Archive for August 2012

No, David, No!

August 14, 2012

 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13


What a story these verses from Second Samuel make. What a tale. I mean, here we have David, who is God’s chosen King of Israel and has just recently had an inappropriate relationship with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, who was a warrior in a military engagement in David’s army. In order to cover up his misdeeds, David summoned Uriah home to “fix” the problem by having Uriah “tend” to Bathsheba. Uriah refused to do so because of a code of conduct amongst warriors of that time that stated they would abstain from sexual relations during battle. So what does David do instead? He sends a note, carried by Uriah, to Uriah’s commanding officer, Joab, to abandon Uriah in battle so that Uriah may be killed. Think about that for a second- Uriah wouldn’t abandon his warriors’ code, and David needed to cover up his adulterous ways, so David sent a note with Uriah to his commanding officer that ordered Uriah’s own death. That’s intense.

And after reading these verses several times, I keep thinking about what I would say to David if I were in his court or had the chance to talk to him, face to face like Nathan did.

“David, David, David.” ::Make “tsk-ing” noise and shake head:: “What have you done here? Why did you go and act like such a jerk? When you look at your life up to this point, David, God was absolutely enamored with you. God loved you. I mean, look at the events of your life up to this point, man. God has protected you and promoted you through every obstacle. You became the leader of Saul’s army and had more success than anyone ever could have imagined. You’re not a big guy, David. But you won in battle, even over a giant, when you were just a kid! Then, when Saul started to become a little bit afraid, maybe even more than a little envious, of how popular you were becoming when you were winning all those battles, and when Saul tried to kill you, God delivered you to safety and even gave you an army of your own!

After this, God chose you, by voice of the prophets, to become the next king of Israel after Saul started getting all crazy – and you were only thirty years old! Thirty! I turn thirty in less than two months and I don’t have any chance of becoming king of anything! And when you brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and wanted to build a temple, despite the uproar from everyone else, God, through Nathan told you that that’s all right. In fact, God told you that your throne would be established forever. And if that wasn’t enough, God helped you conquer all of your enemies. Not some. Not a few. All of them. You had it made. So what’s your reaction? You completely turn your back on God. Disregarding God’s will altogether.

I mean, c’mon! You’re acting like a spoiled brat here! If I were your parent and your thirty year-old self did something like this to me, I’d have thrown you out the door so fast your descendants’ heads would still be spinning to this day! That’s right, Jesus himself would have been dizzy from how fast I would have kicked you out! But what does God do? God forgives you. God lets you stay in the house. David, you are blessed!”

Since you obviously can’t see the book via my blog, take a look inside with here:

This part of the story of King David is just like this book, “No, David!” This children’s book, which was introduced to me last weekend at a classmate’s baby shower, describes, almost perfectly what King David did when he slept with Bathsheba and killed Uriah. In this book, we have the character David – the title/character situation works out perfectly here – who is acting up and being yelled at by his mother. He writes on the wall, reaches for cookies when he’s not supposed to, makes various messes around the house, runs naked down the street, and jumps on his bed uncontrollably. Every page has an illustration of these crazy things David is doing . Each illustration is accompanied with the words “No, David,” in some variation or another. It’s probably safe to presume that David knows not to do these things in the back of his mind somewhere. When we were children, we knew not to draw on the walls, have cookies before meals, jump on our beds, and all those other silly things children do that get us in trouble, but we did them anyway. And I think that somewhere in the back of our minds, we knew we were going to get in trouble, just like David probably knew.

David, in this book, gets sent to the time out chair because he’s just been causing too much trouble. He’s sitting in the corner looking ashamed with a tear running down his face. But on the next page there is a picture of David with his arms outstretched and the words, “Davey, come here.” The final page of the book has David’s mom embracing him and saying, “Yes, David… I love you.” This is the same situation that King David from Second Samuel is facing.

David was the King of Israel. Being the King of Israel – God’s chosen King –  one would think that it be vital to be somewhat familiar with the Scripture that came before oneself. As God’s anointed king, you would think that it would be a requirement to know this scripture. And if that is the case, then it should have been pretty clear to David that adultery and murder were things that people on the top of God’s “good list” didn’t do. But, looking at this text, David was acting just like a child writing on the wall. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that what he was doing was wrong and he’d probably get in trouble for it, but he did it anyway. He did it because he wanted to. But that subconscious understanding of knowing what was wrong explained why, when Nathan pronounced God’s judgment, that David snapped right into his woeful ways. And he was put in “time out.” Granted, having your child killed by God is a heck of a time out, but it was the same thing as a time out – at least it was in God’s eyes at that time.

And then, God told David that he was loved. Nathan told David that God wasn’t going to kill him. And I don’t know how familiar you are with sinners in the Old Testament, but a lot of the time, God did kill them. This was a big deal for David to turn his back on God in such a blatant way and not be killed. Nathan tells David that he will not die because of his sins. David has been forgiven. God, after yelling at David for all those things, via Nathan’s speech, saw that David was ashamed and crying in the corner. God then reached out and said, “Davey, come here. Yes, David… I love you.”

King David was acting as a practical atheist. What that means is that David was doing things his way because that’s what he wanted. When he was doing this, he didn’t have any regard for God’s will or desire. And here’s the thing: we all do this. We all act like David at times. We’re all practical atheists. We turn our backs to God when our desire is different from God’s. And we do it a lot. Every time we do something against God’s will or desire, we’re acting in the same manner as David. Every time we commit injustice or do nothing to prevent an injustice we see in the world, we are acting like David. When we spend our money, buying something we want without thinking about what good that money could do for others, we are acting like David. And deep down inside ourselves, we know what we are doing is not the will of God. And every time we go against God, we disappoint God.

Sure, when we do these things, God’s disappointed in us. But God still loves us, like any good parent would. Despite our faults and disregard for God’s will, we still end up in the Grace of God – every time. Every time we draw on the walls, reach for the cookies before a meal, track mud through the house, or play baseball inside, God still embraces us with love. And the greatest news is that no matter how much we mess up, we don’t have to face that radical kind of time out that David did. God loves us so much that the ultimate sacrifice was given, so that we no longer have to spend time making up for what we’ve done wrong. Instead of putting us in a time out, God is able to call us over and hug us.

I don’t know what most of you think about the Old Testament. It can be rough. It seems there are a lot more downs than ups. Most of the tales involved a vengeful God; a God that we don’t really see in the New Testament . But that can be a good thing. The Old Testament challenges our faith – a lot – but that can help us grow. We have to fight through these tough verses to find the God that we know Who showers grace upon us unconditionally. When we get past the stuff that is hard to swallow – like God’s chosen King committing adultery and murder – and find that grace staring us in the face, the test of the passage becomes all the more relevant. That rough story is a reminder that our faith journeys are filled with times when we turned our backs to God, but God still loved us. We don’t always do everything correctly, just like both of these Davids, but God still makes that grace rain down upon us. And God hugs us. And that is something for which we should be eternally grateful.