Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Intrique - and MURDER!

"OK Uriah, I gave you lots of chances (to cover up my sin). You have left me no choice. This is not MY fault, its YOUR fault. Now you have to die..."
"Sorry buddy. It was nice chatting with you in the palace and all... Man you are stubborn. I mean, you really didn't have to die. If you just weren't so STUBBORN! Oh well, between your life and my sin being exposed, it really is an easy choice..."

14 -15 "In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In the letter he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front lines where the fighting is the fiercest. Then pull back and leave him exposed so that he's sure to be killed."

16 -17 "So Joab, holding the city under siege, put Uriah in a place where he knew there were fierce enemy fighters. When the city's defenders came out to fight Joab, some of David's soldiers were killed, including Uriah the Hittite. 18 -21 Joab sent David a full report on the battle. He instructed the messenger, "After you have given to the king a detailed report on the battle, if he flares in anger, say, 'And by the way, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.'" (2 Samuel 11:14-21)

Finally! Problem solved. It was harder than it needed to be. And yeah - an innocent and noble man had to die. BUT, that was all done with and now David could get on with his life.

"Then David told the messenger, "Oh. I see. Tell Joab, 'Don't trouble yourself over this. War kills—sometimes one, sometimes another—you never know who's next. Redouble your assault on the city and destroy it.' Encourage Joab."

26 -27 "When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she grieved for her husband. When the time of mourning was over, David sent someone to bring her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son."

David doesn't worry over this poor woman's broken heart. He gets her as his seventh wife, and at least he is taking care of her. That's pretty noble and all, isn't it. I mean, the poor woman is a widow. What's a king to do?

The lesson here? One sin leads to another to another to another. At some point there needs to be repentance, confession and forgiveness. David's time is coming...

A Man of Principle Who Refused to Bend

Not too long ago, David was an honorable young man, running for his life from the king. King Saul was committed to killing David, using whatever resources the state had. What had David done wrong? Nothing. He had simply saved the nation from defeat by stepping up in battle, and had gone on to be a battle hero - appreciated by the entire country.

Fast forward to today. (Today's story, that is)

Now David is king. He lusted over a married woman, and had her brought to him (while her husband was nobly fighting a war on behalf of the country). Don't forget, he had 6 wives and 10 concubines at the time. Any way, he had sex with her and sent her away. That should have been the end of the story.

But no - it was just the beginning...

"Before long she realized she was pregnant. Later she sent word to David: "I'm pregnant." (2 Samuel 11:5).

What did king David do? Well, he needed to fix the problem. The "fix" was really rather easy...

6 "David then got in touch with Joab: "Send Uriah the Hittite to me." Joab sent him.
7 -8 When he arrived, David asked him for news from the front—how things were going with Joab and the troops and with the fighting. Then he said to Uriah, "Go home. Have a refreshing bath and a good night's rest."
8 -9 After Uriah left the palace, an informant of the king was sent after him."

Bring the honorable soldier home, pay him some kingly attention (certainly a great honor for a rank and file soldier), then send him home to his beautiful wife. He couldn't resist her charms after a long time with the dirty smelly men, sleeping on the ground, eating military rations... Could he?

Well, the king sent an informant, just to make sure. Uriah has sex with his wife, she turns up pregnant, Uriah doesn't know he is actually raising the king's baby and not his own, and nobody is any wiser. The wife isn't going to say anything - her husband might divorce her and even disgrace her. So, the plan was flawless...

Oh, but there was a problem!

"But Uriah didn't go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance, along with the king's servants." (2 Samuel 11:9)

What is wrong with this guy? He calls the guy back in to see the king. (Wow, what an honor!)

10 "David was told that Uriah had not gone home. He asked Uriah, "Didn't you just come off a hard trip? So why didn't you go home?" (2 Samuel 11:10)

11 "Uriah replied to David, "The Chest is out there with the fighting men of Israel and Judah—in tents. My master Joab and his servants are roughing it out in the fields. So, how can I go home and eat and drink and enjoy my wife? On your life, I'll not do it!" (2 Samuel 11:11)

What is WRONG with this guy?

