Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Story Everyone Knows, and the Part I Never Knew

--
They were practically superheroes!

At the very least, they were the equivalent of today's Secret Service, Special Forces and 5-Star Generals rolled into one.

David's Mighty Men, 37 warriors named and honored for all time as Hall-of-Famers in the history of Israel. Many of them joined David after God had named him Israel's next king, but while he was still on the run, trying to stay alive in the face of then-King Saul's attempts to kill him. They risked everything to support and protect the man whom God had chosen to be their next king. David had been in caves and foxholes with these guys, had lived on the razor's edge of life and death with them, had been protected and defended by them, knew their names and their stories and where they were from. His relationship with them was forged in the fires of combat and they must have been closer to David than his own brothers.

Fast-forward a quarter of a century . . . David has been on the throne for some 20 years, and his Mighty Men are now the commanders of his armies, powerful leaders in their own right. After fighting for years to solidify his kingship over his empire, David takes a break and allows his trusted generals to handle the battlefield on their own for a time while he relaxes at home.

I'm sure we all know the story of David and Bathsheba. David, the warrior-king, lounging at home with war raging on a distant battlefield, was sleepless one night with unaccustomed time on his hands. In the cover of darkness, he was spellbound by the shadowed sight of the beautiful and unsuspecting (and married) Bathsheba, bathing as he watched her from the roof of his palace. He sent for her so he could have what his lust craved, and it wasn't until she sent word to him of her resulting pregnancy that he realized he had a problem on his hands.

The intrigue begins with David's desperate and extreme plot to cover up his dishonorable actions. First he sends for Bathsheba's soldier husband to come home from the battle to spend a night with her so the pregnancy will appear legitimate. When that fails, twice, because of this man's remarkable integrity, David loses all restraint and orders him sent to the front lines and for the army to pull back so his death will be inevitable. Still shocking in its heartlessness after countless readings!


What I had never known for the longest time (until studying the history of Israel one day), despite all the times I've heard this story preached, and the many times I've read it myself, is that Bathsheba's husband, Uriah the Hittite,
was one of David's Mighty Men! Not some nameless, faceless private among the ranks of tens of thousands of soldiers who David would not know by name, but one of his BOYS, someone who had been loyal to David, who had risked his life for David countless times in the 25 years since joining him at the Cave at Adullam! Not only was this brazen adultery and abuse of power, but it was mind-blowing, cold-hearted betrayal of the worst kind!


The focus of this story always seems to be David and his horrendous failure, devastating consequences and sorrowful repentance--an important cautionary tale to be sure. Too often overlooked in the story is Uriah the Hittite, the one who displayed all the honor and integrity and faithfulness David lacked at this time in his life.
  • While David idled in luxury, Uriah was out fighting with his men.
  • While David took what did not belong to him, Uriah denied himself time with the beloved wife who WAS his own as long as his men lived in tents away from home.
  • While David was busy betraying his long-time friend with adultery and lies and ordering his death, Uriah remained a faithful friend to David and a true comrade to his fellow soldiers.
  • While David destroyed his honor in a selfish attempt to avoid public shame, Uriah conducted himself with such honor that he selflessly gave his life for king and country.
From the way the prophet Nathan framed his illustration to rebuke David and from the fact that Bathsheba mourned for Uriah when she learned of his death, it seems clear that Uriah and Bathsheba were a deeply loving couple. I think it is the mercy of God that Uriah died not knowing how David had used his wife and then ordered his murder. I can't say the same for Bathsheba, who paid dearly for what happened between her and David; she spent the rest of her life as one of many wives to the man who had murdered her husband, and suffered the loss of the son fathered by David in their affair.

This story is so rich with lessons for us. We know well the obvious warnings against adultery and lies, and the progressive desperation of shame that can lead even a godly man to murder . . . even murder of one closer than a brother. I hope we will also notice the beautiful example set for us by Uriah the Hittite, who, despite the way his life ended, should not be remembered as a hapless victim, but a gloriously honorable man, a hero among heroes, who was faithful to the end. I love it that God made sure we would remember Uriah's name (which means "the Lord is my light"), and the strength of character that made him worth remembering.

David did not have the last word in Uriah's story, and wickedness did not have the last word in David's story.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10 NIV

"God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart . . .'" Acts 13:22 NIV

What comfort there is in knowing that God will have the last word in my story! It is both sobering and encouraging to know that God knows and remembers it all--the shortcomings, the weakness, the failure, the rebellion AND the honor, the integrity, the courage, the faithfulness. Even when we fail, His faithfulness ensures that His grace will be the final word in the story He is writing in us.

Are you ever surprised when you study God's Word?
What will you remember and apply to your life about the story of Uriah the Hittite?
___________________________________

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

#581-595
581. Cat feet

582. The Bible I've been using since 1983 and the colorful story it tells of my walk with God
583. Making homemade pasta with She So Sweet for lasagna for her daddy
584. A new dessert creation for Hero Husband's birthday, and that he enjoyed it so much he ate two pieces!!
585. An impromptu birthday photo session with the family 
586. Drummer Boy's good report from the dentist!
587. Watching Drummer Boy stand tall in his convictions, despite the cost
588. Hanging in there
589. The thoughtfulness of She So Sweet
590. Crazy things to laugh about and people-watching at Starbuck's
591. The sound of She So Sweet's laughter when *he* is near
592. Beautiful, bossy, bright blue Scrub Jays with their sassy white eyebrows
593. Sleeping through a heat headache
594. Horses, shiny in the sunshine
595. Pineapple on pizza

Joining Michelle DeRusha for:

Joining L.L. Barkat for:
On In Around button

and joining Jen and her Sisterhood:


A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!


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