The foregoing chapter gave us the account of David's sin; this gives us
the account of his repentance. Though he fell, he was not utterly cast
down, but, by the grace of God, recovered himself, and found mercy with
God. Here is,
I. His conviction, by a message Nathan brought him from God, which was
a parable that obliged him to condemn himself
(2 Samuel 12:1-6),
and the application of the parable, in which Nathan charged him with
(2 Samuel 12:7-9)
and pronounced sentence upon him,,
2 Samuel 12:10-12.
II. His repentance and remission, with a proviso,
2 Samuel 12:13,14.
III. The sickness and death of the child, and his behaviour while it
was sick and when it was dead
(2 Samuel 12:15-23),
in both which David gave evidence of his repentance.
IV. The birth of Solomon, and God's gracious message concerning him, in
which God gave an evidence of his reconciliation to David,
2 Samuel 12:24,25.
V. The taking of Rabbah
(2 Samuel 12:26-31),
which is mentioned as a further instance that God did not deal with
David according to his sins.
Nathan's Parable; David's Repentance.
B. C. 1036.
1 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.
2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb,
which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together
with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and
drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a
4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared
to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the
wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's
lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
5 And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he
said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this
thing shall surely die:
6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this
thing, and because he had no pity.
7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the
LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I
delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives
into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah;
and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given
unto thee such and such things.
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to
do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the
sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain
him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house;
because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah
the Hittite to be thy wife.
11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against
thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before
thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie
with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing
before all Israel, and before the sun.
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.
And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin;
thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion
to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is
born unto thee shall surely die.
It seems to have been a great while after David had been guilty of
adultery with Bath-sheba before he was brought to repentance for it.
For, when Nathan was sent to him, the child was born
(2 Samuel 12:14),
so that it was about nine months that David lay under the guilt of that
sin, and, for aught that appears, unrepented of. What shall we think of
David's state all this while? Can we imagine that his heart never smote
him for it, or that he never lamented it in secret before God? I would
willingly hope that he did, and that Nathan was sent to him,
immediately upon the birth of the child, when the thing by that means
came to be publicly known and talked of, to draw from him an open
confession of the sin, to the glory of God, the admonition of others,
and that he might receive, by Nathan, absolution with certain
limitations. But, during these nine months, we may well suppose his
comforts and the exercises of his graces suspended, and his communion
with God interrupted; during all that time, it is certain, he penned no
psalms, his harp was out of tune, and his soul like a tree in winter,
that has life in the root only. Therefore, after Nathan had been with
him, he prays, Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and open
thou my lips,
Let us observe,
I. The messenger God sent to him. We were told by the last words of the
foregoing chapter that the thing David had done displeased the Lord,
upon which, one would think, it should have followed that the Lord sent
enemies to invade him, terrors to take hold on him, and the messengers
of death to arrest him. No, he sent a prophet to him--Nathan, his
faithful friend and confidant, to instruct and counsel him,
2 Samuel 12:1.
David did not send for Nathan (though he had never had so much occasion
as he had now for his confessor), but God sent Nathan to David. Note,
Though God may suffer his people to fall into sin, he will not suffer
them to lie still in it. He went on frowardly in the way of his
heart, and if left to himself, would have wandered endlessly, but
(saith God) I have seen his ways, and will heal him,
He sends after us before we seek after him, else we should certainly be
lost. Nathan was the prophet by whom God had sent him notice of his
kind intentions towards him
(2 Samuel 7:4),
and now, by the same hand, he sends him this message of wrath. God's
word in the mouth of his ministers must be received, whether it speak
terror or comfort. Nathan was obedient to the heavenly vision, and went
on God's errand to David. He did not say, "David has sinned, I will
not come near him." No; count him not an enemy, but admonish him as
2 Thessalonians 3:15.
He did not say, "David is a king, I dare not reprove him." No; if God
sends him, he sets his face like a flint,
II. The message Nathan delivered to him, in order to his
1. He fetched a compass with a parable, which seemed to David as a
complaint made to him by Nathan against one of his subjects that had
wronged his poor neighbour, in order to his redressing the injury and
punishing the injurious. Nathan, it is likely, used to come to him upon
such errands, which made this the less suspected. It becomes those who
have interest in princes, and have free access to them, to intercede
for those that are wronged, that they may have justice done them.
