What is the story of Nathan and David and God a story about? Justice? Forgiveness? Courage? Any of the above? All of the above? Something else? This seems like a good place to start thinking about 2 Samuel 12:1-9, 13-15, the text we’re studying for Sunday, February 6. The story gives us plenty to think about, and we’ll be joining generations of people who have been doing this thinking already for a long time; we can probably see why that is. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a couple more questions we might want to consider, or discuss in class:
What do we mean by “justice” or “forgiveness” or “courage” in the first place? Where have we gotten those ideas, do we think? How do they relate to the context and the events of this story?
[More personal] Where do we see the need for those principles, or traits, in our own lives? What helps us act on them, have we found? What seems to get in the way? Does this story help us think about all that? How?
Can we think about the prophet Nathan’s communications strategy? Why tell that parable? What is the role of that parable? What is happening there? [It might help to think about how the story might have played out if he had not told the parable … ]
Can we ourselves learn anything from this communications strategy? What? When would we see ourselves using that learning?
[more personal] If someone were to tell us a parable … with a more or less similar purpose … what story would they need to tell, do we imagine?
What difference does it make that David is king?
[more personal] Are we ourselves ever in a position like David’s? When? What does this story have to say to us about those times? Are we ever in a position like Nathan’s? When? What does this story have to say to us about those times?
Overall, it seems to me that one of the problems we might face with this text is that because it is “about” a celebrity – David – it might be easy for us to relate to it as having nothing to do with us, really. We are not kings. Or even prophets. But we are human, and so were they, and we might need to think about the ways in which our life circumstances are, for all their differences, also similar. And then see if the story has something else to tell us.
Image: “Am Mittagstisch,” an image by Hermann Groeber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,