In 2 Samuel 12, we read how King David, the “man after God’s own heart,” committed adultery with another man’s wife while he was away at war. When she conceived his child, David tried to get her husband to come sleep with her to hide the adultery. Her husband refused, so David had him killed and then married his wife… all to hide his sin.
When God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David, Nathan told a story which sucked him in, as all good stories do.
There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger and declared the man should die.
Then, Nathan punched him in the gut. He told the king, “YOU are that man.”
I’ve always imagined that David felt the wind knocked out of him, the shame burning blood-red through his skin. That’s how I would feel.
But at dinner with some new friends awhile back, one of them said something about this story that punched me in the gut.
He said, “I hear those words, ‘You are that man,’ every time I read the Bible, every time I am tempted to look down on David or the stubborn Israelites.
I’ve realized that the Bible is like Nathan’s story. It isn’t just about them.
It was also written to me about me to show me how much I fall short and how much I need God to help me.”
I have always been proud of myself. I look at others and think, “Well, I’m better than them. God is pretty lucky to have me.”
But God wants me to see what he sees: the woman who throws tantrums like a two-year-old when she doesn’t get her way, who thinks God really messed the world up, and that she could manage the world a whole lot better.
God wants me to show others compassion, not judgment. But until I see and hate my selfishness, anger, pride — my god complex, I cannot, indeed will not, acknowledge that I need God. Only when I accept that truth will I be able to receive His help to show His grace and His love to my children and family and friends and neighbors.
And it all starts when I see that I am that [wo]man.