. 12:13; and he marvels how God ‘passes by’ transgression (Mic. 7:18), using the very same Hebrew word as is found in 2 Sam. 12:13 to describe how God “put away” David’s sin. And there are many references throughout Micah 7 to David’s Psalms of penitence. Could it be that David’s sin and repentance served as a personal inspiration to Micah, as well as being held up as the inspiration to all God’s people to repent and experience the sure mercies which David did? 

A New Testament allusion to David's penitence may be found in 2 Cor.7:7-11: "Ye were made sorry... ye sorrowed to repentance... ye were made sorry after a Godly manner (cp. "every one that is Godly...", Ps. 32:6)... for Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation... ye sorrowed after a Godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation (cp. David's in 2 Sam. 12:5)... what zeal... your mourning, your fervent mind" . Allusion after allusion to David is being piled up here. The eight references to their "sorrow" in four verses is surely a signpost back to David's intense sorrow for his sin with Bathsheba: "My sin is ever before me (Ps. 51:3) sorrow is continually before me... I will be sorry for my sin...many sorrows shall be to the wicked" who, unlike David, refused to repent (Ps. 38:17,18; 32:10). This association between sin and sorrow is a common one (Job 9:28; 1 Tim. 6:10; Ex. 4:31; Is. 35:10. The last two references show how Israel's sorrowing in Egypt was on account of their sinfulness). We must pause to ask whether our consciousness of sin leads us to a like sorrowing, whether our repentance features a similar depth of remorse.  

It would appear that Paul is likening Corinth to David. They too were guilty of sexual "uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness" (2 Cor. 12:21). We have seen that in the same way as David's repentance was made in a "day of salvation", so in 2 Cor. 6:2 Paul told Corinth that they were in a similar position to him; they too had the chance of repentance. Those who had heeded this call earlier had experienced the zeal and clear conscience which David did on his repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-11). In this case, Paul would be likening himself to Nathan the prophet. This zeal which was seen in both David and Corinth is a sure sign of clear conscience and a joyful openness with God. Again, we ask how much of our zeal is motivated by this, or is it just a continuation of a level of service which we set ourselves in more spiritual days, which we now struggle to maintain for appearances sake? 

The account of Joseph's resistance of adultery is consciously reflected in the account of king David's adultery. And we see this in life- for all life is ultimately structured by God. It's not just that one life reflects another, with similarities and so forth. But one life may be an inverse of another's life, a reflection which is inverse. Because the lessons of history were not learnt. Only by fellowship with each other, engaging with each others' paths rather than mere surface level connection, can we come to discern this. So both Joseph and David are presented as young shepherd boys ["shepherding the flock" of their father is a phrase which occurs only in Gen. 37:2 and 1 Sam. 16:11; 17:34]. They were both sent by their father to enquire of the shalom / "peace" of their brothers, and they were both despised by their brothers when they arrived to do so.  They both are "prudent" and chosen to serve a king because of it (Gen. 41:33,39 s.w. 1 Sam. 16:18). It was noted about both of them that Yahweh was with them (Gen. 39:2,3,21-23 cp. 1 Sam. 16:18; 18:12). Both are described as being young men of "beautiful appearance" (s.w. only Gen. 39:6; 1 Sam. 17:42). Both began their ruling at 30 years of age. Both were victims of others deciding it were better to kill them by others' hands (the Ishmaelites, Gen. 37:27, and the Philistines in David's case, 1 Sam. 18:17).

So this sets us up to consider the differences between Joseph and David when it comes to the adultery issue. Just as men may lead parallel lives, so close that clearly the hand of God was in the parallels- but then one fails to decide correctly when faced by temptation, and fails to take the lead from the earlier, or perhaps Biblical, character. But only by getting to know each other, or thinking ourselves into the Biblical characters, can we perceive this. Someone older than you maybe had a very similar life path, but, let's say, at age 40 encountered major temptation- which they overcame. You as the younger person are to learn from that and decide rightly as they did. Or, if they failed at that point, you are to learn that lesson.

