2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a - You are the sinner!
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When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.
But the thing that David had done displeased Yahweh, and Yahweh sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As Yahweh lives, 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.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says Yahweh elohe 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 Yahweh, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 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. Thus says Yahweh: 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. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against Yahweh.”
This is the Track 1 Old Testament reading that can be chosen to be read aloud on the tenth Sunday after Pentecost [proper 13], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. If chosen, it will be accompanied by a reading of Psalm 51, which sings, “Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.” Those readings will precede an Epistle reading from Ephesians, where Paul wrote, “ lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from John, where Jesus told those who followed him after the miracle of feeding five thousand, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.”
I wrote and posted a lengthy commentary on this reading in 2018. I welcome everyone to read that by clicking on this link. What I wrote in 2018 still applies today. Rather than restate many elements previously said, I will take a different approach today.
First of all, in 2018 I did not adjust the text to show what was actually written, which has been changed to accommodate English translations [and other languages, certainly]. In these selected verses, there are seven translations of “the Lord,” when “Yahweh” is written. One appears in the last verse of chapter eleven and the other six are in chapter twelve. In verse seven of chapter twelve is written “Yahweh elohe yisrael,” which has been translated as “the Lord God of Israel.” That translation has been modified to “Yahweh elohe of Israel,” because the word “elohe” is a clear Hebrew word that states “gods,” and to change it to “God” means two things: First, people who do not personally know Yahweh cannot discern how “gods” fits their agendas; and, second it says they also do not understand that “yisrael” is not a country, but a statement of “elohe,” where they all are souls that reflect “he retains God.” Therefore, in 2021 I return what was written to its rightful state, not for myself, but for your investigative reading.
As far as all Scripture reading should be seen, to sit back in a pew with a large soda and a bucket of buttered popcorn, pretending this is some black and white movie staring Gregory Peck and Susan Heyward is wrong.
The point of Scriptural readings is THEY ALL reflect on the brain hiding between a pair of ears. If you want to see an old movie, then imagine the end of Reefer Madness, where some second-rate actor begins pointing at the camera, saying, “It could be you … or you … or you.” Regardless of human gender, this reading must be seen as a reflection on just how much EVERYONE is sinful David. No one is Nathan. No one is Uriah the Hittite. No one is Bathsheba. No one, most certainly, is Yahweh; so, all men and women who have ever had extramarital sex needs to hear Nathan speaking to you … and to you … and to you!
In these Old Testament readings, the characters speak with Yahweh, not some generic “Lord.” They call him by name, and He calls them by name. Nathan was a prophet who spoke with Yahweh; and, one can assume that when Yahweh poured out His Spirit onto David, that Spirit was not like the oil poured out by Samuel. Samuel’s oil went on David’s head and ran down his face and neck, as a physical anointing. Yahweh poured out His Spirit upon David’s soul, meaning David probably talked with Yahweh too. He certainly knew His name, as far as his Psalms are concerned.
Maybe it is time to realize the ‘parabola effect’ has taken Christianity from being one hundred percent elohe [or elohim], as the truth of each being reborn as Jesus, all being anointed in the same way as was David. In the beginning, there was a rapid spike upwards; but now, after centuries of having translators have call Yahweh just a “lord” and make the plural of “gods” created by Yahweh be just another name for Him, the tail end of Christianity has come. That is why Scripture is more important than ever, but the problem is it being little more than the blind leading the blind towards a great pit.
As far as the other addition I would like to make at this time, it is relative to the story Nathan told David, about the ewe lamb. This is why this reading is chosen to accompany a Gospel reading about Jesus talking about bread from his Father; and, it is why the alternative Track 2 Old Testament reading comes from Exodus, talking about the Israelites complaining to Moses about not having “fleshpots” in the wilderness, like they had back in Egypt. We do not read how Moses probably got fed up with the complaints and told them, “Well you worshipped lords back where they had fleshpots and now you worship Yahweh. Learn the name and get with the program, The way to a sinful life is easy. Just follow the footprints to the sea and then jump in.”
When the Israelites complained to Moses, like the Jewish pilgrims complained to Jesus, the people who run around calling Yahweh a “lord” are the same ones who never tell anyone the Israelites left Egypt with all their livestock. Given the vegetation in the wilderness was not as lush as it was in Egypt, the had a source of milk; and, from milk can be made cheese. If need be, they could sacrifice some lambs every Passover; so, they were not really starving from a lack of food. They were complaining because the rich Israelites – the one with most of the sheep, goats, and cattle – were tired of being expected to share with the poor Israelites, who had no animals one just one ewe lamb they bought from a rich Israelite.
