I’ve been thinking about the death of David and Bathsheba’s infant son, the sorrow that must have surrounded the house during that time, and how the Bible described their individual grieving.
As most probably know, David was the king of Israel with several wives and concubines, as was common in that day. Plus, he was king – he could do whatever he wanted. And what he wanted was a beautiful married woman, as he watched her bathe on her rooftop near the palace! The two spent some time hanging out, and she ended up pregnant. Her husband had been on the battlefield, and when David failed to set him up to come home and sleep with his wife and take credit for the pregnancy, he instead had him killed in battle. But David’s sins were found out, and the price was very costly.
We read about the baby boy being born so sick that, after his birth, David fasted and prayed, consulted with the elders, and lay on the ground covered in ashes. He wept and begged God to spare the life of his son. This went on for a week before the newborn died. Then David had what I think is a male response – instead of losing his mind over the news like everybody expected, the Bible says he “rose from the earth, washed and anointed himself, changed his apparel, came into the house of the Lord and worshipped.” And he ate.
As a woman, this response is difficult to understand because it seems to be reversed of what I, as a mother, would do. I don’t think I would be able to get up off the floor, let alone all the other things he accomplished right away after hearing the news of his son’s death! David was done grieving at this point, but Bathsheba was not.
I think this is because men are problem solvers. When a problem arose, such as his sick baby needing intervention, David kicked into gear and did everything he knew to do. Men solve problems, but women are nurturers! I imagine that Bathsheba tried to nurse the baby, rock him, and give him the customary care for that time. But when he died, she could no longer hold him to her chest and give him the milk, life or love she so desperately wanted to give.
When a loved one is taken from us, I think we as women sometimes even hold onto and nurture our grief when we can no longer nurture the loved one. Even in broken relationships, have you ever noticed how most men vs women move on after a breakup? Guys don’t cry for long, they find someone else, and they go on living. Meanwhile the woman is still calling up her girlfriends months later to rehash the relationship and her feelings, his picture still sits next to her bed, and she will go through prayer lines at church to be delivered from her grief, or pray to have their relationship restored! “But I still love him!” she exclaims. “Oh God, I miss him so bad it hurts!” Meanwhile, he has a new girlfriend…who is probably younger….
Ok, I know this doesn’t apply to every relationship, person, or situation, but in general, you get my point! I realize men grieve over loss too – just differently. And although we are wired differently, maybe the take-home-point of this could be that women should learn to move on with more grace and ease than we often do.
The Bible says that David went in to comfort Bathsheba in her grief. And he must’ve been effective, because the Bible says at that time she conceived another baby – Solomon. Comforting her not only distracted her from her grief, it separated her from it, and she was able to pick up and go on living as well.
When you grieve, what comforts you? Whether your pain be from the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, sickness, or whatever loss you find to be significant enough to cause your heart to ache, we all crave to be comforted. David comforted his wife, and his love helped heal her.
Sometimes when we hurt, we look for comfort in unhealthy ways – like alcohol, pain pills, smoking, overeating, gossip, being a hermit and shutting out the world, or in a multitude of other unhealthy habits and unproductive coping mechanisms. But those are mere distractions – not a source of true healing. Healthy comfort promotes healing, and with true healing comes freedom from all guilt, chaos, and confusion that our pain and loss often bring to us.
Are you holding onto something that you need to let go? Maybe you’re smiling over the pain, disaster, heartache, as we women often do, but you’re not truly free? I know – I’ve been bound by both grief and guilt, but I’m finding comfort in my faith, being in the presence of my God, and He is bringing amazing healing and freedom to my life! I still don’t understand the “why’s” in my past, but I have hope in tomorrow, and I believe He has a plan for my life, just as He did Bathsheba.
This woman, who had no doubt suffered from guilt and grief, went on to birth the next king of Israel! What do you hold inside of you that’s keeping you from your next level? The cognitive dissonance of grief can be deafening, confusing, and can steal what you are meant to do with your life. God is not the author of confusion – get away from it! If God can get you to stop grieving over your past, your loss, you could produce your own legacy in your next chapter!