Sunday, 12 August 2012

the love of the father- 2 Sam 18- David and Absalom-

2 Samuel 18
New International Version (NIV)
David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”
3 But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us.[a] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”
4 The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.

5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
6 David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.7 There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”
11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[b] of silver and a warrior’s belt. ”
12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels[c] were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.[d]’ 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy[e]—and nothing is hidden from the king —you would have kept your distance from me.”
14 Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.
16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, “I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.
David Mourns
19 Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies. ”
20 “You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab told him. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.”
21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.
22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.”
But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”
23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[f] and outran the Cushite.
24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.
The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer.
26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look, another man running alone!”
The king said, “He must be bringing good news, too.”
27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”
“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”
29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”
30 The king said, “Stand aside and wait here.” So he stepped aside and stood there.
31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”[g]

It's a strange feeling to see yourself in your children. There are certain things my sons do that are very much like me. I think every parent sees a bit of themselves in their children. They might have the same taste for certain foods, or they might have certain talents or skilsl that seems to be from their mom or dad.
          Children inherit all kinds of character traits from their parents. Sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes they also inherit traits that are less desirable, and it's especially scary to see your children start to take on some of your flaws.
          David's sons inherited his virtues, but they also inherited his vices. David's eldest son, Amnon, seems to have inherited David's lust. The lust we see in David when he brings Bathsheba, one of his soldiers' wives, into his bed is the lust we see in Amnon when he lusts after his half-sister, Tamar, and rapes her. David's son Absalom seems to have inherited David's wrath. The murderous wrath we witness in David's scheming to kill Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, is the wrath we see in Absalom as he plots to kill his brother Amnon. It isn't a hot-headed spur of the moment act. Absalom plans it very coolly. It is very pre-meditated.  
          After Absalom murders his brother Amnon he fled to live with his in-laws. He lived there for three years, fearing his father's wrath. Through the intercession of  David's right hand man, Joab,  Absalom is eventually welcomed back into Jerusalem, but he is only half forgiven. He is allowed to be in the city, but he is not permitted in the king's presence. He is left in a kind of limbo. He is allowed back, but at the same time he isn't quite permitted to leave his exile. And Jerusalem is not a big city at this point. There would have been effort involved in preventing Absalom and David seeing each other. It's a strange situation for Absalom. They are in the same city, but they are not speaking. Perhaps this is some kind of punishment- like getting the silent treatment. Absalom has to know that David is still not happy with Amnon's murder. So Absalom sits in a kind of limbo- Halfway between forgiveness and exile, but not fully in either place.
          This starts to wear on Absalom. Eventually, disgruntled and rejected he begins putting a plan into motion. Absalom has some of David's other traits. He is heroic, good looking, and charismatic.  Absalom uses all these gifts to his advantage and he starts to win the people's hearts. The Bible actually says he stole their hearts.  He listens to their problems, he speaks to them as if they were equals. He becomes the people's prince. Soon he has enough of a following that he can challenge his father's forces. Soon, the land is divided by civil war. Everyone is picking sides. Many side with Absalom as the new up and coming superstar. Some are still supportive of the reign of King Saul and his family and hope there might be some room in the chaos for their own political maneuvering. There are still many who are loyal to David. Suddenly the land that had been unified under David is now being torn into pieces.  
          Absalom has enough muscle that David and his supporters are forced to flee Jerusalem to avoid a blood bath. David goes into the wilderness. This is where David originally learned to be David. This is the David who relies on God, who prays, who sees God working though the events of his life. Here, as David descends into the wilderness, he learns to pray again. He learns about loyalty. He learns who he can trust. He learns humility as a man yells curses at him and he accepts it. David descends. The son has taken his father's throne. The son has become the father's worst enemy. 
          In this situation we see how sin multiplies. Amnon rapes his sister. Though he is furious, we have no indication that David disciplines Amnon for the rape of his half-sister. Perhaps this is grace on David's part.  Absalom, however, seeks revenge and murders Amnon.  David is unwilling to forgive his son Absalom fully and suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of a civil war where 20,000 will lose their lives. Rape, revenge, murder, un-forgiveness- they all twist and turn  and build on one another until we find ourselves in civil war.  
          David still has some allies and he knows how to place people strategically. Soon he has spies and a whole intelligence network helping him to keep ahead of Absalom, who has a serious force of men and some very good counsel on his side. David is in the wilderness attempting to escape his son's sword and trying to regroup and plan. The climax of all of this is a battle between Absalom's forces and David's forces. David's more experiences forces overtake Absalom's. But a strange thing happens as the battle is drawing to a close. Absalom is riding his mule through the forest and suddenly his hair gets tangled in some low-hanging branches. It's very strange, but Absalom hair (which he was very proud of) was stuck and his mule kept right on running, leaving Absalom hanging there helpless to free himself. The soldiers weren't sure what to do because David gave very clear orders to “be gentle with the young man Absalom”. Joab, the general, and his men ignore David's words and kill Absalom.
          The leaders of the army thought it would be best if David stayed behind. They thought it was too risky to have David on the battlefield. So David stayed back and waited for word to be sent. When word finally came it was as if David didn't care at all about who won the battle, he wanted to know about his Son Absalom. When he finds out that Absalom has been killed he enters into profound mourning. He wails and weeps, “O my son Absalom! My Son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you- O Absalom, my son, my son!”. It is one of the saddest and heart rending parts of scripture. It is raw- a father weeping over his dead son. The battle is nowhere in David's mind except the context for Absalom's death. David doesn't seem to care that he has regained his kingdom and re-solidified the country. He doesn't seem to think about all the soldiers who risked their lives, and lost their lives, to win this battle and restore David's reign. ... At this moment David is a father weeping over his son. He is not a king. He is a father in mourning.

