The sermon at church tonight was on 2 Samuel 11-12 – you know, the story about David up to no good with Bathsheba and then the prophet Nathan tells David a story which helps him to see his sin and repent. As I was looking at the passage, though, I was wondering, what is David’s sin?
I’ve generally thought that it was adultery, or murder, or covering up sin, or all of the above. But looking again at the story Nathan tells, I this there’s more to it than this. One of the points the preacher, Megan, made, was that David’s sin was against God (12:9) so in what way did he sin against God? Was it just by breaking his commandment to not murder or not commit adultery?
I reckon that Nathan’s story sheds light on this. His story is about a wealthy man who has a lot of sheep who steals to one sheep his poor neighbour has in order to feed his traveler. The story is about greed and treading on others to get what you want. This was initially what got me thinking about the passage. Adultery and murder are strikingly absent from the story.
But Nathan’s word from God sheds more light on this as well. He speaks of how God gave David the kingdom and would have given him more (12:8). Yet, David’s response is to do evil in the eyes of the Lord and it’s at this point that the murder of Uriah and David’s adultery with Bathsheba is brought up. I think this story is about the turn in David’s heart, to greed, to building his own empire and to pride. His methods (adultery, murder, lying, etc) are certainly deplorable, but the focus is on greed and his self-reliance.
When we studied this in OT this year, our lecturer mentioned how 11:2 speaks of David walking on the roof and wondered whether he is surveying his kingdom and his own greatness. It’s just a hint, but combined with Nathan’s story and explanation, it contributes to the idea that this passage is about power building and the state of David’s heart, not just his moral infidelity. Looking at Nathan’s story sharpened the meaning of this passage for me. What do you find when you read it?
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.