Christianity 201

March 28, 2022

David’s Unusual Request; Uriah’s Unusual Choice

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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NIV.2 Sam.11.2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents,[a] and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

Biblical scholar Christopher Smith is a former pastor, former staff worker with InterVarsity, and the author of numerous Bible study and reference books. On his blog, Good Question he has answered over 500 questions people submitted, until  last summer when, exhausted, he stepped back. The collection remains online a great source of clarity on Bible passages like the one we’re looking at today.

Clicking the header which follows allows you to read this at source.

Shouldn’t Uriah have gone home to be with his wife?

Q. I have a question about 2 Samuel 11, but not about the behavior of David or Bathsheba. My question is about the behavior of Uriah. He is often seen as heroic, manly, virtuous because he does not spend the night at home with his wife but sleeps with the servants as a show of solidarity with the troops who are still on the front. Certainly as a soldier he has a commitment to the troops. But as a husband, he also has a commitment to his wife. I think his behavior is not all that commendable. We all face competing competing commitments, obligations, etc. when they all seem worthy. How do we sort out the correct choice?

I will address your question about sorting out competing commitments, but I would like to observe first that one possibility we do need to consider in this passage is that Uriah knew about David’s crime against his wife Bathsheba, or that he at least suspected it. If that is true, then he would also have recognized that by arranging for his return to Jerusalem, David was trying to make it appear that he (Uriah, not David), was the father of the child Bathsheba was expecting. We can then understand all of Uriah’s behavior as something he pursued in order to prevent that false appearance. He was not neglecting his wife, he was preventing a coverup.

Bathsheba could have sent word to Uriah, just as she did to David, that she was pregnant with David’s child. Or one of the many servants in the palace who knew what happened could have told Uriah when he arrived. Or Uriah might just have found the circumstances of his recall to Jerusalem a bit too suspicious. I am not an expert on ancient military practices, but it seems to me from what I read in the Bible that a warrior champion such as Uriah (he was one of “The Thirty,” David’s mighty warriors) would not ordinarily have been sent from the front just to provide a report on how a campaign was going. That was the work of messengers. Fighting in those days centered around these warrior champions, so it seems to me that it would have been unusual to send one of them away from the front during an active campaign. I may be wrong about that, but in any event I think there are grounds to believe that Uriah knew or suspected what David had done to Bathsheba, and so by staying away from home, he was preventing David from creating the impression that the child Bathsheba was expecting was his.

However, your question also deserves an answer on the premise that Uriah did not know or suspect anything about what had happened. Could we still commend his behavior under those circumstances? I think we could.

Each one of us needs to strike a balance between our competing commitments. For example, we should not neglect our families for our work, but at the same time we need to meet the reasonable obligations of our work and not fail to meet those because we are spending time with family and friends when we really should be working. And the balance that we strike needs to be sustainable. That is, it needs to be something that ordinarily holds for the long term.

However, from time to time there will also be extraordinary circumstances that call for us to make an exception to the usual arrangements. For example, to honor his responsibilities both to his family and to his church, a man might commit to arranging his work schedule so that he is, as a rule, free every Wednesday evening to participate in a home group that his church sponsors. But what if, one week, there is a project at work that requires his participation, is vital to the company’s success, and has a deadline that can only be met if he works late into the evening that Wednesday? Under those circumstances, he could miss the group that week, and that in itself would not throw his competing commitments out of balance. If that happened every week, it would be a problem. But if he were back in the group the next week and the weeks that followed, this would be seen as a genuine and legitimate exception.

I think we could understand Uriah’s actions in this light. For all he knew, he was being sent back to Jerusalem on an overnight mission to give a quick report on the campaign and then return to the front. (It was David who extended the visit to two nights in an effort to make Uriah look like the father of the baby.) Under those circumstances, it seems, Uriah felt that his commitment was to his fellow troops and that he needed to show solidarity with them. If he never went home to his wife, even when the army was not in the field, that would be a different matter. But I think that under these exceptional circumstances (and I believe they certainly would have seemed exceptional to Uriah), we can give him the benefit of the doubt for honoring the commitment that he felt needed to take priority at the time.

June 24, 2018

The Fullness of Christ is a Clean Heart

God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful,
gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.

