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David was a murderer and an adulterer. Both crimes were punishable by death by the law.

Solomon had ... how many wives and concubines? I don't even remember.

Why neither David nor Solomon were stoned to death? Was there any provision in the law for special cases when the one who commits a crime is the king of Israel?

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The punishments had been defined, but they were very rarely fulfilled. I can't remember a single passage where an adulterer was stoned, even though there's a lot of adultery reported. –  dancek Sep 25 '11 at 14:50
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Who would condemn the king, appointed by God, to death? If God appoints someone, it would seem that God is the only one to judge that person. –  James Black Sep 25 '11 at 16:14
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It's good to be the king –  Clint Eastwood Jun 22 at 21:50
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6 Answers 6

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Solomon married his concubines, so he wasn't practicing adultery - just polygamy, which was not forbidden.

David murdered Uriah, but did it by proxy. He did not kill Uriah, rather he set up a situation in which he would fall in battle. Beyond that, yes David "killed his ten thousands," but did so in battle, and thus it isn't murder. And as Caleb pointed out, God punished David.

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Thanks. I think you've nailed it. –  brilliant Jan 16 '12 at 13:57
    
Tagging onto your previous post, is the conclusion of this post that the "stoned to death" punishment is applicable only for direct (non-proxied) murders? –  Pacerier Jun 2 '12 at 20:16
    
@Pacerier I think there is a distinction between a legal penalty (which is ultimately enforced by man) and divine retribution. You'd have to raise the question the question with a Rabbinic lawyer to get a full answer. –  Affable Geek Jun 5 '12 at 15:47
    
I think murder by proxy is still murder, a just council of fair judges would agree. –  Andrew Jun 22 at 9:41
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Nice, but what about David's adultery? Did people think that God's terrible punishment was sufficient? –  Wikis Jun 22 at 10:01
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Yes, there was a special provision. God personally enacted a punishment.

In the case of David, God caused his son to die and did not permit him to be the one to build the temple.

2 Samuel 12:14 (ESV)
Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.

1 Chronicles 28:3 (ESV)
But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’

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What about Solomon? –  El'endia Starman Sep 25 '11 at 18:46
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@El'endia: Solomon lost his legacy. Israel was at its strongest ever under his reign, but after his death the kingdom was split and slowly began its decline. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 25 '11 at 18:56
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Ended his days in domestic misery? [citation needed] –  Caleb Sep 25 '11 at 18:56
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@Caleb - Thank you Caleb, but I was talking about provision in the law, while what you are talking about is merely how God dealt with David about his crimes that took place long after the law had been given. My point was is there any such provisions in the law like "However, if the sinning one is your king, he shall not be put to death. His punishment will be enacted on him from above at the right time" or something like that. –  brilliant Sep 25 '11 at 21:34
    
@brilliant I see what you're getting at. This might take quite a bit of research. I don't think there is a scriptural reference to exactly how that would work, and I don't know that even in the civil laws of the time if there would have been such provisions. It wasn't a democracy! The scripture we do have helps people that live under even the worst dictators rest in peace knowing that justice will be done even to kings. –  Caleb Sep 26 '11 at 6:20
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I think this is an excellent question. The Lord was waiting for DAVID to come forward and expose himself to the Law. He didn't and so the sin of fornication was repeated by his children through what happened with Tamar and Ammon. Had he been honest about HIS sin, then he would have been able to correct the sin of his son. He didn't and look what happened!

The child of this marriage turned to evil by letting sex and co-dependency control him. That's why Solomon enslaved his own country men and set up idols. How seriously are you going to take God as the ruler for your life when your own father ignores the basic 10 commandments? David has the duty to expose himself to punishment. He didn't so God took away that child to prevent him from being raised with shame and abuse. David then had the opportunity to admit and repent of his sin. He didn't. The rest if Biblical history.

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Is not Psalm 51 David's prayer of repentance? –  Narnian Jan 22 '13 at 22:54
    
Welcome to Christianity.SE! You may want to read our faq. –  Affable Geek Jan 22 '13 at 23:46
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This question isn't really a Christian doctrinal question, I think. But, the most obvious answer here is that they were both kings. And the literal letter of God's law is always enacted by people (like the King's army or guards), who are generally under the rule of the king -- notably as a sort of proxy for God in the case of the Jews.

