10: Abuses of power at work (2 Samuel 12:5-9)

Devotional / Produced by TOW Project
Work through whole bible devotional card version 2

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 12:5-9

The Bible regards David as the model king of Israel. Yet even David abused his power and acted faithlessly at times.

The abuse of Bathsheba is ancient, but the issue remains as timely as ever. The story is a familiar one. From his rooftop, David noticed his attractive neighbor, Bathsheba, washing. He sent his men to take her back to the palace, he had sex with her, and she conceived. In an attempt to cover up the pregnancy, he recalled Bathsheba’s husband Uriah from the siege of Rabbah, but Uriah had too much integrity to sleep with his wife while the rest of the army and the ark were camping in tents. After David orchestrated Uriah’s death in battle, he assumed the disaster had been averted. But David didn’t take God into account.

The prophet Nathan indicted David by telling a parable in which a rich man (representing David) “takes” a precious sheep (Bathsheba) from a poor man (Uriah). David plunged himself into this crime after he forgot that God gave him his position of power, and that God cared about what he did with it.

Just as God saw what David did to Bathsheba, so God sees what perpetrators do to sexual abuse victims today. While few of us have as much authority as David did, many of us have power in smaller spheres in family or work contexts. Conversely, many of us are vulnerable to those in power.

Most of us aren’t in situations where confronting a boss or supervisor involves risking our life, but speaking up in these types of contexts can mean losing status, a promotion, or a job. But God calls his people to act as prophets in our churches, schools, businesses, and wherever we work and live.

Can we let the examples of David, Nathan, and Bathsheba embolden us to admit and repent (if we are the perpetrator), to confront (if we are aware of the crime), or to recover (if we are the victim)? In any case the first step is to make the abuse stop. Only when this occurs can we speak of repentance, including accepting guilt, punishment, and if possible, restitution.

Prayer: Lord, Help me to notice when abuses of power are happening. Show me where I need to repent and where I need to speak up. Bring your healing, wholeness, and safety for each person in my workplace. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read David’s Rape of Bathsheba and Murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.