David: Self-Indulgent Father


If you know anything about King David in the Bible, you know that God blessed him by giving him many children, and you know how children are a blessing to be treasured and enjoyed (see Psalm 127), and not merely tolerated or, worse, abused. In this meditation, we will look at another aspect of David’s fathering, how his sin had a great impact in his family.

The stories of David are told in 40 chapters in 1 and 2 Samuel. Most of the time, we see him in a very positive light. In fact, before we learn of his sin in 2 Samuel 11, we have read 26 chapters showing what a godly and spiritually sensitive man he was, and how things consistently worked out in his favor. King Saul consumed himself with a jealous hatred of David and constantly tried to kill him, but David was a man after God’s own heart. God favored him and protected him.

But, that changed radically after we read of David’s great sins.  He saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing and was consumed with lust for her. He brought her to his palace and took her for himself. He took another man’s wife and was unfaithful to his own wives in the process. Then, he added murder to his sin by killing Bathsheba’s husband to cover up his adultery (2 Samuel 11-12).

We know from Scripture and from experience that sin has its consequences, and David received no exemption from this rule. Immediately after these sins of adultery and murder, David’s family life began to unravel.  Indeed, it unraveled in very dramatic fashion.

First, Bathsheba became pregnant, and a son was born. Rather than rejoicing in this great miracle of life, however, David was forced to mourn, because his son became sick and died. We are told that his death was a direct result of David’s sin (2 Sam 12:14-18).

Later, another son Amnon raped his daughter Tamar (2 Sam 13:1-19). Just as David had lusted and acted upon his lust, so did his son Amnon, in a grotesque sexual conquest of his sister.

As a result of this, another one of David’s sons, Absalom, was so enraged that he killed his brother Amnon (2 Sam 13:20-29). Again, we see a son following in his father’s footsteps, in murdering another human being.

Following this, Absalom rebelled against David (2 Samuel 15-18), and caused David much grief in doing so. David was forced to give up his palace and to flee from Jerusalem altogether. Absalom added insult to injury by sleeping with his father’s concubines on the roof of the palace, in full view of all Israel!

Finally, another one of David’s sons, Adonijah, added yet another insult by seeking to replace him as king (1 Kings 1). This came at the end of David’s life, when he was old and feeble.

So, what can we learn from this sad example of a self-destructive family? For one thing, we learn that sin has consequences. In the end, David is still praised in Scripture for his godly heart, but his personal circumstances suffered greatly because of his self-indulgence. What is worse, his children suffered, too. Death was the result of every one of the sins: Bathsheba’s son died; and Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah all met violent deaths that resulted from their own sins. What David the father set in motion had terrible results in his family.

Do we think that sin has no consequences? Much misery in families today is surely due to fathers’ unfaithfulness to their wives and to their unfaithfulness to God. Sin does have its consequences, and how dare we knowingly allow our children to reap what we have sown? May God grant us the grace to resist sin, for our children’s sakes.

David Howard, Ph.D.
Professor of Old Testament

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray that all of us fathers would reflect on David’s (negative) example and choose to do what is right, for the sake of our own spiritual health…and of our children.
  • Pray that the Lord would bless the upcoming school year at Bethlehem College & Seminary:
    • New students preparing for their first year of challenging studies and bonding with their cohorts,
    • Returning students looking to continue building on their previous years,
    • Faculty as they prepare new and repeat classes and for their mentoring opportunities with students,
    • Staff as they work hard on planning the faculty-staff retreat and student events as they begin the year, as well as their ongoing roles supporting faculty members and administrators.
  • Pray for the full funding of the Alex Steddom International Student Fund such that we may continue supporting Jeremiah Ogazi, Benaya Ariel, Edison DSouza, Boaz Prince, and a new student for the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Pray for the Godward Life conference, that the Lord would bring all those in need of encouragement and exhortation, and use it for his glory.