"One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor. . . ."
II Samuel 12: 4
The Message Bible
"Just Too Stingy"
"Greed of gain is nothing less than the deification of self, and if our minds are set on hoarding wealth we are being idolatrous."
When I have been called upon to share what I have, how have I responded?
In what ways do I see a comparison between the stingy behavior of the rich man in the story Nathan told David and the behavior of individuals today?
"One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish our needs from our greeds."
"Avarice is generally the last passion of those lives of which the first part has been squandered in pleasure, and the second devoted to ambition."
Their families had grown large. Both Abraham and his nephew, Lot, had amassed quite a fortune. It appeared the now vast collection of flocks and herds was too much for one area of land to sustain.
So Abraham called his nephew, a person he had treated as his own child, up onto a point where, together, they could survey the geographical territory around them.
The Bible says Abram told Lot, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren."
Then in an act of unparalled generosity, the older man, Abram, offered the younger man, Lot, the first choice of the land he wanted as his own.
According to the Scriptural record, "Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord."
What Lot saw from his high point was a fertile plain below. A lush garden-like setting with close proximity to the city life in Sodom. This land could be his for the taking. We are told, "Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan…and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13: 7-12 K.J.V.
In the words from Samuel Johnson, the desire for pleasure along with a fierce ambition drove Lot to separate himself from the one stable person, Abram, who had cared for him as a young man. Sadly, away from the spiritual, unhitched from the ties that bound Lot to the God of Abram, his new life in the plains and in Sodom began slowly to encroach upon him and his family.
Just what was the type of life that proved to be destructive to Lot and his family? We are told in Ezekiel 16 exactly what problems encompassed the city of Sodom: "As I live, saith the Lord God…behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good" (Ezekiel 16: 48-50 K.J.V.).
I want to take a look at the insight provided by the Hebrew translation of six words and phrases in this passage in Ezekiel:
2. Fullness of bread.
3. Abundance of Idleness.
4. Didn't strengthen the poor and needy.
6. Committed abomination.
First, the Hebrew word "gawohn" is used to describe pride, meaning arrogancy,
pomp, swelling up. The people of Sodom were filled with a sense of their own importance. They were above everyone else. They looked on themselves as superior to the "serfs" around them. With this lofty attitude, they felt that everything they laid their eyes on or that their hands touched, belonged to them. Consequently, they had a "satiety" or fullness as the Hebrew notes, which means they were in a state of gluttony. Their haughty, gluttonness life then led them to, as the Bible states, "An abundance of idleness," or as the Hebrew notes, "to be settled and reposed." They weren't doing anything of value, especially, we are told, to better the lives of the poor and needy for Ezekiel states that in this gluttoness, puffed-up state of relaxation the people of Sodom had no desire to "strengthen" or to "repair, mend, or cure" the situation for the poor and needy. The people of Sodom focused on "me first," and no one else.
Why did they behave this way? Well, the Bible comes full circle and says it is because the people of Sodom were "haughty" or as the Hebrew defines this word, they were "raised up a great height, proud upon the mount." From this vantage point they made abomination or as the Hebrew distinctly points out, they especially worshipped idols - the idols made by their own hands, the idols created by their greed. The possessions and people they lusted after became their idols.
And so we return to Lot, high on a lofty hill, looking down, greedily gobbling up the best "idols" for himself. Idols that would eventually bring the demise of his family and his own spiritual life.
I share, as a review, Lot's story and choices with you because they apply directly to Nathan's story of the rich man and the poor man as well as to David's own behavior toward Uriah. In both theses cases, the wealthy, the person with the most, arrogantly looked upon the individual with less wealth as a "lesser" person - as a person they could prey upon. David at a time of restful, repose, when his troops were off at battle, looked down from his wealthy, mountaintop position on his "subjects" below and felt that from his high and haughty position, his greedy lust did not have to be reigned in. He was king and he could get away with making an "idol" of anything he wanted, be it a person or a possession. Yet, as we read in Ezekiel, God from his view on high was also watching and saw what was happening and as we read in Ezekiel 16, "God took them away as He saw good."
Tomorrow, we are going to study some more about the consequences of greed and idolatry, for the lessons from the life of David, are many and they apply directly to the world we live in today.
"That to which your heart clings is your god."
"Suffer us, O Lord, never to think
that we have knowledge enough to need no teaching,
wisdom enough to need no correction,
talents enough to need no grace,
goodness enough to need no progress,
humility enough to need no repentance,
devotion enough to need no quickening,
strength sufficient without your Spirit;
lest standing still we fall back for evermore."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.