SEVEN LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF URIAH

BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

There are three 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 mentioned in the Bible is in Ezra 8:33.The King James Version and New King James Version spell the name as Urijah (Nehemiah 3:4, 21; 8:4). He was the father of Meremoth. The third Uriah is in Isaiah 8:2. He was a priest of the house of Ahaz.

According to the Strong Concordance, the name Uriah means “Flame of Jehovah.” 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. All his efforts failed.

Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary gives the meaning of Uriah as “the Lord is my light.” The Bible does not tell us much about the life of Uriah the Hittite, but there are some lessons the children of God 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 seven lessons

1.Be committed to God. Uriah was a Hittite; he was from an idol-worshipping country, but he changed his nationality to Israel. That’s why he was called Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3b). The Hittites 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 in Palestine (Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy7:1; Joshua 1:4).

Because the Israelites failed to wipe out the Canaanites as God instructed them, some tribes lived among the Israelites. Uriah apparently embraced the God of the Jews and began to serve Him. He joined the army of the living God, 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 “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV).

2. Be a faithful and loyal citizen. Uriah was a faithful and loyal soldier in Israel’s army. Ahimelech the Hittite was another of David’s fighters (1 Samuel 26:6).

Uriah the Hittite was loyal to his country, the army and King David. That was why he refused twice to go home, when David set him up, to go and sleep with his wife. His consideration was for the army of Israel in the open field fighting the enemy. He felt it was improper for him to go and enjoy the comfort of his home when his country was at war with her enemy. He had a sense of duty. 2 Samuel 11:8-11 says, “And David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. So when they told David, saying, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?’ And Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing’” (NKJV).

Even on the second day when David got him drunk, Uriah still didn’t go home. He demonstrated strength of character. His heart was with the army.

I read someone accusing Uriah of promoting his work above his family! He argued that he should have eagerly jumped at the king’s offer to him to go home. He said Uriah neglected his wife, which prepared the ground for her adultery with David.

The Bible does not say anything like that. Therefore, we must avoid speculation. The reason Uriah gave for refusing to go to his house to eat and drink, and lie with my wife, as we have read, was that the ark and Israel and Judah were dwelling in tents, and Joab and his officers were encamped in the open fields.

3. Be diligent and pursue excellence. Uriah was not just a soldier; he was one of the 37 mighty men of David, though the Bible does not mention his exploits (2 Samuel 23:39; 1 Chronicles 11:41). He must have been a respected man in David’s army to have married Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, one of the 37 mighty men of David (2 Samuel 23:34). Eliam was the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite.

The Bible says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Proverbs 12:24 NKJV). In Proverbs 22:29, it says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men” (NKJV).

4. The innocent may sometimes suffer unjustly, but the God of justice will fight for him. Uriah was an innocent man killed unjustly. There is nothing hidden from God. David killed Uriah, believing that he had cleverly covered his tracks, but God exposed him. He abused his power against a loyal subject, but God came with vengeance. God said, “Vengeance is mine, and recompense” (Deuteronomy 32:35 NKJV). Romans 12:19 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).

Numbers 32:23b says your sin will find you out. With his own mouth, David unknowingly condemned himself, in answer to the fictional story that Prophet Nathan narrated (2 Samuel 12:1-5). Nathan then delivered his verdict to David: “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!   Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’  Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun'” (2 Samuel 12:7-12 NKJV).

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD” (verse 13 NKJV). Though David immediately admitted his guilt and God forgave him, he didn’t escape the judgment of God. All our actions have consequences. Be careful. God fought for Uriah, an innocent man killed by someone who was supposed to protect him! Avoid 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. Don’t assume there is sincerity behind every act of kindness. That doesn’t mean you should be suspicious, but you should be sensitive. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV).

Shakespeare says there is no way to find the mind’s construction in the face. Some hospitality or kindness is borne out of 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 must have felt on top of the world 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). He even asked him to go home and relax. He sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace (verse 8). 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 10 NKJV).

He must have thought that David was very hospitable, a very caring king! When he didn’t go home that night, David increased his kindness towards him. “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” (verse 13 NLT). David had no noble intention for his kindness or hospitality; it was a setup, which, unfortunately for David, didn’t work.

Don’t be deceived by everybody’s niceness or kindness. There may be more to it. The devil can use anybody, including the authority figures in people’s lives, whether they know it or not. They can become the devil’s tools. David plotted Uriah’s death but used Joab to accomplish it. He didn’t plot it with Joab but David’s evil intention was clearly stated in the letter 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 instruction.

