My Bible study group is starting a study on David in a few weeks. In preparation, I’ve been reading in 2 Samuel, and this morning I ran across something that I had never caught previously, regarding a very familiar story.
In 2 Samuel 23:8-39 we learn of a group of very special men – David’s Mighty Men.
Look who we find very last in the list (verse 39): Uriah the Hittite.
Uriah the Hittite was one of David’s mighty men? How did I miss this?
Who were the mighty men? These were a group of 37 soldiers, men who were completely committed to serving David. They risked their lives in battle, in loyalty to him, time after time. They considered it a privilege and honor to serve him. 2 Samuel 23 even tells us that his three “mightiest” men invaded the stronghold of the Philistine army, just to bring David a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem! They were comrades in arms, brothers in battle. They had a special bond, forged in the heat of life-threatening circumstances.
Uriah is familiar to us because he is one of the characters in the story of David’s greatest failure, his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. You can read the story for yourself in 2 Samuel 11, but I’ll summarize it here.
David’s failure began when he decided to stay in Jerusalem instead of going out to war with his people, as kings were supposed to do. He was walking on his roof one evening and saw a beautiful woman bathing. Instead of turning away from the temptation, he had the woman brought to his house to sleep with her, fully awarethat she was the wife of one of his mighty men, Uriah. The woman, Bathsheba, later sends word to him that she is pregnant. In order to cover his sin of adultery, David first tries to manipulate Uriah into thinking he is the father. He brings Uriah home from the battle front, hoping he will have relations with his wife and believe the child is his. When Uriah is too honorable to do this, considering that his own men are still in the battlefield, David sends instructions to the commander by a written note, asking him to place Uriah at the very front of the battle, withdraw from him, and purposely get him killed. And he sends the murderous plan to Joab, carried in the hands of Uriah.
This story in Scripture is a real-life soap opera. It sickens us to think that David would descend to such depths of sin. And it astounds us to know that this is the man whom God chose to exalt to be the greatest king that Israel ever had. He is described as “a man after God’s own heart” in 1 Samuel 13:14.
How does it happen that the best of us becomes the worst in us?
How can someone who knows better, someone who has experienced years of intimate relationship with the Lord, someone who has been rescued time after time, someone who knows that he was chosen by God for a special purpose…how can this person commit the vilest of sin, not only against a stranger, but to someone who had proven himself loyal…someone who had been willing to give his life for him?
What can we learn from this sad chapter in David’s life?
If you read much about David’s life you quickly learn that he had many wives and concubines. Granted, polygamy may have been accepted in the Old Testament culture, but David was obviously a man who had a great physical appetite. This way of life was passed down to his son, Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines!
One thing led David down this path of sin: lust.
David’s weakness was women. His desire for physical gratification caused him to betray a good friend first by adultery, then resorting to murder. His lust led him down a path which he never intended to go.
Lust is the root of all of our sin. It may not be lust for physical satisfaction, but desiring something that God has not given us is at the core of all of our sin.
1 John 2:16 tells us, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
I think what bothers me most in the story is not the actual sin that David committed. He later sincerely repented of his sin, and just like God does for us, He was given grace and forgiveness and restored to fellowship with God. He still suffered the consequences of his sin, as the child died. But God forgave.
What bothers me most is that lust so blinded David to what was true and pure and right, that he was able to do these horrible things, not to a stranger or an enemy, but to someone who had served and loved him. I cannot imagine the guilt that must have filled his heart when he finally recognized his sin for what it was.
Our world is filled with lust. It is everywhere. Immorality, impurity, and depravity surrounds us. The spiritual world of demonic darkness is no longer hidden. It is in our homes, our mailboxes, our cell phones, our computers, our music, our books, our magazines. Without the protection of God’s Holy Spirit, we are not safe. And without God’s Spirit to reveal it for what it is, we too will be blinded.
Over and over in scripture we are warned against the impure and unholy. And I’m not only speaking of physical lust, but lust in any respect. Lust for the things of this world. Lust is unholy and impure because at its core it is idolatry – desiring something or someone other than God.
So what do we do? How are we to respond?
In 1 Peter 1:16 we are admonished, You shall be holy, for I am holy.
As believers, true Christ-followers, we must start recognizing and calling sin by its true name. We must remove all sources of lust from our lives. We must ask God to expose any hidden sin, any unknown weakness, anything in us that desires something that He has not given us permission to have.
We must be holy.
Lust destroys everything in its path.
And lust will take you down a path you never intended to go.
Do you recognize the enemy’s temptation of lust in your own life? It may be more subtle than a woman bathing on a rooftop. We don’t always see it so clearly.
What did David learn from the biggest failure of his life?
He learned that he couldn’t trust his own heart. He learned that without God’s inspection of his heart and mind, he would always be drawn back to his flesh.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)
God desires a pure and holy bride. And if we are in Christ, we are pure and holy in position. In gratitude for what He has done, we should be a people of purity, and allow Him to remove anything in us that brings Him shame.
What have you allowed in your life that is unholy?
What are you pursuing that is of this world, rather than focusing on God’s kingdom?
What sinful behavior do you accept because it is culturally “cool”?
What compromises are you making because you don’t truly believe God’s Word is true?
This passage has caused me to stop and examine my own life, and ask God to examine my heart. As His bride, I want to be ready for Him – living a pure and holy life in expectation of His return, so that I will not be ashamed at His coming.
I pray you do too!