Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Story of Uriah...The Lord is My Light

King David. THE King of Israel. His army is at war. He stays behind relaxing. He takes a little R&R in the luxury of his palace while his men are deprived of their wives and children's company. While his men fight and are injured and die in battle.

What has happened? This is King David. The man that leads his army into the fray in the name of the Lord God Jehovah! The man that God has blessed with victory after victory. Yet here he is at home when he should be leading his army.

He's restless.... can't sleep. So he rises from his bed and walks on the roof of his palace where his eyes fall on the beauty of a woman bathing. And he is undone. All of his vows to live for the Lord are overthrown and he is held captive by her sexuality and his lust.

But she is married. Not only that, she is married to one of his 'mighty men', Uriah the Hittite. Uriah is no ordinary warrior. He is a Hittite. He shouldn't even exist. Centuries before, God had commanded the Israelites to go into Canaan and utterly destroy those who dwelt there. The Hittites dwelt there. But Israel did not carry out that command and they allowed some of the Hittites to remain in the promised land. Thus the existence of Uriah.

Uriah the inexplicable. He bore a Hebrew name meaning "The Lord is My Light." He is listed in 1 Chronicles 11:47 and 2nd Samuel 23:39 as one of David's mighty men. He's in the inner circle of those that David trusts with his life. He had sworn fealty to David the King. To be loyal to him and to do battle for him. To help David be the victorious one. God had made that same promise to David when he was a boy and anointed him King.

Yet these promises and relationships faded into a fog of nothingness in David's mind as he squashed his relationship with the one true God for what was meant to be a one night stand with a beautiful woman. He minimized his relationship and his friendship with Uriah, the Lord is my Light, as he plotted and planned to have her in spite of every obstacle.

Who would know? It wouldn't matter. He would have his way with her and send her home. Uriah was away. He would never discover the truth.

But that one night of guilty and sinful pleasure resulted in a pregnancy... What should have been a welcome and happy occurrence in a marriage became evidence of sin and wrong doing for Bathsheba and David.

He was guilty and now the whole world would know that King David was faithless and weak.

Like Adam and Eve in the garden, hiding from God, David begins to plot and plan how to cover his sin. He orders Uriah home from the battle upon the pretense of obtaining a military report and tells him to go home and be with his wife. If Uriah lies with her, then he will think that the child is his own and David's secret will be safe.

But Uriah, the faithful warrior, refuses to accept the comfort and luxury of his home and bed while his God and his men are at war. He said to David, "The ark, and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing." (2nd Samuel 11:11)

Stalwart Uriah! Loyal Uriah! He stood firm against a temptation that must have been almost overwhelming to him. To be at home with his wife if even only for a short time would be a welcome and unexpected respite from the discomfort of camp and peril of battle.

He was truly a mighty man. He was living up to his name, the Lord is my Light.

And David was stopped in his tracks by this mighty man....Caught in his sin by this descendant of pagans who now worshiped the Lord.

Perplexed and anxious, he fills Uriah with food and drink, figuring that if he is in a drunken state that his resolve will melt away and he will give in. That he will just go home and do the thing with Bathsheba. In David's thinking, there's no way that Uriah would be able to stand with drunken wobbly legs on what David believes is shaky moral ground. In David's thinking, he was underestimating Uriah and trying to bring him down to his own level. David feels that he can influence The Lord is my Light and use him to cover up his wrongdoing.

David forgot one thing. The Light of the Lord sheds light on our sin. It will never be used to cover our sin up as if it doesn't exist. The Light of the Lord exists to expose sin.

Of course, Uriah did not comply with David's plans. Somehow his inebriated mind retained some shred of strength and he fell asleep with the servants. He didn't go home to Bathsheba.

In David's state of forgetfulness and in his frantic efforts to cover his sin, he loses any small bit of righteousness and sanity left to him and orders Uriah back to the heat of battle. He orders him to the front where he is sure to be killed. Uriah is slain by the enemy and by the order of King David, "a man after God's own heart".

Rather than face the consequences and beg forgiveness of his friend and his Lord, David had become a murderer. David killed the "The Lord is My Light". He made sure there was no way that The Light could be focused on his sin.

But the mighty David had fallen. Not by a sword or an arrow... Not by the small river washed stone from a slingshot... Not by poison or garrote. He fell from great heights and power by his own failure to do what God had told him to do... to be what God told him to be. He fell by his own hand. He may as well have attempted spiritual suicide.

Though Uriah was gone, his death shed the Light even more powerfully over David. His actions and his sin could not be hidden from God. His relationship with his God was broken and gasping for breath.

David knew that the Lord was displeased with him.

In time, the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to confront him and accuse him. "Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon . 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' (2nd Samuel 12: 9-10)

When God spoke these words (through Nathan), David could no longer keep up the facade of innocence and he confessed to Nathan "I have sinned against the Lord!" and Nathan said to David "The Lord has taken away your sin. You shall not die." (2nd Samuel 12: 13) "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." (2nd Samuel 12:14)

God forgave David the sins of adultery and murder. There were dire consequences to come, but the sin was not held against him. Although his reputation was damaged and his people had seen him fall, David could start anew with a restored conscience and relationship with his Lord.

As Christians, we can think or believe we are so close to God that He won't mind if we take a break, a little R&R from Christianity so to speak. We get comfortable in our relationship with Him and take for granted our status as His precious and privileged children. Maybe we are weary of the constant battles in life and like David, we see something or someone and think that we deserve a little pleasure or fun. After all, it won't hurt anybody. We deliberately sin. Then we try to cover it up. We make every effort to kill and silence our guilty conscience... our Uriah. We make excuses. We try to justify our actions and some times we even use holy scripture to do so. Failing at that, we put a distance between ourselves and our God and eventually our relationship with Him is in tatters and we are living a life where we don't welcome God's Light.

Thank God for this story of Uriah and his moral strength. Thank God for showing us that even those we see as the most spiritual and most righteous can fall. When we think that our relationship with God is so close that "I would never do this.... There's no way." we should thank God for this warning that we must ALWAYS beware of the devil crouching at our door waiting for the chance to trip us up. None of us should become so sure of ourselves that we think there is no way we could give in to life's temptations or that we will not be held accountable if we do. We should keep our "Uriah" close to heart as a constant reminder to take a stand for our faith. Be quick to confess our wrongdoing and swift to set things right.

Thank You God for allowing us the opportunity to ask forgiveness when we fall. Though we may have consequences to our sin, we have forgiveness and a new beginning through Jesus.

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