2 Samuel 12:16-25
16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “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.” 19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” 20 Then David 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. 21 His attendants asked 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!” 22 He answered, “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.” 24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
Typical expressions of grief can include shock, sadness, crying, withdrawal, lack of self-care, feeling of numbness; anger, regret or guilt; feeling helpless or hopeless; isolation and fear of being alone, disbelief and denial of your loss. When experiencing grief, one may exhibit any or some or all of these expressions. I attended a funeral this week and in a room of 80 people, each person was expressing their grief in differing ways.
Grief truly is a personal experience that lacks predictability.
It is easy to judge people for the way they express themselves. When David is made aware of his son’s death, he finishes his fast, washes, goes to church and goes to Bathsheba. His attendants appear critical of David behaving this way – as evidenced in verse 21 where they say to him directly, “Why are you acting this way?“.The attendants had not expected this behaviour, as evidenced in verse 18 when they said “he may do something desperate” when discussing how David may respond to the death.
What I find amazing is that God knew how David would respond. God knew how the attendants would respond. God knows how I will respond – in each situation that I find myself in – because He made me.
Dear God, it brings me great comfort to know that You, my maker, understand how I feel, even when those around may not understand. Thank You for making me the way You did. Amen.
Written by Susannah Ware