Body and Blood of Christ

Lectio

Drinking Well

You Are The One

 

The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David. He came in to him and said: “In the same town were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks of herds in great abundance; the poor man had nothing but a ewe lamb, only one, a small one he had bought. This he fed, and it grew up with him and his children, eating his bread, drinking from his cup, sleeping on his breast; it was like a daughter to him.  When a traveller came to stay, the rich man refused to take one of his own flock or herd to provide for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.”

David’s anger flared up against the man. “As the Lord lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this deserves to die. He must make fourfold restitution for the lamb, for doing such a thing and showing no compassion.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man.”                                                                                                                                 
2 Samuel 12:1-7

Lectio

This is a wonderful example of a person recognising himself and his own life in a Bible story. I invite you to look at it closely and it may help you to recognise your own life in Bible stories that you hear or read.

As he listened to the story that Nathan was telling, it never occurred to David that he was in the story. When we hear a story about Abraham or Moses or Jesus or the apostles, it may never cross our minds either that we are in that story.

Nathan’s story
It was a good story; it caught David’s attention. He entered into it wholeheartedly and it stirred strong feelings in him. This is how a story is meant to be heard and enjoyed: we identify with one character or another and we allow the story to stir up our feelings.
David identified with the poor man and was filled with rage towards the rich man who acted so cruelly and selfishly. He knew what should happen next: the rich man should pay a high price for his cruelty, in fact he deserved to be killed, and he must pay four times the price of the lamb to the poor man who had treasured it.

That was the end of the story as far as David was concerned, and he would have gone on to think about other things. Had Nathan not confronted him, he would have missed the key point of the story: the story was about David himself.

David’s story
At this time David was at the height of his power. He was king over all Israel and lived in a palace in Jerusalem; he had several wives as was the royal custom at the time. He had won all his wars and no longer needed to lead his army in battle, he had others to do that for him. David was the rich man in the story; he had more that he needed. The poor man was a soldier named Uriah, who was still on the battlefield fighting David’s war for him. Uriah had one treasure, a beautiful wife whom he dearly loved. David saw her and wanted her for himself and, being the king, he had his way. When she informed David that she was pregnant with his child, David arranged to have Uriah killed on the battle front. It was then that God sent the prophet Nathan to David to tell him a story. It was only after the story had ended and Nathan had said, “You are the man,” that David recognised himself in the story and admitted that he had done what was gravely wrong: “I have sinned against the Lord.”

The life story of David continues in a dramatic fashion in the Second Book of Samuel. I have concentrated on this part of the story because it shows us David completing what we now call lectio divina, a mediation on the word of God that leads to new understanding and to prayer. The first stage for David was to listen to the word of God as Nathan spoke it. The second stage was to ponder it and to recognise himself in it – David could easily have missed this stage had Nathan not guided him. David then recognised himself in the story and saw described in it what he had done. His eyes were opened and he was moved to pray in repentance: “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Good as well as bad.
It is important to remember that when we recognise ourselves in the Bible stories, we will not just see the wrongs we have done; we will also see the good that is in us and the good we have done. We may indeed recognise ourselves in the Pharisees looking for the places of honour, and in the cowardly apostles abandoning Jesus when he was arrested in Gethsemane. But we may recognise ourselves too in the generosity of the good Samaritan who looked after the man who had been robbed and beaten, in the compassion of Jesus toward the poorest and weakest, and in his courage and submission as he prayed in the garden, “Not my will but yours be done.”

It is not only ourselves that we recognise in the Bible, we recognise others too: our family, community and the wider world; we see the grace of God in their goodness and we see their faults and sins as well, but the Bible assures us that in the end it is grace and goodness that win out.

 

Brendan Clifford


David’s Prayer: Psalm 50
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness,
in your great tenderness wipe away my faults;
wash me clean of my guilt,
purify me from my sin.
For I am well aware of my faults,
I have my sin constantly in mind,
having sinned against none other than you,
having done what you regard as wrong.

 

Quill Pen

Lectio Divina

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You are the one 

you are the one

 

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