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Speaking Truth to Power

I haven't posted new content for a while, but I expect to have some soon. For now, here is a little something I wrote for my old blog back in 2005.

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He got the king's attention by telling a story:

There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.

Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.

The king's first reaction was visceral: "The man who has done this deserves to die." Then he regained his composure and found a fitting penalty. "He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."

Because he was a good king, he wanted to ensure that his people were treated justly. He wanted his kingdom to be a place where ordinary citizens were not oppressed by those in power.

That's why the prophet Nathan's reply to King David had so much sting:

"You are the man!"

David had had an affair with Bathsheba. Whe she was found to be pregnant, he had her husband killed so he could marry her. Despite David's commitment to justice, his actions did not always match his ideals.

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One of the things I love most about the Bible is the prophets. They never hesitated to speak the truth to those in power. Wherever there was injustice, there was a prophet to let the rulers know they would be held accountable.

Often I see injustice in our country or in our world, and I want to speak out. Like the prophets, I want to let those in power know that they will be held accountable for their actions. I'm not in a position to have any influence over those in power. (My congressional representatives don't pay attention to me, no matter how often I write them.) But I have this blog. It's not much, but maybe my words will make some small difference somewhere.

At the same time, I can identify with David in this story. When I see injustice, I can be judgmental. It's easy to condemn others for their misdeeds and their failure to act. Yet if I'm honest with myself, I can see my accusing finger pointing back at me. I don't always live up to my ideals.

One of the things I find most challenging about the Bible is the prophets.

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