2 Samuel 12:1-31
So the LORD sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him: There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. (2) The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, (3) but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. It lived and grew up with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. (4) Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest. (5) David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! (6) Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.” (7) Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. (8) I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. (9) Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife–you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword. (10) Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.’ (11) “This is what the LORD says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. (12) You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.'” (13) David responded to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Then Nathan replied to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you will not die. (14) However, because you treated the LORD with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die.” (15) Then Nathan went home. (HCSB)
King David fought with the Ammonites and prevailed, but he had as yet not completely defeated them. The Ammonites retreated to Rabbah. David sent his general Joab and the army of Israel to lay siege to the city and while his army fought David remained in Jerusalem. On a certain day he rose from his bed around the time when others prepared to go to bed for the night. In his leisure he ventured on to the rooftop of his palace where he happened to steal a look at a beautiful young woman bathing herself. He is so taken by her beauty that he sends messengers to find out who she is. David’s servants learn of her identity. Her name is Bathsheba and she is the wife of Uriah, the Hittite. This Uriah was a faithful solider who was serving at the battle front along with Joab and Israel’s army. David’s interest in this young wife should have ended right there and then, but it does not. His curiosity quickly becomes a temptation and rather than flee from entertaining the thought of sin he now lusts for what does not lawfully belong to him. Jesus taught:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
So David sent his servants to bring Bathsheba to his palace where he does the unthinkable. He has sex with her. When she cleanses herself, she returns home.
Proverbs 9:17-18 ESV
“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
It all seems to be over. But, sin always has its tragic consequences.
“…her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”
I. THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN: THE COVER UP
Things take a very different turn when Bathsheba sends word to David to inform him that she is carrying his child. David the giant killer tries to cover up his sin by ordering Joab to send Uriah home on leave under the pretense of giving David a battlefield report. He’s hoping Uriah is like the typical hot blooded young soldier who, when he has arrived home, will enjoy some carnal pleasures with his wife. There’s only one small problem. This Uriah is not like most hot blooded young soldiers. He is a cut above.
2 Samuel 11:9-11
But Uriah slept at the door of the palace with all his master’s servants; he did not go down to his house. (10) When it was reported to David, “Uriah didn’t go home,” David questioned Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a journey? Why didn’t you go home?” (11) Uriah answered David, “The ark, Israel, and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my master Joab and his soldiers are camping in the open field. How can I enter my house to eat and drink and sleep with my wife? As surely as you live and by your life, I will not do this!”
Uriah is more honorable than David. He wants to be at the front and not home pleasing his flesh. David knows time is running out and that his sin will be found out. It’s at this point that things really become ugly so he sends Uriah back to Joab, with sealed written orders to Joab to put Uriah to death in a way that makes it seem like Uriah is a casualty of war. Joab (a bloody man) does as he is told and sends word to David: “Mission accomplished.”
Responses To Uriah’s Death: (11:26-27)
It would seem that David got away with his adultery and murder. So it would seem. When Bathsheba is told of her husband’s death in battle, she mourns for her husband. I believe she mourns her husband’s death because she really loved him. David does not even pretend to mourn. As soon as Bathsheba’s mourning was complete David sent for her and made her as his wife. Was David trying to conceal his sin or was he seeking to legitimize it? Whatever David’s motives are they are self-serving. (Numbers 32:23)
THOT: When running from sin and its consequences you cannot out run the Lion of Judah.
II. GOD THE SPIRIT AT WORK
It is at this point that God calls upon Nathan to address David and his sin. This is an unbelievable task. Nathan has to be braver than when David was when he stood before Goliath the giant. Now who stands as the wicked and evil sin filled giant who opposes the God of Israel and who is this humble servant of God? Before we consider God’s use of Nathan to confront and address David’s sin I want you to know that Nathan was not alone in addressing David. God by His Spirit was also at work preparing David’s heart.