Incidentally, do you remember the Ark? David risked his life to get it. Celebrated so hard when it was brought into Jerusalem that he was dancing before the Lord? David seems to be in a different place spiritually right now than he was then. But Uriah - honorable, noble Uriah - had not lost respect for God, for the ark, and for his comrades in arms.

Of course, David is not done with Uriah. "Maybe if I get him drunk" David reasons, "then he'll forget his principles and go have sex with his wife. This shouldn't be SO HARD!"

12 -13 "All right," said David, "have it your way. Stay for the day and I'll send you back tomorrow." So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem the rest of the day.
The next day David invited him to eat and drink with him, and David got him drunk. But in the evening Uriah again went out and slept with his master's servants. He didn't go home." (2 Samuel 11:9)

So David - once a man of intense spirituality and conviction - is on the wrong side of everything right now.

He was lazy. He lusted. Now he is trying to coverup his sin. But he has run into a man of principle who will not bend. And David is frustrated.

More tomorrow...

Sex Scandal in High Places

History has recorded the following statement as the most remembered words that Bill Clinton ever spoke.
"I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," he said.
Why was it such a big deal? Well, he was the leader of the most powerful country in the world.
And, of course, it was a bold faced lie.
And, it was a coverup to the latest in a long line of sexual sins he had comitted...
But of course, he was not the first leader to engage in sexual scandal. Long before Bill Clinton, David did the same thing...
2 -5 "One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof of the palace. From his vantage point on the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was stunningly beautiful. David sent to ask about her, and was told, "Isn't this Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite?" David sent his agents to get her. After she arrived, he went to bed with her. (This occurred during the time of "purification" following her period.) Then she returned home. Before long she realized she was pregnant.
Later she sent word to David: "I'm pregnant."
David sees the woman. Sends for her. Has sex with her. And sends her home.
End of story. No one needs to know. His faithful staff will not tell anyone. Just one more event in the life of the king.
Of course, God saw. And God knows.
This story ends up being a story of God's grace and forgiveness.
But before that, there is cover up, and it gets even worse.
More on the story tomorrow...

Easy Street

It seems to be a wide spread dream to get to "easy street." The very beautiful, the very talented, the very skillful, and the very accomplished seem to end up with the double accolade - "rich and famous." They fill the media, with their fabulous homes, and outrageous expenditures of money.

Being rich has its own problems. For one thing, you never know whom to trust.

In today's story, there is an altogether different problem.

The problems with "easy street:"

1. Too much liesure time.
1"When that time of year came around again, the anniversary of the Ammonite aggression, David dispatched Joab and his fighting men of Israel in full force to destroy the Ammonites for good. They laid siege to Rabbah, but David stayed in Jerusalem.
2 -5 One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof of the palace. "

David was talented in many areas. But what had rocketed him to prominence was his boldness, his courage, his ability in war. He had subdued all his enemies. All the countries around were sending huge taxes to the treasury. He didn't really have any mortal enemies at the moment. It was time to take it easy. He was living on "easy street."

2. Our own sinful nature.
When we have a lot of free time, just think of all the good we could do!
Yeah, that's true...
But most people with a lot of free time follow the inclinations of their sinful nature, instead of using the extra time for godly purposes.

That's what happened to David. He should have been in the battle, at the head of his troops. Instead, what was he doing with his free time?

Important things. You know, business of the state... Like, taking a nap. 2 -5 "One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof of the palace."

Oh yeah - and strolling around on the roof of his huge mansion, that he had recently built for himself.

So while he was using his free time for - well - liesure...
"From his vantage point on the roof he saw a woman bathing."

This monster building didn't used to be there. He built it, as king, for a monument to himself. It was the biggest, baddest crib in town. And from the top, he could look down on everybody. (Literally, as well as figuratively)

Well, when he saw this woman, bathing as she always had, in her shower without a roof on it, he should have cleared his throat, looked the other way, and sent the following letter:

"Dear Uriah,
Since I have built my monster mansion right in the middle of town, I notice that I can see right down into your house. I'm sure you don't realize it, but I can actually see right into your shower. (Yeah, I know. Stinks, doesn't it) Well, this is just a friendly notice from your king. You might want to put a roof on that shower. You're wife is very attractive. (Don't ask me how I know).
So, I'm just saying - You know? Consider putting a lid on it...
Your King,

Well, he didn't send the letter. Instead we read, "The woman was stunningly beautiful."
David wasn't thinking about no letter!

