You know how famine came upon Israel after they fell to Babylon and before they were brought out of slavery? Many a prophet warns that there will be issues for women who are nursing small children or are pregnant in those days, and it’s not just because of the gruelling weakness they will experience in that life. The prophets warn time after time again that mothers will eat their own children (one example: Jeremiah 19:9). So these women would have taken all of this effort to bear and child and wean it and it should have been joyful, but they are gobbling up all the fruit of their efforts. Given Israel’s disobedience, it is the physical representation of backsliding, especially since the promise given to David is passed onto his children by their fathers, and children represent multiplication of goodness as a whole. Freaking real and graphic.
There is a reason destruction and sin are said to consume what is good throughout the Bible. Those metaphors become very real in times of heartache, and in a more casual sense than cannibalism, allowing goodness to become lax can gobble up all of the good things we have going if we don’t keep it subjected to Christ. Keeping perspective is something I certainly struggle with, but it’s still so important because from humility comes the capacity to love in a way that is healthy for others. You can only lead well through humility (becoming a servant), so it’s good to remember how good things will be consumed if they are not connected to the vine.
Honestly, it’s not even that God wants to punish, but because it takes so much for us to listen. If we were more willing to listen to him, he wouldn’t be forced to standby and watch us consume what good we have left. Knowing what he knows and his omnipotence, that would really have to suck for him. But because he knows better, sometimes he is willing to give us the awful evil of what we want because he knows it is the beginning of the only way to get through to us. May we all find the strength to listen.