Does God Kill Babies?

thinking-baby“And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill… Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died.” (2 Sam 12:15,18)

Now there’s a troubling verse! Does God really kill babies?

Some would say “Yes,” because God is on the throne and nothing happens unless He allows it. Others would say “No,” because He is a good God, everything He does is perfect, and He has no dark side (Deut 32:4, Jas 1:17).

Still others might say “I don’t know,” because God could stop bad things from happening yet He often doesn’t and only He knows why.

You might say to me, Paul, how can there be any debate? It’s right there in black and white – “the Lord struck the child.” God clearly kills babies because He killed David’s baby. Well if we are to take that verse at face value, how are we to account for this verse:

“For the LORD is good and His love endures forever…” (Ps 100:5)

Either the Lord is good or He kills babies. I’m going to go with the Lord is good. The Bible exhorts us to rejoice in His goodness (2 Chr 4:41). How are we to do that if we’re not certain that He is good? But the good news is that God is good and He never changes. God is not good on Sunday and then bad on Monday. He is 100% good 100% of the time. Neither is He willing that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9). So if God were killing people He would be acting contrary to His own desires. He gives life, not death.

Sin kills babies

God told Adam and Eve that death would be sin’s wage. People die because Adam sinned. We think it’s a tragedy when a baby dies, but it’s a tragedy when anyone dies. Death is the most unnatural thing in the world for people created in the likeness of immortal God. And if you think David’s baby had to die because he was living under law, then read Deuteronomy 24:16. Under the Law of Moses, children weren’t punished for the sins of their fathers. So if God killed the baby because of David’s sin, as Nathan implied, then He was acting out of character and violating His covenant to Israel.

I believe the Bible to be inspired, but I won’t build a theology on the basis of a single sentence written by someone who probably never knew Jesus. When I wrote in another post that God doesn’t give us bad gifts like death, a few readers wrote in to complain. Then when I wrote that God doesn’t give and take away, there was more murmuring. Apparently, I don’t know the Bible very well.

But here’s the thing; do you try to interpret God based on what you see in scripture, or scripture based on what you see in God? The Author is greater than His book! Unless the Holy Spirit gives you revelation, the Bible is just words. There’s only One person in the Bible who gives us a clear and undistorted view of God’s character, and He never killed or robbed anyone.

Who killed David’s baby? I suspect it was Nathan. There’s life and death in the power of the tongue and he was the one who pronounced the sentence of death (see 2 Sam 14). In this story, Nathan represents the law. Just as the law is perfect (Ps 19:7), so too is Nathan – or at least we don’t see any of his faults. Just as the law condemns (2 Cor 3:9), so does Nathan. And just as the law brings death (2 Cor 3:7), so does Nathan.

There’s no doubt that David’s sin had tragic consequences, but I didn’t write this post to talk about David’s baby. I want to talk about yours.

What do you do when your baby or loved one is dying? Do you blame God? Some of you reading this are going through trials right now. What do you do when you are walking through the valley of shadow of death? You’ve got two choices:

1.    you can lie down passively under the bulldozer of your circumstances, or
2.    you can interpret your circumstances through God’s good character.

Option 1 is the faithless response. It’s what you do when you’re unsure about God’s goodness or when you think you’re being punished for your sins. This is not the option that David took.

In the Bible there are several stories of children being raised from the dead. Sadly, this is not one of them. After seven days, David’s baby died. But for as long as the baby lived, David contended in prayer. This is very significant!

To put this in context, remember that David has just been exposed as an adulterer and murderer. He has been told by the prophet that because of his sin, the baby will die. In short, “God’s will is for your son is to die.” Surely the right thing to do here is meekly accept God’s will. But David doesn’t. By his actions he shows that he does not believe God is a killer. Indeed, David believes that “the Lord is good.”He refuses to live under Nathan’s law and instead falls on his face, and goes searching for grace:

“While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’” (2 Sam 12:22)

David did not know whether God would be gracious and save his son, so he went looking for grace. If this is the behavior of a sinful man who lived under a condemning covenant, how much more should we, who live under a superior covenant of grace, stand on the goodness of a good God who longs to be gracious to us (Is 30:18)?

There were two men in the story of 2 Samuel 12. One was a faultless prophet whose ministry brought death to babies; the other was a sinner who threw himself at God’s mercy, sought grace and prayed for life. Guess which one was known as a man after God’s own heart.