 There is a lot we can talk about in this passage. It is an amazing story to read, but it is also filled with profound wisdom. Out of the many things we could talk about I want us to look at David as a father.
          Like most parents, David was sometimes a good parent and sometimes he wasn't. All parents have moments when their parenting gets pretty sloppy. Sometimes we do well and we're proud of how we handled that moment when, say, their pet died. We sort of pat ourselves on the back knowing we handled it well, but then there are moments when we are irritated and short on patience and short on sleep and our parenting suffers and we make bad decisions.
Perhaps if David was closer to his sons he would have seen Amnon's lust for his daughter Tamar. Maybe if David disciplined Amnon after the rape then vengeance wouldn't have been brewing in Absalom's heart. If David was closer to Absalom maybe he could have counseled him in his rage. Maybe David could have welcomed Absalom home from exile and offered him full forgiveness, rather than a half-forgiveness where his fatherly love is still withheld.
          David needed to hear Jesus' story in Luke 15 about a father whose son rejected him and went to a far off land. The father kept searching the horizon hoping to see him come back. Eventually he does. The father, whose son basically spat in his face as he left, would have been completely justified in rejecting the son right back, or giving him the silent treatment until he learned his lesson, but not in Jesus' story. In Jesus' story the father is so overjoyed to have his son back that he runs to him. His son can't even finish saying “I'm sorry” before the father interrupts him and throws a party in his honour. This is not what David does. David's reaction makes sense, but there is a better way- a more loving way, but David doesn't take it.  
          There are plenty of things that David could have done better. But, this lament is exactly what a good parent does. They weep over the suffering and death of their children. David in this moment is a very good father. “O my son Absalom! My Son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you- O Absalom, my son, my son!”. Absalom in this moment isn't that “young man Absalom”, as he says to his general, Joab, as he heads off to battle. Here he is “My son Absalom”. It is more personal. Here David is a good Father. In his lament he speaks directly to his dead son, “If only I had died Instead of you”.  David wishes to switch places with him. He wished he could have died to save his son. This is the heart of a father who loves deeply.
          When Jesus told the story about the father and son in Luke 15, he was talking about God's reaction to us. God's reaction to us wandering children who return home is celebration. When Jesus prayed he called God “Abba”, which might be translated best as “Daddy”, or “poppa”. It is not a formal word. Jesus' experienced of his relationship with God was as a loving Father-Son relationship. Here we see into God's heart. If it is true that God is like a loving Father, then it is also mysteriously true that a loving father is like God. We can learn something about God through looking at David, the loving father.
          In David's weeping we see God's heart. David weeps over a lost child. God too weeps over us and with us. When we suffer, God mysteriously weeps. God weeps over us as we make decisions that alienate us from him. God weeps when we are hurt by others. God weeps with us when we feel broken… because that's what a good father does.
          David also shows us even more deeply into God's heart when he says “ If only I had died instead of you- O Absalom, my son, my son!”. A good father is willing to sacrifice to benefit his child. The good Father wants to take the place of the suffering child. And when we look at Jesus we see God taking the place of suffering humanity in order to save us. “If only I had died instead of you”. That is the purpose of the cross. God, comes to us, as one of us, to feel what we feel, and to take it all on himself.             
            David may not have been a perfect father, but he had moments. His life is a matted mess of sin and virtue, murder and love. David’s life is a messy life, but it is a life with God. There are shining moment, even if sad moments, where we get to see how profound a person David was. We get a chance to see that person God saw. We can see past the messiness and we can see David as a man after God’s own heart.  

