2 Samuel 12The Voice (VOICE)
At first glance, David seems no different than many people who are given power and who use it without regard for what is right or what is fair. In this affair, David looks like the rich and powerful leaders the Hebrew prophets elsewhere in the Old Testament are constantly condemning. He has a moral and ethical failure as most of the kings who follow him also have. He exploits a loyal servant and wreaks havoc on his house.
12 The Eternal One sent the prophet Nathan to visit David. Nathan came to him and told him a story.
Nathan: Two men lived in the same city. One was quite rich and the other quite poor; 2 the rich man’s wealth included livestock with many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man owned only one little ewe lamb. He bought it and raised it in his family, with his children, like a pet. It used to eat what little food he had, drink from his meager cup, and snuggle against him. It was like a daughter to him.
4 Now a traveler came to the city to visit the rich man. To offer a proper welcome, the rich man knew he needed to fix a meal, but he did not want to take one of the animals from his flocks and herds. So instead he stole the poor man’s ewe lamb and had it killed and cooked for his guest.
Nathan stood back, waiting for the king’s verdict. 5 David grew very angry at the rich man. It was his royal duty to protect the poor and establish justice.
David: As the Eternal One lives, the rich man who did this deserves to die. 6 At the least, he will restore that lamb four times over because he acted without pity.
Nathan: 7 You are that man!
This is the message of the Eternal God of Israel: “I was the One who anointed you to rule over Israel, and I was the One who rescued you from the hand of Saul. 8 It was I who gave you Saul’s house, Saul’s wives, and dominion over both Israel and Judah; and if that were not enough, I would have given you as much again.
9 “So why have you despised the word of the Eternal and chosen to do evil in His sight? It was you who killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword and stole his wife, even though you used the Ammonites to do the dirty work. 10 Now because he was killed with the sword, the sword will be your constant companion. It will hang over your household, bringing death and violence to your family, since you have despised Me by showing no regard for My law, and you have taken Bathsheba, the lawful wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.”
11 This is the message of the Eternal: “I will bring trouble on you in your own household—right under your nose. I will take your wives and give them to another, and he will flaunt that he sleeps with them in the light of day. 12 You did your evil in secret, but I will do this out in the open, in front of all Israel.”
David (confessing to Nathan): 13 I have sinned against the Eternal One.
Nathan: Because the Eternal has put away your sin, it will not be your death. 14 But because you scorned the Lord by these acts, giving His enemies reason to mock Him, the child you conceived in deceit will die.
15 Then Nathan left the king’s presence and went down to his house.
The Eternal One struck the child born to Uriah’s widow and David so that he became very sick. 16 So David appealed to the True God for the life of his son. David went without food; he lay on the ground praying all night. 17 The elders from his household, the most highly honored of his servants, tried to pull him up off the ground and to make him eat, but he would not.
18 After seven days of this, the child died, and David’s servants were afraid to bring him the news.
Servants (to one another): If the king did not listen to us while his son was still alive, how can we tell him his son is dead? He may hurt himself in some way.
19 When David saw his servants whispering among themselves, he immediately realized the boy was dead.
David (to his servants): Is my son dead?
Servants: Yes, he is dead.
20 Then David stood up, washed, anointed himself with sweet-smelling oils, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the Eternal and worshiped. Then he returned to his house and asked for food; and when it was brought to him, he ate.
Servants (to David): 21 We don’t understand. When your son was alive, you wept and you refused to eat; now that he is dead, it is as if nothing is wrong—you are up and about and eating.
David: 22 While my son was still alive, I wept and fasted with all my being because I thought to myself, “Who knows? There is still a chance that the Eternal One will have mercy on me and let my child live.” 23 But now that he is dead, why should I continue without eating? Will that bring my son back to life? Someday when I die I will go where he has gone, but he will never come back to me here.
24 David went in to console his wife, Bathsheba. In time they slept together, and she became pregnant. When their second son was born, David named him Solomon. The Eternal loved the boy 25 and sent word by the prophet Nathan that they should call Solomon “Jedidiah.”
The Israelites believe God punishes or rewards based on religious and ethical behavior, so David knows he deserves to be punished for the things he has done. But Nathan tells him that his punishment will come through the loss of the son conceived in adultery with Bathsheba and through the growth of conflict within his own family. The baby does die despite David’s prayer and fasting, and David’s children will soon display the kind of destructive behavior that will all but tear the royal house apart.
26 During this time, Joab was campaigning against the Ammonite city of Rabbah until he captured the royal city. 27 He sent messengers with word of the imminent victory to David.
Joab: I have fought against Rabbah and captured its water supply. The city is almost ours. 28 You should gather the rest of your forces and come yourself to lead the final conquest. If I take the city, then I will receive the credit for it.
29 So David gathered the people, led them against Rabbah, and captured it. 30 He took the crown from their king and had it placed on his own head to show who was now reigning in the land. It was so heavy with gold (weighing over 75 pounds) that it could scarcely be worn, and it had a precious stone mounted on it. He also brought home the vast treasures of the city. 31 Lastly David set the people of the city to work with axes or picks or saws and built kilns for making bricks. He did the same thing to all the cities of the Ammonites, and then he and his armies went home to Jerusalem.
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