Scripture: II Samuel 12:1-7.10-17. Psalm 51: 12-13.14-15.16-17. Mark 4:35-41.
David sin with the wife of Uriah will result in the death of the baby born to her. This act of adultery followed by a death is the result of David having place Uriah at the front of the army of the Israelites where he was killed. David was trying to protect himself from the scandal of his adulterous actions but the sequence of death and murder were the outcome. Today the prophet Nathan confronts David by telling a parable that is analogous to David’s behavior and it infuriates David so much that he asks “who is the man who did this killing of the ewe lamb of a poor man.” Nathan says, “You, David, are the one!”
The king is awestruck and immediately repents asking for God’s forgiveness and tender mercy. His prayer is traditionally associated with Psalm 51, a penitential psalm that has the inscription: “A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came to him after his sin with Bathsheba.” The thoughts expressed in this psalm are similar to what David had and then expressed before God and the prophet Nathan.
Sister Joan Chitister in her book entitled: God’s Tender Mercy: Reflections on Forgiveness gets to the heart of today’s first reading. She writes, “Coming to understand that there is nothing unforgiveable in life is the beginning of real love.” David is a model for this and lives up to his name David which means the Beloved of God. The expression loving-kindness or tender mercy is a translation of the thematic and powerful word HESED in Hebrew. This word is God’s love for God’s people; it is a covenantal love that unites Israel with God in an unbreakable manner despite the fact of failings that all humans have. David shares in such love of God and trust in God’s tender love and mercy that we do well to imitate this model of repentance found in one of the greatest kings ever to have lived. Amen.