Questions for reflecting on 2 Sam 14-18:
1. How did God bring good out of David’s difficult circumstances? How has God used difficult circumstances in your life? See Romans 8:28
2. Reflect on the presence of David’s own vices and virtues in his sons. How are your own virtues and vices in you parents or children? What effect has that had on your life, or on the lives of those around you?
3. Why do you think David behaves towards Absalom as he does? What do you think of his parental strategy? How would you have behaved?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

a hard, but necessary lesson- David and Nathan- 2 Sam 11

2 Samuel 11
New International Version (NIV)
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointedyou king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing martial arts. Some kids play hockey or soccer, but my sport was martial arts. Just a few years ago we were practicing a particular technique and we would take turns being the attacker and being the person being attacked. So I was practicing this move with a friend and my sensei took my friend’s place to show us a particular detail. As we were practicing and my sensei was explaining I kept forgetting to put my hand up to protect my head. My teacher kept telling me “Chris, protect yourself”, “Protect yourself”, “Chris… remember to protect yourself”.  Suddenly, wack! He hit me really hard in the head. Once again, I wasn’t protecting myself. Then he said, “they hit harder in the street”. I was shocked, and angry, and hurt, and embarrassed, but I didn’t forget to protect myself during that particular technique again. My sensei was pretty old school and he didn’t mind using harsh methods to teach his lessons.

