Saturday, May 12, 2012

David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12, 16)

The following quote is taken from

"David's Punishment - Polygamy, Rape, Baby Killing, and God's "Forgiveness" - Thus says the Lord: 'I will bring evil upon you out of your own house.  I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor.  He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.  You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.'
Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."  Nathan answered David: "The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.  But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die."  [The child dies seven days later.] (2 Samuel 12:11-14, NAB)

This has got to be one of the sickest quotes of the Bible.  God himself brings the completely innocent rape victims to the rapist.  What kind of pathetic loser would do something so evil?  And then he kills a child!  This is sick, really sick!"

To understand these verses, it helps to look at the events that directly preceded this statement.  You can read the entire story here:,%2016&version=NIV
            To summarize the story, King David was supposed to lead the Israelite army to war, but instead stayed at home in his palace in Jerusalem.  While there, he noticed Bathsheba, who was the wife of another man (Uriah the Hittite, one of David's officials), bathing on her roof.  He sent for her and slept with her, and she became pregnant as a result.  David then tried to cover up his sin by sending for Uriah and trying to get him to sleep with Bathsheba, but Uriah refused, saying that it wasn't right for him to go home to his wife when his fellow soldiers could not.  In response to this, David arranged for Uriah to be killed by sending orders for him to be sent where the fighting was most fierce.  Because of this, David not only killed Uriah, but other soldiers lost their lives with Uriah as well (2 Samuel 11:1-17). 
            What David did was a very serious sin, and God was displeased (2 Samuel 11:27).  David not only committed adultery with another man's wife; he then murdered the man.  Both sins went directly against God's commandments (Exodus 20:13-14).  The prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin, and he confessed and repented.  Unfortunately, even though God forgave David, justice demanded punishment and retribution (Numbers 35:33-34). By law, David's punishment should have been execution (Leviticus 20:10).  Had David been left unpunished, the entire kingdom of Israel may have been badly influenced to sin just as he did.
            There are a few issues here mentioned by the author of that need to be examined.  First, why did David have so many wives?  At the time of his sin with Bathsheba, David had at least 6 wives, and several concubines in addition to them (2 Samuel 3:2-5, 5:13).  Even though polygamy was allowed for a time, that doesn't mean that God approved of it.  God's original intention was for one man to marry one woman, not multiple wives (Genesis 2:20-24).  Furthermore, the Law stated that a king should only have one wife (Deuteronomy 17:17).  David disobeyed this commandment.
            God was predicting what would happen to David as a result of his sin with Bathsheba.  His children became rebellious and lost all respect for him.  Years later, David's son Absalom rebelled against him and attempted to take the throne for himself (2 Samuel chapters 15-18).  As part of his rebellion, he openly slept with the concubines that David foolishly left behind when he fled the city (2 Samuel 16:20-22).  In the Ancient Near East, to sleep with a king's concubine was to lay claim to the king's throne.  The text makes no mention of rape in this instance.  The Hebrew word used is shakab, meaning "to lie down with", used to refer to sexual intercourse (2 Samuel 12:11), and then bow, meaning "to go in" (2 Samuel 16:22).  These two terms are not the Hebrew words used for rape, as in other passages (Genesis 34:2; Judges 19:25, 20:25; 2 Samuel 13:14; Zechariah 14:2). [1]  The implication here is that David's concubines willingly slept with Absalom.
            We now come to the question of why God took the life of David and Bathsheba's infant son.  With a question such as this one, there are no easy answers.  “'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.  'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV).  The murder of Uriah and his fellow soldiers required a life to be taken as punishment.  God spared David and Bathsheba, but their son died.  Perhaps it was so David and Bathsheba would fully realize the grave sin that they had committed, and that they would be moved to never sin in such a way again.  It was also to set an example that the Israelites would see, so that they also would be convinced to not sin in such a way themselves.  Whatever the reason, David seemed confident that his son was in heaven with God, and that he would see him again (2 Samuel 12:15-23).  God also showed his forgiveness and grace to David and Bathsheba by giving them four more sons (1 Chronicles 3:5), one of whom was Solomon, who would become the next king of Israel.

[1] Gesenius's Lexicon, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (translated by Samuel P. Tregelles), 1847