After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 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. 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.” 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.” 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. 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!” 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.’ 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.” 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; and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah. – 2 Samuel 12:15-25
In this verse we see David experiencing the consequences of his sin and the cover up he created with his power as King. Nathan was sent by God to call David to account for his actions. God does this through Nathan when he shares a very moving story about a rich man who takes something that does not belong to him — a cherished sheep owned by a poor man. David is outraged at the wickedness of the rich man in the story then Nathan drops the hammer…. he tells David “you are that man !” David took Uriah’s cherished possession and Uriah’s life to take something that did not belong to him and was not meant for him. This choice will continue to ripple through David’s life and family for generations.
Nathan informs David that because he showed “utter contempt” for the Lord, God was going to give his wives to others and take the son he fathered with Bathsheba. After his son dies David seems to be repentant and realizes he needs to be washed clean before entering God’s presence to worship. Over the last several chapters of 2 Samuel David had gotten rather deaf and blind to the leading of God. It took the death of his son to get his attention. Unfortunately I am not sure that David is truly getting it. God wants all of who David is, but He also wants David to allow himself to be “fixed”. I am not sure that David is doing that at the moment.
The idea of being forgiven for sins and being washed clean is a little more explicit here than in previous discussions of being clean or ceremonially clean. This is a foreshadowing of the cleansing water of baptism and the forgiveness of sins through Jesus, the living water. David seems somewhat repentant, but it is not until he and Bathsheba have another another son that he seems to “snap out of it”. Interestingly, they name the son Solomon, which means peace. God communicates through Nathan that He wants his name to be Jedidiah, which means “beloved of God”. God wants to rebuild a relationship with David based on God loving David and David loving God. I think David is still thinking in terms of a successor for his Kingdom and peace.
God sent a major flood, or rain storm, into David’s life to get his attention and to wake him from his power-induced trance. God’s rain was only partially effective. There was significant “collateral damage” from David’s sin and his efforts to cover it up. Part of me bristles at the idea that God would punish David, and more importantly his wife and son, in this way. Part of me also feels God’s punishment did not go far enough for such horrendous acts that David did to Uriah and his wife. I guess this is part of God’s spiritual cycle that is sometimes difficult to understand from our earthly perspective.
David is intermittently willing to admit he is broken (has sinned), but he is not always willing to let God do the fixing on His terms. It is hard to trust God enough to let Him do the fixing. Why is it so hard to trust God when we know he loves us? I think it comes down to our desire to control our lives trumping our love for God. We want to be watered on our own terms, rather than accept the rain on tender plants that God provides.
There is a song called “Hold me Jesus” by Rich Mullins that seems appropriate here. It is one of my favorite songs. Here is the chorus:Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
David is beating his head against walls in his efforts to fix himself. I know I am guilty of doing the same thing at times. It is difficult to let go, and let God.
Prayer: God I confess that surrender does not come natural to me. Help me to hunger and thirst for a restored relationship with You.SDG