That is not the motivation of a man madly in love; it is the drive of a man terrified of reaping what he sowed.

Moreover, David’s taking her as a wife is better explained by a sense of obligation rather than being blessed by God to have a woman he longed for. He impregnated her. It was his fault that she had no husband to be her companion in raising that child.

The Story, Part 2 – 2 Samuel 12, 13, 18

When Nathan the prophet confronted David, he made his point using a story about a man stealing his neighbor’s lamb. Typical of those overwhelmed with their own guilt, David lashed out at the transgression of another. “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” (12:5-6)

David overreacted on that point because of his own guilt. However, calling for a fourfold repayment met the criteria of the Old Testament law. Just as David decided the punishment of the imaginary lamb thief, God brought a fourfold punishment on David for what he had done.

1. The baby he had with Bathsheba died. (12:19)

2. David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister (David’s daughter) Tamar. (13:14)

3. Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, killed Amnon for raping his sister. (13:32)

4. Absalom started a civil war to overthrow David and take over the kingdom. Absalom died in the battle. (18:15)

What could David say to Amnon about the heinous rape? “Son! You don’t take a woman just because you want her!”

Amnon could have replied, “Yeah, Dad, just like you.”

What could he have said to Absalom about the murder of his brother? “Son! You don’t kill a man to solve your problems!”

Absalom could have replied, “Yeah, Dad, just like you.”

His sins – illicit sex, murder – replicated in the lives of his children. It still happens, all too often.

Do You Wish to be David in This Story?

How did David feel about the consequences of his sin? “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (18:33)

When I was younger, I thought that David was saying he wished he had died in battle rather than Absalom. As I matured, I came to understand that David knew that Absalom would have been a terrible king and Israel would have suffered. He was not wishing he had died in battle so that his son could have lived; he was saying he wished he had faced the consequence of his adultery with Bathsheba at the time it occurred. The law called for adulterers to be stoned. If David had faced his actions then and confessed his adultery, he could have been executed. If he had, the fourfold consequences in the lives of his children would have been avoided.

I said to the man, “Are you willing to face consequences like David faced?" Of course, this man's consequences will look different than David's, but the pain will be there nonetheless. 

"How much are you willing to have people you love pay so that you can have this woman? Are you really that selfish? That unconcerned about the lives of people who will be affected by what you do?”

More Casualties

I continued, “It will not just be people you love who will suffer. Your sin will affect others, even if you do not realize it now. Have you heard of Ahithophel?”

Ahithophel, David’s trusted advisor fathered Eliam, who fathered Bathsheba. (1 Chronicles 27:33, 2 Samuel 23:34) When David committed adultery with her, he knew that Bathsheba was Ahithophel’s granddaughter (2 Samuel 11:3).