(1.) Nathan represented to David a grievous injury which a rich man had
done to an honest neighbour that was not able to contend with him:
The rich man had many flocks and herds
(2 Samuel 12:2);
the poor man had one lamb only; so unequally is the world divided; and
yet infinite wisdom, righteousness, and goodness, make the
distribution, that the rich may learn charity and the poor contentment.
This poor man had but one lamb, a ewe-lamb, a little ewe-lamb, having
not wherewithal to buy or keep more. But it was a cade--lamb (as
we call it); it grew up with his children,
2 Samuel 12:3.
He was fond of it, and it was familiar with him at all times. The rich
man, having occasion for a lamb to entertain a friend with, took the
poor man's lamb from him by violence and made use of that
(2 Samuel 12:4),
either out of covetousness, because he grudged to make use of his own,
or rather out of luxury, because he fancied the lamb that was thus
tenderly kept, and ate and drank like a child, must needs be more
delicate food than any of his own and have a better relish.
(2.) In this he showed him the evil of the sin he had been guilty of in
defiling Bath-sheba. He had many wives and concubines, whom he kept at
a distance, as rich men keep their flocks in their fields. Had he had
but one, and had she been dear to him, as the ewe-lamb was to its
owner, had she been dear to him as the loving hind and the pleasant
roe, her breasts would have satisfied him at all times, and he
would have looked no further,
Marriage is a remedy against fornication, but marrying many is not;
for, when once the law of unity is transgressed, the indulged lust will
hardly stint itself. Uriah, like the poor man, had only one wife, who
was to him as his own soul, and always lay in his bosom, for he had no
other, he desired no other, to lie there. The traveller or wayfaring
man was, as bishop Patrick explains it from the Jewish writers, the
evil imagination, disposition, or desire, which came into David's
heart, which he might have satisfied with some of his own, yet nothing
would serve but Uriah's darling. They observe that this evil
disposition is called a traveller, for in the beginning it is only so,
but, in time, it becomes a guest, and, in conclusion, is master of the
house. For he that is called a traveller in the beginning of the verse
is called a man (ish--a husband) in the close of it. Yet some
observe that in David's breast lust was but as a wayfaring man that
tarries only for a night; it did not constantly dwell and rule there.
(3.) By this parable he drew from David a sentence against himself. For
David supposing it to be a case in fact, and not doubting the truth of
it when he had it from Nathan himself, gave judgment immediately
against the offender, and confirmed it with an oath,
2 Samuel 12:5,6.
[1.] That, for his injustice in taking away the lamb, he should restore
four-fold, according to the law
four sheep for a sheep.
[2.] That for his tyranny and cruelty, and the pleasure he took in
abusing a poor man, he should be put to death. If a poor man steal from
a rich man, to satisfy his soul when he is hungry, he shall make
restitution, though it cost him all the substance of his house,
(and Solomon there compares the sin of adultery with that,
but if a rich man steal for stealing sake, not for want but wantonness,
merely that he may be imperious and vexatious, he deserves to die for
it, for to him the making of restitution is no punishment, or next to
none. If the sentence be thought too severe, it must be imputed to the
present roughness of David's temper, being under guilt, and not having
himself as yet received mercy.
