July 20, 2009

Three Chances to Murder

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , at 4:51 pm by Tamara

He didn’t kill him. I wonder how long he crouched in the cool, damp air, watching the man who was pursuing him with irrational hatred sleep soundly in the center of his camp. He’d had countless other opportunities to kill him, like that day in the dark depths of the cave when he was no more than a hand’s breath away from him—and hadn’t. Instead of accepting the allegiance of the people who adored him and would no doubt fight to see this insane enemy of his displaced, he’d chosen to leave his home and live in desolate mountain places with a band of miserable thugs. Now here he stood watching him sleep while the warrior beside him begged him to let him go and take vengeance at last. Did he think of how unjust it all was? Did he resent that he’d done nothing to deserve this life of running and fighting and nearly starving? But he said no.

“God has chosen him,” he whispered, “And God-forbid that I’d do anything to hurt God’s anointed. God will deal with him, but we couldn’t hurt him and be guiltless.”

And so once again he showed breathtaking nobility and walked away, his faith utterly in God to justify him. He knew that he was blameless before God, knew he hadn’t done any of the things he was being accused of. He resisted the temptation to murder, not once, but twice. And could it even be considered murder? God had chosen him to be king and delivered the evil king who pursued him right into his hands, twice. But he put his beliefs to action and left it up to God. He was not a murderer. He was the farthest thing from it.

I wonder if he rested securely in that, knowing that murder was a temptation he knew how to resist. Did he revel in the joy of facing a great temptation and passing the test? Did he praise God for helping him to do what was right? Did he think that, whatever happened, at least he knew he would never be a murderer?

And then, suddenly, it is years later, and he has been given everything he’s dreamed. God has lavishly rewarded him for the way he has followed Him and striven after His heart. He’s walked intimately with God, heard countless people tell him what an example he’s been to them, how much he’s encouraged them to walk rightly and resist temptation. But now Nathan the prophet is standing in front of him in his rough robes, his eyes full of disappointment and anger and disbelief, and in four words everything shatters to pieces: “Thou art the man.”

He is a murderer.

http://restorationupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/david-and-nathan.jpg

One of our elders spoke on Sunday about David and Bathsheba, and this struck me like it never had before. Up to this point, David was not a murderer. He was the farthest thing from it. He could have written a book on it: The Idiot’s Guide to Not Murdering Anyone, Even Your Worst Enemy. It would have been a best-seller; his blog would have been the top viewed site of the year; he would have received endless fan mail from it. He KNEW how to resist this temptation and had proven himself many times. And then, out of seemingly nowhere comes this hideous chain of events: his adultery with the wife of a man who is not only one of his loyal mighty men but also the son of one of his closest advisors, followed by ordering his murder. It’s a sick, jarring slash across the life of an incredible man of God. Every time I read it, his adultery reminds me that no one is ever above sin, even the best person. But this time Jim’s message made me think just a little deeper. I knew David had never committed adultery before, but I’d never thought about how he’d refused to murder his worst enemy, King Saul, TWICE, and then he murders Uriah, his friend and loyal warrior. What changed?

Was it easier to resist temptation when he knew he was blameless—easier to trust God to solve the mess when he hadn’t done anything to deserve the mess? He knew God was capable of saving his life and making him king of an entire nation, so he resisted murder. But did he think God wouldn’t help rescue him once he’d committed a horrible sin? What did he think would happen if he just admitted his sin with Bathsheba? Did he think God couldn’t, or wouldn’t, save him? Did he feel so guilty that he decided, rather than throwing himself on God’s mercy, that he had no choice but to try to solve this problem himself?

I see this cowering weakness in myself. It’s easy for me to run to God for help when I’m doing well. “My enemies pursue me without cause!” I cry to God, and fearlessly and gladly ask for His help against sin. But what about when the mess is my fault? What about when I go to God, not as a blameless shepherd, but as a horrible failure and adulterer? Is THAT when I start to take matters into my own hands?

Yes, it is. Maybe not to the extent of murdering anyone (unless we’re talking about murdering them in my heart, which is a whole different topic.) But I’m no different than David, and it could definitely go there. What if David had boldly approached the throne for mercy and help in his time of need before he tried to cover it up by murdering Uriah? Maybe he would have gone down in history—yes, as an adulterer, but not a murderer. And I know God would have helped him. He helped David even after he was both, when he cried out simply, “Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your unfailing love!”

Sin is a snare, not just because of its consequences, but because of how powerfully it tempts me to run from God and try to hide my shame. But He urges me over and over again to claim my life in Christ and accept that through faith in His son, I have boldness and confident access to Him no matter what (Eph. 3:12). And I need to use that access. He promises that when I timidly crack open the doors and enter His throne room He’ll welcome me with open arms, no matter how I’ve failed—whether it’s as small as a grumpy attitude or as gigantic as murder and adultery. He promises to come running to meet me and embrace me, even if I’m the prodigal daughter covered in reeking mud from the pigsty. I need to remember that. I need to burn that truth onto my heart and radiate that same grace to others. Like David, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” But what a wonderful, powerful grace it is.

Jude 1:24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Advertisements