Submitted by Sara H. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Did the text provide a truth, wisdom or lesson I need to affirm or apply?
This week’s DT passages in 2 Samuel provide sobering insights into what happens when we take ourselves out of the front lines of spiritual battle. David stayed behind during a time when kings when into battle, and on a lazy evening, he made a series of decisions that led to adultery, murder, and the eventual breakdown of his family and nation. How did all of this happen? 2 Samuel chapter 11 simply states, “But David remained in Jerusalem.” It’s a seemingly mundane statement, but ominously foreshadows the ugly events to come. While Joab and the rest of the men were fighting against the Ammonites, David remained in his palace–a picture that is so inappropriate in light of the hard work that his men were doing. Perhaps David thought he had done enough in his youth and wanted to rest from battle just this one time; perhaps he even had people advising him that he should stay back and be safe from the front lines. Whatever the reason, there is no sense from David that he thought he was doing anything wrong. Strolling on the roof of the palace, feeling secure and luxuriating in the fact that he was king, David looked out, saw Bathsheba, desired her, and sinned. None of this would have happened had he done his duty as a king and gone out to face the enemies of Israel. What makes his sins even more egregious is the integrity of Uriah the Hittite, who saw his life in context of his brothers at battle, of the ark of the Lord and his nation. His response to David’s question, “Why didn’t you go home?” is one of moral outrage: “How could I go to my house to eat and drink…?” In contrast to David, who felt very much that he could stay back in his palace, Uriah cannot even entertain the notion that he could go home and enjoy its comforts. Whereas David was just interested in satisfying his private lusts, Uriah denied himself the “right” to go home, eat, and be with his wife.
As I grow older and now have two kids at home, I see how tempting it is to grab hold of the “right” to remain at a safe distance from the front lines of evangelism. I can make the excuse that I’m too old, I’m bogged down with two kids; moreover, society tells me to just “focus on the family” and that life is too busy for anything more than taking care of the nuclear family. However, like David, Christians are called to go out to the front lines of the spiritual battle at hand and nothing should deter us from going out. In light of the chain of events that his seemingly innocuous act–remaining in Jerusalem–caused, it’s so clear that we cannot rest from battle. Remaining at a safe distance from battle leaves the door wide open for temptations to take hold; moreover, remaining in my “palace” of safety (physical and emotional comfort) directly goes against God’s calling for me to be a soldier for Christ and to take up my cross daily in order to be his disciple. Going to the battle lines is only possible for a fleshly sinner like me when I have the perspective of Uriah–that is, to see my life within a greater context of God’s plans and God’s people. When I decline to be at the front lines of spiritual battle, I’m missing out on the good works which God prepared in advance for me to do when He saved me by His grace. I’m also discouraging the members of Christ’s body if I remain at a safe distance while everyone else is hard at work doing the work of evangelism and spreading the Gospel. My sins and decisions are not mine alone if indeed I am a member of the greater body. Like Uriah, I need to see my life as interconnected to that of the lives of my brothers and sisters, and, if need be, deny myself the “right” to go home. This means pushing myself to have difficult spiritual conversations, to be physically there at the front lines of ministry by meeting people, providing rides, food, resources, all so that some may be saved.
David’s great fall into sin and Uriah’s contrasting integrity vividly point to the truths outlined in 1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.” It probably wasn’t easy for Uriah to resist the temptation to go home; however, he had a clear sense that this was war time, and by remembering his brothers who were undergoing suffering, Uriah limited his freedom. Unfortunately, his self-control is the very opposite of what we see David exercising.
Submitted by Phil C. from Gracepoint Davis Church
Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text, or upon reflection over recent events in your life.
One of the themes I was personally impacted by through this week’s DT was that if I’m passive towards my sin, there are going to be consequences not just in the present time but also in the future. David tragically gets to the point in life where he commits adultery and murder, and I ask myself, “How did it get this bad?” But something like this doesn’t happen overnight. No one commits adultery or murder on a whim. It is the slow progression of unchecked sin that caused David’s heart to grow colder and colder over time, and he trained himself to be desensitized to God’s prompting. And this is the warning I give myself. I cannot have the attitude, “Oh, it’s not too bad” because once I have that attitude, I’m opening myself up to sin controlling me. And sin takes me further than I ever intended on going, and eventually I’m going to get to that point where I find myself asking, “How did it get this bad?”
But another aspect of sin that I was struck by this week was how sin has generational consequences as well. For David, his sin did not remain with him. It extended to his sons as well. And maybe they learned from their father. Maybe they thought, “My father did it, why can’t I?” Moreover, because David did not deal with his sin properly, ht was not able to deal with the sins of his sons properly. He was passive in disciplining his sons because he himself was so morally compromised at this point. For me, this text came alive because I am going to be a father in a few months. And one of the things that scares me is that my character is going to negatively affect my son. And I found myself crying out to God through times of prayer this week to give me the strength to really deal with myself now because I do not want to pass on destructive habits to my son as he grows us. I don’t want my anger to become something that my son looks at and says, “He acted like that, why can’t I?” …
I’ve been thinking a lot about character and how that really is what will “make or break” a person. It doesn’t matter so much what kind of talents you have. You can be the greatest _____ in the world; but if you have shoddy character, that giftedness isn’t going to bless people. And I’m not going to last as a person, as a leader, or as a father, if I have bad character. And character is something I need to work at. I kept asking myself this week, “Why didn’t I deal with myself more seriously in the past?!” I wish I had grown more, wish I had taken myself more seriously, wished I had learned these lessons earlier. Unfortunately, I can’t change the past, but I can do something about the future. And I felt this week’s DT was a huge warning and challenge for me to get going in building my character. And it happens in the details of life. If I need to apologize, then that’s an opportunity for me to build character, instead of ignoring the problem. If I need to push myself physically, then that’s an opportunity to grow in character, instead of remaining a lazy person. If I choose to be patient instead of getting angry, then I’m building character. There really aren’t any shortcuts to it. Galatians 6 says, “A man reaps what he sows.” Just as David’s sin of murder and adultery didn’t happen over night, good character doesn’t happen over night. It takes a lot of time, patience, learning the hard way, repentance, and perseverance to not give up. But there really isn’t any other choice for me because not only does my life depends on it, but also the life of my future child, my family, and our church. Sin has consequences way beyond myself, and I need to deal with it properly before it gets way out of hand.