Dear Church Family,
“The Obfuscating Dynamics of Shame and Guilt” is perhaps a strange sermon title. And yes, I confess I do have a thing for “fancy words” like “obfuscating.”
Miriam Webster’s Dictionary defines obfuscate as, to be evasive, unclear, or confusing, to throw into shadow, to make obscure, to confuse. Some synonyms are muddying, disguising, and confusing. That’s what shame and guilt does to us – it twists us, such that our motivations, actions, and reactions are somewhat obscured to us. We aren’t always conscious of when or how our shame and guilt is impacting our thinking and actions, but it does!
Most Christians are familiar with the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba, his confrontation by Nathan, and his beautiful repentance (see Psalm 51). But too often what happens next, in the very next chapters of 2 Samuel, is overlooked or skimmed over. When you read the story of David, Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom (2 Samuel 13-15) on the heels of the events of David, Uriah, and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12) it’s doesn’t take much of a leap or a lot of effort to see how David’s shame and guilt over his sins impacted his parenting. His shame and guilt muddied and obscured his thinking and his judgement. It led him to not do things he should have done and to do things he ought not have done.
The purposes of God’s Word are many. With passages like this week’s:
- God is giving us insight into the consequences our sin brings on us, the damage it does.
- God is showing us how guilt and shame can and do impact us in deep ways.
- God is reminding us that he still loves, forgives, and works in, with, and through sinful human beings – his grace is amazing.
As God shows us the deep impact of sin, shame, and guilt in David’s life, it is a cautionary tale – one that calls us to consider how shame and guilt for our past sin might be impacting us today. It’s also a story of God’s amazing grace that should encourage us, lead us into grateful worship, and make us gracious towards other sinners.
So, take some time to read 2 Samuel 13-15. Can you see how David’s shame and guilt have impacted his parenting? As you read 2 Samuel 13, bear in mind that Tamar is David’s daughter! I believe the way the narrator refers to her, repeatedly, is deliberate in order to help us see the shocking and outrageous reality and injustice of what did and didn’t happen, especially David’s terrible shame and guilt influenced responses.
Yours in Christ’s love,