To say that Scripture has been manipulated by human agenda outside of G-d’s will, is like saying a marshmallow can keep its shape in acid.
An examination of 2 Samuel 12:1-25 and Psalm 51
12:1 HaShem sent Natan to David.
In the previous chapter David’s frequent sending after sin (11:1, 3, 6, 14, 27) presents as the desperate actions of one who is powerless: this is one of the greatest ironies of David’s transgression, he is a king who has submitted his throne to sin, a free man who has become a slave. (Romans 6:16)
HaShem on the other hand, when He decides to act, sends once and with certainty brings about the intended outcome. G-d reigns and submits to nothing. In some sense we can read “sent” as a past tense statement. HaShem’s Torah—Instruction, had already laid out the parameters for David. G-d had allowed David nine months to come to his senses and return to Him. Now the cancerous growth of sin had grown so large in David’s soul that only the invasive and precise cut of The Master surgeon could rid his body of it. To pursue the analogy further, the surgery was just the beginning, David has months of chemo ahead of him as a consequence of having let the cancer progress for so long.
I am reminded of the many times in my own life that I have hardened my heart toward G-d. In His great mercy He allows room for severe discipline. The enemies of G-d perceive discipline as condemnation, but a child of G-d receives discipline as an act of love. We may at times have to undergo painful surgery and endure the ongoing consequences, but the end result will be fullness of life.
He came and said to him, “In a certain city there were two men, one rich, the other poor. 2 The rich man had vast flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing, except for one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared. It had grown up with him and his children; it ate from his plate, drank from his cup, lay at his bosom — she was like a daughter to him. 4 One day a traveler visited the rich man, and instead of picking an animal from his own flock or herd to prepare a meal for his visitor, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
This mashlam—parable—shouldn’t be over analyzed. Many find grave error when they misperceive a teaching tool to be a Rosetta stone. The parable is intended to reveal to David the workings of his own heart. It is not intended as an allegorical road map for revealing hidden secrets. Some of our rabbis’ suggest that the traveler represents sin itself, but that cannot be because the parable doesn’t infer that the eating of lamb is wrong but that the stealing of a poor man’s only means of sustenance by a rich man with ample provision is wrong. Had David partaken of one of his own wives—lambs—he would not have found himself in this predicament—I am not condoning polygamy, which is a different issue entirely.
On the other hand an overly literal interpretation can also lead to error, after all, the ewe lamb representing Batsheva is said to be like a daughter to the poor man who represents Uriyah, given the sexual obligations of marriage this would be a perverse insinuation indeed. Also, the lamb is eaten by the rich man’s guest, clearly Batsheva was not shared with or eaten by any guest of David.
If we address the simple structure of the parable we find the following key points:
· The rich man is David
· The poor man is Uriyah
· The flocks are David’s wives
· The ewe lamb is Batsheva
· The traveler is sexual desire
Therefore, rather than satisfy his natural sexual desire by sleeping with one of his wives, David chose to sexually defile himself with Batsheva.
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Natan, “As HaShem lives, the man who did this deserves to die!6 For doing such a thing, he must pay for the lamb four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
2 Samuel 11:27 says, “But the thing that David had done caused Yahveh’s eye to tremble.” HaShem was heartbroken by David’s actions.
David’s response on the other hand is the self-righteous reaction of a guilty man. Ironically on a subconscious level he is furious, not with the fictional rich man but with himself. The guilty man has no mercy to offer himself, thank G-d that His mercy is wide enough even for the hypocrite.
Natan has enticed David into a judicial situation, a station common to the kings of Israel—and her surrounding nations—at that time. It is interesting that David initially chooses an unjust punishment for the crime, after all the Torah only requires fourfold payment for such an act. David is perhaps, at some subconscious level, prophesying against himself with the words, “As HaShem lives, the man who did this deserves to die... because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Perhaps he heard in the parable the echo of his own guilt?
The fact that David requires the rich man to repay the poor man fourfold is proof of his knowledge of the Torah requirements for punishing such an act. David would indeed pay fourfold for his sin with the lives of four of his sons: the nameless child of David and Batsheva, Amon, Avshalom and Adoniyah.
One wonders how David went so long without turning to G-d, knowing as he did the Instruction of HaShem and the symbolic importance of his role as king over G-d’s people Israel. Having said that, I am challenged to take a sober look at my own life and ask the question, “How long have you been ignoring the elephant in your room?” Thank G-d that His mercy is wide enough even for a hypocrite!
