Anglican Morning Devotion for 10 May 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion
“And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: 3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. * 4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. 5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die.”
(2 Samuel 12:1-5; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Men often suppress their human feelings and sympathies that have characterized their youthful innocence in order to live up to what they believe is their proper stature as a soldier or community leader. Those days when compassion could be felt for a wounded man or animal were subdued in order to appear tough to those around him. I am afraid that this mentality existed far too long in my own life when I first became a soldier. Having served in the military, and later working in the training of military pilots many years, I presented my idea of an outward manliness that was contrived and not natural. I grew sufficiently in maturity to realize that was an illusion. It is perfectly natural for men and women to feel, and to act upon, compassion for others who suffer pain or fear – even the creatures God has placed among us as our friends, companions, and fellow workers. And that natural inclination is a God given virtue – not something to be hidden.
When I read the Old Testament parable of the Ewe Lamb that Nathan conveyed to King David, and David’s wrath at the injustice, I realized that a tough soldier and ruler such as David could feel that same compassion even if guilty of the very same sin revealed in the sordid case of his having Uriah killed in battle.
Inflicting pain and suffering on any creature of God is not commendable in the eyes of the Lord. The intentional abuse of animals is just as deplorable as that against a fellow human being. It reveals an ugly malice and disrespect for all life that descends from God.
I finally became the caretakers of two cats at the age of seventy-one. I came across them quite by accident (now I know it was a gift of God) while a hawk was preparing to carry them away as tiny kittens. I had never had a cat and did not intend to keep these two longer than it took to find them a good home. Well, that was seven years ago this past May Day and those two cats have become dearly held members of my family. I can understand the poor man’s love for the Ewe Lamb in Nathan’s story to David.
In a certain sense, David represented the rich man; and the poor man was represented by God. How so? King David had many wives, sons and daughters, yet God had only one only Begotten Son which was taken to redeem the sins of many. I am not suggesting that was the parallel intended by Nathan, but it certainly can be seen to relate to the circumstances of the parable. The love of God is not blind, but discreet. He hates sin, but loves the one who repents and turns to Him.
When I read the story of the Ewe Lamb, I am impressed to believe it is a lesson in compassion as much as it is the value of all life. Jesus is the Prince and King of Compassion. He is the Good Shepherd on the Road to Jericho. He is the One of many gathered at the Temple to show compassion on a woman taken in adultery. He is the One whose soul was moved by the hungry multitudes who followed Him and to whom He miraculously gave bread. He is the One whose garment hem healed the woman with the issue of blood, and later raised the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus from death to life. He is the One whose compassion could not be restrained from healing even when it meant certain danger to Himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ was One whose compassion could not be hidden or restrained. He came as a Healer, Savior, Comforter, Restorer of Life, Friend, and a Brother. He only gave us one Commandment that supersedes all others: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
To the devoted Christian, love is not a choice – it is a Commandment!