So with David and Bathsheba and Joseph and Potiphar's wife, there was an imbalance of power. She like David could just demand sex. In both cases they were "alone in the house". Bathsheba was very beautiful, just as Joseph is described. Ms. Potiphar asked Joseph to lie with her, just as David asked Bathsheba. Uriah and Joseph are both presented as very faithful to "my lord". Potiphar's wife has Joseph thrown into prison; David has Uriah sent to his death. Likewise Bathsheba's "I am pregnant... by you, David" matches the message of Tamar to Judah- another reflection of a story. Joseph was given his lord's house to rule over, just as David was given his lord Saul's house ("I have given you the house of your lord", 2 Sam. 12:8).  But David saw eventually the similarities with Joseph when he finally admits "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Sam. 12:13), whereas Joseph refuses to sin against God (Gen. 39:9). And so David is presented as Potiphar's wife. God gave Joseph everything except Potiphar's wife; God gave David everything likewise. The language is so similar. Uriah's "I will not do this thing" (2 Sam. 11:11) is Joseph's "How can I do this thing..." (Gen. 39:9).

Nathan said to David, Yahweh also has put away your sin. You will not die-
The Spirit changes Ps. 32:1 ("Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven") to "Blessed are they" (Rom. 4:7) to make the same point. "Blessed is the man (e.g. David, or any sinner- David is our example) unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity" (Ps. 32:2) is alluded to in 2 Cor. 5:19: "God was in Christ... not imputing (the world's) trespasses unto them". Through being justified, any repentant sinner will then have the characteristics of Christ, in God's sight. In Christ there was no guile (1 Pet. 2:22), as there was not in David (or any other believer) after the justification of forgiveness (Ps. 32:2). "Blessed is the man... in whose spirit is no guile" (Ps. 32:2) is picked up in Rev.14:5: "In their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God". The picture of forgiven David in Ps. 32 is what we will each be like after acceptance "before the throne of God". Yet David's experience can also be ours here and now; in those moments of true contrition, we surely are experiencing salvation in prospect.

 There is another connection with Romans in Ps. 51:4, where David recognizes "Against thee...have I sinned...that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest". He recognized that God works through our sinfulness- he is effectively saying 'I sinned so that You might be justified...'. These words are quoted in Rom. 3:4,5 in the context of Paul's exultation that "our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God" - in just the same way as David's did! Because God displays His righteousness every time He justifies a repentant sinner, He is in a sense making Himself yet more righteous. We must see things from God's perspective, from the standpoint of giving glory to God's righteous attributes. If we do this, then we can see through the ugliness of sin, and come to terms with our transgressions the more effectively. And Paul quotes David's sin with Bathsheba as our supreme example in this. We along with all the righteous ought to “shout for joy” that David really was forgiven (Ps. 32:11)- for there is such hope for us now. David is our example. And yet the intensity of David’s repentance must be ours. He hung his head as one in whose mouth there were no more arguments, hoping only in the Lord’s grace (Ps. 38:14 RVmg.). Notice too how Ps. 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God…” is quoted by the publican in Lk. 18:13. He felt that David’s prayer and situation was to be his. And he is held up as the example for each of us. 

2Sa 12:14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to Yahweh’s enemies to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die-
We may enquire how the death of a newborn baby would stop people blaspheming. Perhaps the idea is that somehow David was punished with the death penalty, through his representative son dying. There should therefore be no complaint about God's justice. But this seems to me to raise a host of other ethical issues. The child did indeed die because of David's sin; one dimension of sin is the effect it has upon others. It could be argued that this extra punishment was because David's sin had caused others to blaspheme. Yahweh's "enemies" were the Gentiles within the land (s.w. Num. 14:42; 32:21; Dt. 1:42; 12:10 and often). They would learn what had happened and mock Yahweh for having such a king over His people. But David's wife Abigail had referred to Saul and his supporters as Yahweh's enemies (1 Sam. 25:26,29). Perhaps the idea is that the remnants of the house of Saul, who were still against David, would blaspheme Yahweh's choice of David over Saul now that Saul had behaved in the same way as Saul in abusing his "neighbour". We learn from this that whatever causes others to stumble from Yahweh is particularly abhorrent to Him. 

