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Beware The Traveler

Beware The Traveler             Friday, February 23, 2018


By, James L. Thornton

In this study Nathan has come as a friendly visitor and related to David the incident of a particular wrongdoing by a rich and powerful man to an innocent and poor man.

Nathan held a two-fold position--he was a man, a citizen of Israel, a subject and neighbor, a pious friend of David's; he also was a Prophet, a representative of God, and in that capacity a superior of David. When David's indignation arose against the rich man to the point of pronouncing a death sentence upon him, Nathan, laying aside the character of a friendly visitor relating the story of wrong, now assumes the function of the prophet of God, and turns the whole light of David's just indignation in upon himself. 

And with an un-recordable tone and gesture, and, with incisiveness most irresistible, brings an accusation of guilt. "Thou art the Man."

David, the sweet singer of Israel,

David, the man after God's own heart, 

David, a man so true, so valiant, so heroically manly,

If he could fall so deeply into sin,

Who is safe in the presence of temptation.

2 Samuel 12:1-7.

1. and the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, there were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 

2. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

 3. But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

 4. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

5. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, as the lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:

6. And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

7. And Nathan said to David, thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; (KJV)

8. And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

9. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

10. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

11. Thus saith the lord, behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

12. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

In this study we will take a look at this traveler, the Prophet Nathan speaks of, which came into the life of King David.


1. Who is this traveler, or wayfarer, the prophet Nathan speaks of?

2.  How did David come to entertain this traveler?

3.  How was the traveler able to take so much from David?

4.  Does the traveler still come by, and can we expect him?

5.  Can we entertain the traveler or wayfarer without cost?

1. First we want to identify this traveler which Nathan speaks Of that caused so much agony in David’s life.


Job 1:6-7.

6. Now there was a day when the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.

The devil is likely to show up anywhere, at any time.

7. And the Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 

Notice how Satan answered the lord when he asked him where he had come from.

“From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.”  This shows us that Satan is a wayfarer.

 Let us take a look at how Satan intervened in the life of our Lord. Luke 4:13

13. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. 


That time Satan came with temptations.

Satan, at times, would confront Him with obstacles throughout His ministry, and try to change His course. (Mark 8:33)

Finally Satan would be cruel—he would come with a cross. 

1 Peter 5:8-9.

8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Satan does not have to have his way in our lives—Satan is not omnipotent. 

James 4:7.

7. ... Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

So, for the most part, Satan is a traveler who moves in and out of our lives. He only stays as long as we entertain him.

He only has as much liberty with us as we allow him to have.

 2. The second thing we want to find out is how David came to entertain this traveler.

The Bible takes an entire chapter to tell the story of David’s fall in Second Samuel chapter eleven.

The period in David’s life just previous to this was one of great prosperity.

He was now king and ruler of, not only the Promised Land, but of Moab, Zobah, Damascus, and Hamath. His armies had been very successful in their campaigns the last few years.

Success is indeed not sin, but many times it opens the door.

David did not fail in conflict—he failed in comfort.

If adversity has slain its thousands, prosperity has slain its tens of thousands.

The conflicts, the trials, the discouragement, were the seeds of most of his Psalms. Not many are written about his ease.

How about this one,

4. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalms 23:4-5)

Four chapters previous to David’s fall we find him sitting before the Lord in calm, deep, enraptured, thanksgiving. He had just heard through Nathan that he is to be the forefather of the lord Jesus.  (2 Samuel 7:12)

The hope of Israel, when he comes, was to be David’s son, and he sits worshiping. (2 Samuel 7:18)

Then let us read the first verse of chapter eleven of Second Samuel. 2 Samuel 11:1

1. And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle (probably spring time), that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. 

Now David was not too old to go to battle—probably about fifty-five at this time—and did not he have some “mighty men” any one of which would have given his life to protect him?

He had been reigning in Jerusalem upwards of twelve to fifteen years; dwelt in a stately palace on Mount Zion; and possessed numerous sons and daughters, a splendid court and a powerful army.

He had been “preserved whithersoever he went (2 Samuel 8:6),” subdued his enemies, and returned in triumph.

His natural gifts and fervent godliness (Psalms 24:4) were even more extraordinary than his material prosperity; and he now stood on the pinnacle of human greatness and glory.

We might well wish, in our human fashion, that, as he stood at this elevation, he had closed a life hitherto (as far as was possible before Christianity) almost entirely spotless, and bequeathed to posterity a wholly unclouded memory, and the purest type of true royalty.

