2 Samuel 12:15b-23
“Then David Arose…”
“15b And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 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.” 22 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?’ 23 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.”
I awoke to another night of Micah's fussing after another day of doctor appointments. Micah didn’t feel well either from teething or an upset stomach, and he was a tad hungry. My wife got up and went to care for him, and I followed to offer some help. The day was long, and feeling the effects of it all, we both needed support. After settling him down, I went back to bed and found myself unable to sleep. So, like many other times before, I prayed until I fell asleep. I could feel my words and thoughts becoming disjointed, and I drifted away at the altar of my Lord. This scripture of David echoed in the back of my mind as it always had during the pregnancy, extended NICU stay, emergency room visits, and surgeries. How I long for the day that I can arise and rest.
We often find ourselves and those within our circles of influence amid earthly and spiritual struggles. They are lost, sick, struggling, tired, and so on, seeking help from whoever will answer. For many, we daily lift these individuals in prayer as the Spirit has burdened or compelled us incessantly to go before the throne. Like the man knocking on his friend's door, we ask, plead, beg for God’s intercession in our affairs and our loved ones, and expectantly wait for the answers we want. Deep within our hearts, we know that with God, all things are possible; with that knowledge, we reach for the hem of His garment.
“On Behalf of the Child”
In the previous chapter, David had sinned against God through his adulterous affair with Bathsheba leading to an unexpected pregnancy and his ordered murder of her husband, Uriah. God sent Nathan before King David, who proclaimed God’s judgment for the heinous acts. Although David had repented, God declared that the unborn child would be His to claim. Bathsheba later goes into labor and has a baby who becomes sick. I want to draw your attention to David’s response. He sought God on behalf of the child. David knew God’s judgment as God had not left any room within His words for a misunderstanding. However, David still earnestly went before God, fervently asking for the child to be spared.
David understood that if there was life, there was hope. He knew God’s mercy and goodness. He lay on the ground, fasted, and prayed for days until God’s answer was clear. Notice that David did not make demands. He did not claim healing or declare that he was withdrawing from the treasuries of heaven because he was a faithful follower. He sought God’s mercy but was submissive to the sovereignty of God. The king humbled himself, lying on the ground, denying himself and sleeping like a dog at his master’s feet.
“Then David Arose”
After seven days, the Lord answered by taking the baby. The servants, concerned for their beloved master, were anxious about telling David, fearing that he would kill himself in grief. After all, he was fasting, begging, and pleading for God’s mercy, so how could he go on with his request denied by his Lord? David Observed the discussion between servants, and his heart knew the answer, and the servants confirmed it. Then David arose, cleaned himself up, and ate, to the astonishment of his friends. When questioned about the sudden change, he answers that while there was life, the Lord could be gracious, but now the babe’s soul has been claimed, there’s no more to be done. David accepted the Lord’s answer.
God responded to David’s pleas with “No,” and David’s response reveals his true heart. David did not curse God or throw himself into sorrow and deep depression. He accepted God’s authority and went back to his daily responsibilities. In light of God’s judgment, David pens Psalm 51, glorifying his Lord and repenting for the many sins committed. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your Lovingkindness,” he writes. There is no spite, scorn, anger, malice, or hate, but instead, love, repentance, and worship.
Each of us will have a “child” that we will seek God. Many have at least one person they’re praying for God’s intercession with; if they don’t, the time will most assuredly come. As Christians, the Spirit moves for us to be like our Savior, who serves as our mediator. Like Moses standing before God and the Israelites, we stand before God and His Perfect Son and our loved ones and friends, pleading for mercy, grace, and love. Most importantly, we must be as persistent as David, knowing that there is hope if there is life. Are we praying for their salvation? If they live, there’s hope. Are we praying for healing? If they live, there’s hope.
We will make requests that God, in His infinite wisdom, will deny. We must be ready to accept that denial. We must be like David, arising from the altar and returning to the good work God has set before us with faith and trust in our Father’s love. That is not to say it won’t be hard to do so, but through prayer and praise, we’ll be able. These are the moments that prove our faith and reveal to us our actual spiritual state.
As I conclude, I’d also like to address the finality of David arising from his earthly altar before God. Daily, we’ll find our prayer lists fluctuating. There’ll be triumphs showing the glory of God, and there’ll be moments of disappointment that will show the glory of God in due time. However, there will be a day God will lift us from our earthly place, and we will find ourselves at the heavenly altar. There will no longer be a need to pray or intercede on behalf of those around us. Like David, we will arise and be washed and anointed by the Spirit, clothed in the Son’s righteousness, and fed by the loving Father. We will be able to rest, praise, and worship our great King knowing He was there. Our earthly duty of prayer concludes as we find ourselves in perfect communion with that great cloud of witnesses.