And the Lord 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 the Lord 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 the Lord, the God 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 the Lord, 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 the Lord: 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 the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house. ~ 2 Samuel 12:1-15
David was considered the great King of Israel. So great was he that by the time Jesus came around, followers saw him as the Messiah of David's line. The Gospel writers of both Luke and Matthew make the point of showing how Jesus' lineage that connected him to David. The people of Judea longed for a new King David to free them from Rome.
But as great as King David was, he was also a man like any other. A man capable of great sin and selfishness. And here, a man who calls out for justice against a crime that he himself committed. It isn't until Nathan the prophet cries out "You are the man," and unpacks exactly what David has done, that David sees himself in the this parable.
And then what does David do?
He repents. He admits to his sin.
How often do we cry out for justice against those whose deeds might be not all that different from our own? What does justice look like when it is aimed at ourselves? And what happens when we repent?
Holy God, move me toward justice, mercy, and humility in all my dealings with your people. Amen