I just got back from the Acts 29 Western Europe Annual Conference, where Matt Chandler was one of the speakers.
In his seminar on Men as Gospel Ministers, Matt referred to 2 Samuel 12, when Nathan confronted David about his adultery using an illustration about a man with loads of sheep stealing another man’s only lamb. When David got angry about this appalling behaviour and declared the man to be deserving of death, Nathan told him “You are the man!”
Matt commented that all of us need to look at ourselves while reading the Bible, and consider whether we should be convicted too.
Basically we need to put ourselves in the place of David.
I was reminded of this video clip where Matt points out a problem with viewing ourselves in the place of David:
I totally agree with both points, but couldn’t immediately work out how to fit them together, so I put it to Matt when I got the chance to speak to him briefly between sessions.
His advice was that this was an example of our need to be conscious of what he describes as the gospel from the air (how the gospel relates to creation as a whole: Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, Consummation) as well as the gospel on the ground (how it relates to each of us as individuals: God, Man, Christ, Response). We can relate to David in that, like him, we’re part of the fall, but we can’t relate to him in the way he portrayed an image of the coming messiah.
I’m not criticising, because to be fair I hadn’t fully worked out in my own mind what I was asking, let alone communicated it clearly, plus he had another preaching session to be ready for starting about 10 minutes later, but I don’t think his answer really clarifies when we’re supposed to put ourselves in David’s shoes and when we’re not, and he knew at the time that I wasn’t fully satisfied with it so told me to go away and wrestle with it.
So having wrestled a little bit, here are my thoughts:
I think it’s probably my fault in being too reductionistic in my interpretation of what Matt said on each occasion. Neither case is as simple as just saying “in this situation, I’m David” or in other situations “I’m not like David at all”.
I think in both of the passages about David there are ways in which it would be appropriate to apply it to ourselves and ways in which it may not be appropriate to apply it to ourselves.
In David vs Goliath, we shouldn’t view ourselves as the champion that David portrays, but we should remember that our God is the same one that David trusted in.
In David vs Nathan, like David we should be open to correction when others point out our guilt, but on the other hand, there’s a risk that if we compare ourselves with David we’ll think we’re righteous because we haven’t committed adultery or murder like he did.
2 Tim 3v16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
So there is always something in a passage that we can apply to ourselves, but…
In Luke 24v27, Jesus “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
So the Bible is fundamentally about Jesus.
And there is no real conflict between these two, because the aim of our whole lives should ultimately be to point to Jesus. So when Scripture corrects us, the goal is not really to make us into good people, but to make us better at displaying Jesus’ glory.
Kind of feel like I’m stating the obvious now that I look back at it.