A Matter of Routine
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…. (2 Samuel 11:1a)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
These simple words begin one of the most dramatic events recorded in the Old Testament. They seem innocuous – simply setting the scene for the events that are about to unfold. But in reality, these words describe a dangerous human condition that threatens many of us today, especially we who live in the prosperous, self-serving, self-aggrandizing, American, Christian culture of today.
You see, with these words, the writer describes the motivation of David’s action to send his army out against the Ammonites, whom they had defeated in the previous chapter along with the defeat and alienation of their allies. But it is the time of war, so David sends out his armies. No other justification for the action is offered in the text. The Ammonites haven’t presented themselves as a renewed threat to Israel, there is no “Word from the Lord” to go and retake the land that God had given to the Ammonites… Just the justifying word that it was “the time when kings go off to war.”
So, David sent out his armies, but in reality, this had become so routine that David didn’t feel the need to even go with the army. He stayed I Jerusalem. And as a result, happened to see Bathsheba, the wife of one of his 30 loyal men… his inner circle, innocently bathing and decided he really liked what saw.
And you know what happened from there. One thing led to another and in the end an innocent man’s life was taken to cover the sin of a once righteous and powerful man.
All because it was “the time when kings go off to war”.
How often have we found ourselves in dangerous territory simply because we did what was expected of us without clearly understanding the reason or purpose for our actions? How often do our actions and responses come from a sense of routine and not a sense of purpose or focus?
And like David, how often has that lack of focus on God’s purpose caused us to stumble and to injure not only ourselves but others?
I know in my case, it has happened all too often. I have failed to learn from the lessons of Scripture and of life, that in all things, do it as unto the Lord!
Lord, help me to live a life of conscious choice for you. Help me to choose consciously to do that which You have called me to do and to consciously avoid the temptations and sins that can ensnare and harm others as well as myself. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran