Lectionary thoughts for July 29 – 2 Samuel 11:1-15


This is probably one of the most relevant passages in the Bible – at least as far as the news and the United States is concerned.  It is a story of betrayal, it is a story of abuse, it is a story of loss of faith.

Recently, the news has been about Penn State University and the trial of an assistant coach who was convicted on over 40 counts of abuse of young males.  This person used his position of power to take from these young men their innocence forever.

It’s not been that many years ago that this passage would have applied to the President of the United States – Bill Clinton.

And yet, this is not to level charges against any individual or to blame any political party.  This is a danger for ALL people.  Our US constitution was developed based upon the idea that people are inherently flawed -original sin, natural inclination, total depravity – call it what you want, but it doesn’t take much time watching the news to realize that ANYBODY is capable of falling into the most evil and horrendous of sins.

Let’s look at the passage now.

English: Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordi...

English: Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordier in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Français : Statue du roi David par Nicolas Cordier, dans la chapelle Borghèse de la basilique Sainte-Marie Majeure. Italiano: Statua del re Davide di Nicolas Cordier, nella Capella Borghese della Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

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, “Isn’t this 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. (She had purified herself from her 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.

When David was told, “Uriah did not go home,” he asked him, “Haven’t you just come from a distance? Why didn’t you go home?”

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!”

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. 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.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die. ”

English: King David Handing the Letter to Uria...

English: King David Handing the Letter to Uriah (1611) by Pieter Lastman, oil on panel, 51.1 x 61.3 cm, Detroit Institute of Arts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s look first at the opening statement for here it is that we see the beginning of the problem.

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.

At the time when David’s responsibility was to lead the army, David decided that he didn’t need to do that anymore.  “But David remained in Jerusalem.”  In ancient Israel, it was the kings job to join with the troops when they went to war.

Was David gravely ill?  Nope.  Was he injured? Nope.  Where their pressing needs at the palace which only he could handle? Nope.

We don’t know why David stayed at Jerusalem – but we can infer that David was having heart troubles.  No, he wasn’t sick.  Rather he had stopped being a man after God’s own heart.

Maybe he thought he had done enough.  Maybe he believed that he was too important to do the work being a king required.  Maybe he thought that it was now time to enjoy the fruits of kingship.  Whatever the reason – David was someplace that he should not have been and he was missing from someplace he should have been!

What might the history of the Bible have been if David had chosen differently?  This is jumping ahead of the passage, but look at some of the consequences.  David commit’s adultery.  He betrays one of most trusted men.  He has a man murdered.  His baby dies.  He changes the royal line to choose Solomon, the son of his sinful action.  One of his sons rapes his half-sister.  Absalom avenges his sister later by murdering his half brother.  Absalom leads a rebellion against his father and is later killed.  Absalom sleeps in public with his fathers wives.  Solomon becomes king and kills one of his brothers.  Solomon’s son makes such a mess of things that the kingdom is divided into two parts.

Sometimes people think, I don’t care what happens, just as long as we

Path

Path (Photo credit: Guerito)

have this one night together.  SIN has dire consequences.  And it started when David abandoned his post.

Andy Stanley preached a series of messages on the principle of the path.  The basic idea of this series of messages is that every path leads somewhere and if you want to arrive at a certain destination, you must get on the right path.

Good intentions do not matter to a path.  The path still leads to the same destination – regardless of your intentions.

Mistaken ideas do not matter to a path.  The path still leads to the same destination.

The number of people taking a path thinking it goes someplace it doesn’t does not matter to a path.  The path still leads to the same destination.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 and 14 “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.”

There is a path that leads to destruction.  Apparently it is easy to find and easy to walk on.  There is another path that leads to life and it is more difficult.

Not that he doesn’t say that if you have good intentions, the broad path will lead somewhere else.  The path ALWAYS leads to where the path is going – death or life, peace or conflict, joy or sorrow.

In the opening verses of our passage, David decided to take a different path than the one he had been on.

Larry Norman, the 1970’s Christian rocker composed a song with words I have never forgotten.  “Two roads converged in the middle of my life, I heard the poet say.  I took the one less traveled and that’s made the difference – every night and every day.”

Our neighbor has a sign in his yard with a Bible reference listed on it.  When my wife and I saw it, I misread the reference and we looked it up.  I thought it said Galatians 6:17.  The first part of that very I really like: “Finally, let no one cause me trouble.”  That’s a great quote – but that’s not what the reference was.  It was Galatians 6:7, a verse I’ve memorized in the Kjv – “Be not deceived. God is not mocked.  Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

“But David remained in Jerusalem.”  Because of that, David fell.  Ephesians 4:27 says “Give the devil no opportunity.” NASB.

Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

When we are tempted to think it is all just too much trouble, that maybe it’s time for a break, or “just this once” – think of David, think of Bill Clinton, think of Penn State abuse trials, think of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal, think, think, think, think, think – there go I but for the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13.

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