The Right Path

It has been a few weeks since I wrote about what Jess and I have been reading as we work our way through the entirety of the Bible. We are still on track with our plan. It’s just that we got in a part of scripture that is a lot of genealogies and reporting of numbers. While there is some good stuff in that, it is not the most interesting of reads. Now, we are reading about the life of King David and the Psalms that he (and a few others) wrote.

A few days ago, we read the infamous story about David and Bathsheba. I’ve written about this story a few times. I even devoted a chapter of my book to the event. If you are not familiar with the story, let me sum it up for you.

David was at home one day when he saw a beautiful woman bathing on her roof. At that moment, he decided that he wanted to have sex with her. He sent his men to find out who she was. 

It turns out that she was a married woman; her husband’s name was Uriah. Uriah was not at home because he was off fighting in a war. Her marital status did not stop David from getting what he wanted— he was the king, after all. So, he sent his men to bring her to his palace and proceeded to sleep with her.

David soon found out that Bathsheba was pregnant. To cover his tracks, he sent for Uriah to return home. He assumed that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba when he was home. However, Uriah refused. He didn’t feel right living his normal life while his friends were at war. Instead of being home with his wife, he slept on the steps of David’s palace.

After David’s plan failed, he had to come up with a new tactic. He sent the faithful soldier and husband back to the battle with a note that told the general of the army to send Uriah to the frontlines of the battle and withdraw everyone else. This scheme proved effective, and Uriah was killed. David then married Bathsheba, and his plan was complete. 

All of that can be found in 2 Samuel 11. Verse 1 of that chapter says something intriguing and damning about Israel’s monarch: “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.” Did you notice that David neglected to do his kingly duties? He should have led his men out to war but chose to stay home.

Scripture doesn’t say why he didn’t go out to war. Whatever the reason was, it was the first step in a disastrous sequence of events for him. Had David done what he was supposed to do, he would have never seen Bathsheba, and the sinful chain of events would have never started. 

One of the intriguing things about this passage is how many times David had the opportunity to stop and prevent further devastation. The first opportunity would have been to go to war as a king should, but he didn’t. After he saw Bathsheba bathing, he could have looked away, but he didn’t. He should have stopped his pursuit once he knew she was married, but he didn’t. He could have admitted his mistake once she became pregnant, but he didn’t. He could have stopped himself short of having Uriah killed, but he didn’t. There were ample opportunities for David to look in the mirror and come to his senses, but he didn’t.

What started off as a seemingly innocuous choice to not go out to war ended with David committing adultery, abusing his power, and essentially killing a man. It’s crazy to think about how the beginning led to the ending. 

While this is a particularly heinous example, we can all find ourselves in David’s situation. We make one mistake, and then we ignore the gravity of the situation. Instead of stopping where we are, we think we can fix it. This can lead to us committing other sins to cover our tracks. Eventually, things get out of control. We look around and don’t know how things got that way. 

There are two paths that we can walk in this life: the path that honors God or the one that doesn’t. David quickly found himself on the wrong one after spending years on the right one. It can happen to any of us with a single misstep. The good news is that none of us have to continue to go down a path of destruction. At any point, we can stop and ask God for forgiveness. While there may still be earthly consequences for what we have done, we can prevent any further harm. 

If you find yourself going the wrong way today, stop where you are. Your life is far too precious to God for you to take another step that leads you away from him. He is always beckoning us to be on the right path. It doesn’t matter how far you go down the wrong one, you’re invited to turn around and go toward your Heavenly Father. The only thing that can prevent you from going that way is, like David, thinking you can fix everything. You can’t, and God will never ask you to. That’s his domain, and he’s so much better at it than we could ever be.  

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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