I gave … thy master's wives into thy bosom. These words probably mean that, as the whole possessions of his predecessor belonged, by Oriental custom, to the next occupant of the throne, David might have claimed the entire household and the wives both of Saul and Ishbosbeth as his own, though apparently he had not done so. As far as we know, Saul had but one wife ( 1 Samuel 14:50 ) and one concubine, Rizpah ( 2 Samuel 3:7 ). Of Ishbosheth's family arrangements we know little, but his harem, if he had one, would become the property of David. But independently of this, the permission of polygamy had made it possible for him to take any of the daughters of Israel and Judah to wife, and he had freely availed himself of this licence. Yet, not content, he had lusted after a married woman, and had got rid of her husband by murder, meanly using the sword of the Ammonites to accomplish his own criminal purpose. The word used in this clause, and rendered "thou hast slain him," is a very strong one, and literally means "thou hast murdered him," though the sword was that of the enemy.
The facts are:
1. God sends Nathan the prophet to David, who tells him a story of the greed of a wicked rich man, who, to satisfy his avarice, took away and slew the pot ewe lamb of a poor man.
2 . David, accepting the story as a matter of fact, is very angry with this man, and swears that for his deed and lack of compassion he ought to die and restore fourfold.
3 . Nathan thereupon reveals the parabolic character of his narrative, by saying unto David, "Thou art the man !"
4 . He then proceeds to state
5 . He also declares, by way of punishment, that war would arise in his own house; that the purity and safety of his domestic life would be invaded; and that the punishment of his secret sin would be open.
6 . On David confessing his guilt, Nathan assures him that the Lord had so far put away his sin that he should not die, but that the child of his guilt should.
This remarkable parable is, perhaps, the most exquisite Genesis of the kind in the Old Testament. Its beauty and pathos are enhanced by the plain matter of fact way in which the historian narrates, in Genesis 11:1-32 ; the fall of David and his subsequent crime. Apart from its specific purpose, it indicates to us the occasional functions of the prophets in those times as admonishers of kings and rulers, and consequently as representatives of the Divine element in the history of Israel. The great variety of teaching in this parable may be briefly indicated thus—
I. A DOUBLE LIFE . At least ten months had elapsed from the date of David's fall to the visit of Nathan. During that period many public and private acts had been performed by the king in the ordinary course of life, in addition to those referred to in 2 Samuel 11:14-27 . It was his policy to keep up a good appearance—to be in administration, in public worship, in regard for religious ordinances, and in general morality all that he had ever been. He passed still as the pious, just ruler and exemplary man. That was one life. But inwardly there was another. The conscience was dull, or, if it spoke plainly, was constantly being suppressed. The uncomfortableness of secret sin induced self-reproach and loss of self-respect. He was an instance of a man "holding the truth in unrighteousness" ( Romans 1:18 ). This double life is the experience of every good man who falls into sin and seeks to cover it up. He knows too much to be really happy, but he is too enslaved by his sin to be truly godly. The outside is fair; within is desolation.
II. FELLOWSHIP IN SIN . David and Bathsheba shared in a fellowship of sin. They, most probably without words, communed with each other over their guilt, and so far strengthened the chains of iniquity. Two individuals in possession of a dreadful secret do not, dare not, speak about it. There is simply a common understanding and a mutual support in keeping up the appearance necessary to social reputation. It is a pitiable sight before God and holy angels! It is a case of the fallen, the defiled, the inwardly wretched, and the prospectively condemned, seeking to find comfort and strength in each other's sympathy. The channels of sympathetic feeling are filled by a polluted stream of affection and interest.
