The story of David, Uriah’s wife, Uriah, and Nathan carry over into a second week. How could it not? Conspiracies, cover-ups, and human misery on this sort of epic scale are rarely confined to minutes or hours. These are grand events that unfold over days and weeks. In turn, they impact the participant’s lives over months and years. Then we, the well-intentioned purveyors of the word believe that we’ll do justice to the multiple layers of meaning found in these texts over a couple of 20-25 minute rap sessions Who are we kidding? This assumes we have the intestinal fortitude to talk about something guaranteed to make most of the people in church more than squeamish and a little bit angry.
It’s hard to read 2 Samuel. In one way, it’s like stepping into the third season of Game of Throne having never watched the first two seasons. You know none of the characters, themes, plot lines, or ideas. There are just lots of self-indulgent beautiful people sleeping with each other while other people fight needless wars of aggression against an evil it’s difficult to name. Why should we care about people so distant and foreign to our own experience? We care because there’s another writer who is also trying to tell David’s story. Unlike Game of Thrones, this writer (called the Chronicler) is like turning on Fox News and hearing a sanitized version of David’s reign without any of dirty laundry and political baggage David carries. As painful as may be to get the truth about David, at least Samuel tells the truth. The Chronicler can’t find Uriah or Bathsheba anywhere.
Whenever I read the history of King David’s reign in 2nd Samuel, particularly those sections the Chronicler chose not to include, it occurs to me that the propaganda tools of “fake news” to attack the truth are at least as old the Bible. In choosing to tell the story of King David’s rule, the writer of 1st and 2nd Chronicles decided to ignore the most important event in David’s time as King; a moment which would define the course of which followed. Whether the Chronicler regarded the affair between David and Bathsheba as fake news or a personal indiscretion between the king and his girlfriend, we’ll never know. We do know this affair led to the death of honorable, patriotic Israelite soldiers and changed the course of Israel’s destiny. We know that nothing is personal able to remain privileged on the royal altar of narcissism when you’re the king.
Eventually, the world will know that Bathsheba is pregnant. Bathsheba’s pregnancy, Mr. King David, is not a crime. What it took to get there and what it means for the kingdom to live with the results of your cowardice and deception; Mr. King David, that places Israel in danger. Israel is in grave danger.
We are in danger. I think that’s why these passages from 2nd Samuel make me so uncomfortable. David’s illicit sex and cowardice are gross. He’s a Harvey Weinstein-like predator. However, because of his position, his personal faults lead to bad decisions which put the entire nation in danger. The cheap sex and political cowardice are essential ingredients to the political and religious fascism David seems intent on creating.
If the worst sin we see when talking about this passage is a man committing adultery, not solider being sent to die by his own king at the hand of his own men, then you’re missing the fascism.
If the worst sin we see is a king who loved God and was in need of forgiveness after adultery, not the woman who was probably raped in a non consensual sexual encounter, then you’re missing the fascism.
If the worst sin we see is a king who couldn’t momentarily see God’s plan for his life, not the abject brutality of his own actions, then you’re you missing the fascism.
Now you try:
If the worst sin you see is ____________ , not the _____________ then you’re probably missing the fascism.
Richard Lowell Bryant