Dispatch Two Hundred Eighteen

Posted: August 18, 2016 in Forty-Fifth Bundle
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2 SAMUEL 11:26-12:13a

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. 27 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 the Lord, 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.10 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. 11 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. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

With God’s curse on David’s house, the morality of Yahweh sounds more like a child’s than that of a mature adult. Because you took Uriah’s wife, other scoundrels just like yourself are going to take your wives and do with them what they wish. Fair is fair. 

A closer consideration, however, reveals something of a deeper truth. What really happens when we commit an act of betrayal, violence, infidelity or deception? We may think, as David apparently did, that the fall-out from such deeds can be contained and managed. When it’s done, we have to allow time for the dust to settle, but after a while we will be able to carry on as if the travesty never happened. Or so we may think.

In reality, every word and deed we release into the world initiates a cascade of consequences. The fundamental rule is that your words and deeds are seeds that sow an inevitable harvest, either for good or evil. Like force fields of moral energy, our human values, choices, and actions produce an accelerating momentum of consequences. When we lie, for instance, we intensify the force of dishonesty in the world. When we break a promise or a vow, we amplify the destructive power of suspicion throughout the human realm.

David’s acts of adultery and murder set in motion an avalanche of consequences that would eventually overwhelm him as well.


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