Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 12

David’s reaction to the death of his son

2 Samuel 12:20-21

David received the news that his son was dead without any particular display of emotion. He simply ended the special time of prayer that he had continued during the child’s illness. He had been lying on the ground to express his humble attitudes towards God. So, now he got up.

David had neglected himself during the child’s illness, to express his deeply sad attitudes. So now he washed and he put on good clothes. He wanted everyone to see that his time to be sad had ended. He was now ready to continue his work as the king.

However, before he began his work, it was important for him to go to God’s house. At the time of David, that was the special tent that he set up in Jerusalem for the ark (1 Chronicles 15:1). The ark was Israel’s most sacred object; it was a box that contained evidence of Israel’s relationship with God. David went there to give honour to God and to praise him.

David’s time of prayer for the child seems to have lasted for a week. During that time, David refused food. Perhaps David’s servants thought that, after the child’s death, David would be too sad to eat. David had to request some food. He could see no reason why he should not now eat.

David was behaving in the opposite way to how people usually acted after a death. Usually, people refused food and they neglected themselves to express their sad attitudes. David’s behaviour surprised his servants so much that they asked him to explain it.

Next part: David's belief in life after death (2 Samuel 12:22-23)


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