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Nathan rebukes David

2 Samuel 12:7

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Full bible text

2 Samuel 12 verse 1 to 15.

12 ‘And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. 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 this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house’.

About this painting

King David's punishment by the prophet Nathan follows David's sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. See 2 Samuel 11.
David's position, as God's chosen and anointed king of Israel, makes these sins extra serious. David not only sets a bad example for his people, but also gives the enemies reason to blaspheme the name of the LORD. God has always been with David and blessed him, but despite this, David now goes against His will and commandments.

The prophet Nathan comes to David's palace and presents a case to him. The king sometimes acts as judge.
After Nathan tells the story about a rich and a poor man, David becomes angry with the rich man and pronounces judgment on him, invoking God's name. Then Nathan's story turns out to be a prophecy in the form of a parable; the 'rich man' in the story refers to David himself: “You are that man!”
Nathan then addresses David in God's Name, accusing him of being ungrateful, unfaithful and disobedient, and tells him what God's punishment for his sins will be. The sins were done in secret, but the punishment for sin will follow in public.

Davids reaction shows he is genuinely and deeply aware of his guilt:
“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (Verse 13)
David deserved the death penalty, but God is merciful to him. There will be consequences for his sins: the sword will never depart from the house of David. Also, the child that Bathsheba bears will die. Some interpreters see the mention of the fourfold compensation as a reference to the four children of David who died: the first child of Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah.

Psalm 51 is the penitential psalm that expresses David's repentance:
1 ‘Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment’.

King David was in many ways a prefiguration of the Son of David, King Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. The LORD was with David, and his reign was righteous in many respects. Yet he also turns out to be a sinful and fallible man, unlike the Messiah, Jesus:
2 Corinthians 5 verse 19 to 21:
19 ‘that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’

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