David’s behavior was wrong. Sadly, in the wider (non-Israelite) culture, it wasn’t all that unexpected. In fact, many of the pieces within the story show a progression that would have not surprised anyone hearing it, that is until Uriah throws a minor monkey wrench into the narrative by not going home to his wife. From a cultural perspective, it was likely that Uriah knew exactly what happened, and by not going home, he did not accept it.
David then did the expected and made is so Uriah died, restoring the (again, wider) cultural script. Then the cultural narrative gets destroyed by Nathan. Nathan condemned the king (culturally, might is right), then (shocking the culture) the king said he was wrong. David’s statement about only sinning against God becomes our next struggling point. It is back to a cultural understanding.
Culturally, David did indeed sin only against God, and that is only within Israelite culture (God-honoring focused). This is, to an extent, confirmed by Nathan who did not gainsay David. Yet, with a deeper understanding of scripture, and a willingness to set aside cultural norms, we understand that David did (along with others) sin against others.
We also are able to discern that God was not happy with David, with or without David’s confession. The consequences of David’s behavior were in line with his position and were also a direct assault against the same. From our perspective, the innocent pay the price for David’s sin (they do), while David escapes. Yet, David receives a penalty both severe and in line with the power and influence that he misused.
This is all-important when we come to the woman accused of adultery. The just‑ness of the circus surrounding her is obviously in question. As they say, it takes two, and number two is missing. It was a set-up. Just as in the story of David, it is definitely a case of power, just not the perpetrator’s power. The woman has been sucked into the power-grab (or defense) of people against Jesus.
Regardless, just as in David’s story, there is no denial. The woman does not deny the accusation. Unlike David, there are men gathered together to stone the woman. They are ready to kill her. Per the law, she and David were to have been taken to the gates and stoned. In neither case did that happen. In David’s case, it was his position. In her case, the Roman government “officially” prohibited non-government directed killing. So, this is perhaps an empty threat. Yet, the threat was there.
The fundamental difference is, in many respects, the difference between “before Jesus” and “after Jesus”.
“Your sins are forgiven” and “go and sin no more.”
1) “Your sins are forgiven” and “go and sin no more.” Why do both of these phrases go together? Why must they not be separated?
2) What are other similarities and differences in how God responded to David and the woman?