Punishment from God
(Samuel II 21, 24)

Punishment resulted from other people's sins

  • Giboenites revenged Saul's attack by executing seven of Saul's offsprings (Samuel II 21): Gibeonites were also called Hivites (Jos. 9:7; 11:19) . The Israelites had sworn to spare them in the name of God (Jos. 9:15, 18-26). Saul's action against Gibeonites is not mentioned elsewhere in he Bible but appears to happen in his early reign, motivated by excessive nationalism.

  • David King counted the fighting men and led to a plague (Samuel II 24): King David conducted a census for either preparing a war disapproved by God or self-centered motives such as pride or sense of insecurity (24:9). Seventy thousands died of famine because of David's sin.

Arguments for inherited punishment

  • The punished commits crime: When the Bible described God punished people for their ancestors' sins, actually the descendants were repeating the same sins (Jeremiah 32: 18, 20-24). In the case of David's census, the anger of God is said to be directed against Israel rather than David (Samuel II 24:1), some have concluded that it was occasioned by the widespread support among the people for the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba against David.

  • Grace is also inherited: Although punishments and sins are carried over to people who seem not to be deserved, grace is also awarded to those who are not deserved (Chronicles II 21:7).

  • Original sin (St. Augustine): Because of original sin, all humans are condemned to death. There are two interpretations of original sins:

    • By essence (nature): "Sin may then be defined ultimately as anything in the creature which does not express, or which is contrary to, the holy character of the Creator. Sin then is not merely what we do, but what we are. There is sin in our race and in our nature." (Merill Tenny)

    • By existence: Original sin illuminates the fact that all humans live in a sinful world. As far as we and sins coexist in this world, it is impossible for any human not to be contaminated by collective sins.

Lessons to us

  • Sins sometimes are resulted from over-enthusiastic actions (e.g. Saul's attack Giboenites, David's prepared a war).

  • Consequences of punishment can be minimized (e.g. David's confession, Killing of Sheba by the city).