III. A LOST CHARM . It is well known that a pure disposition and a clear conscience lend a charm to personal life; much more does such deep and strong piety as once characterized the "man after God's own heart." If we, in reading the historic narrative of David's early years, and the psalms, in which his best thoughts are embodied, feel the spell of his spirit, we may be sure that those in daily converse with him recognized a charm of the most exalted kind. But all that was now gone, because the honesty and the purity from which it sprang were no more. In vain did he strive to maintain the form of godliness; in vain his careful discharge of official duties and kindly bearing towards his friends. The "secret of the Lord" was lost. The salt had lost its savour. To truly spiritual men he would not be as in former times. This loss of a spiritual charm always takes place when good men fall into sin and cover it up. The light of the spiritual eye is dim. The pure ring of the voice is gone. The "form of godliness" is left, but the "power" is no more.
IV. THE DIVINE RESERVE . At least ten months elapsed before Nathan was commissioned by God to speak to David. The lustful look, the secret deed, the scheme for concealment and for the death of Uriah, were allowed to pass and issue in seeming success without one act of a decidedly positive character, as far as we know, on the part of God either to smite with punishment or bring to penitence. The "workers of iniquity" flourished, and the innocent perished unavenged ( Psalms 92:7 ; cf. Psalms 12:5 ; Proverbs 1:11-19 ). That conscience uttered its protest, and that the laws of mind as constituted by God worked misery from the first in the inner life of David, is no doubt true; but there was no open justice, no obvious interposition on behalf of the oppressed, no distinct and proportionate chastisement, no special call to repentance. Human nature took its course, and human society remained in relation to the sinner unchanged. Yet God is not indifferent. He slumbereth not. Government does not relax its hold on each man. The explanation is that God is in no haste in what he does; he reserves his action for a while for reasons more complicate and far reaching than we can trace. The very reserve only renders the judgment, when it comes, more impressive. Human nature is evidently favoured as a free power, which must have certain scope both for origination of evil, maturing of evil, and filling up its own measure of chastisement. There is a patience, a goodness, in the reserve which need to be studied ( Romans 2:4-9 ; 1 Peter 3:20 ; 2 Peter 3:9 , 2 Peter 3:15 ). This reserve attends many a modern sinner's cause.
V. THE DIVINE BEGINNING OF SALVATION . Had David been left to himself the probability is that the coils of iniquity would have been formed around him more and more as time advanced; for the law of habit here holds good. It is instructive to observe that the first step towards a change in his condition was on the Divine side. God sent his prophet Nathan, charged with a merciful purpose, though mercy was to be tempered with judgment. Certainly David might well say in days subsequent, "My salvation cometh from him" ( Psalms 62:1 , Psalms 62:7 ). Here we have an illustration of the great truth that God is the Author of our salvation. He seeks us. He comes to us in our low estate. This is true of mankind as a whole ( John 3:16 , John 3:17 ; 1 John 4:9 , 1 John 4:10 ), of each one brought from the ways of sin ( 1 John 4:19 ), and of the backslider ( Psalms 23:3 ). It is all of grace. Our Saviour's earthly life of pleading and seeking was a visible and audible illustration of the outgoing of the heart of the Father towards the fallen.
VI. THE DEFENSIVE ATTITUDE OF IMPENITENCE . The elaborate simplicity of Nathan's parable, in order to reach the conscience and heart of David, suggest to us the fact of a certain defensive attitude of David's mind, which had to be broken down. It is a special weapon in a "holy war," designed to attack a peculiar line of defence. It is well known how men, when they have done a wrong, are on the qui vive lest the wrong should be detected and brought home to them; and the resources of reason, ingenuity, and cunning are employed to ward off any approach to the inner life. Any attempt to touch the springs of penitence or remorse, or to arouse the fears which attend conviction, is neutralized by some counter move of thought or resolve. Hearers of the gospel knows if they would only testify honestly, how they too often fortify themselves against statements, arguments, and appeals. The failure of some ministers and teachers lies in their not knowing enough of human nature to direct their statements so as to meet the actual mental attitude of those who live in sin. A study of this subject is of extreme importance to all who seek to convince and to save men. There are various avenues to the conscience and heart. Some are so utterly closed and guarded that it is a waste of power to seek to penetrate through them. A fortress should be attacked in its weakest point, and only a very special survey can find out where it is. Nathan had reconnoitred the position, and assailed David along the best line.
