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The overconfident king quit seeking God's guidance

June 15, 2022

Daily Scripture

1 Samuel 23:10-14, 2 Samuel 11:1-5, 14-15

1 Samuel 23:10-14

10 Then David said, “LORD God of Israel, I, your servant, have heard that Saul plans on coming to Keilah and will destroy the town because of me. 11 LORD God of Israel, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? Please tell your servant.”
“Yes, he will come down,” the LORD answered.
12 Next David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my soldiers over to Saul?”
“Yes, they will hand you over,” the LORD replied.
13 So David and his troops—approximately six hundred men—got up and left Keilah. They kept moving, going from one place to the next. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he didn’t go there.
14 David lived in the fortresses in the wilderness and in the hills of the Ziph wilderness. Saul searched for him constantly, but God did not hand David over to Saul.

2 Samuel 11

1 In the spring, when kings go off to war, David sent Joab, along with his servants and all the Israelites, and they destroyed the Ammonites, attacking the city of Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening, David got up from his couch and was pacing back and forth on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone and inquired about the woman. The report came back: “Isn’t this Eliam’s daughter Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers to take her. When she came to him, he had sex with her. (Now she had been purifying herself after her monthly period.) Then she returned home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David. “I’m pregnant,” she said.

14 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 He wrote in the letter, “Place Uriah at the front of the fiercest battle, and then pull back from him so that he will be struck down and die.”

(If you have time, learn or review the whole terrible story as honestly told in 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:13.)

Daily Reflection & Prayer

“David frequently prays to God in his early career. We will see, however, that prayer disappears from his story when he begins to act in self-serving and sinful ways, starting with the Bathsheba story in 2 Samuel 11.” * A smug King David sent his army off to fight without him. Which spelled trouble. From his palace roof he saw a woman bathing. Dazzled, he ignored her marriage to one of his trusted officers and had sex with her. Then she became pregnant even though her husband was away with the army.

  • Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, her father Eliam and likely her grandfather Ahithophel were all in David’s trusted inner circle (2 Samuel 11:3, 23:34, 39). Taking her to satisfy his desire meant exploiting the woman, letting down three faithful friends (and killing one of them), and failing his God. In your daily choices, can you tell God (and mean it), “Not what I want, but what you want”? How can living out God’s will in even small things prepare you for bigger, tougher choices?
  • Once David veered off course, each bad step seemed to flow almost logically from the one before. Our biggest errors seldom spring full-blown from one huge misstep but get worse and worse as we try to avoid the results of earlier errors. Have you ever felt trapped in a set of actions that just seemed to keep getting worse? What would it have taken for David to stop the cycle and move back toward God’s path? Can you do what he failed to do?

Lord God, it must have seemed so simple to David at the start. Please root your principles deeply in my heart, so that I can sense when my life is going off-course before it all spirals to disaster. Amen.

GPS Insights

Shannon Starek

Shannon Starek

I love words. I typically don’t have a problem coming up with my own words whether in speaking or writing or praying. But sometimes I just can’t find the right words.

In writing for today’s reflection, I honestly didn’t know where to take it. I couldn’t find the words. We see David beginning to make one bad decision after another and his life begins to spiral out of control. What do I do with this? How can I help to connect this to our own lives? And then I remembered that recently a friend of mine passed along a book of liturgies called Every Moment Holy. In it there is a liturgy for One Battling a Destructive Desire.

Isn’t that exactly what David struggled with? Isn’t that exactly what we can struggle with? And so even though I can’t find the words, I can turn to others who do…

Jesus, here I am again,
desiring a thing
that were I to indulge in it
would war against my own heart,
and the hearts of those I love.

In this moment I might choose
to indulge a fleeting hunger,
or I might choose
to love you more.

Faced with this temptation,
I would rather choose you, Jesus—
but I am weak. So be my strength.
I am shadowed. Be my light.
I am selfish. Unmake me now,
and refashion my desires
according to the better designs of your love.

Given the choice of shame or glory,
let me choose glory.
Given the choice of this moment or eternity,
let me choose in this moment what is eternal.
Given the choice of this easy pleasure,
or the harder road of the cross,
give me grace to choose to follow you,
knowing that there is nowhere apart from your
presence where I might find the peace I love for,
no lasting satisfaction apart from your
reclamation of my heart.

Let me build, then, my King,
a beautiful thing by long obedience,
by the steady progression of small choices
that laid end to end will become like the stones
or a pleasing path stretching to eternity and
unto your welcoming arms and unto the sound
of your voice pronouncing the judgment:

Well done.

From McKelvey, Douglas. Every Moment Holy: Volume One Pocket Edition. Nashville, Rabbit Room Press, 2019.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Bruce C. Birch, sidebar article “David and Prayer” in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 158 OT.