A Letter 

MTS-3234

A Letter

“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it
with Uriah.”

               2 Sam 11:13

 

Uriah must have thought his trip back to Jerusalem had been a great success, since he had an opportunity to
show to the king what an upright and honorable man he was. Even though he had
no idea what the purpose was of his being called home, Uriah didn’t dwell on
the question. He evidently believed that he was being called back to report to
the king concerning the war and that was it.

The letter Uriah was bringing back to Joab was really his death sentence. The king wanted him dead for the
simple reason that he happened to be Bathsheba’s husband.

Uriah was most likely a simple man with a simple faith, yet he was caught in the intrigue of a difficult
situation not of his own doing. All he ever wanted to do was to serve his God
and his own country and to go back to till his land and raise his young when
his duty was done. But things were not as simple as he had hoped. After the
dust settled, the man was dead.

Reading the story of Uriah must give us a profound sense of sadness. Uriah was a man without means or
power, yet he led his life the best he could and died in the prime of his life
and, tragically, his death was so unnecessary. He might have thought he died as
a hero fighting for his country, yet in truth he was victimized by the one for
whom he was fighting. He was merely a victim of someone’s lust - someone who
was more powerful than he and therefore controlled his destiny.

David made a quick decision and Uriah’s fate was sealed.

Wasn’t Uriah used to being the envy of all his peers? He was likely well-bred and good looking, a man with a good
future and lofty aspirations. All his childhood friends must have burned with
envy when they saw how stunningly beautiful Uriah’s bride was. But with the
stroke of a pen all the man’s dreams and aspirations were erased, and Uriah’s
greatest blessing in life turned out to be his worst curse. His downfall was that
he married a very beautiful woman, whom many men, including the king, seemed to
covet.

David had a problem and the solution seemed simple to him: put Uriah to death even though the man had
committed no crime.

We have sympathy for the man Uriah, for he is every man and any one of us could have been the man who was
betrayed by his wife and murdered by his wife’s lover. Chances of that
happening to us may be quite minute, but it does happen to some. It occurred to
Uriah and, when it did, the man was completely helpless and powerless to alter
the course of his destiny. How ironic it is that Uriah might have been hoping
the letter he was carrying was a letter of his promotion; yet it turned out to
be an order for his execution. What had the man done to deserve such cruelty?
Nothing.   

  

Friday, March 30, 2012 7:10:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Drunkenness 

MTS-3233

Drunkenness

“At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and
David made him drunk. “           2 Sam 11:13

 

It was quite amazing that David would go to such an extent to cover up his sin of adultery. He seemed to
have been determined to pursue this thing to its bitter end, for there was
simply no other option left in his mind. It was a must that he had to keep the
affair secret, because his reputation as a man of God would be in great
jeopardy had his affair been discovered.

The scheme seemed perfect if it worked, and it might have worked in most cases, but in this case the king
seemed to meet his challenge. Uriah wasn’t an ordinary person; he was a man of
honor. He was still a man of honor even if he was drunk.

Uriah might have considered the night party a celebration of some sort. David appeared to be in a good mood
that night and Uriah attributed it to the pending victory the Israeli army was
soon to win. Never in his wildest dreams did Uriah entertain the thought that
the king would use his hospitality to carry out such a plot, which was the dark
side of David surfacing in a desperate situation.

I don’t think David himself knew what he was capable of doing and how low he would sink when he gave his
sinful nature a free pass.

“Did I really do that?” Have you ever asked yourself this question from time to time when you looked at your
past and saw the unthinkable sins you have committed.

“How could I have done that?” In great shame and disbelief I ask myself this question as I look into the
depths of my memory and find the great pile of filth that I have stored there.
Indeed I have done many bad things since my youth and, if I ever find the
courage to do it, I could probably write a book of confession similar to the
one composed by St. Augustine. Although I didn’t take two mistresses or produce
an illegitimate son like he did, I did lie and steal many times and have done
many shameful things and am still capable of doing the same if I am not
constantly on guard.

Compared to King David, do we fare any better? I am afraid not.

We have a tendency to underestimate our capability to sin and look down on those who have fallen,
including the man after God’s own heart, not knowing that sin often occurs out
of the blue and before we become conscious of it, we find ourselves trapped in
it. David was indeed trapped in a very difficult predicament and the only way
he knew to get out of it was to cover up the sordid affair, hoping it would
simply go away. 