Once I got over my anger, and my head didn’t hurt anymore I saw what sensei was doing. I was forgetting to protect myself. Sensei was always training us to deal with actual violence. He didn’t see it as a sport, necessarily. For him, martial arts was a kind of stewardship of violence- it was not fun and games. If I forgot to protect my head in the street I might not get a second chance.  My sensei was teaching me an important lesson. It was a lesson that would keep me safe and alive. Ultimately, as hard as it was to believe at the time, it was a loving act. He could have left that lesson untaught, but he was concerned for me in case I ever found myself in a situation where I needed to protect myself or someone else.
David’s sensei was the prophet Nathan.  David has become king and has become full of himself. He has started to act as if he is above the law.  While the army was away David slept with one of his soldier’s wives, Bathsheba, who was the wife of Uriah. Bathsheba becomes pregnant and David attempts to cover up the adultery. Eventually David conspires to have Uriah killed on the battlefield and makes it look like a tactical mistake. Uriah is killed and David brings Bathsheba into his own home as his wife. David thinks he’s gotten away with murder… and adultery.
Nathan then comes to David with a story. There were two men. One man is rich. The other man is poor. The rich man has numerous sheep and cattle. The poor man has nothing except one little lamb. It is a pet lamb- it shares his food and drinks from his cup. The lamb even sleeps in the poor man’s arms. The little lamb is like the poor man’s daughter. One day a traveler came to the rich man’s house, but instead of taking one of his own animals for the meal he took the poor man’s little pet lamb.
David doesn’t see the parallel. He doesn’t see the rich man’s blessings as his own. He doesn’t see the poor man Uriah and his little lamb. Instead, David sees a chance to judge. He looks down his nose and casts judgment on someone else’s situation without considering his own.  David burns with anger and says “the man who did this must die!” not knowing that he is casting judgment on himself.
The prophet Nathan looks up from the floor and into David’s angry eyes. Nathan’s eyes are sad, and filled with tears, “you are the man”. David suddenly sees it.  The roots of the parable penetrate his heart. It’s no longer an abstract legal matter. Suddenly David feels it.
David has a choice here. Many messengers have been killed for delivering distasteful messages to rulers.  David could kill Nathan, just like he killed Uriah. He could continue to dig himself deeper and deeper into a pit he can never dig himself out of, or he can repent. He can choose to accept Nathan’s words and accept that he has been heading down a dark path.
David looks at Nathan- shocked. The room is silent. The words, “you are the man” are still heavy in the air. Then David’s eyes fill with tears. He accepts that he is the rich man, and he hears his own judgment “as surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die”. He looks back on all that God has given him. God made him king. He saved him over and over again from his enemies. He had numerous wives. He united the kingdom. And if he wanted more he just had to ask, but God seemed to drop off his radar screen as soon as he wasn’t afraid for his life anymore. As soon as he got a taste of palace life God seemed to disappear. And now David saw it. He saw what happened.       
Psalm 51 is the Psalm that is associated with David at this moment. It is believed that David wrote it and expresses how he felt at that moment. He says, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”.Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” 
This is the David God longs for.  What matters to God isn’t so much people who never do anything wrong. What matters to God are people who are in relationship with Him. God doesn’t want people who have low self-esteem and who are down on themselves all the time. Repentance isn’t about beating yourself up. It’s about realizing the starting point. The starting point is needing God. David, at this point remembers that he needs God. With tears in his eyes David admits to his starting point before God “I have sinned against the Lord”.
We live in a broken world. It is a world filled with beauty, but it is also a fundamentally broken world.  We, with David, admit to our starting point before God. “I have sinned against the Lord”. We don’t remain there, but we start there. We begin with recognizing the brokenness of our lives and our relationships. We admit to being part of the problem and to being stuck without God.
This moment can feel like the moment my sensei punched me in the head. It was a lesson I had to learn, and I wasn’t learning it any other way. When Nathan said “you are the man”, I’m sure David felt the force of that blow. But it was needed to bring David back to reality. It had to happen so David could see himself again. It was a lesson he had to learn, but it wasn’t a comfortable moment. We have to always be reminded that we aren’t God.
It’s hard to see that moment as grace, but it is. It is as if you are walking lost in the forest thinking you are going the right way, but suddenly you trip over a log and find yourself lying across a path. You look up from the ground and see a large sign and an arrow pointing you where you need to go. You realize you’ve been lost and didn’t know it. You have a long way to go, but suddenly the path is clear. That moment is grace. It might be humbling and even a bit embarrassing, but it is grace. The alternative is being lost in the woods at night, which is not fun.  God broke into David’s world and showed him he was lost in the woods- Just as God breaks into our world. That moment is grace. It is an expression of God’s loving care.

