First Kings 15:5 declares that “David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” This shows that when David plotted to have Bathsheba’s husband murdered, in an attempt to cover up his adulterous relationship with her, a stain was left on the record of his life that could not be sugarcoated. Uriah was a soldier in David’s army, but more than that, he was a man who had ably demonstrated his worth on the battlefield.
Bear in mind that he was one of the thirty-seven “mighty men” of David, as those elite group of soldiers are called in 2 Sam. 23, and his name appears at the end of that list (verse 39). Indeed, that fact alone tells us that he was a man of extraordinary valor, leadership and great deeds. In spite of the obvious obstacles that he undoubtedly faced, his story is a compelling one because of what he was able to accomplish. To begin with, he was a Hittite! According to Josh. 9:1, when the Israelites entered Canaan to possess the land, the Hittites took part with the other nations in trying to stop them. Yet, Uriah ends up being a part of David’s army and becomes a red-hot patriot for Israel. Surely the implication is that he had undergone a conversion— a life-changing decision that led him to place his faith in Jehovah and to turn his back on the false gods of his people.
We don’t know all the details about his life, but we do know that he married a young Jewish maiden by the name of Bathsheba, obviously a woman of great beauty, and in the army he moved up quickly through the ranks to a place of prosperity and promise. His house must have been near the complex where the king himself resided, explaining why David was able to see Bathsheba bathing from the “roof of the king’s house” (2 Sam. 11:2-4), and all of this indicates that he was a man of great worth in David’s army. While he had his faults and imperfections, like all men do, in many ways he was a good example of what every soldier should aspire to be. Ironically, this is the very thing that led to his death.
After discovering that Bathsheba is going to have his child, David calls for Uriah to return home from the war between Israel and Ammon, hoping everyone will assume that the baby is the Hittite’s offspring. However, the diabolical plan fails when Uriah refuses to cooperate. Although he has permission from the king himself to go home and spend time with his wife, “Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house, with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house” (2 Sam. 11:9). When David asks him why he acted in this fashion, he gives an answer that is full of honor, devotion and integrity– “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing” (2 Sam. 11:11)
David granted Uriah’s request by sending him back to fight with his fellow-soldiers on the front-line, but not as he expected. In a letter written by the king himself, the Hittite delivered unto Joab, the acting general of the army, his own death sentence– “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die” (2 Sam. 11:15/ NKJ). What a shameful and dishonorable way for a soldier to die! Instead of being betrayed by his king and commanding officer, he should have been given a medal of honor. Usually such a valiant soldier’s name is inscribed on a monument of some kind in order to keep his memory alive. Well, in a very real sense that’s what the following information amounts to– “And Jesse begat David the king. And David begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah” (Matt. 1:6/ASV).
Think about it! You cannot read Matthew’s record of the ancestry of Jesus, the Son of God Himself, without finding the name of Uriah and being reminded of his story. All of this points to some important truths and principles that we need to understand and appreciate today. After all, as followers of Christ we are soldiers in the army of the Lord. Since our duty is to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), we must not sit idly by while the battle is raging all around us. Although the warfare we are engaged in is spiritual in nature (2 Cor. 10:3-5), the very things that Uriah was ready to defend still apply in principle today. With that in mind, let’s notice the reasons he gave for wanting to get back to the front-line.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
By bringing up this sacred chest that was so precious to the people of God, Uriah lets us know where his heart was. The ark was overlaid with gold, had two cherubim that sat on the “mercy seat” (the lid) facing each other, and whereon the blood of the yearly atonement was sprinkled by the high priest. All of this came with a special promise from God: “And thou shalt put the mercy seat above the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony . . .” (Ex. 25:21-22) Hence we see in this a representation of God’s presence (abode) with them.
Surely this is why the Israelites took the ark into battle, symbolizing the fact that God was leading the way, because they knew that it was the Lord’s cause for which they were fighting. That was the point that Uriah was making. Knowing that God’s cause and honor was at stake, this devoted soldier was not content to stay away from the fray and take it easy, but was eager to get back to the front-line where he could make a difference. Brethren, what about us today? If we allow the cause of Christ to be besmirched and go undefended, failing to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude, verse 3), what a terrible disservice we are doing to God’s cause and honor.
How can we be satisfied to be on “furlough” (a leave of absence from duty) when we ought to be “fighting” the good fight of faith? Defining the word “fight” in 1 Tim. 6:12, W. E. Vine says that it is used “metaphorically, to contend perseveringly against opposition and temptation” (P. 414). This is the duty of every soldier of Christ.
Of all the many nations that we read about in the Old Testament, Uriah recognized that Israel sustained a unique relationship with God. Since the Lord had chosen them “to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deut, 7:6), this faithful soldier was proud to take his stand with the people of God. Today we should see in this a representation of the Lord’s church, Christ’s spiritual body of whom He is the Savior (Eph. 5:23), because in Jesus we are no less than “an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s on possession” (1 Pet. 2:9/ ASV).
No wonder Satan attacks the church, wanting to destroy its identity and uniqueness, because he hates what the church is all about! He knows that it is destined to take its flight to glory one of these days (1 Cor. 15:24), and its mission is that of saving souls (1 Cor. 1:21). While the influence of the church is suffering in some places because of apathy, worldliness and apostasy, are we content to be on “furlough” and sit idly by? No, let’s “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
Evidently when Uriah married Bathsheba, he married into the tribe of Judah, so in that sense they stood for family. One of the best reasons for taking our stand on the front-line of serving God and maintaining doctrinal purity has to do with our children and grandchildren, not to mention even future generations that we may never see. As should be obvious to all, the home (as God defines and regulates it) is under attack today by Satan and the world, but every parent should consider this as a “front-line” where we are going to take a stand for what is right.
Taking such a stand cannot involve a compromising of our Bible-based convictions, even in ways that might seem small and insignificant, but we must bring our children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This involves the commitment to not allow anything into our homes that is destructive and detrimental, realizing that there is much truth to the old adage– “As goes the home, so goes the church.” May the Lord help us to realize how true that is!
JOAB & HIS SERVANTS
Uriah ended his statement by saying: “My Lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields.” What was he was trying to convey to David? It was that he felt a personal responsibility to stand alongside Joab (the commander) and his fellow-soldiers in the fight, wanting to do his part in battle. Unless this is our attitude, realizing that there is something of value that we can bring to the fight, we cannot be a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3).
Article by: Billy D. Dickinson