2 Samuel 12:23-25
Unlike some great men of the Bible, such as, David, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, and Joshua, the birth of Solomon is reported in Scripture. The details of the report are rather graphic in places, but they give some significant information which produces some good spiritual exhortation for all of us.
The mention of Solomon's birth is significant not just because his father was David, the king, but also because of who his mother was. She was the notorious Bathsheba who committed adultery with David when her husband was away in battle fighting for Israel. It takes two to commit adultery; and though the record of this awful tragedy in the life of David focuses mostly on David's vile part, it needs to be remembered that she acquiesced to the proposition of David and was verily guilty of this sinful act, too.
So we begin our study of the life of Solomon from his origin which was a child of Bathsheba, a woman of sullied morals. To study the beginning of Solomon, we will consider three things. They are the circumstances of the child (2 Samuel 12:23, 24), the compassion for the child (2 Samuel 12:24), and the calling of the child (2 Samuel 12:25).
Solomon came into this life in the midst of some mixed circumstances. Some of the circumstances were good and noble and choice while others were bad and stained with evil. To study the circumstances, we note the sorrow in the circumstances, the sin in the circumstances, the site in the circumstances, the siblings in the circumstances, and the sovereign in the circumstances.
"David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her; and she bore a son... Solomon" (2 Samuel 12:24). The "comforted" in this text tells us there was some sorrow in the circumstances. And what was the sorrow? The sorrow was the death of the child that had been conceived by the adulterous act of David and Bathsheba. Some time after David and Bathsheba's immorality and the subsequent murder of Uriah by David via Joab's military assignment of Uriah, Nathan the prophet came to David and denounced his sin and said, "The child... that is born unto thee [the child conceived by Bathsheba through adultery with David] shall surely die" (2 Samuel 12:14). The child had already been born so it was some time after the adulterous act that Nathan came to David. The child's age is not given but the context would suggest the age of a year or less.
When Nathan left David after denouncing him, "the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David [became]... very sick" (2 Samuel 12:15). David prayed fervently for God to spare the child's life—he even fasted and "lay all night upon the earth" (2 Samuel 12:16), but the prophet's word was certain and the child died. David's reaction to the death was surprisingly quite noble. He cleaned himself up and went and worshiped (2 Samuel 12:20). Then he went to Bathsheba and comforted her.
This act of comforting by David was most noble. This comforting teaches two important lessons about the consideration of others and the conduct of couples.
Consideration of others. "David comforted Bathsheba." David had been extremely grieved over the sickness of the child, but when the child died he did not wallow selfishly in his own sorrows, as great as they were. In spite of his own sorrows, he looked at the sorrow of others and attempted to comfort them. Here he comforted Bathsheba who was also sorrowing over the loss of the child. Bathsheba hurt just as badly as David did, if not more, because of the child's sickness and death. The fact that David comforted her indicates that she was sorrowing. David needed to comfort Bathsheba, for she was sorrowing; and he was the one who could best comfort her because he had been involved with her in producing the child.
In comforting Bathsheba when he had big troubles himself, David would learn that one of the best ways to deal with one's own sorrows is to comfort others in their sorrows. Helping others is always a good way to alleviate your own troubles. Do not let your own troubles keep you from helping others in their troubles, otherwise, you will only aggravate your own troubles plus be of no help to others who are troubled. If we are focused chiefly on ourselves and our own miseries, we will only perpetuate our miseries. Our own pain has a way of decreasing when we minister to others in their pain.
Conduct of couples. "David comforted Bathsheba." David could have criticized Bathsheba and blamed her for all this sorrow. But he would have been hypocritical in such behavior and would have added to their problems instead of lessening them.
In David's comforting of Bathsheba, we have a lesson here for husbands and wives who have made a mess of their lives through immorality with each other—who had to get married, had a child out of wedlock, etc. The exhortation from this conduct of David is—do not seek revenge; repent instead! You have treated each other in an unholy way; now treat each other in a holy way. Do not increase your aggravations by more poor behavior towards each other but try to decrease them by treating each other better. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). And do not go around blaming others because you think they have not forgiven you. You look at yourself to make sure you have forgiven others and do not worry about whether or not others forgive you. A lot of marriage problems occur because the marriage partners only look at how their partner is treating them rather than how they are treating their partner. Do not be so quick to focus on the shortcomings of your marriage partner. Check your own performance first, and be as hard on yourself in critiquing your performance as you are on your marriage partner when you critique their performance.
"David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah" (Matthew 1:6). To examine the sin in the circumstances of Solomon's birth, we will look at the character of the sin in the circumstances and the condoning of the sin in the circumstances.
The character of the sin. The character of the sin was immorality and murder. Solomon was born in a background of great sin by his parents. As we have already noted, they had committed adultery with each other and Solomon's father had seen to it that his mother's first husband was killed. So there was plenty of sin in the circumstances surrounding the birth of Solomon. His birth was not, of course, a result of an adulterous liaison, but it was a result of adultery in that had David and Bathsheba not committed adultery, Solomon would not have had Bathsheba for a mother.
