"He (Nathan) came and said to him (David), ‘There were two men in a city, one rich and the other poor.'"
II Samuel 12: 1
EXPLORATION "Rich and Poor"
"Blessed is he (and she) that considereth the poor."
Psalm 41: 1
What thoughts or opinions come into my mind when I hear comparisons between people who are identified or labeled as "rich" or "poor"?
"Whoso stoppeth his ear at the poor shall cry himself (herself) and not be heard."
INSPIRATION "Not he (or she) who has little, but he (she) who wishes for more, is poor."
Today we continue our study on the story tucked into II Samuel 12, told to David by Nathan the prophet. At first glance, this story appears to be about David's affair with Bathsheba and in the process, his theft of another man's wife. Quite frankly, this is exactly how I've read this story or heard it told in the past. But with further exploration this story has a great deal more to say to David and subsequently, to you and me.
As we noted, Nathan was a known figure in the household of David. I liken him to a chaplain who served the palace. He was a prophet of God and David, with time, had built-up a confidence in the advice of Nathan.
As a reminder, we need to recall that David waited seven days for Bathsheba to dry her eyes after the death of Uriah, and then, he brought her into the palace where she became another one of his harem. (We know of at least five wives or more whom David already had.) After eight or nine months, along comes a baby. I don't know if the baby's age was kept hidden, but for a moment let's conclude that it is likely David thought he'd gotten away with his little scheme. This would mean that Joab had to keep his mouth shut and so did the messengers who brought Bathsheba to the palace in the first place and then took her home. It also meant the messengers, who carried Bathsheba's note to the palace informing David she was pregnant, would have to be tight-lipped as well. The way gossip travels and tongues wag, I seriously doubt everybody involved kept this story and their personal opinions about it, "in the vault." It's more likely there was a whisper campaign going around Jerusalem. However, when Nathan arrived in David's presence, it appears David certainly played the role of the innocent at the beginning.
Think about Nathan coming before David to deliver this God-given message. What a courageous person he was. And Nathan began the story with a simple sentence. He told David that in a particular city there were a rich man and a poor man. I want to underscore the brilliance of this story. First of all, Nathan didn't say, "There was a good man and a bad man." Instead, he used two examples that David could easily relate to. What we sometimes forget is that David knew both poverty and wealth. And the very best stories, which touch each of us in the deepest parts of our beings, are stories where we can relate, on a personal level, to the individuals in the tale. This is what happened in the case of David. For many long years, as a chased-after wanderer on the run from King Saul, David had only the mountainous ravines as his home. What's more, he was so hunted by Saul he finally was taken in as an alien, an immigrant, by another nation for he was a wanted man in Israel. Yes, David knew what it was to be hungry, to be without a home, and to be on the run.
But then, this poor boy was elevated to the palace in Jerusalem. He became a man of wealth and power. Whatever he saw could be his for the taking. That was the way it worked with the other kings so why shouldn't it work the same way for David?
Thus, Nathan began his story with a subtle reminder to David that in a city, there was a poor man and a rich man - and David had been both. He had felt the privation of poverty and the sufficiency of abundance. And God wanted David to remember both.
As we see revealed in this story, our financial balance sheet isn't what makes us rich or poor. In fact, the bottom line of a bank account has little to do with God's view of wealth or poverty. In the case of our Father's view, there was a time in David's life when he didn't have a lot but he had the presence of his heavenly Father in his life. And then there was a time when David had all the possessions his eyes fell upon but without the presence of God in his life he was left with a void so deep he felt empty.
This story of two men, one rich and one poor serves to highlight the paupery that can come with possessions and the wealth that can accompany the gift of simplicity. As Thomas Fuller identified when he wrote about satisfaction with what we possess, "contentment consisteth not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire; not in multiplying of wealth but in subtracting men's desires."
"Take away from our hearts, O Christ, all over-confidence and boasting, all high and vain thoughts, all desire to excuse ourselves for our sins, or to compare ourselves proudly with others; and grant us rather to take as Master and King you who chose to be crowned with thorns and to die in shame for us all, Jesus our Lord."
whose Son Jesus
was in the fullness of his power most gentle,
and in his greatness most humble;
bestow his mind and spirit upon us,
who have no cause for pride;
that clothed in true humility
we may discern the way of true greatness.
Here our prayer through the same Jesus
who is now Lord and Christ."
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.
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