2Sa 3:39 And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.


We talk much of ancient manners, their simplicity and ingenuousness; and say that the former days were better than these. But who says this who is a judge of the times? In those days of celebrated simplicity, &c., there were not so many crimes as at present I grant: but what they wanted in number they made up in degree: deceit, cruelty, rapine, murder, and wrong of almost every kind, then flourished. We are refined in our vices; they were gross and barbarous in theirs: they had neither so many ways nor so many means of sinning; but the sum of their moral turpitude was greater than ours. We have a sort of decency and good breeding, which lay a certain restraint on our passions, they were boorish and beastly, and their bad passions were ever in full play. Civilization prevents barbarity and atrocity; mental cultivation induces decency of manners: those primitive times were generally without these. Who that knows them would wish such ages to return?



2Sa 11:14-15, And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 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.


This was the sum of treachery and villany. He made this most noble man the carrier of letters which prescribed the mode in which he was to be murdered. This case some have likened to that of Bellerophon, son of Glaucus, king of Ephyra, who being in the court of Proetus, king of the Argives, his queen Antia, or as others Sthenoboea, fell violently in love with him; but he, refusing to gratify her criminal passions, was in revenge accused by her to Proetus her husband, as having attempted to corrupt her. Proetus not willing to violate the laws of hospitality by slaying him in his own house, wrote letters to Jobates, king of Lycia, the father of Sthenoboea, and sent them by the hand of Bellerophon, stating his crime, and desiring Jobates to put him to death. To meet the wishes of his son-in-law, and keep his own hands innocent of blood, he sent him with a small force against a very warlike people called the Solymi; but, contrary to all expectation, he not only escaped with his life, but gained a complete victory over them. He was afterwards sent upon several equally dangerous and hopeless expeditions, but still came off with success; and to reward him Jobates gave him one of his daughters to wife, and a part of his kingdom. Sthenoboea, hearing this, through rage and despair killed herself.


But what shall we say of Joab, the wicked executor of the base commands of his fallen master? He was a ruffian, not a soldier; base and barbarous beyond example, in his calling; a pander to the vices of his monarch, while he was aware that he was outraging every law of religion, piety, honour, and arms! It is difficult to state the characters, and sum up and apportion the quantity of vice chargeable on each.


Let David, once a pious, noble, generous, and benevolent hero, who, when almost perishing with thirst, would not taste the water which his brave men had acquired at the hazard of their lives; let this David, I say, be considered an awful example of apostasy from religion, justice, and virtue; Bath-sheba, of lightness and conjugal infidelity; Joab, of base, unmanly, and cold-blooded cruelty; Uriah, of untarnished heroism, inflexible fidelity, and unspotted virtue; and then justice will be done to each character. For my own part, I must say, I pity David; I venerate Uriah; I detest Joab, and think meanly of Bath-sheba. Similar crimes have been repeatedly committed in similar circumstances. I shall take my leave for your own judgment.



2 Samuel 12:5-7


2Sa 12:5 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: {shall…: or, is worthy to die, or, is a son of death}


Verse 5.  The man-shall surely die] literally, “he is a son of death,” a very bad man, and one who deserves to die. But the law did not sentence a sheep-stealer to death; let us hear it: If a man steals an ox or a sheep, he shall restore FIVE OXEN for an ox, and FOUR SHEEP for a sheep, Ex 22:1; and hence David immediately says, He shall restore the lamb FOURFOLD.


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

Ex 22:1; Lu 19:8


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;

1Sa 16:13


Verse 7.  Thou art the man.] What a terrible word! And by it David appears to have been transfixed, and brought into the dust before the messenger of God.


THOU ART this son of death, and thou shalt restore this lamb FOURFOLD. It is indulging fancy too much to say David was called, in the course of a just Providence to pay this fourfold debt? To lose four sons by untimely deaths, viz., this son of Bath-sheba, on whom David had set his heart, was slain by the Lord; Amnon, murdered by his brother Absalom; Absalom, slain in the oak by Joab; and Adonijah, slain by the order of his brother Solomon, even at the altar of the Lord! The sword and calamity did not depart from his house, from the murder of wretched Amnon by his brother to the slaughter of the sons of Zedekiah, before their father’s eyes, by the king of Babylon. His daughter was dishonoured by her own brother, and his wives contaminated publicly by his own son! How dreadfully, then, was David punished for his sin! Who would repeat his transgression to share in its penalty? Can his conduct ever be an inducement to, or an encouragement in, sin? Surely, No. It must ever fill the reader and the hearer with horror. Behold the goodness and severity of God! Reader; lay all these solemn things to heart.



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