Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.
‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!
‘Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.
‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.
‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’ ”
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. (2 Samuel 12:7-13)
Just because God is merciful doesn’t mean there’s no punishment. David took Bathsheba to his bed, got her pregnant. Then, in attempting to hide what he had done, he had her husband put into the front lines of a battle so he would die.
David was guilty of two crimes that were punishable by death: adultery and murder (see Leviticus 20:10 and Numbers 35:31). According to the Bible, there were no mitigating circumstances, no sacrifice that could be offered, no restitution that could be paid.
But the prophet Nathan told David that God had taken his sin away and that he wouldn’t die. David got mercy, rather than full justice.
Despite the mercy, however, David still suffered. The infant born of the illicit relationship died. His first born son, Absalom, the heir to the throne, murdered his younger brother Amnon after he raped his sister Tamar. Later, Absalom led a rebellion against David and took David’s concubines as his own. Absalom died in the resulting civil war and David was restored to his throne. Bathsheba gave birth to another son, Solomon, who would take the throne after David. God was merciful—but David still suffered for his sins.