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!