6th September 2021


The extension of the child abuse enquiry beyond the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church to other religious communities has this week identified the offering of forgiveness as a contributing factor. This must, of course, be a perverted view of what Jesus taught – in fact, that ‘cheap grace’ of which Bonhoeffer wrote so eloquently, forgiveness without a commitment to a new discipline of living in love and awe before God and neighbour.

This caused me to reflect on the helpful series of sermons we had recently on 2 Samuel and I Kings. First, we have the condemnation of David in 2 Samuel 12, after David had contrived the death of Uriah so he could take Bathsheba to be his wife: the prophet Nathan’s denunciation, ‘You are the man who has despised the word of the Lord and done what is evil in his sight’. Contrasted with this are Solomon’s words addressed to God himself in 2 Kings 3, where he speaks of God’s love for his father, ‘because he walked before you in faithfulness, righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you’. What a change! The words are significant for Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba, because, under God’s judgment, his older brother died in the first week of his life.  But, says the record, David himself survived, the Lord having ‘put away his sin’.

But this is not just an ancient story, for the gospel writers also see Jesus as ‘Son of David’, [Matt 21 v9], but his messianic rule is not to be reduced to the geographical dimensions of a merely Davidic kingdom: the throne on which this son of David sits is a cross, outside the walls of the city of David, and the price he pays for the forgiveness of all who have sinned is his own death, which must never be held cheap, or indeed abused by no commitment to a new way of life.

John Briggs