But the assent of the dizzy height is always attended by the possibility of a slip and then of a headlong fall.

Now let us read verse two of second Samuel chapter eleven to see how the Bible relates to us the story of David’s sin.  2 Samuel 11:2a

2a. “And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: …”

 It was usual in Palestine, and remains so in all hot countries, to take a siesta in the heat of the day (ch 4:5); and, on waking, David walked back and forth on the flat roof of his house (1 Samuel 9:25), to enjoy the cool breezes of the evening.

 In so doing he was probably following his usual habits; but temptation came upon him unexpectedly, as so often is the case, the traveler, Satan, knocked on the door of his life.

And David fell step after step into that “awful quag upon the left hand of the road of life.(John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress)

“When Christian passed through the valley of the shadow of death, he found on the left hand, there was a very dangerous quag, into which, even if a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on.” (Pilgrim’s Progress)

Now remember David should have been out with his soldiers, leading them in battle, but he had stayed at home, and while they were fighting and risking their lives, he was on the roof of the castle, taking a stroll in the cool of the evening, and Satan found mischief for idle eyes. 

2 Samuel 11:2b.

2b. “..: And from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” 

It is regarded in the east as improper for one neighbor to look over the battlement of his house into the inner court of the dwelling next door.

Considering the jealously with which they guard the female members of their families from intrusion, it was a wrong act on the king’s part to spy into what was going on in the recesses of the adjoining house.

Nevertheless, he did so, and suffered for it years of disgrace and misery.

For he saw a beautiful woman, the wife of one of his high officers, bathing, probably to purify herself from some legal uncleanness, such as the law enjoined upon her. (Leviticus 15)

No blame, so far, must be attached to her.

The place was regarded as perfectly secluded, and probably neither she, nor Uriah (her husband), had ever suspected that what went on there was being observed from the roof of the Kings Palace.

This verse (2) indicates to us that it was not just a glimpse.

It is one thing to inadvertently (not duly attentive) see

something, or someone, or unintentionally, or unwittingly,

glimpse something, but to look directly, and fixedly, to gaze,

To stare, as David did, is another matter. 

Matthew 5:28.

28. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh (does not turn his eyes away, but, to gaze, to stare,) on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

When David saw and looked on her, with certain thought in his mind and feeling in his heart, he had virtually done the deed of which we have record.

Sin lies in intent and purpose, whether it be actualized in outward fact or not. Hence our Lord’s strong words. (Matthew 5:28)

The eye is the most common inlet of temptation.

“And when the woman saw the tree was good,” ect. (Genesis 3:6).

Achan first saw, then coveted, and then took (Joshua 7:2).

David at this time had forgotten his prayer, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” (Psalms 119:37)

We see, therefore, how dangerous a thing it is to suffer the eyes to wander. Job made a covenant with his eyes. Job 31:1

1. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” 

Now Satan has David in his snare. He has lusted with his eyes.

“And lust when has conceived it brings forth sin.” (James 1:15)

David’s fall seems as sudden as it was complete; but we may feel sure that there had been gradual preparation for it during the previous period of great prosperity.

The real power of a temptation, through the senses, lies in the state of mind which a person is in at the time.

David had probably seen beautiful women many times during his exile, and while King in Jerusalem; but the healthy, well-guarded spirit was unhurt by the sight.

It was because David was not his old self that this sight, which he saw from his roof top, was as fuel to a smoldering flame.

David had been king for nigh unto twenty five years, and his kingdom had been established by great success on the battlefield.

His palace in Jerusalem was one to be envied, his power and wealth was absolute, none disputed with him, and he no longer had to contend, as in younger days, with everyday foes, and he was living in ease and splendor.


But David had taken on the ways of the kings, and rulers, and masters of wealth, of the nations around him and taken several wives (2 Samuel 5:13) and concubines (2 Samuel 20:3).

Polygamy acted in a subtle way on David’s life, so that he gradually formed the habits peculiar to that abnormal form of family life, and we need no divine revelation to inform us of the class of inferior feelings that would thereby be surely, though slowly, generated.

There can be no question that the physical, mental, and moral habits of life of a polygamous household are such as would furnish good soil for a sensual temptation.

The sense of virtue and chastity, which has such a purifying and preserving influence on the life, could not flourish side by side with the polygamy in which David permitted himself.

These are some of the underlying causes of David’s fall.