3. Unbelievable power over others.
A third problem with being rich is that people will do almost anything for money. Obviously they dedicate their waking hours at their job - for money. People in sales give themselves body and soul to the endeavor of making money. And many people will even do crimes, or kill, or prostitute themselves - for money.

So here is what happens in THIS story.
"David sent to ask about her, and was told, "Isn't this Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite?" David sent his agents to get her. After she arrived..."

So David asked ABOUT her, then sent FOR her. What happens next? That's tomorrows story...

Just don't be too anxious to spend your life trying to get to "easy street."

It may not be as "easy" as it seems...

Monday, May 11, 2009

OOPS! Don't assume you know people's motives

Have you ever jumped to conclusions?

What someone was after was obvious to you, so you reacted accordingly?

You assigned bad motives to behavior, then punished the person?

I have.
It can have disastrous consequences.

Here is today's story, from both sides:

1-2 "Some time after this Nahash king of the Ammonites died and his son succeeded him as king. David said, "I'd like to show some kindness to Hanun son of Nahash—treat him as well and as kindly as his father treated me." So David sent condolences about his father's death." (1 Chronicles 19) The old king, Nahash, had sent lots of gifts to David, to make sure the two kingdoms were friendly to each other.

2 -3 "But when David's servants arrived in Ammonite country and came to Hanun to bring condolences, the Ammonite leaders warned Hanun, "Do you for a minute suppose that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters? Don't you know that he's sent these men to snoop around the city and size it up so that he can capture it?" (1 Chronicles 19)

Hanun's Response:
4 "So Hanun seized David's men, shaved them clean, cut off their robes half way up their buttocks, and sent them packing."

David's Initial Response:
5 "When this was all reported to David, he sent someone to meet them, for they were seriously humiliated. The king told them, "Stay in Jericho until your beards grow out; only then come back."

Reality begins to sink in for Hanun:
6 -7 "When it dawned on the Ammonites that as far as David was concerned, they stank to high heaven, they hired, at a cost of a thousand talents of silver (thirty-seven and a half tons!), chariots and horsemen from the Arameans of Naharaim, Maacah, and Zobah—thirty-two thousand chariots and drivers; plus the king of Maacah with his troops who came and set up camp at Medeba; the Ammonites, too, were mobilized from their cities and got ready for battle."

David's Full Response:
9 -13 "The Ammonites marched out and spread out in battle formation at the city gate; the kings who had come as allies took up a position in the open fields. When Joab saw that he had two fronts to fight, before and behind, he took his pick of the best of Israel and deployed them to confront the Arameans. The rest of the army he put under the command of Abishai, his brother, and deployed them to deal with the Ammonites. Then he said, "If the Arameans are too much for me, you help me; and if the Ammonites prove too much for you, I'll come and help you. Courage! We'll fight might and main for our people and for the cities of our God. And God will do whatever he sees needs doing!"
14 -15 But when Joab and his soldiers moved in to fight the Arameans, they ran off in full retreat. Then the Ammonites, seeing the Arameans run for dear life, took to their heels and ran from Abishai into the city.
So Joab withdrew from the Ammonites and returned to Jerusalem."

Hanun's Reply to David's Response:
16 "When the Arameans saw how badly they'd been beaten by Israel, they picked up the pieces and regrouped; they sent for the Arameans who were across the river; Shophach, commander of Hadadezer's army, led them."

End Result:
17 -19 "When all this was reported to David, he mustered all Israel, crossed the Jordan, advanced, and prepared to fight. The Arameans went into battle formation, ready for David, and the fight was on. But the Arameans again scattered before Israel. David killed seven thousand chariot drivers and forty thousand infantry. He also killed Shophach, the army commander. When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and served him. The Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites ever again."

Did you catch that? "David killed seven thousand chariot drivers and forty thousand infantry. He also killed Shophach, the army commander."

40,000 guys died! All because of a misunderstanding!

Don't assume you know people's motives...
And don't jump to conclusions...