Sin Is No Respecter of Persons
“Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.” 2 Sam. 11:25
The Bible often presents lessons by pairing up stories, or pairing up people. 2 Sam. 9 and 10 speak of kindness received and kindness rejected. 2 Sam. 11 reminds of Jesus’ warning to watch and pray, and shares the sad story of David succumbing to temptation in a careless moment, and successfully covering up his sin at the expense of Uriah (David's pair in this story), a wonderfully loyal soldier and husband.
1 Sam. 11 opens with Israel at war. Directing the battle were David’s commanders; within the army were disciplined and loyal soldiers. David surprisingly chose to remain at home.
David, who survived the attacks of Saul, endured the rigors of the wilderness, overcame shortcomings so far as associating with the enemy went, and was so wonderfully generous to Mephibosheth, suddenly took a spiritual tumble of epic proportions: he committed adultery with Bathsheba and got her pregnant; then worked to cover up the unbecoming event, eventually resorting to having Uriah killed in battle. He even later took Bathsheba as his wife and thought no one would know.
I don’t think David planned any of the things that took place, they just happened. I don’t think we necessarily plan the mischief we get into; it just happens. For David there was first the unguarded moment, then the furtive lingering glance, then the foolish inquiry, then open seeking, then sinning. Various desperate attempts to cover up the deed followed, culminating in the successful bloody cover up!
Unfortunately for David, Uriah was so faithful and so committed to the urgent demands of the battle going on, that he refused to tarry with his wife, preferring to sleep at the door of the David’s house. So David finally had Uriah placed in a vulnerable position in the battle, where David knew he would be killed; soldiers died in combat all the time, no one would know otherwise—at least that is what he thought.
Thus when a messenger reported the battle’s outcome and the death of Uriah to David, David’s self-absorbed response was: “Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.”
Of course it was David who was not displeased, and he was right: the sword kills indiscriminately. But he forgot that sin is also no respecter of persons, and indiscriminately devours and brings down a person—even a strong person—as easily as another.”
Here are some things that strike me.
(1) Only some of our enemies appear in human form (Eph. 6:12). David may have mistakenly thought that with Saul dead and the Philistines quickly submitting to his armies, he was going to be free of enemies, and accordingly gave himself permission to let his guard down and stay in Jerusalem. Sadly he failed to realize that his GREATEST enemy was unseen, and was busily working to bring him down. That unseen GREATEST enemy is working against us too.
(2) Satan has many ways of getting us to tumble spiritually (1 Peter 5:8). What he cannot accomplish by way of difficulty, he will seek to accomplish in other subtle ways that we don’t anticipate. It isn’t a matter of whether he will try to bring us down, it is only a matter of when and how he will try. David was undoubtedly not anticipating such a temptation when he was wandering on the rooftop.
(3) We must always be on our watch (Matt. 26:41). Great Christians uniformly had quality time with Jesus EVERY day. Every day they sought to serve God wherever they found themselves; every day they sought the Holy Spirit’s protection against Satan’s wiles. We must do the same.
(4) Strong men and woman are no match for temptation in unguarded moments, if they are not watching and praying (Prov. 7:26)—which begins with the unguarded look or the unguarded thought (James 1:15). This is frighteningly true. We overtly see this in Samson and David, but it also played a role with Solomon the wisest man who ever lived.
(5) We are just as vulnerable in good times as in bad times, perhaps even more vulnerable in good times since we tend to let our guard down (Luke 17:27-29). The latter may not seem to make sense, but I believe it to be true.
(6) We need more prayer, in some ways, when things are going well, than when they are going badly, and some of those prayers need to be “defensive” in nature (Matt. 6:13). When things are going badly, we are highly motivated to pray and ask our friends to pray for us. But when things are going well, we go along on our merry way, little realizing that Satan is quietly conjuring up “designer” temptations that are perfectly suited to our vulnerabilities.
(7) We tend to flippantly respond to spiritual and moral failures and minimize their impact when we are involved (Jer. 5:22), when we would be highly critical of someone else.
(8) There are preferred ways of dealing with our problems. David shows us a bad way; we should choose better ways, which ALWAYS begin with returning to the Lord (Isa. 55:7).
(9) Bad things happen to good people (Job 2:3-6; Heb. 12:1). Even though Uriah was a Canaanite, he was a godly man from what we can tell. Though he probably never understood what went on, God apparently saw that Uriah could witness more through death than through a normal life. There are things we won’t understand until we get to heaven. In the meantime we need to be faithful and obedient, trusting God no matter what is going on.
David’s careless attitude was manifested in his flippant, “Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another.” I think we are wired from Adam to take a similar attitude to our challenges, and the only thing to combat such an attitude, to say nothing of preserving us from similar foolishness, is a constant connection with God that is only possible as we are reading and praying.
So, how is it going with your daily time? I hope you are lingering and savoring your time with Him every day, if not several times every day.
Father, if Satan was clever enough to bring mighty David down, he is certainly clever enough to bring us down. You warned us about the need to “watch and pray,” and taught us to say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Help us to take Your admonitions seriously, and not only pray, but also live those words. Keep my friend in this regard. Put an angel guard around and around all those who are near and dear. Drive Satan far away. Make my friend’s life one of great joy and blessing, for Jesus’ sake, for my friend’s sake, for the associated family’s sake, and for those who, in observing Your radiant joy, will want to know You as well. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
God bless you, Dan