2 Samuel 12:14b But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.
On January 4, 1999, Coach Ken Carter of Richmond High School in California locked the doors of the school gymnasium not allowing his 45 basketball players to practise. This seemed shocking since the team had been perpetual losers, but this year under Coach Carter, the team’s record was 13-0. A sign said: “report to the library” where they were told that they had broken the contract they had signed at the start of the season. 15 of the 45 team members were not handing in class assignments and were not maintaining a 2.0 GPA, as they had contractually agreed to do.
This story, brought to the Hollywood screen in the movie Coach Carter, demonstrated to me the concept of a perfecting father rather than a permissive one. Many teachers, parents and town citizens were extremely angry with Coach Carter and demanded he resume practises. Instead, he forfeited 2 games and would not practise until the team lived up to their contract. He was, in fact, prepared to forfeit the entire season because he valued academic success above athletic success. News of Coach Carter’s actions reached the Governor (Gray Davis) who attended the next game saying: “Coach Carter has done more in one week than I could do in four years as governor to get the message out about education. He is a hero”.
The angry parents were permissive parents, not willing to make difficult decisions, not willing to discipline, not willing to follow through on deserved punishment. While they would suggest they were kinder than Coach Carter, in fact in their permissiveness they were robbing these young men of valuable lessons. Coach Carter was perfecting these young men through tough love.
God, however, is the ultimate perfector. I have often said that God is infinitely gracious and merciful, but he also is no wimp. If you doubt this, have a full read of 2 Samuel 12 and the chapters beyond. David, described as “a man after God’s own heart” commits serious sins of adultery (Bathsheba) and murder (her husband Uriah), but when confronted by the prophet Nathan he repents: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord’” (2 Samuel 12:13). Nathan informs David that the Lord had taken away his sin and he would not die, but that the son born to him will die.
In the subsequent verses you see a remorseful David pleading with God for his son’s life, praying and fasting for days on the floor. The elders of the household tried to get him up, but he refused. On the seventh day the boy died. What was the point? David understood the grievous things he had done and repented. Why did God not withdraw his wrath of judgement? It is because God is a righteous God and, like Coach Carter, he has greater things in mind for us and others looking on, and he has an understanding that we cannot fathom.
When you next experience God’s rebuke, understand that God is a perfecting father, not simply a permissive one. “11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11-12).