Food for Thought-Reflections on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13 (David, Nathan, and the Death of Uriah)

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It can all go horribly wrong very quickly. If there’s one lesson to take away from the story of David, Uriah, and Bathsheba it is this: God’s plans are delicate. Why do I say this? Because David’s encounter with Uriah reveals that the most fragile human actions can derail years of divine planning and action. In one fell swoop, David has undone God’s vision for Israel, David’s leadership of Israel, and his integrity as the leader of the nation All of which seemed set in stone as part of God’s immutable plan just a few verses before.

It’s not supposed to work that way. We’re told God’s plans are as solid as the Great Wall of China. If God has a vision for you and your life, you can count on it being fulfilled. Hundreds of memes says as much across various social media platforms every day. Yet David, a man after God’s own heart, is able to undo everything that God had envisioned for David’s life. Clearly, there are connections between what we term as “God’s will” and our own actions which we’ve don’t like to make or discuss. Are God’s purposes and plans all they’re cracked up to be or do they hinge more on our participation that we’d like to admit? By putting all the emphasis on the strength on immutability of God’s plan, do we let ourselves off the hook? If something goes wrong, do we then create a convenient person to blame, the one who set us up with these expectations in the first place, God? I think so.

None of us are in any position to pass judgment on David’s relationship with God. David’s actions were reprehensible and led to the death of an innocent man. We know what David did was wrong. We’ve all been in the wrong, in one form or another. Perhaps not to the extreme which David felt, but we’ve been there. My question is what lies beyond that sense of wrongness. Beyond the wrong lies the relationship with God. David’s lies in tatters. David is David and we can’t change that reality. However, he’s in a place we don’t want to be and cannot rightly judge because of the unique nature of his relationship with God.

I do not want to judge David’s relationship with God. It is God’s relationship with David which troubles me. So much time, money, and effort has been invested in making David into the person and leader he has become. David has an understanding of morality, scripture, and his place in Israelite history. Despite his flawed humanity and penchant for brutality, he is the anointed one of Israel. David is a messiah. This doesn’t matter. Sinful David, the all too human Messiah, is too much for the God who placed him on Saul’s throne. Uriah’s death is the beginning of the end of David, King of Israel. God turn his back on his chosen as quickly as he has anointed him. God says, “I am making trouble come against you from inside your own family. Before your very eyes, I will take your wives away and give them to your friend and he will have sex with your wives in broad daylight.”

That’s brutal. It’s pornographic. That’s inexplicably profane. You do realize 2 Samuel 12:11 (quoted above) is a description of divinely ordained rape. This makes me extremely uncomfortable.  To tell you the truth, it makes me more than a little sick to my stomach to think this is how God (the creator of the universe) is pictured as punishing his beloved.  Why would the writer of 2 Samuel do such a thing?  I don’t want the God I worship ever being OK with rape, at any time, in any form.  That’s one heck of a way to treat the anointed one of Israel and his family. No hint of forgiveness, no sense of reconciliation, no sense of anything other than total public and abject humiliation.  So I guess two wrongs do make a right?  Is that what God is telling us here?

Don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of sleeping with a strange woman and sending her husband off to die. I condemn David’s actions with every fiber of my being. However, God’s public shaming of David is way over the top, out of line, humiliating, gross, disgusting, and not very, what’s the word, Christian.

Calling Them Like I See Them,

Richard

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