2 Samuel 12:15-25 Prayer Doesn’t Change God, It Changes Us
2 Samuel 12:15-25
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.”
24 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved the child 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah (which means “beloved of the LORD”), as the LORD had commanded.
The divine edict is given, the righteous verdict is served; the child must die. But David is determined on changing the divine order. During the course of fasting that is meant to move God’s heart into reversing his judgment, David was instead changed. Today’s passage teaches us the purpose of prayer is not to move God into fulfilling our will, but to align our will with His.
David begged God to spare the child – After God pronounced judgment concerning the child, the LORD sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. However, as long as there is still breath in the child, David never gives up in interceding for his life. Despite knowing that the child is born out of adultery, and the child must die because of God’s righteous requirements, David appeals to the infinite mercies of God. David’s intercession in fasting and sackcloth displays his remorse concerning the sin of despising God and His word, of apathy towards the helpless, and of the abuse of power when he murdered Uriah and stole his wife. David seems determined that his repentance and remorse would find a way for the child to live albeit the righteous judgment of God.
Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes – After seven days of fasting, the child dies. Though the text is silent as to the necessity of these seven days, they are nevertheless divinely appointed. During these seven days, David begs God to let the child live, but God uses these seven days to impress upon David and prepare him for a new stage of his relationship with Him. It is evident that the moment the child dies, David’s countenance displays calmness; a kind of premonition of the child’s passing. He got up from a posture of fasting and weeping, washed himself and changed his clothes as if to enter into a new phase of life.
She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon – Bathsheba gives birth to her second son with David. This second child is stated explicitly as having possessed the divine favor of God: The LORD loved the child. This divine confirmation of God’s favor comes by way of prophet Nathan that they should name him Jedidiah (“beloved of the LORD”). This divine favor from birth hints at a kingly call for Solomon.
- In the course of fasting and prayer, God is not changed, but we are. Many people use fasting and prayer as ways to move God into conforming to their desires. They supposed that God is by nature unyielding and unwilling; he would need some coaxing in order to grant them their requests. To many, fasting is a means to broker an exchange; suffering for blessing and self-flagellation for mercy. On the contrary, God never needed man to remind or coax Him into opening His hand of mercy. Jesus teaches that God already knew our needs before we ask Him,
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:7-8
As God already knew our needs and is prepared to do all He can to bless us, there is therefore no need to keep repeating our prayers in a bid to move Him to action. How then should we pray? Having understood that God already knew our desires and has postured Himself to bless, we must in the course of prayer incline our ears to understand God’s response to our desires. Man looks to gratify his immediate needs, but God sees the end from the beginning. Hence, Jesus teaches the people not to focus on repeating their wants, but to pray that God’s will be done in their life,
Pray, then, in this way, “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
The above verse teaches us that we must not insist that things play out the way we want, but be open to God’s ways. Fasting and prayer helps us understand the mind of God and walk with Him. It is during the course of prayer that Jesus subjects Himself to the Father’s will in the way of the cross.
David sets out, determined to change God’s mind concerning the fate of the child. But he is instead changed at the end of the seven-day period and He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the LORD. The course of the seven-day fasting has helped David accept the child’s passing as God’s righteous decision; it helps him gather strength to move on to a new stage of life.
- We must learn to forgive ourselves as God has forgiven our past. Many people find it hard to forgive themselves of their past mistakes. They keep reminding themselves of how undeserving they are for better things. David and Bathsheba, guilty as they are, had a second child of their union, but this time with explicit favor from God. The child is given a name “Beloved of the LORD” as evidence of divine favor; a sign that God has moved pass David’s sin and endorsed their union as legitimate and righteous before Him. God is not like a man who keeps looking to the past to demand recompense. Man’s repentance brings total forgiveness and never will their iniquities be brought to remembrance. Micah says,
Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean. Micah 7:19
If God has forgiven us, then we should learn to forgive ourselves.
- Do you spend time praying about your needs or do you first listen to God as what He intends for you to do? Bearing in mind that God already knows our needs, prayer becomes an act of surrendering our needs to Him. Perhaps, you should spend more time listening to what God has to say than praying about your wants.
- Do you frequently remind yourself of your past misdeeds and think how undeserving you are? As God has given David and Bathsheba a new beginning by endorsing their second child, he has likewise looked pass your mistakes and granted you divine favor.
Dear Lord, forgive me for my unbelief, and for being excessively concerned with my own needs. I shift my focus towards praying for the expansion of the kingdom and for the needs of others. I thank you for looking pass my mistakes and grant me new mercies and favor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.