The Tragic Parable of a Pet

From Issue: Discovery 12/1/2000

Most all of us have had a pet that we loved. Some of us have had cuddly kittens that purred when they were petted. Others have had cute little puppies that could fetch sticks or chase balls. In the Old Testament, a prophet named Nathan told this tragic parable about a lovely little pet.

There was a certain poor man who had one baby female lamb. He loved this lamb like it was one of his own children. The lamb ate and drank from the man’s own plate and cup, and the lamb even slept in the poor man’s bed.

Living near the poor man was a rich man who had many sheep. One day a traveler stopped by the rich man’s house and wanted something to eat. The rich man wanted to feed him, but he did not want to kill one of his many sheep. So, what did he do? He took the poor man’s pet lamb, slaughtered it, and fed it to the traveler.

Nathan told this sad story to show just how wicked some people could become. You see, Nathan was sent to tell the story to King David, whom the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was righteous, and usually obeyed God. But at one time in David’s life, he did a very wicked thing when he committed adultery with another man’s wife and then had that man killed.

As David listened to the parable about the poor man’s sheep, he became furious. He said that the rich man deserved to die, and that he should give the poor man four new sheep. Then Nathan said to David “You are the man!”

Suddenly, David realized that the story was designed to expose his sin. He realized that God had given him everything, but he had disobeyed God by committing adultery and murdering an innocent person. He was as guilty as the cruel, rich man in the story.

David was very sorry for his sin, and asked God to forgive him. God, since He is loving and merciful, forgave David. But David still suffered many things in his life because of his sin.

Many times in the Bible, God used parables to show people how wicked they really were. Let us all live in obedience to God so that we never have to read a parable in the Bible that shows us how wicked we have become.


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