“After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife” (II Samuel 12:15, NLT). Here’s where we take another look at the perfect and permissive wills of God.
It is never God’s perfect will for a person to be sick, hurt or wronged. But in God’s permissive will, He allows “Satan, the ruler of this world” (Jesus speaking, John 12:31b), to have a certain measure of power.
As I’ve said before, think of the devil as a big dog on a short leash – God limits what he can do, but Satan is constantly pulling on the leash, trying to do as much damage and destroy as many lives as he possibly can before it’s time for him to be cast “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 25:41b). Which is why he’s feverishly working to stop anyone who’ll listen to him from turning to Jesus and having the opportunity to enjoy the perfect world God will restore for all believers.
So in God’s permissive will, Satan has power in this world. And until Jesus returns and takes us out of this imperfect world where the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8b), we’re going to see innocent children and faithful believers suffer.
Look again at our starting passage. How does the Bible identify Bathsheba? As “Uriah’s wife.” David may have killed her husband and taken her as his own, but God still considered her “Uriah’s wife.”
Realizing the gravity of the situation, “David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground” (II Samuel 12:16). What’s described here is a very serious fast. David hoped that his fasting would move God to intervene on the child’s behalf – and let me say that prayer and fasting still move God to intervene today; however, no prayer, no fast and no other behavior, including absolute devotion to His service, can guarantee healing or any other desired answer from God. What we have to accept is that God is God and He can and will do what He chooses. Only, as the old hymn says, in the “by and by” will we understand His workings.
“The elders of (David’s) household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused. Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. ‘Is the child dead?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘he is dead’” (II Samuel 12:17-18a, 19).
David realized he had done all he knew to do to plead with God to intervene on the child’s behalf. Still, God had allowed the child to die.
David’s reaction to the child’s death speaks volumes about this man’s integrity. It explains why God considered him “a man after His own heart” (I Samuel 13:14b).
“Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord” (II Samuel 12:20a).
Yes, David sinned; but he also repented. And he maintained an absolute faith in the sovereignty of his Creator. We, like David, must learn to trust God implicitly. May our faith grow to the point that we can say with Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15a, NIV).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates