No Trade-off between Earned Blessing and Incurred Punishment
Any blessing earned by a person remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Also, any incurred punishment, unless forgiven, remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises. There is no trade-off of one against the other.
We learn this through this week’s bible study on interactions between David and Bathsheba. King David had an affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, while Uriah was at the war front fighting for Israel. She became pregnant from the affair. David tried to cover up the affair, first by attempting to trick Uriah into sleeping with his wife. When he realized Uriah would not fall for the trick, David ordered that he be over-exposed at the war front so he would be killed by the enemy. The plot was successful. Uriah was killed in the battle. David married Bathsheba thereafter and she gave birth to a son from the affair. But God was not deceived.
Punishment for David
The affair and killing of Uriah in an attempt to hide it were ugly to God. He decreed severe punishment on David that was announced to him by Prophet Nathan: Calamity would be brought upon David from his household, someone close to him will sleep with his wives in broad daylight before Israel, and the son born to him through the affair would die. The third punishment came through almost immediately. The child of the affair fell ill and died within a few days. The other two also were fulfilled later but will be discussed in a future bible study.
Solomon as Blessing to David
After the child died, David went in to comfort his wife, Bathsheba. She got pregnant again and gave birth to a son that we know today as Solomon. The birth of Solomon was a blessing to David. Because Christ was born out of Solomon’s lineage [Matthew 1:1–16], the birth of Solomon was a step toward God’s fulfillment of his promise to Abraham: that all nations on earth will be blessed through his offspring [Genesis 22:18]. It is a blessing to David that this promise to Abraham was fulfilled through David’s son, Solomon. The birth of Solomon also was a step toward fulfilling God’s promise to David: to raise his offspring to succeed him and establish his kingdom [2 Samuel 7:12]. We will see in a future bible study that Solomon succeeded David as king of Israel and his kingdom was well established.
Parallel Blessing and Punishment
Therefore, while David incurred and suffered severe punishment for the illicit affair with Bathsheba and covering up the affair by setting her husband up to be killed in battle, once he became the woman’s legitimate husband, their marriage resulted in the birth of Solomon, through whom God fulfilled blessings that David earned previously: blessing that he earned through his great grandfather Abraham and blessing that he earned through his own service. These blessings did not buy him out of the punishment he incurred because of the affair, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
Acknowledge, Repent, and Ask for Forgiveness
Earned blessing is a promise from God. So is incurred punishment. God will keep his promise at his chosen time. Therefore, both earned blessing and incurred punishment can coexist for a person and be fulfilled at their time. We earn blessings through service as Christ describes in Mathew 25:31–40. Also, we can incur punishment through denial of service [Matthew 25:41–46] or through other sin such as David committed in the affair with Bathsheba. The only way to reduce or get out of incurred punishment is to acknowledge the sin, repent, and ask for forgiveness. Attempting to cover up a sin in order to avoid human consequences often will result in committing more sin as happened in David’s interactions with Bathsheba. Face the human consequences and avoid making things worse by seeking a cover-up. Acknowledge, repent, and ask for forgiveness.