Today’s first reading from 2nd Samuel narrates the aftermath of David’s notorious transgression of adultery with the married Bathsheba and the murder by proxy of her husband, Uriah.
Rather than confronting David with the truth which the apparently impenitent King might attempt to excuse or justify, the prophet Nathan approaches him with a clever parable.
David flies into a rage upon hearing of the theft of the poor man’s beloved lamb and, from his own mouth, pronounces the sentence for his crime.
While vicarious suffering for transgressions was widely accepted as just in ancient societies, the Torah would specifically repudiate that concept of justice, i.e., one could only be punished for one’s own transgressions. David however, specially favored by God, would receive special punishment for his sin. The punishment for David’s sin would be visited upon his wives and sons. David’s sin was committed in secret, but the punishment would be very public. His pronouncement regarding the fourfold restoration of the stolen lamb would be tragically prophetic with the death of four of his sons. We are solely responsible for our sins, but the effects of our sins are frequently communal.
Tradition holds that part of David’s response to his guilt would be the composition of the foremost of the penitential psalms; Psalm 51, also known as the Miserere: “Have mercy on me God, in your kindness, in your compassion, blot out my offense…”.
David’s secular kingdom, which God had promised would be everlasting, would be, upon the death of Solomon, suspended for a thousand years, only to be restored, supernaturally through the ministry, death, and resurrection of David’s ultimate successor, Jesus.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus will give an early demonstration of His power for the disciples. Jesus rebukes the disciples, not for their fear, but for their lack of faith in the power of the one they travel with. He has the power to command nature itself. In the ultimate demonstration of power, Jesus, through the supreme act of love will, on our behalf, conquer death.