This Sunday we are blessed to have Adam Marshall-Lopez with us to preach and lead in worship. This week’s text from 2 Samuel is a portion of a larger narrative and describes the encounter between David and the prophet, Nathan. This section of scripture reminds me of how life is a constant learning process and an on-going journey. We are always on a path of discovering who we are and how we are in relationship with God, others and ourselves. We have good moments and not-so-good moments and hopefully we can learn from them all.
This passage also reminds me of a favorite concept that I learned from author Parker Palmer. Palmer talks about the use of a “third thing” to help us see ourselves and the world around us in new ways. It’s a tool that helps us to reflect on the journey of our souls. A third thing is outside of us or the individual people involved in a conversation. It can be a poem, a song, a piece of art, a story…almost anything. But this “third thing” helps us, through metaphor, to plumb the depths of ourselves and our life experience in a way that can bring insight and clarity. Perhaps you’ve had that experience…a poem, a song, a painting or a piece of literature has sparked a revelation or a new awareness. In this week’s scripture passage Nathan tells a story that serves as a “third thing” for David, leading him to new levels of self-discovery and understanding. Join us on Sunday as Adam leads us through this intriguing passage and gives us the opportunity to reflect not only on David’s life but also on our own.
I am grateful to Adam for his assistance this week. We give thanks for his presence, insight, and deep caring that he so generously shares. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us in these unusual times and may we be instruments of God’s peace, justice and mercy in our own unique and beautiful ways.
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a (NRSV)
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.
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David. 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.”
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.” 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.
I have been reading Rabbinical comments on this passage [The Rabbi’s Bible–THe Early Prophets} and to my dismay the passage that describes David’s sin is whitewashed with a commentary on how–when someone goes into battle, –they are always “divorced” from their spouses. So David was free to take Uriah’s spouse and marry her.
This obscures several problems. The big one is that David had Uriah murdered. But the effort of Haredim Jewish commentators to obscure his sin reminds us of the fundamentalist Christian branch of our faith.