Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Lethal Loyalty Part 1

Last year I received a copy of this excellent  Bible study on David and Bathsheba, by Jason Norwood.  I'm posting it here with his permission. It's fairly long, so I'm going to divide it into 5 parts.
The Preface:
So many times I've heard the story of David and Bathsheba taught in the light of a once spiritual man giving in to a weak moment, and the terrible repercussions that followed because of his secret sin. Some teachers point out the progressive wickedness of David's attitude during his attempted cover-up. Yet when I studied it closer, a deeper look actually shows the attitudes of  "David", "Joab", "his servants", and "all Israel" at the time this took place.
Sadly, this story continues to recur throughout history...but only for those who refuse to learn from its meaning. These historical accounts were recorded in God's Word "...for our learning".
Through this study, the Lord has not only warned me to beware of these attitudes in my own life, but also to watch out for others who fall victim to this deadly mindset. I am challenged to rethink the way I choose to follow those in reconsider where my loyalties truly reside.
My sincere prayer is that anyone reading this will understand, and take these things to heart.
The Plot:
David was the ultimate king. His followers were loyal, and understandably so. We know David as a man of incredible faith in God, a man of valiance, a man of courage, a man to rally the troops and the entire nation with singleness of heart. He had a lifelong history of compassion and charity, and he also showed humble reverence to those in seniority above him. David was known as a man after God's own heart. Through the years, the people of Israel had grown to love and trust David with their individual hearts, and with their very lives....and David grew to expect it.
2 Samuel 11:1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
Those of us who have read the story before know that this verse points to the initial problem. There was something unusual going on with David--this man of battle from his youth. God's Word intentionally points to the fact that this was a time when David the king should have gone forth to battle, that he sent the others in his place, and he himself tarried behind.
The very first verse is where we should pose the question: Couldn't Joab (his right hand man) see that something unusual was going on with David? Couldn't his servants see it? Couldn't all Israel see it?
Yet, the battle was going in their favor, and they were content to live under the blessings of this great and wise ruler. As we will see, there was no questioning. No resistance when sin became increasingly evident. King David had made a decision. It was an unusual decision...but as long as everyone quietly went with the flow, perhaps it wouldn't be such a big deal.
But not everyone would quietly go with the flow...and it would turn out to be a very big deal. Two men in this account dared to take a stand for what was right....rather than play "follow the leader".
Let's continue reading.....
2 Samuel 11:2 And it came to pass in an evengtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
2 Samuel 11:3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
There was something unusual going on with David. Couldn't those who inquired for him see it? Most definitely. But what did they choose to do?
2 Samuel 11:4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned to her house.
There was something unusual going on with David. But what did Bathsheba do about it? Why didn't she protest? Throughout the story, she did not show hatred toward him. She did not avoid him, as would the victim of rape. Rather, she communicated with him. David also knew that she was "purified from her uncleanness", and this is why they were both comfortable with intimacy. There was consent on both parts.
There was something dreadfully unusual going on with David. But what did the messengers do about it?  They were sent to bring unto David the wife of a high ranking soldier (one of David's 30 mightiest men in 2 Chron. 11:41), and this devoted soldier was presently out fighting David's battle.
What about the palace guards who kept watch over the king's bedchamber? What did they do before or after David and Bathsheba entered?
Here is the problem: that there was an underlying sense of utmost loyalty to David, within the kingdom. Yet, this was a kingdom that did not belong to David. The things that were taking place were obviously damaging to David, to Bathsheba, to Uriah, and ultimately the integrity of the entire nation. If the people involved had considered this, they would not have been so loyal to David himself. They should have done what was best for God, and for the kingdom as a whole.
What would cause such loyalty? Consider what a servant or guard could expect to lose if he were to question David. He wasn't portrayed as some of the other kings in the Bible--haughty and ruling the people in fear of their lives. He treated his soldiers and his servants very well. In fact, as we see later in the story, David did not lash out with a prison sentence or "death by execution' upon the man who disobeyed his orders. Yet, who would consider sacrificing their comfortable and reverenced position- along with their own reputation- within this wonderful kingdom so full of benefits? The loss would just be too great...unthinkable. That is, to a selfish person.

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