HOPING AND MOVING ON
Sovereign Lord, your ways are always right, they are always best for me. Thank you that there is no circumstance in which I cannot trust you to be at work for my good.
Read 2 SAMUEL 12:15-31
15 After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[a] on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.[b]
26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.”
29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s[c] head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent[d] of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking.[e] David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.
- 2 Samuel 12:16 Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint; Masoretic Text does not have in sackcloth.
- 2 Samuel 12:25 Jedidiah means loved by the Lord.
- 2 Samuel 12:30 Or from Milkom’s (that is, Molek’s)
- 2 Samuel 12:30 That is, about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms
- 2 Samuel 12:31 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.’1
Have you ever found yourself puzzled, or even shocked, by the behavior or perspective of someone from another culture? I remember someone commenting on how rude people from a particular south Asian culture were because they didn’t say ‘thank you’ when they were served in a shop. It was a revelation to me as a British person when I was told that constantly thanking someone for doing their job was seen as implying that you had expected them not to do it right. This passage raises the same kind of issues. David’s colleagues were as bewildered as modern readers by what was going on, but for different reasons. They had no problem in grasping why the baby should die, but David’s pleading with God while the baby lived and yet apparently easily moving on when he died, was incomprehensible! The writer wants us to grasp David’s understanding of God’s character.
David’s desperate prayer, followed by his calm acceptance, showed that he understood that God was living and active; he could and did respond to human prayer and was able (v 13) to show undeserved mercy. David also understood that God was free to act as he thought best. David’s prayer was not an attempt to blackmail God into doing what David wanted, but rather an honest expression of his own feelings, while also seeking out God’s will in this situation. Once the baby died, it was clear that no other way was possible, so prayer and fasting were no longer appropriate. Sometimes it is right to keep on praying2 and sometimes it is right to accept the inevitable and move on.3 David understood that and, although there is nothing about his behavior in chapter 11 to commend, here he does provide us with an example to follow.
May we trust in God’s love and sovereignty, even when our desperate praying seems to have been disregarded and we really don’t understand.
In those times when I don’t understand your working, Lord God, help me to trust in your faithful care. Even in the most difficult times, help me align my will to yours.
1 Ps 36:9 2 Luke 18:1–8 3 2 Cor 12:8–10
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