God longs to be gracious

If you think God is behind your suffering, or if you think you’re getting what you deserve, you won’t fight back when the enemy attacks you. You won’t resist when life dishes out its worst. But Jesus came to show us that our heavenly Father is not a baby-killer. He loves you with an everlasting love and He loves your kids (Jer 31:3, Is 49:25).

Jesus took our sins and our infirmities to the cross. He didn’t do this just so you could get a ticket to heaven. He did it so you could bring heaven to earth. This means when we see a sick kid, we don’t say, “it’s God’s will.” No! We heal them! If some someone speaks death over the child, we rise up with faith and proclaim life and health in Jesus’ name. Ephesians 4:29 says that our words impart grace to the hearers. Let life come from your tongue.

Perhaps this suffering is the result of someone’s sin. Doesn’t matter. God’s grace is greater than man’s sin. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances say. It only matters that we interpret our circumstances through our Father’s unchanging character. He longs to be gracious to us. Have faith in His goodness and provision.

God gives life to dead babies

A few days ago an infant drowned in Christchurch, here in New Zealand. As the father was handed the blue and lifeless body of his son, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to him saying: “Be at peace. Do not be anxious.” The Holy Spirit then told the father to command life over his son. Within minutes, the son started breathing again. And because God’s ways are always perfect, the resurrected son is in better shape than he was before he drowned. He’s now mentally sharper, faster and more alert.

That’s a great testimony, but what might’ve happened if the father was not convinced that God is good? God longs to show grace to you but you have to believe it. Do you? (The father in this story was Jason Westerfield and you can watch him tell the story of how his baby Justice was resurrected from the dead here.)

God is not a baby-killer. He is our perfect and eternally good Father. Speak boldly to your circumstances. Tell them about this great and mighty Father of yours who loves you and who sent His Son to die so that you and your kids could live!

51 Comments on Does God Kill Babies?

  1. God is good and He kills babies. The obvious assumption is that to take the life of child is inherently bad. This is a human judgment against the Creator. God kills everyone. All are guilty and all die. Age is not important. What matters is God’s will. It is not in our ability to know if it was mercy for the child to die. But we also know that God has it in His power to raise the soul of that child into eternity, to a much better place, and that is something David was thankful for as should we be. We grieve death because we understand it goes against the design of Creation. But the curse is only a curse if we remain in our sin. Forgiveness, repentance, regeneration – these are gifts that allow us to transcend the curse and enjoy restoration to pre-fall life in the company of our Creator. We must be changed. The child does not suffer life in the fallen world and for that we should give praise. It is the unbeliever who should mourn. That doesn’t make it easier, but its the truth.

    • Dear Lance, I’m staggered that you think killing babies is not a bad thing. I’m doubly staggered that you think it’s praiseworthy! I’m guessing you don’t have children of your own. You make a number of unsubstantiated claims: David was thankful for the death of his son?! God kills everyone?! Normally I don’t like to publish comments that attack the character of others, but I’m curious to see what you might put forward as proof of your scurrilous accusations. Saying a thing is true doesn’t make it so. You hint that it is God’s will to kill everyone. Yet the Bible tells us His will is that none should perish (2 Pe 3:9), that the world should be saved (Jn 3:17). I’m not denying the reality of death for sin. But with regards to God’s will, the only way the Bible can be true and your claim also true, is if God is confused or schizophrenic. He isn’t.

      • I’ve obviously not been clear. I am indeed a father and I love my children very much. I would do anything to protect their lives. I feel strongly that abortion and any other act of infanticide is evil. Now, having said that…

        Consider the consequence of eternal life as fallen beings. God is just. God is merciful. In His justice and mercy our life in corrupt flesh is limited. I do not praise the death of a child, however I submit to God’s will when it comes to His divine choice to take one from this world. Most such deaths, as far as I can tell, are the result of the brokenness of this world. Not necessarily the sin of the child – I don’t think there’s much in the way of person sin you can attribute to a small child – but this world is so sinful and there are so many evils that the innocent suffer all the time. God did not spare his own son. How arrogant we are when we presume to judge God for His choices.

        I hope this helps to clarify. Oh, and as for David’s response, check 2 Sam 12:23. David knew one day he would see this little son of his again, but not in his earthly life. A small comfort, I know, yet David did not presume to judge God for His actions. Perhaps I overstated when I said David was thankful, but its there in plain black and white that David understood and went on, okay, with life. There was no vengeance to take and no one to blame. There was only God’s will and it was not the child being punished, but himself.

