New European Version: Old Testament

Deeper commentary on this chapter

Audio talks on this chapter:

David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11,12; Psalms 32,51)

Video presentations on this chapter:


Other material relevant to this chapter:


David Our Example

Bathsheba: Saint or Sinner?

David's Sin With Bathsheba

David's Repentance

A Character Study Of David


Hear this chapter read:



About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

CHAPTER 12 Jul. 26 
Nathan Confronts David
Yahweh sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3but 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. 4A 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. 5David’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! 6He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity! 7Nathan said to David, You are the man. 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. 8I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that would have been too little, I would have added to you many more such things. 9Why have you despised the word of Yahweh, to do that which is evil in His sight? 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. 10Now 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’. 11This is what Yahweh says: ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; 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. 12For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun’.
David Acknowledges His Sin
13David said to Nathan, I have sinned against Yahweh. Nathan said to David, Yahweh also has put away your sin. You will not die. 14However, 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. 15Nathan departed to his house. Yahweh struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it was very sick. 16David therefore begged God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night on the earth. 17The 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. 18It 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? 19But 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. 20Then 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. 21Then 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. 22He 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?’. 23But 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.
Birth of Solomon
24David 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; 25and He sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he named him Jedidiah, for Yahweh’s sake. 26Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city. 27Joab sent messengers to David and said, I have fought against Rabbah. Yes, I have taken the city of waters. 28Now 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. 29David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. 30He 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. 31He 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.


12:4 Nathan’s parable about David’s sin with Bathsheba blamed the act on a traveller ‘coming to’ David asking to be satisfied. The traveller of the parable represented David’s lusts which led to adultery and murder, although this was not his usual state of mind- they were as a traveller to him. It’s a helpful picture of how our lusts come to us- from within (Mk. 7:21-23; James 1:13-15), not from any external cosmic being.

12:8 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, 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 (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 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.

If that would have been too little, I would have added to you- This seems to be saying that God would have made concessions to David's sexual weakness, even further than the ones He had already made. It is as if God had prepared those concessions on different levels. If David had felt that he needed yet more sexual fulfilment, God had a way prepared to meet this. Yet David took it into his own hands to decide what God would concede to him. However, God's concessions to David cannot necessarily be extrapolated to our lives today. “Too little” recalls 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. 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.

12:9 David murdered, committed adultery and even the deadly sin of presumption (cp. Num. 15:31). All of which required his death; and yet he is held up in Rom. 4:7 as representative of each and every sinner. Only if we appreciate the seriousness of our position before God will we be able to feel true joy, peace and commitment after realizing our forgiveness. Note how God reads our motives; He 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.

12:9,10 David "despised the word of Yahweh... you despised Me". His attitude to God's word was his attitude to God- for the word of God, in that sense, was and is God.

12:13 David’s “I have sinned” is word for word what Saul said at his condemnation (1 Sam. 15:24). David then lies all night upon the earth, refuses to eat, people try to raise him up from the ground, and then they succeed in setting bread before him and he eats it (:16,17,20). David was consciously doing exactly what Saul did in 1 Sam. 28:20-25, the night before his death / condemnation. David was recognizing, of his own volition, that he was no better than Saul. And by doing this, he was saved. Unlike Saul, he altered the verdict of condemnation by meaningful repentance. Paul makes the point that if we condemn ourselves, we will not be condemned (1 Cor. 11:31). The terms of the judgment pronounced against him are framed to echo the rejection and condemnation of Saul. He despised the commandment of Yahweh (:9) as did Saul (1 Sam. 15:29). Evil was raised up against David out of his own house (:11)- what happened to Saul (1 Sam. 20:30). David’s wives were given to his neighbour (:11), as Saul’s wives were (12:8; 1 Sam. 15:28; 28:17). 
You will not die- David at that moment represents us all, today. The Spirit changes David’s personal reflections upon this forgiveness in Ps. 32:1 ("Blessed is he”) to "blessed arethey" (Rom. 4:7) to make this 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.
12:16 Prayer and repentance can change God's stated purpose. Prayer changes things. It really does. What would otherwise have happened can be changed by prayer. We, little and tiny humans, can change the mind of Almighty God. This is the extent of His sensitivity to us. Moses, Samuel and Jeremiah had the power to within limits change God’s mind towards His people (Jer. 15:1). David prayed and fasted for his child by Bathsheba not to die- even though God had said that it would. He clearly believed that God was a God who was open to changing in response to prayer.
12:23 This verse is sure proof that David didn’t believe that dead children go to live in Heaven; there is no immortal soul taught in the Bible.
12:28 Whatever carried the name of a person was seen as his property. If a city was conquered, it bore the name of the conqueror, as here; 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. By baptism into His Name we become totally His. 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.