VII. THE USE OF THE GOOD ELEMENT IN MAN . Nathan approached David in friendliness, recognizing him as a man generally mindful of his people, pitiful towards the poor and weak, and a lover of justice. He knew that there were still elements of good in the fallen saint. The great transgression had not obliterated all trace of the noble qualities of former days. Where these did not come in the way of the one selfish lust which had for the time gained dominion, they were not only cherished, but were at hand for expression when occasion required. In proportion as these could be strengthened and utilized, there would be hope of bringing them to bear, by a reflected light, on the one deed in which they had been suppressed. By a flank movement, and using a piece of history as the instrument, he hoped to turn the whole force of David's better qualities on the cherished secret sin. It was an instance of a wise setting of one part of a man's nature against another part, so that, by a sort. of moral dynamic, the worse should be forced out. In dealing with men we ought to avail ourselves of their good qualities and bring them to bear on the removal of the bad. When Christ dealt with publicans and sinners he did not make a direct attack on their sins. There was a something in them which he made the ground of appeal. In the vilest sinner there is some human love, or kindliness, or sense of right. Who is wise to win souls? What are the methods, according to varying temperaments, education, habits, and indulgences?
VIII. GOD 'S JUDGMENT FORESTALLED BY CONSCIENCE . History is a mental reflector. In Nathan's story, which was not a parable to David when he heard it, David saw a sin and a judgment. He was true to his better qualities when he denounced the sin and pronounced sentence of death. The story became to David a parable the moment the prophet said to him, "Thou art the man!" The whole figures then become specific, and he was the one most conspicuous against whom the judgment was pronounced. The psychological and moral changes involved in this we cannot now deal with; the point is that, when David's aroused righteous indignation pronounced judgment on the evil man, the human conscience really forestalled the judgment of God on David's sin by declaring its deserts. God does not, in providence or on the day of judgment, declare anything really new to the impenitent sinner. Conscience some time or other has virtually given the sentence of condemnation. Those who worked themselves up to a state of self-delusion ( Matthew 7:22 , Matthew 7:23 ) knew a time when the conscience witnessed against the formalities which issued in its being seared ( Ephesians 4:19 ; 1 Timothy 4:2 ). It is this assent of conscience which will render the sense of injustice impossible in the future judgments God may see fit to bring on those who "hold the truth in unrighteousness."
GENERAL LESSONS .
1 . We should take warning from the instances in the Bible, and not presume on God's silence, or think that, because we are left to pursue our own courses, it will always be so.
2 . There are always in existence agents or agencies by which in due time sin will be rebuked and exposed either in this life or in the life to come ( Matthew 10:26 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10 ).
3 . In dealing with the lapsed we should not act on the same rule in all cases, but deal with each according to his peculiar character.
4 . It will repay parents, teachers, and evangelists to study human nature and the records of biography and sacred history to find out the best methods of reaching the conscience of the impenitent.
5 . We should be ready, as was Nathan, to carry through the most painful duties when God calls us in his providence to them.
The convicted sinner.
The fitness of the parable is revealed in its sequel. Nathan, laying aside the character of a friendly visitor relating a story of wrong, now assumes the functions of the prophet of God, and turns the whole light and force of David's just indignation in upon himself, and, with an incisiveness most irresistible, brings an accusation of guilt without naming the actual deed done; states the aggravating circumstances arising out of the exceeding goodness of God in the past; declares the retribution about to come; and, on witnessing the true penitence of the sinner, announces the fact of forgiveness, but qualifies the announcement by foretelling an event of blended justice and mercy. The commission of sin is unhappily common enough, and also, we may thankfully admit, the conviction of sinners is an event of frequent occurrence. Few sins exhibit the peculiar aggravations of this one of David, and few convictions are more sudden and thorough than his; but as there are common qualities in all sins and true convictions of sin, we may regard this case of David's as setting forth features in human experience and Divine procedure universally true.
