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“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”
John Henry Jowett
How have I been comforted in my life during a time of pain or sorrow?
Is there someone I know with whom I can share God’s comfort today?
“Jesus did not say, ‘You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable,’ but He did say, ‘you will never be overcome.’”
Julian of Norwich
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
II Corinthians 1: 4
New International Version
There are some days I can scarcely wait to get to work on the devotional. This is one of those days for we are at a huge turning point in our journey through David’s tumultuous life. This change in direction begins with a text that all of the women who come to the garden are going to appreciate very much. And for the hundreds of men who come to the garden, as well, this text will provide heavenly insight into one of the longings found in a woman’s heart.
As a quick review, up to this point in time, David’s history with women was pathetic. Many of the women in David’s life were used by him as political pawns or lustful obsessions. First, we find that King Saul arranged for David to marry his daughter Michal, which I might add, David didn’t seem to mind. But when David fled King Saul’s home, Michal was out-of-sight and out-of-mind so David hitched-up with the wealthy widow Abigail but she wasn’t all he wanted. He also married Ahinoam of Jezreel and the Bible says they were both his wives. (I Samuel 25: 43). Two wives, along with the forgotten Michal weren’t enough to quench David’s lusty appetite for the fairer sex and so over in II Samuel 3: 2-5, we find David added to his household by taking wives three, four, five and six – Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah. And by the way, he had children with all these women. Of course, last but not least, while lounging around on his rooftop one afternoon his eyes fell on the luscious bathing beauty, Bathsheba, and even though, after inquiry, David found out she was married, he sent for Bathsheba, had sex with her, and she became pregnant. And oh, one other thing, when Bathsheba’s husband stood up for what was right and true, David had him murdered.
I think you get the picture! David’s care and concern for women and their husbands fell by the wayside as the power of the throne went to his head.
But in II Samuel 12, after being confronted by Nathan regarding his immoral behavior, David changed, not just in word, but also in deed. It is absolutely crucial we get a clear perception as to the first and most distinct change that took place in David’s life. And it was this – David began to recognize how he had wounded others. Then he recognized how he had been treated with comfort by his heavenly Father, in spite of his evil behavior.
Our text for today, II Samuel 12: 24, states that David “comforted Bathsheba, his wife.” This phrase “comforted Bathsheba, his wife” is important in our study of this relationship for in the Hebrew the word “comforted” means, “in a consoling and favorable sense.” But it also it means, “to repent.” Now let’s think about this. When David first met Bathsheba, their relationship, if you want to call it that, was driven by lust. But when confronted with the defiant way he despised God, David’s attitude toward Bathsheba changed to one of consoling repentance. He was sorry for treating her as an object to be taken. And instead, David “avenged” himself, he made up for his careless treatment of Bathsheba, by comforting her as he had been comforted by God.
If we go back to a day in the life of the young David, when he was called a “man after God’s heart,” we will find that this devout shepherd, whose heart beat in unison with his heavenly Father’s, wrote these words in one of the most frequently quoted Psalms, “The Lord is my Shepherd, to feed, guide, and shield me. I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life, my self. He leads me in the paths of uprightness and right standing with Him – not for my earning it, but for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me: Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me” (Psalm 23: 1-4 Amplified Bible).
You see, David had been comforted throughout his entire life by his Father’s compassionate mercy. When he was walking in God’s way, he found comfort from the loving hand that directed him. And when his wayward steps led him down a path of infidelity and murder, instead of his Father in heaven leaving David to his own mistakes, God sent Nathan, who shared with David, God’s longing to restore him and comfort him again.
It was this comforting stream of mercy that David had repeatedly received from his Father’s gracious hand that he was dipping into as he comforted those he had scorned and abused. And it was from this refreshing fountain where David was to gather the healing water of life to soothe the aching hurts of those whose lives he touched.
So beginning with the person he had “used” so tragically, David, we are told, “comforted Bathsheba, his wife.” No longer was Bathsheba referred to as another man’s wife or an object to be lusted after, she was receiving the comfort from her husband, who was treating her with the respect that all God’s daughters deserve.
This lesson from David’s life is so pivotal in each of our lives for every single one of us has been the recipient of the “comfort” of God. As the Apostle Paul eloquently told his Christian friends in Corinth, it is from God’s well of comfort, that we are to pass on to others the blessed gift of comfort.
I love how The Message Bible shares II Corinthians 1: 3,4, “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
Comfort, in God’s eyes, is a gift to be shared. As we receive comfort from our Father, we become a conduit to pass this comfort on to others.
Recently, I was reading about the beloved author of religious and inspirational poetry, Helen Steiner Rice. At the age of twenty-nine she married Franklin Rice, a bank vice-president in Dayton, Ohio. After the stock market crash in October of 1929, Franklin lost his job and his investments. He fell into a deep depression and ended up committing suicide three years later. Suddenly left alone at a very young age, Helen Steiner Rice wrote about this time of her life as a “comfort of transformation.” As she observed, “I could never have done what I am doing now if I had not felt the pangs of sorrow, for you cannot dry the tears of those who weep unless you have cried yourself.”
It was from the depths of this sudden and tragic loss that the words to some of her most inspirational poems were written. As Helen Steiner Rice penned:
“After the clouds, the sunshine,
After the winter, the spring,
After the shower, the rainbow –
For life is a changeable thing.
After the night, the morning
Bidding all darkness cease.
After life’s cares and sorrows,
The comfort and sweetness of peace.”
David learned that the comfort he received should be shared. May we too, comfort or come alongside another, as our Father has comforted and come alongside us.
"As one whom (her) mother comforts, so I will comfort you.”
Isaiah 66: 13
Before You Can Dry Another’s Tears,
You Too Must Weep
“Let me not live a life that’s free
From the things that draw me close to Thee,
For how can I ever hope to heal
The wounds of others I do not feel?
If my eyes are dry and I never weep,
How do I know when the hurt is deep?
If my heart is cold and it never bleeds,
How can I tell what my brother needs?
For when ears are deaf to the beggar’s pleas
And we close our eyes and refuse to see
And we steel our hearts and harden our minds
And we count it a weakness whenever we’re kind.
We are no longer following the Father’s way
Or seeking His guidance from day to day…
For, without crosses to carry and burdens to bear,
We dance through a life that is frothy and fair,
And, chasing the rainbow we have no desire
For roads that are rough and realms that are higher…
So spare me no heartache or sorrow, dear Lord.
For the heart that hurts reaps the richest reward.
And God blesses the heart that is broken with sorrow
As He opens the door to a brighter tomorrow…
For only through tears can we recognize
The suffering that lies in another’s eyes.”
Helen Steiner Rice
The Poems and Prayer of Helen Steiner Rice
Dorothy Valcấrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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