Head to Heart
Even though we are all familiar with loss and disappointment, we may still find it difficult to deal with them, especially when they are huge, unexpected, or seemingly senseless. For many years, I have been impressed by an incident in King David’s life. You may recall that as a punishment for David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, the Lord told David through the prophet Nathan that ”the son born to you will die.”*
What touches my heart is the way David reacts to such a pronouncement. David’s behavior is so strange that his servants could not help but ask 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!” (2 Sam. 12:21)
What prompted this question and comment from the servants was the seemingly inexplicable behavior of David.
King David had his own way of dealing with this loss and disappointment. Faced with impending loss and immense disappointment, David did not give up. He humbled himself before the Lord. He “pleaded with the Lord for the child” and he “fasted.” In fact, he even abandoned the comfort of his bed and slept on the ground at nights (2 Sam. 12:16). David did what he could and he left the results to the Lord.
But when the inevitable death of his son came, David accepted it readily. He demonstrated his submission to the Lord by going immediately “into the house of the Lord” and worshipping (2 Sam.12:20). He did not blame God. Neither did he run away from God for a year or two.
Instead of descending into a depression, David was able to face his life realistically and practically: He resumed his activities; He “got up from the ground;” he “washed;” he “put on lotions;” he “changed his clothes,” and he ordered dinner to be served. Presumably, he also slept on his own bed that night.
The reason David was able to respond so positively toward the death of his son is seen in the answer he gave to his servant. David’s answer and rationale was: “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 fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:22-23).
I believe David’s exceptional ability to accept immense loss and his readiness to jump back into life are the result of his knowledge and faith in Jehovah God. David implicitly trusts in the Lord and he submits to God without question.
Another incident demonstrating David’s submission to the Lord is found in David’s wishes to build a temple for God. This story is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:1-29. David had both the means and the good intentions to do this great project for God, but God did not want him to do it. What really floors me is what I read in verse 18, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord” and he prayed. David praised the Lord and gave thanks to Him.
Excuse me. David was just rejected by God. His pet project was just shot down. God had just put a “reject” on his application form. How could David then praise God right away?
The reason I am so impressed by David’s behavior is because I don’t take rejection very well. I don’t like being turned down. I don’t like someone else’s idea being accepted and mine being rejected. It also takes me a long time to recover from my hurt feelings. I guess my pride is still very much alive and my submission to the Lord remains at a head-knowledge level.
The distance from the head to the heart may only be 18 inches, but the required attitude change is 180 degrees. How well are we taking our losses and disappointments, especially as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach?
May we give our attitude to the Lord and pray to Him to help us rotate our attitude in the right direction.
*The adulterous relationship between David and Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel 12.