David took the next step, he sent and inquired after the woman. Her husband was off to war with Joab.

 At this particular time David did not know what was in his heart.

Jeremiah 17:9  (the Lord speaking)

 9. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” 

 Matthew 15:19.  (Jesus)

19. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” 

A person may say, “I would never do anything like that,” but do we really know what we would do under all circumstances?

Remember what Simon Peter said,

Mark 14:29-31.

29. “But Peter said unto him, although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

30. And Jesus saith unto him, verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

31. But he spake the more vehemently, if I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”

Like David, Simon Peter did not know what was in his heart.

Like David, Simon Peter also entertained the traveler.

Years later David wrote this psalm. 

Psalm 19:12-14.

12. “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.

13. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, o lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Let us look at another prayer David prayed many years afterwards. 

Psalm 139:23-24.

23. “Search me, o god, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I wish David had prayed this prayer before he took the afternoon stroll on his roof.


2 Samuel 11:3-4.

3. “And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

Eliam was one of David’s mighty men, and also one of his personal bodyguards (2 Samuel 23:34), and son of Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors. (2 Samuel 15:12)

This may help to explain why Ahithophel joined in with Absalom in his rebellion against David. It was the result of his indignation at David’s profligate treatment of his granddaughter (2 Samuel 15:31).

Uriah, her husband, was also one of David’s mighty men, and one of his personal bodyguards, and his next door neighbor. He had been in David’s service for many years fighting along side of him against the house of Saul. (2 Samuel 3:1)

Whilst he knew not who she was at first, there might be some excuse for his passion, considering his position as an oriental monarch and the common practices of the age, for David already had several wives and concubines (2 Samuel 4:13).

But, now that he was informed that she was “the wife of Uriah,” the claims of a higher law than his own inclination must have risen up distinctly before him.

He had to choose between renouncing his evil desire, or breaking through the numerous restraints placed in his path.

These restraints are set up by the express commandments of the divine law, which says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife;” “thou shalt not commit adultery;” thou shalt not kill; (Exodus 20:13-14 & 17).

These restraints are enforced by the terrible consequences threatened against transgressors (Leviticus 20 10; Deuteronomy 28:15-68), which is death, or worse, terrible curses from the Lord.

It is nevertheless possible to burst through all such restraints. 2 Samuel 11:4

4. And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. 

Men intent on great evil are forced to bring others into their wicked secrets, and when they do, they are secret no more.

Let us look at these messengers for a moment. There are always some vile people who hang around great personages, ready to minister to their sins.

When David sent those messengers he was preparing the way for his daughter’s disgrace, for the murder of Amonon, for Absalom’s rebellion and death, and for the death of Adonijah. All these were his own children.

But David “sent (these) messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; …”

There is no intimation whatever that David brought Bathsheba into the palace through craft or violence; but rather she came at his request, without hesitation, and offered no resistance to his desires, yet she is not to be regarded as free from blame.

But, one is not disposed to suspect that she was a designing, ambitious woman, who laid a snare for the king. Nothing is told us concerning her in order that the iniquity of David might be relieved.

Yet, she, like other women in the kingdom (2 Samuel 6:22), admired the King, felt flattered by his attentions, and had not sufficient moral strength to resist his wishes or control her own inordinate vanity.

Had she been mindful of her matrimonial fidelity perhaps David would have been soon checked in his inordinate desire. Yet she was a woman more sinned against than sinning. (ch. 12:4)

Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, is away from home, so David took that “one little ewe lamb” to feed the traveler.

Let us mark the progression in his sin.

“David saw,” ……..…….………….. Verse 2

“David inquired,”………..………… Verse 3

“David sent,” ...……….……………. Verse 4

“David took her,”  ..………………   Verse 4

“David lay with her,”  ..…………… Verse 4

“David made uriah drunk,” ……...  Verse 13

“David sent uriah to his death,” …. Verse 17

James 1:14-15.

14. but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15. then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 


David entertained the traveler during a period of his life when he was enjoying the greatest prosperity and blessings of his entire life.

If the Lord gives to drink the cup of earthly






If the Lord gives it, let us not be afraid to take it, but let us drink it always upon our knees, and always in his presence.

Otherwise we may find in some easy, dreadful hour that all our moral strength has also slipped away. And in the temptation we fall into the quag on the left hand.


A short while later David received a note from the woman, and the message must have chilled David’s heart.

