David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" And the LORD said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah."
David asked, "Will Saul come down?" And the LORD said, "He will come down."
Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will surrender you." (all 1Samuel 23)
Whether or not David heard God speaking out loud isn't the point, although he may have. What matters is that David had God's ear, so to speak. He went straight to God and heard right back....Old Testament Instant Messaging.
Years later when David was king, he fell in love with a woman named Bathsheba, who was married to a man named Uriah. David wanted Bathsheba for himself, so he arranged for Uriah to be accidentally killed on purpose. Then David married Bathsheba. David clearly committed some serious sins, including conceiving a baby with Bathsheba while she was married to Uriah. (2Sam 11...act it out)
How did David do that
Y'all don't know who Nathan is yet, do you? No. Nathan was a prophet who had been authorized by God to be the King's advisor...to keep him out of trouble, and to scold him if necessary. Nathan knew David needed to repent of these serious sins in order to rule Israel well, but it's not smart to just tell a King, "hey King, you super sinner, everybody knows how bad you are, you'd better repent or else!" Kings have big egos, they think they're so great, a King would just get mad...that's how John the Baptist lost his head, by the way.
Instead of yelling at King David, Nathan tells him a sad story:
"O great King, let me tell you about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had lots of sheep, more than he needed, but the poor man had only one little lamb. It grew up in his family along with his children; it was like another daughter to him. (I pretend to cradle a dear little lamb.)
Then one day the rich man needed a sheep for a feast, but being a bigshot, instead of using one of his own, he took the the poor man's lamb instead." (this is from 2 Samuel 12; tell it your own way)
King David blew his top! He yelled, "that selfish jerk is gonna pay for that big time! That's outrageous! He treated that poor guy like dirt!"
But Nathan said, "That rich man is you! God's given you so much, but you stole Uriah's wife Bathsheba, and then had him killed to try to cover up your sins!"
Now, here's where it gets interesting. Did God already know David's sins? Yes. In fact, did God know David's sins before David was even born? Yes. And David's a smart guy, he would have known that God was aware of his sins, right? Right! And of course, David knew he had sinned by having, umm, married love with a woman he wasn't married to, and getting her husband killed.
So why hadn't David repented? Well, he just put it off. Yes. He could do what I like to do, just tell God he's sorry, what the heck, God knows all his sins anyway. He didn't have to admit it to anyone else, so he kept his pride. I like to keep my pride, too. Just like Adam and Eve.
But David acknowledged his terrible sins to Nathan, who was God's authorized advisor and scold. Instead of saying, "Interesting story Nathan, but I haven't killed any lambs, stop wasting Royal time," and later on going straight to God to apologize and seek forgiveness, he 'fesses up to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Now, recap: did God know David's sins? Yes! And did Nathan know David's sins, at least a few really big bad ones? Yes! And did David know David's sins? Yes! And could David go straight to God for all sorts of stuff, as we saw earlier? Yes!
So....why did David bother to confess to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD"? OK....have you ever been mean to your Mom? Yeees.... And were you sorry right away? Yes! Did you 'fess up right away? Nooo... No, because you wanted to hang onto what Adam & Eve hung onto, your...pride! Yes, we all love our pride, ourselves, instead of loving others. What's the opposite of being prideful? Being humble! Yes.
Back to your Mom- when you felt sorry, did she know you were sorry without you saying so? Yes, she can tell. So if you apologize, you're just telling her what she already knows. So why does she want you to say you're sorry out loud? It makes her feel better. Yes, but there's another reason. When you tell her you're sorry, what does she say say back? She says that's ok, she forgives me. And how do you feel? Better. Yes, you humble yourself by saying that you did something wrong, and you're sorry; it's hard. But your apology allows your Mom to say she forgives you. It wouldn't be right for her to say it first, although she probably would want to because she loves you. You're humble; Mom's merciful. And after you say you're sorry and she says you're forgiven, how else might her body show you're forgiven? She'll hug me. Yes, and how do you feel? Happy. Yes, often we're happiest after we've just repented and been forgiven, in spirit and....physically! And what 2 things make a person, by the way? A body and a soul! Yes, they go together, bodynsoul. So if your soul is sorry, what else should be sorry? Your body! And one way your body shows it is? By saying you're sorry. Yes, out loud, just like King David. It's humbling.
Now back to King David. David didn't just privately confess to God. He confessed his sin to God through Nathan, who was God's physical representative. He physically humbled himself before another person, because being a bodynsoul his spirit had to confess to a spirit, and his body had to confess to.....? another body! Yes, and since Jesus wasn't around yet, God wasn't physically available.....so what did David do? He confessed to Nathan. Yes. And what does your Mom do after you say you're sorry? She forgives me! Yes. So guess what Nathan did after David confessed? Umm...he forgave David? Yes! Plain as day, Nathan said, "The LORD has put away your sin..." Trick question: how do you know if your Mom forgives you for something you do? Umm, she says I'm forgiven? Yes, the words go right out of her mouth and into your ear. Next trick question: how did David know his sins were forgiven? Nathan told him right in his ear! Yes! But David didn't sin against Nathan...who said Nathan could speak for God? Umm, God said so? Yes, God appointed Nathan, and gave him that authority. We know this because the Bible says that God would tell Nathan what to tell David. So when David heard the words from Nathan, he could believe them.
This story about David and Nathan should remind you of how Catholics confess our sins to God. Can we pray straight to God like David? Yes! But when we want to confess our serious sins, and be forgiven, what do we do? Confess to a priest. Yes, just as David confessed to Nathan. And how do we know we're forgiven? The priest says so. Yes, just like Nathan. And how do we know the priest can do that? He speaks for God. Yes...just like Nathan. He's got authority from Jesus' Church.
When I was a kid the priest would say: "May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and by His authority I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." The words are a bit different now, but the priest still speaks for Jesus so you can hear the words go right into your ear, just as Nathan spoke for God in the Old Testament. We and David are forgiven, body and...? Bodynsoul! Yes, bodynsoul.
By the way, after you are forgiven your sins, the priest usually wants you to do something......oh, penance. Yes. David had to do penance too, but that's another story.
So next time you go to confession, think about David and.... Nathan!
(How about that pic of David & Nathan at the top....some serious rebukin' goin' on!)