Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 12:13–23; Luke 18:1-8 (read online ⧉)
It’s hard to grasp why God would appear to condemn an innocent child to die. How it occurs is a mystery. We can infer that David understood that the child would die and that God would not save it. This would be in contrast to God sentencing a healthy child to death. In other words, what if the child had a definite birth defect and would die shortly after birth. God had the capability to save the child, yet the child died of natural causes, rather than supernatural causes. Yes, this isn’t much of a help. However, there are other circumstances around the child that ought to be considered, too.
David’s fathering left a lot to be desired. The drama surrounding his family (and his life) would do a soap opera proud. The poor child, a product of adultery and murder, would have had a horrible childhood, and probably an awful adulthood. Again, it doesn’t help much, but perhaps God was wise.
While this isn’t the focus of this devotional, it does lead into David’s prayer. David prayed, and prayed, and fasted, and prayed, and so on. He didn’t give up. The prophet Nathan had given David no hope. David still prayed. God (through Nathan) had made the pronouncement. David still prayed.
The lesson isn’t solely that David prayed for something he “knew” wasn’t going to happen. After not getting what he prayed for, David returned to “normal” life and worshiped God. His child died and he worshiped God. It’s not to say he didn’t mourn. We are long past the age of high infant mortality rates (though some still experience such momentous losses). Yet, any person that has lost a child understands the loss that David felt. It’s not that David was happy the child died. David knew that worshiping God was also important.
The persistent widow never gave up. This seemed a matter she would not give up until she died. That is persistent prayer. How long was she pursuing it? Jesus doesn’t say. It isn’t Jesus’ point. This was a woman who did not give up until she either received what she sought or death (hers or her adversary’s). Note that Jesus did not say she was right in what she was pursuing, though it is implied as the judge was unrighteous. This is important, too, as it helps us to think that God is righteous and we are not, so what would God do?
How many people, however, are not like David? They pray for something (whether minor or major) and it doesn’t happen. They do not (as the song goes) thank God for unanswered prayers. They get angry with God. It’s not that anger at God is a sin. It’s when that anger at God draws you out of fellowship with God or to a place of doubting God that problems come. In pain and misdirected anger, people make themselves an enemy of God.
Heavenly Father, as you are patient with us, grant us mercy to be patient and enduring in our prayers. Jesus, may your words guide our hearts and prayers. Holy Spirit, live and breathe in us, that we may pray in ways and for things that bring glory and honor to God. Amen.
1) What is the longest you have prayed for something (or are praying for something)? If you have stopped praying for it, why? If you haven’t stopped praying for it, why?
2) Do you see yourself more like David, the widow, or something/one else?
3) What do you do say to those who are frustrated with their prayers not being answered?