Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
2 Samuel 12
This chapter is a continuation of the same subject as the former; and relates the method the Lord was pleased to adopt for the recovery of David after his fall. Nathan the prophet is sent from the Lord to David; opens his commission with a parable. David's behaviour upon this occasion. The Lord's mercy; and his judgment in the death of the child which Bath-sheba bore to David. A relation in the close of the chapter of the war, and the event of it.
(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 daughter. (4) And there came a traveler 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.
I beg the Reader to remark, that a period of, at least, nine months (how much longer I will not determine) must have elapsed from the commission of David's adultery to this message of Nathan to David; because the child was born. During which time, it doth not appear that David had once expressed sorrow for his aggravated sins. Indeed, as the Holy Ghost is wholly silent upon the subject, it should seem that all communion with the Lord must have been remitted. Reader! do not forget to remark this, and to reflect on the very awful state to which a soul may be reduced by hardening the heart in sin! And do let me beg of you further to remark, how utterly incapable a man is to recover himself, if the Lord doth not recover him. Grace must first enter the heart before a sense of sin can take place in the mind. The Lord sent Nathan unto David; not David sent to call Nathan, or make supplication to the Lord. Thou restorest my soul, (saith David upon another occasion) Psalms 23:3. Without this awakening by grace, neither David, nor any other sinner, could ever awaken himself. If the Reader be not sensible of this, may it please the Lord to make him! The method Nathan took to awaken David to a sense of his sin, and to make him his own judge, was by means of a parable, most happily chosen, according to the general usage of instruction in the eastern world. It is probable that Nathan, as a prophet and teacher in the Lord's service, frequently adopted such a plan, therefore it lulled all suspicion in the breast of the king of anymore than an ordinary subject. The parable itself is so plain in its allusion to the case of David in his late atrocity, that I do not think it needful, to comment upon it in the explain nation. Uriah's one wife compared to David with his many wives, was but like the poor man with his ewe lamb to the many herds of his rich neighbor. So that to let his corrupt passions lead him to this act of oppression and cruelty was beautifully marked out in the case, as Nathan represented it.
(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.
David in this spoke the honest feelings of an unbiased mind. He knew the provision the law of God had made upon such occasions, and he gave sentence upon himself accordingly in condemning the supposed rich man! See Exodus 22:1.
(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.
Here Nathan takes upon him, as a faithful servant of the Lord, the full authority belonging to him. And no doubt, but that he who sent the prophet; commissioned his word with power to David's heart, that he felt the force of the prophet's message too sensibly to attempt the smallest justification of himself. How affecting must have been to the heart of David the prophet's recapitulation of the divine mercies! And how awful the message of the divine sentence!
(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.
Reader! observe how quick and immediate are the Lord's pardons upon the sinner's confession. One short verse contains both, Oh! taste and see how gracious the Lord is.
(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.
Reader! think what a powerful argument that is, or ought to be, to restrain sin, when we consider how much the offences of the Lord's people give occasion to the adversaries of his cause to blaspheme. Surely! every child of God would rather die than bring reproach, by any evil conduct, upon the Lord's inheritance.
(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.
The Reader should observe how the conference broke off abruptly. Nathan had executed his commission; and now left the monarch to his own reflections, bitter indeed as they must have been. He stayed not to soften what he had said; nor to soothe David under his trouble. Probably, as a good man, he retired to his house to pray for David. Here let ministers learn, after that they have executed their commission, and dealt faithfully with sinners, to retire to seek a blessing on their ministry from him who alone can render their labours effectual. It is more than probable, that when Nathan went to his house, David retired to his chamber, and poured out his soul before the Lord in the devout and penitential expressions which we find penned in Ps 51: the title of it saith as much; that it was when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he had gone in unto Bath-sheba. It would swell the commentary to a length inadmissible, to point out the numberless breathings of a soul truly awakened to a sense of sin and deprecating the divine displeasure, which that Psalm contains. I must therefore suppress what otherwise I should delight to enlarge upon. But there is one circumstance in it which is not perhaps so generally noticed as it ought; and yet it is the very one which, of all others, testifies in the loudest strains the genuine repentance of David for his foul transactions; namely, that as the title of the Psalm also expresses it, it was directed To the chief Musician; perhaps David sent it to the singers in the temple service, that it might be set to music, and constantly sung when David attended the worship of the Lord, as a standing memorial of his unfeigned humiliation and sorrow for his crimes; and that he was constantly looking up to God for the pardon of them. Now, Reader, as oft as you think of David's scandalous fall, think also of his unequalled humility. Figure to yourself the king of Israel not only looking up to God in secret for pardon, but causing all the subjects in his kingdom to know what a sinner he had been, and calling upon the Lord in public to have mercy upon him. Surely! it affords the most complete view that any history ever afforded of real, true, and genuine repentance. See also Luke 22:61-62.
