2 Samuel 11, 26-12, 7
Something to read
And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.
And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.
And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.
King James Version
When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him.
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!
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
David is established in his reign and is approaching old age. And the end of his story is not a glorious one.
In the previous chapter we have seen the most grotesque abuse of royal power. He rapes Bathsheba who becomes pregnant; he tries to cover up his action by summoning her husband, Uriah, back from battle; when Uriah refuses to break his battle vows, David sends him to the front line to have him killed.
The prophet Nathan confronts the king with a parable, telling David the truth of what he has done. This spells utter humiliation for David, who had thought that he could use his kingly power to cover up his actions.
Christian Aid is supporting poor communities to speak out to those in power, giving people the information, skills and confidence to get what they need to live a decent life. This might be access to water, or healthcare, or education, and it might also mean challenging governments when they are acting unjustly.
Abuses of power are all too common. But this story is clear – David's action is displeasing to God.
Something to do
Every day we are likely to witness things that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes we speak out, and sometimes we don't because it's easier just to keep our heads low. This story shows that there are ways and means of speaking out against injustice. Next time you see an abuse of power, think about how you can creatively challenge this.
Something to pray
God of justice, we give thanks for all who dare to speak uncomfortable words. Give us a radical spirit and prophetic voice, and the creativity and courage to speak the truth to power.
Today's contributor is Kate Tuckett, Christian Aid's Church Resources Manager.