Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dancing with David: David and Bathsheba

You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.
You shall not steal.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not not kill.
These are but some of the commandments David transgressed when he sent Uriah to die in battle and took Bathsheba to be his own wife. Not one of David’s finer moments. The gravity of this was brought to his attention by the prophet Nathan. He told David a clever story about a rich man stealing the only sheep from a poor man. David became enraged with the “Rich Man” only then to find out the story was a metaphor of his own actions. David is confessed his sin.

David then endured the tragedy of helplessly watching his (and Bathsheba’s) son die of illness. He fasted and prayed to God that God might heal the child. Then, after hearing of the child’s death, David cleaned up, worshiped God, ended his fast, and comforted Bathsheba.

David messed up big. No Doubt there. And like many of life’s heroes, we are disappointed when our idols fail in character. But I am intrigued by the character that David shows next. Was the child’s death a punishment from God as Nathan claimed? God only knows. But I’m sure David had plenty guilt and self-blame in his heart as he prayed for mercy on his child. He didn’t give up. He hoped for God’s help. And when all hope was lost, he still managed to worship God.

Later, David and Bathsheba had another son. His name was Solomon.

In the drawing of David and Bathsheba, I wanted to illustrate the concept of what it’s like to covet someone or something. David wraps Bathsheba in his robe with a look that says, “She’s mine.” Bathsheba, however has a look of helplessness. Her head is covered in a cloak of scandalous secrecy. This was originally an Ash Wednesday illustration. Here we see humanity’s pride, and delusion of self-power.

For this week in Lent, the story is contrasted with the account of David and Nathan. In this illustration, David is humbled before God. This time we see humanity as helpless and in need of grace.


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 judgement.
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 within 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.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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