2Sa 12:15 Nathan departed to his house. Yahweh struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it was very sick-
We wonder why there was a period of sickness before the child died. It was perhaps for David's benefit, to elicit his repentance, to help him see the extent of the damage he had caused. Or perhaps as noted on :16, this was the gap in which David could pray for a change of the judgment pronounced. But in this case, we have to assume that David's fasting and prayer was not intense enough.

2Sa 12:16 David therefore begged God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night on the earth-
God had clearly stated that the child would die (:15). But David understood that there is a gap between God's statements of judgment, and His fulfilment of them. And in that gap, in which we also stand, there is a window of opportunity for repentance and changing God's intended judgment. Nineveh's judgment was changed because of this as Moses had changed God's judgments pronounced upon Israel. David knew God well enough to believe that such a change was possible. The fact it wasn't could perhaps be because his prayer and repentance wasn't to the extent God required for this abrogation of judgment to happen.

2Sa 12:17 The elders of his house arose beside him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them-
The scene recalls that of Saul, likewise laying prostrate upon the earth the fateful night before his Divine judgment, refusing to eat when encouraged to do so by his servants. David in essence was no better than Saul. But fortunately he had shown Saul the utmost grace, and God showed the same now to David.

2Sa 12:18 It happened on the seventh day, that the child died. The servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he didn’t listen to our voice. How will he then harm himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?-
David’s depression may even have extended to suicidal tendencies. His servants, who knew him well, feared he would take his own life if Bathsheba's baby died: "How will he then do hurt to himself...?" (2 Sam. 12:18; the same word is used in Num. 20:15 concerning Egypt's 'hurting' of Israel). One gets a sense that David had another such fit of self-hate in his reaction to the news that many in Israel would have to die because of his numbering of the people (even though their punishment was just, seeing they had refused to pay the census money required by the Law). It is quite possible that the Lord knew these tendencies well; was He not tempted to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple, to take the Kingdom immediately, in other words to short cut through this life? Indeed, any man driven to the mental lengths of David and Jesus has known these feelings.

2Sa 12:19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, Is the child dead? They said, He is dead-
These were perhaps the same servants with whom Uriah would have slept and hung out, and perhaps had carried the many messengers associated with the sin. They would have indeed realized that the wages of sin is death, and David's awful sin now led to another death.

2Sa 12:20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothing; and he came into the house of Yahweh, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he ate-
This may be the reference of Ps. 30:11, a Psalm with clear reference to the Bathsheba incident: "You have turned my mourning into dancing for me. You have removed my sackcloth, and clothed me with gladness". David removed his sackcloth when his child died (2 Sam. 12:20-22). It was perhaps at this point that he realized that he had been truly forgiven; hence the strange and much observed paradox of David's relative rejoicing at a time when he was supposed to be mourning for his child's death.

2Sa 12:21 Then his servants said to him, What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child was dead, you rose up and ate bread-
This strange change could be attributable simply to David's mood swings. But I suggested on :20 another reason.

2Sa 12:22 He said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows whether Yahweh will not be gracious to me, that the child may live?’-
David is explaining that his fasting and weeping during the sickness of the child was for God to change His judgments decreed. It was not the weeping of sorrow.

2Sa 12:23 But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me-
David would go to the child in that he too would die. But he had no hope for the child's resurrection. There may even be a hint of anger with God here. David had not succeeded in changing God's stated purpose. He knew that God could bring to the grave and bring up again, as Hannah's song had said. But God had not and apparently would not do this; and "I", David, could not save a child from death nor resurrect it. Only God could, and He chose not to.