        I hope this makes sense. And thanks btw for allowing me to respond.

      • Dear Lance, I am relieved to hear you’re not willing to take the death of children lying down, that you’re prepared to “do anything” to save lives. That is the heart of a true father. We would give our lives before letting someone take our children’s lives. But what if it was God’s will for your child to die? Would you still fight? Would you take your child to the doctor? Wouldn’t that be sin?

        Death is sin’s penalty, not God’s will. Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death comes to all men and all babies (eventually). You blame God for killing David’s son, but Paul, in Romans 5:12, points his finger at Adam.

        You sound like a good father. Yet your heavenly Father is even better than you are. He hates death, it is not His will, and that’s why Jesus came. God’s justice is not satisfied by killing people, even sinners. His justice is satisfied by Jesus.

  2. It’s interesting because the word used is Yahweh, which is translated the Lord. But it was because David had given reason Yahweh’s enemies reason to scorn, that the offspring of his union with Bathsheba had to die. And the next son was Solomon! I have read that things out of one’s control, like tragedies, were considered to be acts of God by the Hebrews – not unlike all peoples. We today often say the same thing. Only in the victory of Christ do we have grace on us and not curse.

    • I have seen this same faultless prophet authority used throughout the church I grew up in and am not afraid to wield it myself. People who say God kills babies have never set foot in a Pentecostal-type church where grace was understood. Spirit-filled believers know that we have power to destroy the nations – because We have the justice of God and power on our side. Seriously. And some -to their shame-do. But why judge people after Christ? Why put people in their place except if they are self-righteous? And even if they are self-righteous don’t we still have to model after Christ who forgave self-righteous men on the cross-(taking their curse for them…remember he shared in our curse)? Didn’t Jesus come to bring a new vocabulary? Wouldn’t Samuel have been ashamed to use God’s Word to kill loathsome sinners (much less babies) if he had lived to meet the glorious face of bloody Christ? Would he have sided with Christ or the Pharisees? That would be his responsibility and choice. Just like ours. I burn with hatred and bitterness like anyone-righteous or sinner. But Christ on that cross has come to constrain me. “In your anger, do not sin.” There is a new definition of sin after holy Christ died on that cross for sinners and the self-righteous.

  3. I’ve learned recently that there are two types of sin: active rebellion and passive indifference. There is a third sin – losing faith in face of hate and death.

    Fortunately, Paul (both here and in the Bible) reminds us that there is grace.

  4. John 10:10 gives us the only 2 job descriptions in the Bible:
    1) The devils steals, kills and destroys.
    2) God gives life in abundance.

    I guess all that’s left is for us to make up our minds who is responsible for who. If we still blame God for evil, we don’t truly know Him who gives us all good gives and with whom there is no change or shadow of turning (Jam 1:17).

    You are truly courageous for taking on these highly “debatable” verses Paul and I commend you for that. It’s only through the perspective of Grace that we can truly gain insight into the character of the One who is Love Himself.

  5. Paul, what are you comments about “God’s punishment” of Israel in the desert before they entered the Promised Land? And “God’s commandment to make war” on pagan people after they entered the Promised Land?

    I know that God put a mark on Cain so that no one would kill him after he had committed the first murder – truly only a loving Father would protect his son this way. But when Israel promised to follow the commandments of God, they lifted themselves to a high pledge – maybe the highest – to be a nation like Jesus. Yet they could not keep this. They sinned and were killed. You would probably say it was the high nature of the pledge they made and the way they brought curses upon themselves through their own “bad attitude.” When they entered the promised land, the next generation didn’t sin but they did the killing of pagan people. It’s interesting how God allowed hundreds of years of this (Curses of death and destruction for unrepented sin for both Israel and for pagan nations) to go on before deciding it was the right time to send Jesus. Maybe it was to allow history to know that neither human righteousness nor human sin can come close to the goodness of a merciful and gracious God – even when we “commit” to follow God. It takes the saving love of Jesus to make us a new kind of people. Have you or will you make a post about this? Maybe it’s common knowledge among Christians, but it’s worth demonstrating God’s grace through such terrible people (like us or the people we live among). Maybe we can post some verses that demonstrate God was a loving Father through these times as well…

  6. janet Cadieux // November 30, 2010 at 10:02 am // Reply

    God is never the source of death, but He does use it for His will. He knows how to take something ‘bad’ and make good out of it. Look at “Jesus” death on a cross….to be our example. It can become confusing when we try to apply the things that are ‘bad’ to God. This is where the trouble comes in…..God is never the Author of confusion/or anything bad..but, He certainly can work it to His will and make GOOD out of it. In this, He receives glory due His name. I have been reading that some christians don’t believe that it could be God’s will for a christian to be sick…however, what they fail to see is that although the sickness itself does not come from God, God can in the same manner use it to bring Glory to Himself…that is why Paul said He would praise God in his infirmities:

    2 cor 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

    Human weakness, whether through sickness, reproaches, persecutions, distresses, all point to the glory of God, which is our strength. It is incorrect to say that He gave us power over human weakness, He did not give us power over human weakness, He is the power…and, by His grace we endure all things.

