Day 130: Nathan Condemns David

2 Samuel 12:1-19 Lesser sins, left unchecked, readily lead to deeper and more serious sins. David’s sins began with looking at Uriah’s wife with lust and consequently coveting her. By failing to practice custody of the eyes, he ended up committing adultery. Attempting to cover up his sin, he arranged for Uriah’s likely death on the battlefield. Nathan’s parable illustrated David’s sin for him by pointing out plainly the gravity of his actions and his culpability for the sin involved. David to his credit, repented sincerely. Nevertheless, since justice must be accomplished, the Lord told David that violence would continue to plague his family, his wives would be taken from him, and his son born of Bathsheba would die. His sin is comparable to Adam’s sin since he, like Adam, represented the first in a line of descendants, and, through his actions, he brought the consequence of sin to his progeny. Nathan, like the Church today, had the role of acting as the moral conscience for those in authority. (CCC 1435, 1736, 2246, 2538)

Ch 12:13 The Lord also has put away your sin: No matter what the sin, God will forgive a truly contrite heart. Throughout salvation history, God’s love is so great that he never stops forgiving people’s sins and giving them another chance for repentance. The prayer of absolution in the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance in the Byzantine Rite quotes Nathan’s words of forgiveness directed to David. (CCC 218, 1481)

Ch 12:20-31 Although his son would die, David spent the day praying and fasting in the hope of obtaining a reprieve from the Lord. Another son was born of Bathsheba but within the bounds of her marriage to David. His name was Solomon, but Nathan called him Jebediah, meaning “beloved of the Lord”-a hint that Solomon would succeed David to the throne. (CCC 1434)

1 Chronicles 16:4 The Levites, as ministers of the Ark of the Covenant, fulfilled the principal purpose of liturgy: “To invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” Christian worship today has the same end, honoring God the Father for his gifts through adoration, praise, and thanksgiving through Jesus Christ. (CCC 1083)

Ch 16:10 Every person has a natural desire for happiness that can be fulfilled only through union with God. (CCC 1718)

Ch 16:34 God’s love is constant and never-changing; his “steadfast love” is frequently extolled throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms and songs of his people. (CCC 231)

Ch 16:36 The response of the people, “Amen,” is a Hebrew word rooted in the verb “to believe.” It remains a common refrain by which the people affirm their firm agreement with the prayer that precedes it. (CCC 1062)

Psalm 51 This psalm, traditionally called “Miserere,” gives a moving teaching on the destructive effects of sin and the requirement of a worthy repentance. According to Jewish tradition, King David expressed through this celebrated psalm his contrite sorrow and repentance on account of his adultery with Bathsheba and the indirect murder of her husband, Uraiah, whom he sent to the most dangerous section of the battle front to cover up Bathsheba’s pregnancy. Sin prevents a person from achieving the proper moral objectives; it is a rebellion against God through the violation of His Law. Even for the most serious of sins, God stands ready to forgive the contrite heart. The message conveyed is that David’s self-accusation is more than a mere factual statement but rather an acceptance of responsibility for his sin and a firm resolution not to sin again. The threefold mention of “spirit” led St. Ambrose to conclude that this psalm was referring to the Holy Spirit and his crucial role in effecting conversion and repentance. Among the many benefits the Holy Spirit lavishes on the soul, this psalm clearly shows how the Holy Spirit is the agent of interior renewal in the sinner who repents and is restored to God’s favor. This beautiful penitential prayer ends on a note of great hope: God has shown his mercy upon us, and we cannot help but bear witness to the joy of our reconciliation with God. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audiences, October 24, 2001; May 8, 2002; December 4, 2002; and July 30, 2003)

The strong emphasis on humility and contrition makes this psalm especially moving. The psalmist sought God’s mercy, freely admitting his sin and guilt without excusing his culpability. The heavy weight of his sins prompted him to seek God’s spiritual and physical healing. This psalm serves as a wonderful catechesis on the harm perpetrated by sin and the affliction it leaves in its wake. Moreover, it reveals that God is glorified by forgiving a humble and contrite heart. 

Against your sight: Fundamentally, every sin is an offense against God; in fact, that is the very definition of sin. Sin is always a rejection of God’s love. Because it is an offense against God, only God can forgive sin.

Behold, I was brought forth...conceive me: Due to the sin of Adam and Eve, original Sin is passed down to all of their descendants together with its ill effects on the passions. We are born in this sin, and Baptism is required to remit it.

Wash me thoroughly...from my sin: This verse is prayed quietly by the celebrant at Mass as he washes his hands near the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, just after the Offertory.

Create in me a clean heart...within me: This describes the very essence of conversion. We seek not only forgiveness but also an interior renewal that sets us on a path of holiness. This renewal that sets us on a path of holiness. This grace of conversion strengthens our resolve to live virtuously and overcomes temptation to sin.

O Lord, open my lips...your praise: This brief petition is prayed every day at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. 

The sacrifice acceptable...spirit: For external sacrifice to give glory to God, it must express a humble and contrite heart. Conversion is not the work or need of a moment but a continuous process by which the person not only becomes more faithful to moral law but also replicates the sentiments and deeds of Christ. (CCC 298, 431, 1428, 1850, 2100)                                       (*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

“Have mercy on my, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Ps 51:1-2)

“And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Moses there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful [rachum] and gracious [hannun], slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love [hesed]...forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.’” (Ex 34:5-7)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you. We thank you for your calling us to repent. We thank you for reminding us of our sin. Thank you for reminding us of our sin and our need for mercy. And also thank you for offering your gift of mercy. Lord God, we find ourselves so often sliding like David did yesterday, in yesterday’s reading. Sliding away from where you are calling us on mission to live off mission. Sliding from where you anointed us to be from belonging to you to rejecting you. And we find ourselves so often as David does today, where Nathan said, ‘You thought this was done in the dark. But the Lord God is going to bring this into the light.’ And Lord God, to save us, you oftentimes reveal our wounds. To save us, you oftentimes reveal our sins. To save us, you oftentimes bring what needs to be brought into the light, INTO THE LIGHT. And so God we say yes to that. We say, ‘Ok go ahead, Lord. Whatever you need to do in my life so that I may not be lost. Whatever you need to do in my life so that I can be yours again. You have my permission. So be it. Amen’ Help us to say this, Lord God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”