2 Samuel 11:26-12:13
“Cringeworthy”: that’s a relatively new compound word. It refers to the activity or performance of another person which is so bad or so lame or so embarrassing that anyone watching cannot help but feel sympathetic embarrassment for them. It’s when the shame of another person is so ripe and so raw that all who see it not only see it, but feel it for themselves. If there were a hole available for you to crawl into you would do so. You simply cannot bear the feeling of that moment…. because the moment is “cringeworthy.” A great word that describe a collective feeling.
Interestingly enough that’s the word that came to mind as I read today’s scripture lessons. In the Old Testament lesson, 2Samuel 11:26 ff., We find the evil of David’s Sin exposed for all to see. Right here, in our sacred text How did he sin? Let me count the ways:
It started with feeling so full of himself that he thought it not necessary to go out with his army as any good king in that day would do.
He lounged around on his couch all day before he finally arose. As every one else was getting ready for bed, he was very much awake. And then he went up on his roof, and became a peeping tom. Started watching a the woman bathing in her back yard and became filled with lust. Then he abused his power, by sending servants to summon her to his residence. He abused his power again by taking her and committing adultery with her. After this she became pregnant with his child.
He called for Uriah her husband. a good man, a righteous man who happened to be out in the field with the Army where he himself should have been. Tried to get Uriah to go see his wife…. but Uriah, a man of good character refused….he thought it would be unfair to his men since they didn’t get to see their wives. David then got him drunk and said…. “now go sleep with your wif”e…so that Uriah would think that it was his baby.
But Uriah refused. So David sent him back and gave orders for the soldiers around him to withdraw and leave him stranded on the front line. Uriah was killed as a result. So let’s see: David’s a Peeping Tom, an adulterer, and a Murder! Ugg! When Nathan told his little story about the Ewe lamb it caused David to sputter that the man who took the little lamb deserved death and Nathan said “you are the man!”
And then Gospel lesson also has a Cringeworthy account. A so called “woman of the city” came to Jesus while he was dining, and wet her feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair and then anointed them with some expensive perfume.” What would cause her to do this? Where’s her self respect? Where is her dignity. Those around her started whispering to one another…..If Jesus only knew what kind of woman she was….”
We would much rather believe that only decent and upstanding people would choose to be the Lord’s followers. You know, clean cut, well dressed, well spoken, and happy people. Not those who are sad and dirty and deeply disturbed like this woman so obviously is! Talk about how Jesus walked on water, talk about how Jesus calmed the storm, talk about how Jesus victoriously came out of the tomb…. but don’t don’t tell us this kind of stuff….it’s too too Cringeworthy.
I would much rather remember David as the the singer of psalms, the anointed the king, the man after God’s own heart, the hope of Israel. Why oh Why did this whole scene have to make into he bible? Why didn’t some editor or redactor to sweep it all away so that David would not be so cringy?
So why do we cringe? I think Our cringing reveals something about us. It reveals a deep and longstanding fear that people have known for as long as there has been people, the fear of being tried and found wanting… the fear of being judged… the fear of being found invalid…. and unworthy. Ahh…. this is the stuff that haunts our dreams isn’t it. This is why a collective cringe travels through an entire crowd when just one person is embarrassed. It hits too close to home.
But the woman at Jesus feet was not cringing. Something different was going on there. She wasn’t cringing, nor was she proud however. She wasn’t saying “Yeah, I’m a sinner, but Jesus loves sinners…therefore he must accept not only me but my sins!” Nope She wasn’t saying any of that. She was mournful; contrite, sorrowful, in tears. She hated her sins. But she came to Jesus because she came to understand that with him, there was forgiveness and she was not mistaken. He said to her. “Your sins are forgiven” and then he said “your faith has saved you.” Faith. Faith in the God who forgive through is Son. This Faith casts out fear….. and so she came to Jesus seeking forgiveness and help.
Nathan Said to David, “The Lord has put away your sins.” Where’d he put them? He put them on Jesus. All the stuff about us that makes us cringe in fear…. all of our unworthiness, all of our sinfulness, all of that… he put on our Lord Jesus as he went to the cross. And Jesus took it to the cross where our sins died with him, and then to the tomb, where our sins were buried with him, only to be left behind when he rose from the grave.
The Last day of earth will turn out to be the biggest cringe-fest of all for those who have not turned to Jesus in faith. “Oh no!” They will exclaim as they things coming down. Jesus says they will say “Mountains fall on us, hide us from the one who has come to judge.” Talk about wanting to climb into a hole for shame. This will be the ultimate shame. The psychic fear of being exposed which they have felt all of their lives will be fully realized as they are held accountable for what they’ve during their lives.
The reason these accounts of David, and the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair are recorded for us in the scriptures is because they really show us the better way…. the way of faith…faith in a God who forgives and cancels our guilt by grace . Pure grace. We are not saved by keeping the Law. We are not saved by giving the pretense of perfection. We are not saved by convincing our fellow man that our particular sins are not sin. We are not saved by telling ourselves that we are okay. We are saved by Grace, through faith in Christ Jesus.
And knowing that and living a life wherein we regularly kneel before our Lord and confess our need from Grace….we might be able to relax and be a lot less cringy and prepared for the end. For faith in Jesus drives out fear. AMEN