2Sa 12:24 David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her, and lay with her. She bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Yahweh loved him-
Solomon being the one Yahweh loved led him to abuse that love, because he alludes to this in Prov. 3:12; 15:9. As noted there, he assumes that he is therefore righteous and God's supreme delight, because Yahweh loved him. But he failed to perceive that God's love is by grace, and not a reward for our righteousness.

That David's sin is indeed an epitome of all our sins is proved by the way in which the record of it is framed in the language of the fall. Adam is presented as David. Gen. 2:8,17 = 2 Sam. 12:5; Gen. 2:17 = 2 Sam. 12:9; Gen. 6:2 = 2 Sam. 12:9; Gen. 3:17 = 2 Sam. 12:10; Gen. 3:7 = 2 Sam. 12:11; Gen. 3:8 = 2 Sam. 11:24; 12:12; Gen. 3:21 = 2 Sam. 12:13; Gen. 3:17 = 2 Sam. 16:11; Gen. 3:19 = 2 Sam. 16:13. It should also be noted that David/Bathsheba language is used to describe Israel's spiritually fallen state (e.g. Ps. 38:7=Is. 1:6; Ps. 51:7=Is. 1:18; Ps. 65:2=Is. 40:15). David recognized this in Ps. 51:17, where he likens his own state to that of Zion, which also needed to be revived by God's mercy. As David's sin is likened to the killing of a lamb (2 Sam. 12:4), so the Jews killed Jesus. The troubles which therefore came upon his kingdom have certain similarities with the events of AD67-70. They were also repeated in the Nazi Holocaust, and will yet be. Israel are yet to fully repent after the pattern of David.


2Sa 12:25 and He sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he named him Jedidiah, for Yahweh’s sake-
The words of Ps. 110:1 are applied by the NT to Jesus, but there is no reason to think that they were not primarily spoke by David with his eye on Solomon, whom he addresses as his Lord, such was his obsession: “The Lord saith unto my Lord…” (RV), and the rest of the Psalm goes on in the language of Ps. 72 to describe David’s hopes for Solomon’s Kingdom. ‘Solomon’ was actually called ‘Jedidiah’ by God through Nathan (2 Sam. 12:25). The ‘beloved of God’ was surely prophetic of God’s beloved Son. When God said “This is my beloved Son”, He was surely saying ‘Now THIS is the Jedidiah, whom I wanted Solomon to typify’. But David calls him Solomon, the man who would bring peace. I suggest that David was so eager to see in Solomon the actual Messiah, that he chose not to use the name which God wanted- which made Solomon a type of a future Son of God / Messiah. And this led to Solomon himself being obsessed with being a Messiah figure and losing sight of the future Messiah.

2Sa 12:26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city-
How the citadel fell is explained in :27. I suggest that 2 Samuel is thematic rather than chronological. This really picks up from 2 Sam. 10, where Syrian support for Rabbah had been cut off, and Rabbah was besieged by Joab. It is unlikely that the siege could have been maintained for a year or so. I suggest therefore that what we read of here happened some time after the sin with Bathsheba, and before David's repentance. The harsh treatment of the captives and proud taking of the crown David hadn't fought for... is all the kind of behaviour to be associated with a man in bad conscience before God.

This may be alluded to in Prov. 16:32: "One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; one who rules his spirit, than he who takes a city". This may refer to the hot headed anger of Joab and the "sons of Zeruiah", who had opposed Solomon and sought the throne for themselves towards the end of David's life. It was Joab who had taken the citadel of Zion and also the city of Rabbah, but this is dismissed by Solomon as cancelled out, as it were, by his hot headed lack of mental self control. 

2Sa 12:27 Joab sent messengers to David and said, I have fought against Rabbah. Yes, I have taken the city of waters-
We see here Joab's strong loyalty to David. "The city of waters" was the settlement on the Jabbok which provided water for the citadel of Rabbah. Once that was taken, it was only a matter of time before Rabbah had to fall, without water. And Joab wanted David to be there to have the glory of entering Rabbah.