Psalms 32:3-4 HCSB
When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. (4) For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Selah
Bob Deffinbaugh’s comments on this passage; “David makes it clear that God is at work even when it does not appear to be so. During the time David tries to cover up his sin, God is at work exposing it in his heart. These are not times of pleasure and joy, as Satan would like us to conclude; they are days of misery. David is plagued with guilt. He cannot sleep, and it seems he cannot eat. He is not sleeping nights, and he is losing weight. Whether or not David recognizes it as God who is at work in him, he does know he is miserable. It is this misery which tenderizes David, preparing him for the rebuke Nathan is to bring, preparing him for repentance. David’s repentance is not the result of David’s assessment of his situation; it is the result of divine intervention. He has gone so far in sin that he cannot think straight. God is at work in David’s life to break him, so that he will once again cast himself upon God for grace.”
III. GOD’S SERVANT AT WORK
Nathan Tells a Shepherd a Sheep Story – 2 Samuel 12:1-6
So the LORD sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him: There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. (2) The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, (3) but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. It lived and grew up with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. (4) Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest. (5) David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! (6) Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.” (7) Nathan replied to David, “You are the man!
Nathan is a prophet, he is also a man who appears to be a friend to David. Nathan does not come to David only as God’s spokesman, he comes to David as his friend.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6)
2 Samuel 12:1
Then the LORD sent Nathan to David.
What man in their right mind wants job? You have to be sent and sent no less than by God himself.
NATHAN: THE SKILLED SERVANT
He is well prepared. He is filled and equipped by God’s Holy Spirit. Nathan’s approach and the success of the mission all hangs on a simple but well crafted “sheep story.” It’s the sort of story a shepherd boy can easily grasp and with which he can readily identify. David was a shepherd boy in his younger days, as we know from the Book(s) of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 16:11; 17:15, 28). I think somewhere in David’s experience as a child shepherd he took a strong liking to one or more of the little lambs his father entrusted into his loving care. Nathan is setting an example for a right use of Matthew 18.
“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? (13) “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. (14) “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (15) ” If your brother sins , go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (16) “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. (17) “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (18) “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:12-18 NASB
Note that the NASB translates verse 15 in this manner; “If your brother sins” and not as the HCSB renders it; “If your brother sins against you “
Nathan does not immediately speak to the details of David’s sin, rather, his design is not to put David on some sort of immediate defensive. His one smooth stone is targeted at David’s heart and not Goliath’s head. Nathan is not there to mortally wound David. He simply wants to prick David’s tender but buried and hardened heart with the pointed arrow of God’s love. David identifies two evils that have been committed by this fictional rich lamb stealer. First, the man has stolen a lamb, for which the law prescribed a fourfold restitution (Exodus 22:1). Second, David recognizes what he views as the greater sin, and that is the rich man’s total lack of compassion.
Bob Deffinbaugh adds:
David is furious because a rich man stole and slaughtered a poor man’s pet. He does not yet see the connection to his lack of compassion for stealing a poor man’s beloved companion, Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. The slaughtering of Uriah is most certainly an act which lacks compassion. The crowning touch in David’s display of righteous indignation is the religious flavoring he gives it by the words, “as the Lord lives” (verse 5).
NATHAN: THE BRAVE AND BOLD SERVANT
It’s at this point where Nathan had to be either out of his mind or fully trusting in God for his protection. After all, David is the most powerful man alive and he is but a poor servant of God.
2 Samuel 12:7-12 HCSB
Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘ I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. (8) I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. (9) Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife–you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword. (10) Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.’ (11) “This is what the LORD says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. (12) You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.'”
Numbers 32:23b KJV
….ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
Nathan’s little fabricated story made David furious. It’s always amazing when those who have not repented of their own sin take pleasure in prosecuting the lesser sin of others.
Matthew 7:3 HCSB
Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?
