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In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful (2 Samuel 11:1-2)
2 Samuel 11 marks a turning point in David’s life. Up until this point, God has brought him from the anonymity of a shepherd boy, to the courts of King Saul, and eventually to the throne of Israel. David is a courageous warrior, an inspirational poet, a leader of a nation, and, most importantly, a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). But by the end of 2 Samuel 11, David will have become guilty of adultery with Bathsheba, and of causing the murder of her husband Uriah.
In the first verse of this chapter, the narrator reveals to us that, before the adulterous decision and betrayal of Uriah could have happened, David had already veered off course. During a time when he was supposed to be out on the battlefield with his men, David stayed home. When he should have been fighting the enemy, David was instead lounging in the palace, pulling himself out of bed in the evening, only to become ensnared by a tragic lust.
While there are many lessons to be drawn from this sordid affair, the Lord brought this passage to mind yesterday in the context of my prayer life. While I will likely never be called upon to lead this church out onto a physical battlefield, God has made it clear in His Word that we are in a fierce spiritual battle, one to which we are all called to fight against our spiritual enemy (Ephesians 6:11-20). And as this revelation became clear to me, God convicted me of three things:
1) I have operated as if it is peacetime, not wartime – Even though the battle was raging, it was seemingly far enough away that it did not disturb David’s leisurely rest. He could enjoy the pleasures of life while his men faced the perils of war. How often has this tragically been true in my life? Have I not been guilty of keeping myself at a safe distance from the battle, and from the suffering of this world, so that I could enjoy my comfort undisturbed by the cries of God’s children?
2) I have sent others out to fight for me – David should have been out with his men, but instead he sent Joab, a capable military commander, to lead the troops. How often has this been true in my life as well? I know that prayer is essential, but as long as others are willing to do the praying, have I been content to let them fight the battle while I rest?
3) I have left myself vulnerable to distraction and temptation – David, in the wrong place and with too much time on his hands, unwittingly opened himself up to the work of the real enemy of God. He thought he was avoiding the danger by staying away from the battleground, but in reality, his disobedience left him vulnerable to a more sinister enemy. How often have I placed myself in the devil’s hands by avoiding my God-given calling and responsibilities the way David did?
The spiritual battle is real, and the call to fight is not just for kings and pastors but for every one of us. This is not peacetime, but wartime, and God is calling men and women to take courage and follow Jesus on to the battleground, to pray, to proclaim His Word, to love, to serve, and to be willing to give our lives in service to our King.