Season After Pentecost – Let the punishment fit the crime, or not (The Old Testament Passage)

“When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.” (II Samuel 11:26-27a)

In any modern day story – especially certain genre of novels and soap operas – this would be the end of the story, and we would move on to the next story. But this is the bible, and this is King David who is supposed to be a man of God, so . . .

“But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David.” (II Samuel 11:27b – 12:1a)

What follows is a wonderful allegory about privilege and poverty, and what says should strike home in a many a heart where an abundance of riches have isulated and harden the human heart.

“He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” (Verses 1b-6)

David does not perceive the wrong he had done until Nathan points it out to him. But David is enough of a king and has a compassionate heart that he saw immediately what the rich man had done was wrong. And would have sought to make things right for the poor man. But David did not look into his own heart, but only into the heart and attitude of the rich man in the story. How often, beloved reader, has someone of power and privilege criticized others but do not consider what they do, how they act, and how they live out their attitudes as being needful of scrutiny and correction.

It also says much about Uriah the Hittite. If David with all his wealth and privilege is the “rich man” then does this mean the Uriah had so little of his own? Did he not have recognition as a soldier in David’s army? If Uriah was a “small man” in the large army of the king, one could understand why he declined any favors the king might give. Or maybe it is just that in contrast to King David Uriah was that much lesser that Nathan, for the purpose of the story, easily “cloaked” Uriah under the guise of a “poor man.”

“Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” (Verses 7-12)

Last week I entitled the post for the Old Testament Passage as “When Good and Strong Christians Go Astray”. David’s response to the prophet Nathan’s story shows that he did retain a measure of compassion and goodness. But this is also the beginning of the end of the “golden age” of King David. And it shows there are consequence for going astray.

“David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.“ (Verse 13)

David does not die. But neither does he end his kingship in peace and harmony. It is a rough road ahead for the household of King David.

And what of us, beloved reader? Must we also suffer when we go astray? It is the distinction of the Old and New Testament that sin goes along with suffering. And one has to wonder if those of the Old Testament were more deserving of punishment and suffering than us? As we continue to read the story of King David, we might want to ask ourselves that.

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About Carole Boshart

I have two blogs on WordPress. "A Simple Desire" which is based on the daily "Sips of Scripture" published and sent out by Third Way Cafe. "Pondering From the Pacific" is based on my reflections on the world - sometimes religious/spiritual, and sometimes not so much.

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