"Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war. And he charged the messenger, ‘When you have finished reporting matters of the war to the king. Then if the king's anger rises and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know they would shoot from the wall? Who killed Abimelech son of Jerubbesheth (Gideon)? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone upon him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?' Then say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.' So the messenger went and told David all for which Joab had sent him."
II Samuel 11: 18-22
"What About Collateral Damage?"
"There is no such person as a person without influence."
How did David's influence and behavior affect the lives of the soldiers on the battlefield?
In the end what "collateral damage" was inflicted by David's actions?
How have my actions affected the lives of others around me?
Have I ever inflicted "collateral damage" on others in my life?
"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another."
"He (she) is greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his (her) own."
Henry Ward Beecher
Our texts today are often skipped over in the study of the triangle that developed among David, Bathsheba and Uriah. However, in my opinion, it is a sad mistake to ignore these five texts that help us come to a recognition of the seriousness of David's behavior and at the same time, certainly give us understanding into the reason for the rapid response God had to the despicable way David behaved.
It appears from the narrative found in II Samuel 11: 18-22, that the battle against the Ammonites, while not over, hit a little snag. While the warriors on the battlefield had seemingly done well, when the troops neared the walled city of Rabbah, things took a sour turn.
If you have ever watched films that portray ancient battles, from high above the battlefield, perched within the safety of the stone walls of their cities, soldiers could shoot arrows and use other weaponry that was showered down upon the opposing army. From the safety of a parapet, protecting soldiers from enemy fire, an advantageous situation developed. And so, in order to put Uriah in harm's way, in a big way, Joab ordered the troops to move in close to the outer wall of the city of Rabbah. Then, in an act of cowardly murder, he pulled back and left the unsuspecting Uriah hanging out like a lamb being led to the slaughter.
But here is what's often missed. And because we are studying the lives of EVERY woman in the Bible, we won't pass over this point. It seems the Ammonite men weren't the only ones trying to protect life and limb. There was at least one woman warrior on the walls, too! Who knows, this woman may have been a mother who only wanted to protect her children from the Israelite troops. And I can't say I would have blamed her. We read that this clever woman, found a large millstone in an "upper" area of the wall and used her ingenuity to shove or drop the stone from above and it landed on Abimelech and killed him. This may sound like a brutal act, but if you were a mother trying to protect your children during a time of war, who knows the lengths any of us would go to save our little ones. This lady succeeded in her mission because at the end of the day, there was one less Israelite soldier.
Now, Joab had a problem because Abimelech came from the family of Gideon. He was an insider, he wasn't a Hittite like Uriah who was on the chopping block. Abimelech didn't hold a king's death warrant in his hand like Uriah did.
Fearing David would go ballistic when he found out Abimelech had been killed, Joab instructed the messenger to the king to make certain David understood that his intended victim, Uriah, was eliminated. I had to roll this around in my brain for a while. How did Joab know Uriah was dead? Did he go out onto the battlefield checking body after body to see if the king's dirty work had been carried out as intended?
It's downright creepy to think of Joab looking at each body hoping to find a dead Uriah. But at some point, the body of Uriah the Hittite was found and Joab, could with certainty, notify David that the deed was done.
And this brings me to a critical point in this terrible story that helps me understand God's swift and strong response in the face of such treachery.
Uriah wasn't the only person David and Joab murdered. There was also what is casually called, "collateral damage." I hadn't really heard this term used until someone, about nine years ago began to refer to innocent children who died during times of war as "collateral damage." A family at a wedding gets a bomb dropped on them - and it's "collateral damage." Abimelech, who was too close to a wall when Joab pulled the troops back so Uriah would be slaughtered, becomes nothing but, "collateral damage."
Now it's easy for some to say "Well, it's part of war. That's what happens!" But I'd like us to take God's point of view when one of His precious children is referred to as nothing but "collateral damage." And I also want to expand on this thought even more, for war isn't the only time we see or find "collateral damage." Which brings me to the word influence. David's influence at the time of Uriah's death left a wake of "collateral damage" upon his household and the lives of all the people in the nation. This once admired, valiant leader, because of his influence, could have lifted the nation of Israel to heights of glory and respect among the surrounding nations, but instead, when the Canaanites looked at their own behavior and at David's behavior, there wasn't much difference. One group made no claim to follow God, while David claimed to know God, and yet their behavior was the same. How tragic! For in this case of hypocritical behavior, the "collateral damage" that was inflicted, was also on the reputation of the God of heaven and earth.
Yesterday, I happened upon an article written by a devout Christian whose foster child had turned his back on God. This broken-hearted father listed some of the harsh verbal attacks this young man sustained, not at the hands of the "wicked" or "godless heathens" but from so-called Christians in his own circle of belief. When confronted about their unChristlike behavior of a wounded young man, these holier-than-thous retorted that this boy was "on his way out of their group anyway." They had decided their influence didn't matter. The purity of their beliefs was all that concerned them. So what, if there was a little "collateral damage."
Well, as we found out today, murder is still murder. And just as Uriah died by the hands of David and Joab, so did Abimelech - and God didn't call it "collateral damage." He called it what it was - they were smitten. They were slaughtered.
"Every one comes between men's souls and God, either as a brick wall or as a bridge. Either you are leading men to God or you are driving them away."
Canon Lindsay Dewar
A Prayer For Insight
"God, when I was a child
the issues of right and wrong were simple,
clearly laid down as law by others.
But now that I'm an adult,
responsible for my life,
now that I must make decisions
based on my own experience
nothing appears clear-cut any more.
Now, I see the movements of life
which can turn evil into good
and I know how corruption can occur
to taint the best of intentions.
In fact, it sometimes seems
that good and evil aren't separate at all,
but mixed in every action.
And that can make choices difficult.
I pray for the courage to make wise decisions.
In the security of your love,
may I step past the ignorance and fear
which makes me self-protective,
and in a multitude of choices,
may I always lean towards the greater good."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=g9ffnudab.0.0.6m4jihcab.0&ts=S0493&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com%2F&id=preview and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
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