I. THE FACT OF SIN IS BROUGHT HOME TO THE CONSCIENCE . David all along knew of the existence of the sin, but had conducted himself as though it were not. In general terms he would doubtless speak of sin as an evil of deepest dye, and desire its banishment from mankind. Such sentiments were at the base of his deep interest in Nathan's story, and gave rise to the outburst of indignation. Sin was evil, the sinner ought to be punished, the doer of this deed must come under the ban of law. All this was quite correct. It was orthodoxy. The friendly visitor could not but admit its force. But it was just here, when David was dealing with generalities, and was eager to see general principles applied to a particular case, that Nathan brought him away from the general to the particular, from others to himself. "Thou art the man!" This was a straight charge. Nathan held a twofold position—he was a man in Israel, a subject and neighbour, a pious friend of David's; he was also a prophet, a representative of God, and in that capacity a superior to David. When, then, the friendly visitor said, with an unrecordable tone and gesture, "Thou art the man! " it was evident to David
II. THE AGGRAVATION OF SIN IS SET FORTH . As soon as the charge is brought home, and before the paralyzed man can speak, the prophet, in the name of God, with swift words reminds him of his privileges and the manifold blessings and honours God had showered on him or was ready to grant if needed. He was a chosen servant of the Eternal, called to perform a part in the working out of a great future for the world; he had filled a position of honour and influence; he had been charged with high and holy duties; he had been blessed with plenty, and more than ordinary provision for the necessary cravings of nature ( 2 Samuel 11:7 , 2 Samuel 11:8 ). Yet, "Thou art the man !" None can doubt that here was sin of the most aggravated character. No sin is excusable or free from Divine condemnation; otherwise it were not sin, but weakness or fault. But some sins are worthy of being punished with "many stripes" because of being committed under special circumstances, e.g. the possession of religious light and feeling; the occupation of a position of power, and the being recipient of manifold tokens of Divine care and love. But be the privileges many or few, when God brings home the guilt to the conscience, the sin is revealed in the light of past mercies. The swift review of David's advantages by Nathan finds its analogue in the swift floating before the mind of the circumstances of one's position which render the sin so utterly inexcusable. Men see in a few moments the reasons for their utter shame and self-abasement. This is a feature in all true conviction, and tends to the proper prostration of the soul before God. Saul of Tarsus knew this. It is an unspeakable mercy that God does set our sins in the light of his great goodness.
III. THE HEART IS PROBED TO REVEAL THE CAUSE OF SIN . "Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord?" ( 2 Samuel 11:9 ). No sooner did the light flash on the conscience to set forth the aggravated character of the sin, than with unrelenting incisiveness the "wherefore" followed to probe those depths of the heart from whence the evil sprang. The question really contains an inquiry and a statement. Why? "Thou didst despise." The eye of the sinner is turned in upon himself, to search out and behold those vile feelings and false principles out of which issued the preference of self-will over the holy will of God, which had been so clearly expressed in the Law of the Lord and in the special intimations of Providence. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" The time of conviction is a time of probing and searching. It is well for men under conviction to face the real facts, and get at the causes that lie out of sight. There must be some dreadfully subtle evils lurking within to induce a man to "despise" the august majesty of God's will by setting it aside. Was it not in reference to this probing, and probably in reference to this very deed, that the psalmist said, "Search me, O God" ( Psalms 139:23 ; cf. Psalms 51:5 , Psalms 51:6 , Psalms 51:10 )?
