And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:1-7a ESV)!
So many things stir up our righteous anger. It happens to me all the time. I see what someone has done, or what a group of people has done to another group of people, and my anger stirs. Like David, I feel that someone deserves to be punished. And, in my sinful nature, it’s nice to think of the fact that THEY should be punished, and not ME. The stories stir my anger and my pride. I judge, declare the others guilty, and declare myself not guilty. At least I’m not the one who stole that car from that poor family. I’m certainly not the one who murdered that other person. I didn’t speak unkindly about my co-worker.
But that’s not quite true. Because as sure as Nathan pointed at David and thundered the words, “You are the man,” so as we look into God’s Law, Yahweh points the finger at us and declares “You are the man!” You are the one who coveted your neighbor’s car, you are the one who hated your friend in your heart, you are the one who bore false witness and spoke unkindly, you spoke harshly to your child, you resented your spouse. Even your righteous anger is sin! You are guilty!
In the face of the truth of our guilt, our righteous anger melts away and we realize that we deserve punishment. We deserve separation from God. We deserve the scorn of our friends and family. We deserve death itself, because ultimately, we have scorned and spurned the Lord Himself. We sink to our knees, we hang our heads, we whisper words of repentance: “Forgive me, a poor miserable sinner.” We can do no other. We have been brought to this repentance, this confession, by none other than God Himself.
And it is God Himself who brings us through this repentance. It is God Himself who shifts the pointing finger to His very own Son. Who says “You are the Man!” to Jesus Christ and no longer to us. Jesus is the Man who takes on the sins of the whole world, even our sins of self-righteousness. All that belonged to us — death, punishment, separation, guilt — now belongs to Him. He bears it in His very body and takes it to the cross, where it is finally and fully conquered. We are redeemed and forgiven. God’s finger no longer points at us to say “You are the man!” but to say, “You are My child.” We rejoice in that reality, and we give thanks for the work of God which brings us to repentance and to faith.
Let us Pray: “Almighty God, in Your mercy You gave Samuel courage to call Israel to repentance and to renew their dedication to the Lord. Call us to repentance as Nathan called David to repentance, so that by the blood of Jesus, the Son of David, we may receive the forgiveness of all our sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” (Treasury of Daily Prayer, 642, published by Concordia Publishing House).