2 Samuel 11:5.

5. “And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, i am with child.” 

Now david begins to pay the expense of entertaining the traveler.

There is no doubt that David, after his sudden fall, experienced some pangs of guilt; but repressed the reproaches of conscience, and continued, in the view of men, the same as he had ever been.

It is evident that, when the message (ver. 5) came to him, he was not truly penitent. It only awakened his fears concerning the possible exposure of his transgression.

Would not the wife of Uriah, on the return of her husband, be constrained to declare the author of her shame?

His fears were intensified by the probable consequences of such exposure, which could have culminated, not only by the death of Bathsheba, but possibly of himself. (Leviticus 20:10)

He was impelled by his fears to use his utmost efforts to the concealment of his sin.

David, the hero, who trembled not before Goliath, now spends sleepless nights, and restless hours, in painful thoughts, and anxiety, scheming how he may escape the consequences of his own people knowing what he had done in private.

In seeking to escape human exposure, David tries to create, or manipulate circumstances, by which, in the judgment of men, providence shall be credited with the deed he himself has done.


Uriah, not David, shall be made to appear as the father of the child. David sent word to Joab to send Uriah home with the pretense of inquiring about how the war was going.

To bring him home, and get him, in an apparent natural way, to spend a little time with his wife, at once, seemed most feasible.

2 Samuel 11:6-8.

6. “And David sent to Joab, saying, send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.

7. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.

8. And David said to Uriah, go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the King. 

So prompt is Uriah, that he goes to report to his King still soiled with battle and travel, and without calling at his house.

David makes his inquires, listens with apparent interest to the narrative of the war, and after receiving a full report, bids Uriah go home and rest and refresh himself after the journey.

David had the right to send for any officer to give him information as to the progress of the war and it would only appear generous to allow Uriah to go and rest at home.

David went to bed thinking that everything would be alright in the morning, and the word would never get out, and if it did, no one would ever believe it.

2 Samuel 11:9-10.

9. “But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.”

The old soldier cared more for war than for pleasure, and, instead of going to his house, spent the night in the guard-room with the soldiers and others who were in attendance upon the king. (see 1 Kings 14:27-28) 

10. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, camest thou not from thy journey? Why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? 

We become aware of the king’s frustration in this question to Uriah when he learned that he did not go home and spend the night with Bathsheba.

David had assumed that Uriah would hasten to visit his wife, and Uriah’s unexpected refusal upsets his devices, and leaves him with all his difficulties increased rather than done away with.

Very probably, in the conversation in the guard-room, Uriah had received hints that his wife was too high in the royal favor, and his answer to the king may indicate some suspicion had been aroused.

2 Samuel 11:11.

11. “And Uriah said unto David, the ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. 

The mention of the ark was god’s way of trying to prick David’s heart and to stop him before he carried forth any further evil intentions. We may also be surprised to learn that the ark was still being carried into battle long after David had prepared a sanctuary for it in Jerusalem.

We are also made aware of the fact that the vast number of the Israelites still lived in tents, and only a few, like Uriah, had a house, and the soldiers who were out to battle, were living in the open fields.

Uriah expressed his feelings to David by letting him know that it was against his principles to go to his home and to his wife while the ark and his fellow soldiers were living out doors and in rough conditions.

Under different circumstances David would have commended Uriah for his religious patriotism, but was clearly troubled and uneasy because his well planned scheme was being thwarted because Uriah did not go home to Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 11:12-13.

12. “And David said to Uriah, tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.

13. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

David thus adds sin to sin, and, in order to accomplish his vile end, he degrades the brave soldier by making him drunk, but even when intoxicated Uriah kept to his principles and once again slept in the guard room.

Thwarted by his scheme to resolve his problem by natural looking means, David became desperate. Sin brings desperation, so David resorted to desperate measures.

2 Samuel 11:14-18.

14. “And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

15. And he wrote in the letter, saying, set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.

The traveler causes David to pay the full fare and sign Uriah’s death warrant and sent it by his own hand.

Isn’t it sad that the same hand which penned some of the world’s greatest psalms and hymns, could, quite possibly, with the same pen, write a letter which would cause an innocent man to be sent to his death.

As I said before, “men intent on great evil are forced to bring others into their wicked secrets, and when they do they are secret no more.” Joab was the sort of man who would do anything that David asked him without asking any awkward questions.

16. “And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.

17. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

18. then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; 

Joab became the pawn in the hand of the traveler, and from this day forward David could never free himself from the tyrannical grip of Joab.

