The book of first and second Samuel talks about the rise and fall of the Israelite leaders. Most of the leaders were dethroned by YHWH because of their sin or disobedience to God. I Samuel talks about the fall of man’s king, Saul. It should be noted that prior to this, Israel had no king to govern them. They were ruled by YHWH the almighty God. Because of envying the nations around them, they asked Samuel to appoint for them a king. Samuel tried to warn them of the danger of a worldly king but they could not head to his advice. 1 Samuel also gives as back ground information about David. He was called from the sheepcote (1st Samuel, 16: 11-13.). He was given victory over Goliath (1st Samuel, 17). We are also introduced to the enmity between Saul and David. Saul persecutes David.
The second book of Samuel describes the enthronement of a king chosen by God, David and the eventual establishment of the house of David. This book is occupied with the story of David as king. David is made king over Judah (2nd Samuel, 2: 4) and the whole Israel. As a leader and king of Israel, David had both successes and failures. In 2nd Samuel 11, he sins by committing adultery with Uriah’s wife. In addition David plots the killing of Uriah. This paper will focus on 2nd Samuel 12:1-10 where Prophet Nathan rebukes David for the ills he committed against Uriah, thereby sinning before God. In this story David committed adultery and murder. We will then look at the text and translation. This paper will look also at the background events leading to David’s sinning. Furthermore, we will critically analyze 2nd Samuel 12:1-10 with the help of bible commentaries. Finally we will ascertain the application of 2nd Samuel 12:1-10.
Text and Translation
Nathan Rebukes David (2nd Samuel, 12:1-10)
God sent Nathan to David. Nathan went to relay the message of God to David and narrated to him a story saying, “There were two men in a town, one poor and the other rich. 2 The rich man had an exceedingly large numbers of cattle and sheep, 3 but the poor man had nothing apart from one little lamb he had purchased. He raised it, and it matured in his company and the children. It drank from his cup, shared his food, and even slept in his hands. It was like his offspring. 4 “Now a guest visited the rich man, but the rich man did not take one of his own cattle or sheep to make a meal for the visitor, who had come to see him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the visitor who had come see to him.”
5 David anger was kindled against the man and supposed to Nathan, “Surely as the Lord lives, the person, who did this must be put to death! 6 He must pay four times more for the ewe lamb, because he did such an abominable thing and had no compassion.”
7 Then Nathan told David, “You are the person! This is what the Lord, the Almighty God of Israel, says: ‘It is me, who anointed you king to rule over Israel, and I set you free from Saul’s hand. 8 I gave you everything your master owned, even your master’s own wives into your arms. All Judah and Israel, I gave it to you. Furthermore, if all this was too little to you, I would have given much more. 9 Therefore, Why did you look down on the word of God by doing what he detests? You put to death Uriah the Hittite using the sword; in addition, you possessed his wife. You used the sword of the Ammonites to kill him. 10 Now, therefore, this is what LORD, the God of Israel says, never will the sword depart from your house, since you despised me and got for yourself Uriah the Hittite’s wife.
Historical Background and Structure
The main subject discussed in the second Samuel is the reign of King David. The book is divided into three periods: the first, second and third periods. The first shows David’s early periods of reign. During the early period, David manifested a spiritual mind despite the engagement in the military campaigns of the age. The Amalekites, who claimed to have killed Saul are executed during this period (II Samuel, 1:2-16). David also laments for Jonathan and Saul. David is anointed king of Judah (II Samuel, 2:4) during this first period. The first period also portrays the battle between the servants of Ish-Bosheth and David’s followers (II Samuel, 2: 8-32).
The middle period starts from chapter ten of second Samuel. This period shows David’s great successes. It also shows his fall and punishment. He is tempted in chapter 11. His temptation finds him when he had not gone to war as was the custom of kings. He was just idling around. In the evening hours, David rose from his bed and decided to take a walk on the roof of his house. He saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing and admired her. (II Samuel, 11:1, 2). He inquired about this woman and commanded that she brought to his apartment. David then committed adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel, 11:4). To cover up for his sins he goes ahead to plan the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. One year later God sends the prophet Nathan to David to charge him with his sin. The third and final period is David’s last years. These are recorded from chapter 20 to 24.