    If He gave us the power, we would never sin…think about it.

    Yes, He heals our sicknesses at times, but, sometimes He also shows His glory through our human weakness…when we can rejoice, even while sick! that is where faith is seen all the more, in mho. We should not put God in a box, and say that He must heal every desease, sickness, for this reason.

    • //God is never the source of death//

      God is never the source of death? God created life. We die as a result of sin – our own free will choice of rebellion. Is that what you meant? Because otherwise I would disagree. God most certainly does ‘slay’ people, even whole groups and nations. Good or evil is a human concept, or at least a concept humans know through the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. God is entirely good, holy and just, so His dominion over life and death must also be.

  7. janet Cadieux // November 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm // Reply

    Yes, it is our action that is the cause of death. God does not ‘do’ evil. He cannot even be tempted with evil. He does ‘use’ evil to work His will. These are two things with two very important sources. God often uses evil nations to correct other evil nations, but it is NOT God that is the evil nation, see?

  8. janet Cadieux // December 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm // Reply

    I also think it should be said that when it appears that God has slayed someone, as a child, for example..(the original point in this thread), it should be said that God does not slay babies. We just need to see it through His eyes, for that which is yet alive in His eyes is not dead. He merely removed the child for a time. For this reason, true death is not death, until God pronounces the second death on someone. Many died in the Old covenant without even a chance to be saved, for the gospel was not even spread abroad….during those days. That is why Jesus said it would be better on the day of judgement for those generations. He is a JUST God..and does not reap where He has not sown. God can do whatever He wills to be done, and you can bet that it is never ‘evil’. When we read the story of Abraham, and we see that God was asking him to sacrifice his only son at the time, we know that by faith, Abraham knew God could raise him right back up again…and would. God is a God of the living, not the dead.

  9. I see a lot of good points and some not good at all in above comments. allow me to make this very simple: David needed an Intercessor and there was no one to plead his case.

    The death of the baby shows how badly we need a Mediator.

    We live so far below what God wants us to we come up with all kinds of excuses for our lack of understanding at times.

  10. I offer a perspective as a father who has lost a child. This text truly rocked my world when I read it after my daughter was diagnosed with a fatal and untreatable brain disorder. She died last May on her ninth birthday. But I had been working on this text for quite a while before her Home-going. It unexpectedly led me to write a lot about it. So, I bound it into a book to share. It’s title is “The Lord Struck the Child: The Most Chilling Phrase in the Bible Leads Us to Hope and Freedom”

    If you are interested in the book, rest assured that not a dime of your purchase goes to me. It all goes to a different ministry each quarter that are dedicated to helping “the least of these.” After reading what I have here, it would certainly add to the discussion.

  11. Hi, Mr. Ellis, I’m a student who’s wondering about many things, most of them about Jesus and God.

    Is there an explanation of why God decides to kill the firstborn Egyptians? I know the Bible says something specifically about the Angel of Death, but why would God harden the Pharaoh’s heart and command him to kill the innocent children of Egypt?

    I ask because I’ve recently gotten into an argument with my atheist friend about the “correct” interpretation of the Bible. I told him that God is good, but he challenges me because there is obviously bigotry, intolerance, and sexism in the Bible, and people sometimes quote the Bible to justify their actions (usually senseless ones). “What if God does approve of these vices?” is what he asked me.

    • Hi AJ,
      Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? How could a just God act unjustly? Two days ago another E2R reader sent me this link to an interesting article. (Thanks Scott Johnston!) Pharaoh commanded the midwives and then his own people to kill the innocent children of Israel (Ex 1).