David didn’t have to receive that grace. He could have gone the way of many powerful people and kept using his power to destroy those who are trying to set him on the right path. He could have killed the prophet Nathan for daring to confront a powerful king. He could have lived an unrepentant life never wanting to admit to his own mistakes. David could have done this, but he didn’t. He received that uncomfortable grace. We can learn from David in that moment. We can learn to check our pride. We can humble ourselves. We can be willing to be embarrassed in order to see ourselves truly. We, with David, can find our way again when we lose it, which we seem to do over and over again.
We can see ourselves in David, but we can also at times see ourselves in the prophet Nathan. There are times when God may be calling us to confront an injustice. We might have to make a friend aware of the fact that they are lost in the woods, even though they are confidently striding in the wrong direction. That kind of confrontation is not comfortable. It doesn’t feel nice, it doesn’t feel loving, so we usually don’t say anything.  That is one extreme. We look the other way and hope that eventually they discover that they are lost in the words- before it’s too late.  But, how loving is that? How loving is it to watch that person walk lost into the woods when we know differently? We might think it is nice and loving to not say the hard words “you’re lost”, but is it loving to say nothing? We avoid conflict believing that it is evil in itself. It’s uncomfortable, so we think it is bad. But, love sometimes has to confront, just as Nathan confronts David. It’s risky. The relationship would be put to the test at that moment, but it was the loving thing to do- “you’re the man”.
If saying nothing is one extreme way of reacting to a friend lost in sin, the other extreme is judgementalism.  We can really love pointing out all the wrong things people do.  Someone who drives faster than us is a maniac. Someone who drives slower than us is a moron. The implied message is that we’re the only one who is driving the right speed. It feels very righteous to point out other people’s immorality. It’s a bit like making yourself taller by decapitating everyone around you. As Christians we are to avoid this kind of self-righteous judgment. It is picking the sliver out of someone’s eye when our own pride is a log in our own eye.
When sensei hit me it wasn’t to make himself feel powerful. His fist wasn’t the fist of a bully. It was a caring action to train me.  He cared about my future. Nathan cared about David’s future. But notice he didn’t come straight out and call David an adulterer and a murderer. He had to tell David in a way that he could hear it. Nathan told a story- a parable. His confrontation was a loving act. When we are called by God to act as Nathan we must be free of all self-interest. That part of us that gets joy at seeing another fall in the mud has to die. That part of us that sneers at another’s sin has to die.  It has to be replaced with compassion for one who is lost. The motivation for confronting someone stuck in sin has to be love and compassion. Sneers have to become tears.  If God is going to use us this way then we must be concerned for the people involved, including the wrongdoer, even more than our sense of justice. In that moment God is using us to draw that person back into relationship with God to re-discover who they are.
The stories of David are not examples of a life lived perfectly. If we want that we look to Jesus. The story of David, is in many ways, our lives. Sometimes David lives faithfully, honourably and compassionately. Sometimes that’s us.  Sometimes David sins horribly. He destroys, he uses, and abuses. He manipulates. It’s hard to admit, but sometimes that’s us too. In that moment- in the midst of our brokenness- like David we need to be willing to receive that uncomfortable grace. And sometimes God uses us to deliver that uncomfortable grace- like the prophet Nathan. It is a dangerous position. Our friendship is tested and so is our own soul. But sometimes we are called to lovingly, compassionately, and tearfully, deliver that uncomfortable grace. God is not put off by the mess. God works in the midst of the messiness of our world. God will work with the mess- right in the midst of it. And God will bring beautiful things out of our messy lives. Just as one example, if we look into Jesus’ family tree,  as we find it in Matthew chapter 1, we find there as one of Jesus’ ancestors “Uriah’s wife”. Bathsheba, is one of Jesus’ ancestors. God worked through the mess. He entered into the mess as Jesus. It’s fascinating that God would bring Jesus into being through a family tree that had such an undesirable relationship as David and Bathsheba. The messiness of life is the beginning for all of us. We have the messiness in common. But God brings beautiful things out of our messiness if we let him. Amen.  

Questions for reflecting on Sam 11:
1. Who is affected by David’s sins? When was a time your sin had an effect on those around you? Would you define sin as “personal” or “communal”?

2. Do you identify more with David, Bathsheba, Uriah, or Nathan? Why?

3. Why did David feel so confident to condemn the rich man in Nathan’s parable, but not see his own sin? When have you tried to pick a sliver out of someone’s eye, when you had a plank in your own (Matt 7)? 

4. Why does Nathan tell David a story, rather than accuse him of sin? How do people normally act when confronted with their sin? How do you respond when confronted by your sin?

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