Read 2 Samuel 12:15-23
15 After Nathan returned to his home,the LORD sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them,but he refused.
18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”
19 When David saw them whispering,he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied,”he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground,washed himself,put on lotions,and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the LORD. After that,he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.
21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living,you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead,you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”
22 David replied,”I fasted and wept while the child was alive,for I said,’Perhaps the LORD will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day,but he cannot return to me.” (NLT)
There a few surprises in this narrative of the death of the child of David and Bathsheba. One is that God is described as having afflicted the infant. We can only reconcile this with our belief that God is not the author of evil by reminding ourselves that the Old Testament writers often attribute all that happens to God-whether good or evil. It is their way of telling us God is in overall control of all that happens. And of course in this case,it is a reminder that while our sin can be forgiven,this divine forgiveness doesn’t mean all consequences are avoided.
Another surprise is that David seems so ‘matter of fact’ following the death. But we need to see this as robust realism. He has grieved and mourned,he is not burying his sorrow. Yet life has to go on. His prayer has not been answered as he sought. He will not dwell on this but continue to seek God in his life. And this text reminds us,incidentally,that infants who die in infancy are truly with God.
Which is the third surprise,he responds by worshipping God. We can presume it is not of the leaping-and-dancing-and-laughing variety of worship. To worship God is not to be confined to a time of singing in church. Worship of God is our offering of ourselves to God,affirming he is truly God and worthy of our trust and praise.
In his sorrow,David recognises this. Terrible things have been done and terrible things have happened. But God is still God and so he is still to be worshipped. The heart of worship is not to do with how we feel at any given time but the character of God. Worship can be laced with laughter or tinged with tears.