2 Sam 11:26-12:13a & Ps 51
Back when I was a young, bright thing I bought a pair of flowery ‘dockers’ (Doc Marten boots). Loved ‘em. Wore ‘em loads.
I even wore them to an ordination service once. I was in the choir and ‘cos it was a posh do we had to wear robes. I wore my dockers underneath to comfort myself that I wasn’t becoming all ‘churchy’. But I’m 5’10” and as we robed up I realised that, far from reaching to the floor, my robes showed a good 6” of flowery rebellion beneath the neat blue conformity.
Oops. But I expect God smiled.
I expect God has flowery dockers.
Years have passed and my feet have gotten bigger, so I passed my (now fashionably ‘vintage’) dockers to middle daughter and finally to my youngest. Sadly, the sole of one boot is partially detached from its upper, and there’s no proper shoe repairer round here, so the boots are now only wearable in fine weather.
Until I did the school run a few days ago. What was standing there, bold as brass on the corner just opposite the pub, but a sign saying ‘shoe repairs’?
How come I didn’t see that before?
I must have driven past it a hundred times. (I’ve given them a call and they reckon they can fix my boots with some special glue. Awesome!)
But how come I didn’t see it before?
I was reminded of this story of none-so-blind-as-those-who-are on-auto-pilot by today’s passage.
It’s a very familiar story – Nathan challenging David over his adultery with Bathsheba, the story of the poor man’s lamb, and the thunderous denouncement, “You Are That Man!”
You know how you can read a passage 100 times and on the 101th time something new smacks you round the head and you ask yourself, “How come I didn’t see that before?”
Well, that’s what happened with me.
Step closer, if you will, and examine the passage. Closer. Here, use this magnifying glass if it helps. Notice anything?
Of course, God might point out something different to you, but what struck me was the passage of time. Nathan trundles in with his doubtless well-rehearsed parable only after the baby’s birth, so this is nine months or more after Bathsheba had an invitation she could not refuse, and maybe six months after the hit squad gave Uriah his concrete boots (Is it just me, or is David sounding like a gangster?)
Why the delay? Why didn’t God send Nathan to David earlier, like straight after the murder (or better, before it), or even before David sent his minders to visit Bathsheba? Why wait long enough that David thought he’d got away with it, and then send Nathan, quaking in his pointy boots?
There are probably lots of good reasons that are beyond my ken, but one might be to do with blindness. Just as I was blind to the shoe repairer sign, so I can be blind about things that displease God.
Just ‘cos I haven’t had anybody assassinated recently, that doesn’t mean I can sit back and think I’m fine. That was the problem of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16–30. He, also, hadn’t had anyone bumped off, but Jesus helped him see what he’d not noticed before – that his riches were his idol.
We’re all blind to things. The rich young man was blind. David was blind. I am blind. I think God gave David some time to notice his blindness, time to drive past that advert a few times and see if he’d spot it. And I think he did.
Look at that embarrassed over-reaction. Look how quickly David admits his guilt once Nathan challenges him. It feels as if it was inside all the time, like an overflowing reservoir just waiting to burst. Nathan’s challenge was the bomb at the foot of the dam, and David’s confession floods out.
I imagine David felt so much better after that. The guilt must have been eating away at his insides, gnawing like woodworm in a ship’s timbers.
David tells God what God knew all along, and God cleans David’s heart and renews a right spirit within him.
And pulls on his floral dockers.
This is a great VBS / holiday club / Messy Church / yoof group activity, or an up-front demo with helpers. You could even use this for an adults’ group as an active meditation. (Craft ain’t just for kids, you know!)
You will need:
- Permanent markers and dry-wipe markers in dark colours
- Photo frame (not wooden, ‘cos it’ll get wet)
- Red paper heart or a picture of you
- Dry cloth
- Bowl of soapy water and sponge
- Ethanol (eg vodka, meths, high-alcohol hand gel)
- Optional – things to decorate your frame with afterwards such as: PVA glue and beads/pasta/tissue paper/coloured yarn, gold spray paint.
What to do
- Put a large red heart or a picture of you in the photo frame.
- We are made in God’s image, to reflect his love, but we make bad choices sometimes and spoil God’s image in us – how does this feel?
- Use the markers to scribble over the heart or photo, or write words that spoil our world and ourselves – what does this symbolise?
- Try to clean it with a dry cloth. The dry-wipe pens will rub off. Somethings we can fix ourselves – what might they be?
- Some marks don’t come off so easily – how does that feel?
- Try washing it clean. Still doesn’t work – why not?
- God promises a clean heart, a fresh start, no matter how bad the stains. Wipe the heart / photo clean with cloth soaked in alcohol – how does this feel?
- When the glass is dry, write Something affirming on the glass with the permanent markers. Eg ‘Loved by God’, ‘In God’s image’, ‘Fresh Start’.
- Optional. Decorate your frame and leave to dry. Mask the glass with a piece of card and spray the frame gold.
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. When the time of mourning was concluded, David sent for her and brought her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was displeasing to the Lord.
The Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said, “There were two men in a certain city. One was wealthy, but the other was poor. The wealthy man had a very large flock and herd, but the poor man had nothing except a single small ewe lamb that he had acquired. He nourished it and raised it together with himself and his sons. From his crumbs, it would eat; from his cup, it would drink; and in his arms it would lie. It was like a daughter to him.
“There came a visitor to the wealthy man, but he was unwilling to take from his own flock or herd to prepare a meal for the wanderer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared food for the wanderer who had come to him.”
David became very angry because of this man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die. And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan told David, “You are this man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you as king over Israel and I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave to you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave to you the house of Israel and Judah. If this were too little, I would have continued to do for you much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and you took his wife as a wife for yourself. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.
“Thus says the Lord: See, I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house. I will take your wives before your eyes and will give them to your neighbor, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Although you did it secretly, I will do this thing before all of Israel, and under the sun.”
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
For the Music Director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the Prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to Your lovingkindness;
according to the abundance of Your compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in Your sight,
so that You are justified when You speak,
and You are blameless when You judge.
I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward parts,
and in the hidden part You make me to know wisdom.
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
that the bones that You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
and uphold me with Your willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
and sinners will return to You.
Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God,
God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and a contrite heart,
O God, You will not despise.
Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure;
build the walls of Jerusalem.
Then You will be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
with burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
then they will offer young bulls on Your altar.
Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.