If you could change a decision in your past, would you? Not knowing how it would alter the future? The concept of time is a perplexing one. We are bound by it and it seemingly only marches in one direction. At certain theoretical extremes things get muddy; for instance, time slows down in Einstein’s concept of relativity. But it never stops. It is a crucial lesson that we all have the ability to experience time differently from each other. Yet it is something we all know, as it is uniquely bound to our very concepts of existence and progress. The question of going back in time to change decisions is age old; we all have the potential to live in regrets. The “What if’s” of life can torment if we let it. But with the knowledge of a Creator placed in our hearts, I would posit that trust is better than torment. And so would King David as we see in 2 Samuel with the death of one of his children.
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.”
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.2 Samuel 12:19-20
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!”
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.’ 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.”2 Samuel 12:21-23
David’s answer is a confusing one. He seems to operate in the unknowns of life. He seems to make a request to almighty God. One thing is certain here; David knows his place. His response tells us that he surrenders the idea of man knowing better than God. He accepts that God’s ways are higher than his own as it says in Isaiah 55, Romans 11, and 1 Corinthians 2. No one knows the thoughts of God. Yet this is a place for great faith to be displayed. We present our desires to the Lord and complete our requests with physical arrest; withholding from ourselves the natural forms of life to prove to ourselves and to God that this request is of the greatest importance. And that is part of the lesson here. Whether the outcome requested is achieved or not is not the moral of this story, but whether you had an experience with God or not. We see David’s response to the result. He worships. David most certainly had an experience, and further proof is seen in the very next verse: Solomon is born.
The other side of this story lies in God’s perspective. Many have criticized Him here, despising Him for taking an innocent life because of David’s cruelty. As a man, we easily sympathize with the innocent. We love justice and fair trial. It helps remind us that some good is in the world when equality is realized. In this light, from God’s perspective, this was achieved. Be on God’s side for a moment. Uriah was just killed. Your Creation, your child whom you loved intensely. It is oddly reminiscent of Cain and Abel and I imagine God had similar aches over Uriah just as He did Abel. So here, God is enacting real justice. He is saying, “David, you took my child, now I will take yours.” This is not a ‘fight fire with fire’ action; this is ‘feel what I feel’. Why? David had an extraordinary calling on his life. He was King David, son of Jesse, the line that will lead to King Jesus. God is inspiring David’s life. What an appreciation David will come to have for God’s heart, so much so that we come to know him as ‘one after God’s own heart’. What would be your response? Do we sometimes want justice but only if it is displayed on others? Do we have a heart and mind that can bear this weight of Glory seen here?