David Seduction of Bathsheba
King David had an illicit interaction with Bathsheba, wife of a soldier under his authority. He tried unsuccessfully to conceal the affair through her husband, ordered him killed in desperation, and re-married his wife thereafter. Prophet Nathan confronted David about the affair, pronounced his punishment, but also announced he had been forgiven because he repented. However, the promise of punishment appeared fulfilled despite forgiveness. We discuss an understanding of David’s sin and punishment in the context of a difference between human and eternal consequences of sin.
The biblical account of David-Bathsheba relationship includes events that occurred before and after their marriage. We divide the relationship into two parts as pre-marriage and post-marriage to understand that David’s actions during the first part displeased God and brought him severe punishment. In contrast, his experience regarding the second part of the relationship provides an understanding that God’s promise of blessing can coexist with, but does not nullify, his promise of punishment. This bible study focuses on the first part.
David could not resist a beautiful woman that he saw from a lookout vantage of the king’s palace. He had the woman brought to him and shared an illicit interaction with her. The woman became pregnant as a result. David tried unsuccessfully to conceal the affair by tricking the woman’s husband, a soldier under his authority, but the man did not fall for the trick. In desperation, David ordered him killed by over-exposure in battle and married his wife after her mourning.
God sent Prophet Nathan to confront David regarding his interactions with Bathsheba. The prophet pronounced punishment on David: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. In addition, Prophet Nathan responded to David’s expression of repentance by telling him as follows [2 Samuel 12:13–14]: “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
The son of the illicit affair died soon after. Furthermore, the two other promises of punishment also apparently were fulfilled through the rebellion of Absalom. Therefore, David was not absolved in full from the consequences of his illicit premarital interactions with Bathsheba despite being forgiven of his sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him. To understand David’s punishment despite forgiveness, we examine his sin and punishment in the context of a possible difference between human and eternal consequences of sin.