And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.
Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul;
Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.”
Then Nathan went to his house. The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground.The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today we read the conclusion to the well-known story of David and Bathsheba’s adultery. As outside observers, we see David’s guilt right away, and it’s easy for us to frown at his hypocritical reaction to the prophet Nathan’s parable. But sin often blinds us to the realities of our own guilt and shortcomings, and David’s actions are no exception. Finally, when Nathan helps David understand the horror of what he has done, David confesses his sin and receives forgiveness.
Am I like David sometimes? Is it hard to see my own flaws and take responsibility for my own sins, while I’m quick to point out where others have fallen? Who are the prophets in my life? Who is like Nathan for me, offering counsel when I am off track? Let us ask the Lord to create new hearts in us: contrite hearts that humbly ask forgiveness; sincere hearts that freely forgive others.
—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation for a parish in the Diocese of Green Bay.
My Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you
but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this
without your special light and help, which I can expect only from you.
Forgive my sins and heal my heart.
Accomplish our will within me—even in spite of me. Amen.
—St. Claude La Colombiere, S.J.