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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why Did David and Bath-sheba's Son Have to Die?

After David and Bath-sheba sinned, why did their son have to die, since Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:20 say that a son is not to die for his father's error?

David and Bath-sheba were both married persons when they committed adultery and she became pregnant. Their adultery was a grave sin punishable by death under God's law. (2 Samuel 11:1-5; Deuteronomy 5:18; 22:22) So if God had permitted them to be dealt with by humans under the Law, the son developing in her womb would have died with its mother. But Jehovah chose to handle their case differently, which "the Judge of all the earth" certainly had a right to do.—Genesis 18:25.

When confronted with his guilt, David acknowledged: "I have sinned against Jehovah." Then God's spokesman told David: "Jehovah, in turn, does let your sin pass by. You will not die." (2 Samuel 12:13) David was shown mercy because of the Kingdom covenant. Moreover, since God is able to read hearts, he must have evaluated the genuineness of David's repentance and concluded that there was a basis for extending mercy to David and Bath-sheba. Yet they would not escape all the deserts of their error. They were told: "Notwithstanding this, because you have unquestionably treated Jehovah with disrespect by this thing, also the son himself, just born to you, will positively die."—2 Samuel 12:14.

God `dealt a blow' involving their child to whom they were not entitled; the boy became sick and died. A person today might tend to focus on the child's death and feel that a harsh judgment was executed. However, it is good to bear in mind that had the adultery been handled by and proved before human judges under the Law, all three (David, Bath-sheba, and the son in her womb) would have lost their lives. Viewed in that light, God's permitting two of them to survive was merciful. Furthermore, at this late date we do not have all the facts, such as information about the health of the infant immediately after birth. We can, nonetheless, accept God's handling of the matter, confident that what he did was impartial, wise, and righteous. Even David later acknowledged: "As for the true God, perfect is his way."—2 Samuel 22:31; compare Job 34:12; Isaiah 55:11.

That is consistent with David's reaction after he heard God's judgment. While the child was sick, David grieved and fasted. But once death occurred, David appreciated that the matter had ended. (2 Samuel 12:22, 23) So, trusting God's judgment, David proceeded to comfort Bath-sheba (now his legal wife), assuring her that their marriage relationship would continue. Later Solomon was born to them and became David's successor." -Watchtower 3/15/86


(Because the Bible does not fully inform us as to who God will definitely provide the hope of a resurrection to, the following additional comments have certain words that are highlighted in bold to emphasize that this is what the Bible indicates on the matter.)

Highlighted above (in blue) are the passages where it stated that if humans dealt with this matter, not only would Bath-sheba and David be killed, but the unborn child would have been as well. If that happened, would the unborn child have had the possibility of a resurrection?

Resurrection implies a raising to life again. The examples in the Bible of persons raised to human life again indicate that the person comes back to life with the same degree of physical and mental growth possessed at death. (2 Ki. 4:17-36; Acts 20:9-12) Applying that to miscarriages and stillborn deliveries, is it reasonable that in the future Jehovah will insert back into the womb of a woman a partially developed embryo, or possibly a number of them? No, that does not seem so, nor is it likely that women who have had this sad experience actually expect that.

Also, resurrection is for persons who have lived as individuals before Jehovah. Even a child who lives for only a short time after birth has existed as a separate person. But a miscarried fetus or stillborn child, though from a Biblical standpoint considered a "soul" while it was developing, never actually lived as a separate and distinct individual. So it would appear that such situations do not fall under the resurrection provision outlined in the Bible.—Acts 24:15.

With this mentioned, it is interesting that God, in the case of David and Bath-sheba, allowed the child to have been born first before the child died thus perhaps providing the hope of a resurrection. We cannot comprehend fully the mind of Jehovah because His thoughts are higher than ours, but we do know that "We can, nonetheless, accept God's handling of the matter, confident that what He did was impartial, wise, and righteous. Even David later acknowledged: "As for the true God, perfect is his way."—2 Samuel 22:31"


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