When the word parable is spoken, many people associate the word with the New Testament stories surrounding the ministry of Jesus. While this is true, there are actually many parables in the Old Testament also. On this LORD’s day, I would like to share one of the parables that can be found in the Old Testament, in the book of II Samuel 12:1-4, it is named the ‘Parable of the Ewe Lamb’.
12:1 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. (Color added for emphasis)
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;
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.
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. (Color added for emphasis)
15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.
18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.
In the first set of bold text you read verses 1-4 this is the parable of the ewe lamb. As I stated at the top of this piece, read II Samuel 11:1-27 to get a better understanding of this parable.
I am going to give you the condensed version of it here. David sees Bath-sheba during her purification bath and sends for her. He lays with her, and she becomes pregnant with King Davids child. Bath-sheba is married to Uriah, who is a soldier in the Army. Through Davids first sin of adultery, now he tries to cover up the true identity of the child. David sends for Uriah and tries to give him furlough to lay with his wife Bath-sheba, so David and Bath-sheba could falsely claim the child was Uriah’s. But, Uriah was loyal to King David; he would not take pleasure in his wife, he remained vigilant and ready to fight instead. So David sends Uriah to his death in a battle. He commands Uriah to deliver a letter to Joab. This particular letter just so happened to be Uriah’ death warrant. (See how the first sin has multiplied?) So, Uriah is sent to the fiercest part of the battle and Joab has everyone retreat so Uriah is slain.
Nathan, a prophet of God comes to David and shares with him this parable. When David has heard the parable, he becomes very indignant toward the rich man in the story. (Not realizing the rich man was him.) And immediately passes a heavy handed sentence on the man, Death! (Verses 5 and 6 in red text.)
Lets stop here for a bit and learn an important lesson on hypocrisy. Do you notice how easy it was for King David to pass a sentence on some other guy when he broke God’s commandments, but didn’t even realize in his anger, that he was guilty of the same thing? It is very easy for us to pick at the sins of others but, almost impossible at times to recognize our own sin. This must be why Christ preached “why do you try to pull the mote out of your brother’s eye, and you do not consider the beam in your own?”
The first part of verse 7 is the kick in the gut King David did not see coming, Nathan plainly speaks, THOU ART THE MAN. This is the indictment of his personal sin!
Then, from the second half of verse 7 on through verse 24 (all in orange font) you find the judgement on David by the LORD. God through Nathan tells David, I have delivered you from your enemy Saul. I have made you King over Israel. I have given you a palace to live in. I have given you many wives. I have given you Israel and Judah. And, moreover I would have given you much more, but, since you have done evil in the sight of the LORD and you have despised and broken my commandment you have been an adulterer, lied, and killed Uriah the Hittite, then took Bath-sheba to be your wife. Since you have done these abominations with the sword, the sword shall never leave thy house and I will raise evil against you from inside your own house. And also, thus saith the LORD, I will give your wives to your neighbors and since you done this evil in secret, I will cause all of this upon you in the open in the sun of this very day. All in Israel will see your wives lay with other men. Then comes King Davids admittance and repentance in verse 13 (in red font) I have sinned against the LORD. Thus saith the LORD. I will not require your life for your sin, but, the child that Bath-sheba is carrying shall surely die.
This part of scripture is a great learning tool about just who does personal sin affect. You see in this passage that King David’s sin has not only affected him, Bath-sheba, and Uriah, but now will come in contact with the unborn baby, and the baby will die. It’s an excellent reminder that when we sin, it sets into motion a series of events that touches all those around us and is not just singular toward us, it is plural and it snowballs out of control. Also, lets look at true repentance for a moment. The greek word for repentance is ‘metanoeo’ and its literal translation is “a turning of the mind”. You will notice in the passages above that there is a sequence of sorts in the process of King Davids conviction. First he is preached to, then his heart is convicted, then comes the admission of guilt, a confession. Before he could repent, his heart had to feel real genuine conviction, so there could be a genuine changing or ‘turning’ of his mind. Before God can ever reach a person, he must convict the heart and break it many times, to reassemble it more in His likeness. This is why this passage in Corinthians is so important 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Preaching is so important because Romans 10:17 Says “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” God uses his word to soften a heart of stone, and then to convict that hardened heart into repentance. Thank the LORD today for his word!
While King David’s repentance was genuine, so was his manifold sins. The LORD is able to forgive sins, but what the LORD sometimes will do is allow a person to still endure the consequences of their sinfulness. Davids sin was going to hurt, and hurt many. There’s a saying by an unknown author that was made part of a song, “sin will take you further than you wanted to go; keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.” How true that is, Amen? If there ever was a passage in the Bible where those words are fleshed out for all to see, it is the story of II Samuel 12. Also notice, David thought he was doing everything in secret, where no one could see. But we can not escape the all seeing eye of the LORD. He searches our hearts.
Now lets talk a little about the “reverse” mourning phase spelled out in verses 15-23. These verses, at first glance are probably a little strange but, David does a good job of explaining his actions to his servants. The baby is struck by the LORD and is very sick. So instead of staying by the child’s side, David goes and lies on the ground, and fasts and prays for 7 days. Then after hearing of his child’s death, he washes himself, then anoints himself, changes his clothes, and then goes to the house of the LORD to worship, then he returns to his house and eats bread.
David explains his actions to his servants in verses 22-23. He says, “while my child was alive I needed to pray and beseech the LORD on my childs behalf, but now that he has died, I need not pray and fast any longer because I cannot bring him back, but I can go to him.”
I pray that this study has been a blessing to you, and you are encouraged to study further, whether it be a parable or a particular scripture in the Bible. Seek the LORD today.
May I recommend some great resources?