Sins of the Father

Ephesians 3:14-21; 2 Samuel 11:1-15

Sermon The Sins of the Father

Good morning! A few weeks ago, we heard the story of David versus Goliath. This was David at his very best, his very most faithful. Today we see David at his absolute worst. Before we dive into this morning’s lesson from Second Samuel, I want to start with what I left out of the reading last week, when we heard Second Samuel 7:1-14a.

You might—or might not—have noticed that lower-case “a” at the end of the citation. When you see a lower-case letter there, it means the editors of the Lectionary decided to leave something out of the reading. In this case, they ended the reading part way through verse 14. Here are verses 12 through 14a:

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. (2 Samuel 7:12-14a)

That is the end of a sentence, but there’s more to the verse. It continues: “When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.” So, the full verse reads: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings” (2 Samuel 7:14). God is promising that David’s house, his royal lineage will continue, even if one of David’s descendants grows unfaithful to God.

We talked about this last Sunday, but the difference is the acknowledgement of punishment—there will be physical consequences for unfaithfulness. A lot of people don’t like to hear Old Testament lessons because it feels like there’s too much judgment. Even worse, some people love Old Testament lessons because there’s so much judgment! Those are usually the people who think that God’s judgment is for someone else. I had an aunt who was like that, so I really avoided long conversations with her.

To be fair, there is a lot of that kind of judgment in the Old Testament. The Second

Commandment is a great example:

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

Punishing children for the iniquity of the parents. Instead of iniquity, earlier translations rendered that verse, “the sins of the fathers.” Children were punished, even to the third and fourth generation.

That’s harsh!

We don’t want to hear that.

We want to hear the 23rd Psalm and maybe the first chapter of Genesis, and then that’s it.

That’s a problem. A spiritual problem. When we cut ourselves off from the fullness of scripture, we get an unbalanced view of God’s interactions with humanity. It also makes it easier to put ourselves at the center of the story. And when we put ourselves at the center of the story, we begin to construct an idol.