2 Samuel 11:14-27 Staying Ahead of the Pack
2 Samuel 11:14-27
So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.'”
22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.” 25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was displeased with what David had done. 1 Samuel 11:14-27
David is no longer the same person as the one who is after God’s heart. Success and power has tainted his heart and blinded him from his folly. Wanting to cover up his initial sin, he embarks on a murderous intrigue. Today’s passage teaches us never to be complacent but to continue to stay ahead of the pack, being diligent in acquiring the virtues and the wisdom of Christ. And as long as we have breath, we must continue to labor for the advancement of the kingdom.
Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed – David seems to have found Joab’s darkness useful, a loyal accomplice who will not scruple at committing evil as long as it pleases the king. In retrospect, it makes David’s lament after Abner’s murder, “the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me.” (2 Samuel 3:38) sounds frivolously hollow. As Uriah’s piety and sense of duty plays to the point of obstinacy, it leaves David with no choice but to have him killed. David at this point is unable to respond to the righteousness of Uriah; he sends a letter to Joab by Uriah’s hand indicating the way he is to die. David’s conscience seems to have gone into remission, killing someone who is defenseless; who has given himself unreservedly to fight his battles is utterly disgusting and despicable.
Joab executes the king’s instructions dutifully and Uriah and a few other men with him are summarily sacrificed in this bloody cover up. As the messenger brings news of Uriah’s demise, David returns a consolatory message attributing Uriah’s death to the vicissitudes of war: The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow!
When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him – Bathsheba observes a customary mourning of seven days for her husband. As to what extent Bathsheba truly feels for her husband before or since the infidelity, the text remains silent. However, it would be hard to imagine any righteous woman who would marry the very man who in recent days has killed her husband. Nevertheless, David wasted no time in taking Bathsheba as his wife when she emerges from her customary mourning. The text however, is not silent when it comes to expressing the displeasure of God. The literal translation of verse 27b runs: But the thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of God. The thing that David has done will bring upon him and his family deaths and untold sorrow.
Leaders must always maintain their lead of two to three steps ahead of the pack. When you notice others surpassing you in discipline, piety and passion, there is a cause for concern. Leaders are not necessarily empowered with formal titles but they are trailblazers in their own right. Yet, there are those with impressive titles, yet lack the instinct to lead. Leaders influence the pack and the pack emulates and takes after them. The moment leaders lose their edge, they cease to inspire the pack and the whole organization stop progressing. What usually happens is when leaders reach a certain level of success, they start to slag, supposing they could continue to ride on the success and glamour they have created. David seemed to have lost that spirit, the same spirit that he has imparted into his warriors. He invites Uriah to wine, dine and go into his wife while his troops were still in full battle order. Despite Uriah’s refusal to stand down, David wasn’t moved nor did Uriah’s piety awake him from his state of stupor. In fact, David despises Uriah’s undying sense of duty to the state of annoyance and arranges for his death.
Leaders must maintain their lead in the following:
- His thought life of wisdom, values system and excellence. A leader extends his influence beyond the sphere of work. He shows others how to be a good friend who would come alongside; how to be a good parent or spouse; and how to be real and humble while he copes with the realities of life.
- His insights into the future. He is able to grasp with some level of clarity how the future will develop given the current conditions and what actions must be taken if it were to change for the better.
- His exemplary lifestyle expressed firstly, in his relationship with God: He meditates on the truth and diligently does what God instructs. He does not turn to the left or right until he obtains a mandate from God. Secondly, in his relationship with his mentors: He holds himself accountable to them and submits under their authority. Thirdly, in his relationship with his friends and colleagues: He creates an environment of trust and cohesiveness by delivering what is promised, by speaking the truth in love and by diligently doing his part in making the whole organization function effectively.
- His virtues, resourcefulness and competency. He proves himself a good worker and an invaluable asset to his organization. He exhibits godly virtues in being merciful, just, and level headed when handling a crisis. He is resourceful, and spends much time thinking about his next move. He goes out of his job scope to solve problems that don’t belong to anybody’s territory.
- Are you hoping to co-exist indefinitely with your sinful lifestyle while trying to tread the middle ground of pleasure and faith? In order to cover up an initial sin, it requires subsequent acts of sin to be committed. Hence, before you go down on a slippery slope of irreversible consequences, perhaps, it is time to repent and stem the losses.
- Are you trying to stay ahead of the pack? Or are you trying to ride the coattails of others?
Dear Lord, forgive me for my inclinations and addictions towards fleshly pleasures. As I endeavor to stay ahead of the pack in my spiritual disciplines cause me to overcome my weaknesses so that I may live a life of freedom. Feel me with your anointing so that I can be an example and model of Christ in the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.