      What about the 10th plague where God brought judgment on Egypt by striking down the firstborn of men and animals (Ex 12:12). However it played out – whether God did it, allowed it to happen or whatever – I think even an atheist would agree that there was something like justice in this. After all, the Egyptians had held the Israelites in bondage for centuries and recently tried to kill all their boys. They effectively reaped what they had sowed. But there is another side to this which religious people and atheists tend to miss. If you focus on the Egyptian side you’ll come to fear a God of judgment. But that same judgment brought freedom to Israel: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” (Ex 6:6) When we look to the cross we see sin being judged. The same judgment brings freedom to all who put their faith in Jesus.

      • Thank you for your response! It has greatly helped, especially the “Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?” essay. Very good read.

  12. Very interesting conversation. Firstly -please define bad. define good. Is pain bad, or good? God created our body to respond by way of pain to stop us hurting ourselves. I hear what you are saying about the child that died, but is this a human perspective we have on death? There are always consequences to our sin. Yes, our sins are forgiven, but there are still consequences. I might commit a murder and go to jail. I might become a Christian in jail, but will that let me off the consequences? no. Taking the child, as far as I understand it, was a consequence of David’s actions. I dont know if you can say that God cant command our lives when He chooses. That child may have changed the course of history and killed thousands of innocent people? Who knows? What right does the clay have to tell the Potter what to do? I too have lost a child when she was 4 years old. Did i think God took her? Yes when He chose to. Did I think God allowed her to be like she was, severely handicapped?Yes, and she touched many lives for Him. Did I blame God? NO to the last one..We are all damaged by sin. Weather its physically, emotionally or mentally. We live in a fallen world. BUT God is good all the time. How we define that good is flawed. We have limited understanding of the big picture. God can do whatever He wants out of love, and while we consider it bad or evil, God may consider it good. I have always looked at that particualar scripture as encouraging for those who lose babies or have abortions. It clearly shows that unborn children go to heaven. David stops mourning the minute the child dies, and resumes eating again. What a huge cost sin has. The loss of a precious child. I think God wants us to realise while we are under Grace, there are still consequences if we sin. Its not punishment, but cause and effect. Sin costs us. dearly at times.

    • Hi Tracy,
      You raise a number of issues but the one I want to focus on is whether God is the cause of all things. He is not. The wages of sin is death. Death is sin’s wage, not God’s wage or gift. Saying the Author of Life is also the Author of Death makes as much sense as saying He is a good God who kills baby. My head spins. Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland.

      Those in the “God is sovereign” camp would say that since God is in charge of everything, He is responsible for everything that happens, ergo God kills or “takes” babies. 1 John 5:19 says otherwise: “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” It’s true that sin has awful consequences but please don’t confuse God with sin. He has no need to balance the books. He’s quite capable of bearing with us in our imperfections.

      The question of the post is not how David’s baby happened to die, but whether God killed the baby. This is a profoundly important issue for parents! If you think God is killing your baby, you won’t resist Him. If you do think God is killing your baby, then you’re rebelling against His will by seeking medical treatment. The two men in this story present our two choices. On the one hand you have fault-finding Nathan who represents the law and condemns the baby. On the other you have David who fought for the baby as long the baby lived. I’d rather be counted among those who fight for babies than those who kill them with their words.

      Most of the people on this thread, have, I suspect lost someone close to them and have been told that “God took them”. “God gives and takes away” said Job. Don’t listen to the Jobs and Nathans of the world. Listen to Jesus (John 10:10).

      • Paul, I understand the need to guard against promoting the idea that God is the author of sin. However, it certainly ignores the obvious meaning of the text to say that Nathan killed the baby with his “words.” Neither is Nathan some legalistic prude in the story bringing condemnation via the Law. The text is clear that Nathan is speaking for God and it is equally clear that “the LORD struck the child…”

        Further, this story is descriptive of a specific situation and event. It does not prescribe that God strikes every child that dies. There are some reasonable guesses one can make about alternative outcomes if the story went differently. If David died for his sins as the Law demanded, then this child would have grown up in a kingdom being torn apart by his half brothers and his mother would have been left destitute like the rest of Israel. It is reasonable to say that this child’s death actually saved the kingdom from the sins of David. The story does not prescribe that God killed my daughter or Tracy’s daughter.

        Further, stating that we should not listen to the “Jobs and Nathans of the world” also is unfaithful to their respective texts. Immediately after Job makes the statement you quoted, the text says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Overall, the Bible affirms the truth that God is indeed sovereign AND humans have actual choices for which we are responsible. The Bible affirms that God is sovereign AND that Satan has a certain amount of authority (also demonstrated in Job’s story). The Bible affirms that God is sovereign AND that the effects of the fall are still experienced in our daily lives. Scripture never solves the tension in these ideas completely. We often get in the most trouble when overstep our bounds and try to solve that tension.

