The questions we are left asking at the end of 2 Samuel 11 include: what will Yahweh do & what will David’s response be? There is a shift from David being the driving force of the narrative to Yahweh that can be seen in the opening verse, “And Yahweh sent Nathan to David” (2 Sam. 12:1a). Previously it was David who sent to inquire about the woman (2 Sam. 11:3) and sent messengers to take her (2 Sam. 11:4). Bathsheba sent word to David to tell him that she is pregnant (2 Sam. 11:5). David sent word to Joab to have Uriah sent to him (2 Sam. 11:6). The David sent Uriah back to the battlefield with a letter for Joab (2 Sam. 11:14). Joab sent a messenger to David (2 Sam. 11:18) that David sent (implied) back to Joab (2 Sam. 11:25). We come to today’s chapter and Yahweh has sent the prophet Nathan to King David with a message.
I never much appreciated fiction in my early years, okay I didn’t like to read anything unless it was sports related (and it was still limited). Even after reading became a hobby, partly due to Katie and partly due to seminary, fiction wasn’t something I liked. But I have read several series of late and it is amazing how you can get caught up in a story. You look around to see if anyone saw you shed a tear or heard you laugh out load. It is also a wonderful story when you see the gospel interwoven throughout (e.g. The Wingfeather Saga, The Green Ember Series, Lord of the Rings, & The Chronicles of Narnia).
Nathan gets David quite caught up in the story. What is telling is how David is so engrossed in his sin that he cannot pick up on the subtle hints throughout (e.g. like the poor man’s over the top love for this ewe lamb). The story isn’t merely about the rich man taking what didn’t belong to him, theft, but about him abusing his power and position (v. 4). The sacrifice was too great to use a single animal from his “many flocks and herds” (v. 2), so it was easier to sacrifice the poor man’s single animal. David’s anger is greatly kindled against the rich man (v. 5), because he had no pity (v. 6). David had more pity for a fictional character, though he doesn’t seem to pick up on this, then he did for Bathsheba or Uriah. Notice the repetition of “man” over and over again in Nathan’s story, which is done to increase the punch and rebuke behind Nathan’s words to David. So caught up in the story was David that Nathan doesn’t have to call him out, David judges himself (vv. 5-6). Nathan says, “You are the man!” (v. 7).
The focus of Yahweh’s rebuke of David is threefold: first, he has shown David so much favor, aka grace, and yet David “despised the word of Yahweh, to do what is evil in His sight” (v. 9). To despise the word of Yahweh, is to despise Yahweh (v. 10). Second, David murdered Uriah by the sword of the Ammonites, which is really despicable (v. 9). Lastly, David took Uriah’s wife to be his own (v. 9). The judgment rendered for the second rebuke, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house…” (v. 10). The judgment rendered for the third rebuke, “And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of the sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun” (vv. 11b-12). This judgment happened when Absalom slept with David’s concubines on the palace roof in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 16:20-23).
What is David’s response? Two words in Hebrew, a few more in English, “I have sinned against Yahweh” (v. 13a). Ha, David, you think it is that simple?! “And Nathan said to David, ‘Yahweh also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (v. 13b). Really, that is it?! Remember Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (see Luke 18:9-14)? All that sinful tax collector prayed was, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13b). And it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home to his house justified (v. 14). David knows he is guilty, so he confesses his guilt to the God. God’s grace is amazing!
What do you do with your guilt and shame? Do you bury it? Try to ignore it? Feel sorry for yourself? Remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 7, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (v. 10). Mourning over our sin (see Matt. 5:4) is only effective if it is a godly grief. A grief that turns to the Lord in humble acknowledgement of our sin / rebellion against Him, seeking again His forgiveness and grace. Take time to read Psalm 51 and search your heart.