IV. THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN IS BROUGHT TO MIND . The prophet ceases not; without giving the convicted man time to speak, he passes on to tell of the retribution that is sure to come by the will of God. The man of whom Nathan once spoke such good things ( 2 Samuel 7:12-17 ) is now informed of coming trouble in life; that this trouble will be the same in kind with that of his sin—murder and adultery; that it will not be secret, as was his, in performance, but open, to his disgrace; that it will arise out of his own house, consequent in a measure on the mischief wrought by his own sin on his domestic life. Had David not fallen, he would have been a different man, and consequently his private influence at home among his children would have been more holy and powerful; his relation to his kingdom would have been more satisfactory, and therefore moral and political circumstances would probably, arise of so important a character as to have prevented the creation of the conditions out of which the troubles now recorded in his later history arose. He was to reap according to his sowing. In the conviction of sin, the recognition of personal guilt is the chief element, as we have seen (division I.); but just as here the messenger revealed the aggravation of the guilt, probed the heart for causes, and referred to coming retribution, so in the simple processes of mind attending true conviction there is an anticipation of punishment—an assurance that evil is coming on the soul as a consequence of sin done. Sin is transgression of law; law involves authority to vindicate its righteousness; and, as soon as the conviction of sin is real, the logic of conscience points to coming judgment. Whether it be a temporal judgment, as in Old Testament references, or eternal, as in New Testament references, the experience is virtually the same.
V. THE CONFESSION OF GUILT IS ABSOLUTE . The guilty king sat in silence till the prophet had delivered his charge. The time was brief, but the power accompanying the words was Divine. Swifter than lightning the spell of hypocritical concealment was broken. The bonds in which the unholy passion had long held the soul were snapped asunder. The eye of conscience, turning in upon self, gave fresh life to the old suppressed loyalty to righteousness and God, and, as a consequence, the confession came, "I have sinned against the Lord." The question as to whether the historian here simply gives a summary of what passed, and intended to include also the fifty-first psalm, or whether literally this is all that was said and done, does not affect our purpose. There is here a recognition prompt, unqualified, of sin, not as a fault, a weakness, but of sin as known by conscience and stamped with the curse of God and man. It is also a recognition of sin as against God, not as a wrong done to Uriah, Bathsheba, or Israel, or his own family. The conscience is not indifferent to the injuries done to men, but when fully aroused, and face to face with sin as sin, it seems to see only God. Hence the expression in Psalms 51:4 . Again, there is pain and shame, not because of what men may say or do, not because personal influence will now be weakened, but because it is sin. It is the sin which troubles and appals the truly convicted soul. Moreover, there is abstention from all claim to consideration; no excuse, no palliation. The convicted one can only say, "I have sinned." There is obviously an inward bowing of the spirit before the holy God; an absolute surrender as undone, condemned, helpless, lost. The very brevity of the confession bespeaks the depth of penitential woe. Contrast the wordy confession ( 1 Samuel 15:17-25 ; cf. Luke 15:18 , Luke 15:19 ; Luke 18:13 ).
VI. FORGIVENESS IS FREE , FULL , BUT QUALIFIED . How long Nathan stood by the prostrate silent king, and whether this confession was the literal whole or not, we do not know; but he saw enough to enable him to say in the name of God, "The Lord bath put away thy sin"—a statement clear and unreserved, intended to go home to the smitten heart. The forgiveness of sin has to do with a personal relation of God to man. It is the restoration of the personal relation of favour and fellowship which had been inter rupted by sin. It is conditional on true repentance, the objective ground being the sacrificial death of Christ—under the Old Testament dispensation by anticipation ( Romans 3:25 ), and under the New by retrospective reference. God is the sole Judge of the reality of repentance. He looketh at the heart. He knew that David's conviction had issued in the state' of mind known as true repentance, and foreseeing this before it occurred, he commissioned the prophet to "declare and pronounce" to David "being penitent," the remission of his sin. "Thy sins are forgiven thee!" Blessed words! How often brought to penitents since our Lord uttered them! But the pardon left untouched the natural consequences of sin referred to in Psalms 51:19 , 20, because a personal relation does not alter the course of the forces which a man sets in motion on earth by his sin. Also, the child born must die, not to its injury, but gain, yet in judgment, so that the father should not find comfort in the fruit of his sin, and in mercy, lest there should be a living memorial of his guilt and shame to which men might point and further blaspheme the Name of the Lord. The same holds good of our forgiveness; it is free, full, but qualified by the continuance of some ill consequences which chastise us all our days. The sinner never entirely gets rid of all the earthly effects of his sin while on earth; they work in his flow of thought and feeling, and often in the checks on his influence, and possibly on the character and health of others. The full redemption comes with the glorified body and the new heavens and earth.
