S (Scripture): 2 Samuel 12:1 So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to David, Nathan said, “There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing except for a little lamb he had acquired. He raised it, and it grew up alongside him and his children. It used to eat his food, drink from his cup, and sleep in his arms. It was just like a daughter to him.
4 “When a traveler arrived at the rich man’s home, he did not want to use one of his own sheep or cattle to feed the traveler who had come to visit him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and cooked it for the man who had come to visit him.”
5 Then David became very angry at this man. He said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 Because he committed this cold-hearted crime, he must pay for the lamb four times over!”
7 Nathan said to David, “You are that man!…”
O (Observation): Nathan is confronting David regarding Bathsheba. He’s trying to help put things into perspective for David. David still thinks he’s kind of getting away with his sin with Bathsheba, and that of having Uriah put in harm’s way (and consequently, killed in action).
So, Nathan tells David this story (copied above) and David is furious at the man who stole the lamb and cooked it for the traveller, rather than take from his own flock. In fact, David’s judgment is to KILL this man.
Oops. Nathan reminds David that the man he dislikes so much in the parable is David himself.
“You are that man!”
(Technically, Nathan goes on to spell things out…but not much more needed to be said after that line, “You are that man!”)
A (Application): Wow…powerful story. Until someone holds up the mirror to my face, I am clueless as to the err of my ways. This story is a perfect example of sin going unchecked. David needs someone to be honest with him. Nathan has that job, as he is God’s mouthpiece for David.
Is what Nathan did easy? Absolutely not. And for people to do this today, we would be very reluctant. Who wants to point out what someone did was wrong?
As I participated in a workshop on racism at last week’s leadership convocation for the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA, I realized the err of my ways as a white man silent to the issue of racism in our country.
“You / we are that person!”
As a result, I’ve been starting to deal more with my own junk. I’m praying about it. I’m asking God to help me notice the times in my life when I have been a hero, and the times I’ve been silent regarding racism. I’ve been wondering how I’ve colluded with racism over my 38 years on this earth…and even how our churches have colluded (and still do).
And the thing is, a mirror held up to my face one time didn’t do it for me. I’m a dope with a short memory. I don’t need to be hounded, but I need to be reminded of my errors on a regular basis. I need a Nathan to be honest with me. (Thankfully, I do have a few of those in my life.)
But I also need my Nathan to give me hope…to remind me that my God would never abandon me.
So hard to find ways to hope when we screw up so much…but then, that’s the importance of being a part of a faith community. In a faith community, you will receive Invitation into a life in Jesus Christ, but you will also receive Challenge along the way.
I hope you find your faith community. I hope Nathan shows up to challenge you, but also to give you hope.
P (Prayer): Lord, somehow your worthiness makes me whole, even though I am completely unworthy. Your grace saves me from my despair…and when I feel that doesn’t happen, give me others around me to support me. Amen.