Having asked the incredulity-laced question of David, Nathan goes on to inform him that “the sword will never depart from your house” (2 Samuel 12:10a). Why will this happen? Through His prophet, God says it is because “You have despised Me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!” (12:10b) This is akin to Israel’s despising their God by adopting the ways of the people around them, especially in the area of the worship of their gods. Also, based on the context of the story of the rich man and the poor man, and the taking of the poor man’s lamb, it is not so much the taking of another man’s wife for which God is providing this judgment upon David, but (in the search for the greater subtext in which we are to be engaged ) the oppressive behavior in which David has engaged that should gain our attention.
David was charged to protect Uriah, but rather, became a predator towards him. David was supposed to be a deliverer for God’s people, but instead, he becomes an oppressor. David is supposed to be used by their God, first and foremost, to bring the blessings of exodus. Instead, David becomes the bringer of death---that which represents cursing and exile---to an individual, and also to a child. David has presumptuously abused the power and the position that has been given to him by God, and therefore, judgment will come to him. The same thing happened to the Pharaoh of Egypt that forgot Joseph, and by extension, the blessings of the God of Joseph and his people that blessed Egypt and made it the powerful nation that it had become. Later on, the same thing would happen to Babylon and its king (Nebuchadnezzar), that would be raised up by God for a particular purpose in relation to His people, but then overstep the boundaries which God had set for it. With that, judgment came to Babylon, just as it had come to Egypt, and just as it was now coming, in a different measure, to David.
The language of cursing and exile is spoken to David, as, having already heard that the sword will never depart from his house, he also hears from the Lord that “I am about to bring disaster on you from right inside your own household! Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companion. He will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight! Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight” (12:11-12). In Deuteronomy, one of the curses to come upon Israel for its failure to abide by the Lord’s commands is that “You will be engaged to a woman and another man will rape her” (28:30). This may be harsh language, but this is about David feeling the weight of the boot of oppression, and experiencing humiliation, scorn, and ridicule (28:37). His is a greater responsibility, and with the words of Nathan, David is quickly brought to realize his failure to live up to that responsibility. He exclaims, “I have sinned against the Lord!” (12:13b)
David is fully aware of the oppression that he has wrought. He is fully cognizant of the fact that he has failed. He knows that all of the words that have been spoken to him---representative of exile---will come to pass, and that the sword will never depart from his house and that he will be humiliated before the people. He knows that he must suffer these things, and with the confession that he has failed to live up to what was expected of him, and that he has failed to be a light to his people and to the surrounding nations, and that he has failed to adequately reflect the glory of God into the world (that he has sinned), he hopes that he will be vindicated through the suffering and come to experience an exodus. Hearing David’s confession, Nathan says, “Yes, and the Lord has forgiven your sin. You are not going to die” (12:13c).
The finality of exile was not going to be David’s lot. These words of forgiveness do inform David that there will be exodus on the other side of the exile that he is going to experience. Yes, the sword will forever be there in his house. Yes, he was going to have his wives taken from him. Yes, he was going to be an object of ridicule. Yes, he himself was going to be subject to an oppressor in a physical exile, as the declaration in his regards to his wives would come about in connection with the rebellion of Absalom which was soon to come. The forgiveness of sin which, throughout Israel’s history, was always accompanied by a turning to the Lord, meant that God had responded favorably to His people’s confession and set about bringing their return from exile to pass, was now David’s experience as well. “Nonetheless,” says Nathan, “because you have treated the Lord with such contempt in this matter,” which was a clear allusion to Israel’s idolatry and therefore a sign to David that there was going to be judgment, “the son who has been born to you will certainly die” (12:14).