-Galatians 5:22-23 CEV

Purge me with hyssop,
    and I will be clean.
Wash me,
    and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me know  joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your countenance from my sins
    and erase the record of my iniquities.

10 God, create a pure heart in me,
    and renew a right attitude within me.

– Psalm 51 ISV

Graham and Amaryllis are a retired couple living in Trimsaran, West Wales, UK who have worked in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This is the first time we’ve featured Graham’s writing here at C201. Click the title below to read this at source.

Create in me a clean heart

We surely recognize these words from David’s repentance after ‘Bathshebagate’ in Psalm 51, a truly special psalm. We probably also recognize these words from our own experience, even though we have not sinned like David did; but these words always come from the deep longings of the soul who seeks after God, who desires earnestly to enjoy all the promises of God.

As we seek after God, we soon recognize His absolute holiness and as we draw nearer to Him, that has the effect of highlighting our sinfulness and we see the need to have a clean heart so that our quest to know God and His promises can be fulfilled, the blessedness of the worshipper, that attaining to the – fullness of God and Christ – that I have recently blogged about from Ephesians.

On the 6th blog, I realized that this ‘fullness’ was the restoration of the beauty of the human nature, back to what God originally created in Adam; this equates to it, in its fullest sense – a clean heart!

It just sounds great, doesn’t it? – a clean heart – it suggests to our minds something very beautiful, something extremely effective, a clean physical heart means the blood goes around the body perfectly. I suggest that all this equates to a consistent demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22,23. That presents a beautiful picture, but there is one thing to add to that ‘fruit’ that we see in the disciples in Acts, so I have suggested before that this is the 10th fruit of the Spirit because it is always the consequence of the ‘filling of the Spirit’; it is power! Power to be the people God wants us to be, often in difficult circumstances.

We see that Paul prays for two things for the Ephesian church – love and power – so we see that effectiveness of a clean heart, achieving what it was designed for.

From John 15, the True Vine discourse that those who – abide in Him – will bear fruit and that is obviously the idea of self-propagation, and so in Acts, we see tens of thousands of people being saved as the gospel is seen in all its love and power. Therefore, this clean heart surely is the 10-fold fruit of the Spirit, the fullness of Christ, Eph 1:23 & 4:13 – love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, patience, self-control and power! – these are the sons of God, full of the Spirit, walking by faith and living in love!

Doesn’t that just sound great? Oh yes! But how does it happen, how do we get there? Well, David asks God to create that clean heart in him, so yes, we can’t do it! God must do it, surely this is the gift of faith! As we thought before, this is the product of real, deep communion with God; this is knowing [ginosko] God, that intimacy that is so transformative that it produces the abundant life that Jesus came to bring, Jn 10:10 – living in love – presents the most beautiful of pictures!

It is David who shows how this works, it was his often-repeated desire to be a worshipper in the Tabernacle courts. Psalm after psalm presents this passionate desire to know God so that he can be the man God wanted him to be – the man after God own heart! – what an accolade!

Satan doesn’t want that to happen so he will try every trick in his book to stop that desire from coming about, he knows that his kingdom will take a beating if it does! Yes, with a clean heart we’re in the centre of the will of God and immortal until our work is done!
Another aspect of this pursuit of God is our willingness to listen to God, to listen for God! We get so set in our ways, so entrenched in our church culture that we fail to see anything is wrong, even when there is a perpetual lack of the fruit of the Spirit and ‘church’, that is mere religion is characterized by barrenness. We must prayerfully and carefully read the Word, ask for the Spirit to teach us His way, ask God to speak to us through it. We need to listen for God, for the Spirit to speak in the everyday things of life for communion with God is a 24/7 activity.

A W Tozer wrote the ‘Pursuit of God and had much to say on this, here’s his ‘Pathways into Revival’ –

1. Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself.
2. Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life
3. Put yourself in the way of the blessing – obey the Word.
4. Do a thorough job of repenting.
5. Make restitution wherever possible.

Sanctification and consecration are not taught much in our churches but if they are going to make a difference to our sick society, it is the starting point, we must be right with God. We cannot go lightly into this pursuit of God for He looks for serious people to do His will. But wow, the blessedness of attaining to the prize, that high calling, the sons of God! There is one more factor that we’ve not thought about although it is inherent within the fruit of the Spirit, it’s – humility – it is impossible to consistently display the Fruit of the Spirit without humility, it can’t be done; but of course, it fully characterized Jesus.

