Until death do us part – Uriah

Loyalty is amongst the most valued qualities of a person and goes a long way to building lasting and quality relationships. Uriah the Hittite was such a man, loyal to the point of costing him his life. The name Uriah means “the Lord is my light.” He lived approximately 1040-995 BC and was born in the land of the Hittites, modern-day Turkey and Syria. Although his life was cut short by our way of thinking, he favourably left his place in the history of Israel.

Until death do us part - UriahIt seems likely that Uriah migrated to Israel as a young man and joined David’s group of 400 fighting men at the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1-5). Uriah advanced in David’s army and was recognised as one of 37 great men (2Sa 23:39).  

By the time of 2 Samuel chapter 11, David had been crowned King of Israel, Uriah had married Bathsheba, and they lived in Jerusalem, close to the royal palace. 2 Samuel chapter 11 unfolds the admirable character of Uriah and the worst downfall in King David’s life. Israel was scarred, and the royal household of King David was never the same again.

It happened this way, as is often the case when people fail to see sin which is about to reap havoc. “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab…” with Israel’s army, and “they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch… he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful” (2Sa 11:1-2). Well, instead of doing the wise thing by walking away, David yielded to temptation, changing not only his life, but the life of the nation.

While loyal Uriah was off fighting the King’s battles, David searched out the woman he had seen bathing, it was Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. David, like so many before and after, gave in to desire, taking what was not his to have. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. Shortly after, Bathsheba sent word to David, “I am pregnant.” (2Sa 11:5). Again, David faced choices, and again he chose wrong.

David ordered Uriah to return home from battle in the hope of Uriah sleeping with Bathsheba, and thinking the baby was his. “But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants” (2Sa 11:9). Uriah’s internal decision-making process was driven by values, not by desires.

David asked Uriah why? To which Uriah replied, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? …I will not do this thing” (2Sa 11:11). Uriah was compelled by spiritual and moral integrity. So, King David ordered Uriah back to the battle, to the “forefront of the hardest fighting” (2Sa 11:15), where “some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died” (2Sa 11:17).

Uriah lived by high values, by loyalty to God and to King. He did the right things, because they were the right things to do, putting God and others before self. So significant was Uriah, that Matthew recorded him in Jesus’ genealogy, “David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah” (Mat 1:6), even though Solomon was not the child of David’s adultery with Bathsheba (2Sa 12:15-23).

The challenging example left to us by Uriah is to live right and leave the outcome to God. God’s purposes are larger and more focused than ours. What we view as tragic, God can transform into blessing.

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