2. He closed in with him, at length, in the application of the parable.
In beginning with a parable he showed his prudence, and great need
there is of prudence in giving reproofs. It is well managed if, as
here, the offender can be brought ere he is aware, to convict and
condemn himself. But here, in his application, he shows his
faithfulness, and deals as plainly and roundly with king David himself
as if he had been a common person. In plain terms, "Thou art the
man who hast done this wrong, and a much greater, to thy neighbour;
and therefore, by thy own sentence, thou deservest to die, and shalt be
judged out of thy own mouth. Did he deserve to die who took his
neighbour's lamb? and dost not thou who hast taken thy neighbour's
wife? Though he took the lamb, he did not cause the owner thereof to
lose his life, as thou hast done, and therefore much more art thou
worthy to die." Now he speaks immediately from God, and in his name. He
begins with, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, a name sacred
and venerable to David, and which commanded his attention. Nathan now
speaks, not as a petitioner for a poor man, but as an ambassador from
the great God, with whom is no respect of persons.
(1.) God, by Nathan, reminds David of the great things he had done and
designed for him, anointing him to be king, and preserving him to the
(2 Samuel 12:7),
giving him power over the house and household of his predecessor, and
of others that had been his masters, Nabal for one. He had given him
the house of Israel and Judah. The wealth of the kingdom was at his
service and every body was willing to oblige him. Nay, he was ready to
bestow any thing upon him to make him easy: I would have given thee
such and such things,
2 Samuel 12:8.
See how liberal God is in his gifts; we are not straitened in him.
Where he has given much, yet he gives more. And God's bounty to us is
a great aggravation of our discontent and desire of forbidden fruit. It
is ungrateful to covet what God has prohibited, while we have liberty
to pray for what God has promised, and that is enough.
(2.) He charges him with a high contempt of the divine authority, in
the sins he had been guilty of: Wherefore hast thou (presuming
upon thy royal dignity and power) despised the commandment of the
2 Samuel 12:9.
This is the spring and this is the malignity of sin, that it is making
light of the divine law and the law-maker; as if the obligation of it
were weak, the precepts of it trifling, and the threats not at all
formidable. Though no man ever wrote more honourably of the law of God
than David did, yet, in this instance, he is justly charged with a
contempt of it. His adultery with Bath-sheba, which began the mischief,
is not mentioned, perhaps because he was already convinced of that,
[1.] The murder of Uriah is twice mentioned: "Thou hast killed Uriah
with the sword, though not with thy sword, yet, which is equally
heinous, with thy pen, by ordering him to be set in the forefront of
the battle." Those that contrive wickedness and command it are as truly
guilty of it as those that execute it. It is repeated with an
aggravation: Thou hast slain him with the sword of the children of
Ammon, those uncircumcised enemies of God and Israel.
[2.] The marrying of Bath-sheba is likewise twice mentioned, because he
thought there was no harm in that
(2 Samuel 12:9):
Thou hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and again,
2 Samuel 12:10.
To marry her whom he had before defiled, and whose husband he had
slain, was an affront upon the ordinance of marriage, making that not
only to palliate, but in a manner to consecrate, such villanies. In all
this he despised the word of the Lord (so it is in the Hebrew),
not only his commandment in general which forbade such things, but the
particular word of promise which God had, by Nathan, sent to him some
time before, that he would build him a house. If he had had a due value
and veneration for this sacred promise, he would not thus have polluted
his house with lust and blood.
(3.) He threatens an entail of judgements upon his family for this sin
(2 Samuel 12:10):
"The sword shall never depart from thy house, not in thy time
nor afterwards, but, for the most part, thou and thy posterity shall be
engaged in war." Or it points at the slaughters that should be among
his children, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, all falling by the sword.
God had promised that his mercy should not depart from him and his
(2 Samuel 7:15),
yet here threatens that the sword should not depart. Can the mercy and
the sword consist with each other? Yes, those may lie under great and
long afflictions who yet shall not be excluded from the grace of the
covenant. The reason given is, Because thou hast despised me.
Note, Those who despise the word and law of God despise God himself and
shall be lightly esteemed. It is particularly threatened,
[1.] That his children should be his grief: I will raise up evil
against thee out of thy own house. Sin brings trouble into a
family, and one sin is often made the punishment of another.
