A Question I Was Asked:

Why Wasn't David Stoned to Death For Adultery?

Surely according to Leviticus 20:10 David should have been stoned to death after his adultery with Bathsheba. Why wasn't he? It seems clear enough in the Law of Moses. Could this even be a kind of favoritism?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at this: In Leviticus 20:10, the Bible certainly records:

"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife - with the wife of his neighbor - both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10).

Now that's fine as far as it goes, but this one verse does not give the full details of this law. To get the full 'breakdown' of this law we must go to Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15:

On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. (Deuteronomy 17:6).

This is supported by the very well-known biblical principle found in chapter 19 of this book:

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19:15).

So although Leviticus 20:10 speaks strongly about the death penalty for adulterers this never means that other principles of God's Law are cast aside. The truth is: witnesses were needed and apparently there were none.

Just to briefly re-cap the story, in 2 Samuel 11:3-4, the Bible states that David seduced Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, causing her to became pregnant. David even ordered that her husband should be sent into the battle front-line where there was a strong likelihood that he would be killed, which is precisely what happened. In chapter 12 of 2 Samuel, we read of the prophet Nathan confronting David about his despicable acts, thereby convicting David of his sin and bringing him to repentance. But David was allowed to continue his reign as Israel's king. Yet David did not go unpunished; the child that was born to David and Bathsheba, as a result of their adultery, later died. Almost invariably Bible sceptics have pounced on this situation, accusing God of being a 'respecter of persons,' or biased in favour of certain people.

However, in taking a close look at the actual Law of Moses, we see that these conclusions are simply incorrect. Why? Because there were no witnesses, certainly not the two or three required by the Law. God did not 'kick into touch' the Law of Moses just in order to keep David alive in a blatant act of favouritism. Only with the arrival of Nathan, the prophet, clearly sent by God to confront David, did the details begin to surface concerning David's adultery. Nathan the prophet, however, could not be a witness against David, since there is no record of his having been at the scene of this incident, he apparently got the information directly from God, which would not satisfy Deuteronomy 19:15.

But Could Not God Himself Have Been a Witness?

The question is sometimes asked: could not God Himself have been a witness? The plain answer is no. As several commentators have pointed out, if those under the Law of Moses were condemned based on whether or not God knew of their crimes, then far more deaths would have occurred, since God knows all things and is omnipresent (Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 139; Hebrews 4:13). However, it is a cardinal principle of the way God has ordered things in this world that men and women must stand up and take responsibilities for their own conduct, actions and behaviour. We are in a learning situation in this world in which God is demonstrating that the natural, sinful ways of human beings lead to accidents, guilt, sin, suffering and finally death. God - for the present time - has a 'hands-off' policy, although He continues to respond to sincere prayer.

God Does Not Walk Away From His Elect

Having stated all of the above, it is true that God does not give up on those whom He specifically calls, justifies, and empowers to do His work. The elect of God come under His eternal grace yet they still usually have to pay for errors done in the present life but, as we have seen, a deeply regrettable act that it was, David - who later deeply repented of his adulterous act - had no case to answer under the Law of God.

Robin A. Brace. April 25th, 2016.