DAVID: A BROKEN MAN
Now that the arrows of God’s convicting Spirit have reached their intended target and David’s heart has now been made tender Nathan can speak to David as God’s prosecuting attorney. The trap has been set and David has fallen deep into it. There’s no escaping our God when he pursues the objects of his love. David, the mighty warrior king, is now humbled and arrested before God. Nathan now lists the charges against him. Perhaps David still does not understand the gravity of his sin. In verses 7-12, Nathan draws David’s attention to his sin against God and the consequences God has pronounced for his sin. Note the repetition of the pronoun “I” in verses 7 and 8:
“It was I who . . .
. . . anointed you king
. . . delivered you from the hand of Saul
. . . gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives
. . . gave you the house of Israel and Judah
Everything David possessed has been given to him by God. Has it been so long since David was a lowly shepherd boy that he has forgotten? David is a “rich” man because God has made him rich. And if he does not think he is rich enough, God will give more to him. David has begun to cling to his “riches,” rather than to cling to the God who made him rich.
Ultimately David’s sin is against God, and it is God who gave David everything, even his heart’s desire. Yes, he remained home when Israel was at war with the enemy! and Yes, He commited adultery! Yes, He murdered an innocent God fearing man! Yes, he lived a lie! But his sin was against God.
Psalms 51:1-4 HCSB
For the choir director. A Davidic psalm, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba. Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. (2) Wash away my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. (4) Against You–You alone–I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight . So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.
All sin is against God! Get the “You” out of your Matthew 18, not because an offense against you isn’t real, but because ALL SIN IS AGAINST GOD. And if you really love your brother and sister in Christ be a Nathan to them and represent the interest of God and his Christ.
David’s sin against God manifested itself by the evil he committed against others. Nathan outlines these, employing a repetitive “you:”
…you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil
…you struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and
…(you) took his wife as your own wife
…you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword
…you despised Me
…you took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife
IV. HOW CAN GOD PASS OVER DAVID’S SIN?
2 Samuel 12:13
David responded to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Then Nathan replied to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you will not die. (14) However, because you treated the LORD with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die.”
Under the Mosaic Law there was no sacrifice for the sin of murder or adultery. Both sins were capital crimes that required certain death. So on what basis could God forgive and restore David?
Deuteronomy 22:22 HCSB
If a man is discovered having sexual relations with another man’s wife, both the man who had sex with the woman and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
Exodus 21:14 ESV
But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
GOD’S NEW COVENANT PROVISION IN CHRIST: The Gospel!
How then could God forgive and restore David unto himself? The answer is the same today as it was in David’s day. Sin can only be taken away by our Lord at the Cross. If you lived prior to the incarnation you had to look forward in time with the eye of faith to the day when God himself would make atonement for your sin through the offering of His own Son. Turn for a moment to the larger narrative found in Genesis 22 and specifically to:
Genesis 22:8a ESV
Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
There’s a tendency by some to see their own sin as less serious than the sin of David. All sin is an offense to God worthy of death. As Adam’s descendants we are all born with an inability to please God. Bad trees cannot produce good fruit. There is no exception. We are all unrighteous. We are all undone.
Romans 3:10-18 ESV
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; v11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. v12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” v13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” v14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” v15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; v16 in their paths are ruin and misery, v17 and the way of peace they have not known.” v18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Again, the question yet modified, how then can God forgive and restore the sinner to Himself?
Romans 3:21-26 HCSB
But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed–attested by the Law and the Prophets (22) –that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. (23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (24) They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (25) God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. (26) He presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
But if you reject the God of David then you will surely die in your sins and suffer the wrath of God.
Revelation 20:11-15 HCSB
Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. (12) I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. (13) Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. (14) Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire . But if you would believe and trust in Jesus Christ and His shed blood to save you from your sin, then you will live and He will give to you of His Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:36-42 HCSB
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” (37) When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” (38) “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (40) And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” (41) So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. (42) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.
It is for this reason that David could once again approach his God. This is but one reason the scriptures teach;
John 1:14-18 ESV
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. v15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) v16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. v17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. v18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Be saved from this corrupt generation!
Will you trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ!
2 Samuel 12:1-31