The mysterious actions of God

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, August 7, 2022

So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” Then Nathan departed to his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died.” — 2 Samuel 12:13-8a (NKJV)


This passage is very difficult for us to understand in light of what we want to believe about how God responds to the prayers of the forgiven.

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Here we have a man who is forgiven, (v. 13), who is consumed with grief as he fasts and pleads with God for the life of his son; and the baby dies. What could be the lesson for us, as we deal with our own trials and difficulties?

The first and most obvious lesson is that we should not disobey God. Another point that is less obvious, but no less important, is that great power and position come with great responsibility. Nathan the prophet told David that the child would die because his actions had given God’s enemies “occasion to blaspheme.” David was the greatest king that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah would ever have. As such, he should have been, he could have been, their greatest witness of God’s mercy and grace. Instead, David ended his life a mere shell of the great warrior king who never tasted defeat.

Perhaps the greater lesson to be learned here is the same as that of Job: God is sovereign. God can, and does, do as He wills.

Sometimes, when the forgiven cry out to Him, the baby still dies. Ours is not to understand, but to trust, like Job, all of our reasoning fails in His presence. We are left then with faith as our salvation.

The actions of our Sovereign God are often a mystery to us. Deuteronomy 29:29

Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired Methodist preacher.