7/25: 2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Psalm 14 • 2 Kings 4:42-44 and Psalm 145:10-18 • Ephesians 3:14-21 • John 6:1-21
Well, well, what a surprise. Just a few chapters back, David was having a fight with his wife Michal and distancing from her. Now, he's having an affair with Bathsheba, wife of one of his key military leaders. Not only that, but when he discovers that he's gotten Bathsheba pregnant, he seeks to cover it up by bringing her husband Uriah home from the battlefield. David's plan is that husband and wife might sleep together, making Uriah think that he had fathered the child. But the loyal soldier refuses the comforts of home while his comrades are in the field, choosing to sleep with David's servants instead. David's next move? He sends Uriah back to the field, along with directions to the high command to "set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die" (v. 15).
Even for those with a cynical eye, the utter immorality of David is astonishing. It was predictable, though. When people use distancing as a way of managing their relationships with others, they are signaling a lack of the inner capacity to manage themselves. Eventually, the intellect serves the whims and impulses of the more instinctive and sometimes childish side of oneself, either ignoring or rationalizing every thought which might get in the way. The capacity for emotional reasoning is lost.
David's reactivity to Michal (see more in 2 Samuel 6) led him to cut off. As he licked his wounds, refusing to consider her viewpoint in any way, his own immaturity grew. Later, his lust for Bathsheba took charge. The back-and-forth between his feelings and his thoughts around her became as unavailable to him as his connection to Michal. It is only a few short hops from reacting to others, to distancing from them, to cutoff, to becoming unable to hear other views, to a more confused view of life altogether.
When a person can stay connected with others, while still being her own self, something changes inside. It is like a muscle is getting exercised – developing and holding onto one's own core way of being. Even under pressure, such a person can still act on principles. The inner guidance system, so to speak, is less easily derailed.
The family unit provides a keyway. Reactivity to one's family is an invaluable treasure: automatically steering each of us to our deepest challenges. The chance to notice and manage one's responses more maturely – rather than try to change the other person – is the chance to grow oneself up. The chance to see different views – rather than go down the ever-narrower rabbit hole of one's own perspective – is also a chance to become more adult.
Today's story is often seen as a warning against greed. After all, Michal was wife #3, by my count, anyhow. How many wives did David need?! More than greed, though, the story showed how cutting off from others lessened his orientation to reality. Being able to connect respectfully with Michal, seeing another perspective besides his own, would have taken David towards a larger view of life. Cutting off from her may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but he lost some of himself along the way.
Morning: Where – or on what subjects – might I look for a larger perspective today?
Evening: When did I become reactive today?
Psalm 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.