[2.] That his wives should be his shame, that by an unparalleled piece
of villany they should be publicly debauched before all Israel,
2 Samuel 12:11,12.
It is not said that this should be done by his own son, lest the
accomplishment should have been hindered by the prediction being too
plain; but it was done by Absalom, at the counsel of Ahithophel,
2 Samuel 16:21,22.
He that defiled his neighbour's wife should have his own
defiled, for thus that sin used to be punished, as appears by Job's
Then let my wife grind unto another, and that threatening,
The sin was secret, and industriously concealed, but the punishment
should be open, and industriously proclaimed, to the shame of David,
whose sin in the matter of Uriah, though committed many years before,
would then be called to mind and commonly talked of upon that occasion.
As face answers to face in a glass, so does the punishment often answer
to the sin; here is blood for blood and uncleanness for
uncleanness. And thus God would show how much he hates sin, even in
his own people, and that, wherever he find it, he will not let it go
3. David's penitent confession of his sin hereupon. He says not a word
to excuse himself or extenuate his sin, but freely owns it: I have
sinned against the Lord,
2 Samuel 12:13.
It is probable that he said more to this purport; but this is enough to
show that he was truly humbled by what Nathan said, and submitted to
the conviction. He owns his guilt--I have sinned, and aggravates
it--It was against the Lord: on this string he harps in the
psalm he penned on this occasion.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.
4. His pardon declared, upon this penitent confession, but with a
proviso. When David said I have sinned, and Nathan perceived
that he was a true penitent,
(1.) He did, in God's name, assure him that his sin was forgiven:
"The Lord also has put away thy sin out of the sight of his
avenging eye; thou shalt not die," that is, "not die eternally,
nor be for ever put away from God, as thou wouldest have been if he had
not put away the sin." The obligation to punishment is hereby cancelled
and vacated. He shall not come into condemnation: that is the
nature of forgiveness. "Thy iniquity shall not be thy everlasting ruin.
The sword shall not depart from thy house, but,
[1.] It shall not cut thee off, thou shalt come to thy grave in peace."
David deserved to die as an adulterer and murderer, but God would not
cut him off as he might justly have done.
[2.] "Though thou shalt all thy days be chastened of the Lord,
yet thou shalt not be condemned with the world." See how ready
God is to forgive sin. To this instance, perhaps, David refers,
I said, I will confess, and thou forgavest. Let not great
sinners despair of finding mercy with God if they truly repent; for who
is a God like unto him, pardoning iniquity?
(2.) Yet he pronounces a sentence of death upon the child,
2 Samuel 12:14.
Behold the sovereignty of God! The guilty parent lives, and the
guiltless infant dies; but all souls are his, and he may, in what way
he pleases, glorify himself in his creatures.
[1.] David had, by his sin, wronged God in his honour; he had given
occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. The wicked people
of that generation, the infidels, idolaters, and profane, would triumph
in David's fall, and speak ill of God and of his law, when they saw one
guilty of such foul enormities that professed such an honour both for
him and it. "These are your professors! This is he that prays and sings
psalms, and is so very devout! What good can there be in such
exercises, if they will not restrain men from adultery and murder?"
They would say, "Was not Saul rejected for a less matter? why then must
David live and reign still?" not considering that God sees not as
man sees, but searches the heart. To this day there are those who
reproach God, and are hardened in sin, through the example of David.
Now, though it is true that none have any just reason to speak ill of
God, or of his word and ways, for David's sake, and it is their sin
that do so, yet he shall be reckoned with that laid the stumbling-block
in their way, and gave, though not cause, yet colour, for the reproach.
Note, There is this great evil in the scandalous sins of those that
profess religion, and relation to God, that they furnish the enemies of
God and religion with matter for reproach and blasphemy,
[2.] God will therefore vindicate his honour by showing his displeasure
against David for this sin, and letting the world see that though he
loves David he hates his sin; and he chooses to do it by the death
of the child. The landlord may distrain on any part of the premises
where he pleases. Perhaps the diseases and deaths of infants were not
so common in those days as they are now, which might make this, as an
unusual thing, the more evident token of God's displeasure; according
to the word he had often said, that he would visit the sins of the
fathers upon the children.