7 Natan said to David, “You are the man. Here is what HaShem, the God of Yisra’el says: ‘I anointed you king over Yisra’el. I rescued you from the power of Sha’ul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives to embrace. I gave you the house of Yisra’el and the house of Y’hudah. And if that had been too little, I would have given you much more.
I suspect that even before Natan pronounced the verdict that David already knew he was the man. What follows are both personal and public representations of G-d’s Name over His people Israel and their human king. Not only has G-d delivered David and gifted Him with wealth and power, He has also placed upon David the very representation of His own Great Name. We cannot be seen to unite the body of Messiah with a prostitute. (1 Corinthians 6:15) All action is worship, when we worship anything other than G-d we misrepresent and blaspheme His Name. This, as we will come to understand is cause for the enemies of G-d to blaspheme His Name and attempt to impugn His character. This can have a devastating and misleading effect on those who are unsaved, who, having seen our hypocrisy turn ever further away from HaShem. Thank G-d that His mercy is wide enough even for hypocrites!
G-d says, “If that had not been enough I would have given you much more.” We are children of the King of the Universe, if we are struggling with desire for things we shouldn’t touch then let us turn to HaShem and ask Him to redirect our eyes. What He has to give isn’t an alternative to sin, it is much better and it’s born of an entirely different seed. The green grass on the other side of the fence is a hologram covering an abyss. The fence is there for a reason, HaShem teach us to ask for Your help when we are walking the tight rope of temptation.
9 “‘So why have you shown such contempt for the d’var—Word—of HaShem and done what is evil in my eyes?
Contempt for the Word of HaShem is contempt for Mashiyach—Messiah—who was to be born of David’s line. Nothing is hidden from G-d, David’s sin is before G-d and must be atoned for if the relationship between David and G-d is to be restored. In one sense David’s sin is irritating G-d’s eye.
You murdered Uriyah the Hitti with the sword and took his wife as your own wife; you put him to death with the sword of the Amonites.
Through Natan HaShem recounts the sins of David beginning with the last act, that of murder. This was pretexted by David’s first judgment of punishment against the rich man of the parable, thus the punishment should befit the crime. The Torah requires David’s life to atone for the act of murder.
10 Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house — because you have shown contempt for me and taken the wife of Uriyah the Hitti as your own wife.’
The second sin mentioned is that of adultery, this is also deserving of the death penalty. G-d says that as a result of David’s sin, violence and death will never cease to be an issue for his household.
11 Here is what HaShem says: ‘I will bring evil against you out of your own household. I will take your wives before your very eyes and give them to one who is close to you; he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this before all Yisra’el in broad daylight.’”
This is later literally fulfilled when Absalom sleeps with his father’s concubines on the roof of the palace for all Israel to see. Thus what was done in secret is brought into the light.
13 David said to Natan, “I have sinned--missed the way—against HaShem.” Natan said to David, “HaShem has taken away your sin--punishable offence. You will not die. 14 However, because by this act you have given great occasion for the enemies of HaShem to blaspheme, the child born to you will die.”15 Then Natan returned to his house.
Unlike his predecessor David is truly sorry—as shown by his genuine repentance. Natan tells David that HaShem has—passed tense—taken away his sin, however the blood guilt that is upon David for the death of Uriyah must be atoned for. Therefore the child will die.
This seems unfair to the modern reader, we ask, “doesn’t the prophet say that each one will die for his own sin?” There is more at stake here than murder and adultery, the very Name of HaShem has been misrepresented to both Israel and the nations. David, as king of Israel must not be seen to be allowed to flaunt his sin in the face of G-d’s Torah. The child, had it been allowed to live would defile the line of the Messiah and make the Messianic kingship an illegitimate one. In addition to this the child, had it grown would have been known to be illegitimate and perceived of as a great threat to David’s other children. The child’s life may well have been far worse had he been allowed to live. By dying at this young age the child is delivered from a tortured existence and drawn into the arms of G-d.
The death of the child is a tragedy born of David and Batsheva’s sin. The child dies at the age of seven days, one day prior to circumcision, meaning that he is not officially welcomed as a son of the covenant. The reason for this is again to distance the child from direct relationship to the legitimate throne of David’s greater son Yeshua the Mashiyach.
