Thank you, loving Father, for the grace and mercy that you pour out on me each day. Thank you for the forgiveness that is mine in Christ.
Read 2 SAMUEL 12:1-14
Nathan Rebukes David
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. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 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.
4 “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.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 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. 9 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.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.’1
We have probably all encountered situations where minds are changed and actions taken because someone is persuaded that it was their own idea! Nathan’s brilliant story causes David to condemn his own behavior. Perhaps even the pet lamb picture made David remember his own youth. He recognized that the story represented a real situation and he was shocked and furious. A man who had abundant wealth, including many sheep, felt so entitled that he took and killed a poor man’s pet lamb. If the poor man was a bonded tenant, that would in theory have been legal, but there was no doubt it was a horrific misuse of privilege.
David clearly had many deficiencies as a king, but his anger here does indicate his basic decency as a human being! He knew instinctively that anyone who behaved in such a contemptible and mean way deserved the strongest condemnation and punishment. Imagine his horror when he realized that the story was about himself. He had been given so much (v 8) yet his behavior not only ignored or even despised God’s word, but despised God himself by acting as if God’s many gifts to him were not enough (v 9). He had sinned not only against Bathsheba and Uriah, but against God. Nathan makes it clear that there would be both short-term and long-term consequences. Prophecies like this are not necessarily suggesting that God will deliberately cause David’s own family to offend against him, but that David’s behavior provides them with an example and an excuse.
Jesus’ story of the lost son2 picks up on the message of verses 13 and 14: the prodigal can be forgiven and welcomed, but consequences remain. The prodigal will not regain the inheritance he has wasted: everything now belongs to his older brother.
If our sense of entitlement ever causes the deprivation of others, may we recognize what has happened and take action to put it right.
Holy God, when you see my sin, help me to repent, remembering the great price that was paid for your forgiveness.
1 Ps 36:7 2 Luke 15:11–32
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