Blame and Responsibility

Published on Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:00
Written by Stewardship Today Staff

Only four women are specifically listed in the genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. One, the mother of Solomon, is not even mentioned by name—referred to simply as the “wife of Uriah.” Those familiar with the story know the name Bathsheba, the young woman whose husband Uriah was an officer in King David’s army. With his soldiers at war, David remained behind and witnessed Bathsheba bathing on a nearby rooftop. Lusting after her, he arranged to have Uriah killed in battle. Tragically, before Solomon’s birth, Bathsheba lost the child that was the initial product of the king’s illicit actions.

At least one of the king’s advisors was horrified by the ruler’s sinful behavior. The Lord sent this man Nathan to David to challenge him, a task he performed shrewdly and directly. He told the king a parable in which a rich man took advantage of one less fortunate, stealing from him something of great value. As if it were true, David was incensed by the tale, offering to intervene and pursue justice personally. As the author of Second Samuel wrote, Nathan boldly proclaimed, “You are the man! Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and you took his wife as your own.” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

For us, there are several lessons in this unforgettable narrative. First, we are reminded that God is not mocked. We reap what we sow. David’s lofty position did not exclude him from accountability. He was to blame for the dishonor that befell his kingdom—guilty of deception, guilty of adultery, and guilty of murder. We read from Second Samuel that the nature of responsibility is clear. The king understood this, as well. “I have sinned against God.” No excuses, and a second lesson.

In addition, we see in Nathan the presence of real courage. God called him to confront the king, and he did not shirk from that responsibility, making public the king’s private sin and securing his admission. Lastly, we realize heinous sin can yield rotten fruit remaining long after the sin has been forgiven. God forgave David, but his kingdom was forever weakened by his conniving acts, and his family and the nation paid great penalties. Assigning blame—even accepting responsibility—may not fully resolve problems for which God has extended forgiveness, a lesson we should never forget.