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Basic Bible: David’s Sin and Punishment

II Samuel 11:2-5, 14-18, 26-27; 12:13-15

The text before provides a picture of David’s sin (II Samuel 11) and a partial picture of the manner in which the Lord chose to deal with David (12:13-15). Space does not permit a full discussion of the punishment which would fall upon David.

The prophet Nathan made it known to David that the sword would never depart from his house and that God would cause David’s house to rise up against him (12:10-11). The fulfillment of the words which God gave to Nathan are seen in chapters 13-16.

“And it came to pass . . .” (v. 2). The things that follow transpired in the city of Jerusalem. David ruled from Jerusalem for 33 years and died at 70 years of age. The exact date of David’s casting his eyes upon Beth-sheba is not recorded but it is likely that David was in his mid-40’s since his victory over the Philistines (II Sam. 5:25), the arrival of the ark of the Lord at Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:12), victory over Moab (II Sam. 8:2), defeat of the Syrians (II Sam. 8:6), and the mistreatment of comforters sent from David to Ammon (II Sam. 10:4), all occurred prior to this fateful event while David dwelt in Jerusalem.

David saw and sinned. David’s act of adultery was completed upon learning that Beth-sheba was the wife of Uriah (see Matt. 5:28). We are first introduced to David in I Samuel 16:12. We know that as the chosen successor to King Saul, David would be a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). In the Psalms, we read praises and prophecies which David received from the Lord. Between I Samuel 17 and David’s affair with Beth-sheba, David exhibits virtuous character traits time and time again and is faultless. But in verse 3, David falls and commits adultery.

His adultery was manifested physically in verse 4. In verse 5, Beth-sheba notified David that she was with child. This news causes David to pursue a course of action that resulted in deceit (a cover up) and ultimately, the murder of Uriah.

While the time span between the act of adultery and news of Beth-sheba’s pregnancy is not known, in the usual course of human events, three to four weeks would have passed. David reacted to this news by sending for Uriah who was engaged in David’s military campaign against Ammon at the city of Rabbah (two and a half days’ journey from Jerusalem). That which followed is cause to believe that David intended for Uriah to sleep with Beth-sheba. When he did not, David sent Uriah back to Rabbath with orders to his commanding general Joab to place Uriah in a position where he would engage a large number of the enemy alone. Joab did as ordered and Uriah was killed by the Ammonites.

That which followed news of Uriah’s death (Beth-sheba’s mourning and David’s taking her as his wife) would be seen as things that were or might be expected by most observers. David’s sin, however, was not hidden from God. The Lord, through the prophet Nathan, announced the future turmoil which David would experience. All Israel would see the evil which would fall upon David (v. 12).

“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord . . .” (v. 13). David’s words are a confession which is much more than an admission of guilt. In Leviticus 32:33, the Lord states: “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” David was deserving of being blotted from God’s book and with his lips, David confessed that he should be blotted from the book.

Nathan assured David that he would not die because God had put his sin away (v. 13b). Nathan was not a false prophet. The Lord had spoken to Nathan concerning the everlasting kingdom which He would establish through the seed of David (II Sam. 7:16). The sin of David was the sin of one who was chosen by God. God is omniscient. God knew David would sin before he sinned.

The transgressions of New Testament believers are also known by God before we sin against Him. It shall be with us as it was with David. David lived but suffered loss. David’s sin did not have to be. David chose to look upon Beth-sheba; he could have chosen to look away. We, too, do not have to yield to temptation.

The consequence of David’s sin caused the enemies of God to blaspheme. It was cause for them who are of Satan to proclaim that adultery and murder are found in them who are after God’s own heart. David’s sin did not result in David’s death. God forgave David. David’s sin however, was not forgiven. His sin resulted in the death of the baby that Beth-sheba would bear.

The innocent would die. God struck the newborn child and the life of the innocent was taken. God required payment for David’s sin. The Lord counted the death of the seed of David, the innocent seed of David, to be sufficient for David’s sin against Him.

New Testament believers look upon this picture and see a preview of the death which God’s only begotten Son should suffer and be counted as sufficient payment for the sins of all who should believe in Him (Jn. 3:16).

Believers have been made free from sin. We are free to do has Christ has commanded. Let us love one another and proclaim His love to all men.

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