Summary: David compounded the tragic consequences of his sin by his pious act in imposing judgment, not realizing that he was, in fact, passing judgment upon himself and his family.
DAVID’S FOUR LAMBS
“Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.
"But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.
"And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."
"So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!
"And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity." Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! 2 Samuel 12:1-7 (NKJV)
The words of Nathan the prophet struck David to the heart. His penitential prayer is recorded in Psalm 51. As a result of his confession of his sin and his plea for mercy, God lifted that portion of David’s angry decree: “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!” David, himself, would not die but his formula “Four Lambs for One” was still in place. Let us see how that came to pass.
I. LAMB #1. THE BABY BORN TO BATHSHEBA AND DAVID
“However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” “…..Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died.” 2 Samuel 12:14, 18a.
Lamb #1…the baby born to Bathsheba and David…was dead.
II. LAMB #2. DAVID’S SON AMNON
After Amnon had violated his sister Tamar, Absalom purposed to kill his brother. Two years would pass before he would accomplish his purpose. At sheep shearing time, Absalom gave a festive party for the other sons of David, including Amnon. While the party was in progress, we read: “Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, ‘Watch now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ’Strike Amnon!’ then kill him….So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded.” 2 Samuel 13:28-29a.
Lamb #2…Amnon…was dead.
III. LAMB #3. DAVID’S SON ABSALOM
As a result of Amnon’s murder, Absalom fled from his father and led a conspiracy against him. His rebellion would end tragically. David sent his forces under direction of Joab to put down the rebellion. David gave emphatic instructions that Absalom be “dealt with gently” and be done no harm.
David’s forces gained a great victory over the insurgents led by Absalom. In fleeing, Absalom was caught by his hair in a large oak tree. A man happened to see Absalom helplessly hanging there and reported what he had seen to Joab.
Joab went to where Absalom was, and in disobedience of David’s clear command, we read: “And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the oak tree.” 2 Samuel 18:14.
Lamb #3…Absalom…was dead.
IV. LAMB #4. DAVID’S SON ADONIJAH (Absalom’s younger brother).
David lay gravely ill. His son Adonijah, seeing his father at the point of death, took advantage of the situation and was in the process of having himself proclaimed king. Bathsheba realizing the extreme gravity of the situation went to David and requested him to name her son Solomon as king, which David did. Soon thereafter, David died but there was one last lamb yet to die.
Once established on the throne of Israel, Solomon ordered the death of his brother Adonijah. “So King Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he struck him down, and he died.” I Kings 2:25.
Lamb #4…Adonijah…was dead.
A person’s sin extends far beyond himself. It affects his family, his friends, and often strangers whom he has never met. David further compounded the tragic consequences of his sin by his pious act in imposing judgment, not realizing that he was, in fact, passing judgment upon himself and his family. God has reserved judgment unto Himself. Wise, indeed, is that person who heeds the warning of our Lord: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 (NKJV).