Monday, June 18, 2007

The Mirror

The Old Testament lesson, assigned to the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, is 2 Samuel 11:26-12:15. This passage contains the moment, the prophet Nathan helps King David see the error of his ways. It is one of the most visceral, scriptural examples of the veil being lifted, and the truth becoming clear.

David has slept with, and impregnated the wife of one of his soldiers. David tried various means to cover up his sin, but, ultimately, resorted to murdering the soldier. All goes well, until the prophet Nathan becomes involved and outs David.

Through prophetic sight, Nathan sees what David has done. Nathan goes to David, and tells him a story about a rich man with many sheep. The rich man poaches the single sheep that a poor shepherd owns. This is where it gets good. David is outraged, to the point of, demanding the death of the rich man and fourfold restoration of property. Nathan shines the light in David’s darkness. He points to David as the perpetrator of the crime of poaching.

What happens next is incredible. David stops the sham, and confesses his sin. Nathan, immediately, pronounces God’s forgiveness of David, upon hearing the confession.

This is a challenging story for us. It is shocking that the archetypal king of God’s chosen people could fall so far, and be guilty of so much. Despite his fall, he remains so significant for Israel that one accepted messianic title is, “Son of David”. This title, of course, is later applied to Jesus.

There are lots of Christians, out there, that think being religious is about being good. We like consistency. We like people living up to, what they claim to believe, but faithfulness is about more than consistency. Faithfulness is the cycle of maintaining relationship with God and one another, and when we fail, confessing it and seeking mercy.

The story of David and Nathan indicates, God is a God of mercy. The point is, God is always waiting for us. No matter how far a field we stray, when we return, we are welcomed home. This is the love of God that we seek to approximate. This love is life and transformation.

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