Monday, October 5, 2009

King David's Sin

Tamie from the Cyberpunk + Blue Twin blog, ponders King David's sin. She says:

"I’ve generally thought that it was adultery, or murder, or covering up sin, or all of the above. But looking again at the story Nathan tells, I this there’s more to it than this. ... I reckon that Nathan’s story sheds light on this. His story is about a wealthy man who has a lot of sheep who steals to one sheep his poor neighbour has in order to feed his traveler. The story is about greed and treading on others to get what you want. This was initially what got me thinking about the passage. Adultery and murder are strikingly absent from the story. ... I think this story is about the turn in David’s heart, to greed, to building his own empire and to pride. His methods (adultery, murder, lying, etc) are certainly deplorable, but the focus is on greed and his self-reliance."

However, I think David's greed and self-reliance are only secondary parts of David's adultery. Adultery is more then merely being naughty between the sheets, it is a complex knot of fidelity, possession and power. Sexual intimacy is a form of knowing and being known. I think that Nathan's story of taking of the other's man's lamb is symbolic of all that complexity.

The deeper sin is of course the continued disobedience against God that Adam originally introduced into the world. Pslam 51 says; "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight." Self-reliance and greed are only part David's adulterous act. We assume the murder, adultery and greed are tidy separate compartments of sin. An affair always involves more then sex, that's part of it's destructive power. So there's no need to mention all the facets of King David's sin, because it's summarized by Nathan's story and David's mea culpa in Psalm 51, which is of course the underlying sin of all our complex sins.

(If your married, Nicky Lock offers some useful advice that will hopefully go a long way in preventing this type of thing. (h/t Craig))

[Picture = David and Bathsheba, by Lucas Cranach, 1526.]

3 comments:

arthurandtamie said...

Hi Luke

As far as I can figure out, my argument basically boils down to David's greed, of which adultery is a part, and yours boils down to David's adultery, of which greed is a part. So this could be a chicken or an egg thing.

The thing that I found so striking about Nathan's story, though was the focus on the wrong done to the man who had only one sheep i.e. Uzziah. It got me thinking about what's going on in adultery. I think our Western post-Romantic, post-Enlightenment tendency is to see it as betrayal, sexual, etc but this was absent from Nathan's story. I was struck by how much more than 'between the sheets' is on view in this story, so I agree on that point, but I think that led me to seeing a bigger idea behind the adultery, rather than the adultery itself.

Tamie

Luke said...

Hi Tamie,

"As far as I can figure out, my argument basically boils down to David's greed, of which adultery is a part, and yours boils down to David's adultery, of which greed is a part. So this could be a chicken or an egg thing."

Not quite, adultery and greed are both expressions of David's disobedience. I still think that although Nathan doesn't mention sexual adultery per say, it's still the main unifying theme. Our modern obsession with sex, has ancient origins proceeding the enlightenment.

Al Bain said...

I want to know what or who you think David was worshipping when he committed the crimes. What/who was his idol? Why did he go after Bathsheba? Why wasn't God enough for him?

I think an answer to that question unlocks the story.