Collect of the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us Your gifts of faith, hope, and love that we may receive the forgiveness You have promised and love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
2 Samuel 12:1-7
1 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. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms,1 and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." 5 Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."
7 Nathan said to David, "You are the man!
In the name of + Jesus.
David had been working hard to cover up his many sins, and to keep them “secret.” It’s hard to say how much time had passed from the time David had first laid eyes on Bathsheba, and coveted his neighbor’s wife, to the time that Nathan was sent by the LORD to bring him to repentance with a harsh word of the Law, but it’s safe to say that this was no momentary lapse of judgment, or a sin of weakness. This was thoughtful, premeditated sin which flowed from David’s sinful heart, and which, in the weeks and months that followed, he would work very hard to cover up so as to continue to live the lie that he put forth as a righteous king.
Our Lutheran Confessions have this to say about David’s spiritual condition: “When holy people—still having and feeling original sin and daily repenting and striving against it—happen to fall into manifest sins (as David did into adultery, murder, and blasphemy [2 Samuel 11], then faith and the Holy Spirit have left them. The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants [Psalm 51:11; Romans 6:14]” (SA III, iii, 43).
Did you catch that? During this time when David was working to cover up his sins, and act as if he was innocent, we say that “faith and the Holy Spirit have left (him).” Of course, this is why they LORD sent Nathan, for David needed to be confronted with his sin, and admit that it was, actually sin. David needed to be brought to repentance so that he might also receive the forgiveness of sins. For unless he saw his sin, what need did he have for forgiveness?
But notice how Nathan delivers that Word. He doesn’t come right out and say, “Hey David, if you died right now, you would go to hell. Who do you think you’re fooling?” He doesn’t enter the chamber of the king and say, “You’re a charlatan!” He tells a story.
Now, granted, the Law is delivered in all its severity. Nothing of God’s wrath or threat of punishment is diminished. But that difficult word of judgment is delivered in such a way that it is heard. Even more, it is delivered in a way that it is zealously agreed with. It is delivered by Nathan so carefully, that the truth of the Law makes David angry at the sin he sees, so that he responds with fury, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die!”
And that’s when the sword of the Law is delivered into the heart of David, so that the LORD might create in him a new heart, and a right spirit. Nathan simply says, “You are the man.” That man who deserves to die is you.
You see, preaching the Law of God is difficult, because the old sinful nature doesn’t want to be crucified with Christ and cast out. And hearing the Law of God preached to you; agreeing with what the Law of God says about you; desiring to be told what of your life deserves to have the wrath of God brought down upon it is not at all something that our sinful nature desires. And yet, that Word of the Law is God’s Word, and it is true, and like David, is the thing we often need to hear.
Thankfully, not all of us live in manifest sin that we spend our days working to cover up. But nevertheless, for us to rejoice in the forgiveness of sins which our LORD gives us so freely through Christ, we must, like David, be brought to repentance through the preaching of the Law. And even that is a gift given by the Holy Spirit.
When confronted with the Law of God, by faith, David confessed, and was forgiven, and would respond with prayer, praise and thanksgiving (remember yesterday’s Psalm!!). May we also, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be given the faith that receives God’s convicting Word of the Law, and does not deny it, but agrees with it. For then we will also rejoice that, like David, even though we are “the man” who is guilty, our sins have been put away, and are forgiven. We shall not die, but will live with Christ. In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Gracious Lord, thank You for putting Jesus away on the cross, that I would not be put away in my sins. Amen.