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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Samuel 11:26—12:13

When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. (NRSV)

Reflection
I suspect we all have been in situations where a friend has come to us to have an honest talk. Often it happens when we are too full of ourselves or diminished our impact by some untoward activity. This story from 2 Samuel is one of those moments. There is the king’s lust for a woman he notices across a balcony, his affair with the woman, and his plot to murder her husband by putting him in the front lines of battle. The corpse is not yet cold when David takes Bathsheba as his wife. Not long after, a child is born to them.

Enter Nathan, the messenger of God. We can only imagine Nathan quaking in his boots before the king of Israel. As Nathan’s parable pours out, the story he fashioned for David’s edification, David is enraged by the injustice in the tale. Then the conviction flies from Nathan’s lips: “You are the man [who has done this injustice and by your own pronouncement, deserves to die].”

Enter the God of Israel. This God, David is reminded, is the one who gave him everything: anointed him king, delivered him from Saul, gave him anything he needed to live out his calling. This shepherd boy was the promised king to the people. And because he has disappointed God so much, he deserves condemnation. What is he to do?

Through the power of the messenger’s word and—through his own softened heart—he confesses. God is gracious and trustworthy and forgives David’s sin.

Today there are many in our world who have crossed boundaries. There are lusts, murders, and unrepentant blankety-blanks. But there is God also. If we ever give up on God’s grace we are sunk. But God will not give up on us. For that we can be sure.

Prayer
Never give up on us, O God, even when we worry that we have completely blown it. Send messengers of hope and healing to us. And if they bring an unsettling word, keep our hearts tender so that we might undo our fear and extend our gratitude, to you, O God. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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