Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nathan Challenges David

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending February 8, 2009

Purpose: To acknowledge that words of confrontation can be God's words

Scripture Text: 2 Samuel 12:1-7a, 13-15 ( NRSV)

2 Samuel 12:1-7a 13-15:(1)and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. (2)The rich man had very many flocks and herds; (3)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 meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. (4)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.’ (5)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; (6)he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’ (7 )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;

(13)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. (14)Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’ (15)Then Nathan went to his house.

The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

As I read today's suggested scripture text, I can not help but think about the confrontations that have taken place recently in our own government. Whether it is with the Governor of New York or the Governor of Illinois, or cabinet appointees. All of these individuals have made serious mistakes, all have caused problems for those that trusted in them and had faith in their ability to lead. Like David, the hurt to others, may have been worse than the judgment brought onto them. I wonder what parable Nathan would have used in each of these confrontations?

In reviewing our text, the prophet Nathan is first introduced in the 7th chapter of 2nd Samuel, as a prophet who was advising David on the building of a permanent house for the Ark of the Covenant. David is questioning why he should be living in a house made of cedar while God is still dwelling in a tent. From that encounter and today's passage there is not a lot of history on Nathan, later we know he advises Solomon during his rule. Obviously he was a very wise man, and knew how to confront the king.

David had been very successful in his battles, but he may have become complacent or over confident. As with most of us, he began to slack off of his responsibilities, the more he prospered. In chapter 11 verse 1 it says, “in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab.” If David had been doing his job, he would not have been on the roof looking over at Bathsheba taking a bath in her own courtyard. I don't think it is a coincidence that these things happen when we have too much time on our hands. Just as, when we pray, coincidences happen for the good, so too, when we are idle, temptation comes calling.

When we look at the characters involved in this story, David, Bathsheba, Uriah, Nathan, Joab, and the baby born to David and Bathsheba it might be hard to justify, in our own mind, the outcome of each individual. It is certainly hard to call it grace or mercy or even justice. It is a truth, that only a sovereign God can make, and He is the only one qualified to make the judgment call. We should all rejoice that we are not always held accountable for all of our actions, and that there is a chance for mercy and grace to work for the good of God's kingdom and for our own redemption.

David becomes enraged when he hears Nathan's parable, about such a wicked man, and demands, as does the Law of Moses, a fourfold repayment,(see Exodus 22:1) and also demands the life of the wicked man. Then Nathan says those words that we hear on the golf course every time Tiger Woods or Phil tee off “You are the man”. Through God's grace and mercy, David's life was spared, but the consequences of his sin still hurt, not only David, but Bathsheba and Uriah and the unnamed baby. David paid with the life of four sons, Uriah died with honor and was certainly portrayed as more moral and upright, even while drunk, than David. David lost his power and his wives to one of his own sons, David, to his credit, repented. But the consequence of his sin did not go away. He was not able to build God the Temple that he wanted to build.

There are times when it is necessary to confront someone about the life they are living or the work habits they have, it is also possible that we should be confronted by another saint, or family member or friend about our own habits, or shortcomings. How will we respond? God loves a broken and contrite heart.

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