The last verse of second Samuel chapter twelve shows to what extent David’s conscience had fallen by his treatment of the captives of the children of Ammon.

2 Samuel 11:26.

 26. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 

Having been the cause of his murder, she is careful to make for him the customary mourning. How long? The Bible is silent about it, probably, however, the mourning of a widow would last a month.

2 Samuel 11:27a.

27a. “And when the mourning was past, david sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son.”

David felt that the deed was well covered and no one would ever suspect that Bathsheba was already two months pregnant with his child so he hurriedly took her for his wife.

A few months latter a son was born which died shortly thereafter, of which the story is told in the next chapter.

Now we come to the last sentence in chapter eleven, which seems like an afterthought of the writer, but ten words never carried such far reaching consequences.

27b. “but the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”

The means which David took to extract himself from the complications in which his adultery involved him appeared well chosen; but there was one thing he had not taken into consideration—that he could not here, as in former troubles, confidently expect the assistance of God.

In this chapter we have the history of David’s sin; a year’s respite succeeds, as if God would wait and see whether the sinner’s own conscious would waken, and bring him to repentance; but it slumbers on.

It was, perhaps, during this year of hardened resistance in the crime that Amnon and his cousin Jonadab also gave the reins to their passions, and prepared the way for the first of the series of crimes that polluted David’s home.


An early repentance might have saved the son; but the absence of parental discipline, the loss of respect for his father, and the evil influence of that father’s bad example, all urged on the son to the commission of his abominable crime.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32.

31. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

32. but when we are judged, we are chastened of the lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 

A year had passed since David’s terrible sin, the child of his sin had been born, and all this time God had been silent, but soon God would break his silence with judgment.


Sometimes God’s judgment is severe, although in David’s case it was not death, but, seemingly, the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

For a whole year David remained in an unconsciousness of his guilt, a time of self-deception.

Is there not a sort of blood-shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood, and immortality, flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death.


Now we need to go back to our opening verses of our study in

2 Samuel 12. which tells us that God sent Nathan the prophet unto David.

Assuredly David had suffered much mental distress, but he had given no outward sign of contrition, and possibly, but for Nathan’s message, he might have overpowered his conscience, and his self-reproaches have become less frequent and agitating.

On the other hand scripture is silent on the mental activities which were occurring and reoccurring in his mind. God has so many ways to deal with our minds and hearts. (Job 4:12-16)

Quite possibility the same thing was occurring in his life as it was with Job when he says, “Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:..” (Job 7:14)

Most probably he was slowly ripening for repentance, and Nathan’s words let loose the agonizing feelings which had more and more struggled within him against his baser lusts.

The prophet’s moral fable (2 Samuel 12) was exactly suited to rouse up that strong sense of justice which was so noble an element in David’s character.

It took great courage on Nathan’s part to go to him, because it is a very dangerous thing to tell kings of their sins, and especially when that king is an absolute monarch, and his sins are adultery and murder. (Matthew 14:3-12)

Yet the position which Nathan held in David’s court made it his duty to bring David this message, and there is no stronger testimony to the power of religion and of God’s grace than that it makes men so brave in doing their duty.

We may feel sure that Nathan had long grieved over David’s fall, and pondered upon the steps which ought to be taken for his admonition.

Now, in answer to prayer, the command came from Jehovah bidding him go and bear his testimony.

If months of brooding sorrow and secret shame had been humbling David, then his open confession (2 Kings 12:13) was the proof that the spirit’s work was now complete.

We gather from Psalms 51:3 that such was the case.

Psalm 51:3.

 3. “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” 

David’s sin had long haunted him; had long occupied his thoughts by day, and shattered his rest at night.

Like a flood, his iniquities had gone over his head, and threatened to drown him; like a heavy burden, they had pressed upon so as to break him down (Psalms 38:4).

Both these Psalms tell of long-continued sorrow of heart; but with confession had come relief. The confession of his guilt is absolute.

He had offered to God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, and knew that it had not been despised.

Nathan had come as a friendly visitor and related to David the incident of a particular wrongdoing by a rich and powerful man to an innocent and poor man.

Nathan held a two-fold position—he was a man in Israel, a subject and neighbor, a pious friend of David’s; he was also a Prophet, a representative of God, and in that capacity a superior of David.