The condoning of the sin. There are always some who like to pervert the grace of God to justify and encourage sin. So some would condone the sin of David and Bathsheba by saying that without it there would have been no Solomon. But that is not true! Such a conclusion makes God weak and turns "the grace of our God into lasciviousness" (Jude 1:4). God did not need sin to produce a Solomon. If God can bring a Solomon out of a sinful situation, how much more could God also have brought a Solomon out of a sanctified situation.
If David had not sinned, there would have been a better Solomon. Sin never promotes blessing; it only diminishes blessings. Think how much better it would have been to have Solomon without the sin problem.
Solomon's birth does not sanction the guileful marriage—his birth only emphasizes the grace of God. Though the marriage was a sullied one, God did not demand that David and Bathsheba break it, for that would only have added to the evil. But keeping the marriage intact does not in any way sanction the evil that brought it to pass! "To marry her whom he had before defiled, and whose husband he had slain, was an affront to the ordinance of marriage" (Henry). The birth of Solomon does not in any way change that fact.
"These were born unto him in Jerusalem... Solomon" (1 Chronicles 3:5). Solomon was born in the city of Jerusalem. While some of the circumstances surrounding his birth are bad, this one is good. To be born in Jerusalem was an honor. "What a patent of nobility is it, for a man to have it certified that he was born in Zion" (Spurgeon). Scripture says of Jerusalem, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God" (Psalm 87:3). Jerusalem is a special city in God's sight because of the spiritual connotation with the city.
And regarding the honor of those born in Jerusalem, Scripture says, "And of Zion [Jerusalem] it shall be said, This and that man was born in her... The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there" (Psalm 87:5, 6). The word translated "man" in "that man was born in her" is the Hebrew word for "man" which is "usually employed when a name is introduced to be designated with distinction and honor" (Kitto). There are three Hebrew words for "man." One is adam (the common name), one is enosh (a man of weak and inferior character) and one is ish (the name of excellency and honor). The name ish is the one used for "man" in our text.
What all of this says is that to be born in Jerusalem is a great honor, a mark of distinction. Today people like to boast of being born in important cities. Our text in Psalms is telling us that the most important city of all is Jerusalem. And to be born there is the mark of greater distinction than being born in any other city (such as Babylon or Tyre as named in our text). Why then was Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem? Because He came in lowliness and humility to die for our sins. One day Christ will return to earth, and it will be in the city of Jerusalem where He will reign (Zechariah 14:17).
The spiritual lesson is one of esteeming heavenly honor over worldly honor. While today Jerusalem is not esteemed like other cities such as New York, Chicago, Moscow, London, Rome, etc. yet it is the city that has the most glorious future because Jesus Christ will reign from Jerusalem. It is not worldly honors that matter but it is heavenly honors that count—and Jerusalem has the heavenly honors. We need to practice this truth in our lives. The world would impress us with their honors but heaven's honor far exceeds any honor of the world. Do not be deceived by the bigness and brightness and blare of the world. The cities of the world may be most impressive to the natural eye, but it is Jerusalem that has the glorious future—it is a more glorious future than any city anywhere.
"These were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel" (1 Chronicles 3:5). The spellings of the names vary in different locations in the KJV translation. "Shimea" is spelled "Shammua" elsewhere (2 Samuel 5:14; 1 Chronicles 14:4), "Bathshua" is spelled "Bathsheba" elsewhere (2 Samuel 12:24 and many other texts), and "Ammiel" is spelled "Eliam" elsewhere (2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34).
This text indicates that Solomon had three siblings from David and Bathsheba. The names are not given in chronological order because Solomon was the first one to live who were born to the union of David and Bathsheba. The firstborn of David and Bathsheba died, as we noted earlier. He was a male child (David refers to him as "he" in 2 Samuel 12:23). So Solomon actually had four siblings from David and Bathsheba, but only three of them survived.
The significance in the siblings is found in the one named "Nathan." In the two genealogies given in the New Testament of Jesus Christ, one is traced through Solomon and one is traced through Nathan. This is not a contradiction. The genealogy with Solomon in it is recorded in Matthew (Matthew 1:7) which traces the genealogy through Joseph. The genealogy with Nathan in it is recorded in Luke (Luke 3:31) which traces the genealogy through Mary (the record in Luke looks like it is through Joseph, but Joseph is not a "son" of Heli but rather he is a son-in-law of Heli, for Heli is Mary's father—the word "son" in the Luke text is in italics which means it is supplied by the translators and is not in the original. To be correct, it should be "son-in-law").
