David’s Prayer of Desperation

Read: 2 Samuel 12:15-23                                                                                                                 

David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. (v. 16)

Perhaps you have had the experience described in today’s reading, praying desperately for healing or help. Any parent would pray with a broken heart over his dangerously sick child and King David was no exception—even for this baby, the son of an unholy relationship with Bathsheba. David fathered the child in an act of reckless arrogance, which he then tried to cover up with lies and murder. Yet David loved this baby and pleaded with God for its life, still so full of potential. His sorrow for his sin was great. His love for his child was equally great. And so his prayer to God scraped all the way down to the very bottom of his soul.

But God did not answer David’s prayer, at least not in the way David so urgently desired. His little boy, nameless in the story, died. The very first thing David then did was to get up and worship God. Even in his terrible grief, he remained connected to God.

There are times in our lives when we know David as a brother in pain and sorrow. He is also a traveler with us under God’s mercy, no matter what our circumstances. —Leanne VanDyk

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit.

About the Author

Leanne VanDyk

Leanne Van Dyk is a Reformed theologian and theological educator. She has focused much of her work on atonement theology and the development of theological education. She is the tenth president of Columbia Theological Seminary.