Tumbling in the Sand
“Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel…” – 2 Samuel 12:7
At pericope study on Tuesday, I heard something about this story of David and Bathsheba that I had never really, really heard before and so I thought I’d share it. David was not so much in trouble for his adultery (or rape) of Bathsheba or his murder of Uriah. Instead, he was most at sin for his abuse of power. And the reality is, that when power is abused, the weakest and the most innocent are the most hurt.
That’s not to say that everything that David did in this incident between him, Bathsheba and Uriah wasn’t despicable, horrible, and wrong. But, it certainly wasn’t uncommon for kings to do exactly what David did and get away with it. Kings had total authority to do whatever they wanted, after all.
But David wasn’t supposed to be a typical king. He had been called by God to serve God. He’d been called by God to a people called by God to reign justly, to demonstrate what it meant to be a people formed in the image of God.
And, it seems, a huge part of being made in the image of God is about the reality of power. Power from God is not power over but power with… or maybe even more so: power to humble oneself in service. Power from God is not meant to be self serving, but for the service (the love) of the other.
It’s really easy to forget that—instead we find ourselves thinking that power is about control. It’s also really easy to think that only kings and elected leaders and CEOs and pastors have power. Actually, we all have power—YOU have power. In each and every relationship, you share a degree of power.
Indeed, sometimes you feel powerless against someone who misuses their power to hurt you, but it does not mean that you actually have no power, no options. Power is more complicated than that—layering itself upon layers, varying by circumstance, age, position, culture, and more … but that does not mean that God does not chose you and call you to new life. That does not mean that there is not some power of life given to you.
The question is, how do you use the power you have? Do you use it to serve yourself? Do you use it to serve the abuse of power by others? Do you use it for the service of justice and the good of the community?
And, what happens when you find yourself confronted by Nathan, reminded that you, too, fall short? Can you surrender your power to God? Can you fall into the graceful power of God that is big enough to tell you the truth, to forgive you, and to grant mercy?
I know that I pray for the strength to be able to do just that.
Featured Image: “Nathan Reproves David” A Bible Poster published by N.B.C.L.C.
(The National Biblical Catechetical & Liturgical Centre) of Bangalore, India.