2 Samuel 11:1-5 (NASB)

1 "Then it happened [a]in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem."

2" Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”

4" David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. 5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.”


1/ Under God's law adultery was a sin punishable by death, so why did God handle this case differently?.

Deuteronomy 22:22 (NASB)

22 “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.

2/Why did God deal a blow to the child, the child must die.

2 Samuel 12:14 (NASB)

14 "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”

  • You could a third question. The LORD sees David as having killed Uriah 2 Sam 12:9 and ignores the required consequence of the Law. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 22:05
  • 2
    Who would exercise (on earth) the judgment required ? Who had the authority to do so ? +1
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 22:12
  • @Nijel J : Stone to death by the people of the land . Leviticus 20:1-2 . Compare also Numbers 15:35-36 Stone to death by the assembly, despite the fact that he was a king. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 19:19
  • @Revelation Lad:You are correct it was a double crime. God showed mercy to him for a very good reason, this should be covered in question .Other brave men also died because they were send close to the city walls. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 19:37

5 Answers 5


Nathan the prophet came to David, II Samuel 12:1. And after Nathan convinced David of his sin, David said :

I have sinned. II Samuel 12:13

And Nathan said :

The Lord hath also put away thy sin. Thou shalt not die. II Samuel 12:13.

That is why David did not die. Because the Lord dealt with David's sin, personally, and on his behalf.

Just as a certain woman stood and Jesus crouched and wrote on the ground. And they all went out and Jesus was left alone ... and the woman in the midst.

One would be lifted up off the earth, pierced upon a tree. There, in another humanity, would the sin of David and the sin of the woman, be dealt with - to the uttermost - by God almighty, in the person of his own Son, Jesus Christ.

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ? And if he does so, who shall condemn ? Who shall condemn either God for his righteousness or the beneficiary for a sin that no longer exists ?

But there were consequences, naturally, which could not be avoided.

Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. II Samuel 2:11.

... and it would be his own son, Absalom, through whom the righteous consequence would come. And also the Lord took the child away, for occasion had been given to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme and it must be demonstrated, forcibly, in the cognisance of those enemies, by the death of the child, that God had judged the matter.

Nevertheless David went in to Bathsheba and she conceived and there came forth, of her, after a few generations, he who should rule in an everlasting kingdom. And David called his son Solomon and the Lord loved him.

And the Lord sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet and he called his name Jedidiah (the beloved of the Lord) because of the Lord.

It would be interesting to see if anyone would care to sort out the pronouns and work out whom exactly the Lord loved and whom exactly was being called Jedidiah, but I suppose that is another question for another day.

But David admits freely, at the end of his life :

He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God, and he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth - even a morning without clouds as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in all and sure, for this is all my salvation and all my desire although he make it not to grow.

David confessed his sin.

The Lord took responsibility for David's sin.

And therein lies an everlasting covenant.


The Talmudic interpretation (Shab. 56a) states that David got off on a technicality:

Although David sought to do evil and have relations with Bathsheba while she was still married to Uriah but did not do so.

As Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Anyone who goes to a war waged by the royal house of David writes a conditional bill of divorce to his wife.That was done to prevent a situation in which the soldier’s wife would be unable to remarry because the soldier did not return from battle and there were no witnesses to his fate. The conditional bill of divorce accorded her the status of a divorcee and freed her to remarry. As it is stated: “And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and to your brothers bring greetings and take their pledge [arubatam]” (I Shmuel 17:18). What isthe meaning of arubatam? Rav Yosef taught: It refers to matters that are shared [hame’oravim] between him, the husband, and her, the wife, i.e., marriage.

The verse should be read: Take the bill of divorce that determines the status of the relationship between husband and wife. As, apparently, it was customary for men at war to send their wives a conditional divorce, since Uriah later died, Bathsheba retroactively assumed divorced status from the time that he set out to war. She was not forbidden to David.

