Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Sins of Our Father

David recognized, eventually, his sin with Bathsheba. He lost the son that they had together, and he accepted this. He humbled himself and repented, acknowledging that what he had done was wrong. And then he was kind of in a difficult spot. 

On one hand, it might be valid to say that he should have then divorced Bathsheba. He didn't honorably attain her, and he didn't deserve her. She already had a life somewhere else, and it was not right for him to live with his sin forever. It would have been better for them both if they split and went their own ways. 

On the other hand, divorce was tremendously taboo in Israel. And David also runs the risk of adding to his sin by divorcing her - not just because of the divorce itself, which was enough, but because he would essentially be abandoning the woman.

On yet another hand (are we out of hands? sorry), continuing to live with Bathsheba as a wife keeps his sin not only in front of him, but in front of his family. His sons, in particular. And we're not really sure what kind of posture David kept about this little story in his life after his initial repentance. It could be he didn't really talk about it, didn't bring it up, even though he knew his sons knew. It could be he talked about it openly. Maybe he pretended it wasn't any different than any of his other relationships; maybe he despised it. Who knows? 

What we do know is that when David's son Absalom attempted to usurp the throne, one of his tactics was to sleep with David's concubines in sight of all Israel...on the very same rooftop where David first spotted Bathsheba.

Think about the significance of this for a minute. Absalom's gut instinct is to go to the place his father sinned in order to sin against his father. 

There are some important and interesting differences, to be sure. What David did on the rooftop was secret, meant not to be seen. Nobody really knew what he saw that day or what happened in his heart, and they may not have understood the scheming that went into pulling it off. What Absalom did, however, was meant to be seen. He made a spectacle of it in the very place where secret things were once done. 

Same sin, different day. 

It's not really malicious. I mean, Absalom meant the act to be malicious, but he probably didn't plan on the depth of maliciousness in being in the same spot as his father. He likely didn't think about what it meant to take his father's concubines to that same rooftop, except that the rooftop was the best place to be seen by everyone. 

Rather, the rooftop had become so much a part of his story that it just seemed the natural place for him to go in this case. He grew up with so much narrative around this rooftop that it was the place for him where stories took place, and if he was writing his own story right now, then the rooftop was where he should do it.

We have these things, too. We have narratives that we've grown up around that we don't even think about, things that are significant for reasons we don't really think about or understand. They just seem so normal and natural to us that we don't question why they are normal and natural; they just are. 

Which is why and how it's so easy for us to perpetuate the sins of our own families. Their stories have become so much our stories, our narratives wrapped so deeply in theirs, that when we start to write our own chapters, these are the natural and normal places that we do them, often without thinking. It really takes a great deal of thought and imagination and prayer and devotion to change the scene. 

But it can be changed.

What scenes in your story are more malicious than you even considered? What are you doing normally and naturally that might not be normal and natural after all? Do you know your narratives? What could you change if you changed them?

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