Forms of Mourning: Fasting II: Serving a Purpose
“After Nathan had gone home, God struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with the Lord for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of God and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? God may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon.
God loved him;
and because God loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Yedidiah (II Samuel 12:15-25)
“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? God may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?” David fasted only when he believed that it served a purpose. Perhaps this is why he was rewarded after this devastating punishment with a child, who would grow up to build the Beit Hamikdash; a child renamed by God,Yedidiah, the one loved by God.
We often fast because we must. King David reminds us to fast with a sense that our fasting serves a purpose.
The verse reminds us that if we appreciate that even fasting serves a purpose, that more blessing will follow. Perhaps God will refer to us as Yedidiah too!
Each time you feel hungry or thirsty, say, “May my fasting serve a purpose.”