HaShem struck the child that Uriyah’s wife had borne to David, and it became very ill. 16 David prayed to G-d on behalf of the child; David fasted, then came and lay all night on the ground.17 The court officials got up and stood next to him trying to get him off the ground, but he refused, and he wouldn’t eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day, the child died. The servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, because they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he didn’t listen to us; if we tell him now that the child is dead, he may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw his servants whispering to each other, he suspected that the child was dead. David asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” and they answered, “He is dead.” 20 Then David got up off the ground, washed, anointed himself and changed his clothes. He went into the house of HaShem and worshipped; then he went to his own palace; and when he asked for food, they served it to him; and he ate. 21 His servants asked him, “What are you doing? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat food!” 22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; because I thought, ‘Maybe Adonai will show mercy to me and let the child live.’23 But now that he’s dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
We see from the text that the child is known as the child of Uriyah’s wife. This is said to show the illegitimate nature of his conception.
David’s actions here are the petitions of a truly repentant man. He is not grieving but returning. He knows that others have pleaded with G-d and in response G-d had turned His face from wrath, so in relationship David returns to plead his case for the life of his son. It seems that G-d’s mercy is greater in the taking of the child. Realizing that there is nothing he can do now that the child is gone, David puts his trust in the fact that he will one day be reconciled to the child he has lost, “Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” In this simple statement we are given a glimpse into David’s belief in the Olam Haba—World to Come.
24 David comforted his wife Bat-Sheva, came to her and went to bed with her; she gave birth to a son and named him Shlomo—Peace. HaShem loved him 25 and sent word through Natan the prophet to have him named Y’didyah—loved by G-d, for HaShem’s sake.
These verses begin with the statement, “David comforted his wife Batsheva.” This is announced so that it will be understood that, having been punished for their sin David and Batsheva are now given the freedom to be married in the eyes of HaShem and to produce a legitimate heir to the throne.
Shlomo—peace, is well named, his line will bear the Prince of Peace our Messiah. G-d delights in this prophetic child and by way of reconciliation to David He gives the child an additional name that carry’s his father’s name within it. He calls him Y’didyah—loved by G-d, for HaShem’s sake. Notice that Shlomo is not only loved by G-d but he is also loved for G-d’s sake.
I find the evidence for a late dating of this Psalm to be weak at best, however even if a late dating is agreed to it does not negate the fact that even a late redaction of this psalm was reliant on an original version which was passed down either in written or oral tradition. This psalm so clearly relates to the events of 2 Samuel 12 that only a fool would presume it has been negatively manipulated for any reason, exilic or otherwise. In the end, we believe that the Scriptures are the inspired word of HaShem intended for the illumination of our souls. To say that Scripture has been manipulated by human agenda outside of G-d’s will, is like saying a marshmallow can keep its shape in acid.
Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Natan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Batsheva. The first thing to notice here is that David intended for his dirty laundry to be aired publicly. This psalm is addressed to the Leader of Mishkan—tent/Temple—worship, it is intended for public recitation. This is the act of a truly repentant man. He is no longer seeking to hide his folly, he is making it clear to all, both Israelite and Goyim—nations, that he is guilty of desecrating G-d’s Torah. In doing this he is disassociating his sin from the false witness it had presented in light of HaShem’s Holy nature.
51 Have mercy on me, O G-d, according to Your steadfast love;
according to Your abundant mercy obliterate my transgressions--rebellion.
Only G-d can forgive David, Uriyah is dead. David reminds himself of what G-d has already done by taking away David’s bloodguilt. It is G-d’s steadfast love and abundant mercy that obliterate David’s rebellion.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity--perversity,
and cleanse--purge—me from my sin--sinful condition, perpetual sin, missing the mark, falling short of the standard!
David understands the need for atonement, the covering of sin. He also understands the need for cleansing, the purging of all sin for eternity, hence the doublet of washing and cleansing/purging. Perversity is washed away, the sinful condition--yetzer ha-ra’ah--must be purged, utterly removed.
3 For I know my transgressions--rebellion,
and my sin--sinful condition--is ever before me.