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. 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? “And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: ‘For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.’ And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders” (2 Samuel 18:5 NLT).

Absalom committed treason and David said the army should spare his life. Uriah, a loyal officer, committed no sin; yet, David ordered Joab to arrange his killing in the battlefield. That was why God punished David for the injustice against Uriah. Whatever informed Joab’s decision later to disobey David’s instruction not to kill a rebel (Absalom) should have informed his decision to disobey the instruction to kill an innocent, dedicated soldier!

You don’t have to carry out an evil instruction or an order you know is wrong. Even in the military, you can disobey an unlawful order. You have no excuse for yielding to temptation. If Uriah could politely defy the king’s instruction twice to go home, which he considered wrong, Joab could have avoided carrying out the order of the king to kill Uriah. Yes, such an action will have consequences, but what did David do when Joab ordered Absalom to be killed contrary to his instruction? What did David do when Joab murdered Abner and Amasa in peacetime?  (2 Samuel 3:22-27; 20:7-10). He had earlier appointed Amasa to replace Joab as the commander of his army (2 Samuel 19:13). David didn’t kill Joab for these murders. However, before he died, he instructed Solomon, his son and successor, to do with Joab what he thought best. He told Solomon not to allow Joab’s gray hair go down to the grave in peace (1 Kings 2:5-6).

There is wickedness in high places! Don’t be part of it. You won’t be a victim of high-level wickedness in Jesus’ name. Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 says, “If you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and justice being miscarried throughout the land, don’t be surprised! For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice only get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. Even the king milks the land for his own profit!” (NLT).

6. Beware of betrayal. Bathsheba, David and Joab betrayed Uriah. Bathsheba betrayed her husband by committing adultery with David, which made David plot his death. Bathsheba broke her marital vow. Even though she mourned the death of her husband, she agreed to marry David! Uriah, an innocent man, died for their sin! “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:26-27 NKJV).

David betrayed Uriah. He betrayed his trust in him. He betrayed a soldier who risked his life for his commander-in-chief (David) and for his country. He trusted David enough to accept the hospitality he showed him after he had recalled from the battlefront.

He trusted him enough not to suspect anything evil about the letter he sent through him to Joab. He couldn’t have thought otherwise to open the letter to read the content. The king must have put his seal.

2 Samuel 11:14-17 says, “In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’ So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also” (NKJV).

In honesty, Uriah delivered the letter of his death sentence to Joab. Your honesty will not always be rewarded, but don’t change because of that. Proverbs 11:3 says, “Good people are guided by their honesty; treacherous people are destroyed by their dishonesty” (NLT). According to verse 5, “The godly are directed by their honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin” (NLT). Psalm 51:6a says God desires honesty from the heart (NLT).

In our day, if you send such a letter through someone in Uriah’s shoes, he is most likely going to open it to read the content! He will be suspecting that something is wrong, in view of what transpired between him and David who was insisting that he should go home! There was nothing serious that he discussed with him after recalling him from the war front. Today, if someone opens such a letter and sees the content, he will go into self-exile!

If it were today, in order to avoid any leakage, David, in the absence of any other safer means of communication, would have sent it as a coded letter through another person. Sending a person’s death sentence through him shows another dimension of the evil David committed against a loyal officer for no just cause.

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 was not there to protect his interest. 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 the commander-in-chief and his country. It was too late for him to realize that it was a setup. He was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers, but obviously he was the main target.

Beware of betrayal, especially from people who are close to you. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. “He replied, ‘One of you who is eating with me now will betray me. For I, the Son of Man, must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer. Far better for him if he had never been born!’ Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, ‘Teacher, I’m not the one, am I?’ And Jesus told him, ‘You have said it yourself’” (Matthew 26:23-25 NLT). Beware of betrayal, and don’t be a betrayer.

7. 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. It was like anywhere the name of David is mentioned, the name of Uriah must also come 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). Did you see that? Even the New Testament, mentioned 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). Somehow, the name of Uriah never disappeared, though David snuffed out his flame prematurely.

Conclusion: David, Bathsheba and Joab are the negative characters in the Uriah story. The actions of these three persons cut short the life of Uriah. Nevertheless, the God of vengeance fought his battle for him. Learn from this sad story of betrayal. You won’t die prematurely in Jesus’ name.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit 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 resurrected 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 the palm tree and grow like the 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, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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