The Fallen King

I wake in a sweat from the same horrible dream, trying to sift terror from reality.

My friend lies bloody and still. His woman wails over her dying child. And… there is more, but I cannot say it. I push the scene away, but it plays over and over, a fresh nightmare each time I open my eyes.

The dream begins in springtime.

Not far away, there is war and death, but I am safe at home. I wander to the roof and lean against the parapet, its warm walls soaked in the afternoon sun. A gentle breeze carries the scent of new life, rising from the valley below. Here and there, wildflowers paint little bursts of color on the ground.

It is a safe place. A quiet place. But here the arrow found me, and I fell.

My eyes meandered across the cheerful, unruly maze of courts and streets and houses, and then to my undoing. A movement, a color, a shape, the gleam of water on skin. She was hidden from others, but not from me, the King. I saw her from my place, so high above. And I watched.

It seemed a safe place, but the deadly arrow was me, and how far I have fallen.

I used my high place to spy and then steal and then kill and then hide. God made me their shepherd, but I have torn the sheep.

I wake in a sweat and my sin is ever before me. I am King over nations, but how I long for the dangerous years when God was my hiding place, when my hands were empty but clean.

“Have mercy, O God, because of your great love! All this evil I have done, but please don’t throw me from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me!”

Well, the wailing woman whom I stole from my murdered friend clutches a dead child to her heart, and I wonder if we are forever cursed.

And that is the question, isn’t it? This good God who hates evil… How can he live with such as us? I have broken every law and humiliated the nation. I have no sacrifice to offer but this broken, humiliated heart.

“For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.”

I comfort my stolen wife and a year later, another son is born. I watch in wonder as she embraces the child, tears of joy running down her face. Then I cringe as a servant appears, whispering that Nathan, the prophet, has arrived with a message.

Nathan, the fearless critic who exposed my cover-up. Nathan, who announced that our first son would die.

I slip from the room, remembering my many tears. Does God forgive? Really forgive? Are we forever cursed by the things we have done?

Nathan walks confidently toward my throne as I study the floor, dreading what I am about to hear. He stops a few feet away and waits for me to meet his eye.

“The Lord has sent me to tell you the child’s name,” he says, and his face softens. “He is to be called ‘Jedidiah’, for he is loved by God”.

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This story is a dramatization of events recorded in 2 Samuel 11 – 12. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+11-12&version=NIV)

Jedidiah, also known as Solomon, became the third king of Israel, succeeding his father, David.

Jesus, born one thousand years later, was also a descendant of King David’s marriage with Bathsheba.

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.”
-Psalm 51:17 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+51&version=NIV)

“You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
-Nehemiah 9:17