Nathan’s Parable.* 1The LORD sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him, he said: “Tell me how you judge this case: In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor.a 2The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. 3But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. Of what little he had she ate; from his own cup she drank; in his bosom she slept; she was like a daughter to him. 4Now, a visitor came to the rich man, but he spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him: he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5David grew very angry with that man and said to Nathan: “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves death! 6He shall make fourfold restitution* for the lamb because he has done this and was unsparing.”b 7Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man!
Nathan’s Indictment. “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel. I delivered you from the hand of Saul.c 8I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. 9Why have you despised the LORD and done what is evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; his wife you took as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now, 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.d 11Thus says the LORD: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives before your very eyes, and will give them to your neighbor: he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.* e 12You have acted in secret, but I will do this in the presence of all Israel, in the presence of the sun itself.”
David’s Repentance. 13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the LORD has removed your sin. You shall not die,f 14but since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.” 15Then Nathan returned to his house.
The LORD struck the child that the wife of Uriah had borne to David, and it became desperately ill. 16David pleaded with God on behalf of the child. He kept a total fast, and spent the night lying on the ground clothed in sackcloth. 17The elders of his house stood beside him to get him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor would he take food with them. 18On the seventh day, the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said: “When the child was alive, we spoke to him, but he would not listen to what we said. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do some harm!” 19But David noticed his servants whispering among themselves and realized that the child was dead. He asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “Yes.” 20Rising from the ground, David washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. Then he went to the house of the LORD and worshiped. He returned to his own house and asked for food; they set it before him, and he ate. 21His servants said to him: “What is this you are doing? While the child was living, you fasted and wept and kept vigil; now that the child is dead, you rise and take food.” 22He replied: “While the child was living, I fasted and wept, thinking, ‘Who knows? The LORD may grant me the child’s life.’ 23But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”g 24Then David consoled Bathsheba his wife. He went and slept with her; and she conceived and bore him a son, who was named Solomon. The LORD loved him 25and sent the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah,* on behalf of the LORD.
End of the Ammonite War. 26h Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured that royal city. 27He sent messengers to David to say: “I have fought against Rabbah and have taken the water-city. 28Therefore, assemble the rest of the soldiers, join the siege against the city, and capture it, lest I be the one to capture the city and mine be the name people mention, not yours.” 29So David assembled the rest of the soldiers, went to Rabbah, fought against it, and captured it. 30He took the crown of Milcom from the idol’s head, a talent* of gold in weight, with precious stones; this crown David wore on his own head. He also brought out a great amount of spoil from the city. 31He deported the people of the city and set them to work with saws, iron picks, and iron axes, or put them to work at the brickmold. He dealt thus with all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and his whole army returned to Jerusalem.
* [12:1–7] David has committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband. Instead of directly indicting the king for this criminal abuse of his royal authority, the prophet Nathan tells David a story. In the story, a parable of David’s own actions, a powerful man takes cruel advantage of his vulnerable neighbor. Hearing the story, David is outraged and denounces the rich man—thus unwittingly pronouncing judgment on himself (“You are the man,” v. 7).
* [12:6] Fourfold restitution: David’s judgment foreshadows the deaths of four of his own sons: the child born of his adulterous union with Bathsheba (v. 18); Amnon (13:28–29); Absalom (18:15; 19:1); and Adonijah (1 Kgs 2:24–25).
* [12:11] In broad daylight: lit., “before the eyes of the sun”; the phrase echoes “before your very eyes” and anticipates “in the presence of the sun itself” (v. 12). The reference is to Absalom’s action in appropriating his father’s harem (16:22).
* [12:25] Jedidiah: the name means “beloved of Yhwh.”
* [12:30] A talent: since this would normally be more than seventy-five pounds, the report may have been embellished.
c. [12:7] 1 Sm 16:13.
d. [12:10] 2 Sm 13:28–29; 18:14.
e. [12:11] 2 Sm 16:21–22.
f. [12:13] 1 Kgs 21:29; Ps 32:5; 51:4; Sir 47:11.
h. [12:26–31] 1 Chr 20:1–3.