There are times in every life when though we pray fervently for something, God’s answer is “no.” David faced such a time when his son became ill in 2 Samuel 12. Naturally concerned, David pleaded with God to heal the child; and verse 16 tells us that “he fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[b] on the ground.” Though the elders of Israel pleaded with him to get up, he refused to stop his lament, forsaking even food.
Sadly, on the seventh day the child died; and David’s attendants were afraid to tell him what had happened for they feared: “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 realizing the child must be dead, he asked them for news. As soon as they told him of the loss of his son, David did something rather peculiar. 2 Samuel 12:20 tells us that he “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.”
This troubled his servants greatly and they asked why he was acting in this way. While the child was alive he had fasted and wept; but now that the child was dead David resumed his life and his worship of the Lord. To which David wisely replied, “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.’ 23 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.”
While the child still lived there was hope; and David did everything he could to seek God’s mercy. However, when the child died and all hope was gone, David immediately turned to the Lord in worship. David had a future hope that even death could not totally separate him from his boy, for there was a time coming when he would stand with him in God’s presence.
There will be times in our own lives when though we earnestly plead with the Lord for Him to intervene, His answer will be “No.” Things don’t always resolve the way that we hope; but I think we can learn a lot from David here. For even when we receive an answer that is different to the one we so desired, our response should also be that we wash our faces, get dressed and return to the Lord’s house to worship. The disappointments of life do not have to shipwreck our faith!
If you know the story, David went on to have another son with his wife Bathsheba, and though they called that boy “Solomon” God’s name for the child was “Jedidiah” which means “beloved of the Lord and friend of God”. God wants us to know that even through the painful losses of life He is with us. He still has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. Though we are to seek Him with every fiber of our being and we are to pray earnestly for God’s intervention in the things that trouble us, should His answer be “No” we must remember that as we turn toward Him rather than away, as we continue to worship, God will continue to work and He will continue to bless us in all that we do.
May God bless you!