He could not make Uriah, the one against whom he had sinned, go away; he couldn’t make Bathsheba and the
child in her womb go away; he couldn’t make the Lord go away. We all know what
the only way out of his predicament was at the time, but David waited and
waited until he exhausted all other means available to him and left a trail of
carnage before he finally did the right thing.       

Thursday, March 29, 2012 8:20:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Man of Honor 

MTS-3232

Man of Honor

“As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

          2 Sam 11:11

 

Uriah could have found a perfect justification for going home to spend a night or two with his wife. It
was absolutely justifiable, wasn’t it? He and his wife had been parted for a
long while, and it was a rare opportunity for them to get reunited, even for a
short time. Besides, the man shouldn’t have anything to fear, since King David
was encouraging him to go home to refresh himself. Yet being a man of honor and
strong principles, Uriah simply could not make himself do such a thing.

Had he known the serious consequences that would result by not going home to spend a night with his
wife, would Uriah have changed his mind? Would the man have changed his mind
had he known it was a life and death issue? This appears to be a moot question,
for there was no way for Uriah to know all the implications of his decision,
but it is entirely possible that he would still have chosen to do what he did,
which was to stay away from his wife.

It did appear that Uriah had made up his mind not to go home to be with his wife, no matter what happened.
He would have had a hard time living with his decision had he compromised his
principles and gone home.

The ark of the Lord was still on the field and all God’s soldiers, including the leaders, were camped out in
the wild, readying themselves to engage their enemies. Uriah couldn’t convince
himself that it was the right thing for him to enjoy a special privilege. In
Uriah’s mind, it was something a soldier should never do under any
circumstance. It was dishonorable to God and unfair to his fellow soldiers. It
was such a black and white issue to him that he was not about to cross the
boundary that he had drawn for himself. He would probably have done the same
thing, even if he knew there was a threat of death.

Uriah was well acquainted with danger and death since he had been fighting a war for a while and, besides, he
might have deemed his honor as a soldier more important than his life.

Is there a Uriah in all of us?

The Hittite would have gone home to his wife had he done things purely by feeling or instinct. Undoubtedly
the man must have had a strong urge to go home, for he must have endured his
longing for home and for his wife for the longest time. Life as a soldier was
such a wearisome thing and Uriah, like all his colleagues in the field, must
have been counting the days before they could finally go home to the heath and
their loved ones. But a man with strong moral principles would always do things
on the basis of his belief, not on how he felt at any given moment. Uriah was
determined to do the right thing, even though every fiber of his being was
pleading for him to do the opposite. Do we have such fortitude and moral
backbone when we are put in a similar situation?    

 

 

                            

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 7:09:00 AM Categories: Devotional

But Uriah 

MTS-3231

But Uriah

“But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all
his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.”         2 Sam 11:9

 

It was probably walking distance from the entrance of the palace to Uriah’s home and Bathsheba might
have stayed up, waiting for her husband to come home. Yet Uriah did what was
unthinkable to most people: he slept at the entrance of the palace with the
king’s servants. Being flesh and blood, Uriah must have thought about going
home to his young wife for the night, but he didn’t succumb to his base nature
and yield to his instinct as a man; he instead did a noble thing by staying
away from his wife, which he deemed an honorable thing to do.

In one sense, Uriah was a better man than David. While the man after God’s own heart was scheming to
cover up his own sin, the one who was victimized by David was intending to do
an honorable thing, an act which would lead to his own demise.

A grave injustice was done to an innocent man who had been betrayed by his own wife and was murdered by the
king. Who was to avenge Uriah’s blood?

Up to the day of his death, the Hittite had tried his best to do the right thing. He was faithful to his
God, loyal to his general, and fair to his fellow soldiers. Even though he had
a rare opportunity to be with his wife while all the other soldiers were
sleeping in tents, he overcame his desire by staying away from his wife.
Although he was sent to the place where the battle was the fiercest to be
killed, Uriah still believed he fought to the death for his God and his
country. The man died with a clear conscience and without regret, yet the man
who murdered him had to live with his guilt his entire life.

Uriah might have come out a winner after all was said and done. He did what he believed was right and never
wavered from his purpose until the day he died.

What kind of bitter fruit did David harvest from randomly sowing his wild oats?

It must have taken him a lot of spiritual energy to repent and to get right with the Lord; and it would take
a much longer time for him to restore the joy of his salvation. He might have
killed thousands in battles, but the one he killed in this incident would haunt
him for the rest of his life. Moreover, the child that was conceived through
the affair died not long after he was born. The punishment David received from
this sin was indeed very severe.

