Background: This was a young child, who suddenly died.
There is a passage of Scripture in the Book of II Samuel which offers each of us great comfort in the death of this little one whose death as an infant may seem untimely,
Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. The it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, "Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!" But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "he is dead." So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate. Then his servants said to him, What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food." And he said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.' But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will nt return to me." (II Samuel 12:15-23).
We know the background to the death of this child all too well. David sinned by committing adultry with Bathsheba and then seeking to cover it up by the murder of her husband, Uriah. God rebuked David for his sin through Nathan the prophet. As a consequence of David's sin with Bathsheba, the child of their illicit union was stricken with a serious illness. Throughout this period of illness, David fasted and prayed, beseeching God to save the life of the child.
God did not choose to restore the health of the child and it died. David's servants were very reluctant to tell him of the child's death. They feared that his grief might be to great and he might do himself harm. They did not have to tell David, because he sensed that the child had died. When asked about it directly, they could not deny it.
The servants were shocked by what happened next. David ceased his mourning and fasting and began to go about life normally. David's response to the child's death was the reverse of what they had expected. When they could not restrain themselves any longer, they asked him pointedly, "Why you responded this way?" David's response is found in verses 22 and 23. It is here that we can find the faith and hope to go on living after the death of the child.
1. David Was Confident His Child Was in Heaven.
While the child was still alive, David was right to beseech God for mercy and healing. But once the child was dead, David could accept this as the will of God, knowing that his child was in heaven. His statement, "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me," indicated that he knew he could not bring the child back, so fasting and prayer for the child was no longer appropriate. When he spoke of going to be with the child, he gives evidence to his faith that the child still lives, but now in heaven. OF greatest comfort to David was the knowledge that while his sins of adultry and murder, were the cause of the child's death, this in no way changed the fact that the child was in heaven.
Why can David be so certain that his child is now in heaven? The answer is not given in this passage. It is perhaps most clearly explained in Romans chapter 5. There, Paul teaches us that it was Adam's sin which made each of us sinful by nature. But he also taught that the death of Jesus Christ has reverses the consequences of Adam's sin, allowing God to give eternal life to all who are "in Christ." By sinning against God, we identify with Adam, and demonstrate that we are worthy of God's judgment and death. By trusting in Christ, we are forgiven of our sins and given the righteousness which leads to eternal life. Infants, by virtue of being born of man and therefore are the descendants of Adam, and consequently must face physical death. But because they have not willfully resisted and rejected the revealed word of God, the death of Christ covers their sins and we can thus be assured that they will go to heaven.
2. David was assured that he would go to heaven, to be with his child.
It is not difficult to believe that David's child would go to heaven. What is more difficult to believe is that David is certain he will be there with the child. While the child did not sin, David had. David had taken another man's wife. David had murdered Uriah, the husband of the child's mother. What possible reason can we find for David's hope of heaven?
The answer to this is found in the 51st Psalm. There we read that David confessed his sin to God and sought His forgiveness. If David can be assured of God's forgiveness for the sins of adultery and murder, surely you and I can be assured of forgiveness as well.
There is great comfort for us in this account of David's sin, and of his hope in the death of his child when we consider the death of this little one. We may, like David, be assured that this child is in heaven, with the Lord. Our confidence in this rests in the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
For us who remain and who are adults, the forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven is not automatic. We must, like David, confess our sins and trust in God's forgiveness. No matter how great our sins, God will forgive and we may be assured of heaven.
There is no question as to where this child is this very moment. The only question is whether we will claim the forgiveness of God in Christ and thus be assured of heaven as well.