The homiletic interpretations favorable to King David contradict the plain sense of the biblical text. Nevertheless, they may be understood in the following manner. A transgression can be judged by two sets of criteria: The first is strictly legal and the second factors in the transgressor’s intent and desires. The Bible judges David’s conduct according to his intentions. Since he ignored the severe prohibitions involved, he is deemed guilty. The Talmud, on the other hand, judges him according to the letter of the law. By this measure, his sin was not so severe. That is what the Gemara means in saying that King David sought to do evil but did not do so (Be’er HaGolah).


  • @ Yosef Weiner: Please give me scriptural verses to support you comments, especially on the conditional bill of divorce. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 20:08

The answer to both is a simple one -- it has to do with the Davidic Covenant. In 2 Samuel 7, God used the prophet Nathan to establish the Davidic Covenant. A Covenant with David that his descendant would sit on the throne forever. It is later repeated in 1 Chron. 17:11-14 and 2 Chronicles 6:16. As a Christian I look at Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise.

The events concerning Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite come after the covenant had been made with David in 2 Samuel 12. If David had died then at that point there would have been no way for the covenant to have continued. It was God's integrity that was on the line and so God chose instead for the baby to die. By having the baby die, God's plan for the promised Messiah would not come through the first child who was a product of David's sin. since David declares that he would ne go to see his son, then David knew his son would be with him in eternity.

The Davidic Covenant is an unconditional covenant -- meaning that it was not dependent upon David's obedience. It was always based on God hesed, the loving kindness and mercy that would lead God to always be faithful to His promises even when we are unfaithful towards Him.

The references to the Talmud in one of the answers is helpful for Jewish exegetes because it allows for a means of ignoring the Messianic implications that would be brought up by focusing on the David covenant. Since the Talmud was written most in the second and third century AD they tend at times towards interpretations that allow one to disregard Messianic implications and to especially ignore implications that point to Jesus as the long promised Messiah.

  • Ken Banks : I believe the covenant was one reason , however,Amnon was David's first born,Absalom and Tamar were children born to David prior to Solomon, and perhaps God could have raised a successor to David from them and so not break the covenant?. I believe that there is a greater reason why God showed mercy to David.. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 22:45

Reconsidering this question, I wish to amend my answer.

Paul testified before the men of Israel in Acts chap. 13,

"And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

23 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:" (Acts `3:22-23, KJV)

God did not have David killed because David obeyed God. David immediately repented when Nathan confronted him.

The genealogy of Christ was always through the line of the faithful, and though David sinned against God, he returned to YHVH repenting (Psa. 32, 61, etc). But, David did the will of the Father, which was why God chose David to replace Saul.

"13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee." (1 Sam. 13:13-14, KJV)

God would have used Saul, if Saul had obeyed the Father's commands. Whereas David did continue, even after his sins to do the will of the Father.

And so, God made David king over Israel.

"... Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, ..." (2 Sam. 12:7, KJV)

The punishment was worse than death because of the public shame. Losing face in the Middle Eastern and Asian societies is still to this day why many commit suicide.

2 Sam 12:9-12,

"9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun." (KJV)

To have this shame paraded publicly was a punishment worse than death for David. He would never again have peace in his house as his own sons would strive against him, and be a cause for further shame. We see in the next chapter that David's son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, which then causes such anger in his brother Absalom to bring him to murder Amnon.

The child was a fruit of the sin, and by taking that away from David God increased the punishment. The child's death was loss to David and Bathsheba, but the child was an innocent and therefore taken to Paradise. The baby suffered a little while, but only a few days before being comforted in Abraham's bosom. (Luke 16:19-31). But, David would regret his loss all the days of his life.

Considering how there would be no more peace in David's house, that brother was about to murder brother, only God knew what might have later happened to the child which might have been an eventual death anyway. By taking the child early, God may have been preventing an even greater tragedy later on.

