Proper 6 • 2 Samuel 11:26–12:10, 13–14 • June 13, 2010
By Dr. Victor Raj
During the season of Pentecost, the texts appointed for the third week underscore God the Holy Spirit’s specific activity of convicting us of our sin, calling us to repentance and faith, and pronouncing absolution. By means of a story, prophet Nathan convicts king David of his ‘affair’ with his general’s wife, yet absolves him as the Lord has taken away his sin (12:13). In the Gospel lesson (Lk 7:36–8:3), in a Pharisee’s house our Lord forgave in no uncertain terms the many sins of a woman who had been leading a sinful life in a particular town. The selected verses from Galatians chapters 2 and 3 speak of God who justifies Jew and Gentile alike in Christ who in our place became a curse for our sins that we might through faith in him receive the Holy Spirit (3:14).
Read together, these very familiar texts accentuate a very familiar and an equally significant biblical theme, namely, “Sin and Grace.”
In our text, King David stands out as a type. He typifies the human predicament Christians know as sin with all its predictable dimensions and consequences. Coveting is sin, and it includes craving to claiming as his own another man’s wife. With the intention of making Uriah’s wife his own, David plotted to kill Uriah, his own personal body guard, by strategically placing him in harms way in the battlefield. David in every way tries hard to cover up his crime. Nevertheless, sin’s rippling effect visits David with a vengeance in his relationship with God and fellow human beings as is clearly evident in this account. Once convicted, David confesses that he has sinned against the Lord (v.13). He had made a mockery of himself [and God] among the public. In fact, by disobeying what appears to be one commandment, David had become guilty of breaking all commandments. This sin would prick David’s own conscience and cost his child its life. Later, his son Absalom would lie with David’s own concubines in public places in the sight of all Israel (16:22). How much more shame could be brought to a father by his own son?
Apparently the king’s scandalous “affair” with Bathsheba is familiar even to those who may not know who the biblical king David actually is. Regardless of the admonition to not let this specific sin reign over the mortal body and be its master, adultery and its cronies continue to be perhaps the most popular and the least resisted sins in our world. This sin against the sinner’s own body is the most committed and the least admitted and, pitiably, the least acknowledged and the most overlooked. Neither royalty nor poverty can plead exception to this unholy rule, and neither affluence nor influence can conceal this quandary forever.
If in this text king David is a ‘type” of sin, he also points to David’s greater Son, Jesus Christ who alone can forgive sins (Lk 7:49). The ingressive intentionality of sin can never be overemphasized. Through Nathan the prophet, God’s law convicted David as sinner undeniably (v. 7). David’s own conscience, by means of the prophetic word and by his own words, pronounced judgment on him that sin, regardless of who the culprit might be, must be punished. Once convicted, David became aware that his crafty and cunning ways at justifying his actions were futile before God and people. His privileged royalty may have legitimized his actions in customary fashion before the public; but before God who sits on his throne to judge, none of it could help escape divine retribution. Yet, for David, there was nowhere to turn except to the mercy seat of God and say, “I have sinned against the Lord” (v.13).
Equally relentless and reassuring is the prophetic word that absolved David, “The Lord has taken away your sin; you shall not die” (v.13). Just as sin squashes the relationship between God and man and fabricates unsettling repercussions in the moral, social, and political living of communities, forgiveness of sin on the merits of Jesus Christ the unblemished Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world brings life and salvation to all who believe, and in his name restores all broken relationships. Where there is forgiveness, there is life and salvation.
God has kept his promise to save his people through One Man, David’s Son who is also David’s Lord. David’s bloodline would continue through Solomon whose mother had been Uriah’s wife. God’s promise remains “yes” all the time, in spite of man’s sin, in that One Man and by his death and resurrection.
Hence, the Scriptural warrant stays put that just as by one man’s disobedience sin became the destiny of all, by One Man’s obedience God has imputed his righteousness to all who believe in him; Jew and Gentile, man and woman, slave and free. In that One Man, God has broken down the walls of hostility and brought near those who had been once far off. Especially during this season of the Pentecost, empowered by the Holy Spirit, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached as a testimony to all people. After all, the grace of God is convicting, affirming, and comforting for all who believe that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners.
As a Qumran document has stated, “When I thought of my guilty deeds, I said in my sins, ‘I am lost.’ But then when I remembered the strength of your hand and the fullness of your grace, I rose again and stood upright … for you will pardon iniquity and you will purify man of sin through your justification.”1
1 J. Louis Martyn, Galatians, (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 266.