Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 21 May 21:
2 Samuel 11:1 — “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel…. But David remained at Jerusalem.”
To me one of the most shocking, tragic, and frightening stories in the Bible is that of David’s adulterous and murderous deeds committed against his faithful warrior Uriah (but more importantly against God). How could this “man after God’s own heart” do such terrible, terrible things (deserving of the death penalty), particularly against someone as faithful and dedicated as Uriah who was deployed in combat fighting for the king? If David, a man who had such a close relationship with God, could do such a thing, what does that suggest about the potential susceptibility of ordinary people like us to sin terribly? We must vigilantly guard our hearts and walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh.
There are countless lessons in this story which will continue to unfold as we read on, but when I look at the chain of events (or decisions) that led to this tragedy, 2 Samuel 11:1 jumps out at me – when David should have gone out with Israel to battle, he stayed home. Simply stated, David wasn’t where he should have been or doing what he should have been doing. David set the conditions for his demise through his complacency towards personal responsibility. Complacency kills! He had let his personal guard down and had, as we say in the Marine Corps, “gone internal” or became “focused inward.” His focus shifted from “He” (God) to “me.” Self-gratification became the goal.
Verse 11:2 expands upon David’s mental/emotional state: “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.” Why is the warrior king, during a time of war, on his couch late in the afternoon or idly walking around the roof of the palace? As the saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” David’s wandering mind led to wandering eyes which led to inappropriate inquiries which led to adultery and murder. Small decisions led to massive destruction (much of which we haven’t read about yet).
Faithfulness must be continuous. We all need a break from the responsibilities of life, and God’s word is clear that rest is critical to our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. However, even in our rest, we must remain alert to spiritual attacks. Just as our hearts, brains, and vital life supports systems remain active while we sleep at night, Christians must always guard their hearts and be very careful not to drift into complacency. Rest is important, but it must not become an idol, and quite often, responsibilities will demand we deny self for sake of doing what we must. When we shirk our responsibilities in life, we make self king and open the door to sin. David should have stayed focused on his responsibilities and should have gone to battle with the rest of the men. You can imagine David telling himself, “I deserve a break; after all, I am the king, and look how hard I have been working all these years; Joab can handle it.” Be very careful when you find yourself looking for an escape from the burdens of responsibility or commitment. During these times of mental and emotional weakness, you are very susceptible to sin. David went to his rooftop and let his mind and eyes wander. Where do you go when you feel you need a break from life’s responsibilities and just want to “check out” or “turn off,” when you just want to stop thinking?
Be very careful about where you turn for entertainment or “amusement.” In Latin the word “muse” means to think. In Latin, when you place the letter “a” in front of a word it means the opposite; so “a-muse” means to not think or to stop thinking. However, as stated above, we never really stop thinking. So, amusement involves letting your guard down intentionally, to “just relax and escape the concerns of life.” Where do most Americans choose to stop thinking? In front of media devices or in front of TVs, which promote very destructive behaviors – essentially, they open the gates of their minds to sin. Also, many choose to ‘relax’ in social settings which promote excessive eating and alcohol. Does that make sense? “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
We all need a break from work and life stressors, but replace amusement with recreation, which is to ‘re-create’ oneself, activities which promote your health and welfare, which help prepare you for another day serving God. Do enjoyable, constructive things that refresh you, revive you, and contribute to a better you. Have fun, but with a sober, fully engaged mind. Use that “down time” to get outside and appreciate God’s creation, to pray, read the Bible, and fellowship with others – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Finally, don’t let your mind drift into negativity — “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)
- Proverbs 4:23-27 [NIV] — Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it…. Keep [God’s word] within your heart…. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Above all else, guard your heart by meditating upon God’s word and remaining vigilant in thought, word, and deed. Don’t let your eyes drift or your feet wander. Also, remember, “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Sheep don’t rest with wolves, neither do Christians turn to the ungodly for entertainment for amusement.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 — So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- Colossians 3:17 — And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 May 21: Today, begin the habit of replacing your amusement with recreation, learning to convalesce without letting your guard down to sin and destructiveness, resting in a positive, fulfilling way that continues to bring honor and glory to God. Teach others how to do the same.