Some sort of psychological effect comes from hearing a message or idea too much, that it’s too common to you. It begins to loose meaning and become part of the scenery. I find this to be true at times of reading passages in the Bible that are popular preaching material; it’s difficult not to go into with “I’ve heard all this before.” Alternatively, when you approach with a posture that you will “learn something new”, quite often the shiny nugget of insight turns out to be fools’ gold, something conjured because otherwise we believe our time spent in the passage will be in vain.
Or perhaps I’m the only one who suffers these afflictions. It might be possible that the rest of the world approaches scripture in a much healthier way.
In any case, the story of David and Bathsheeba came through the line up. This time around my attempt was to simply let it be. Take the time to read and soak, and then move on. That was the goal. But it took me too many days. So many things jumped out at me that I needed to keep rereading.
A summary of what I’d heard before:
“At a time when Isreal was off to war” – David was not where he was supposed to be.
“David saw a beautiful woman” – keep your eyes out of other people’s bath tubs.
Also, in seminary it was discussed that when this passage is brought up in an American context and the question is posed: “What was David’s sin?” the answer is largely sexual impurity. However, when posed to a non-American (specifically in our discussion, 3rd world countries), the answer is abuse of power and greed. Because I’d heard these things before, here’s what caught my attention:
Then David confessed to Nathan, “I’ve sinned against God.” Nathan pronounced, “Yes, but that’s not the last word. God forgives your sin. You won’t die for it. But because of your blasphemous behavior, the son born to you will die.” (Ital mine).
Blasphemous? Really? It sounds quite extreme. But in Nathan’s word to David, he had explained that God gave David everything that he wanted or needed, yet David craved still more.
Juxtaposed next to this passage is then the story of Amnon, David’s son raping Tamar, his half-sister.
So, there was this tree. And from it fell nuts. But those nuts didn’t fall very far….
Snuggled into this story: King David heard the whole story and was enraged, but he didn’t discipline Amnon. David doted on him because he was his firstborn.
I have to wonder what David’s experiences have to teach us as parents who have screwed up some place in our own lives. Though David’s particular sin was absolved, it continued on by repeating itself through his offspring. While we want to protect those we love, how do we become honest about our mistakes and shortcomings in our lives in a way that doesn’t justify it or write it off?
And more so, if David lived forgiven – which he was – did Amnon believe that such an act was simply forgivable and therefore he partook? I partially-read a book by the father of a drug addict who did research on the topic of parental drug use. He found that being “completely honest about past mistakes” didn’t always yield itself as a deterrent. Actually, the opposite was true. No matter the sob story you tell about how bad life was, if you’ve been able to rectify it and you end up alright, the kids generally think, “well you did it, and you ended up okay.”
So, I don’t lobby for hiding our sin from our kids.
And yet, living as if it didn’t have lasting consequences doesn’t seem to work either.
Perhaps living forgiven doesn’t mean living forgotten?
Has anyone seen this done well? How have parents you known stopped one cycle and began another?