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Death by Deception

Key References: 2 Samuel 11; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 71, pp. 717-720; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 4, pp. 96-98. Our Beliefs, nos. 7, 8, 23.

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“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22).

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We treat others with respect by being honest and not taking advantage of them.

What are some of the issues that result from selfishness? What helps you always treat others respectfully and kindly?

It was springtime, a time when kings went off to war. Israel was at war with the Ammonites [AM-on-ites]. While the army commander, Joab, and all the forces were laying siege to a city, King David returned to Jerusalem. One evening David couldn’t sleep, so he got up and walked around on the roof of his palace. Across the way he saw a beautiful woman. He wanted to know more about her, so he sent a servant to inquire.

The news came back that she was Bathsheba [bath-SHE-buh], the wife of Uriah [you-RY-uh], one of David’s bravest and most faithful soldiers. David sent a messenger to get her. She came. The king spent time with her, then sent her home.

Before long, Bathsheba sent a message to David. She was pregnant. David was in trouble. He knew he had done wrong. The law said that death was the punishment for a convicted adulterer. Instead of admitting his sin and turning to God, David continued trying to do things his own way. He decided to bring Uriah back from the battle so that he could spend some nights at home with his wife. Maybe no one would ever know that the child was David’s.

David’s deceitful plan was put into action with a message to Joab. “Send Uriah the Hittite to me,” it said. When Uriah arrived at court, David pretended that he wanted a special report on the war. Uriah gave his report. Then David encouraged him to go home to rest and see his wife.

But Uriah didn’t go home. He stayed outside the palace with the servants and palace guards. When news of this got back to David, he asked, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

Uriah, the loyal soldier, responded, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

David tried again to get Uriah to go home. “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back,” he insisted. So Uriah stayed for another day in the city and accepted the invitation to eat with the king in the royal palace. During the meal Uriah got drunk. But he didn’t go home the second night, either.

David’s deceitful plan had not worked. In the morning David wrote a message to Joab and sent it to the camp with Uriah. The message said, “Put Uriah out in front, where the fi ghting is fi ercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

Joab did exactly what he was told to do. While the Israelite army had the city under siege, he put Uriah where the fighting was heaviest. Several men were killed, including Uriah.

Once again a message flew back to King David with a swift runner. It contained a full account of the battle.

The messenger gave his message— all of it. “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

David sent a message back. “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another.

Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab” (2 Samuel 11:10-25).

David thought he had covered up his sin. After a period of mourning for Uriah, Bathsheba became David’s wife. It was not one single bad decision that led to David’s downfall. The journey that led him to defeat consisted of many small steps in the wrong direction. Instead of trusting completely in God, King David gradually was drawn by the attractions of power as well as the sinful practices and customs of surrounding nations. In place of humbly accepting God’s leading in everything he did, David chose to rely on his own human wisdom and power. As a result he separated himself from God, the only sure source of power.

It is clear from the Bible that “the thing David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).

In the beginning God created humankind in His image. Originally it was natural for humans to obey God and to do only what was right, good, and just. However, as a result of disobedience, sin entered into our world, causing separation between us and God. As a result of sin, the thoughts, feelings, impulses, desires, words, and actions of all human beings were corrupted. The destiny of our world appeared hopeless. Yet God did not let us die in our sins. He sought us, found us, and saved us.

What a different course your life can take if you choose to be faithful to God even in the smallest details of your life! Lasting peace and joy are found on the path of obedience to God. He knows what is best for you and has a wonderful plan for your life if you obey Him.