Submitted by Jan on Tue, 21/07/2015 – 10:11
Year B (2014-2015)
Bible Book: 2 Samuel
Verse: 1 – 15
Reading and contemplating on 2 Samuel 11:1-15 can be an occasion to consider abuse in terms of public and private trust and distrust. Israel had been warned that kings “will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers (1 Samuel 8:13). David has already taken several wives and concubines (cf. 2 Samuel 5:13). Now he takes one more, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah. David takes a daughter without the cultural norm of consulting the father. She is also a wife which makes it adultery. David’s exploitation and manipulation of power (even God-given power) is a paradigm for all the ages, our own included. In fact, David’s conduct can be a mirror in which to examine our own cultural conduct and abuse. Being a “Christian” nation does not exempt us from sin and responsibility, just like being chosen by God did not exempt David from betraying and sinning against others.
In the context of HIV and AIDS let us consider the following in terms of this passage:
How easily we who have power abuse it. Most of us don’t rape and murder, but in our own ways we all use people. In our minds we make them less than real, less than whole, so that all they represent to us is either what we want or what we fear. Reduced to objects, we use people as it seems to us they were meant to be used. It seems right to us. Power distorts our vision. It is only with love that we can truly see people and see reality.
It is interesting to note the military context of David’s sexual conquest. It is the time of year, we read, when “kings go out to battle.” But David, after dispatching his general, Joab, and all his officers and regiments to the front lines, “remained at Jerusalem.” While his troops are destroying the Ammonites and besieging the city of Rabbah, King David -bored and gazing about the neighborhood – sets out to destroy and besiege the married Bathsheba, a woman like so many vulnerable others, silent and helpless in her victimization. Walter Brueggemann noted “the premise of violence [in the framing of the sexual story] legitimates the violence of sexuality, the violence of cover-up, the violence of required killing.”
King David’s private feelings certainly were the beginning of his very public troubles, and the violence he undertook to save his political career was born of a view of bodies (women’s and men’s) as dispensable and disposable. That God had called into being a covenant community (church) – Israel – to be the means through which all of Creation would see divine love and glory was a truth David would learn in time. But this week we see the failing of a man consumed entirely with self-love and personal glory.
For our own time, the story of David and Bathsheba ought to function less as a vehicle for delivering isolated prohibitions about sex and more as a parable for our failure to locate sexual fidelity within a shared way of living and loving that resists all forms of violence, force and intimidation. We should communicate something of the God who created us for community (church) with Himself and with one another. This kind of community, sustained by trust, patience, respect, friendship, and forgiveness (that is, by the practice of love) is what makes such fidelity not only understandable but possible.
God, we confess our abuse of power, our blindness to our selfishness and fear.
We confess that we sometimes see others not as real people but as projections of our fears and desires.
We confess that we are often unaware of the power we employ, the privilege we abuse, the people we hurt.
We confess that we excuse the abuse committed by our heroes.
We ask forgiveness, and pray that you will open our eyes.
We pray for healing, courage and grace for victims of abuse,
for victims of rape,
for victims of murder, war and violence.
We pray for all those whom we dehumanize to protect our sense of security.
We pray for the healing of our worship of power.
We pray for the gifts of humility, honesty and compassion.
We pray for the mending of the world.
To think about: In your involvement with HIV / AIDS where can you identify the abuse of power and which actions can be taken to address this kind of abuse?
Written By: Ds Hennie van Rooyen – Chairman of the AIDS Commission of the DRC Highveld Synod and Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.
Author: van Rooyen H (Rev)