Saturday, May 27, 2017

May 27

II Samuel 12:1-31; John 16:1-33; Psalm 119:65-80; Proverbs 16:4-5

I always wish yesterday's reading wasn't here!  David is doing so well.  He's growing in power and wealth; his kingdom is firmly established; he's received a prophecy about the future of his family's significance.  All is good.

And, then, Bathsheba.  And Uriah.  And adultery and murder. (Off-stage boos and hisses.)  Quite the dramatic fall from grace, though it's neatly covered up with a convenient battlefield death and a hasty marriage.

We're not left there, though.  "The thing David had done displeased the Lord" (II Sam. 11:27) and God confronts David through his prophet Nathan, first by way of an analogous story and then directly: "You are the man!" (12:7).  David is immediately convicted, confessing "I have sinned against the Lord" (vs. 14).  Two thoughts always catch me here.  First: how different David's response to the accusation of the Lord is from Saul's responses (see I Sam. 15).  Second, David recognizes that his sin is first and foremost against the Lord.  Yes, he has wronged Uriah and even Bathsheba, but those human considerations pale before the holy God.

God's judgment on David is painful.  Though he himself is forgiven (II Sam. 12:13), the consequences fall on the innocent infant son (vs. 14, 15, 18).  How awful for David, to be responsible for the death of yet another blameless party.  Over his head, too, is the knowledge that "out of [his] own house [God is] going to bring calamity upon [David]" (vs. 11).  More children's lives will be damaged and destroyed; more betrayal awaits.

In the midst of all this pain, in the middle of his guilt and suffering, when the human tendency would be to hide in shame, David instead turns toward his God.  How amazing.  God clearly afflicts the child, yet David pleads for mercy.  His petition is sincere and deep; notice the details of his pleading (fasting, lying on the ground, seven days).  This movement toward God doesn't end with the child's death, either.  After he hears the news about his dead son, but before David breaks his week-long fast, "he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped" (II Sam. 12:20).  That would not be my reaction after the death of my son, much less a death I caused through my own sin!  David's posture is continually turned toward God, though.

And God continues to show mercy and favor to David.  The next child borne by Bathsheba is Solomon, to whom God gives the name Jedidiah, meaning "beloved of the Lord."  That is redemption!  That is healing!  The consequences remain, but the relationship is restored.

David lives out the truths of Psalm 119 - "You are good, what you do is good; teach me your decrees" (Ps. 119:68).  Though he failed, yet "it was good for [him] to be afflicted so that [he] might learn [God's] decrees" (vs. 71) once again.

- Sarah Marsh

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