Leading Question: “What does it mean to be ‘in the shadow of God’s wings’”?
- God’s protecting care (under his wings)
- David’s sin and repentance (a bath and clean clothes);
Biblical Passages: Psa 63:7; 2 Sam 11-12; Psa 32:1-5; Psa 51:2; Psa 51:10; Psa 61:4
This week’s lesson takes us to the heights and the depths of human existence. The Psalmist revels in the knowledge that he can find shelter “in the shadow” of God’s “wings” (Ps. 63:7). But such shelter is only possible when one is right with God. What happens to the shelter when one is living a life contrary to God’s will?
1. Under his wings: a protected life (Psalm 63:7; cf. Psalm 61:1-5). The imagery of finding shelter “under his wings” is intended to bring comfort to the believer. But what happens to that image when one falls away from God? Can it only be a source of comfort to the obedient?
2. Out of the shadow into great sin (2 Sam 11-12). One of the most tragic narratives in David’s life involves his betrayal of his people, his family, and one of his most faithful warriors, Uriah the Hittite.
Question: Did the fact that David had multiple wives perhaps make it easier for him to commit adultery? In modern culture, the tendency is not to have several wives at the same time, but one after another. Why is such a sin viewed in Scripture with such horror?
Note: In the Old Testament it has often been said that a woman’s marriage vow is more sacred than a man’s. Indeed, someone has said that in the Old Testament, a woman could only sin against her own marriage, a man could only sin against someone else’s. Would the teachings of Jesus change that to a more egalitarian perspective?
Question: In terms of ruined lives and broken promises, who was most damaged by David’s sin: Bathsheba? Uriah? David? David’s family? The nation?
Question: When Nathan confronted David with his sin, what was symbolized by David’s behavior after the child conceived in adultery died, as the prophet said it would? David pled in abject remorse as long as the child was alive. But as soon as the child died, he washed, changed his clothes and went into the house of the Lord to worship (2 Sam 12:20). The change was so dramatic that his staff asked him about it. This was his response: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me, and child may live.’ But now he is dead; why should I fast?” (2 Sam 12:22-23). Could such behavior be interpreted as reflecting only superficial remorse? How should one handle the “normal” life after one has sinned, confessed, and experienced forgiveness. Should everything return to normal as it did (apparently) for David?
3. Psalm 51: The great penitential psalm. Aside from the title that was added later, is there any indication in Psalm 51 that it was connected with David’s sin with Bathsheba? Does the general nature of the Psalm increase its versatility for believers today? When sin overshadows a community, can a generic Psalm (like Psalm 51) be more healing for the community than explicit confession? To what extent should mourning continue after forgiveness? Is there a danger that one can treat serious sin simply with a shrug?