2Sa 12:28 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-
Whatever carried the name of a person was seen as his property. If a city was conquered, it bore the name of the conqueror (2 Sam. 12:28); the names of owners were on their property (Ps. 49:12); and in this context, God's Name is over His people (Dt. 28:10). So to bear God's Name is to recognize His complete ownership and even conquest of us. And yet there's a significant twist to all this in Is. 43:1: "I have called you by your name, because you are mine". It seems like a slip- we expect God to say that He has called us by His Name, because we are His. But no- He wishes us to bear both His Name and our own name, He doesn't wish to subsume us beneath His ownership and manifestation to the point that we are not significant as persons.

2Sa 12:29 David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it-
Soon after the sin with Bathsheba, but before  David's repentance (see on :26), David went to join Joab in the battle for Rabbah- perhaps to give an impression of zeal to Bathsheba and the rest of his people. 'If brave Uriah died there, why, I'm not afraid to be with the boys on the front line either'. After the victory, David proudly placed the crown of Rabbah's king on his own head, pillaging the spoil of the city rather than burning it, and then  cruelly tortured the Ammonites; "he (David personally) brought out the people... and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes" (2 Chron.20:2,3). How true it is that one sin leads to another. David's own bad conscience with God led him into this fit of bitterness, in which he so needlessly tortured people who at the most only warranted a quick death. One is left to imagine him making a great deal of how he was doing this in vengeance for the death of Uriah. Whenever we detect unreasonable behaviour, pride, materialism or bitterness within our own lives, we need to ask to what degree this is related to our own lack of good conscience with God.  

2Sa 12:30 He took the crown of their king from off his head; and its weight was a talent of gold, and in it were precious stones; and it was set on David’s head. He brought out the spoil of the city, exceeding much-
The extent of David’s fall at this time may be indicated by the way he crowns himself in 2 Sam. 12:30 with the 70 pound gold crown of the Ammonite state god Milcom. Whilst retaining his allegiance to Yahweh, this personal association with a pagan god seems inappropriate. See on :26.

As explained on Ps. 20:1; 21:1, Psalms 20 and 21 appear to be David's prayers before going into battle against Ammon, and Psalm 21 is his thanksgiving for the victory. The setting of the gold crown upon his head is specifically referenced in Ps. 21:3. This however was straight after his sin with Bathsheba. So David's joy in God's salvation expressed in those Psalms was due to his sense that God had given him this victory by grace when he himself was a sinner. His thanks for giving him eternal life when he put the crown upon him (Ps. 21:4) was therefore in the sense that he believed that despite his sin, he would be eternally saved, and he saw the victory against Ammon as a foretaste of that.

2Sa 12:31 He brought out the people who were therein, and put them under saws, and under iron picks, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick kiln: and he did so to all the cities of the children of Ammon. David and all the people returned to Jerusalem
See on :26. This harsh torture and judgment of others is of the same nature as his harsh judgment of the person in Nabal's parable, demanding the death sentence for a man whom the law of Moses didn't punish with death for what he did. This is a classic case of transference. David is subconsciously transferring his sin and guilt onto others, and then punishing them heavily. This kind of psychological credibility of the narrative encourages us in our faith that it is indeed the inspired word of God.

 It’s one thing to obey Divine commands about slaying enemies; it’s another to willfully torture them, Auschwitz-style. It was the same cruelty he showed in 2 Sam. 8:2. These incidents reveal David at his worst. And again- did he really have to ensure that every male in Edom was murdered (1 Kings 11:15,16)- was that really necessary? What about the mums, wives, sisters left weeping, and the fatherless daughters, left to grow up in the dysfunction of a leaderless Middle Eastern home? Those men were all somebody’s sons, brothers, fathers, grandfathers. Was David really obeying some Divine command here, or was this the dictate of his own anger and dysfunctional bloodlust? We get the impression this was another example of his wrong attitude to the shedding of blood (1 Chron. 22:8).