BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
There are four persons called Uriah in the Bible but the most popular is Uriah the Hittite – the husband of Bathsheba, whom David killed after impregnating his wife (2 Samuel 11). The second Uriah is mentioned in Ezra 8:33. Some Bible translations also spell the name as Urijah in Nehemiah 3:4, 21. He was the father of Meremoth. He is probably the same Uriah/Urijah in Nehemiah 8:4. The third Uriah is in Isaiah 8:2. He is also referred to as Urijah in 2 Kings 16:10-16 in some translations. Moreover, some translations also mention another Uriah/Urijah in Jeremiah 26:20-23.
Uriah means “Flame of Jehovah” or “The Lord is my light.” David physically put out this flame of Jehovah (Uriah), one of his mighty men, as a cover-up for his sin of adultery. Upon learning of the pregnancy of Bathsheba, David recalled Uriah home from the battlefield. He tried everything to make Uriah go home to sleep with his wife so that he would take responsibility for the pregnancy. But all his efforts failed.
The Bible does not tell us much about the life of Uriah the Hittite, but there are some lessons one can learn from what the Bible records about him, especially what happened between him and David. These lessons are the focus of this message.
The eight lessons
1. Be born again. Uriah was a Hittite. That’s why he was called Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3b). The Hittites worshipped various gods. They were descendants of Heth, the second son of Canaan, and they were one of the tribes in the land of Canaan (Genesis 10:15; 23:10). The land of the Hittites was part of the land God gave to the Israelites (Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 1:4).
Because the Israelites failed to wipe out the Canaanites as God instructed them, some tribes lived among the Israelites. Going by the meaning of his name, Uriah obviously switched allegiance to the Living God and joined the army of the covenant nation of Israel.
Ruth did a similar thing. She left Moab, an idol-worshipping nation, and followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem in Israel, despite all entreaties by her to stay back (Ruth 1:16-17). Whatever is your background, give your life to Jesus. You must be born again. This is the best decision anyone can make. Unless one is born again, one cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 7).
2. Be loyal. Uriah was a loyal soldier in Israel’s army. That was why he refused twice to go home when David set him up to go and sleep with his pregnant wife. His consideration was for the army of Israel in the open field fighting the enemy. He said he could not go to his house to eat and drink, and lie with his wife when the ark and Israel and Judah were dwelling in tents, and Joab and his officers were encamped in the open fields (2 Samuel 11:8-11).
Even on the second day when David got him drunk, Uriah still didn’t go home. He demonstrated the strength of character. His heart was with the army, not that he promoted his work above his family! Be loyal to your country, organization, employer, or superiors.
3. Embrace diligence and excellence. Uriah was not just a soldier; he was one of the mighty men of David, “the Thirty” (2 Samuel 23:39). That’s not possible without embracing diligence and excellence. In 1 Chronicles 11, the Bible also lists Uriah among the mighty men (verse 41). He married Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, probably the same as Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, also one of the mighty men of David (2 Samuel 23:34).
The Bible says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Proverbs 12:24 NKJV). It also says in Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men” (NKJV). Uriah wasn’t an ordinary soldier but one of David’s mighty men. Diligence and excellence, among other virtues, will promote you in life.
4. The innocent may sometimes suffer unjustly but the God of justice will fight for him. Uriah was an innocent man killed unjustly. David killed Uriah, believing that he had cleverly covered his tracks, but God exposed him. David abused his power but God came with vengeance. God says, “Vengeance is mine, and recompense” (Deuteronomy 32:35a NKJV). Romans 12:19b says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” (NKJV). According to Nahum 1:3, “The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished” (NLT). Proverbs 11:21a says, “Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered” (NKJV).
Your sin will catch up with you (Numbers 32:23b). With his mouth, David unknowingly condemned himself, in answer to the fictional story that the Prophet Nathan narrated (2 Samuel 12:1-6). Nathan then delivered God’s judgment on him (2 Samuel 12:7-12).
David told Nathan that he had sinned against the LORD (verse 13). Though David immediately admitted his guilt and God forgave him, he didn’t escape the consequences. Be careful. God fought for Uriah, an innocent man killed by someone who was supposed to protect him! Avoid both secret and open sins. It has been said that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.
5. Not every kindness is with sincere motives. That doesn’t mean you should be suspicious of everybody but be sensitive. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV). Some kindness or hospitality is with ulterior motives, so be careful. Uriah must have wondered what was awaiting him when Joab told him at the war front that the king had sent for him out of all the soldiers.