        What we miss is that since God is the Author of life, He is the only One who can justly end life. We don’t like that, but life in the body is but one part of life. From an eternal perspective, life involves much more and the abundant life Jesus promises is only tasted here and seen “in a mirror dimly.” “For now [we] know in part, but then [we] will know fully.” (1 Cor. 13:12).

        Blessings to you and keep the good work of digging deeper!

      • You want to be faithful to the text? Then I guess you think money is the answer to everything (Ecc 10:19)? Here’s a question. Who incited David against Israel by getting him to take a census? 2 Sam 24:1 says the Lord did it but 1 Chr 21:1 said that Satan did it. So who did it? God or Satan? The God-is-sovereign people will no doubt say that both did it because Satan is God’s sheep-dog and that God is good even though He killed 70,000 people from Dan to Beersheba. I guess those 70,000 had it coming. Maybe some of them were going to invent the atom bomb or something.

        In the old days the Jews blamed God for everything. If Amalekites killed your kids, God did it. If wild wind blew down your house, God did it. If a lying spirit misled you, God did it. These days the God-is-sovereign people think the same way. Neither group understands that Jesus alone is the exact representation of His Father. By his own admission, Job didn’t know what he was talking about (Job 42:3). Why anyone would build a theology on the cries of a broken man who later said “I was wrong” is beyond me. Especially since Jesus is standing right there saying “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus is not a baby-killer.

        Don’t idolize the text. Worship the Living Word not the written word.

      • I was reading through the comments and came across the one I wrote years ago when I was just starting to understand grace. Oh my goodness. Thank you for being so gracious. Funny how even in a few short years we can change how we think about things completely. I totally agree with you that God is the author of life. Satan is the one who comes to rob, kill, and destroy. Oh well….. thankfully not all of my old thinking is down in writing. 🙂

  13. How do you know who the Living Word is and what He desires?

    I do not idolize the written text. The One who gave it to us commanded us to meditate on it so that we can know Him better and live according to His desires. Scripture is a revelation of who God is. I’m only guessing from your response since you did not specify, but it seems that you may have a different definition (understanding) of biblical inspiration and interpretation than me. I can appreciate that (if that is even the case) and it does not create any animosity for me. I simply enjoy discussing these things.

    Being faithful to a text is not the same as taking snippets out of context and asking open ended questions. Instead, looking at their immediate context as well as their context within the larger narrative, book, literary context, historical context, the testament, as well as the whole of Scripture leads to clearer understanding. There are different perspectives about God throughout the Bible for a reason. Kings and Chronicles are a great example and there is not enough space here to work through how they work together to give a greater understanding of God’s character, but they actually can be understood in light of each other. As to Job, the story reveals how Job started off without sin, but as the story progresses, his pride and anger begin to grow and distort his understanding. Thus, in context, the statement in 42:3 makes sense without condemning his statements in ch. 2. Further, I do not build my theology around Job. There are 66 books in the Bible for a reason. If all we needed was John 3:16, then that’s all the Bible would contain. Apparently, God knew we needed more. But again, for persons who have a low view of biblical inspiration, none of this will be cogent.

    So, how one knows who the Living Word is and what He desires is directly related to their understanding of biblical inspiration, inerrancy (which is not the same thing as “literal interpretation”), and interpretation. I do not assume to know your position on this issue and I promise there is no animosity on my end.

    Blessings and hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

    • Dear Jeff, these threads are a lousy way to converse on a sensitive topic, particularly as I try to honor my own word limit of 250 words. Please don’t interpret my brevity as animosity. I love you and want the best for you as I do for everyone who disagrees with me and says bad things about my Father. 🙂

      The Author is bigger than His book. If the Bible painted a sufficiently accurate picture of our Father, Paul would not have prayed for us to receive to the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we might know Him better. I know of Jesus through the scriptures; I know Jesus intimately through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees had a high opinion of Biblical inspiration and diligently searched the scriptures. Yet they missed Jesus. It’s a common mistake.

      The gospel is simple and you don’t need 66 books to explain it. The gospel is good news because God is good. That God sometimes kills/takes babies is not good news – at least not to any parent I know. When you have seen by revelation of the Spirit the unconditional love of the Father revealed through the Son, you will have a hard time believing that God kills babies, no matter who says so.

