In the previous chapter (2 Samuel 11) we read of David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba and his attempt to cover up the resultant pregnancy. Finally, he resorts to ordering that Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite, be exposed to mortal danger in battle so that he will be killed by the Ammonites against whom David’s forces are fighting. In his attempt to cover up or justify his original sinful act of sleeping with another mans wife, he finds it necessary to sin again and again, until he is so mired in it, that he simply ignores it. Effectively he has completely over looked his own wrong doing and is living peacefully in denial. David’s response to Nathan’s story of the appalling behaviour of the rich man, in the passage below, is completely understandable. My response was the same. What an awful injustice. And then Nathan points out that the rich man in the story is, in fact, David. Or you, or me.
2 Samuel 12:1-7
So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”
David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.
In the context of this story, the phrase, “You’re the Man!” is not a compliment. Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man!” (2 Samuel 12:7) My goal today is to look deep into my heart at the sins I know I have buried and forgotten. I want to do this so that I can learn to judge people less quickly and less harshly more of the time.
This story that Nathan tells David, reminds me of two occasions when Jesus teaches a similar lesson. The first is when he challenges the Pharisees to stone an adulterous woman by asking for the One with no sin to cast the first stone (John 8:7). And the second, (Matthew 7:3-5) where he tells us to remove the great big log in our own eye before trying to help remove the tiny speck from our friend’s eye.
2 Samuel 12:1-31, John 16:1-33, Psalms 119:65-80, Proverbs 16:4-5