The Philosophy of Death
2 Samuel 12:22-23
And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me…

A most beautiful picture, and representation of parental sorrow and of rational, manly piety.

I. A LITTLE CHILD SUFFERING ON ACCOUNT OF THE SIN OF ITS FATHER. Now, I do not mean to say that the cause of every little infant's suffering is the same as this. This is a peculiar case. But that little children do suffer as a consequence of their parents' sin is a simple matter of fact. By immorality and sin some parents ruin their health, and their constitution, and thus plant those seeds of disease and death which manifest themselves in their children: their offspring may suffer, agonize, and die in their infancy because of their parents' sin. In a great many other ways also, parents may so modify the condition under which their children live as to cause them much suffering and premature death. The sin of the father is visited upon the child. The Bible does not make that fact. If there was no Bible the fact. would be the same. It is affirmed by the Bible of Nature. If you get rid of the Book, you have the world, and you must read and interpret it. You must just do the best you can with the mystery. I do not know what you will do with it, but there it is. Sin introduced death, and death passed upon all men. But, observe, while the Bible thus associates death as a general fact with sin, it is not with the sin of an individual, not with the sin of the immediate parent of the child, but because of the sin of the first progenitor, because of that transgression which occurred at the commencement of the race.

II. THE PICTURE OF A FATHER DEEPLY AFFECTED THROUGH THE SUFFERING AND ILLNESS OF HIS CHILD; and in this case parental grief was aggravated .and increased by the consciousness which David must have felt that the stroke had fallen upon the child directly from the hand of God on his account. Children may, and do die, as we know on account of the sins of their parents, but in the great majority of cases this is not the fact; you have net your deep sorrow aggravated by the thought that. the stroke has fallen upon your child directly and immediately as a punishment for your sin. David, with that large heart of his, with that paternal temperament, — it is always a temperament of sensibility — and his devotion and love to God, experienced an aggravated sense of remorse on account of his sin. He would, doubtless, feel the most acute suffering.

III. AN AFFLICTED, GOOD MAN, EARNESTLY PRAYING TO GOD, BUT PRAYING IN VAIN. The circumstances were desperate. The sentence had gone forth — the prophet had spoken the word, that the child should die on account of the sin of its father — but he thought that his sin would be forgiven, and that the child might possibly live. We may pray earnestly unto God for a certain blessing, or to be saved from some special suffering, but our prayer may not be answered because God sees it to be necessary to inflict that against which we cry to be delivered. But we have authority here for pleading earnestly under the most hopeless circumstance, that affliction may be removed; but we are to remember that God has reasons for His conduct.

IV. THE CONDUCT OF DAVID; HIS BEHAVIOUR AFTER THE MATTER WAS DETERMINED. There are two or three points in this explanation of David which we shall do well to look at.

1. In the first place yon see how he distinguished between the possible and the certain. While the child lived he fasted and prayed, because he thought that God would possibly have mercy and spare the child. But when God had determined the matter, then it was inevitable; another class of feelings was then to be brought into play; another class of duties was then to be fulfilled.

2. But David distinguished the next place between means and ends. He fasted and prayed, and his tears flowed as lie laid upon the earth, he washed not his face, anointed not his head, and changed not his garments. His condition was becoming more and more sordid, because his grief was was so intense. His fasting was continued in order that it might agree with the inward state of his mind, and sustain his devotion.

3. David distinguished between the proper time for prayer, and the proper world to which it has application, This idea is suggested to us — that he did not pray for the child after it was dead — for the repose of the soul of the child — that he did not follow the soul into the next world to make it a subject of prayer.

4. David distinguished between miracle and mercy. He distinguished between irrational expectations and religious hope. He could not pray for the child after it was dead, because he did not expect God to work a miracle and give him the child back again. No; "He will not come back to me;" but he did indulge a religious hope; a hope of mercy — "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

(T. Binney.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?

WEB: He said, "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows whether Yahweh will not be gracious to me, that the child may live?'

The Loss of Children
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