Friday, November 3, 2017

Jesus Puts No One above the Law

David had a special relationship with Yahweh. His strong devotion to Yahweh set a standard against which subsequent kings of Israel and Judah failed to measure up. It was said of David’s son Solomon, for example, that when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to [Yahweh] his God, as the heart of David his father had been (1 Kings 11:4, New American Standard Version, here and following). Through the prophet Ahijah, Yahweh told another king of Israel, you have not been like My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My sight” (1 Kings 14:8). No, David loved Yahweh with all his heart, soul, and mind, just as both Moses and Jesus tell us to do (Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 22:37).
At the same time, Yahweh demonstrated his steadfast love to David. Once David had thoroughly subdued all of the traditional enemies of Israel, and found himself living in a palatial house of cedar, he decided he would build a house for Yahweh as well. From the Exodus until that time, the focal point of the presence of Yahweh on Earth had been the Ark of the Covenant kept in a tent.
At first Nathan the prophet thought the idea of David the king was great. Yahweh didn’t, however, and sent Nathan to tell David so. Yahweh had Nathan remind David of all that he had done for David: called him away from being a shepherd, made him king of Israel, defeated all his enemies, promised to make his name great, and guaranteed rest from all enemies to Israel. Then, in a gracious yet startling reversal of David’s desire, Yahweh promised to make a house for David—a dynasty that would endure forever (2 Samuel 7:8-17).
No, Yahweh’s relationship to David, and David’s to Yahweh, were special. That remained true despite David’s absurd sin and its tragic consequences.
David, beloved of Yahweh and glorious king of Israel, committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba whom he knew to be the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:2-5). Worse, to make sure his sin remained a secret after her resulting pregnancy became known to him, David had her husband murdered. From David’s painfully human point of view, he had neatly taken care of everything.
Yahweh didn’t share David’s point of view. He again sent his prophet Nathan to speak to David. This time, however, the words would be harsh. In the name of Yahweh, Nathan demanded to know, “Why have you despised the word of [Yahweh] by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword [and] have taken his wife to be your wife” (2 Samuel 11:9). Through Nathan, Yahweh also told David the inescapable consequences his destructive sins would have: his family would experience harm, members of his own family would cause him harm, and another man would openly have sexual intercourse with his wives just as he had secretly had intercourse with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:10-12).
David immediately repented of his sins. Yahweh immediately forgave him. But the consequences of his sins would remain. One consequence that David caused Yahweh to suffer: “by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of [Yahweh] to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 11:14). For that reason, Yahweh told David that the son born to Bathsheba would die.
Yes, Yahweh loved David and David loved Yahweh. Because of this especially close and mutual relationship, David had gone from marginal shepherd to legendary king of Israel. No matter. Being friend of Yahweh and ruler of Yahweh’s people did not excuse breaking Yahweh’s laws and will against adultery and murder. Yes, forgiveness was sought and granted, but David's sins nonetheless had consequences. The worst one: by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. Others were less severe but still tragic.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven Farsaci.
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