David's Humiliation; Birth of Solomon.
B. C. 1036.
15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the
child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David
fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to
raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat
bread with them.
18 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?
19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David
perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his
servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed
himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of
the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when
he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that
thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it
was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and
wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to
me, that the child may live?
23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him
back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto
her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name
Solomon: and the LORD loved him.
25 And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called
his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.
Nathan, having delivered his message, staid not at court, but went
home, probably to pray for David, to whom he had been preaching. God,
in making use of him as an instrument to bring David to repentance, and
as the herald both of mercy and judgment, put an honour upon the
ministry, and magnified his word above all his name. David named
one of his sons by Bath-sheba Nathan, in honour of this prophet
(1 Chronicles 3:5),
and it was that son of whom Christ, the great prophet, lineally
When Nathan retired, David, it is probable, retired likewise, and
in which (though he had been assured that his sin was pardoned) he
prays earnestly for pardon, and greatly laments his sin; for then will
true penitents be ashamed of what they have done when God is
pacified towards them,
I. The child's illness: The Lord struck it, and it was very
sick, perhaps with convulsions, or some other dreadful distemper,
2 Samuel 12:15.
The diseases and death of infants that have not sinned after the
similitude of Adam's transgression, especially as they are
sometimes sadly circumstanced, are sensible proofs of the original sin
in which they are conceived.
II. David's humiliation under this token of God's displeasure, and the
intercession he made with God for the life of the child
(2 Samuel 12:16,17):
He fasted, and lay all night upon the earth, and would not
suffer any of his attendants either to feed him or help him up. This
was an evidence of the truth of his repentance. For,
1. Hereby it appeared that he was willing to bear the shame of his sin,
to have it ever before him, and to be continually upbraided with it;
for this child would be a continual memorandum of it, both to himself
and others, if he lived: and therefore he was so far from desiring its
death, as most in such circumstances do, that he prayed earnestly for
its life. True penitents patiently bear the reproach of their
youth, and of their youthful lusts,
2. A very tender compassionate spirit appeared in this, and great
humanity, above what is commonly found in men, especially men of war,
towards little children, even their own; and this was another sign of a
broken contrite spirit. Those that are penitent will be pitiful.
3. He discovered, in this, a great concern for another world, which is
an evidence of repentance. Nathan had told him that certainly the child
should die; yet, while it is in the reach of prayer, he earnestly
intercedes with God for it, chiefly (as we may suppose) that its soul
might be safe and happy in another world, and that his sin might not
come against the child, and that it might not fare the worse for that
in the future state.
4. He discovered, in this, a holy dread of God and of his displeasure.
He deprecated the death of the child chiefly as it was a token of God's
anger against him and his house, and was inflicted in performance of a
threatening; therefore he prayed thus earnestly that, if it were the
will of God, the child might live, because that would be to him a token
of God's being reconciled to him. Lord, chasten me not in thy hot
III. The death of the child: It died on the seventh day
(2 Samuel 12:18),
when it was seven days old, and therefore not circumcised, which David
might perhaps interpret as a further token of God's displeasure, that
it died before it was brought under the seal of the covenant; yet he
does not therefore doubt of its being happy for the benefits of the
covenant do not depend upon the seals. David's servants, judging of him
by themselves, were afraid to tell him that the child was dead,
concluding that then he would disquiet himself most of all; so that he
knew not till he asked,
2 Samuel 12:19.
IV. David's wonderful calmness and composure of mind when he understood
the child was dead. Observe,
1. What he did.
(1.) He laid aside the expressions of his sorrow, washed and anointed
himself, and called for clean linen, that he might decently appear
before God in his house.
