King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

2 Samuel > Old Testament > Home

2 Samuel 12

Nathan’s parable-David confesses his sin. (1-14) The birth of Solomon. (15-25) David’s severity to the Ammonites. (26-31)

2 Samuel 12 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Nathan’s parable-David confesses his sin

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 traveller 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The birth of Solomon

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

David’s severity to the Ammonites

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.

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.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Unto him, after the birth of the child. A whole year had nearly elapsed, and David continued blind and impenitent. The spirit of prophecy had left him; and, though he was clear-sighted, and equitable enough to punish the faults of others, he could not discern his own picture, till Nathan had removed the veil. The prophet acted with the utmost prudence, and did not condemn the king till he had pronounced sentence on himself. It is commonly supposed that the interview was private. S. Chrysostom believes that the chief lords of the court were present; which would enhance the discretion of Nathan, as well as David’s humility. C.

Ver. 3. Daughter. All these expressions tended to shew the affection of the owner for this pet lamb. H. — In Arabia, one of the finest is commonly fed in the house along with the children. Bochart, Anim. T. i. B. ii. 46. — It is not necessary that every word of this parable should have been verified in Bethsabee. C. — Many things are usually added for ornament. M. — Yet she had been treated in the most tender manner by her husband, who had her alone, while David had eighteen wives. H.

Ver. 4. To him. This wanton cruelty caused David to pronounce him deserving of death; as simple theft was punished with only a four-fold restitution. Ex. xxii. 1. Judges sometimes diminish, and at other times increase, the severity of the law, according to the dispositions of the offenders, which lawgivers could not exactly foresee. C.

Ver. 6. Fold. Sept. “seven-fold,” which Grabe corrects by the Heb. H. — David lost four of his sons; the first born of Bethsabee, Amnon, Absalon, and Adonias: and saw his daughter Thamar, (C.) and his ten inferior wives, dishonoured, in punishment of his crime. M.

Ver. 7. The man, against whom thou hast pronounced sentence, and who has treated thy neighbour with still less pity. H.

Mutato nomine de te

Fabula narratur. Hor.

Ver. 8. Wives. We know of none that David married. But, as king, he enjoyed alone that privilege. Grot. C. ii. 7. and xvi. 21. — Unto thee. Heb. “I would have given thee such and such.” C. — Sept. “I will moreover give thee like unto these;” a continuation of prosperity. H. — This singular love, which God was still disposed to manifest unto David, touched his heart with peculiar force. Salien.

Ver. 10. House. What a dismal scene opens itself to our view during the remaining part of David’s reign! H. — Scarcely one of his successors was free from war; even Solomon was disturbed by the rebellion of Jeroboam, &c. and many of David’s family and descendants came to an untimely end, v. 6. C. — Six sons of Josaphat, all Joram’s, except one, Josias, the children of Sedecias, &c. 4 K. xxv. &c. W.

Ver. 11. I will raise, &c. All these evils, inasmuch as they were punishments, came upon Daivd by a just judgment of God, for his sin; and therefore God says, I will raise, &c. But inas much as they were sins, on the part of Absalom and his associates, God was not the author of them, but only permitted them. Ch. — God permitted the wicked prince to succeed for some time, that he might punish David. C. — Neighbour, most dearly beloved. To be treated ill by such a one, is doubly severe. Ps. liv. 15. M.

Ver. 12. Sun, publicly. C. xvi. 22. How abominable soever this conduct of an unnatural son must have been to God, he says, I will do this; because, when he might have prevented it by a more powerful grace, or by the death of the delinquent, he suffered him to carry his infernal project into execution. H.

Ver. 13. Sinned. His confession was sincere, and very different from that of Saul, 1 K. xv. 24. “The expression was the same; but God saw the difference of the heart.” S. Aug. con. Faust. xxii. 27. — Sin. He has remitted the fault and the eternal punishment, and he has greatly diminished the temporal chastisement, and will not inflict instant death, as he seemed to have threatened, v. 10. C. — “The speedy remission shewed the greatness of the king’s repentance.” S. Amb. Apol. 2.

