Tuesday, September 29, 2009

9/29 2 Samuel 12:11-18 Redeeming Purpose in Pain

(David and Bathsheba at the death of their son)
9/30 II Sanuel 12:11-18, 22-24

11 "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.' "
13 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, [a] the son born to you will die."
15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying 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…"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 fast? 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 lay with 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.

Calvin abridged: [speaking of why bad things happen to people]: When the wicked suffer they already begin to suffer the punishments of their judgment. They are not punished that they might come to a better mind, but that they may find God to be a judge and one who holds us accountable for our sins. But the children are disciplined, not to pay the penalty for their sins, but to be led to repentance. So the punishment of the believing children has to do with the future and not the past. Chrysostom and Augustine agree. Augustine says, “What you suffer, what you complain about, is your medicine, not your penalty; your chastisement not your condemnation; do not put away discipline if you do not want to put away your inheritance.” When God punished Saul [the unbeliever] he was punishing for vengeance (1 Sam. 15:23). When he took away David’s little son [conceived in adultery with Bathsheba] he was rebuking him for amendment [2 Sam. 12:18]. For the saints, such hardships are struggles and exercises. For the wicked [unbeliever] who have no forgiveness of sins, they are punishments.

Thoughts: Our culture loves comfort here on this earth so much, that Christians are sucked down into the whirlpool of thinking that all pain is meaningless- and how can there be any purpose in pain? Many Christians do not believe a good God can possibly allow any pain in life, and that pain has nothing to do with sin. While pain may not have anything to do with sin (Job is an example of this), it may, and frequently does have something to do with our own mistakes and failures. Sometimes God uses pain as an alarm clock (or megaphone) to wake us up to our need for him and get our attention. Sometimes God uses pain as a goad to get us going or lead us in the right direction. If you don’t believe God has anything to do with sin ever, then you will have a hard time finding meaning in pain. Our passage in 2 Samuel in which David says some amazing things about life and death not brought out in many other passages. In fact, this passage is often quoted when a child dies. David knew his adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife was wrong, and he knew that having the loyral Uriah killed was very wrong. Nathan the prophet rebuked him and reminded him that he did not get away with it. The death of the child conceived in adultery was not pleasant or right. But David says, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” Some say David is just talking of going to the grave and death with his child. But there is hope here- David stops mourning, and even comforts his wife. They have another child- Solomon, who is loved and blessed by the Lord. Calvin would say for those who do not believe, punishment for sin is meaningless-- except to find out that God holds us accountable for our actions. God cares about what we do. For the believer, bad things are discipline or medicine for us so that we may stay on the right path and learn from Him. For many people, this is very hard to understand. It is hard because we love comfort, and love the things and people of this life (even our families) more than we love God. If we make a God of our families, we will be disappointed too. Families can bring the greatest joys and the greatest sorrow and disappointment. Our families will all die (the Father even had to watch his own Son die on the cross- but then there was the resurrection). If we make a God of our children, or our spouse, we do them and us a disservice, and their eventual pain or death will seem to us meaningless. But if we follow Christ and seek him first, we are promised to see our family members again. Another lesson here is that God uses even the worst acts (adultery and murder/manslaughter) to bring about Solomon and eventually Jesus (cf. Matthew 1:6- Jesus’ genealogy- “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife). God disciplines his children, and also is able to bring good out of horrible sin.

Prayer: In the pain I have faced, face today, or will face, help me Lord to find you. Help me to trust in you though life is not as it should be, and I make it worst by my own action or inaction. Thank you, Lord, that you redeem life from its pain and tragedy with meaning and hope.

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