2 Samuel 12:1-7 An Appeal To Man’s Seed of Nobility & Compassion

2 Samuel 12:1-7

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. 3 “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”

7 Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!


David rose from obscurity to eminence when God chose him from amongst the shepherds and anointed him as king. The authority and blessings that was imparted so early in his life did not turn into reverence towards God and compassion towards others. David did evil when he murdered Uriah and stole the only woman he cherished and treasured. In today’s passage, we see how Nathan through a parable turns David back to God by appealing to his compassion and incites moral outrage at the imaginary villain.


There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor – Nathan sets to make the principle of justice apparent and explicit to David without appearing personal. Nathan’s parable aptly depicts David’s wickedness without him realizing it. Here, the audience is invited to make judgment pertaining to injustice and the oppressive actions of the rich and powerful against the impoverished.

An important element of the parable highlights the difference in the perception of value in the eyes of the rich. The rich sees value in the opulence and the grandeur of things. Whereas the poor treasures and cherishes with his heart whatever little he possesses: It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. A wayfaring friend of the rich man obligates him to a proper reception, which he is unwilling to provide from his own flock. To him, a lamb is no more than a fitting presentation of good hospitality, but to the poor man the lamb is like a daughter. The essence of the parable accentuates David’s baseness: David takes Bathsheba by force as part of his harem, the one and only which Uriah truly cherishes and treasures. The sin of David is apathy.

You are the man! – The parable evokes compassion and moral outrage from the one who has the authority to right the wrong. David responds in anger declaring that the villain is worthy of death and demands fourfold payment because he had no compassion. Nathan takes occasion and immediately pronounces judgment on David: You are the man! Nathan is every inch a prophet, a divine oracle that demands submission even of the king. Here, David bows to the prophetic rebuke without the self-justification seen in the confrontation between Samuel and Saul (see 1 Samuel 15:13).


  1. The value of a man is not found in his possession but in the value of his soul that cannot be measured. Hence, every person must be valued apart from his possession or capabilities, for he has equal right to exist and inhabit the earth. However, it is fallen human instinct to despise those who have little and to deprecate their right to life. God abhors inequity where the poor are marginalized and He will actively take down those who oppress the poor. Proverbs 22:22-23 says,

Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; For the Lord will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them.

Those who possess much inherit the responsibility to lift up the weak and the helpless, and not to rob them of what little they have. Hence, it is the responsibility of every human being to do works of charity and restore equity to our society. In the area of education, churches must make special effort to reach out to families whose parents do not have the capability to coach their children in their studies. Churches must actively reach these families to help transform their mindsets and through the gospel and break the curses of sickness and poverty. It is time for churches to rise up by sending laborers into the harvest field to break the vicious cycle of inequity in our community. Jesus says,

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Luke 6:20-21

  1. We can help lead another to repentance by appealing to the seat of godliness within him. For every person there is a discreet part of him that desires nobility and reconciliation with God. By evoking the original design of purity and goodness, we diminish the seed of evil and corruption. Instead of accentuating the consequence of sin, we appeal to the hearer to return to his original design that finds its inception in Christ. Nathan, by using a parable appeals to David’s compassion and incites moral outrage at the villain’s apathy towards the helpless. The apostle Paul, when preaching the men of Athens appeals to their religiosity,

“Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’” Acts 17:22-23

Paul rides on the people’s religiosity to discover this “unknown God” who made the world and all things in it. Let the Spirit who sees all hearts reveals to us the things hidden within man so that we may preach a timely word that evokes godliness and repentance.


  1. Do you have a tendency to rebuke when you detect gross imperfection and unrighteousness in another? Perhaps, you could explore another model of exaltation by appealing to their propensity for righteous behavior. People may take to inspiration readily than a rebuke.
  2. Do you tend to attach a weakness on those who are poor, which is one way of justifying their present predicament; and that releases us from our obligation to help. Perhaps, we should perceive their present poverty as alluding to the lack of encouragement or a helping hand. And we are that timely encouragement and helping hand that will break the vicious chain of discouragement and poverty.

Dear Lord, create in me compassion to reach out to those who are struggling because of poverty and sickness. I reject the excuses that serve to dissuade me from investing my time into being a helping hand. Help me to understand people and what moves them, so that I may evoke in them the call for holy living and to reconcile with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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