GENERAL LESSONS .
1 . The first thing to be sought in men in order to their salvation is a due recognition of themselves as sinners in the sight of God. A general recognition of the evil of sin as distinct from consciousness of personal guilt may really be a cover for unpardoned sin.
2 . The tendency and drift of God's messages to men living in sin is to bring them to a right mind in reference to their personal position in his sight, as a preliminary to their seeking forgiveness.
3 . Much will be found to depend, in respect to religious views and action, on the apprehension men have of what Sin really is and their own guilt. A prepared state of mind is necessary to get good out of gospel statements.
4 . The Christian religion especially lays stress on intense individuality in our relationships to God and to good and evil, and aims to bring us to a true self-knowledge.
5 . It is an astonishing illustration of the tremendous power of our lower tendencies that they may even gain ascendency over men of most exalted privileges and whose very position would suggest superiority to them.
6 . It behoves Christian people living in the enjoyment of many advantages to consider well their conduct in comparison with that of others less favoured.
7 . The essence of sin abides in all times, though the form may vary; for as Adam preferred the suggestion of the evil one and so despised the word of the Lord, so did David; and on this method did Satan seek to win over Christ in the wilderness.
8 . It is of extreme importance to remember that we may carry about with us deep laid and subtle tendencies which may assert their power in an unguarded hour; and hence we should often probe our heart, and search and see by the help of God whether there be any evil way within us.
9 . It should operate as a deterrent to know that our sins will entail unavoidable social and physical troubles as long as life lasts.
10. We are authorized in speaking to the truly penitent of the free and full forgiveness which God has in store for them, and which through his abounding grace they may have at once.
11. In the fuller sense of the words it may be declared to the penitent that they shall not die ( John 3:16 ).
12. The evil deeds of professors are a stumbling block to other men, and give occasion to them to blaspheme, and as this must be a most bitter element in the life of the restored backslider, so it is a warning to all Christians to take heed lest they fall, and so bring occasion for reproach on the Name which is above every name.
( THE PALACE .)
Thou art the man!
The proper purpose of reproof is conviction of sin. This purpose was accomplished by the words of the prophet. They were like a "two-edged sword" ( Hebrews 4:12 ), the point of which was, "Thou art the man!" "If ever a word from human lips fell with crushing weight and with the illuminating power of a gleam of lightning, it was this" (Krummacher). "His indignation against the rich man of the parable showed that the moral sense was not wholly extinguished. The instant recollection of guilt breaks up the illusion of months" (Stanley). Observe that:
1 . One of the most effectual means of convincing a man of sin is by setting it before him as existing in another person. "Thou art the man!" the story of whose crime has stirred thine indignation and called forth the sentence of death from thy lips. Self-interest, passion, and prejudice, that darken a man's view of his own sin, have comparatively little influence upon him when looking at the sin of another. Here the veil is removed; he sees clearly and judges impartially. For this reason (among others) our Lord "spake many things unto them in parables."
