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Then It Happened

2 Samuel 11:1-27 

 

"Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. 

[2] Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. [3] So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, 'Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?' [4] And David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. [5] And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, 'I am pregnant.' 

[6] Then David sent to Joab, saying, 'Send me Uriah the Hittite.' So Joab sent Uriah to David. [7] When Uriah came to him, David asked concerning the welfare of Joab and the people and the state of the war. [8] Then David said to Uriah, 'Go down to your house, and wash your feet.' And Uriah went out of the king's house, and a present from the king was sent out after him. [9] But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. [10] Now when they told David, saying, 'Uriah did not go down to his house,' David said to Uriah, 'Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?' [11] And Uriah said to David, 'The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.' [12] Then David said to Uriah, 'Stay here today also, and tomorrow I will let you go.' So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. [13] Now David called him, and he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with his lord's servants, but he did not go down to his house. 

[14] Now it came about in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. [15] And he had written in the letter, saying, 'Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.' [16] So it was as Joab kept watch on the city, that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. [17] And the men of the city went out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among David's servants fell; and Uriah the Hittite also died. [18] Then Joab sent and reported to David all the events of the war. [19] And he charged the messenger, saying, 'When you have finished telling all the events of the war to the king, [20] and if it happens that the king's wrath rises and he says to you, 'Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? [21] 'Who struck down Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?'-- then you shall say, 'Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.' ' 

[22] So the messenger departed and came and reported to David all that Joab had sent him to tell. [23] And the messenger said to David, 'The men prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate. [24] 'Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall; so some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.' [25] Then David said to the messenger, 'Thus you shall say to Joab, 'Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it'; and so encourage him.' 

[26] Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. [27] When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord." 

Beyond the tragic part he plays in this story, we don't know much about Uriah the Hittite or his family. Usually, when I read this portion of scripture, I just view him as a tragic character-a putz of sorts-a man whose wife cheated on him and was then killed by her lover. You know, a disposable sort of fellow. But further study reveals, he was much more than that.

Uriah was one of 30 elite officers in David's army, probably a mercenary who accepted Hebrew citizenship and converted to Judaism. Uriah was probably doing quite well for himself. If Bathsheba was taking a bath in her own home when David spotted her, his home was adjacent to the King's palace-which was probably in a fairly decent subdivision. And some scholars believe that his wife, Bathsheba was the granddaughter of David's chief advisor, and her father was also one of the 30 elite officers. (ZPEB, v. 5, p. 849-850) 

There are some things in this text that really make me respect Uriah. For one, his station in life. I've always had great respect for immigrants who carve out a life for themselves in a new country. As a teenager, I was a field hand in the cotton patches of West Texas during the summers and one winter, I worked at a cotton gin after school. Later, as a seminary student in Ft. Worth, I ran a jackhammer on a construction crew repairing gas lines that were leaking. In all these jobs, I was exposed to immigrants who labored hard to take care of their families. None of these jobs were for the weak or the lazy, they required long hours and plenty of sweat. This past summer I thought about those people quite a bit as our church worked to "feed those who feed us" along with over 100 other Southern Baptist Churches in a ministry to Migrant workers. Before one of the meetings with the Migrant Center Council, Pablo, the manager and I had a conversation that I still think about. Mostly the conversation was in Spanish, but when my language skills faltered, he would repeat a question in English. He asked me why we were doing what we are doing? I told him because we love and respect the workers and want to say "thank you" for what they do. But also because God loves them and we want to tell them about God's love. He nodded his head and sat in silence for a moment as he measured my words. 

Uriah wasn't just an ordinary immigrant; he had risen to a place of authority in the kingdom. He was one of 30 elite officers. But I respect him for more than just his professional accomplishments. I respect him for his deportment. David offered him some time off after receiving a briefing from him, but Uriah refused to go home and get cleaned up and be with his wife. Instead, he slept in the same place with all the king's servants. When David asked him why, he said, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing." (Vs. 11)

David wrote out a message for Uriah to give to Joab, which was in essence, his death warrant. Just as Saul had plotted for David to die in battle, David was scheming to put Uriah in a dangerous forward position, and then have Joab withdraw the supporting troops, leaving Uriah vulnerable. David's plan worked. Uriah wasn't the kind of courier that would read the King's message, but he was the kind of officer that would go into a heated position, when ordered to do so and fight until he was struck down.

I don't know if Uriah ever knew he was betrayed or not. But I do know that he died doing his duty. He died the way he lived-with integrity.

Something I can't say about his wife or his King. There is nothing that can excuse their behavior. A man after God's own heart like David should have know better. Why wasn't he out to war with the other kings? Why didn't he turn away when Bathsheba first caught his eye? Why did he conspire to commit adultery and later murder?

And Bathsheba. Where was her modesty? Why didn't she rebuff the advances of the king? 

Verse 27 sums up the whole sordid affair-it was evil in the sight of the Lord. Up until this point in David's life, he has been a real spiritual hero, but now, because of this event, his character is forever footnoted by this grave sin. He started well-but he doesn't finish well. Mickey Spillane says, "The most important part of a story is the ending. No one reads a book to get to the middle." (Reader's Digest, Nov 2002, p. 73)

The ending is the context for everything that precedes it. Without a strong ending, the value of our lives is cheapened and the potential of our influence is diminished. Our faithfulness must be for a lifetime. We must finish well. 

Paul wrote,"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;" (2 Tim. 4:7 NASB ) David couldn't.

But then again, the story isn't over yet, is it? David has made a huge mistake, but his failure doesn't have to be fatal-he still has a chance to repent and next week we'll see what he does when he is confronted.

How do we avoid the sin of David? We'll talk about that tonight. But for now, I want us to think about if we are living life with the Integrity of Uriah? Do we have the "can do" work ethic and the devotion to our life's calling? Are you following your purpose for life and are you remaining faithful-no matter what the cost?

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