2 Samuel 12:13-23 – A Child Dies


2 Samuel 12:13-23


In an incredibly difficult passage, David’s child by Bathsheba dies at the word of the LORD.


Causing a child to die is not something that most modern humans like to ascribe to their god(s). And yet, David’s punishment seems to be meted out against the child that he fathered with Bathsheba. 

In this unfolding tragedy, we see familiar patterns – the sins of one generation frequently bring violence and death to the next generation, even to innocent children. And yet, David knows that God can and does change God’s mind. Sadly, David’s fasting and prayers do not provoke God’s change of heart, and the child dies after seven days of sickness, certainly through no fault of his own. 

Lastly, David seems to have a change of heart and behavior toward Bathsheba. Once David lusted after her, shamed her by bringing others to look at her while bathing, took her, laid with her, and then returned her to her home, by all accounts done with her until she found out that she was pregnant. Now David comforts Bathsheba. In a stunning reversal, David comes to her, and again David lies with her. Here, David treats Bathsheba like a person, and a wife, rather than an object he can desire, take, use and discard. Bathsheba’s second son by David is named after peace (Solomon, from the same Hebrew root as shalom) and given the additional name “Jedidiah,” meaning “beloved of the Lord,” because the child was loved by God. The second name partially comes from the same root as “David.” This birth of a healthy, peaceful baby is meant to show that God’s favor has not totally deserted David, even during the impending hardships.