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April 8 Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 18-19
“While The Child Was Yet Alive”
2 Samuel 12:22
Today we have read of David’s great sorrow and grief because of Absalom’s death under the judgment of God. What mother or father, knowing the grace of God, living in union with Christ by the grace of God, cannot enter into David’s great pain? What unknown, inexpressible agony must have crushed his heart! I cannot imagine what it would be like to live to see a rebel son or daughter perish under the wrath of God, knowing that as I lower the dead body of one so dear to my heart into the earth his or her soul justly suffers the unquenchable fire of God’s wrath in hell. To you, who have or shall endure such pain, I can only say, flee away to Christ your Savior and cast your soul on him, finding the solace you need in your God’s wisdom, goodness, grace, and covenant faithfulness (2 Samuel 23:5). Our God is too wise to err, too good to do wrong, and too strong to fail.
Another Dead Son
But David had another son who died, not as a grown rebel, but as an infant. What a great mercy it was for him to bury that infant son, killed by God because of his father’s sin. I can well imagine David thinking, as he cried “O Absalom, my son, my son,” would God you had died from the womb!
Let us think today of that better day in David’s life, when God took his infant son in death. When David’s son died, he arose, washed, and anointed himself, put on his dress clothes, went to the house of God, and worshipped. When he came home, he asked his servants to prepare dinner for him. The servants who had watched him weep, mourn, and pray for his dying son were astonished. They could not understand David’s change of behavior. While his son was alive, but dying, David was full of sorrow. We have no way of knowing everything that was going through his mind. But this much we do know:
1. Though David’s heart was broken over his sin, he was assured of his own forgiveness and acceptance with God (2 Samuel 12:13).
2. David knew that his child’s sickness unto death was by the hand and will of the God he worshipped, loved, and served (2 Samuel 12:14-15). “The Lord struck the child.”
3. David was prepared to and did submit to the will of God, even when it meant the death of his son (2 Samuel 12:22-23; Psalm 51:4).
4. Though David was fully convinced that upon his son’s death he would depart and be with the Lord (2 Samuel 12:23), he did not want his son to die (2 Samuel 12:16, 22).
Was David bitter: Probably. Was he downcast? Of course. Was he in great pain? Yes. His heart was crushed. He withdrew from all others, refused the ordinary joys and necessities of life, and “besought God for the child.” Though it was evident that the child was to die, both by its appearance and by the fact that God had told him it must, David still hoped that God might be gracious to him and heal his son.
Any who saw him during this time (any who did not know David, or had never experienced what David was experiencing) might have thought David had lost his faith. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Though his behavior changed radically during those days of horrible, indescribable sorrow, David believed God and he poured out his soul to him, when he could express his feelings to no one else. When his closest friends tried, in their helplessness, to help him, David refused to be comforted, or even to eat bread with them (2 Samuel 12:17). He was in such a state of sorrow, agony, and devastation that he simply could not bring himself to discuss his grief with anyone but God. He refused to put on a good religious front. Yet, he would not let go of his God.
What faith this man exemplified when others may have thought he had none! And when the Lord took his son, God’s servant David both bowed to the will of God and found comfort in it. He lived in hope of a day when he would be reunited with his son in a world where there is no more sickness, no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more death, because there shall be no more sin (2 Samuel 12:23). He lived in hope of God’s fulfillment of his covenant (2 Samuel 23:5). Now, David, Bathsheba, and their son, united around the throne of God, understand the necessity for all that sorrow; and they thank God for it. Thus it shall be for every grieving, sorrowing believer in the world to come. We will soon understand the necessity for every sorrow experienced here and give thanks to God our Savior, who through great sorrow, brings his chosen to everlasting joy with him!