December 17, 2021
Scripture: Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:21-23 ESV
Observation: Verse 23 (above), along with Jesus’ warning to not despise children because “their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10-11), point us to the grace of God that extends to the helpless child and those who are incapable of understanding the Gospel. But there is more to this story: a reversal of the grieving process. In the Ancient Near East, it was customary to fast and show outward signs of grief once the loved one had passed away. The deceased family would often hire mourners to demonstrate the importance of their loved ones and display the extent of their sorrow. But this was a personal matter for David. He was unconcerned about social customs. Instead, in the privacy of his palace, he expressed his sorrow while his son was still alive in the hope that the Lord would be gracious to him and heal his baby.
Takeaway: There are two in this passage. First, there is no wrong way to show our sincere grief. David likely felt the weight of his sin in addition to the looming loss of his child. Unconcerned about protocol, Israel’s king was present with his personal feelings of sorrow—all the while focused on his heavenly Father. Secondly, he was confident that his son’s passing was but a pause in the timeline of eternity. Understanding the grace of God, David knew that if the Lord would not change his mind that at least his child would be in good care under the watchful presence of his heavenly Father. Thus, knowing he could do nothing more to intercede, David accepted the outcome, trusting that he would be reunited with his son one day. For death is but a pause on eternity’s timeline. So it was time to stop fasting and look ahead while holding fast to his hope in the resurrection of the dead.
While it may not be wise to share this biblical perspective with the grieving parent amid their recent loss, these words of comfort will provide much-needed hope in due time. Indeed, David’s story reminds us that when God does not answer our prayers the way we had hoped, we can rest assured that our loved ones are in the best of care in the presence of our good and gracious Father.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are a loving Father who cares about the helpless child and who extends grace to those incapable of understanding the good news of our Gospel. Would you please help us comfort those left behind with the assurance of the resurrection and eternal life with you? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling