8/2/2015 11:42:06 AM
Reflection on 2 Samuel: David and Nathan
The story of David's violence continues this week and today's last verse comes quick. Nathan, a prophet, arrives at David's house and tells a story. David, not realizing that the story is about him, believes that the villain in the story should be punished. He convicts himself. Nathan quickly condemns David for his taking of Bathsheba. David, in a moment of realization and truth, quickly confesses. And then, in just a few words, Nathan absolves him. This absolution feels a little too quick.
But maybe that quickness is part of the point. God's forgiveness can only happen quickly. It trumps our expectations or even our ability to ask for it. Just as God can create the world in an instant, so can God grant forgiveness in an instant as well. God's love comes suddenly and powerfully.
Yet God's forgiveness doesn't mean that the consequence of David's actions are washed away. The story of David's life after this point is full of death, violence, and rebellion. More women are attacked and David's own sons turn against him. Violence, instead of life, is the hallmark of the rest of David's kingdom.
When we forgive others, we don't invite the community or others to forget what happened. The consequences of hurtful actions still linger and these consequences need to come about. Forgiveness doesn't focus on consequences; it instead focuses on life. Forgiveness provides the space where we can embrace God's future rather than our past. Forgiveness can come quickly or take years to develop and no one is allowed to tell others how, or when, they should forgive. God forgives David quickly because God is a God of life. God refuses to be focused on death and brokenness. God, instead, embraces life and new possibilities. With God's help, and God's grace, we might be able to embrace those new possibilities too.