And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
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?
But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
2 Samuel 12:18-23 (KJV)
Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. Nathaniel Hawthorne made a note to that effect when he was writing The Scarlet Letter. If you don’t remember your high school English class, The Scarlet Letter is a novel about the consequences of actions and the ramifications of covering a sin.
David had some consequences to deal with. Because of his treachery in dealing with Bathsheba and Uriah, the child born to Bathsheba sickened and died. For a week, David fasted and prayed that God would change His mind and save the child. Still the child died.
When the child died, David stopped fasting and praying. The child was gone. Nothing could bring him back.
We all sin from time to time. It’s part of the human condition. And when we sin, we’d like to pray successfully for crop failure. Most of the time, it doesn’t work. Because every action carries the seed of consequence, we will reap what we sow, more than we sow, at a later date.
True repentance can sometimes bring on a crop failure, but we can’t count on that. Our best course of action is to plant only good seed and pray for a bountiful harvest.
Keep us ever mindful that our actions have meaning. Help us remember that we are responsible for the fruits of our actions. Grant us the vision to see the consequences of our actions and the wisdom to avoid those that have negative outcomes.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
First published on 11 April 2009