Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Other People Matter

As I read my devotions this morning in 2 Samuel 11, something caught my attention that I hadn’t noticed before (at least I don’t remember noticing it before). Many are familiar with this tragic story of David and Bathsheba. And when we read it, we tend to focus on a few main characters. They consume our attention. There is David who committed adultery with Bathsheba, there is Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband), there is of course Bathsheba herself, and then there is Joab who carries out David’s plot. But with our attention so fixed on these characters, we miss a key player. I’m not talking about the messenger sent by David or the Ammonites who actually fire the arrows that kill Uriah. I’m talking about “the servants of David among the people.”
These men are mentioned in verses 17 and 24. These verses inform us that these men died as a result of carrying out David's plot to kill Uriah. It wasn’t only Uriah who died. After Joab carries out David’s plot, he sends a messenger back to David, telling him of the result: “some of the king’s servants are dead. Uriah is dead also.” Joab makes sure to tell David that his plan cost the lives of other innocent soldiers besides just Uriah. Because of David’s cover up there would be other widows in Israel besides just Bathsheba. And these other widows wouldn’t have the king ready to take them as wives and provide for them like he does Bathsheba. It is also likely that some of these men had children and now they would grow up without a father because David didn't want his image to be marred in Israel. David’s cover up affected more than just Bathsheba.
Now look at David’s response to Joab, “Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another.” In other words, “Don’t worry about it, Joab. Everybody has to die sometime. I’m OK with it.” 
David’s reply reminds me of a line spoken by Lord Farquaad in the movie Shrek. Lord Farquaad holds a competition to select a hero to go and rescue a princess, whom Farquaad will marry, from a Dragon’s lair. The winner will get the “privilege” of saving the princess for Farquaad, but if the hero fails the contest runner-up will go, and then the one after that if necessary, and so on and so forth. Farquaad then declares, “Some of you may die, but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.” Sadly, that is King David in this episode. In order to carry out his cover up and acquire Bathsheba as his wife he was willing to sacrifice not just Uriah, but "some of the king's servants" as well. David essentially declares, “In my effort to cover my sin of adultery and claim Bathsheba as my wife, some of you may die, and that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”
When pride consumes us, we become willing to sacrifice others in order to maintain our personal image at all costs. Our cover ups end up hurting others and we are OK with that as long as we still look good. The raw selfishness of such thinking seems grotesque for us to imagine, and yet we embrace such thinking at various times in our lives. God forgive and God help us.
Christ contrasts such thinking to the highest degree. Rather than thinking of Himself at all cost and sacrificing others, Jesus thought of others at all cost and sacrificed Himself. God wasn’t alright with sacrificing all of humanity to maintain His justice. His love demanded another way, and so He sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ. He maintained His justice and demonstrated His love for us at an inexpressible cost to Himself. How opposite of David and us.
We will sin at times as believers. We will do things that negatively affect our image and make us look bad. But the answer is not sacrificing others to maintain our image. We must model Christ. We must be willing to humble ourselves and sacrifice whatever image we’re trying to protect, to spare hurting others.
The servants of David among the people,” actually matter. They aren’t insignificant in this episode. May “some of the kings’ servants who died in battle” be a constant reminder to us that other people matter to God and must never be sacrificed to feed our ego.

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