“And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:15-25).
God punished David in several ways and each one would be a constant reminder of both his foolishness and wickedness. David had hardened his heart towards the Lord and His word so much that only chastisement would bring him back on the pathway of righteousness. He had to see that his sin, though done in secret, had dire consequences for both him and those affected by it. The first application of the judgement would be the death of his son that was conceived through adultery. How David responds to this will indicate his determination to obey and serve the Lord in the future.
The child may only have been a few days old at the most when he became ill. The illness lasted for seven days and throughout David fasted and prayed that his newborn son would get well. Sin had hardened his heart, but this sickness broke it. We do not know if he lay on the ground for the whole seven days, though the text seems to imply this, but we can be sure that he was earnest in his prayer. Maybe, as John Wesley says, David supposed the judgement “might be conditional, and so the execution of it prevented by prayer.”
He was not going to allow anything to deter him or take him away from seeking God’s face. It is highly likely that this was the first time in almost a year that David prayed any meaningful prayer. From his adultery with Bathsheba until his repentance he would have been playing the hypocrite in the religious ceremonies. Now he was praying with a heavy burden on his heart. His faith told him that God could still be merciful and heal the child. This goes to prove that he did not blame God for the boy’s sickness, but laid the blame firmly at his own door.
If the child died on his seventh day then he did so before he could be circumcised. David’s servants were fearful of informing him because they thought he might have a mental or physical breakdown. They thought he would react violently, but in fact he humbly accepted the chastisement without commotion. This astounded those around him. David did not lash out against God or anyone else. We see here that he submitted himself wholly to the will of God and even went to the tabernacle to worship.
While others wailed over the death of the child, as was the custom, David washed, changed his clothes, prayed and ate. He saw that there was no longer anything he could do about the child. He must have been brokenhearted over the death of his son, but his renewed dedication to God caused him to realise that weeping must not hinder his worship or service towards the Lord.
In responds to his servants’ questions about his attitude and actions since his son’s death, David testified about his faith and gave an insightful teaching about what happens to a child after death. His personal sadness did not cause him to give up hope but instead increased his faith in God. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He believed that the baby went directly to Heaven. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that unbaptised infants go to a mythical limbo. Some in the protestant churches state that only elect children can go to Heaven. Both of these doctrines are diabolical in light of the millions of babies who have been murdered by abortionists in the womb. There is nothing in Scripture that suggests such things, so therefore they are the figment of warped minds that cannot understand the plain teaching of God’s word. David knew he would see the child again, not in Hell, Purgatory or Limbo, but in Heaven. “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
It is interesting that David did not divorce Bathsheba, for he would have only made matters worse for her if he had done so, but instead had further children by her. We must compare the words of :15 with those of :24 in relation to Bathsheba. The first calls her “Uriah’s wife” but the latter David’s wife. This is to show that David’s sin had been thoroughly dealt with by the Lord. The second son of David by Bathsheba was Solomon. He would be the wisest king Israel ever had until Christ. The name Solomon means “peaceful”, and we know his reign was exactly that. David gave him the alternative name Jedidiah which means “beloved of the Lord”. This was probably due to the prophet Nathan telling David that God loved the child. Both “David” and “Jedidiah” have the same root meaning. Besides the nameless children David and Bathsheba had four sons, Shimea, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:5), two of which are mentioned in the lineage of Jesus – Solomon (Matthew 1:6) and Nathan (Luke 3:31), which also reveals that both Joseph’s and Mary’s lineage was through David too. Was David so blessed by the ministry of Nathan that he named one of his sons after the prophet? Some commentators suggest that it was God who told Nathan to name Solomon Jedidiah. The fact is that the “he” in :25 could equally mean David, nevertheless we cannot dismiss either interpretation.
The cost of the adulterous affair with Bathsheba was more than David had bargained for. Once again he was back on track, but what a sad route he took to get there! Now he was submissive to the will of God and sought to faithfully serve Him for the rest of his life.