Monday, May 6, 2019

Mirror, Mirror

For being a man after God's own heart, David seems to have at least one very significant blind spot - he doesn't seem to be able to see his own sin. 

Unless, of course, you tell him a story about another man who did what he did. 

And then he's outraged, vengeful, and motivated to action.

This happens more than once in the stories that we have of David. It happens in 2 Samuel 12, after David has had Uriah the Hittite killed in battle in order to secure for himself the beautiful Bathsheba, whom he has impregnated whilst her husband was off fighting. We don't see a twinge of guilt or remorse in David for his actions. Until, that is, Nathan the prophet comes and tells him a story about a rich man who has everything but kills a poor man's lamb to feed a visitor. 

David starts stomping about, ranting and raving, ready to rain down judgment upon the rich man. How could he do such a thing to the poor man? David's even ready to kill him - As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! (v. 5). Then, Nathan points a finger and says, YOU are the man! (v. 7). 


But then, just two chapters later in 2 Samuel 14, it happens again. This time, David has excommunicated one of his sons (who killed another son, which seems like a decent reason for excommunication, perhaps) and the commander of his army isn't keen on this. He sends a woman to tell David a story about two of her sons (a made-up story, of course) who got into a fight and one ended up dead and now, she's got nothing because everyone wants to exact revenge on the one who killed the other. Meaning that she will end up losing both of her sons. And a widow already, no less! 

Again, David is furious. He's ready to use his authority as king to issue a decree to protect the remaining son, even though he has killed his brother. And then, a thought dawns on him...

You're talking about me, aren't you, woman?


It's easy for us to think, ah, David, you're such a fool. Of course they're talking about you - everyone in the world can see what you're doing except, apparently, you, so there had to be some way to get through to you! But the truth is that most of us are no better than David in this area. It's far easier for us to see - and to condemn - our own sins in someone else than it is to see - and condemn - them in the mirror. 

We look at ourselves and justify what we've done, having a good reason for everything we've undertaken because if we didn't, we wouldn't have done it in the first place. But then, put in front of us someone who has done the very same thing and the mercy that we have for ourselves is surprisingly absent for them. They don't deserve it.

Spoiler alert: neither do we. 

And it's not just about sin, not just about the things that we do "wrong" or the things that we do against one another. This is true of our insecurities, too. There are persons in this world that it's just plain hard for us to get along with, and if we dig deep into a lot of those dynamics, what we find is that they live our own insecurities in such a way that to be in relationship with them would require us to face them. And we can't. And they annoy us. We don't know why they annoy us, but they just get on our very last nerve. And it is because they are so much like us that we can't stand it. 

It's something we have to think about when we are troubled by something in a relationship, when something about someone else strikes us as completely and totally unbearable. Is it really them? Or could it be that they are showing us something of ourselves that we haven't seen yet? 

More often than not, it's the latter. In which case we, like David, must humble ourselves. 

You're talking about me, aren't you?


And me, too. 

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