I was compiling all the passages cited in my book to create an online, scripture-linked index, and found something interesting in 2nd Samuel 12:13-14.
Now, one thing I find interesting about this passage is that David’s forgiveness was clearly due to confessing his sins, not due to faith. David had just as much faith before confessing his sin as after. [This is important because the Reformed church claims that all forgiveness, even that in the Old Testament, was due to faith in the coming Christ… of course, the Jews did not believe in a coming singular savior until well after David’s reign, so that would land all the patriarchs in hot water…but that is a conversation for another post….]
But, the real reason I brought this encounter up is that I wonder if this scenario serves as a reasonable model of what “forgiveness” means. In one breath we are told David is forgiven, and in the next we are told his son is still going to be struck down by God due to his sin.If we constrain ourselves to the idea that God’s punishment is due to unforgiven sins, this is an odd situation. If David were truly forgiven for his sin, why is God killing the child? And the reason for killing the child is clearly due to David’s contempt for God.But, if instead we allow for two separate ideas to go on here…that forgiveness can lead to reconciliation with God without necessarily meaning exemption from punishment, then the story makes sense. God’s [I]anger[/I] is clear in 12:7-12, and it appears that anger has been dissipated when David is forgiven…yet David is still punished.Or perhaps the killing of the child was punishment done out of a desire for disciplining David, to drive home the danger of sinning against God?I don’t think the disciplining concept is the best way to see this, for my guess is that this punishment is somewhat similar to Moses’ and Aaron’s punishment for striking the rock [Numbers 20:12], though I suppose one could argue that Moses’ death could teach the Israelites something.This notion of being “forgiven but accountable” would explain two points about the discussions of the Judgment:i) We are told that we will be held accountable for “every worthless word we speak,” and that certainly applies to those who have been forgiven. Similarly for other passages like 2nd Corinthians 5:10. Paul certainly felt he was forgiven [and in a reconciled position with regard to God, as evidenced by receiving the Spirit], yet still felt the need to maintain “a clear conscience before God and man.” [Acts 24:16]
ii) In all the descriptions of the Judgment, not one of them describes forgiveness of sins germane to the proceedings (with, perhaps, one exception). That’s a pretty odd situation given how often Jesus and others refer to and describe the Judgment.