Archive for May, 2011


David’s Continued Fall Into Sin

Continuing on with the description of David’s fall into sin with Bathsheba, we see him eventually committing the indirect murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.

The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say.  The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance to the city gate.  Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”

When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.  After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.  — 2 Samuel 11:22-27

A thought occurs to me – do you wonder if Bathsheba perhaps knew exactly how David was involved in the murder of her husband?  And if so, do you wonder if she carried some sort of grudge against David for the remainder of her life?  It must have been pretty obvious to her about what happened, and there were probably rumors and stories which came back to her about her husband’s death on the battlefield.

Take note – David broke two of the ten commandments by his actions in this story – he committed both adultery and murder.  And yet, we are going to see how God forgives him.  As always, these Old Testament stories exist to tell us about the nature of God.


David’s Turn

Like Saul before him, David began his reign as king over Israel with God’s blessing upon him.  And like Saul, David’s success in battle and in ruling over the nations around him is very great.  But also like Saul, we see the problem of sin begin to enter David’s life.  Nowhere is this more evident than in David’s sin with Bathsheba.

A couple of  things need to be pointed out here – things which may tell a little about why David suddenly begins to stray.  First, the Bible tells us:

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”   — 2 Samuel 11:1

The Bible specifically points out that this is the time when kings go off to war.  David is a king.  And yet we see him sending Joab out to fight his battles, while David stays at home in Jerusalem.  Though God blesses the outcome of these military campaigns, it is clearly not the right thing for him to be doing.  Next, we see David walking around on the roof of his palace (while his men are pitching their tents in the battlefields), and watching other men’s wives in ways in which he should not be looking at them.  And one thing quickly leads to another (did this all happen on the same night?) and David sleeps with Bathsheba.

From my viewpoint, an even worse sequence of sin is committed next.  In an effort to hide his act, he brings Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, home from battle and tries to get him to go to her.  But in a meaningful turn of events, Uriah shows that he is a better man than David when it comes to thinking of his troops.  Unlike David, who stayed home from the battle, Uriah will not even go to his wife when the king calls him back to Jerusalem and encourages him to sleep with her.  And Uriah does this twice!  The temptation to go to her must have been great, and yet Uriah did the noble thing when he says,

Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”   — 2 Samuel 11:11

Don’t you wonder if David saw his own failure in what Uriah said and did?


God Is Always Right

There are parts of the Bible which sometimes do not make sense to me.  For example, when I read of how great David was as a king, leader, and as a “man after God’s own heart”, I get the picture in my head of a modern statesman – one who is fair, just and good at all times.  Though David did many admirable and good things, there are some of his deeds that still confuse me.  For example:

In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.

David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought tribute.

Moreover, David fought Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his control along the Euphrates River.  David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them.  He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.  — 2 Samuel 8:1-6

No doubt, the animal-loving crowd will be greatly offended by the hamstringing of horses.  Anti-war groups will protest that David was ruthless and bloody in battle.  I am most struck by the capricious and seeming cruelty of measuring off one’s enemies and striking down two-thirds of them.

Yet, the Bible tells us that it was the Lord who gave David these victories, because David was in his favor.  The lesson for me?  First and foremost, when God does something, I should begin by admitting that it must be the right thing.  Second, when God chooses to bestow His favor on someone, I would be wrong to question His actions.  In all things, it is best to know that God is in the right.  So, when I read passages such as this, I have to admit that I have some learning to do.


God Keeps His Commands

I have always considered this to be one of the most important stories in the Bible, at least in telling us about the nature of God.

David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all.  He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.  They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.  David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songsand with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.  The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.  — 2 Samuel 6:1-7

There is a small chance that Uzzah did not know of God’s original instructions regarding the ark – “But they must not touch the holy things or they will die” (Numbers 4:15).  More likely, he knew of this command.  At a minimum, his intentions were good in that he was trying to prevent the ark from damage.  But God had set down a promise – touch the ark and you will die.  This tells us that God’s promises MUST be kept.  God will remain faithful to his words, no matter how much we may protest about His “fairness”.  God is the ultimate in fairness and justice, not us.

For further reading on this story, I recommend this article – Why Did God Destroy Uzzah?  Hard Sayings of the Bible.


Blessings On David

David is now firmly established as the king of Israel.  And we can see what God will do for those who love and obey him, with a pure heart.

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.”  They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.

On that day, David said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward.  And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.

Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David.  And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.  These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.  — 2 Samuel 5:6-15

The blessings are being showered on David during this time – victory in battle, a new city and fortress in which to live, a palace, and the blessing of many children (I’m not sure how to treat the “blessing” of multiple wives and concubines, as this seems to lead David astray a little later).  The Bible tells us that God gave him these blessings and more power “because the Lord God Almighty was with him”.  Shouldn’t that be our goal, too?


David’s Enduring Integrity

David showed great respect to Saul and his family, even when Saul was chasing down David in order to kill him  But David’s respect for Saul’s house did not end with the death of Saul.  We see later on, concerning Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s surviving son:

Now Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest.  They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah slipped away.

They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah.  They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to take your life. This day the LORD has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”

David answered Recab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of all trouble, when a man told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news!  How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!”

So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.  — 2 Samuel 4:5-12

David’s integrity was amazing, especially considering how Ish-bosheth was trying to take a portion of the kingdom away for his own.  Even when God has promised the kingdom to him, David still respects God’s earlier decision to give the kingship to Saul.


David’s Humility

When David heard about the death of Saul, though Saul had been trying to kill him for some time, we see the following reaction:

“Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them.  They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”  — 2 Samuel 1:11-12

I am amazed at how faithful David remained to the fact that Saul was originally God’s anointed king.  This was more important to him than the issue that Saul wanted to kill him.  It seems clear that David is more concerned with God’s choice rather than his own safety.  Truly a “man after God’s own heart”.

But even more – the verse tells us that all the men with David appeared to be in equal distress over the matter.  Not only was David a faithful man of God – he had also surrounded himself with men who felt just as strongly about God’s place in their lives.  David’s special gift?  He was always able to return to the place in his life where God comes above all else.

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