(2.) He went up to the tabernacle and worshipped, like Job when
he heard of the death of his children. He went to acknowledge the hand
of God in the affliction, and to humble himself under it, and to submit
to his holy will in it, to thank God that he himself was spared and his
sin pardoned, and to pray that God would not proceed in his controversy
with him, nor stir up all his wrath. Is any afflicted? Let him
pray. Weeping must never hinder worshipping.
(3.) Then he went to his own house and refreshed himself, as one
who found benefit by his religion in the day of his affliction; for,
having worshipped, he did eat, and his countenance was no more
2. The reason he gave for what he did. His servants thought it strange
that he should afflict himself so for the sickness of the child and yet
take the death of it so easily, and asked him the reason of it
(2 Samuel 12:21),
in answer to which he gives this plain account of his conduct,
(1.) That while the child was alive he thought it his duty to importune
the divine favour towards it,
2 Samuel 12:22.
Nathan had indeed said the child should die, but, for aught that he
knew, the threatening might be conditional, as that concerning
Hezekiah: upon his great humiliation and earnest prayer, he that had so
often heard the voice of his weeping might be pleased to reverse
the sentence, and spare the child: Who can tell whether God will yet
be gracious to me? God gives us leave to be earnest with him in
prayer for particular blessings, from a confidence in his power and
general mercy, though we have no particular promise to build upon: we
cannot be sure, yet let us pray, for who can tell but God will be
gracious to us, in this or that particular? When our relations and
friends have fallen sick, the prayer of faith has prevailed much; while
there is life there is hope, and, while there is hope, there is room
(2.) That now the child was dead he thought it as much his duty to be
satisfied in the divine disposal concerning it
(2 Samuel 12:23):
Now, wherefore should I fast? Two things checked his
[1.] I cannot bring him back again; and again, He shall not
return to me. Those that are dead are out of the reach of prayer;
nor can our tears profit them. We can neither weep nor pray them back
to this life. Wherefore then should we fast? To what purpose is this
waste? Yet David fasted and wept for Jonathan when he was dead, in
honour to him.
[2.] I shall go to him. First, To him to the grave. Note, The
consideration of our own death should moderate our sorrow at the death
of our relations. It is the common lot; instead of mourning for their
death, we should think of our own: and, whatever loss we have of them
now, we shall die shortly, and go to them. Secondly, To him to
heaven, to a state of blessedness, which even the Old Testament saints
had some expectation of. Godly parents have great reason to hope
concerning their children that die in infancy that it is well with
their souls in the other world; for the promise is to us and to our
seed, which shall be performed to those that do not put a bar in
their own door, as infants do not. Favores sunt ampliandi--Favours
received should produce the hope of more. God calls those his
children that are born unto him; and, if they be his, he will save
them. This may comfort us when our children are removed from us by
death, they are better provided for, both in work and wealth, than they
could have been in this world. We shall be with them shortly, to part
V. The birth of Solomon. Though David's marrying Bath-sheba had
displeased the Lord, yet he was not therefore commanded to divorce her;
so far from this that God gave him that son by her on whom the covenant
of royalty should be entailed. Bath-sheba, no doubt, was greatly
afflicted with the sense of her sin and the tokens of God's
displeasure. But, God having restored to David the joys of his
salvation, he comforted her with the same comforts with which he
himself was comforted of God
(2 Samuel 12:24):
He comforted Bath-sheba. And both he and she had reason to be
comforted in the tokens of God's reconciliation to them,
1. Inasmuch as, by his providence, he gave them a son, not as the
former, who was given in anger and taken away in wrath, but a child
graciously given, and written among the living in Jerusalem. They
called him Solomon--peaceful, because his birth was a token of
God's being at peace with them, because of the prosperity which was
entailed upon him, and because he was to be a type of Christ, the
prince of peace. God had removed one son from them, but now gave them
another instead of him, like Seth instead of Abel,
Thus God often balances the griefs of his people with comforts in the
same thing wherein he hath afflicted them, setting the one over-against
the other. David had very patiently submitted to the will of God in
the death of the other child, and now God made up the loss of that,
abundantly to his advantage, in the birth of this. The way to have our
creature-comforts either continued or restored, or the loss of them
made up some other way, is cheerfully to resign them to God.