We may not have fared any better than David if we were in his shoes, which is the reason why the psalm of
repentance he composed after Nathan confronted him speaks to all of us so
profoundly. We all have committed various sins, albeit to a much lesser degree
than David, but we all have experienced great remorse and are in dire need of
repentance and forgiveness. We may have great difficulty indentifying with
Uriah; but we all have great potential to do what David did.

 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 7:09:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Uriah 

MTS-3230

Uriah  

“Go down to your house and wash your feet.”

           2 Sam 11:8

 

It must have been a long time since Uriah had parted from his beautiful wife and, humanly speaking, his desire
of reuniting with the woman must have been quite irresistible. In fact, that
was exactly what David thought Uriah would do, not knowing that the Hittite was
too honorable of a soldier to do such a thing during a time of war when his
fellow soldiers were fighting the battle.

With the king’s permission and encouragement, Uriah should have gone home to see his wife to spend the night
with her. Considering their age, they might not have been married that long and
the pain of separation must have been quite unbearable for both parties, yet
Uriah did just the opposite of what most men would have done under such
circumstances.

Uriah probably had no earthly idea why Joab sent him home out of the blue, but he might have considered it a
rare opportunity to impress the king by his loyalty to the country and to his fellow
soldiers; therefore he decided to stay away from his wife. It was probably a
career move on Uriah’s part, for he thought the king would be pleased with him
and would surely consider him for promotion when the opportunity arose.

Was it possible that Uriah and Bathsheba were having marital issues at the time and their relationship might
not have been as tight as we think? The marriage between the two was mostly
likely arranged and, even though the bride was beautiful beyond compare, beauty
alone somehow failed to appeal to the man and Uriah simply didn’t love the
woman. Even if it once did, familiarity seemed to have bred enough contempt over
the years and Uriah seemed to have lost longing for his wife.

All of this is, of course, speculative.

It was entirely possible that Uriah was such an honorable man that, like he stated to the king, he could not
make himself go home to lie with his wife while all his fellow soldiers were
fighting a brutal battle against their deadly foes. He mind was probably so preoccupied
by what was happening in the battle that he had no desire to do anything
romantic. Going back to the frontline was all he wanted to do at the time and
other things, including his relationship with his wife, became secondary in
importance.

Being an upright and honorable man got Uriah killed. That is ironic, isn’t he? Had he been a lesser man, he
would have survived the crisis and things would have been fine.

Things wouldn’t have been fine.

David would have gotten away with adultery, and this might have given him a false sense of security to continue
to indulge in sin. It was a good thing for David to be exposed and we have all
benefited from his remorse and repentance. We at least learn what not to do
when we encounter temptation and what to do to be reconciled with the Lord when
we fall into sin.     

 

   

Monday, March 26, 2012 6:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Exposed 

MTS-3229

Exposed

“The woman conceived and sent word to David…”

           2 Sam 11:5

 

After the affair, David sent Bathsheba home as if nothing had happened. His desire was gratified and that
was it, so the king thought, which was indeed wishful thinking.

Just when the king was about to forget the event, a messenger came to him and told him the news. Bathsheba
was pregnant.

It would have been a joyful occasion had Bathsheba been one of David’s wives or concubines. “That’s jolly
good news! Take good care of the mother,” he would have replied and gone on
doing what was at hand to do. But this was entirely different. The woman was
somebody’s wife; and that somebody had been away from home fighting a war for
quite some time now.

What David was intending to do with Bathsheba was a one-time thing. It was the novelty that David craved, and
the woman became nothing to him after the freshness wore off. The king probably
hadn’t sent for the woman for a second time, but it made no difference. He
could not get out of this that easily.

He merely went by his instinct after he received the news: he conjured up a scheme to cover up what he had
done with the woman.

What do people often do to erase the evidence of their sin? Some merely turn to the abortion clinic for
help, as if the guilt can easily be removed by removing the evidence. Would
David have done so, had he had such an option? It would have been tempting, but
I don’t think he would have taken such a drastic measure.

What he did to cover up his sin was, in fact, very drastic.

Surely David didn’t plan what he was going to do; he was just doing the minimum to make the sordid event go
away. He simply brought Bathsheba’s husband home from the battle. The cover-up
would have been a successful one had Uriah the Hittite done what a husband
would normally have done with his wife after a long separation.

