The king’s servants and subjects may have been willing to turn a blind eye, but the great sin of David did not go unnoticed in heaven. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David’s sin and expose his hypocrisy with a clever parable.
As Nathan told the story of the rich man taking advantage of the poor man by stealing something dear to him and using it for his own pleasure, David was outraged and demanded justice. At that moment, Nathan landed the knock-out punch: “You are the man!” David had taken advantage of his position of power to steal another man’s wife. God’s indictment was harsh (v.7-12). After receiving so much of the grace and generosity of the Lord, David had “despised the word of the Lord” and done an “evil” thing (v.9).
In response to the story of the poor man’s pet, David had pronounced the death sentence for the thief. Now the Lord hands down His own sentence for David: in addition to the sad demise of the infant son of his illicit affair (v.14), the evils of sexual sin would plague the royal family, and it would involve David’s own wives (v.11). David would suffer the same shame he had inflicted on the family of Uriah — and though David managed to keep his sin under wraps, the Lord would make sure it was exposed for all to see (v.12).
David immediately owned up to his sin in a brief statement of confession (v.13; this statement should be read alongside the powerful psalm of repentance David wrote after this incident, Psalm 51). As the little child of David and Bathsheba lay dying, David lay on his face, interceding for him. God did not answer his prayers, but took the little boy to heaven.
In the heat of the moment and the passion of his lust, David did not consider the implications of his sin. The following chapter tells the sad story of David’s son, Amnon, who followed his father’s example of out-of-control lust. Chapter 13 tells how he raped his own sister, setting into motion a chain of events that brought David endless heartache. That’s the way it is with sin: it takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay. God, deliver us! Save us from ourselves!