2. Inasmuch as, by his grace, he particularly owned and favoured that
son: The Lord loved him
(2 Samuel 12:24,25),
ordered him, by the prophet Nathan, to be called Jedidiah--Beloved
of the Lord: though a seed of evil-doers (for such David and
Bath-sheba were), yet so well ordered was the covenant, and the crown
entailed by it, that it took away all attainders and corruption of
blood, signifying that those who were by nature children of wrath and
disobedience should, by the covenant of grace, not only be reconciled,
but made favourites. And, in this name, he typified Jesus Christ, that
blessed Jedidiah, the son of God's love, concerning whom God declared
again and again, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
The Conquest of Rabbah.
B. C. 1036.
26 And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and
took the royal city.
27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought
against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.
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.
29 And David gathered all the people together, and went to
Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.
30 And he took their king's crown from off his head, the weight
whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it
was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the
city in great abundance.
31 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put
them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of
iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he
unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all
the people returned unto Jerusalem.
We have here an account of the conquest of Rabbah, and other cities of
the Ammonites. Though this comes in here after the birth of David's
child, yet it is most probable that it was effected a good while
before, and soon after the death of Uriah, perhaps during the days of
Bath-sheba's mourning for him. Observe,
1. That God was very gracious in giving David this great success
against his enemies, notwithstanding the sin he had been guilty of just
at that time when he was engaged in this war, and the wicked use he had
made of the sword of the children of Ammon in the murder of Uriah.
Justly might he have made that sword, thenceforward, a plague to David
and his kingdom; yet he breaks it, and makes David's sword victorious,
even before he repents, that this goodness of God might lead him to
repentance. Good reason had David to own that God dealt not with
him according to his sins,
2. That Joab acted very honestly and honourably; for when he had taken
the city of waters, the royal city, where the palace was, and
from which the rest of the city was supplied with water (and therefore,
upon the cutting off of that, would be obliged speedily to surrender),
he sent to David to come in person to complete this great action, that
he might have the praise of it,
2 Samuel 12:26-28.
Herein he showed himself a faithful servant, that sought his master's
honour, and his own only in subordination to his, and left an example
to the servants of the Lord Jesus, in every thing they do, to consult
his honour. Not unto us, but to thy name, give glory.
3. That David was both too haughty and too severe upon this occasion,
and neither so humble nor so tender as he should have been.
(1.) He seems to have been too fond of the crown of the king of Ammon,
2 Samuel 12:30.
Because it was of extraordinary value, by reason of the precious stones
with which it was set, David would have it set upon his head, though it
would have been better to have cast it at God's feet, and at this time
to have put his own mouth in the dust, under guilt. The heart that is
truly humbled for sin is dead to worldly glory and looks upon it with a
(2.) He seems to have been too harsh with his prisoners of war,
2 Samuel 12:31.
Taking the city by storm, after it had obstinately held out against a
long and expensive siege, if he had put all whom he found in arms to
the sword in the heat of battle, it would have been severe enough; but
to kill them afterwards in cold blood, and by cruel tortures, with saws
and harrows, tearing them to pieces, did not become him who, when he
entered upon the government, promised to sing of mercy as well as
Had he made examples of those only who had abused his ambassadors, or
advised or assisted in it, that being a violation of the law of
nations, it might have been looked upon as a piece of necessary justice
for terror to other nations; but to be thus severe with all the cities
of the children of Ammon (that is, the garrisons or soldiers of the
cities) was extremely rigorous, and a sign that David's heart was not
yet made soft by repentance, else the bowels of his compassion would
not have been thus shut up--a sign that he had not yet found mercy,
else he would have been more ready to show mercy.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '2 Samuel' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".