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(Part 20)


January 31, 2014
Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 11:1-17

Today we have the tale of two warriors--David and Uriah. It is quite a contrast. David betrayed his own loyal soldier and even had him killed, while Uriah did his duty admirably. David acted very selfishly, while Uriah acted very unselfishly. David acted in the shadows plotting, while Uriah was up front in all his actions (literally up in the battle front). What can we learn about being warriors from this tale?

One, when there is a war, a soldier goes off to war; otherwise, a soldier might end up lounging around in the country club sipping piña coladas. At “the time when kings go to war, .... David himself remained in Jerusalem.” (v.1). So David was lounging around the king’s house, saw a beautiful woman bathing, and was consumed by lust. Not keeping your eyes and mind fixed on the enemy makes your eyes stray and be fixed on distractions, including what can lead to grave sin.

Two, sin easily builds upon sin. Once the enemy makes you fall, he continues to pummel you until you are totally wiped out. David tried to cover up his sin by trying to get Uriah to sleep with his wife, thus answering for her pregnancy. David first gave Uriah R&R to be with his wife, then when that failed, got him drunk so he would sleep with his wife, and when that failed, set him up to be killed on the battle front. David got deeper and deeper into the hole. Infidelity turned to murder. David not only sinned against God, but actually turned against his own, helping the enemy by killing one of his own valiant warriors. When you start losing your focus on the war, when you start feeding your own lusts and desires (when you become self-referential), you end up being on the side of the enemy!

By contrast, the posture of Uriah was exemplary. Told by King David, the Commander-in-Chief himself, to go to his house for R&R, Uriah did not, but rather remained with his fellow officers. When David asked him why, he said, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my lord Joab and my lord’s servants are encamped in the open field. Can I go home to eat and to drink and to sleep with my wife? As the Lord lives and as you live, I will do no such thing.” (v.11). There are a number of lessons here.

First, be focused on the war. Often what keeps us from the thick of the fight is not sin but the good things in life, such as family and rest. Uriah certainly was entitled to go home, eat and drink, and be intimate with his wife. But he chose to do otherwise. There was a war going on. So even as he was not at the battlefield, he would remain in battle posture. Remember: the enemy does not rest, but is totally committed to bringing down God’s people.

Second, be one at heart with your fellow soldiers. In fact, keep them in your heart. They are your comrades-in-arms, sacrificing as you are. Empathize with them. Uriah could not bear to have a good time, when his fellow soldiers were staying in tents in the open field. Even when he was called away from the battlefield and told to go home, “Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with the other officers of his lord, and did not go down to his own house.” (v.9). Rather than sleep with his wife, he slept with his fellow warriors.

Third, be singleminded in your determination to do the task at hand. There will be those who will tell us we are too involved in our work, taking too much time away from the family, not considering our own well-being enough, giving more than our share, doing more than what God expects from us, and so on. What indeed was wrong with Uriah taking a few days off from the war and enjoying his home life? Nothing. However, that was not how Uriah the warrior saw it. Even as his own Commander-in-Chief was already directing him, he was emphatic: “I will do no such thing.”

In the army of God, in the community of God’s people, there can be deceit, infidelity and betrayal. Even among the highest leaders. There is indeed the enemy within. Our part is to be true warriors, giving our all in the war that rages in the heavens and on earth, even until death. We are holy warriors that are martyrs.

When we die, we die with our combat boots on, with the praise of God in our mouths and a two-edged sword in our hand. And so it was that “some officers of David’s army fell, and Uriah the Hittite also died.” (v.17b). We fight to the end.

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