When David’s indignation arose against the rich man to the point of pronouncing a death sentence upon him, Nathan, laying aside the character of a friendly visitor relating the story of wrong, now assumes the function of the prophet of God, and turns the whole light of David’s just indignation in upon himself.

And with an un-recordable tone and gesture, and, with incisiveness most irresistible, brings an accusation of guilt.

“Thou art the man.”  “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord…?” (v.7 & 9)

It was evident to David that his deed, long kept secret, was known to his most influential and incorruptible subject and Friend; and, that God was speaking straight to his conscience.

David’s conscience knows the awful voice of God, and, when that voice speaks straight to it, all thought of men and their opinions vanishes, and the soul in its solemn individuality feels itself in the actual presence of the eternal.

In true conviction the man “comes to himself.” The deed of evil is brought home, and confession is made.

The guilty King sat in silence till the Prophet had delivered his charge. The time was brief, but the power accompanying the words was divine.

Swifter than lightning the spell of hypocritical concealment was broken. The bonds in which the unholy passion had long held the soul were snapped asunder, the confession came,

2 Samuel 12:13a.

13a, “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the lord. ...” 

It is probably at this time that David uttered the words of the fifty first Psalms, which we all cherish, and have used as a guideline for our own prayers.

It was a recognition of sin against God. Not as a wrong done to Uriah, Bathsheba, or Israel, or his own family.

The conscience is not indifferent to the injuries done to man, but when fully aroused, and face to face with sin, not as a fault, a weakness, but as an evil, stamped with the curse of God, it seems to see only God.

Psalm 51:4.

4. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: ...” 

This is obviously an inward bowing of the spirit before the Holy God; an absolute surrender, as being undone, condemned, helpless, lost.

How long Nathan stood by the prostrate, weeping, King, we do not know; but he saw and heard enough to enable him to say in the name of God,

2 Samuel 12:13b.

13b. “., the Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

A statement clear and unreserved, intended to go home to the smitten heart. Forgiveness of sins has to do with a personal relations of God and man.

But the pardon left untouched the natural consequences of the sin referred to in verses nineteen and twenty, because a personal relation with God does not always alter the course of the forces which a person sets in motion on earth by his sin.

And even after much prayer and supplication (vers. 16-18), the child of his sin died, and his house was torn by strife and death during the remaining days of his life.

One only has to read of those years to understand what a price David paid the traveler, or wayfarer.


The apostle Peter, after many confrontations with Satan, wrote to the first century Christians warning them about what to expect from him.

1 Peter 5:8-9.

8. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Satan most certainly does come in, and out, of every person’s life, and is likely to show up at any time. That’s the reason Peter tells us to, “be sober, be vigilant”, in other-words, be on guard, to pay strict attention at all times.

Sometimes Satan will come as a thief (Matthew 13:19; Luke 8:11),

Slipping in to steal the truth out of your heart, other times he may come as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), attempting to deceive a person with false doctrine.

Then, also, as in David’s case, Satan simply uses a person’s own fleshly desires to tempt one into sin (James 1:14), which a person must guard against at all times.

David, the sweet singer of Israel,

David, the man after God’s own heart,

David, a man so true, so valiant, so heroically manly,

If he could fall so deeply into sin,

Who is safe in the presence of temptation? 


Romans 6:23.

23. “For the wages of sin is death; ...” 

The moral law of God is just as sure as his physical laws. Anyone who attempts to break the law of gravity will pay the consequences. By the same token the moral law, when broken, has its own consequences built in, which must be paid.


There is one feature common to a great many, perhaps more or less to all, acts of iniquity, that is, that they have, so to speak, a double reward.

There is the reward which the person fantasized as the fruit of his misdoing; and there is the reward which he lost sight of, but which followed by the inevitable necessity of the moral law of God.

Both are clearly exhibited in the awful case of David, and also of Judas Is-car’-i-ot.

Acts 1:18-19.

18. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

19. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, the field of blood. 

The reward which he looked for, and for the sake of, which he betrayed the innocent blood, was the possession of thirty pieces of silver.

We know the poverty of the son of man, and that he had no silver or gold, no houses or lands, with which to reward his followers.

We know how days of toil succeeded one the other during which the gains were indeed immense—souls nourished, enlightened, instructed in the word of God, prepared for the kingdom of heaven, weaned from sin, won to righteousness—but not such gains as would please the worldly mind.

