Killing the Innocent


#1

Hi everyone,
I’m just having a dilemma right now over some of God’s actions and commands in the Bible.

Why does God, who, according to Proverbs 6:16-17, hates the shedding of innocent blood, kill the innocent? The story that bothers me the most is when David commits adultery with Bathsheba and, as punishment, God kills their child. How is it moral or ethical in any way for God to murder David and Bathsheba’s child as a result of David’s sin? Furthermore, this seems to contradict Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18 which both say that the one who sins is the one who dies.

I understand that, since the child would have committed no actual sin, he or she probably would be in Heaven. It just confuses me why God would say one thing and do something that entirely contradicts it.

Thanks ahead of time.


#2

Dom,

In order to understand the narrative, one must understand the culture of the day. In that day, there was not understanding of everlasting life in heaven (if you recall, even in Jesus’ day, that was an issue that wasn’t settled – Pharisees said ‘heaven’ and Sadducees said ‘no heaven’).

So, for the ancients, the way that one experienced ‘life after death’ was through the memories of one’s descendants. He who was remembered after he died, lived through these lived memories; he who was not remembered, was simply a shade in Hades.

Therefore, in a certain way, when the child born of David and Bathsheba’s infidelity dies, it is David who is being punished, not the child. It is David’s ‘immortality’ that is being denied, and not the child who is being punished. In today’s understanding, we see that the child is in heaven; but in David’s day, what would have been seen is that David was the one who was punished.


#3

Even in a culture that didn’t believe in everlasting life – especially one that didn’t believe in everlasting life – would hear of an innocent child growing ill and suffering seven days before dying and think the child wasn’t being punished? Yes David too was being punished, but I can’t think of anyone who’d state the child was not punished.


#4

Thanks. For some reason I had totally forgotten about that. Last year in the OT course I took in school, my teacher mentioned this but I totally forgot about it. Now I remember how we applied this to Achan since his family was killed along with him.

So would you say that this is a special exception to some of the laws God gave in Pentateuch? In any other circumstance, the adulterers would be put to death but in this situation David and Bathsheba, for many reasons, were not stoned.


#5

This story also raises the question of what innocence is.

We like to think that children are innocent by default. But this story raises a question, from God’s point of view if that is the case.


#6

It is important to remember that God gives life and he can justly take it for it is his. We are all taking our next breath because he allows it.


#7

Everyone one of us will die. That is simply how it is.

God alone gets to choose when this will happen. Murder is a sin because it attempts to usurp God’s role. God “killing” a child is not murder, because this is God’s prerogative.


#8

We look at death as a bad thing, a punishment… but how does God look at it? We can’t not look at it that way because we are human, but I’m just asking, and thinking, “God’s ways are not our ways…”


#9

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