Bible Study: Bigger Than a Blanket

Grief comes in many forms, but we never have to face it alone.

Whether it was a quilt or stuffed animal, chances are you, like many children, clung to something for comfort when you were little. Adults need solace too—sometimes for intense pain. Thankfully, what we have is bigger than a blanket: an involved, personal God to soothe our sorrows. In February we saw how He relieved David’s spiritual despair. This month, let’s look at His comfort for the king’s grief—and ours.

 

Read

2 Samuel 12:15-24; Psalm 51:1-19; Matthew 5:4

 

BACKGROUND

King David slept with the wife of a loyal commander, then had him killed when she became pregnant. After his initial denial, David breaks down in anguish when confronted by the prophet Nathan.

 

REFLECT

The heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh. Now it hurts.

  • David’s prayer makes clear he’s now grief-stricken over his sin with Bathsheba—he tells God his bones, spirit, and heart are all broken (Psalm 51:8; Psalm 51:17). Try to recall a time when God revealed to you the true depth of your sin. How did you feel? Did He comfort you?

  • We can see from Scripture that it is God who gives us a heart soft enough to recognize our rebellion and weep over it (Ezek. 36:26). Why would we want to hold onto a “heart of stone”? Is there anyone around you who seems resistant to having his or her heart broken by God? What would you tell such a person?

  • David does find forgiveness (2 Samuel 12:13) and prays that God will also restore his joy of salvation (Psalm 51:12). Later psalms testify to the fulfillment of this petition as well. But it seems that to arrive at the fullness of such joy, one must first go through mourning. What does this tell you about the relationship between repentance and forgiveness? In what ways do you see them functioning together in your life?

 

CONTINUING THE STORY

David mourns again, this time for the sick child of his union with Bathsheba, now his wife.

It seems that to arrive at the fullness of such joy, one must first go through mourning.

  • In 2 Samuel 12:16-23, the king is in anguish over his child’s illness but seems to recover somewhat after the baby dies. Do you, like David’s servants, find his behavior surprising? Can you think of an explanation?

  • God’s children are to glorify Him at all times. That can seem impossible in times of intense grief, yet Scripture assures us our Father provides the strength needed for whatever He asks of us (Phil. 4:13). What do David’s actions indicate about mourning and worship?

  • David “comforted his wife” (2 Samuel 12:24), which cannot have been easy, as he was surely still in great pain himself. But God “comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort [others]” (2 Corinthians 1:4). We don’t know exactly what God did to soothe David’s anguish, but do the preceding verses in 2 Samuel give you any clue?

  • Perhaps you’ve experienced profound loss or deep grief yourself. If so, did you find that God removed your sorrow, or merely sustained you through it? How would you explain this to a non-believer?

 

REFLECT

Although the Lord has removed the spiritual debt resulting from our sin, loss and brokenness are still part of this world.

  • Reading about David’s experience with his sick child might challenge our expectation of how God should answer prayers when we grieve. What do you think Jesus meant in Matthew 5:4?

  • Even if God doesn’t fix earthly sorrows, the joy of salvation is always available.

 

GOING FURTHER

Consider how this study applies to your life.

Although the Lord has removed the spiritual debt resulting from our sin, loss and brokenness are still part of this world.

When we grieve, it can be soothing to remember that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Interestingly, the Greek word for “comforted”—a form of parakaleó—comes from words meaning “to stand near and call out.” The same root is used for the Holy Spirit (John 14:16), sometimes referred to as the “Paraclete.” It carries a legal overtone in the sense of an advocate—someone who speaks about the law in order to benefit us. What can we understand from all this when we mourn and look for solace? God’s comfort, like the law, is concerned with truth, not emotional platitudes. Jesus will never lie, even to help you “feel better.” But He also wants to give you truths to strengthen, cheer, and inspire you.

  • If God’s comfort must be filled with truth, then it may not always be what we want to hear. Try to think of a time you’ve turned to God for comfort. Was there something you hoped to receive from Him but didn’t? How does knowing God’s responsibility to the truth help you cope with His response?

  • The worst tragedy possible—eternal death—has in fact been reversed for believers. Can you recall the first time the Holy Spirit “stood near” you and “called out” this truth? Does it still comfort you, or would you like to ask Him to impress it on your heart again?

  • A God who calls Himself “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) clearly understands our pain and will do something to ease it—whether to change the situation or give us strength to endure it.

 

Illustration by Adam Cruft

Related Topics:  Reading Bible

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What happens to my notes

15 So Nathan went to his house. Then the LORD struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick.

16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.

17 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.

18 Then 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!"

19 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."

20 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.

21 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."

22 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.'

23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the LORD loved him

1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.

4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

9 Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.

16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

18 By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

13 Then David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.

16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.

17 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.

18 Then 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!"

19 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."

20 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.

21 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."

22 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.'

23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the LORD loved him

4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

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