Likewise, any pilgrim traveler far away from home would never think about traveling without some trail mix or jerky in their bags, because it gets costly feeding the family for two months on the road. This means all the people who reclined on the grass to be fed by Jesus and his apostles had their own food with them. They knew there were no marketplaces at the Jesus ‘open air synagogue,’ so many of them probably told the apostles, “Here, take some of mine to pass out.” That would easily explain how twelve extra baskets of leftovers was gathered, wouldn’t it?
The point of both those readings is not about being fed physical food. It is all about being fed spiritual food, because people in need of a reason to be ‘away from home’ need some positive news and uplifting motivational speeches to continue on. The people who followed Jesus to Capernaum were those who ate physical food, not those nourished by spiritual food. They were pretend people of faith, much like those who belittle Yahweh by calling him a lord. The Israelites in the wilderness with Moses were those complaining, “Listen Moses. We need a miracle every day. It has been a while since the last. We didn’t sign up to be contestants on Alone, so feed us some miracles of faith so we can keep following you and believing in Yahweh.”
By seeing that in the other reading choices for this Sunday, the rich man with “very many flocks and herds” is metaphor for a human being whose soul is void of Yahweh. Having the things that calculate as the measure of wealth is what all rich men and women bow down before and worship. That makes wealth their “Lord,” which is a “Lord” so commonplace that any specific name given to it [like “Mammon”] is still as dead as is the material things the rich think are the rewards due to a worshipper. This is where Christianity is failing today, especially in the United States of America, because so many Christians believe some “Lord” has made them wealthier than the rest of the world. Still, few want to give any of their wealth away to the poor, because they see the poor as not being as religious as they are.
When one sees the “very many flocks and herds” as a statement of plenitude, this should be seen as how many “Lords” there are that people worship. People worship their cushy jobs, where the do little work and reap millions of dollars. People worship fancy cars and mansions in exclusive gated communities. People worship the politicians that make it easier for them to steal from the poor and not get caught. If these people were to be asked who is God, few [if any] would say Yahweh.
That becomes the many verse the one, when it comes to the poor man who bought one ewe lamb and then raised it like a member of his family, loving it with his heart and soul. That is the individual relationship that every true Christian is expected to have with Yahweh – not Jesus – because Yahweh is what allows the poor to afford one ewe lamb. The one ewe lamb is then sacrificed, which makes it then reflect Jesus; and, it also becomes a reflection of Uriah, who was the one ewe lamb sent to his death unjustly. The difference must be seen as having many things or having just one source of love.
Nathan then told David a parable about “there came a traveler to the rich man” and he wasn’t about to spend any of his flocks and herds feeding some “wayfarer,” so “he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared that for the guest.” The wandering wayfarer [from “lā·’ō·rê·aḥ”] are the pilgrims reclining in the grass by the sea and the Israelites led out into the wilderness by Moses. For the rich man to not offer up one of his sacrificial animals for the guest says he had nothing of value to offer, even having as much as he had. While Moses and Jesus offered up themselves [as a ewe lamb] to feed the people, the Temple priests and their hired hands could not satisfy the needs of the people. The same lack of value is found in the Christian churches that close and bar the doors because of COVID19, as they would rather kill someone else than make an offering of one of their valuable [tithes paying] pewples.
Now, David still had the Spirit of Yahweh poured out upon his soul, which would stay with him forever; so, he was able to see how evil it was for a rich man to not sacrifice one of his own animals, instead stealing a poor man’s family member and slaughter it. David was allowed to fail by Yahweh, so no human king would ever be able to boast, “I was perfect all my life!” That means David saw the evil in his own actions, when Nathan cried you, “You are that rich man!”
This is where David becomes a reflection of Christians, as it is very easy for them to yell “Sin!” at someone else; but they are blind to their own failures to serve Yahweh. David’s anger at the sinner had to become his own acceptance of punishment, all while still realizing he had to go back to being the king and go back to working, when he thought he could retire early. David’s remaining decade would be the payments he had to make, so his soul could still be redeemed. Every prophecy of Yahweh through Nathan would come true. For all the spiritual feeding of the flocks David had done in fifty years came to naught; and, David had to take his licks, because a soul does not gain eternal life without hard work for Yahweh.
As the Track 1 optional reading for the tenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should be well underway, the lesson now needs to be realizing selfishness will not gain one salvation. Selfishness is a sin that most people are blind to, as they see the world as ‘dog eat dog.’ Every act David did was legal for a king; but what is legal for a king is not the same as what one’s commitment vows to Yahweh say. The problem with saying, “I believe in the Ten Commandments” is belief is a flimsy excuse for breaking every law as one sees fit. If one does not know the commitment vows, then it is impossible to serve up that to a guest, who comes asking, “How do I get into heaven?”