So, the king probably has guards, for one. And these guards probably don't question the king's actions or authority. The people, therefore, are not likely going to form a clan and go up against the king's armed guards because he slept around. They'd just be slaughtered.

I.e., no one's going to stone the king unless God explicitly tells the people to do so via a prophet, even if the king should rightfully be stoned according to the letter of the law! And even then, the king's guards probably need to be in cahoots with the rebels, so to speak, before the people will actually take action -- or at least any successful action.

So, regardless of whether there was a good or strictly legal reason that David and Solomon shouldn't have been stoned, there's no practical reason they would have been. And there are plenty of practical de-motivators at work.

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The king of Israel is also in a somewhat special position as noted in David's behavior toward Saul (1 Sam. 24:5-7--David regretted cutting off a corner of the king's robe, killing the king would be a graver issue--and 1 Sam. 26:9-11). –  Paul A. Clayton Jan 23 '13 at 3:04
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There needed to be two or three witnesses for such a one to be pronounced guilty and sentenced to death; one witness was not enough for the death penalty

Numbers 35:30

Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty (nkjv).

Deuteronomy 17:6

Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness (nkjv).

Deuteronomy 19:15

"One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established (nkjv).

Who would be the witnesses in the case of David?

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Perhaps, no two witnesses in case of David, but what about the case of Solomon? I guess there were numerous witnesses who could prove that he had many concubines. –  brilliant Dec 14 '13 at 1:28
    
I thought you already established that Solomon had married his concubines and therefore was not living contrary to the Law of God. –  Sarah Dec 14 '13 at 1:56
    
"He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines" (1 Kings 11:3) - Did he really marry 300 concubines? What's the difference between wives and concubines? How marriage was understood at that time if besides marrying wives one was also suppose to marry his concubines? –  brilliant Dec 14 '13 at 8:23
    
Nathan, for one... –  Andrew Jun 22 at 9:32
    
@brilliant cf. Deut 17:14-20. Actually, a quick search of the law doesn't yield a lot on concubines except mentioning who has them. –  Andrew Jun 26 at 6:59
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None of these answers address the apparent conflict of a just king who is above the law and not accountable to its penalties- even to God. They also seem to underestimate the commitment of the Hebrew people to justice and impartiality of the law (we can't conclude that the courts contemporary to David's rule were corrupt), and disregard that the law was both a spiritual agreement with God and a legally binding criminal code within their society.

The answer in David's case is that the law condemned his actions as worthy of death, but did not allow for his execution. We can't just go around stoning people and claim that it's justified by the law. A legal system is unjust that does not permit due process and allows judgement and sentencing of death to be carried out without a trial. Thus, God gave specific instructions concerning a sentence of death in the Torah. The traditional interpretation (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 2a-b) of those instructions maintain that even an ox that is worthy of the death penalty (eg. for killing a person) should be tried by a court of 23 judges.

According to this Judaism.SE question, in order to be eligible under the law for the death penalty on either charge, David would have had to continue in his sin after being confronted by more than one witness that could testify in a court of 23 judges that he saw David persist in his sin after being confronted. This is the very reason for the observation in a previous answer that "not many people were put to death." According to the linked question, a court was considered murderous if it executed a person more frequently than 7 years (some accounts say 70 years).

Nathan, filled with the word of God, convinces David with a parable that he is worthy of death. David does not continue in his sin. He repents Uriah's murder and legitimizes his relationship with Bathsheba, and so he is not eligible to be sentenced to death for his sins (crimes).

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I don't think the law required a person to be given the chance to repent before being executed. See Numbers 15:32-36 for example. –  curiousdannii Jun 22 at 10:01
    
On closer inspection, I'm not sure if the instructions for the criminal courts and their proceedings had been given at this point. With the corpus of instructions available to Moses at that time, his only legal action may have been to carry out the prescribed penalty without the due process that came later. Even if they did have the instructions for the courts, they may not have implemented them yet. We know they weren't performing circumcisions in the wilderness. The courts would have been well established by the time of David's rule. –  Andrew Jun 22 at 10:36
    
By "this point" I mean your counter example from Numbers. –  Andrew Jun 22 at 21:02
    
Fair enough, most of those laws are described in Deuteronomy. –  curiousdannii Jun 22 at 23:09
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