Continuing on in 2nd Samuel 12:1-6. Yesterday we started looking at confrontation and specifically the confrontation of David by Nathan. Let us look at how Nathan confronted David.
And he came to him and said, "There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.2 "The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. 3 "But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him. 4 "Now a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."
So we have Nathan tell David this story of two men. One was rich and had many flocks, many herds. There was also a poor man who had one little ewe lamb. It was part of his family. It slept with him, ate with him, it was like a son or daughter to him. And David, being a shepherd, must have felt the love that this man had for this little ewe lamb. God knew exactly what buttons to push on David in this story. Nathan emphasizes the fact that the poor man’s lamb was precious to him, and represented all that he had in this world. And so this rich man is about to entertain a guest, and he does not take a lamb from his own, but this poor man’s ewe lamb he takes to prepare for the meal. The rich man took what was not his and used it for his selfish purposes.
What a perfect set up. You can see how God lead Nathan to share just the right story. You can see how he came to confront David completely prepared. You can see that he is using images that speak to David being a shepherd. You can see how it is being done in a way that David will be able to see his own sinfulness in it. You can see Nathan is being a true friend to David. You can also see that God is about to nail David and break his hardened heart through this story. You can see when you look at it, the proper way to confront others.
Let us look on: 5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 "He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."
When David hears this story, he is livid, completely fired up! He demands that the rich man restore the poor man four-fold, and then says that the rich man in this case should be executed. Execution was not possible in this situation so David gave the maximum penalty which was fourfold restitution. Notice that Nathan did not ask even David for a judicial decision, and David naturally assumed the story was true. David immediately passed sentence on the guilty man of Nathan’s story. David shows that we often try to rid our guilty consciences by passing judgment on someone else.
Is not it amazing that David, the man who excuses so much sin in his own life throughout this story can be so harsh and so critical when dealing with sin in the lives of others? Is not that how we are? We do not want to give any grace to others who sin but the maximum penalty thrown at them. On the other hand we want all the grace in the world given to us when we sin. We often try to find refuge in excusing or minimizing or deflecting the blame of our sin. We do not simply condemn sin in ourselves but magnify the sin of others so that our sin will not be seen.
It always amazes me how our sins looks so horrible when someone else is doing them. We are ready to put others to death like David was, but when we are doing the same thing, it is not that bad and we call for God’s grace and mercy to be extended to us. But when someone else does them we call for hellfire and brimstone to come down upon them and destroy them. So much for grace and mercy for others, right! This is not the model we should be follow, but sadly it is what most of us do.
What sin are you excusing? Are you being critical of others and their sin and all the while being unwilling to look at your own sin? Are you desiring grace from everyone on your shortcoming and unwilling to offer any grace to others?
How do you deal with people who want grace but do not give it?