A sign of healthy church is the people are vulnerable and dependent on each other for help.
The book of 2 Samuel is all about the story of David as Israel’s king. As we learned in 1 Samuel, David had the opposite attitude and posture of his predecessor Saul. While King Saul was arrogant, David was a humble insignificant shepherd boy. This is who God chose to exalt.
The story of the book
So the first part of 2 Samuel reiterates David’s humility. It starts with a poem from David lamenting Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1:17-27). It’s a powerful display of his character. Only a humble man would lament the passing of a person that tried to kill him!
This humility is the key to God orchestrating David’s rise to be king. His reign starts off well. He wins a bunch of battles, expands Israel’s territory and God promises that a future king would come from his line that would build God’s temple and set up an eternal kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
Through a descendant of his, God would fulfill his promise of restoring the Eden blessing to all of the nations. It’s a continuation of God’s promise from the book of Genesis.
But then things take a turn for the worst. Like all humans do, David succumbs to pride. He sleeps with one of his top soldier’s wife and gets her pregnant. Then he tries to cover it up by having the soldier assassinated and marrying the woman.
Eventually he repents of his pride and the resulting behavior, but it takes a prophet named Nathan to confront him first (2 Samuel 12:1-14). The damage he’s done is so great that his family and his kingdom fall apart. The consequences even trickle down to his sons. One of them (Absalom) even organizes a rebellion and tries to kill David.
Through Nathan’s confrontation and the resulting consequences of his behavior, David becomes a very broken man and once again finds the humility that marked him in his younger days. He sees that God opposed his pride but exalted him when he humbled himself.
The return of his humble heart is shown when Absalom is murdered. Just like he did with Saul, David laments the death of someone that tried to kill him (2 Samuel 18:33).
It’s a weak David that’s become vulnerable and dependent on others for help that we find at the end of the book.
Church life should show us who we are
Blind spots and the human capacity to live in denial of those blind spots is astounding. Even after we become Christians, we’re still very prone to the deception that comes with our old human selves and non-renewed minds.
We live by worldly principles and make fleshly decisions without 1) knowing that we’re doing it, and 2) having the truth brought to light about what we’re doing and why.
We also live with the ultimate paradox of wanting to know the truth about ourselves, but very much not wanting to know the truth about ourselves.
Just like scales and mirrors, church life should be showing us the reality of who we are. When we step on a scale, we weigh what we weigh. When we look in a mirror, we look how we look. We can avoid the scale and the mirror, or we can throw out excuses for the story those tools of accountability are telling us. But at the end of the day, we are what we are.
As John Ortberg points out in his book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them…
We are all like the man on a diet who drove past the bakery and said he would only stop for doughnuts if there was an available parking space in front of it, clearly indicating that it was God’s will that he should eat a doughnut. Sure enough, his sixth time around the block, a spot opened up.
Being a disciple of Jesus demands that you be able to handle the truth from your brothers and sisters, for it’s what sets us free (John 8:31-32). The revealing of truth about ourselves is what helps us realize that freedom practically.
Receiving correction from one another
King David needed a truth-teller in his life to get him back on track. When he came upon Bathsheba and found out that she was someone’s wife, the truth of “this is adultery” was staring him right in the face. He ignored it.
When Bathsheba got pregnant and David planned to have Uriah get killed in battle because he couldn’t get him to come home and sleep with his wife to cover up his sin, the truth of “this is murder” was staring him right in the face. He ignored it.
It’s not until the Lord sends the prophet Nathan to tell him the truth that David’s heart turns, and only then because David receives it instead of having Nathan’s head cut off.
Followers of Jesus don’t intend to behave and make decisions according to the flesh. But none of us are at 100%-transformed-into-Christ status. As long as this is the case, there’s room in our lives for truth-tellers. If you don’t have them, your individual growth and the growth of your church will be stunted.
The less vulnerable you are to each other, the more vulnerable you are to deception.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer brilliantly put this principle of brotherhood and sisterhood in perspective when he said…
Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.