2 . The force of truth depends upon the particular application which is made of it. "Thou art the man who hast done this!" ( LXX .); against thyself thine indignation should be directed; upon thyself the sentence has been pronounced. It is as if hitherto only the back of the offender was seen, when, suddenly turning round, his face appeared, and David beheld himself! "Men often correctly understand a message of God without observing its personal application to them." Hence the preacher, like the prophet of old ( 1 Kings 14:7 ; 1 Kings 18:18 ; 1 Kings 21:19 ; 2 Kings 5:26 ; Daniel 5:22 ; Matthew 14:4 ), must directly, wisely, and faithfully apply the truth to his hearers. "'Thou art the man!' is or ought to be the conclusion, expressed or unexpressed, of every practical sermon." What is a sword without a point? "Here also is a lesson to hearers. David listened to a sermon from Nathan, which exactly suited his own case, and yet he did not apply it to himself. He turned the edge of it from himself to another. The benefit of sermons depends more upon the hearer than the preacher. The best sermon is that who hear most, but who apply most what they hear to their own hearts."
3 . Every man is responsible to God for the sin which he has committed. "Thou art inexcusable, O man" ( Romans 2:1 ), however thou mayest have persuaded thyself to the contrary. Is the man whom thou judgest accountable for his conduct; and art not thou for thine? Is he accountable to thee? How much more art thou to God? No position, however exalted, can release from responsibility to him or exempt from obedience to his commandment; no constitutional tendency, no temptation, expediency, or necessity be an adequate reason for despising it ( Ezekiel 18:4 ; Romans 3:6 ).
"And self to take or leave is free,
Feeling its own sufficiency:
In spite of science, spite of fate,
The judge within thee, soon or late,
Will blame but thee, O man!
"Say not. 'I would, but could not. He
Should bear the blame who fashioned me.
Call a mere change of motive choice?'
'Scorning such pleas, the inner voice
Cries, 'Thine the deed, O man!'"
4. A messenger of Heaven is always in readiness to single out the sinner, bring his sin to remembrance, and call him to account. "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel," etc. ( 2 Samuel 12:7 ), "Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?" etc. ( 2 Samuel 12:9 ). Every wrong done to man, yea, every sin, is a factual contempt of his commandment ( Psalms 51:4 ). Whilst the supreme King and Judge observes it, and is long suffering towards the doer of it, he provides many witnesses, holds them in reserve, and sends them with his word at the proper moment to declare all its enormity—its ingratitude ( 2 Samuel 12:8 ), presumption ( 2 Samuel 12:9 ), disloyalty before him, its "intense and brutal selfishness," sensuality, cruelty, and craft. Conscience also awakes to confirm their testimony, with "a thousand several tongues, and every tongue" crying, "Thou art the man!"
5 . The less expected the charge preferred against the sinner, the more overwhelming his conviction of guilt. "The further David was from thinking of a reference to himself, the greater the force with which the word must have struck him" (Erdmann). There could be no defence, no extenuation, no answer ( Acts 24:25 ; Matthew 22:12 ).
6 . The condemnation which one man pronounces on another sometimes recoils upon himself with increased severity. "Out of thine own mouth," etc. ( Luke 19:22 ). "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house," etc. "For a single moment the features of the king are charged with the expression of astonishment. He gazes eagerly at the prophet like one at a loss to divine his meaning. But, almost instantly, as if an inward light had burst upon his soul, the expression changes to one of agony and horror. The deeds of the last twelve months glare in all their infamous baseness upon him, and outraged justice, with a hundred guttering swords, seems all impatient to devour him" (Blaikie). "O wicked man, thou shalt surely die!" ( Ezekiel 33:8 ).
7 . The conviction of sin is the first step in the way of restoration to righteousness. The sense of sin is the beginning of salvation. "He that humbleth himself," etc. ( Luke 14:11 ; 1 John 1:9 ). "If we would judge ourselves," etc. ( 1 Corinthians 11:31 , 1 Corinthians 11:32 ). Every man must be revealed to himself in the light of God's righteous judgment here or hereafter ( Ecclesiastes 11:9 ; Ecclesiastes 12:14 ).—D.