2 Samuel 12:23
But now he is dead, why should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
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(23) I shall go to him.—As far as the mere words themselves are concerned, this might be taken as the expression of a Stoic’s comfort, “I shall go to the dead, but the dead will not come to me;” but David, in his whole nature and belief, was as far as possible from being a Stoic, and these words in his mouth can scarcely be anything else than an expression of confidence in a life of consciousness beyond the grave, and of the future recognition of those loved on earth.

2 Samuel 12:23. Wherefore should I fast — Seeing fasting and prayer cannot now prevail with God for his life. I shall go to him — Into the state of the dead in which he is, and into heaven, where, I doubt not, I shall find him. Or, as Mr. Saurin paraphrases the words, “If I cannot have the consolation to partake with this infant the temporal happiness wherewith the divine goodness hath blessed me, I hope to rejoin his soul one day in heaven, and to partake with him eternal felicity.” As David undoubtedly believed in the immortality of the soul, and even in the resurrection of the body, it would be quite unreasonable to leave out this latter idea, and suppose, with some commentators, that he only meant he should die and go to the grave like his son, which would be a very poor consolation. But, considered in the light here stated, his words convey the most satisfactory comfort, and “are the noblest lesson,” says Delaney, “upon all that is reasonable and religious in grief that ever was penned.”12:15-25 David now penned the 51st Psalm, in which, though he had been assured that his sin was pardoned, he prays earnestly for pardon, and greatly laments his sin. He was willing to bear the shame of it, to have it ever before him, to be continually upbraided with it. God gives us leave to be earnest with him in prayer for particular blessings, from trust in his power and general mercy, though we have no particular promise to build upon. David patiently submitted to the will of God in the death of one child, and God made up the loss to his advantage, in the birth of another. The way to have creature comforts continued or restored, or the loss made up some other way, is cheerfully to resign them to God. God, by his grace, particularly owned and favoured that son, and ordered him to be called Jedidiah, Beloved of the Lord. Our prayers for our children are graciously and as fully answered when some of them die in their infancy, for they are well taken care of, and when others live, beloved of the Lord.The death of the infant child of one of the numerous harem of an Oriental monarch would in general be a matter of little moment to the father. The deep feeling shown by David on this occasion is both an indication of his affectionate and tender nature, and also a proof of the strength of his passion for Bath-sheba. He went into his most private chamber, his closet Matthew 6:6, and "lay upon the earth" 2 Samuel 13:31, rather "the ground," meaning the floor of his chamber as opposed to his couch. 15-23. the Lord struck the child … and it was very sick—The first visible chastisement inflicted on David appeared on the person of that child which was the evidence and monument of his guilt. His domestics were surprised at his conduct, and in explanation of its singularity, it is necessary to remark that the custom in the East is to leave the nearest relative of a deceased person to the full and undisturbed indulgence of his grief, till on the third or fourth day at farthest (Joh 11:17). Then the other relatives and friends visit him, invite him to eat, lead him to a bath, and bring him a change of dress, which is necessary from his having sat or lain on the ground. The surprise of David's servants, then, who had seen his bitter anguish while the child was sick, arose apparently from this, that when he found it was dead, he who had so deeply lamented arose of himself from the earth, without waiting for their coming to him, immediately bathed and anointed himself, instead of appearing as a mourner, and after worshiping God with solemnity, returned to his wonted repast, without any interposition of others. Wherefore should I fast, seeing fasting and prayer cannot now prevail with God for his life?

I shall go to him; into the state of the dead, in which he is, and into heaven, where I doubt not I shall find him. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?.... And pray; it is to no purpose, no end can be thought to be answered by it:

can I bring him back again? from the state of the dead, bring him to life by fasting, and praying, and weeping; that is not to e expected:

I shall go to him; to the state of the dead, to the grave, where his body was, or would be; to heaven and eternal happiness, where his soul was, as he comfortably hoped and believed: from whence it appears, that the Old Testament saints did not suppose an annihilation at death; but believed the immortality of the soul, a future state after death of eternal life and bliss:

but he shall not return to me; in the present mortal state, though at the resurrection they should meet again.

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? {n} can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

(n) By this consideration he appeased his sorrow.

23. I shall go to him] Cp. Genesis 37:35. A belief in the continued existence of the soul after death in a state of consciousness is necessarily implied though not expressly stated: but how far this falls short of the Christian hope of the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting!Verse 23. - I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. These words indicate, first of all, much personal feeling for the child. Hence some have supposed that, as Solomon is placed last of Bathsheba's four sons in 2 Samuel 5:14 and 1 Chronicles 3:5, three other sons had already been borne by her, and that consequently this child, the fruit of their adultery, would now have been seven or eight years of age. It is certainly remarkable that in ver. 16 David calls him "the lad" (so the Hebrew), though in every other place he is styled "the child." On the other hand, we gather from ver. 14 that probably he was as yet the only child, and this is the more reasonable view, even if Solomon was the youngest son (but see note on ver. 24). But secondly, the words indicate a belief in the continued existence of the child, and even that David would recognize and know him in the future world. Less than this would have given no comfort to the father for his loss. Now, it is true that we can find no clear dogmatic teaching in the early Scriptures upon the immortality of the soul. Job could give expression to no such hope in Job 7:6-10, and the belief in a world to come would have solved the difficulties of himself and his friends, which really are left unsolved. Even in the Psalms there are words that border on despair (see Psalm 6:5; Psalm 30:9; Psalm 88:11; Psalm 115:17); nor had Hezekiah any such belief in continued existence as could solace him in the expectation of an early death (Isaiah 38:18, 19). This hopelessness was not unnatural at a time when the doctrine had not been as yet clearly taught. On the other hand, in Psalm 17:15 and Psalm 16:9-11 We find proof that David did believe in his own immortality. For though the latter words have a second and higher meaning, yet the primary sense of Psalm 16:10 is that David's own soul (or self) would not always remain in Sheol, the abode of the departed, nor would he, Jehovah's anointed one, see such corruption as would end in annihilation. Then David sought God (in prayer) for the boy, and fasted, and went and lay all night upon the earth. וּבא, "he came," not into the sanctuary of the Lord (2 Samuel 12:20 is proof to the contrary), but into his house, or into his chamber, to pour out his heart before God, and bend beneath His chastising hand, and refused the appeal of his most confidential servants, who tried to raise him up, and strengthen him with food. "The elders of his house," judging from Genesis 24:2, were the oldest and most confidential servants, "the most highly honoured of his servants, and those who had the greatest influence with him" (Clericus).
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