Sunday, 19 October 2014

Face to Face with Reality - sermon for 19th October

2 Samuel 12: 1-9; Psalm 51 1-9

Today we have two readings from the Old Testament – the story of Nathan and David, and the psalm:  these go together because the psalm is David’s response to the conversation with Nathan.
The shock realisation, that he was the man, the man who had betrayed God, impacted on David with deep conviction...

But, let’s just pause for a moment...

Last week, the people had reached the Promised Land; Joshua renewed the Covenant... and now suddenly we have skipped forward around 400 years, to David; the second of the kings.
In between many things have happened, lands, people, battles... the covenant remembered and forgotten; the first king, Saul anointed, and his reign established.
The young shepherd boy, David was chosen by God to be the next king, before Saul’s reign was over. Saul lost favour with God; and God chose another, yet, this chosen one, who was loyal and faithful to God, was still flawed, still only human. He turned from God; he caused the death of another in a selfish and self-seeking way; and foolishly, he thought he’d got away with it!

He had forgotten, the eternal truth that nothing can be kept from God; that God knows our hearts, and knows all that we do... and even though we may take great pains to hide it from others, we can never hide it from God.

David may have been flawed, but essentially he was still a man of faith; he was still loyal to God. And thus his repentance is poured out in psalm 51.
He knew that even though in the world’s eyes he may have wronged Uriah; in reality his sin was against God.
For first and foremost, his sin was a consequence of turning away from God’s teaching; of abandoning God’s laws; he had sinned and that sin was against  God.
He had abused his power
He had manipulated and corrupted and coerced: because he could.
And he knew.
He didn’t really need Nathan to tell him; but he needed someone to remind him:  God knew... God knows...

That feeling we get when someone we love and respect is disappointed in us – cuts to the heart.
We feel it physically in the pit of the stomach
And it goes deep

Thus it was for David
He had let God down
He had used the position God had given him for his own selfish ends
He was wrong, and he knew it, but he also needed to be told...
He needed to be made to face up to the facts
Thus Nathan, the trusted advisor, the man of God, the prophet was sent to tell the king a few small truths.

This is how I imagine Nathan might have responded to the word from God:
The old man sucked in deeply
How to go and tell the King he is wrong? 
 He has acted unjustly?
He is about to be punished by God?
He sighed – sometimes the best way is to tell a story....
It was a simple story about a minor injustice over a lamb 
A lamb! 
But the king’s reaction was quick! 
Righteous indignation!! 
The old man held back his smile... 
“It is you Lord. It is you who is the man! 
You have done this terrible thing 
And God is not pleased...” 
The sentence hangs heavy in the air 
God. Is. Not. Pleased. 
Take a long, hard look at yourself:What do you see? 
Now, look again, with God’s eyes... 
Now what do you see? 
Who do you see? 
Is it a good person? 
Or is it someone who bends the truth, manipulates the odds, takes advantage?
Nathan gave voice, to what David already knew
Listen in yourselves, for that still small voice
Next time you look in the Mirror.

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