      • Paul,

        I want to believe everything you are saying. I am pretty confused on knowing which text to hold on to and which one to dismiss.

        Let me make sure I understand you, if you will entertain my questions for clarification.

        1. When 2 Samuel 12 states: “The Lord sent Nathan (12:1); “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel” (12:7); “Thus says the Lord” (12:11); “The Lord also…” (12:13), do you take this all to be from the author’s theology of blaming God for all evil. In other words, this is all written from Samuel’s perspective and not really from God?

        2. If yes to #1, how do you decide which verses to hold to as definitive of God and others not? I believe I know, but I’d rather hear it from you. You may also give me more information to chew on.

        Thank you, brother.

      • James, I’m simply saying that where the Bible gives contradictory messages regarding the character of God, the safe option is to go with Jesus every time. Jesus (not Nathan, not Samuel) is the exact representation of the Father (Heb 1:3). Anyone who has seen Jesus (not Nathan, not Samuel) has seen the Father (John 14:9). How many babies did Jesus kill? How many adulterers did Jesus rebuke? See where I’m going here?

        I appreciate that those who idolize the text will have a problem with this method of interpretation but this is exactly how David saw it. If he had thought Nathan represented the Lord’s character on this matter, he would not have acted the way he did. In fact, David – more than anyone perhaps – understood that the law-keeping covenant did not capture the heart of the Father at all. Just look at the way he prays in Psalm 51.

      • Paul,

        Thank you for your prompt reply. Do you have a series of articles somewhere that explores this approach to scripture? It is intriguing, and I would like to dig into it some more.


      • I do. Start with this post and then this post.

      • Thank you. I will.

      • Jeff Smoak // May 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm //

        Paul, respectfully & lovingly I say your thoughts are quite inconsistent and arbitrary throughout these comments. By what standard are you relying on some verses while rejecting others? You say Jesus is the standard whom you know by revelation through the Holy Spirit. Does Scripture, by chance, tell you that the Holy Spirit reveals this? How do you know those verses are reliable? The point is, your position is one many have taken throughout history. At the end of the day, you are in fact trying to fit Jesus and God into your preferences (something the Pharisees did also). Jesus held a high view of Scripture, so if He is your standard, you may want to rethink your approach. You can have a high view of Scripture without being a Pharisee, without sacrificing relationship for religion, and actually see Christ clearer. By what I read above, your standard is your preferences, not Christ, and I say that with love and concern since I have been where you are on this issue.

      • So you’re saying you’ve moved on to a more advanced understanding and are now of the view that God does indeed kill babies? If so, I will gladly stay with my more primitive revelation.

      • Jeff Smoak // May 6, 2013 at 12:09 am //

        Thanks for making my point. Your preference is indeed your god. I have been able to reconcile this text with the Gospels and the rest of Scripture and still hold that God is a God of love, mercy, justice, and patience. It takes work, but it is possible and in the process of that effort, I learned and experienced God’s grace & love to a greater depth.

      • Care to share the results of your hard work? I’m curious to learn why you think a baby-killing God is a God of love. I’m curious to learn why you think God the Father is nothing like God the Son.

  14. Do you know that Jesus loves you Paul despite all your shortcomings and mine. How do you know this? “Jesus loves me this I know for the B-i-B-le tells me so. His “book” is the only reason you can be assured about this. .Be careful how you judge the book and give credit to the author. He is His Book. Woe to the man who takes or adds to it.

  15. Hi Paul
    I have just been exposed to your articles & boy, they are such a blessing!! I find your arguments quite consistent with the person of Christ who is the only perfect representation of God. Your assertion that it was Nathan’s words that killed the baby made perfect sense to me although I admit to not having seen it that way before..
    I would want to hear your explanation on Exodus 4 vs 11 where God is directly quoted as being the author of both good & evil, apparently in His own words. Just before that he had also given Moses the ‘leprosy sign’ How do you think He executed this knowing that He doesn’t originate disease?
    I have other issues I would want to hear your views on, but for now, these two suffice.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. If you put “Exodus 4:11” in the search box at the top of this page, you’ll find a post on that verse, although I gotta admit it’s an old one and if I rewrote it I would make it more clear. But see if it helps.

      • Thanks Paul.
        I have done that & it got me to a post entitled ‘God Doesn’t Change, We Do’, which, although not really addressing my queries, still enlightened me on understanding the nature of God. I am looking forward to you addressing the matter in some future post.
        Be blessed.