And we know the mind of Judas, that it was very covetous and greedy of filthy lucre. We know with what eyes he looked upon Mary’s costly offering of love, and he was wont to rob the bag which contained the alms for the poor. (John 12:3-6)

Perhaps Judas had set his heart upon that very field which was bought with the price of blood, and which was to become his, and the strangers, burial ground.

He did the deed and he got the money, “the reward of iniquity”—the reward which he looked for as the fruit of his sin.

And sinners very often do get their expected reward.

Adam and Eve became “as Gods, knowing good and evil;”

Esau got his bowl of “pottage of lentils, and he did eat and drink.” THE HIGHEST PRICE3 EVER PAID FOR A MEAL.

A’-chan got the “Babylonish garment and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels…”

Gehazi obtained his two talents of silver and his two changes of garments.

Ahab got possession of the coveted vineyard.

Zimri gained a throne by the slaughter of the household of Baasha.

Each of these, and many more, by ambition, greed, revenge, covetousness, lusts, hatred, continually, by iniquity, obtain their reward, and the pages of scripture and of profane history, as well as our own experience, teem with examples of the reward of successful wickedness.

But, now, let us look at the other reward of iniquity; that which comes in due season as the inevitable fruit of the just judgment of God.

A study of each of these we have listed will reveal that after receiving the reward of iniquity also received a just reward.

Judas has got his money. Perhaps he has concluded his bargain for the field.

He is no longer a poor man like his master. The former gains of robbery have been swelled by the price of treachery.

But he has forgotten his manhood.

He has forgotten that man has a conscience, and that a guilty conscience is like the raging sea, which cannot be stilled.

He had shut his eyes to everything but the reward he coveted.

But, now the storm is rising.

Remorse begins her terrible work.

Vain regret, agonizing fear, terrible self-reproach, unbearable shame,--all rush upon his soul, and distract and tear it.

The remembrance, perhaps, of the Lord’s goodness; some distinct impression of his wonderful love; the recollections, maybe, of some true happiness in his service before the curse of covetousness overtook him.

He thinks about the flashes of hope once entertained of the Kingdom of Heaven, but now turned to despair;--these move his heart only to make it capable of feeling more bitterly what he now was, and what he must be forever.

His whole existence a curse by his own exceeding wickedness! Judas could not live with his own conscience!

 “Good for me if I had never been born.”

“I have no place to hide from the terrors of God—the terrors of God’s goodness.”

“I cannot abide God’s presence!”

“I cannot abide my own conscience.”

Such were the maddening thoughts of the son of perdition—of him whose iniquity had gained its reward. Judas tries to rush from conscience, to escape from himself, and from God. He flings from him the accursed silver; but he cannot fling away the guilt of blood.

And, so he takes a rope and hangs himself, and “goes to his own place.(Acts 1:25)


He had gained thirty pieces of silver—“the reward of iniquity.”

But, he had lost the apostleship, the highest office on earth; the throne, the highest place of man in heaven, under Jesus Christ; his peace of mind, his self respect, his power of enjoying life, the esteem of all good men, any place among men, save that of shame, and ignominy, and disgrace, and abhorrence.

He had lost his own soul—his life; all the pleasures of time, and all the joys of eternity.

Acts 1:25.

25. “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 

In conclusion of our study of an incident which took place in the life of David we learn that there are three things which are necessary to a man’s happiness, and they are:

1. The approval of his own conscience.

2. The sense of being approved by God.

3. The esteem of his fellow-men, and of all God’s rational creatures.

We also learn that by iniquity all these are forfeited, and that the gains or rewards of iniquity are as inadequate a compensation for such loss as Esau’s mess of pottage was for the loss of his birthright.

The gains, the pleasures, the temporal rewards of iniquity, come and go like a dream, like a tale, like a flash of lightening.

The eternal reward of iniquity abides; terrible in its untold vastness, awful in its unknown horrors, and in its fixed tenure: forever written in the phase which tells us of Judas that he went “to his own place.”

We learn from this, that every man has the place in eternity which he made his own in time.

A man’s own place in the eternal world is that which falls to him by the unchanging laws of God, according to his choice of good or evil in this world.

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ has, indeed, opened a way of righteousness to those who had seemed to have lost it for ever.

But to those who obstinately love darkness rather than light, and cling to iniquity in the very face of mercy, there remains in the nature of things no other end than that, like Judas, they go each one “to his own place.”

I hope you gained something from this study of this incident in the life of David that will help you in your walk with God. 

Our prayer every day should be, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

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By, James L. Thornton


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