When Kings Go Off To War

The Importance of Our Decisions and Actions

(Scriptures are from NIV)

I read something a long time ago that said:  “People need to learn that their actions do affect other people.  So be careful what you say and do, it’s not always just about you..!” (Author Unknown) 

A good example of this from the Bible is the story of David.  He was a man of contrasts – single-mindedly committed to God, yet guilty of some of the most serious of sins – in one short story he broke no less than three of the Ten Commandments – I will discuss them here.  His story should be one of caution to us about what can happen when we are not where we should be, doing what we should be doing – in other words, trying to operate outside the will of God for our lives.

1 Samuel 13:14 says:  “….the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart…” and Acts 13:22 says:  “’….I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart…’”  God sent Samuel and he anointed David as God instructed him to do and the Bible says in 1 Samuel 16:13b – “from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”

However, David went through a lot of difficulties.  His brothers were jealous of him and made his life miserable.  While he was a faithful servant to Saul, Saul tried many times to kill David; and, although David had opportunity more than once to kill Saul, he did not.  Even after becoming King of Israel David had to do battle almost constantly with enemies of Israel but he conquered many armies helping Israel to become even stronger.  Although David was a great military conqueror – he could not seem to conquer himself.

2 Samuel 11:1 says:  “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.”  David was not where he was supposed to be.  Not only was he the king, but he was a great warrior – therefore, he should have been with his troops – why he was not, it does not say.    But, he stayed home and sent his troops to battle without his leadership. 

When we get out of God’s will for our lives, we open ourselves up to the fiery darts of the devil.  One of those darts – the lust of the flesh – struck David and he knowingly fell into sin.  One evening while walking on the roof of the palace, he noticed a woman and sent for her.  He was told she was married to one of his soldiers, but he slept with her anyway and she conceived.  When she sent word to him that she was pregnant, David sent for her husband Uriah.  When he arrived, David asked him questions about the battle then told him to go home.  His ulterior motive was that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba and would think the child was his own. 

Then in contrast to David’s behavior, we see Uriah exhibit rare loyalty.  Uriah did not go home as he had been encouraged to do by the king.  Why?  Because his fellow soldiers were all still on the battlefield away from their families and homes.  This should have been enough to prick the conscience of David and reach to his spirit.  But instead, those fiery darts kept coming until it escalated and David started scheming to cover that sin.  It evolved into lying and attempted deception.  He plotted the death of Uriah.

He sent word to the commanding officer to send Uriah to the battle front and then to withdraw leaving him to be killed.  This would then free David to marry Bathsheba.  Needless to say, according to 2 Samuel 11:27b, it comes as no surprise to learn that “…the thing David had done displeased the Lord.” 

The steps of David’s sins:                                                     1. He stayed home instead of going to battle with his soldiers where he should have been.                                              2.  As a result of being where he should not have been, he ended up committing adultery – defiling Bathsheba.  She is now caught up in his web and will have consequences as well.                     3.  He tried to cover those sins by basically plotting murder.          4.  Some of his subordinates had to play a part in his evil plot – I am sure they had to lie to help cover it up – drawing them into his web of sins.    

The Lord directed a prophet named Nathan to go to David.  When David was confronted by Nathan about his sins, David confessed.  2 Samuel 12:13 says:  “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’”  That verse continues on with Nathan saying:  “’…The Lord has taken away your sin.’”  However, there were consequences to be suffered as a result of the sins and they were not removed from him.  It continues in verse 14b with Nathan saying:  “’…..the son born to you will die.’”

Other children born to David and Bathsheba were a disgrace to them – committing incest, rape, murder and general rebellion.  In fact, eventually David even had to flee from one of his own sons that turned on him.  David’s sinful actions resulted in some devastating consequences that he, his family, his subordinates and his nation had to deal with.

David then shows his deep love for the Lord and the acceptance of his consequences.  When the child he conceived with Bathsheba was born he became ill.  David fasted and was pleading with God for the child’s life; but, on the seventh day he died.  2 Samuel 12:20a says:  “Then David got up from the ground.  After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.”                                                                                                      

Despite all of his sinfulness, as a result of having a deep love and faith in God, David was favored in many ways.  One was the birth of Solomon – one of Israel’s greatest kings.  David also left us an example of a passionate love of God and dozens of Psalms – some of the most touching, beautiful poetry ever written.

Our lives are not that different from David.  Honest self-examination is necessary to recognize our own sin then we must repent of it.  We may try to fool ourselves or others, but we cannot hide our sin from God.  Our actions will always result in consequences – sometimes only affecting us but many times affecting others as well – just as David’s did.  God always offers forgiveness for our sins, but we cannot escape the consequences.  God highly values our faith in him.  Despite life’s ups and downs, God is ever-present to give us comfort and help – thank goodness!

Could you accept such life-changing, heart-breaking consequences as easily and quickly as David did?  Upon learning his son had died, he got himself up, brushed himself off and went to church to worship his Lord.  I am not sure I could – even knowing I brought them onto myself. 

Therefore, obviously the best way to live is in the will of God.  I would rather not have to suffer consequences for my failings.  God, help me to keep my eyes and heart trained on you!

Written by Karran Martin

Originally September 29, 2018 – Revised March 3, 2019

2 thoughts on “When Kings Go Off To War

  1. Strangely enough I love David’s story … to me it is a story of hope to come, that sinner though I be, I can still find forgiveness and redemption through Christ … He made that all possible for me. David is an example on how a life can be turned around to the glory of God.


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