      • Hi Paul
        In the e-mail I’ve just sent you, I forgot to request you to give me your understanding of the Ananias & Sapphira incident as well as the apparent slaying of Herod by what the writer calls God’s angel in the book of Acts. Your views would be greatly appreciated.
        Be blessed.

      • If you put those names in the search box at the top of this page, you will find relevant posts. I touch on A&S in the Herod post.

  16. This is certainly an interesting conversation. I have always held to the deep belief in God’s sovereignty. And I also have the Holy Spirit who helps me understand the Word, who makes it alive and relevant for me. I know God is good – always good. The tensions of seeing nasty things happen to the innocent in this world and understanding that a good, sovereign God allowed such things to happen… His ways are way beyond our understanding (there is a verse for that, can’t recall where exactly). To presume to re-interpret His word to make it fit in with our own (limited) revelation does not help us to grow spiritually, I feel.
    Just my 10c worth.

  17. I think of all the comments here Paul’s response are closest to the truth for they resonate with the persona of Christ.
    Job did say that he didn’t know what he was talking about in JOb42:3. So on that basis we need a filter to examine all the chunk of verses where he spoke. Also God himself considered his friends to have mis-yarned (Nigerian colloquialism – spoken wrongly) so we are faced with two choices
    1. Swallow the whole book of JOB
    2. LOOK for a filter and pick the words that are on point with God.
    SINCE HEBREWS 1:3 says Jesus is the express IMAGE OF GOD, then He is the one who will reveal the FATHER TO US.
    Look at how Nathan handled the adultery of David and how Jesus handled the woman caught in adultery. BIG DIFFERENCE
    In the end God is a God of Grace. The law brings sin into full force and thus strengthens the hold of death.

    Whatever you believe about LOVE is what you will believe about God and what you believe about God will produce its effect in your life.

  18. oh! thanks Paul for this blog!!

  19. Aimee Fernback // September 26, 2014 at 5:53 am // Reply

    I am here because I have a severely disabled (autistic) child who is in need of prayers for healing. I have begged God for 11 years to heal Drew and he still struggles daily with his disability. I believe in a loving God and struggle with the fact that it would be so easy for God to heal my son…even today. I would appreciate prayers at this time. Thank you.

    • Hi Aimee, I will pray. I’m sure everyone reading this will join with you in prayer as well.

      • Aimee Fernback // September 26, 2014 at 8:45 am //

        Thank you for the blessing of your prayers. I enjoy your posts and they have helped me survive a lot of hard times, knowing that God is a loving and wonderful Father. God bless you and your ministry.

    • Aimee,

      I don’t know if you turned on notifications or will see this, but if you do, I highly recommend “A Better Way to Pray” by Andrew Wommack. God deeply loves your son and has already provisioned for his healing. This book will help you understand how to appropriate and release that healing into your son’s life!

      I hope this helps and is a blessing to you.

  20. I don’t think it was God or Nathan that killed the baby. The spiritual door was opened to Satan when David sinned against God. So legally Satan had every right to the baby. God told Abel when you sin death lies at the door. Sure, God could have stopped the death but why would he…he is a God of his word.

  21. Paul, God richly bless you for the good works you are doing. I havr being fellowing u about 4 month ago, and tell u, am growing rapidly in the grace of God. receive my kisses brother.

    please, what do u have to say about killing of the Egyptians in the red sea….? throw light on it for me. thanks

  22. Hello, I’m pretty new here and it’s new for me to read the whole bible through the lens of grace. I’m especially confused with the image of God in 2 Samuel. I’d like the interpretation that it’s not God who killed the young baby of David.
    But I’ve some other difficulties:
    – I’m wondering why David and Bathsheba named one of their sons after Nathan, this Nathan is an ancestor of Christ, luk 3:31.
    – I’m confused over the Davidic covenant in 2 sam 7 where it says: ‘If he (the son) commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.’ Why this clause if God is gracious? David didn’t ask for it… Did this covenant come to an end when Jesus was chastened and crucified?
    – Some teachers say that David pronounced judgement over himself, is that what happened, because David said in 2 sam 12:6, ‘he shall restore fourfold for he lamb?’ Is he paying back for Uriahs life the lives of his 4 sons and/of 1 daughter…? Was this al because of the law or because of the Davidic covenant or are this natural consequences? Is this about discipline? I’ve heard many times ‘If God didn’t spare David, he will not spare you…’
    – Was Davids perception of God distorted for a while? because in 2 sam 16:10 David even thinks that God curses him, or is that humility?

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