He could have felt highly honoured standing before the king and answering his questions about how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing (2 Samuel 11:6-7). David asked him to go home and relax. He sent a gift of food to Uriah after he had left the palace (verse 8). Uriah must have thought that David was a generous, caring king! But Uriah didn’t go home; he slept at the door of the king’s house with all the king’s servants. “David said to Uriah, ‘Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?’” (Verse 10b NKJV).
When Uriah didn’t go home that night, David showed him more kindness! “Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard” (verse 13 NLT). David had no noble intention for his kindness. Don’t be deceived by people’s kindness or generosity. There could be more to it.
6. Don’t carry out evil instructions or orders. The devil can use anybody. David plotted Uriah’s death but used Joab to accomplish it. David’s evil intention was clearly stated in the letter he sent to Joab through Uriah. He instructed Joab to set him in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he might be struck down and die. He didn’t state the reason for this instruction. Joab carried out David’s instructions.
2 Samuel 11:14-24 tells us how David and Joab killed Uriah and how Joab sent a report to David thereafter. David’s reaction to the news of Uriah’s death was callous. I feel that Joab cannot be exonerated from Uriah’s death. If he must carry out every command of the king, why did he not later, during Absalom’s rebellion, obey David’s instruction not to kill Absalom? (2 Samuel 18:5).
Absalom committed treason and David asked his army to spare his life. Uriah, a loyal officer, did not sin; yet, David ordered Joab to arrange his killing on the battlefield. He later married his wife. That was why God punished David for the injustice against Uriah. Joab should have disobeyed David’s order to kill an innocent, dedicated soldier, the same way he later disobeyed his instruction not to kill a rebel (Absalom)!
You don’t have to carry out an instruction or order that you know is evil. Even in the military, you can disobey an unlawful order. Don’t carry out evil instructions or orders.
7. Beware of betrayal. David and Joab betrayed Uriah. David betrayed Uriah’s trust in him. He betrayed a soldier who risked his life for him and Israel.
Uriah trusted David and did not suspect anything evil about the letter he sent through him to Joab. The king must have put his seal. He had no reason to think of opening the letter and reading it! Innocently, Uriah delivered the letter of his death sentence to Joab (2 Samuel 11:14-17).
If it were today, someone in Uriah’s shoes would have suspected that something was wrong and would have opened the letter to read! His suspicion would be based on David’s insistence that he should go home and sleep with his wife contrary to the custom (1 Samuel 21:5). Today, if someone opens such a letter, and knows he is to be killed, he will run away and not deliver it.
However, today such a letter would have been coded and sent through another person or the message sent directly to the receiver through a safer modern means of communication. In any age, this is wickedness. Uriah innocently delivered the letter that led to his death.
Joab, Uriah’s commander, betrayed one of his gallant officers, by conspiring with David to kill him. In 2 Samuel 11:11, Uriah had shown his concern that “my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields” (NKJV). But Joab didn’t reciprocate the concern Uriah had for him. He didn’t protect him. Uriah would never have believed that his commander would set him up to be killed by the enemy troops. I am sure that when he received the command to go to a spot close to the city wall where Joab knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting, he must have obeyed that command as a loyal officer, believing he was fighting the LORD’s battle – fighting for David and Israel. He didn’t know it was a setup. He was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers, but he was the real target. Wickedness in the high places!
Beware of betrayal, especially from people who are very close to you. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Don’t be a betrayer. Did Bathsheba betray her husband? The Bible does not tell us anything about the character of Bathsheba before David slept with her. But most commentators agree that David raped Bathsheba, not that she willingly committed adultery with him. The Prophet Nathan’s parable, which indicted David, did not show that Bathsheba was guilty. Just as the rich man in the parable “took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him” (2 Samuel 12:4 NKJV), David also “sent messengers, and took her [Bathsheba]; and she came to him, and he lay with her” (2 Samuel 11:4 NKJV).
8. The remembrance of the righteous cannot be erased. Proverbs 10:7 says, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot” (NKJV). Though David succeeded in getting rid of Uriah, he couldn’t erase the remembrance of his name. Even the success of David couldn’t eliminate the memory of this man. When we talk about David today, the name Uriah always comes to mind.
1 Kings 15:5 says, “Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (NKJV). Even the New Testament mentions Uriah’s name with regard to David. Matthew 1:6 says, “And Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah” (NKJV). The name of Uriah has never disappeared, though David terminated his life prematurely.
Conclusion: Clearly, David and Joab are negative characters in the story of Uriah. Their actions cut short the life of Uriah. Nevertheless, the God of vengeance fought for him. Learn from this sad story. You won’t die prematurely in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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