Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today
NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, October 21, 2018
by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff
David was a good king, but he wasn’t perfect. For the most part, he followed God’s laws. But when he had an opportunity to sleep with another man’s wife, things turned ugly for him. After lying with David, the woman, Bathsheba, discovered she was pregnant. The baby couldn’t be her husband Uriah’s; he was off fighting a war for David. What’s not in today’s text is that David tried to convince Uriah to sleep with his wife, so he could pretend the baby was Uriah’s. But Uriah wouldn’t sleep with her while he was on duty as David’s soldier at a time of war. So, David sent him to the front lines of battle in the hopes he would be killed, and David’s indiscretion would remain hidden. It worked. Uriah was killed, and David took Bathsheba as his wife.
It’s easy for us to judge, because we can see so clearly what David could not. But it’s not always easy for people to see their own sin. I’m sure David, like any of us, started off innocently enough. He probably convinced himself, in baby steps, that each action was justified. One small indiscretion led to another larger one, and so on, until his sin was so great it could not be ignored.
People wield an incredible capacity to justify their behaviors. Social scientists have conducted studies of people using various compliance techniques to predict behavior. They found that people who agreed to perform small tasks were more likely to agree to perform larger ones than those who did not agree or were not asked to perform those small tasks. This compliance technique, found to be most effective, is called the “Foot-In-The- Door” technique.
I believe this works for people trying to convince themselvesto perform tasks, too. David, having first convinced himself it was ok to spy on a bathing woman, then found it easier to agree to sleep with her, and then easier to agree to hide the indiscretion with murder. I’m sure if someone had simply walked up to David and asked him to murder an
innocent man, he would have been appalled. He was, in fact, appalled when the prophet, Nathan, used a similar story to point out his indiscretion. Perhaps if we become more aware of our own small steps toward larger indiscretions, we might catch ourselves before we trip up greatly. Or maybe we need people in our lives willing to point them out to us when we are unable to see them.
Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:
2 Samuel 12:1-9
[A]nd 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.