Deadly Coveting

This week we finally arrive at the Tenth Commandment in our grand tour of Luther’s Small Catechism. The second commandment dealing with coveting reads, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his cattle, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” And I also share with you Luther’s pithy explanation, “We are to fear and love God so that we do not tempt or coax away from our neighbor his wife or his workers, but encourage them to remain loyal.”

When arriving at this commandment I often think of King David and the trouble he got into in violating this directive. Remember, David was a man with a “heart after God” (cf. 1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). If this man could stumble and fall into temptation at this point, any of the rest of us could as well!

Perhaps you will remember the sorry incident as candidly chronicled in 2 Samuel 11. What it boiled down to was the fact that King David coveted another man’s wife. Bathsheba was a bathing beauty, literally, for David spied her bathing. By the time the whole peccadillo was over one sin piled up upon another. Coveting lead to adultery, adultery lead to bearing false witness, and to cover this the sin was compounded with murder and theft! One could make a good argument that the First and Second Commandments were violated. Sex became an idol, and God’s name was besmirched. David set a horrible example in parenting – there goes the Fourth Commandment!

When the dust settles, the only command that may have remained intact was the Third. I don’t know that the Sabbath Day was profaned, although I could be wrong on that one.

So you see how deadly the whole business of coveting is! There is a price to pay for our law breaking! But if you read on in 2 Samuel 12 you will also encounter God’s rich mercy that comes to repentant sinners. You will also want to read Psalm 51 to read David’s confession of sin, a true cry for mercy!

Since You Asked…

What is the purpose of the “Silence for reflection and self-examination” in the Brief Order For Confession and Forgiveness?

“The silence for self-examination and reflection should be an extended silence to enable personal application of the general phrases of the prayer that follows. Silence of one or two minutes is not too long” (Manual on the Liturgy – LBW). This is a helpful time to reflect back on our lives over the past week and ask ourselves whether we have been disobedient or unfaithful, bad-tempered or dishonest, or whether we have hurt anyone by word or deed. By allowing for this period of reflection we are able to personalize what would otherwise remain quite general.