5.02.2008

Betrayed by God's Own

I don't do creative writing. Really. I do essays, book reviews, boring stuff. So I'm frustrated, because I can't get into this how I want.

I missed my quiet time this morning because I've used my time poorly this week and have had a hard time getting to bed and consequently a hard time getting up, so I just got around to reading my Bible about five-ten minutes ago. Today is the story of David and Uriah. Most of the time it's called David and Bathsheba, but I don't think that's where it's at.

David had a lot of intriguing relationships with the men around him. He served Saul faithfully, felt the sting of Saul's betrayal multiple times, and yet still loved him and mourned his death. He served the Philistine king (though he lied to him a lot) in such a way that the king counted him one of his most trusted servants. His relationship with Saul's son Jonathan was closer than blood; Jonathan loved him enough to give up his kingdom for him and go behind his own dad's back. He mourned Ishbosheth and took revenge on those who killed him, even though Ishbosheth had tried to kill him and take his kingdom away. He mourned Abner, who had killed Asahel, and even cursed Joab and Abishai for killing him. Several tales exist about his mighty men and how they served him, and of the way men risked their lives for him. What, then, about Uriah?

The story's pretty easy. David nearly dies in battle, so his men tell him not to go out in the battle any more. Instead of continuing to command the armies on the field, though, David retreats to his castle and stays there, leaving Joab to conduct all the business of war. Then, the text tells us, in the spring, when kings go out to war, David stays in Jerusalem, and one day, when he gets out of bed in the evening, he walks out on the rooftop, where he wouldn't be if he were doing what he should have been doing, and watches a woman bathe. He doesn't do the honorable thing and call a warning to Bathsheba that there's a man high up enough to see her, so she can cover herself. Neither does he cease looking at her. He stares long enough to figure out that she's beautiful (in my book, Bathsheba takes way too much flack as a supposed hussy. I think the Bible lays the blame pretty squarely on David). Then it gets interesting.

Uriah is a Hittite--a member of a group of people known best for being able warriors. He's not a Jew; in fact, he's a member of a group that the Jews were supposed to eradicate back in the day in the book of Joshua. Who could judge him if he considered that he had a score to settle? Despite that, Uriah has turned away from his own people to follow the enemy king. He serves him with all his heart, as one of David's prized Thirty. In the spring, when David neglects the battle, Uriah follows Joab out to the front and fights the Ammonites to uphold David's kingdom. Little does he know that God's anointed remains at home, getting his wife pregnant. Neither does he appear to suspect anything when David sends a messenger into the thick of things to find Joab and to request that one of the best soldiers leave the battle to report on it--a thing the messenger could have done. He obeys his king, comes back to Jerusalem, reports to the king, and goes home with a present. Then he returns to sleep at the castle gate--his reasoning: Joab, the king's army, and the ark of God rest on the battlefield; why should I take my pleasure. This is surely a rebuke to a king who wakes up in the evening. Then the king asks him to stay another night and gets him drunk. He sleeps with the king's servants anyway. I think Uriah's a man of unusual steel and tremendous character. Finally, the king, exasperated because Uriah acts so honorably, sends him back to the front with a lettre de cachet, and Joab obeys him and has Uriah killed--all so the king can cover his sins.

It's just amazing to me; here's a man of God, chosen by God as a shepherd to His people, and he's killing sheep. David knew a lot about loyalty, as seen from all of his other relationships to this point. I dunno. This is an incredible story to me. Uriah respects and obeys God and respects and obeys his king. He does exactly what he's supposed to do and goes exactly where he's supposed to go, and God's man turns on him and betrays him. What is the answer to Christians who mirror this kind of thing? How do you deal with it when God's people sell you to the wolves? My only real answer here is that, though the ark was on the front lines, God was still present in Jerusalem, and God remembers everything. At the end of the day, the Judge of all the earth still does rightly.

1 comment:

Nyx said...

Well said.