Did King David believe in eternal separation?


In a tale of two sons

(2 Samuel 12:15-23)

15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”

19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,t and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”
22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”**

(2 Samuel 18:30-33)

30Then the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

31Behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the LORD has freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you.”

32Then the king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!”
33The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”**

Two sons, two different reactions for one another eternal fates. David has a sense of resignation and peace over the death of one son but cries out in sheer agony over the other son. like David said, He would see his child in heaven but is it possible that he cried out in anguish over Absalom because he knew he would never see Absalom again either in this or the life to come? Was Absalom eternally separated from God because Absalom opposed God’s “anointed,” and thus God Himself?

Anyone with a biblical (scripture) response.


Neither passage affirms eternal separation or actually speak of the afterlife at all. And the two different responses are due to it being two completely different situations.

In the first, David had been praying and fasting, seeking the face of God for the healing of his baby, and when the baby had died, he had already been emotionally prepared for it, and the rest of his life around him was relatively stable. And thus when the baby died David was resigned to the outcome recognizing that he too would die some day. When David says that he will “go to him one day”, does he mean that he’ll see him in the afterlife, or is he just recognizing that he’ll also one day die? The passage doesn’t say, though it seems likely to me that it’s just a reference to his own death.

In the second, his son’s death was a surprise that happened at the climax of everything else in his life being stripped from him. So there is no wonder in his cry of grief and dispair. And that’s all it was, a cry of grief and dispair, and it doesn’t affirm anything concerning David’s belief in the afterlife.

Also, in the first, he did not have nearly the emotional investment of time and tears in the first relationship as in the second, and thus one would expect the emotional response of the second to be more grevious than the first.

And notice that David doesn’t say that he’ll ever see either the baby or Absolum again; not that David didn’t believe in life-after-death, but he just didn’t speak specifically of such in the context quoted. To read into the second that David didn’t believe he’d see Absolum some day again is to, well, read that “into” the passage (eisigesis, which is often “fleshly” as you say); it doesn’t come from the passage (exegesis, which is what is meant by your use of “biblical” I assume).


I’ve always been deeply moved by this passage. I believe it is one of the most passionate statements of agape love in the bible. Here is a father who had all kinds of reasons to hate his son, but he responds with that pure, selfless love that God gave to us. “I would rather die in your place.” The text doesn’t tell us anything about afterlife, but it certainly tells us about fatherly love. I was watching a show the other day about pediatric cancer and there were all these tiny children that were sick and without hair from the radiation therapy, etc. It grieves me to the core and I think, “Please, dear God, not my children! Take me, not them!”


Unfortunately I don’t think God revealed a clear understanding of the afterlife to OT writers. i.e. we have to read it in light of Christ and the NT writers before you can really understand God’s plan to save everyone. I think there are only hints in the OT e.g. Is 45:23b. I don’t think this is unusual, most things only became clear in the NT e.g. the Gospel, the cross, the trinity, the temple, the sacrificial system, the priesthood, the kingdom and possibly even the resurrection of all. So yes, OT judgment often ended in death of the wicked, but we need to remember that resurrection follows death. I think we get a hint of this when God promises to restore the enemies of Israel e.g. Egypt.


I have two sons. I don’t think I truly understood The Father’s love until I became a parent. I can empathize with the love that these fathers had for their children.


I have one son & one daughter, and agree, I feel parenthood has given me a much greater understanding of God’s love.


I’ll 3rd that! I learned a whole new dimension of love by having kids.



I became a father in June 2001. I had fallen away from Christianity - why would Gods grace be resonant to me and not others? I didn’t understand Calvinism at that time, but I understood omniscience, so why would God create people in such a way that they wouldn’t be receptive? It made no sense to me - the one piece of personal revelation I felt truly confident about was that I was no better than anyone else!

Then after the Towers fell, I started to try to understand Islam, and it’s hatred for the “infidel” or unfaithful. This lead me to reconsider Christianity and how (or if) it differs. All I can say is God opened my eyes to scripture; now, as a father all the verses seemed obvious.

I’m quite embarrassed to admit I thought I was the first to see it! I went to my pastor to tell him I think God destroys Saul and saves Paul - that we are all Sauls: enemies of Christ, but yet while we were yet sinners Christ died for us and for all, and that Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. I was breathless and the verses were pouring out. He directed me to his assistant pastor, who told me “God winnows the righteous from the wicked - that is the story of the bible!”

I said “there is none righteous, no not one”. I found Talbott’s book afterward, articulating my thoughts better than I could.

And that assistant pastor was (almost) right: God winnows the righteous from the wicked - Christ delivering us from our own iniquity. The terrifying love and beneficent justice of the Father Almighty.