In the passage we examined yesterday, Nathan the prophet presented David’s own sin to him in the form of a parable, and David roundly condemned it and declared it worthy of death. Now Nathan pulls back the curtains to reveal the hidden meaning of his story. Looking the king of Israel squarely in the eye, he declares, “You are the man!” In other words, David is the rich man, who had many possessions (wives in this case) and yet was so greedy that he took the prized possession (wife) of another man. Then, before David can respond to this revelation, Nathan plunges on with his prophetic oracle, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel.” His message has three parts:
First, God reminds David of His generosity to him (vv. 7–8). Here is the backdrop that makes David’s sin so heinous—God’s grace to him. He chose David to succeed Saul, protected him from Saul, and made him king over all Israel. And if (in God’s view) all of that had been inadequate for David’s good, God would have given him even more. But David showed himself to be dissatisfied with God’s generosity and contemptuous of God’s wise gifting, and took that which God had denied him—another man’s wife.
Second, God formally charges David with his crime (v. 9). David has killed Uriah and taken his wife. In doing this, David “despised” the commandment of God (and, therefore, God Himself, v. 10) and did an evil thing. Matthew Henry calls it “contempt of divine authority.” In other words, David forgot who was King and behaved as if he were autonomous, a law unto himself.
Finally, God pronounces judgment on David (vv. 10–12), and the remainder of 2 Samuel shows the outworking of these words. God earlier had promised that His mercy would not depart from David’s house. Now He says the same of “the sword.”There will be an ongoing stream of violence in David’s line, beginning with the actions of his sons Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. Adversity from within will wrack David’s family. Furthermore, his wives will be publicly defiled by another man. God does not say here just who will do this unspeakable crime, but it turns out to be David’s son Absalom (16:21–22). Thus will David’s secret sin be copied in a very public way.