David's public shame further caused the people to lose respect. His sons saw their father's sins and then emulated him. Sins have consequences, and though David asked for and received forgiveness (2 Sam. 12:13) doesn't mean that the human condition was not affected. Sin travels by example and usually from the top down to the bottom of society.

When people see those in high positions of authority behave badly and appear to get away with it, some will then reason in their hearts that "if he can do it, then I can". But, sin always affects others and causes death and mayhem to multiply.

David, as king used his power and authority to take Bathsheba from Uriah, and ultimately kill Uriah. Amnon used deceit and violence to take his half-sister, which ultimately resulted in fratricide by Absalom as David did not punish Amnon for his sins (2 Sam 13:24-31)

The consequences of the sins continue on as in the next chapters Absalom's hatred of his father plays out in usurpation and insurrection. Sin originates in the heart of man (Mark 7:21), but even though God will forgive us when we repent, sin travels on. We reap what we sow.

"7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal. 6:7-8, KJV)

However, there are many in the line of the Messiah who sinned, but their faith over came those sins.

"10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about." (Psa. 32:10, KJV)

God always chose the line of the faithful to carry out His plans. Which was why God chose Solomon over Adonijah to succeed David.

1 Chron. 28:5-7,

"5 And of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.

6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

7 Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day." (KJV)

(Bold emphasis is mine.)

  • @ Gina: The seventh commandment "You must no commit adultery" made no exception for the king, for the king was the keeper of the law. Numbers 5:11-31. I can assure you that there is a more serious reason that God showed mercy to David Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 19:59
  • You r correct. I should have added Solomon's birth, and the plan for the Messiah, the son of David, ....
    – Gina
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 21:58
  • Yes, the covenant made with David, 2 Samuel 7:11-16, there is still another reason, perhaps I believe greater than the covenant. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 22:16
  • @ Gina:You are correct ,David repented and so God showed mercy to him .Read Psalm 51 For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 16:06

A Question about King David

Under God's law adultery was a sin punishable by death, so why did God handle this case differently?

Yes, according to the Law David should have been put to death. But there are three reasons that show why this had a different outcome.

  1. The Kingdom covenant

11 even from the day that I appointed judges over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. 12 When your days are finished and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he does wrong, I will discipline him with a rod of men and with strokes of sons of mankind, 15 but My favor shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”–2 Sam. 7:11-16 (NASB)

Jehovah God had made a promise to David to give him an everlasting kingdom. As the Almighty, God would never go back on his word, so he had to fulfill what he had decreed.

  1. David was a merciful man

4 Then David’s men said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to hand your enemy over to you, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David got up and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. 5 But it came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. 6 So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I would do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to reach out with my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed.” 7 And David rebuked his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul got up, left the cave, and went on his way.–1 Sam. 24:4-7 (NASB)

On several occasions, King Saul attempted to kill David. But here we see that when David himself had the perfect opportunity to end this persecution, David held back his hand and recognized that Saul had been appointed by Jehovah himself. And because David showed mercy, Jehovah showed mercy to David. (James 2:13)

  1. Repentance was shown

1 Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithfulness; According to the greatness of Your compassion, wipe out my wrongdoings. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my guilt And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my wrongdoings, And my sin is constantly before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.–Ps. 51:1-4 (NASB)

These are the words of a man cut to the heart because of his transgressions. We see the deep repentance that David is showing and beseeches Jehovah to cleanse him of his sin.

Why did God deal a blow to the child, the child must die.

The Biblical account itself tells us that by his actions David had shown "utter contempt" (NIV), "utterly scorned" (ESV), or "utter disrespect" (NWT) to Jehovah God. As king, David had written a copy of the Law, read it, and applied it in his dealings with the Israelites. David willingly disregarded Jehovah's commandments. Jehovah God could not let this go unpunished, therefore God decreed that the child would die. What was David's thinking in God's judgment? His own words say "As for God, His way is blameless". (2 Sam. 22:31)

[Further information can be found in the article "David" subsection entitled Sins bring calamity in the Insight on the Scriptures.]

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