David made yet another miscalculation and things just spun out of control. The man had no intention to
commit the sins of adultery and murder in the beginning, but things went
haywire after he kicked start the wheel of sin and set it in motion. There is
no perfect sin in this world and, even with all his might and privilege, David
was incapable of committing one. He might have succeeded in covering up his sin
before men; but he failed to do the same before God.

How did an afternoon stroll on the roof cause the man after God’s own heart to do something he would have
never dreamt of doing? Did the king overestimate his power of overcoming temptation
and let down his guard a little on that fateful evening? Did he abuse his power
by attempting to cover up something that was crying out to be discovered?          

Friday, March 23, 2012 7:37:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Sunrise 

晨曦

     -“穹蒼傳揚他的手段.”  詩篇 19:1

 

晨曦有一條路

走了千萬年

相似的景觀

不同的印象.

 

遙遠的星球與月亮

傾斜在天邊

不論從何角度

早已熟悉他們的顏面.

 

不知誰在呼喚

教它一直往前

旅途雖然在繞圈

卻是一條永恆的斜線.

 

雖有夜色在人間

對它總是天亮

烏雲把它裝扮

彩虹般的笑臉.

 

晨曦有一條路

走了千萬年

只有一個信息要傳遞

就是無聲的 我愛你.

 

Sunrise

     -“the skies proclaim
the works of his hands.”   Psalm 19:1

 

Sunrise has a path,

Has traveled for thousands of years

With similar scenes everyday

Yet different impressions it has created.

 

The moon and the stars so far away

Slanting in the distance of the firmament

From whatever angle it may behold

No countenance it has never seen before.

 

Not knowing who’s calling

To cause its forward moving

A long circular journey it continues to tread

A curving line of eternity.

 

There are night and day on earth

In him brightness will always be

And decorated by dark clouds

A bright sunrise one may see.

 

Sunrise has a path,

Has traveled thousands of years

With a message to deliver

An I love you uttered silently.

 

 

Thursday, March 22, 2012 7:15:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Somebody's Wife 

MTS-3228

Somebody’s Wife

“She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of
Uriah the Hittite.”

            2 Sam 11:3

 

Was this piece of information about Bathsheba enough to deter David from taking any action in his womanizing?
It wasn’t. The king had the power and he seemed to have made up his mind to
gratify his illicit desire, even though the beautiful woman was somebody else’s
wife.

David was abusing his power as king in this case.

He might have thought about the possible consequence before he proceeded, but he evidently thought he could get
away with it and would not have to pay the penalty of his deed.

The woman’s husband was away and David thought he could easily keep the affair secret, yet he didn’t cover
all the bases. He might have been able to lie to men, but he couldn’t lie to
God. After a one night stand, Bathsheba became pregnant.

Did the king take this matter into his careful calculation beforehand? Possibly. But he was willing to take
the risk. Besides, even if the improbable did occur, he had already conjured ways
of covering it up.

David’s scheme was air-tight, wasn’t it?

We can fool most people some of the time by our kennings, but we can’t fool the Lord even one single time. We
don’t always suffer severe consequences for our sinful actions, not because of
our ingenuity, but because of God’s mercy; therefore we keep on doing things to
provoke God’s anger until his patience runs out.

By sinning against God continually, his anger against us will continually be accumulated. We don’t do ourselves any
favors by sinning. Sin doesn’t really pay; even though it gives us temporary
pleasure, the consequences are eternal. “The wages of sin is death,” Paul
wrote.

During that particular period, David’s life was full of death. Our lives will be permeated by the stench of
death if we seek to gratify the lustful desires of our flesh.

“It’s just not worth it,” I said to a guy who came to talk to me the other day. “The Lord might not punish
us instantly when we sin against him, but the remorse is just too much to bear
afterward,” I continued. It may make us think twice about committing the sin of
adultery if we just consider how David had to suffer for his sin.

In essence, fear of God’s punishment should never be the primary deterrent to keep us from committing any
sin; our love for God should be. What David lost temporarily after he sinned
was the joy of his salvation, which he longed to recover. “Restore unto me the
joy of your salvation,” the king prayed in his psalm. Which of the two do we
value more: the pleasure of sin or the joy of salvation?      

