The Sins Of The Fathers

Q. I was reading in my devotions and came across Deuteronomy 24:16, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.” And it made me recall in 2 Samuel 12 when the son of David and Bathsheba died as a result of their sin. I was just wondering how that comes together. Any help is always appreciated.

A. Deut. 24:16 is an important principle in the Law, because it reminds us all of the personal nature of our responsibility and is generally meant to apply across the board. But being a powerful and public figure, David’s sin with Bathsheba became headline news in the surrounding countries. This gave their kings great occasion to blaspheme the Lord (2 Sam. 12:14), putting Him in an impossible position.

In order to demonstrate to them that no one is above the Lord’s justice, David was made to suffer a punishment of a similarly public nature (although he did escape the death penalty, which was normally called for in a case like his). And remember, the loss of his son was not David’s only punishment. His entire family was put at odds with one another. One son raped his half-sister. Her full brother killed him and staged a coup against David that nearly succeeded. All told David lost three sons because of his sin.

By judging David this way the neighboring kings could not claim foul play when God judged them, complaining that if He had let David off, how could He justify punishing them? This assures us that our leaders will not only be held accountable for the sins they’re able to commit because of the power of their office, their punishment will be severe and public as well.

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