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Monday, December 4, 2017

“Return to Slavery”

II Samuel 11:1-27

The second cycle of Matthew’s genealogy deals with the period from the time of David’s reign as king up to the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem.  God is doing a new thing with his call to Abraham.  That call is based on grace.  It is an expression of God’s steadfast love which no one can merit or achieve.  There is a climax in the emergence of David as king.  Israel’s initial asking for a king was a sign of rebellion against God since God was their king (I Sam. 8:7-8).  The first king Saul does not have heart for God and even falls into blasphemy (I Sam. 13:1-15).  Saul is replaced by David who as we have seen is the person after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). This is not an easy succession.  David finally wins the throne after a protracted civil war in which Saul finally dies at the hands of Israel’s enemies.

David would appear to be the ideal king.  He began as a shepherd so he knows how to provide nurture, care and protection.  God is with him wherever he goes and gives him victory after victory (II Sam. 7:8-9).  God tells David that he will have a great name.  God’s own son, Jesus, will be known as the “son of David”(Mark 10:46-47).  David as God’s anointed would be the ideal figure to both protect and guide the people of Israel.  But then something goes terribly wrong.  David’s marriage to Saul’s daughter, Michal, comes to an end.  She actually despises him in her heart (II Sam. 6:16).  This may be related to the death of her father, the former King Saul against whom David had fought.  Did David have unresolved anger after this rejection by Michal (I Sam. 6:20-23)?  We don’t know.  Did this rejection predispose David for what was to come?

We all know about David’s sin with Bathsheba. However, we should not let the familiarity of the story blunt its impact. In the course of what is revealed in this passage David commits crimes that even go beyond the worst of the pagans.  David essentially has raped Bathsheba (she could hardly say no to a delegation from the king).  He then compounds the crime by arranging to have her husband killed in battle.  This is after he unsuccessfully tries to arrange for her husband, Uriah, to come home and thereby give legitimacy to Bathsheba’s pregnancy. David then carries out a plan which is nothing less than murder.

Where is David, the shepherd-king, the person after God’s own heart, the faithful servant of the Lord?  David takes Bathsheba as his wife following the murder of her husband.  David’s actions are no less terrible than those which led to the flood earlier.  They are almost certainly worse.  The Greek king Agamemnon alienates his troops by stealing the girlfriend of his greatest warrior, Achilles. But he doesn’t kill Achilles.

In all of this David’s heart is no longer turned toward God. It has embraced the darkness.

Loving and faithful God may I never be complacent about the reality of sin.  Remind me that the one who thinks they stand may be the next to fall (I Cor. 10:12).  Draw me closer to you, especially in this Advent season.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.