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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 12

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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.

The Lord sent Nathan unto David. The use of parables is a favourite style of speaking among Oriental people, especially in the conveyance of unwelcome truth. This exquisitely-pathetic parable was founded on a common custom of pastoral people who have pet lambs, which they bring up with their children, and which they address in terms of endearment. The atrocity of the real, however, far exceeded that of the fictitious offence.

Verses 2-4

The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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:

The man that hath done this thing shall surely die. This award was more severe than the case deserved, or than was warranted by the divine statute (Exodus 22:1). The sympathies of the king had been deeply enlisted, his indignation aroused, but his conscience was still asleep; and at the time when he was most fatally indulgent to his own sins, he was most ready to condemn the delinquencies and errors of others.

Verse 6

And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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;

Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. These awful words pierced his heart, aroused his conscience, and brought him to his knees. The sincerity and depth of his penitential sorrow are evinced by the psalms he composed, (Psalms 32:1-11; Psalms 51:1-19; Psalms 103:1-22.) He was pardoned, so far as related to the restoration of the divine favour. But as from his high character for piety, and his eminent rank in society, his deplorable fall was calculated to do great injury to the cause of religion, it was necessary that God should testify His abhorrence of sin by leaving even His own servant to reap the bitter temporal fruits. David was not himself doomed, according to his own view of what justice demanded (2 Samuel 12:5); but he had to suffer a quadruple expiation in the successive deaths of four sons, besides a lengthened train of other evils.

Verse 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.

I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives. The phraseology means nothing more than that God in His providence, had given David, as king of Israel, everything that was Saul's. The history furnishes conclusive evidence that he never actually married any of the wives of Saul. But the harem of the preceding king belongs, according to Oriental notions, as a part of the regalia, to his successor (see the notes at 2 Samuel 3:7; 2 Samuel 16:21; 1 Kings 2:22).

Verses 9-10

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. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house ... The prophet speaks of God threatening to do what He only permitted to be done. The fact is, that David's loss of character, by the discovery of his crimes, tended, in the natural course of things, to diminish the respect of his family, to weaken the authority of his government, and to encourage the prevalence of many disorders throughout his kingdom.

Verses 12-14

For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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 Lord struck the child ... and it was very sick. The first visible chastisement inflicted on David appeared on the person of that child which was the evidence and monument of his guilt. His domestics were surprised at his conduct, and in explanation of the singularity it is necessary to remark that the custom in the East is to leave the nearest relative of a decreased person to the full and undisturbed indulgence of his grief, until, on the third or fourth day at farthest (John 11:17), the other relatives and friends visit him, invite him to eat, lead him to a bath, and bring him a change of dress, which is necessary, from his having sat or lain on the ground. The surprise of David's servants, then, who had seen his bitter anguish while the child was sick, arose apparently from this, that when be found it was dead, he who had so deeply lamented, arose of himself from the earth, without waiting for their coming about him, immediately bathed and anointed himself with perfumes, as Orientals do when they go into society (Psalms 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Amos 6:6), instead of appearing a mourner, and, after worshipping God with solemnity, returned to his accustomed repast, without any interposition of others.

In this short passage the divine names are used with greater variation than usual: 2 Samuel 12:15 has [ Yahweh (H3069)], Jehovah (the Lord); 2 Samuel 12:16 has [ haa-'Elohiym (H430)], God; and in 2 Samuel 12:22 the Hebrew text has [ Yahweh (H3069)], Jehovah (the Lord), where in our version is God. Whether the sacred historian was guided in the employment of these names by some unknown principle, or he used them indiscriminately, it is difficult to decide. But certainly their application in this narrative is not explicable on any theory yet propounded at all events not by that of Hengstenberg ('Pentateuch on the Names of God,' 1:, pp. 213-231).

Verses 16-23

David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Bath-sheba ... bare a son, and he called his name Solomon - i:e. peaceable, "a man of rest" (see the notes at 1 Chronicles 22:9). But Nathan gave him the name of Jedidiah [ Yªdiydªyaah (H3041) i:e., friend of, or beloved by, Yahweh. David also signifies beloved. 'Jedidiah, therefore, was a second David, and the two in type were but one in fact and future fulfillment' (Barrett's 'Minutiae of Prophecy')], by command of God, or perhaps only as an expression of God's love. This love, and the noble gifts with which he was endowed, considering the criminality of the marriage from which he sprang, is a remarkable instance of divine goodness and grace.

Verse 25

And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah because of the LORD And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 26

And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.

Joab fought against Rabbah. The time during which this siege lasted, since the intercourse with Bath-sheba-and the birth of at least one child, if not two, occurred during the progress of it-probably extended over two years.

Verse 27

And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.

The city of waters. Rabbah, like Aroer, was divided into two parts-one, the lower town, insulated by the winding course of the Jabbok, which flowed almost round it, and the upper and stronger town, called the royal city, from its being the seat of the Ammonite Government, and containing the palace of the king. Here was kept the iron bedstead of Og, as an antique relic, indicating the stature and strength of the gigantic king of Bashan. The first was taken by Joab, but the honour of capturing so strongly a fortified place as the other was an honour reserved for the king himself.

Verse 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.

Encamp against the city, and take it. It has always been characteristic of Oriental despots to monopolize military honours; and, since the ancient world knew nothing of the modern refinement of kings gaining victories by their generals, so Joab sent for David to command the final assault in person. A large force was levied for the purpose. David, without much difficulty, captured the royal city, and obtained possession of its immense wealth. Lest I take the city, and it be called after my name. The circumstance of a city receiving a new name after some great person, as Alexandria, Constantinople, Hyderabad, is of frequent occurrence in the ancient and modern history of the East.

Verse 29

And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

He took their king's crown from off his head. While the treasures of the city were given as plunder to his soldiers, David reserved to himself the crown, which was of rarest value. Its great weight makes it probable that it was, like many ancient crowns, not worn, but suspended over the head, or fixed on a canopy on the top of the throne; and its value a talent of gold = 5,000 pound sterling.

The precious stones - Hebrew, stone; according to Josephus, a sardonyx-was a round ball composed of pearls and other jewels, which was in the crown, and probably taken out of it, to be inserted in David's own crown.

Verse 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 brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.

He brought forth the people ... and put them under saws ... This excessive severity and employment of tortures which the Hebrews on no other occasion are recorded to have practiced, must have been resorted to as an act of retributive justice on a people who were infamous for their cruelties (1 Samuel 11:2; Amos 1:13). Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 7:, ch. 7:, sec. 5), who gives the same account as in our version, speaks of the conqueror torturing the Ammonites before putting them to death. But for the sake of humanity, and the honour of David's name, there is reason to believe that no such barbarities were inflicted, and that the language of the sacred historian is susceptible of a meaning consistent with the infliction of much milder punishment. He put them (to labour) in saws, iron mines, and brick-kilns. In other words, he reduced the captive Ammonites to the condition of slaves, employing them in such manual services, as sawyers, miners, hewers of wood, and similar exhausting occupations, as were suited only to the most humble and menial condition (see the notes at 1 Chronicles 20:3).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-12.html. 1871-8.
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