TODAY’S READING: 2 Samuel 11–12; 1 Chronicles 20
We were designed for battle. We were created to fight for the glory of God among all peoples. When we take our eyes off the war for God’s glory among all peoples, we are prone to stupid, selfish, and sinful things. When energy intended for battle lies listless at home, it leads us to the rooftops of sin. To lay down the fight for God’s glory globally is slowly and surely to climb the steps of lust toward what we should not have.
David’s army was fighting for the glory of God across the Jordan river. David’s inactivity led to misplaced energy and all kinds of devilish damage—damage that rippled out and influenced the rest of his reign. Never again would there be the joy of unsullied obedience. Forgiveness would be sought and given but what was done could not be undone. David’s first sin was against God, but he certainly sinned against his own mighty man, his brother-in-arms, Uriah the Hittite. Uriah refused to participate in David’s sin (which first was to withdraw from the battle for God’s glory, and second was to use the resulting latent energy for selfish pleasure). When told to go home to Bathsheba, Uriah responds: “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing” (2 Sam. 11:11).
I’m pretty sure Uriah knew what David was trying to do; thus, he probably had extra motive not to go home, not wanting to validate or participate in the deception and sin. Yet, his primary point is well taken even for us 3,000 years later. The God of glory has deployed His army of salvation into all the world. Those who are called to send and support from the home base must join the army in living in a wartime mentality. We can’t pretend there is no war on, we can’t live as if it’s peacetime. It’s wartime and all who claim allegiance to the King must live with a wartime mentality no matter their assignment or geography. To ignore the war for souls through a withdrawn or self-serving lifestyle is the sin of omission that leads to all kinds of damaging sins of commission. We cannot live smugly—being faithful to our wives, providing well for our children, and never committing any sexual sin like David—if we are doing all these while ignoring the global conflict to reach the unreached. Both the inaction of living like there is no global war for God’s glory among the unreached and the action of applying wasted war energy on selfish sins are equally displeasing to the Lord (v. 27).
The 1 Chronicles account of this event whitewashes it, not detailing David’s sin but concentrating on David’s presence at the ceremonial taking of the city (20:1–3). The chapter is a sad indicator of what can happen in missions and ministry when leaders who live selfish lives ascend the grand stage to take credit for what anonymous soldiers paid for in sweat and blood. I write this as one of the pompous: God forgive us all for taking credit from those on the ground who labor under such duress so loyally. Chapter 20 goes on to list the giants slain and victories won, and the silent condemnation is the absence of David. Yes, roles change, but we should never stop fighting for souls. Any leader in any position should continue to win souls and make disciples. When we stop fighting for Jesus, we start sinning against Him.
It is disturbing and ironic that in our day we use the phrase “you’re the man” as a complement, usually for a leader or for bold action. The phrase comes to us directly from Nathan rebuking David—the one who didn’t go to war and the one who womanized and killed his own “brother,” not the one who won glory for Jehovah by fighting side by side with his friends. The next time you hear “you’re the man,” whether said to you or another, pause and ask yourself if you’re still fighting for souls, if you’re still zealous for the glory of God among the unreached, if you’re living with a wartime mentality, or if you’ve drifted from war to the precipice of some moral rooftop, about to cause irretrievable damage because energy God wanted spent on the nations is about to be spent on self.