Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 12

A rich man’s cruelty

2 Samuel 12:4

David hated cruelty (Psalm 26; Psalm 139:19-24). Especially he hated it when powerful people took advantage of weaker people. He had known many incidents of great cruelty during his life (for example, 1 Samuel 22:16-19 and 2 Samuel 21:1). His ambition was to make Israel into a country where no cruel person could use his authority against another person (Psalm 101).

However, when David himself became rich and powerful, he used his power in that same evil way. He slept with the wife of Uriah; then he arranged Uriah’s death so that nobody would know about his evil act. Of course, God knew. He sent Nathan to warn David. David was in great danger. By his evil acts, David was ruining his relationship with God. David was also destroying the good things that he had achieved as Israel’s king. David would not allow cruel and wicked people to have authority - but now he himself was behaving in a cruel and wicked manner.

Nathan appealed to David. David’s actions were like a rich man who stole a young sheep from a poor man for his meal. Nathan emphasised how evil and cruel this act was. A rich man can own as many sheep as he wants. A poor man may truly love his sheep, and keep it as a special pet. In such circumstances, it is a truly terrible act to steal the poor man’s only sheep.

Of course, David did not merely steal a sheep. He stole a man’s wife. That was an extremely bad act - but David’s actions were even worse. He had then arranged the man’s death. That was murder.

Next part: David's anger in judgment (2 Samuel 12:5-6)


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