Homily for January 30th, 2016: 2 Samuel 12:1-7a, 10-17.
We heard yesterday about David’s grave sin. A good man, a man of great courage, but also a man of deep compassion for the old king Saul, who both admired David and deeply envied him, David has grown soft. He sends others out to fight for him, while remaining in his splendid palace in
There he has an affair with Bathsheba, wife of the Gentile soldier Uriah, who
is fighting in David’s army. When he learns that Bathsheba is pregnant, he tries
to cover his tracks by summoning Uriah from the front and encouraging him to
sleep with his wife, so that when Bathsheba’s child is born, all will assume
that Uriah is the father. Jerusalem
When Uriah says he cannot sleep with his wife while his comrades are risking their lives in battle, David is desperate. He sends Uriah back to the front with a sealed letter ordering his arranged death in battle. David breathes easier, thinking he has had a narrow escape from disaster. The chapter describing all this ends with the verse: “But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.”
He had every reason to be displeased. David’s adultery with Bathsheba was a sin of passion. His order for her husband to be killed was cold, calculated murder.
At this point the Lord sends the prophet Nathan to David. Rather than rebuking the king openly, which would put him on the defensive, Nathan tells him the heart rending story we have just heard, about a rich man with great flocks of sheep, and a poor man with nothing but a ewe lamb to which he is so attached that he keeps the animal with him always, like a dearly loved pet. When a guest visits the rich man, he is not willing to sacrifice even one sheep from his vast flock, but instead steals the poor man’s lamb to satisfy the duty of hospitality for a visitor. David is outraged. “The man who has done this merits death!” he declares.
With those words David is convicted out of his own mouth. “You are the man!” Nathan tells David. Moreover what he has done will have consequences, Nathan says. Struck to the heart – for despite his grave double sin he remains a good man – David confesses: “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan assures him of God’s forgiveness. This will remove the guilt of David’s sin -- but it does not remove its the consequences. The first consequence is the death of the child David has sinfully fathered. We shall learn next week that there are other consequences as well.