David understands that he is prone to give in to the yetzer ha-ra’ah and that in himself he has no means of removing his misdeeds from his mind’s eye.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned--missed the way,
and done that which is evil in Your sight,
In fact David has sinned against Uriyah, Batsheva, Israel and the nations, but what is meant here is that all sin is primarily sin against G-d.
so that You are justified in Your sentence
and blameless in Your judgment.
G-d is without sin, He alone is able to process just judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in the secret place.
The poetic Hebrew mechanism of doublets is again employed to illuminate the meaning of the text. Here we see iniquity which is rebellion followed by the sinful condition--yetzer ha-ra’ah, fallen nature.
David’s mother is not known to have committed a sin act in conceiving him, thus the mother here is understood to refer to the mother of us all, Eva. This is an allusion to the rebellious actions of both Satan and Eva which result in the yetzer ha-ra’ah—sin’s entry into creation.
David then relates the womb to the inner being and asks that G-d teach him the paths of righteousness retrospectively from his inception as a person to the time of the psalms construction. We see in this not simply that humanity has a fallen nature but rather that consciousness begins at conception, and not of the developed brain alone.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
David has previously asked to be purged of his sinful condition, here he asks again, this time he acknowledges the vehicle for the purging by alluding to the blood of the Passover lamb which was spread with hyssop onto the door posts of Israel in order to save the Israelites' from the judgment of the avenging angel.
We can also see the blood of Messiah—purge me—as facilitating the purging and His baptism—wash me—given to all who believe as a symbolic washing of the soul.
Clean here is from the Hebrew meaning to glisten and is the pairing for snow. Elsewhere we are reminded that, “Though your sins are as scarlet I will wash them white as snow.”
8 Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9 Hide Your face--plural, signifying intensity—from my sin--sinful state,
and blot out all my iniquities perversity.
David is asking for the restoration of the brokenness caused by his sin, only then can he truly rejoice. He doesn’t ask G-d to hide His intense face from him, rather he asks G-d to turn his face away from his sin. This is more than covering, it is the obliteration of sin which makes way for the eternal cohabitation of G-d and humanity.
10 Create--bara, used only of G-d’s creative power—in me a clean heart, O God,
and build up a new and right spirit within me.
Genesis 1:1 begins with the words, “Bereshit bara,” newly creating: this same word for creating is the word used here, it means to create something from nothing and is only used of G-d’s creative power. Only G-d can create a clean heart in us. Having done so, outside of time, He then builds us up into the Holy people He intends us to be.
11 Cast me not away from Your presence,
and take not Your Ruach ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit—from me.
G-d had taken His Spirit from Shaul the first king of Israel, perhaps David expected the same? The point here is that David was terrified of the thought of losing G-d’s Spirit, this proves his strong desire for continued relationship, Shaul on the other hand was only interested in using G-d’s power to win wars and prosper himself.
12 Return--Shuva—to me the joy of Your Yeshua—salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
I have been a prodigal son, though I can’t save myself I implore You, return to me Your salvation.
13 Then I will teach transgressors--rebels—Your ways,
and sinners--those who fall short of your standard—will return--shuva—to You.
Yeshua says, “Those who have been forgiven much, love much.” Having been a rebel and a sinner David is now able to minister to the lost children of G-d, bringing them the hope of salvation that is only found in Him.
14 Deliver me from blood-guilt O G-d,
G-d of my Yeshua—salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of Your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
David’s deliverance from blood-guilt is freedom to his soul and in David’s case his mouth gives birth to rejoicing which is seeded by a grateful heart.
16 For You have no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, it would not please You.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to G-d is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
David is not saying that sacrifice is invalid, rather he is saying that sacrifice performed without the true repentance of a contrite heart is invalid. G-d requires a truly contrite and repentant heart, only then will a physical sacrifice be acceptable.
This verse has been widely misused by both Jewish and Christian commentators alike. It does not negate the need for the shedding of blood as some have mistakenly concluded. “I give you the blood for making atonement.” “Without the shedding of blood there can be no covering for sin.”
18 Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem,
David now relates his personal sin to the effect it has had over all Israel. Just as David’s heart needed to be built up, so to Israel needs to be built up. David is asking that G-d not hold his sin against his people but that He bless her and build her up.
19 then You will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.
Finally, the result of right standing with G-d in the inner being is the outworking of that right standing through right sacrifice. We see in these last verses that G-d delights in the sacrifice that is made with integrity. Integrity and unity of spirit and action.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.