First Reading: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Judgment Against King David
7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man. This is what YHWH, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 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 would have been too little, I would have added to you many more such things. 9 Why have you despised the word of YHWH, to do that which is evil in his sight? You have struck Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against YHWH.”
World English Bible
How do you react to hypocrisy? How do you judge a hypocrite?
In public life, hypocrisy is the unforgivable sin. Elected officials soon find no forgiveness for saying one thing, then doing another. The self-righteous preacher caught in a compromising situation soon finds he has no flock (and, sometimes, no family). People will forgive the sincere repentant, but never the two-faced hypocrite.
These few verses from 2 Samuel were the judgment of King David. He enjoyed the favor of YHWH, but over-reached when he took the wife of a loyal servant, Urriah the Hittite, then send that soldier to his death. David’s adultery and cowardice shocked his inner court, including the court prophet, Nathan. Nathan told the parable of the plundered lamb to set up David for his judgment. David wanted justice for the loss of the lamb, only to have Nathan use the parable as a mirror for his own crime.
In 12:7, Nathan confronted David with the truth: “You are the man.” Then, the prophet declared God’s word over the king. YHWH blessed David with rule over the kingdom, freedom from the grip of the former king (Saul), and dominance over the house (clan and assets) of the former king. The phrase “your master’s wives into your bosom” (12:8 RSV) has a sexual connotation; Nathan inferred David had many opportunities to satisfy his lust in a way that publically showed his royal dominance. But David abused his stature for the lust of a married woman. The sword (the symbol of judgment and evil) would turn on the King; David would never be free of war, rebellion, and intrigue. David confessed to his sin and received forgiveness, but the consequences of his act would haunt him for the rest of his days.
We do not primarily remember David for his hypocrisy or his repentance, but we Christians do invoke his memory through his heir, Solomon. His mother, Bathsheba, was the former wife of Urriah. David gave his kingdom to his son, Solomon, and, thus, began the Davidic line that culminated in the birth of his descendant, Jesus of Nazareth. So, good came from evil; the sin of one man resulted in the salvation of all.
The story of David should give us pause. No one is innocent of hypocrisy; sin does sometimes lead to good through repentance. As God forgave David, possibly we should try to forgive the hypocrites in our lives.
How are you like David? Like Nathan? How has God’s forgiveness helped you overcome your situation and produce good from bad?