2 Samuel 12:1-13 - Mutual Submission
You likely are in authority over some and in submission to others. Humble yourself before the Lord in both roles.
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Read 2 Samuel 12:1-13
The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 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.
4 “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.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 104
Q. What is God’s will for you
in the fifth commandment?
A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to
my father and mother
and all those in authority over me;
that I obey and submit to them,
as is proper,
when they correct and punish me;
and also that I be patient
with their failings—
for through them God chooses
to rule us.
This famous account of David being confronted with his sin makes for an excellent model for how parents ought to discipline as well as how children ought to submit themselves to that discipline. Remember what we were reminded of yesterday, that the fifth commandment obligates us to not only honor our parents, but all those in authority over us.
King David is a powerful, rich and very well established monarch, and normally men in his position are above the law and able to do as they please. The fact that David humbled himself before Nathan is a tremendous example of how even people and institutions who have authority over some spheres of life must submit themselves in other spheres. Parents have authority over their children, but must submit to the government and the Church. The Church must submit itself to the Lord and, to a much lesser extent, the government. The government, in an ideal world at least, submits itself to the people and to a lesser degree, the Church.
In this way, everybody who has authority must also simultaneously be in submission. Ultimately, like David, we must recognize that all authority is delegated by the Lord, so all submission is ultimately to Him.
It's likely that David felt internal guilt for the sins he had committed, as he writes about it so poignantly in Psalm 51. Even so, the initial inclination of most of us when we're called out for something we instinctively knew was wrong is to deny we did it or make excuses for why we did it.
Yet David does none of that. We're so used to seeing those with power squirm their way out of trouble when they've been caught red handed, but David instantly and genuinely confesses his sin against the Lord.
Nathan provides a beautiful example of how to discipline those you've been given authority over. He responds to God's call to insert himself in a very awkward and potentially dangerous situation to confront sin (this is a call we all have to one degree or another). He doesn't maliciously attack or impugn David's character, but instead he winsomely guides David into condemning himself. And he instantly communicates God's grace upon David's heartfelt repentance while at the same time holding David accountable for the awful consequences that come as a result of the sin.
Keep both of these humble, godly men in mind as you exercise both authority and submission in your life.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who uses authority figures to call us out of our sinful ways;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the examples of David and Nathan and pray that you will fulfil the roles God has given you in a godly way;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Titus 3