Both Joseph and Mary could trace their genealogies back to David—one through Solomon and one through Nathan. This means that Jesus Christ was the only One who could possibly claim the throne of David. If the religious critics of Jesus Christ had honestly and sincerely examined the genealogies, they would have had to conclude that Jesus Christ was indeed Who He claimed to be, namely, the heir of the throne of David, and thus their Messiah. Some day the Jews will get wise to the fact that Jesus Christ is their Messiah; and when they do, the trouble in the middle east will end.
"Those that were born unto him [David]... Solomon" (2 Samuel 5:14). Solomon was born into the family of the sovereign of Israel, namely, David the King. Thus he was born into royalty, and he was also more importantly born into the line of Christ (Matthew 1:7).
Born to David the king meant Solomon had many privileges which others did not have. Unfortunately he enjoyed many luxuries and benefits which did not help him. "Born to the purple [royalty], there was the inevitable risk of selfish luxury" (Dale). The luxuries did nothing to help Solomon's character, and in fact the circumstances into which he was born laid the foundation for his eventual corruption. Concubines, adultery, and a plurality of wives—customary trappings for kings—were what Solomon became accustomed to in his family circumstances. It is no wonder that he was ruined by women and his kingdom and character were corrupted by his pampered physical appetites.
Tucked into our text is a four-worded statement which carries a lot of meaning. It is "the Lord loved him" (2 Samuel 12:24). We note two things about this statement. They are the God in the love and the grace in the love.
"The Lord loved him." We could easily understand it if Scripture had said that David and Bathsheba loved him and perhaps other humans loved him. But to say that God loved him really attracts our attention. This message of love obviously came from God, for Nathan the prophet was simply carrying a Divine message to David and Bathsheba about the child. Nathan was the prophet who denounced the evil of David with Bathsheba and his killing of Uriah. Now he brings a better message, a most welcome message, namely, one of Divine love.
This declaration of Divine love reminds us of the angelic statement repeated three times in Daniel that Daniel was "greatly beloved" of God (Daniel 9:23; 10:11, 19). What a thrill to know that God loves us. It is a thrill to become aware of human love. But to know that God loves us is even a much greater thrill and blessing. No one loves as much as God. No love compares to God's love for mankind. The Word of God informs us repeatedly that we are all greatly loved of God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son" (John 3:16). "God commendeth [proved, gave evidence of] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Yet Christ gave His life for us when we were sinners (not friends)—what great love indeed!
When troubles come, mankind has a tendency to question God's love for them. But God has already proven beyond any doubt that He loves us. The legitimate question about love has to do with man loving God, not God loving man. Do we love Him as we ought?
Solomon had done nothing to merit Divine love. He was simply born, and he was born to sinful parents. Yet God loved him in spite of the deficiencies of his background.
This tells us that we are not loved by God because we are loveable. We are loved by God because "God is love" (1 John 4:8). There would be ample reason for God to not love Solomon because of his parents' sinfulness. But God's love for Solomon was not based on the bad character of his parents. God's love for Solomon was based on the good character of God. If God can love us who do not deserve to be loved, how much more ought we to love God Who does deserve to be loved.
This love of God for Solomon will be confirmed in the naming of Solomon by God which we will see in our next section.
By "calling" here we are referring to what Solomon was named. Our text says Solomon was given two names. "He [David] called his name Solomon... Nathan the prophet... called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:24, 25). The two names are significant in regards to their meaning. To examine these meanings, we note that one name was from the earthly father, the other name was from the heavenly father. Both names were very fitting.
"He [David] called his name Solomon" (2 Samuel 12:24). This naming would occur not at birth but at his circumcision when he was eight days old. That was the traditional time when Jewish parents named their children (cp. Luke 1:59; 2:21).
The name Solomon means "man of peace" (Dale). It is the equivalent of the German "Friedrich" which is our English Frederick (or Fred). The meaning of "peace" would represent David's thinking of his own situation. "He regarded his [Solomon's] birth as a pledge that he should now become a partaker again of the peace of God" (Keil). The meaning of "peace" also was fitting in that during the reign of Solomon, the land of Israel enjoyed more peace than at any other time in its history. Thus David said in giving the Temple instructions to Solomon, "His name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days" (1 Chronicles 22:9).
"Nathan the prophet... called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:25). The name Jedidiah was not to replace the name Solomon but was an additional name. "The name Jedidiah which the prophet was instructed to give to the son [was] not as a substitute but a supplement" (Chapman). "The giving of the name Jedidiah, by the Lord through Nathan, does not appear to have been intended to supersede his name Solomon... but rather to have been a pointed way of signifying God's favor to the child" (Cook).
The name "Jedidiah" is composed of two names. "Jedid" (equivalent of "David" which means beloved) and Jah (spelled "iah" in the KJV text) which means Jehovah. Thus the name means beloved of Jehovah. "In this name, he typified Jesus Christ, that blessed Jedidiah, the son of God's love, concerning whom God declared again and again, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'" (Henry).
—Bible Biography Series