   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 6:41:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Taking Action 

MTS-3227

Taking Action

“The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to
find out about her.”              2 Sam 11:2

 

David was tempted, but he had a choice not to figure out a way to turn the temptation into reality. He could
have walked away from it and his integrity and purity as a man of God would
have been preserved, but that simply wasn’t the case. He could not erase the image
of Bathsheba from his mind, so he yielded to his baser nature and his impulse
by making an inquiry and, from then on, things spun out of control.

Had Bathsheba been single, David would have taken her instantly and made her one of his many wives, but
unfortunately the woman had a husband who was currently fighting on the frontlines.
The king should have stopped the whole sordid affair at that point, but out of
his lustful heart he decided to proceed, without counting the cost it might
incur.

The king was abusing his power by taking unlawfully something that belonged to one of his subjects. If he had
been just an ordinary person, he would have dropped the matter for lack of
means to do anything concerning his temptation. We oftentimes yield to our
temptations because we are able to make them come true.

I may be tempted to buy a fancy car, but my credit line may not be large enough for me to do so, therefore the
seduction becomes moot. I may be tempted occasionally to cast a second glance
upon a beauty that I happen to come across, but being a happily married man
with a faithful wife, it’s beyond my capacity and against every fiber of my
being to do such a thing. There is a clear boundary that we married man should
never cross, for there is an abyss beyond that line.

It’s one thing that a bird flies overhead; but it’s entirely another to let it build a nest upon our
heads. We may not be able to keep birds flying overhead; but we do have a
choice of not taking the action of building the bird a cozy dwelling. Moreover,
if we keep on staring at the sky with unspeakable longing, we may become
recipients of some undesirable droppings from above.

The pleasure of sin may be pretty sweet, but it does have a bitter aftertaste. The euphoria may last for a
few minutes, but the remorse that follows hard after we have done something
filthy is acidic and long-lasting. The Lord indeed is loving and forgiving and
he will always forgive, but don’t we all have a strong longing to escape from
the deadly cycle of sin and repentance once and for all by not gratifying our
sinful nature continuously?

David wouldn’t have done what he did had he known what serious consequences his action would bring about. It
was hardly worth it, was it?

 

 

 

    

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 6:35:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Seduction 

MTS-3226

Seduction  

“From the roof he saw a woman bathing.”

              Sam 11:2

 

David wasn’t looking for anything to see in particular while he was taking a stroll on the roof of his
palace. He was just doing a little stretching after a long nap in the evening
and was probably contemplating what to eat for supper that night. Surely he was
not prepared for what was going to take place. Had he known, he would have been
on guard and things would have turned out entirely differently. Being a
God-fearing man, I don’t think David would have fallen into the sins of
adultery and murder had he considered the seriousness of the matter before it
occurred.

David went by his instinct at the time and before he knew it, a naked woman who was somebody else’s wife was lying
by his side.

“From the roof he saw a woman bathing.” Bathsheba was by no means bathing publicly, but David was able to see
her from his vantage point on the roof top without the woman knowing it. The
woman wasn’t guilty in this matter, but she had no knowledge that her beauty
itself could turn into a dangerous thing and therefore she should guard it more
closely. “Beauty itself is not seductive; it’s the beholder who is seduced (色不迷人人自迷,)” goes a Chinese saying. David
was indeed seduced without Bathsheba even trying.

What happened during that evening surely was accidental and had David just walked away from the scene,
everything would have been fine. Joseph faced a more serious seduction than
this, but he was able overcome it by running away, which was something David
didn’t do. He succumbed to the strong urge of his flesh and, since he had the
power, he was able to figure out the means to gratify his illicit desire.

Was it lust or love that caused David to go after the woman? I believe it was likely the former, for
when Bathsheba informed him that she was pregnant, David’s instinct was to
cover it up by calling the woman’s husband home from the frontline. Surely at
that moment David didn’t act like someone who was love-struck. He had gotten
what he wanted from the woman, and was just trying to act as if the affair hadn’t
really happened.

Could the affair have been prevented?

I am not trying to do Monday quarterbacking, but had David altered his game plan slightly, he would have
been home safe and avoided leaving a black mark on his otherwise upright life
and preserved his reputation as a man after God’s own heart. What could he have
done? Simple enough. He should have gone to war with his men, like all the
other kings, or he should have occupied himself with more serious matters at
the time and not have let down his guard. More importantly, he should have
avoided casting a second look at a naked woman and, moreover, he should have
walked away from the scene as if nothing had happened. It was the beginning of
his downfall when he sent someone to inquire about the woman.    

  

Monday, March 19, 2012 7:14:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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