Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
2 Samuel 12 – The Lord sends his prophet, Nathan, to afflict David. Don't you wish every "ruler" had an honest prophet to keep him on the straight and narrow! Nathan tells David a story—about two men in a city, a poor one and a rich one, one with many sheep and one with only one. When a traveler comes to the rich man requiring hospitality, the rich man is loath to sacrifice even one sheep to feed the man; so he takes the poor man’s one lamb and uses it. David becomes outraged at the injustice of the story and says, “the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (12:6).
Then Nathan tells David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?” (12:8-9)
He then imposes a penalty—“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife . . .I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. . .” (12:10-13). David realizes his terrible sin and confesses it to Nathan. The Lord forgives him, but the child born to David and Bathsheba shall die (12:14).
There is, of course, a lot to be taken from this great story. David is not above the law of the Lord even though he is king, even though he rich and has many wives. When it comes to the moral law, all men are equal before God. Also, even though God’s forgiveness comes readily to David, the punishment for sin remains. The little baby will die, showing us also that the consequences of sin pour over onto the most innocent when we transgress. Is it God’s will? It is God’s will for there to be a moral order, and it is in the nature of this order for the evil we do to spill over onto those who are nearest and dearest to us. The woes Nathan speaks of here will come to pass in 16:20 - three of David’s sons are murdered, two by their own brothers. Absalom takes over his father’s harem. The real repentance of David is revealed not here in this story, however, but in the psalm he wrote, number 51:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit with 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 sustain in me a willing spirit (51:1-12).
David is inconsolable at the penalty exacted upon the innocent child. He fasts and prays that God will spare him, but when he dies, David accepts it. He and Bathsheba will have another son—Solomon.
Joab, meanwhile defeats the Ammonites at Rabbah and its king, Milcom.
Mark 11 – Approaching Jerusalem, at the Mt. of Olives, Jesus sends his disciples into town to get a donkey colt for him to ride into town on. People lay their cloaks down on the ground before him and others leafy branches (palms?). He goes into the Temple and looks around. Then they go to Bethany together. The next day they come back and Jesus sees a fig tree without fruit (it is not the season for the fruit), but Jesus curses it anyway (11:14).
In Jerusalem, at the Temple, he drives out money lenders (11:15) quoting something from scripture (Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 combined). At this point we hear that the chief priests and scribes are out to kill him, but they fear the crowd. They pass the withered fig tree, and Jesus tells them anything they pray for will come to them if they do not doubt (11:22). And he tells them to forgive if they want God to forgive them (11:25).
When they come into Jerusalem again, the leaders ask him “by what authority” he does the things he does. He confounds them—knowing their fear of going against the crowd—where they think John the Baptist’s authority came from. They are afraid to say his power came from God because they never had respect for John and saying he had been sent by God would show them disrespectful of God. And they are afraid of saying that his power did NOT come from God because they fear all the people who followed John. They fudge it and say they don’t know.