Critical Analysis of 2nd Samuel 12:1-10
In 2nd Samuel 12:1-10, three distinct voices can be heard. Samuel narrates the story to David (2nd Samuel, 12:1-5). David answers by giving his verdict (2nd Samuel, 12:5-6). Lastly, God proclaims judgment upon David (2nd Samuel, 12:7-10). The first voice Samuel narrates the story of two people, who are in totally different economic classes. One is a rich man while the other one is poor. The poor fellow has only one ewe lamb while the rich man has several herds of cattle and sheep. When a traveler visits the rich man he takes the poor man’s ewe lamb and slaughters it for his guest.
The rich man represents David (2nd Samuel, 12:7). According to McCarter represents the poor man. Vannoy points out that the traveler represents lust that visited David the evening he saw Bathsheba bathing. Taking away the poor man’s ewe lamb without permission is stealing according to Davidson. David was supposed to take care of the poor as a rich man (Exodus, 23:6). When Nathan came, he never wasted any time. This is because his message was not a soothing one but a rebuke. He does not start by greeting David and telling him I have a special message for you. He directly starts narrating; there were two men…… Nathan is bold and confident Vannoy acknowledges by declaring him the bravest man in the bible.
The second part talks about David’s response to the story that Nathan had narrated. David burns with anger. He declares his verdict as a wise judge. He says that the rich man demonstrated no compassion by taking a way the poor man’s only ewe lamb. David says that the victim deserves to be compensated four times. Furthermore, he declares that the oppressor should be killed (2nd Samuel, 12:5-6). Calvin says that David’s reaction and judgment on the rich man shows that he had not been walking with the Lord. He had fallen out of fellowship with the lord one year ago when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. According to Calvin, a person, who walks with God is kind, gentle and tender. A person, who is not in fellowship with God has no pity, is harsh, continually advocates for justice and is easily angered. All this characteristics is depicted in David’s reaction and judgment.
The third voice is the voice of God. God points out that the rich man is symbolic of David. David despite having several wives decided to take Uriah’s. It should be noted that Uriah had only one wife. Furthermore, Uriah was poor compared to David, who was a king rich and could access anything he wanted in the kingdom including other beautiful women. In verse 7 and 8, God outlines what he has done for David. He anointed him king of Israel and delivered him from Saul, who wanted to destroy him. In addition, God says that he gave David the house of Saul is property and wives. Israel and Judah were also given to David by God. God then tells David that if that was little to him all he needed to do was to ask and God would give him more.
Finally, God declares judgment to David. (Galatians, 6: 7). He says that the sword will not depart from David’s house (2nd Samuel, 12:10). Here God means that sin can be forgiven but one must bear the consequences. According to Baldwin God had given David time to realize and repent his sins yet he could not realize. The consequences that David would get were a result of his concealing his sins (proverbs, 28:13). In conclusion, through this story the mission of God is to declare that every sin has a consequence. God does not overlook sin but punishes the offenders.
People look at sin as small or minor wrong activities. However, sin is as deadly as cancer cells. Cancerous cells might be very small in the beginning but they grow and cause serious harm to the body and death if not dealt with in the early period. This is the same with sin. People might commit sin and thing they will get away with it since the consequences are not prevalent at the moment. The truth is that sins committed now carry heavy penalties in future.
In the case of David, he suffered severe consequences for his sins. Nathan had pronounced that since he had killed Uriah with the sword, the sword will never depart from his house. As a result, a myriad of death followed David’s house both when he was a live and after his death. To start with Amon tricked Tamar and he committed incest with her. When Absalom heard that his sister had been defiled by Amon he decided to revenge. Therefore, Absalom killed Amon. As if that is not enough, Absalom rebelled against his father David. He won the Israelites in Jerusalem by telling them the good things he would do for them if they chose him as king. Furthermore, Absalom threatened to kill his own father, David. This forced David to flee. Absalom later died in the forest when his long hair is caught between two trees. This caused a lot of agony to David.
The myriads of death continue even after David dies. Solomon killed his brother for thinking that he was scheming for his thrown. After Solomon’s death the Israelites rose up in arms against one another. The later led to the separation of thekingdom ofIsraelinto the north and south. All this began with the seed that David planted when he killed Uriah. In conclusion, we come to the understanding that God does not overlook sin, but punishes it whether in the present or time to come.