These lessons call for hard truth telling. Telling the truth about biblical texts and characters that we thought we knew. That we may well have loved. King David, from shepherd boy to Shepherd King, holy harpist and devoted dancer. And a mercenary. And a bandit. And a robber. And a rapist. And a murderer. And beloved by God. And held up as a model in and out of the scriptures. What do we do with that? Now that we know better, will we do better in our preaching and teaching?
The psalms are a useful model of repentance, except for when they are not. They hold that the only one harmed is God (or occasionally, the psalmist) and that the only spiritual work is repenting to God. In today’s psalm, like in the infamous 51st psalm where David says he has sinned against God alone in a psalm introduced by his “going in to Bathsheba,” the transgressor repents and God forgives and there is no other accountability or reconciliation. David is a serial transgressor and serial repenter.
The epistle assures that God is patient about judgement so that all can come to repentance. Sometimes, I don’t want folk to come to repentance. I want them to pay.
In the gospel Jesus calls us to go to those having something against us to do the work of reconciliation before anything else, including praising God. But be in between steps, repentance and restoration proceed reconciliation. Confession and contrition come even earlier.
These are hard texts pointing to the hard truth with which many of us live and wrestle.
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