Story Thirteen

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 4
THE PROPHET'S STORY OF THE LITTLE LAMB
WHEN Dā́ vid first became king he went with his army upon the wars against the enemies of Ĭś̝ ra-el. But there came a time when the cares of his kingdom were many, and Dā́ vid left Jṓ ab, his general, to lead his warriors, while he stayed in his palace on Mount Zion. One evening, about sunset, Dā́ vid was walking upon the roof of his palace. He looked down into a garden nearby, acid saw a woman, who was very beautiful. Dā́ vid asked one of his servants who this woman was, and he said to him, "Her name is Băth= shĕ-bȧ, and she is the wife of U-rī́ ah.”
Now U-rī́ ah was an officer in Dā́ vid's army, under Jṓ ăb; and at that time he was fighting in Dā́ vid's war against the Aḿ˗mon-ītes, at Răb́ bah, near the desert, on the east of Jôŕ dan. Dā́ vid sent for U-rī́ ah's wife, Băth=shĕ˗bȧ, and talked with her. He loved her, and greatly longed to take her as one of his own wives,—for in those times it was not thought a sin for a man to have more than one wife. But Dā́ vid could not marry Băth́ =shĕ-bȧ while her husband, U-rī́ ah, was living. Then a wicked thought came into Dā́ vid's heart, and he formed a plan to have U-rī́ ah killed, so that he could then take Băth́=shĕ-bȧ, into his own house.
Dā́ vid wrote a letter to Jṓ ab, the commander of his army. And in the letter he said, "When there is to be a fight with the Ăḿ mon-ītes, send U-rī́ ah into the middle of it, where it will be the hottest; and manage to leave him there, so that he may be slain by the Ăḿ mon-ītes.”
And Jṓ ăb did as Dā́ vid had commanded him. He sent U-rī́ ah with some brave men to a place near the wall of the city, where he knew that the enemies would rush out of the city upon them; there was a fierce fight beside the wall; U-rī́ ah was slain, and other brave men with him. Then Join sent a messenger to tell King Dā́ vid how the war was being carried on, and especially that U-rī́ah, one of his brave officers, had been killed in the fighting.
When Dā́ vid heard this, he said to the messenger, "Say to Jṓ ăb, ‘Do not feel troubled at the loss of the men slain in battle. The sword must strike down some. Keep up the siege; press forward, and you will take the city.”
And after Băth́=shĕ˗bȧ had mourned over her husband's death for a time, then Dā́ vid took her into his palace, and she became his wife. And a little child was born to them, whom Dā́ vid loved greatly. Only Jṓ ăb, and Dā́ vid, and perhaps a few others, knew that Dā́ vid had caused the death of U-rī́ ah; but God knew it, and God was displeased with Dā́ vid for this wicked deed.
Then the Lord sent Nā́ than, the prophet, to Dā́ vid to tell him that, though men knew not that Dā́ vid had done wickedly, God had seen it, and would surely punish Dā́ vid for his sin. Nā́ than came to Dā́ vid, and he spoke to him thus:
"There were two men in one city; one was rich, and the other poor. The rich man had great flocks of sheep and herds of cattle; but the poor man had only one little lamb that he had bought. It grew up in his home with his children, and drank out of his cup, and lay upon his lap, and was like a little daughter to him.
"One day a visitor came to the rich man's house to dinner. He did not take one of his own sheep to kill for his guest. He robbed the poor man of his lamb, and killed it, and cooked it for a meal with his friend.”
When Dā́ vid heard this, he was very angry. He said to Nā́ than, "The man who did this thing deserves to die! He shall give back to his poor neighbor fourfold for the lamb taken from him. How cruel to treat a poor man thus, without pity for him!”
And Nā́ than said to Dā́ vid, "You are the man who has done this deed. The Lord made you king in place of Sa̤ul, and gave you a kingdom. You have a great house, and many wives. Why, then, have you done this wickedness in the sight of the Lord? You have slain U-rī́ ah with the sword of the men of Ăḿ mon; and you have taken his wife to be your wife. For this there shall be a sword drawn against your house; you shall suffer for it, and your wives shall suffer, and your children shall suffer, because you have done this.”
When Dā́ vid heard all this, he saw, as he had not seen before, how great was his wickedness. He was exceedingly sorry; and said to Nā́ than, "I have sinned against the Lord.”
And Dā́ vid showed such sorrow for his sin that Nā́ than said to him, "The Lord has forgiven your sin; and you shall not die on account of it. But the child that U-rī́ ah's wife has given to you shall surely die.”
Soon after this the little child of Dā́ vid and Băht́=shĕ-bȧ, whom Dā́ vid loved greatly, was taken very ill. Dā́ vid prayed to God for the child's life; and Dá̄ vid took no food, but lay in sorrow, with his face upon the floor of his house. The nobles of his palace came to him, and urged him to rise up and take food, but he would not. For seven days the child grew worse and worse, and Dā́ vid remained in sorrow. Then the child died; and the nobles were afraid to tell Dā́ vid, for they said to each other, "If he was in such grief while the child was living, what will he do when he hears that the child is dead?”
But when King Dā́ vid saw the people whispering to one another with sad faces, he said, "Is the child dead?"
And they said to him, "Yes, O king, the child is dead.”
Then David rose up from the floor where he had been lying. He washed his face, and put on his kingly robes. He went first to the house of the Lord, and worshipped; then he came to his own house, and sat down to his table, and took food. His servants wondered at this, but Dā́ vid said to them, "While 'the child was still alive, I fasted, and prayed, and wept; for I hoped that by prayer to the Lord, and by the mercy of the Lord, his life might be spared. But now that he is dead, my prayers can do no more for him. I cannot bring him back again. He will not come back to me, but I shall go to him.”
And after this God gave to Dā́ vid and to Băth́=shĕ-bȧ, his wife, another son, whom they named Sŏĺ o-mon. The Lord loved Sŏĺ o-mon, and he grew up to be a wise man.
After God had forgiven Dā́ vid's great sin, Dā́ vid wrote the Fifty-first Psalm, in memory of his sin and of God's forgiveness. Some of its verses are these:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness:
According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions:
And my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
And done that which is evil in thy sight:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Hide thy face from my sins,
And blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence;
And take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
And uphold me with a free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
And sinners shall be converted unto thee.
For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it
Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
A broken and a contrite heart. O God, thou will not despise,