"A Name for the Situation"
II Samuel 12:24-25, "And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD."
This morning, names or labels create friction with some and opposition with others. There are a litany of reasons for this, but perhaps the most common reason that people cry against labels is that they plainly and simply cut right to the truth. The purpose of a name is to identify and at times group people for ease of communication. For example, I am known as an American to identify me as a citizen of this nation. Furthermore, I am known by name to distinguish me from other people in my family or people with a like name. To simply call me "Philip" would not necessarily distinguish me from the many Philips in the world. To simply call me "Conley" would not distinguish me from the many Conleys in this world. But, by identifying me as "Philip Nathanael Conley" gets to the point of who I am, distinguishing me from other people with similar names. A name or label that fails to identify but rather muddies the process misses the mark of what a name or label is meant or intended to be.
In our study verses, the names employed give us some grand insights into the conclusion of one of King David's darker periods. In the preceding 1.5 chapters, David has been guilty of murder and adultery, been found out in his sin, and begun to pay dearly for it. He has already suffered pronouncement of the Lord's judgment and started seeing it with the death of his son from his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. From the mouth of God's prophet Nathan, he knows that war and strife will follow him for the rest of his life. Eventually, 3 more of his sons will die as punishment for taking another man's wife and having him put to death. However, in the midst of all this conflict and pain, the Lord in mercy has not rendered unto David the fullness of his just desserts. David deserved to die for his actions, but the Lord spared him and put away his sin. David deserved the Lord departing from him and his kingdom, but the Lord promised to give him a light and his seed established after him. Such are we today friends. God has put away our sin and not dealt with us after our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)
As this terrible chapter of David's life is about to close (with many other miserable chapters prophesied to come), God gives him a great mercy and establishment of the covenant to His appointed king. God blesses David and Bathsheba to have another son, and though this was a marriage that should never have happened, God's mercy shone above David's darkness. This son was doubly named, and his name doubly resonates. David named his son Solomon, which is what he was commonly known by all his life. That name literally means "peace" or "peaceable." David had already been told back in Chapter 7 that even though he would not be able to build a house or temple for the Lord that his son would reign after him and build such a house. Solomon was to be this son, and David's naming of him not only foretells his son's disposition, but it also resonates to how David felt about his situation.
Notice that Nathan's words from Verses 10-12 are no less true now than they were when he spoke them. David still knows that trouble will follow him and his house all his life. Yet, David feels peace from the hand of God. He names his son accordingly. Though chapter 13 begins another woeful set of circumstances, David feels some measure of peace. Why would this be? Though David knows that God's judgment for his sins are not over, he feels that God will still be with him. Knowing that God will be with us, even when we are under judgment is a great comfort. David felt that. Yes, judgment was still in force, but God's wrath - or chastisement - was passing. While still guilty, David felt that God could and would still smile upon him.
Think about our situations today. Do we get ourselves in painful messes? Does the Lord bring judgment upon us for our wrongdoings? Indeed, all of us would answer in the affirmative in full honesty. Though we do not always immediately get through the consequences for our misdeeds, we can still feel the warm presence of the Almighty more quickly than it takes for the consequences to pass. David had already been to God's house to worship and praise Him, and God returned His smiles to David's life. One of the things that people today are quickly losing grip and sight of is the fact that being sorry or wishing something had never happened does not immediately absolve associated consequences. As a young father, part of my children's teaching is showing them that sorrow and repentance does not take away evil consequences right away. Someone who commits murder may be sorry immediately after and truly repent in not ever intending to do it again. However, that same individual may spend the rest of his life in prison on account of it. However, though the consequences continue, God's presence and counsel can still be felt, which warms and gives peace to the soul.
God - on the other hand - gives this child a different name. The name Jedidiah literally is rendered "beloved of the Lord." To show His love for him, God names him accordingly. To re-iterate, should this union of David and Bathsheba have ever happened? No. Would David have had this son under honourable circumstances? No. Yet, the Lord blessed David and his son anyway. God's perspective to the situation at hand was mercy and kindness, even though his people had been dishonourable again. God loved him in spite of the circumstances. Again, such is it with us today. God loves us in spite of ourselves and our circumstances. Should you or I even be here? God could have justly smitten Adam and Eve to corporeal death in the Garden of Eden. If that execution had been enforced, none of us today would have lived. God could have at the moment of man's sin simply burned up the world and fashioned another one. He would have been just in doing so.
Furthermore, God would have been just in allowing the world to continue in the sin-stained condition that man placed it without redeeming or saving a single person. God would have been perfectly just in doing so. God did not have to smile upon David and Bathsheba's union. God did not have to smile upon us. God would have still been God had He loved not a single human being. We certainly were not deserving of it. Yet, He smiled upon this union and loved the product of it. He smiled upon His people and loved us in it. Truly, this situation highlights the mercy and unfailing kindness that God has to undeserving wretches as we are.
Collating these ideas together, we can see that though we all have monikers that were given to us at birth, we have been given another name by our Heavenly Father. His great love upon us is so profound that we are called the sons of God. (I John 3:1) Not servants, not slaves, or even angels. We are called His sons! We are beloved of Him just as Solomon was for His only Begotten Son's sake! Though we have names that we are known by, God knows us by the name that is the greatest name ever under heaven and given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Yet, though we are beloved of Him, we still fail and come short. Does He bring judgment upon us for that? Absolutely. But, we still have peace and comfort even now. Despite what some people may think or experience, real, lasting peace and joy can be experienced in the here and now. It will not be necessarily found with serene circumstances: David's case here certainly was not. Yet, in spite of our surroundings, we may have a situation that we can say, "Some how, some way, even though I have really messed up, I know that He still loves me and will go with me."
Friends, I am thankful for the name that I was given by my parents. It was given with careful thought and for good reasons, and it is what I know and am known by. I am supremely thankful to be counted in that number that God has loved and set His affection and family name upon. It is something that I hope to be known by while I live based on how I live. Though stumbling and stammering at times, I hope to be known as beloved of the Lord. Though painfully messing up time and again in my life, I hope to experience peace and comfort from the Lord. He is still merciful to us in the midst of our iniquities, and He will ever love us in spite of the circumstances. May we treasure His name while we bear ours. May we seek to cease from sin and be spurred to a greater service. Look behind you friends. Does He have every right to not love you based on where you have been and what you have done? Does He have every right to cast you off based on what your deeds have been? My answers are yes and yes. But, He has not done so. Now, look before you friends. Is heaven and His home still as real and promised as ever? Is His tender mercy still new every morning until we get there? Again, my answers are yes and yes. Therefore, let my life between now and home be marked with steadfast resolve to honour the name He has given me and live with thanksgiving with the name that I am known by.