Meditations of Old Testament Highlights: 16. 2 Samuel
2 Sam 12:7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
A highlight? Well, yes, because these few words record a terrible happening that looks backwards and then forwards in this book and which provide vital lessons for us. They are in many ways pivotal words. First of all, looking back. David, this man we referred to in the previous meditation as a ‘heart man’, a man after God’s own heart, has blown it. Even great men of God can get it wrong. There is not one of us who is totally secure from failure, and if you think you are, and you find yourself saying, “I could never do that,” or “I could never be like that,” as you watch the failure of another person, you just don’t know the depths of your own depravity. Between now and the time I go to heaven I would wish that I never had a wrong thought, never said a wrong word, and never did a wrong thing, that is my earnest desire, but I am a human being, redeemed yes, but still a vulnerable being so that the sharp minded apostle John would write, “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 Jn 2:1) He knew the reality.
So David has blown it. In the season when kings go to war to defend their borders, he stayed at home. First mistake; he should have been out there leading his men. Being in the wrong place, he just happened to watch a young women bathing on the roof top a few buildings away from the rooftop of his palace where he was – and he liked what he saw and took steps to get her, including arranging for the death of her husband (see 2 Sam 11). As we all do, he thought he had got away with it – but God saw, God knew, and Nathan is God’s prophet! Nathan comes with a story of a rich man who stole from a poor man and David was righteously indignant: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!” (v.5) It is then that Nathan pronounces this damning verdict – YOU are the man, you are this guilty person who deserved to die.
So, second, looking to the future, is David going to die? No, but he is going to be severely disciplined. Why? Because, “the Lord disciplines those he loves,” (Heb 12:6) Listen to the Lord’s verdict: “the sword will never depart from your house,” (v.10) and “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.” (v.11) i.e. there is going to be family upset and your family is going to be riven by revolt.
Chapter 13 is a record of how Ammon, David’s firstborn son, many years later, raped Tamar, a daughter of David and sister of Absalom, son of another of David’s wives. (David had been unwise enough to follow the ancient practice of kings to have more than one wife – see 2 Sam 3:2-5). After this had happened, Absalom killed Amnon in revenge. The account appears to indicate that at various stages, David knew what was happening but took no action. Absalom fled the land for three years.
Chapter 14 is a record of how Absalom was brought back and allowed to live in the land, and chapter 15 tells of how Absalom schemed to take power so David and his close followers had to flee Jerusalem. In chapter 18 David fights back and contrary to David’s wishes Absalom is killed.
Now what is peculiar about all this exact fulfillment of Nathan’s word from God, is that essentially it all comes about because David is careless about the way he looks after his family and so one thing follows another because he did not act. Now I have observed over the years that so often we fall short in some particular way in life and the Lord allows it. It is like He allows it until the thing rises up and bites us, if I may put it like that. In my own case as a leader I tolerated wrong attitudes of criticism around me never challenged them, until one day it blew up and we had the most painful upset, division, and anguish in the church. I repented that I had failed in my leadership role by not correcting the situation long before, but not before the damage was done. If we allow unrighteous situations to prevail, they will eventually explode or backfire on us. It is as if the Lord lifts off His hand of restraint or protection so it happens and we are disciplined.
We expect God to come and bring big judgments, but so often His disciplinary judgments come simply by Him standing back and letting our folly come to fruition until it bites us. Then we repent. You might have thought this choice of a highlight a strange one but it reveals the amazing way God works. Be clear on the following points:
- God loves us and continues to love us
- He allows us free will and the freedom to choose what we will do.
- If we have not crucified every area of our lives, then there will be pockets of unrighteousness that will remain, fester, grow and bear painful fruit.
- The Lord will no doubt speak to us a number of times about such things but if our blindness allows us to continue without dealing with them, the Lord will allow them to come to painful fruition to discipline us.
- Why? Because He loves us and wants us to change, this aside of heaven.
This meditation may actually be a means that the Lord is using to prick your conscience to seek to get you to face one such issue. If that is so, first, be honest and face the truth about what you are allowing to continue in your life. Second, seek the lord for wisdom and grace to know how to proceed with it. If you are involved with an illicit relationship, stop it right now. It’s not too late. If you are tolerating some unrighteousness in yourself, seek Him for His grace to deal with it – now. If you have a leadership role and observe unrighteousness in those you are responsible for, then seek Him for wisdom and grace to come with gentle but firm love to confront and deal with it.
Remember, if you are aware of tolerating wrong in your life, Nathan’s words come to you: “YOU are the man/woman!” They come to encourage you to deal with the issue before they blow up under you. There is a simple adage: repentance is easier the earlier it comes. The longer you leave it, the harder it becomes, and if you don’t do it, watch out, life will get very uncomfortable. We are called to be a holy people by a holy God and He loves us so much that He will give us only so much space then He will act to correct.