20 January 20222 Samuel 12:7-15a
‘You are the man!’ (v. 7)
Having drawn David in with his story (see yesterday's notes), Nathan declares the guilt of David and God’s judgement upon him. But before the consequences of David’s actions are declared, Nathan first communicates a profound sense of disappointment and dismay from God. It sounds rather like a jilted lover who is hurt and shocked by a lover's infidelity, listing all the things that God had done for David only to be met with these terrible actions. Presumably God knows the answer to the question of “Why have you done this?” But the question is still asked. The question is rather like the Reproaches of God in the Good Friday Liturgy: “My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!” (Methodist Worship Book, page 256)
It is clear that God’s anger is aroused because David had Uriah the Hittite killed and then took Bathsheba to be his wife. There is no mention of David’s initial act of adultery, which suggests that it is having a man killed and stealing his wife which has specifically inflamed God’s anger on this occasion.
After this comes God’s judgement upon David, all of which would be fulfilled. The child conceived with Bathsheba would die and David would have constant trouble from within his own household and, in particular, his son Absalom. But David himself is not killed; with the dialogue suggesting that this is because he immediately repents of his sin. Perhaps we are meant to see the grace of God at work because David’s judgement that the rich man in Nathan’s story should be killed is not fulfilled for David.
These events would lead to the writing of one of the most loved and beautiful Psalms. Psalm 51 is a wonderful song of repentance and longing for restoration and inner purity. The Psalm provides a recognition that forgiveness and inner purity come only as an act of grace from God. David seems to describe the effect of these events in verse 17 as a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart.
- How do you feel about God’s judgements upon David? Is it just?
- Have you ever felt like asking someone, “Why have you done this to me after all I have done for you?” What insight does this give in relation to our own sins, Good Friday and God’s forgiveness?
First published 24 January 2019.