U is for Uriah
1Kings 15:5 - "Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite."
Obscure people and tragic stories in the Bible make me delve deeper into God's Word to seek out the purpose for why they are there. God must have had a reason to place them in His Word.
Uriah's life is one of those stories in the Bible that falls into this category: a seemingly senseless tragedy that leaves no uplifting thoughts.
Uriah was a faithful man. He was one of the bravest soldiers, enough to be listed amongst David's mighty men. (2 Samuel 23:39). The thing I find fascinating is that Uriah was not even an Israelite. He was of the tribe of Heth, a heathen people whose remnant remained in the land when the Israelites conquered Canaan under Joshua. For some reason, he believed in the Israelite God, Jehovah, and joined up with David's forces.
Under David, he served faithfully and valiantly. He lived right near the palace, and served on the front lines during the Israelite army's battles. The Bible doesn't tell us much about his background but we do know that he had a lovely wife, Bathsheba.
As the story goes, while Uriah and the army were out fighting, his wife Bathsheba was home, in their house that was close to the palace. Through a series of events, David ended up taking Uriah's wife, committing adultery with her, and conceiving a child. When David became aware of the situation, he then tried to cover his sin by bringing Uriah home from the battle to spend a little time at home with his wife.
Uriah was such a faithful soldier and man that he stayed at the king's palace and determined to get back to the battle in short order. When David saw that his little cover up scheme backfired, he made an awful decision - to have Uriah be killed in battle. David actually wrote a letter, sending it to the army captain by the hand of Uriah, that sealed Uriah's fate. In that letter, David instructed that Uriah was to be placed on the front lines, in the hottest part of the fray, and then abandoned, insuring a certain death. The captain followed the orders, and it was reported back that Uriah was dead.
As the story continues on, we know that David took Bathsheba to be his wife, yet the child that was conceived died shortly after birth. Nathan the prophet came and preached a blistering message to David, condemning him for his actions. David, and his entire family, suffered greatly for his sin.
What lessons can be drawn from this tragic story? Many Bible stories end up showing how blessed the faithful man was. Those are the kinds of stories we like. We like happy endings tied up in nice, neat packages. Yet Uriah's story is anything but happy.
One lesson I have drawn from Uriah's story is that God sees everything. No sin is hidden from him. Though David might have thought that his scheme was covered, and all would be well, God exposed it for what it was, and dealt quite harshly with it.
Another thought is that we are to let God repay misdeeds that are done to us. Because He knows, and He is perfect and just, He can do a much better job sorting out offenses than we can. We might try to take matters in our own hands, but we will never do well with it.
Romans 12:19 - "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
The last thought I have is that the story is not over. We tend to think of situations in our own finite terms. If we think of this story in the setting of this life only, we will automatically think of the injustice that was committed against Uriah, a faithful man who was minding his own business and faithfully serving the king, yet lost everything, including his own life. Yet God measures things in the sense of eternity. God rewards according to that which was done here on earth. We will not know the end of this story, how Uriah's faithfulness was rewarded, until we get to Heaven.
Matthew 25:21 - "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
While I still think that Uriah's story is unfair, and I have struggled to find any good in it, from his life I can learn lessons of faithfulness and of not fighting back when I think that people have offended me, but allowing God to fight my battles for me.
Uriah is a hero because he was a strong, faithful man who followed God and was faithful until the very end.