16 July 2016

2 Samuel 12:15-23

"The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill ... On the seventh day the child died." (vv. 15, 18)

Psalm: Psalm 119:49-64 


Today's passage makes for sad and difficult reading. The child born to Bathsheba becomes ill and then dies. A major problem for us lies in the statement that "the Lord struck the child…", suggesting that God inflicts punishment on children for the sins of their parents. When we seek to read the Hebrew Scriptures through the eyes of Christ we know that this is not how God deals with us.

At the same time the passage serves to illustrate again that our human tendency to stray from God's ways has inevitable consequence which doesn't confine itself to a single generation or time.

David, who at the beginning of this whole affair had been acting like an all powerful monarch, is now totally humiliated. In a culture where dignity mattered above all else he is in sackcloth, refusing to eat and lying on the ground. His attendants clearly feared for his sanity if not his own life.

When the child finally dies David once again surprises those around him. Rather than enter the normal period of mourning he now not only washes, dresses and eats, but also goes to worship. His worship is the acknowledgement that God is indeed the King and that any royal power that he might hold is subject to God's sovereignty. His arrogance in forgetting that had led to grievous trouble for many.

To Ponder

  • Can you think of instances where the sins of one generation have had consequences for succeeding generations? Are there sinful attitudes of which we in our generation need to repent of? What are they? And how might we demonstrate that repentance?
  • How should we respond where we find in Scripture actions or attitudes ascribed to God which seem to run counter to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ?

Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister in the Methodist Church in Ireland. As well as serving as a circuit minister in Bray Co Wicklow and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission, he has been General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland and its President in 2009/2010.