So too, is the beauty of the human nature seen in humility, that’s where it originally came from and if we’re to display it, it must develop from our communion with the Man who is the Image of God, Jesus, what a Saviour!

July 26, 2015

Uriah’s Wife and Potiphar’s Wife

One of the Lectionary readings for today is the story of what the paragraph header in one translation calls “David’s Great Sin.”

2 Samuel 11:1Then 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.

      2Now 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. 3So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her

As it was read in the church we visited this morning, I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between this story and the story of Joseph with Potiphar’s wife.

Genesis 39:4Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his [Potiphar’s] attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate...

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8But he refused…

11One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

You wouldn’t know it by the classical art paintings shown at Wikipedia, but I’m sure in that time and place Potiphar’s wife — whose name is never given — was in her day equally hot as Bathsheba, who by today’s standards doesn’t fare well in similar paintings either. Rather, there’s something else going on here; we ascribe Joseph’s refusal of the woman’s seduction to his character whereas we look at David’s actions as showing a lack of character.

Joseph was doing his job. While today leaders — Christian or otherwise — are advised not to put themselves in a place where they are alone with a woman, he was after all where he was supposed to be. Responsibilities for Potipar’s household was written into his job description.

Like Joseph, there are many times in my life where I can look back and say that I held my convictions and remained strong in the face of sexual temptation. But as a I grew older, I realized that if I was really strong, I wouldn’t have put myself in those situations in the first place.

Many pastors and counselors who must meet with a person of the opposite sex often do so with their office door kept open, or meet in a public place. Temptation can happen at any time. Under the circumstances — and let’s face it, without warning in the book of Genesis to read — Joseph did well.

David, on the other hand, was not where he was supposed to be. You could say his observing the woman on the roof was a chance accident, but the first verse in the text simply doesn’t give us that option. He was at that time in the wrong place, and worse, he initiated the sexual encounter with Uriah’s wife.

Where Joseph ran away from the temptation, David ran toward the temptation. Where Joseph did everything he could do to avoid a sinful situation, David engineered the circumstances to both commit adultery and attempt to cover it up.

When Potiphar’s wife didn’t appreciate having her advances spurned, she fabricated a story that ended up with Joseph in prison. Despite this, God was orchestrating a plan that would see him returned to the same position of power, or one even greater, that would save the nation and even save his own family.

It’s a stretch, but because through the years in prison it came about that Potiphar learned that Joseph could interpret dreams, I can almost hear Joseph saying to Mrs. Potiphar what he would later say to his brothers,

Gen 50:20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

David recognized his sin, and we believe his prayer of confession and his plea for God’s mercy. But there were long-term consequences. The wound healed, but the scars remained.

Ask Yourself: Because temptation is everywhere, when I encounter it, am I going to be Dave or Joe?


Bible verses today are from BibleHub.com; each verse number is also a link.

 

 

February 10, 2011

Don’t Let My Love Grow Cold

Sometimes the fire in our heart seems to die down to nothing more than glowing embers.  Sin has done its work, guilt has doused the flame, fear has driven us away, love has grown cold.  We want to light the fire again, but we are guilt-ridden and afraid.

It happened to King David.  He had sinned with Bathsheba.  He tried to cover it up, justify it, forget about it. But finally he found himself cornered by unconfessed sin.  A kind of claustrophobia made peace of mind impossible.  The inner fire of spiritual passion no longer burned.  Lacking the fresh wind of God’s breath, the fire in his heart was no more than a glowing coal. Only when confronted by Nathan the prophet did David come to terms with his sin. The king confessed his sin and pled with the Lord to rekindle his heart. The Lord heard him and lit his fire again.  And the dying embers that had been doused by sin were reignited.

Are you wretched, poor, and naked?  Has sin doused the flame of God’s love in your heart? Do as King David did, for the remedy is the same. Confess your sin to God and ask Him to breathe new passion for Him into your heart.  Ask him to light the fire again.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ~Psalm 51:10-12 NIV

from My Heart for His Glory; Thomas Nelson 2002; devotion for July 2nd