Ver. 14. Occasion. Lit. “made” almost, in the same sense, as God threatened to do, what was effected by Absalom, v. 12. David did not co-operate with the malice of infidels; but he was responsible for it: in as much as he had committed an unlawful action, which gave them occasion to blaspheme God, as if he had not been able to foresee this scandalous transaction. Thus God and religion are often vilified, on account of the misconduct of those who have the happiness to be well informed, but do not live up to their profession: but this mode of argumentation is very fallacious and uncandid. It ought, however, to be a caution to the servants of the true God, never to do any thing which may have such fatal consequences; and alienate the minds of weak men for the truth. — Die. Thus infidels would see, that God did not suffer David to pass quite unpunished. H.

Ver. 15. Of. Heb. “it was sick” (C.) of a fever.

Ver. 16. A fast, (jejunavit jejunio) denotes, with more than ordinary rigour. Salien. — By himself. Heb. “he went in, and lay all night upon the ground.” H.

Ver. 18. Day. After his birth, when he had received circumcision; (Salien) or on the 7th day since the commencement of his malady. C. M.

Ver. 23. To me. No instance of any one being raised from the dead had yet occurred; though David did not disbelieve its possibility. M.

Ver. 24. Wife. She had partaken in his affliction and repentance. The Jews say that David told her the divine oracle, which is mentioned 3 K. i. 13. 17, that her next son should succeed to the throne. Salien (A. 3000) supposes that he was conceived in May, two months after the death of Bethsabee’s first-born, and came into the world about he time of the Passover. — Solomon, “the pacific.” See 1 Par. xxii. 9. M.

Ver. 25. Amiable to the Lord. Or beloved of the Lord. In Hebrew, Yedideya. Ch. — Loved him, is not expressed in Heb. “because of the Lord.” H. — Theodotion, “in the word, or agreeably to, the order of the Lord.” Solomon never went by the name which God here gives him, (C.) except in this place. M. — It shews the gratuitous predilection which God had for him; but affords no proof of his predestination to glory, of which there is too much reason to doubt. C.

Ver. 27. The city of waters. Rabbath, the royal city of the Ammonites, was called the city of waters, from being encompassed with waters. Ch. See C. v. 8. — The Heb. in the preceding verse seems to insinuate, (H.) that “he had taken the royal city.” But he was only on the point of doing it, or had, perhaps, made himself master of some part of it. Here the Heb. “I have taken,” may be explained in the same sense, unless the city of waters were the lower part of Rabbath, lying on the Jaboc. Junius translates, “He cut off the waters, which entered the city;” and Josephus favours this explanation. It seems the siege lasted about two years. C. — Antiochus took this city, by depriving the inhabitants of water. Polyb. v.

Ver. 28. Take it. The higher, and more impregnable part; which honour Joab reserved for David.

Ver. 30. King. Heb. Malcam, “their king.” Moloc, “king,” or the chief idol of the Ammonites. It was forbidden to use the ornaments of the idols on Chanaan, but not of other nations. This crown might be worth a talent, on account of the gold and precious stones; (1 Par. xx. 2. Sanchez. Bochart,) or it might weigh so much as almost 87 pounds, (C.) or above 113 pounds English. H. — such immence crowns were sometimes suspended for ornament, over the throne; as Benjamin of Tudela says was done by the emperor Commenes. Pliny describes one of nine pounds; and Athenæus (v. 8,) another of 80 cubits, or 40 yards (H.) in circumference. C. — The idol, or the king of Ammon, (M.) might have one of the like nature, suspended. The Rabbins say David caused it to hand in the air by means of a load-stone; as if it would attract gold! C.

Ver. 31. Sawed. Heb. “he put them under saws, and under rollers of iron, and under knives,” &c. H. — The Jews say that Isaias was killed by being sawed asunder; to which punishment S. Paul alludes. Heb. xi. 37. M. — Brick-kilns, or furnaces. Ps. xx. 10. Muis. — David and his companions were thrown into the fiery furnace. Dan. iii. 6. 11. Est. xiii. 7. C. — Some condemn David of excessive cruelty on this occasion. T. Sanctius. — But the Scripture represents his conduct as irreproachable, except in the affair of Urias; (3 K. xv. 5,) and at this distance of time, we know not the motives which might have actuated him to treat his enemy with such severity. The Ammonites had probably exercised similar cruelties on his subjects. See 1 K. xi. 2. Amos i. 13. C. — They had shamefully violated the law of nations, and had stirred up various kings against David. M. — Salien blames Joab for what may seem too cruel. But, though he was barbarous and vindictive, we need not condemn him on this occasion, no more than his master; as we are not to judge of former times by our own manners. H. — War was then carried on with great cruelty. C.