Saturday, April 24, 2010

U is for Uriah

Who is Uriah? I think of him as the forgotten man. Sometimes a brief mention is made of him, particularly his murder when the story of David and Bathsheba is told. I think we do Uriah a disservice for not making more of him in his own right.

His name means “Yahweh is my light”, or possibly “Light of Yahweh.” He was an army officer in King David’s army. He was also the man whose death King David arranged in order to cover up his scandalous adultery with Bathsheba.

Uriah was a Hittite. Uriah was possibly a local Hittite and was therefore one of the “sons of Heth.” It is thought that his name came about as a result of conversion to Judaism.

Uriah was a member of what was called “The Thirty,” which was an elite corps of commanders. (II Samuel 23:39)

Uriah not only knew but he observed the rules of war. One of those rules was the abstention from sexual relations. (Deuteronomy 23:10, I Sam 21:14). When David, who had impregnated Uriah’s wife, hatched a plan to cover the pregnancy up by calling Uriah home, he refused to sleep with his wife. David’s plan of course was for Uriah to have sexual intercourse with Bathsheba and upon discovery of the pregnancy pass it off as the result of a little R & R. (Rest and Relaxation)

As a matter of fact, Uriah was so devoted to both God and to his King (David) that he still refused to sleep with her after David arranged to have him become drunk. Uriah chose to sleep in the same chambers as the servants of the palace rather than go home to his own wife and bed.

What could David do now? He was desperate and did not want to be found out. His reputation would be ruined and his testimony would be severely damaged. David hatched a plan with his chief General, Joab. He ordered to Joab to place Uriah in the fiercest place of the battle. Not only was Joab to send him into a hot spot, Uriah’s fellow servants were to “withdraw” and abandon Uriah. The plan went as concocted and Uriah was killed in the line of duty defending his King and his country.

First, this black and ugly chapter in David’s life is recorded in II Samuel 11. Second, God used a prophet named Nathan armed with an allegory to expose this great sin and to cause King David to repent. Unfortunately that baby died shortly after birth, not of any fault of his own. David married Bathsheba and they had other children including Solomon.

Thirdly, I don’t mention this to parade ugly sin before our eyes. I certainly don’t rejoice in this horribly wicked chapter in the life of this unique and godly man. Let me say that David did repent, God did forgive him, and David went on to be a great man of God.

I write about Uriah because when this event is told, preached, or taught, the emphasis is usually on the heinousness of the sin, or the year long refusal of David to repent, or the allegory of Nathan which lead to David’s repentance. Mention is made of the baby and how David fasted and prayed while the baby grew sick and sicker. Mention is made how David after hearing the baby died, got up, washed, ate and went back to everyday living.

I write of Uriah because little mention is made of him accept for the part of refusing to sleep with his wife and his subsequent ambush. I challenge you to consider Uriah and the kind of man he was.

First, he loved his God and his king. He served not only bravely, but loyally. When he was ordered into battle he fought well and valiantly. When he was ordered into the hottest part of the battle we have no record of  hesitation or  refusal. He fought where ordered to fight even to his death.

Second, even when the King brought him home for some rest and relaxation he chose not to go down to his home. I spent thirteen months overseas in the Marine Corps and when I rotated back home, the first place I went was home. Uriah was going to remain “as one of his fellow soldiers.” Listen to this man, Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths (tents) and my lord Joab (his general) and the servants (fellow soldiers) of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” (II Samuel 11:11)

Third, when David made him drunk still resisting his normal sexual drive he clung to his code of honor. Now, at the risk of exploiting your blood pressure, the sin was not in the drinking. The Old Testament makes it clear that God gave wine as a gift to His children (Psalm 104:14). The bible does not prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages. It repeatedly and markedly prohibits drunkenness. There was no sin in enjoying some wine but when David caused Uriah to get drunk he very definitely and egregiously sinned.

But look, the text says, “And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.” It is possible he had sobered a little by this time. Irregardless, he maintained his loyalty to Israel, Judah, David, and the Ark of the LORD, his General, and his fellow soldiers.

So, what can we say about Uriah? What is there to admire? He was brave, loyal, resolute, faithful, and honorable. I want to be thought of as brave, loyal, resolute, faithful, and honorable by both my King and my peers. I admire these qualities in a man that might have been naive but refused personal satisfaction for principals. I think Uriah deserves a mention beyond the fact that Bathsheba cheated on him and David had him murdered.

Don’t think harshly on David or Bathsheba. You and I might have well done the very same thing. Sin is a powerful thing. God recorded this chapter in David’s life to teach you and I not to think to heady of ourselves or we will find ourselves guilty of the same sin. It is when we say we would never do such and such that we often fall into that very sin. Also, God recorded it to show that He graciously forgives any sin and sinner who truly repents.

No one is beyond forgiveness, no sin is to great. God recorded this ugly chapter to teach us that we can go beyond great sin and be great people for His Kingdom.

If you were to judge me I would want your judgement or assestment to be that I, like Uriah, am brave, loyal, resolute, faithful, and honorable. Uriah was and it cost him his life. I wonder what price I will be required to pay?



A fine post Gregg as usual.
In answer to your question at the end, if you were to ask my children that question they would say, "To spend a month listening to Daniel O Donnell singing" you see I like this Irish singer/entertainer and they think me sad.
Enjoy your week-end.


In military combat some soldiers freeze up, some run, and some fight to the death. I think in life and death situations we never really know how we will react. We always hope
(by God's grace) we'll do the right thing.

WhiteStone said...

This is not an answer to your question, but rather a comment. The fact that Uriah was a loyal and honorable man emphasizes David's deliberateness and the depth of his sin. If Uriah had given in to David's suggestion that he go home to his wife we might be tempted (in our own sinfulness) to blame the victim, so to speak. We might be saying that Uriah bore some guilt in David's ability to deceive him. But no, the guilt lies squarely at the feet of the sinner, David. As does the guilt of our own sin, our every sin.

Lisa said...

This chapter in the Bible resonates so strongly with me because I've been there. In David's shoes. It is one of my favorites, because in spite of the tragedy caused by David's sins, he was still called a man after God's own heart. That absolutely thrills my heart!

I know this is about Uriah though. When I read this chapter now, I see him in a different light and my heart breaks for him.

Wonderful post Gregg and I like the fact that you highlighted this somewhat obscure, but noble man, Uriah.

Linda said...

Thank you for the lesson on Uriah and the reminder of the loyalty and faithfulness he showed his king - and we need to show our King.

val said...

Hi Gregg,
Very nice article. When you have some time read this blog, wow!

Mike said...

Brilliant! The forgotten man is absolutely correct. Wow, how our media has trained us to focus on the bad news instead of the admirable news. What a study in his life it would be. Thank you, Grrrrrrrrrregg.

Wanda said...

You've done a fine job bringing Uriah to the forefront. I've never thought about him in that light.

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