Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Aug. 2 Sermon: Give and Take

Sermon Texts: 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51

Jeremy Begbie, mistakes in a piano piece, turning them into “passing notes.” Weaving them into the grand framework of time.

the means by which prophets announced God’s word is often as important as the content of the message. Direct approaches typically engender interpersonal conflict, tension between the messenger and the hearer; indirect approaches, such as stories, provoke intrapersonal conflict, tension within the hearer.

That’s the way things work, isn’t it? When we are having a conflict with someone we love enough to argue with, we usually address it directly—or we try to: why did you do that to me? I felt hurt by what you said.

When we are confronting someone who has a problem within himself, we usually try to use an indirect approach to get the person to see inside themselves. If I have a friend who has an addiction, and they just can’t seem to admit it, I may tell them about “a friend” who has a problem and let him try to see the scenario from a third party perspective.

This is good news. You see, Nathan’s encounter with David is indicative of God’s encounter with David. God cares enough about David that he first has the patience to let David see inside his own heart and come to terms with his own sin before God (through Nathan) addresses the fractured relationship between David and God.

And when David walks through the door of his own guilt and shame, he pours out his heart to God.

In many medieval synagogue manuscripts of 2 Samuel 12:1, a gap was left by the copyist in the text following David’s confession of sin in v. 13a. This was to give the opportunity for the reading of Psalm 51:1, the great penitential psalm that carries this superscription: “A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” This psalm expresses the attitude of repentance, rather than guilt, which the church seeks when it speaks in judgment:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin
. . . . . .
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
(Ps 51:1-2, 10-11 NRSV)

Perhaps this is why David is called a Man after God’s own Heart. Because, when David comes face to face with his own depravity, he knows that only God can save him. He understands God’s true and loving role as the one who can give us the only thing we need. A clean heart.

God and David are involved in a “give and take” relationship. God gives blessings upon blessings, and David happily takes them and takes them. But when David’s becomes so focuses on taking that he thinks all the world is his to take, he loses sight of the Giver.

Give and take: is it the role of God’s beloved to simply take the gifts of God or to redirect the gifts. To reflect God’s giving in the world.

Before David can again be a giver instead of just a taker, he must “give up” himself. He must yield himself to God in confession.

1 comment:

  1. Psa 51 is so powerful.
    It could change the church
    and America.