(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.
Here is another evidence of the sincerity of David's mind. Humbleness of soul for sin makes the soul truly tender.
(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?
The seventh day prevented the act of circumcision. No doubt David construed this also as a further token of God's displeasure.
(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 bread. (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.
We cannot sufficiently admire the strength of David's faith on this occasion. Here is submission with holy thankfulness, as if conscious of God's wisdom, as well as God's love.
(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.
When we recollect that from this issue, after the flesh, Christ came, how mysterious and unsearchable are the ways of God. It is a subject which challenges our attention, and at the same time our reverence, that in two or three instances the Lord was pleased to mark the descent of the Lord Jesus, as if to humble all human pride, and to throw down all the proud reasoning's of men . Rahab the harlot; Ruth the Moabitish damsel; and Bath-sheba the unfaithful wife of Uriah, were in the chosen race from whom, after the flesh, sprung the Lord and Saviour of our nature. Surely! here, if anywhere, it may be said, the Lord's ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. See Matthew 1:5-6; Ruth 4:13; Rth_4:17. Solomon means peaceful: Jedidiah, beloved of the Lord. And in this we discover the grounds of this name, being so striking a type in many instances of him who is the Jedidiah, the only-begotten and beloved Son of his Father, full of grace and truth.
(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.
Though this relation is put in at the close of this chapter, it should seem that it must have taken place before Nathan's visit to David, and when his heart had not been melted down with true sorrow for his sin; for else the crown of the king of Ammon would have been a mere bauble in David's view after Nathan's visit.
(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.
The harsh method David here adopted to the Ammonites, serves to confirm the observation made before. Spiritually considered, God's people should bring indeed the corruptions of their own desperately wicked hearts under saws of iron, and make them pass through the fires to consume them; for these are the Ammonites with which our souls are most severely exercised and assaulted. Toward these I would show no mercy.
Lord! give me grace in the perusal of this chapter to gather all the precious instructions thine Holy Spirit mercifully intended, in the publishing such a record for thy church and people. Do thou, Holy Spirit, graciously accompany thy written word with the influences of thy divine power, that it may be profitable to my soul, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
And here, first, cause me to learn, from this view of thy servant David, what my nature is, even in its highest attainments. The best of men, if left to themselves, may fall into the worst of sins. So I behold it here, and let the view of it humble my soul to the dust before thee.
In the next place; Lord, teach me also, from what I here discover, that a child of God when fallen cannot arise of himself. The first advance towards a recovery must come from thee. The conviction of this most certain truth is enough to make a soul go humbly all his days.
And, blessed God, when thou hast wrought these truths in their own living characters in my heart, oh! lead us to see that from the nature of thy blessed covenant, in the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son, thou wilt not leave thy fallen children in their low state, but wilt recover them for thy name's sake, and for thy righteousness sake thou wilt heal them. Thou wilt send some Nathan, some heavenly messenger; nay, blessed Jesus, thou wilt come thyself, and by the sweet influences of thy Holy Spirit, in convincing of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, thou wilt heal their backslidings, and love them freely. And though by afflictions thou mayest bring them down, yet for thine own sake thou wilt not cast them off. Unworthy, Lord, as we are in ourselves, yet in Jesus thou beholdest us with complacency. Though thou visit our offences with a rod, and our iniquities with stripes, yet thy loving-kindness wilt thou not take from him, nor suffer thy faithfulness to fail.
Here then, Lord, let my soul rest. And when I have gathered all these sweet and precious instructions from the relation the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to give of David's fall and recovery, in the instances before me; when I have beheld everything connected with it in a way of improvement, as it refers to his case, and as it concerns my own; let the whole have this blessed effect on my poor, fallen, corrupt, and sinful nature; to endear yet more and more the Lord Jesus to my heart, and to form him there, the one only sure and certain hope of glory. Yes! thou dear Immanuel! thou art the Lord our righteousness! for other righteousness the whole race of fallen Adam can have none. In thee do I trust; on thee do I lean; to thee do I come, and with thee pray everlastingly to be found. Be thou made of God to me, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that (according as it is written) he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12 Overview". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/2-samuel-12.html. 1828.
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