"He (the rich man) took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for his guest."
II Samuel 12: 4
"Dressed To Kill"
"No man (or woman) is justified in doing evil on the ground of expedience."
What does it appear was the intent of the rich man when he took the poor man's only sheep and "prepared" it for the traveler's meal?
"It is in our hearts that evil lies, and it is from our hearts that it must be plucked out."
"Intent" - Latin meaning intentus. Definition: that which is intended. That which is in the mind and is operative at the time of action.
"Man beholds the face, but God looks upon the heart. Man considers the actions, but God weighs the intentions."
Thomas á Kempis
We don't know the time of day. We don't know the circumstances that surrounded the arrival of a wayfaring traveler. But he did arrive at the home of a wealthy man. And he came desiring food.
We are informed in II Samuel 12: 4 that when the rich man received the request, rather than share from the bounty found among his own herds and flocks, he went to the poor man, who had a little ewe lamb that he loved like his daughter, and took this precious pet sheep and he "dressed" it, as the King James Version states.
From the moment the rich man found out that food was to be served, his "intent," his "motive," was to get the food from another source than his own herd. So he slaughtered the lamb of a poor man to provide food for an unknown visitor.
In the Amplified Bible, the text today states that the rich man "prepared" the lamb for the guest. I happen to like the way the King James Version describes the situation. The word "dressed" is used to portray what occurred. In the Hebrew, the word "dressed" has many broad uses but among them are several words which provide a more detailed view of the situation. The word "dressed" or the Hebrew, "awsaw," means to bruise, to ready, to execute, to feast on, to procure and prepare, and to serve.
As I read these words, a very distinct picture began to develop in my head. I thought about what happens at Thanksgiving time when unsuspecting turkeys are "dressed to kill." This is one of the most visual examples I can relate to which gives us a picture of what happened when a hungry traveler arrived at the door of the rich man.
Instead of taking a sheep from his herd, the rich man's intent from the beginning was to take a sheep from another person and slaughter what they held dear. I want to make the point that I use the word "slaughter" because in the Hebrew we found out that this was exactly what the Bible tells us David did to Uriah when he sent him to war and then told Joab to place Uriah in the fiercest part of the battle and withdraw troop support. That's a slaughter!
While initially I had thought Nathan's story to David had as its central theme the theft of Bathsheba by David, the true essence of this story was God's overwhelming displeasure with the "slaughter" of Uriah and David's subsequent cover-up as he tried to keep his evil deed and the intent of his evil heart, from being uncovered.
And this brings me to the reason I chose to use the word "intent" and its definition at the beginning of this portion of our devotional.
While David may have thought he could go merrily on his way, getting by with murder, dressing everything up in order to disguise what he had done, the intention of his heart from the moment he found out Bathsheba was pregnant was to eliminate the problem - and for David the problem was an innocent man, Uriah, Bathsheba's husband.
Often when we examine behavior, our own and others, we focus on the activity we see. We look at what we are doing and what others are doing. But left under the veil of secrecy, alone in the chambers of our hearts, lie the intentions and motives of our every action. In the story that Nathan shared with David, God wanted to draw back the veil that covered the reality of what David had done. There was no pure motive of kindness that brought a weeping, pregnant widow into the palace. There was no pure intention present when David appeared to offer a home to an orphan baby who had lost his father, Uriah, as a casualty of war. And when God saw how this travesty was being played out, led by King David, whom God had elevated to the throne of Israel, we are told that the thing "displeased the Lord." In fact, God called David's actions, "evil."
And so Nathan came to David to remind him that as Jean Pierre Camus penned, "God looks at the intention of the heart rather than the gifts He is offered." The rich man could "dress" the slaughtered lamb of the poor man and present the gift as a banquet feast. He could call it what he wanted but it was still the property and possession of another. And no "dressing it up" could change the evil intent that was behind the feast.
The Anglican bishop who was a gifted spiritual writer, Jeremy Taylor, noted that "Right intention is to the actions of man what the soul is to the body, or the root is to the tree." Right intentions and pure motives are the life-blood of our spirituality and this is why God sent Nathan to David for not only was David's behavior wrong, God knew that if in the end this destructive toxin wasn't rooted out of David's heart, it would prove lethal. What a powerful warning to you and to me!
"Never do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any man."
Thomas á Kempis
"God make me single and sincere; take away all that is not true, all that hinders Thy work in me; for only so shall I serve Thee."
Confession and Forgiveness
"O God, save me from myself, save me from myself; this frivolous self which plays with your creation, this vain self which is clever about your creation, this masterful self which manipulates your creation, this greedy self which exploits your creation this lazy self which soothes itself with your creation; this self which throws the thick shadow of its own purposes and desire in every direction in which I try to look, so that I cannot see what it is that you my Lord and God, are showing to me. Teach me to stand out of my own light, and let your daylight shine."
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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