Insight of Literary Features and Techniques
The power of a king, despite his moral integrity, will always prove to be outside his abilities of self-control. That is one of the main themes found within 2 Samuel 12. David, who had been blessed with all of the powers of a king, backed and fully supported by God, found himself facing a personal crisis which can only be attributed to his own moral failure. However, it is through King David's trial that the narrative highlights the grace of God, His redemptive power, and the ultimate desire of God to forgive humanity despite our desire to rebel against the word of the Lord.
The opening parable of this chapter tells of two men from the same ...view middle of the document...
As David realizes that this message from Nathan is directly from God, he repents, but only after a very serious judgment is pronounced by God through Nathan. The plot of this story seems to peek as David realizes his sin, while the tension and escalation is punctuated by God's judgment of David. David will lose his son, who was born out of wedlock and in direct defiance of God. David does mourn, pray, and seek God to take this judgment from him, but as God promised, David's son dies. This judgment by God must be fulfilled, it is the cost of David's sin. David, a mighty king, much like the rich man in the parable, is now faced with the sorrow of the poor man, a realization that he must remain humble and reliant on God.
The prayer of David to God is similar to that of Jesus in the garden. As David prays for God's judgment to pass from him, Jesus prays for the judgment of God to pass (Luke 22:39). A contrast between David and Jesus, David loses a son for the sin he had committed, while God loses His son on earth for the sins of humanity.
The character of David, as seen through the eyes of the narrator, is a man favored by God, who forgets God's promises, and was humbled and forgiven by God. A mighty king, the rich man, who thought too highly of himself but ultimately realized and repented for his sins.
Soon after David's son passes, his wife, Bathsheba, becomes pregnant with Solomon. The birth of Solomon brings a resolution to this story, a promise that God will continue to bless the line of David and that David's actions of repentance and corrected behavior was accepted by God. The favor of God was still with David and, as the Bible tells, Solomon was loved by God (2 Samuel 12:24,25).
One common interpretive issue with this text is the idea that we must all show true repentance for our sins. While this is true, it is not the essence of this story. Eugene Peterson highlights this issue in his book "First and Second Samuel" when he writes "One of the frequent misunderstandings of the biblical story by outsiders is that a confession of sin is a groveling admission that I am a terrible person, a tactic sometimes described as "beating yourself up."
The real reason for the story found in 2 Samuel 12 is not about the human condition in relation to sin, it's about the human condition in relation to God. Reading this story topically could lead a person to that simple conclusion, but below the surface of this text is the story of humanity. It is the story of humanities ability to forget about God when blessed, to sin when it is convenient and to cast judgment upon others who do the same.
My solution to the interpretive issue is to look at the narratives literary devices. Things such as the repetition of key words, the contrast with sin and redemption, and the character flaws found in the parable story and in David's own life. These literary devices bring the real issue to the surface, they also bring us the...