"The messenger said to David, ‘Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in to the field, but we were upon them even to the entrance of the gate. Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.'"
II Samuel 11: 23, 24
"He Got What He Wanted"
"We often desire most what we ought not to have."
Has there ever been something in my life that I desired and then, when I finally got what I wanted so badly, I realized it wasn't what I needed after all?
If I made a priority list of my "desires," where would my longing for God be on that list?
"There is only one big thing -- desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little."
I love See's Candy. For those of you who live outside the United States, See's Candy makes chocolates and caramels and fudge. My very favorite candies are dark chocolate covered vanilla butter creams. It makes my mouth water just to think about these delicacies. I'll never forget once when I was in graduate school, passing a See's Candy Shop and it was as if someone else took over the steering wheel of my car. I couldn't help myself and before I knew it, I was leaving the store with a box of 20 butter creams. Now, you might think that over the next week I slowly savored these treats. Well, you would be totally wrong! In 30 minutes I devoured every piece. (I was a very, skinny glutton in those days). Fortunately, I didn't do this often and it was why I was thin at the time. But let me tell you, that foray into See's taught me something about "desires" for as the quote above, from the famed author Willa Cather so correctly notes, once a desire becomes big enough in any of us, it can consume us. It takes over not only our thoughts, but our actions, also. And this, all too sadly, is what happened to King David. Author Barbara Harrison wrote, "Desire creates its own object," and in the case of David, his lustful desire was focused on the beautiful object of his fancy, Bathsheba. He wanted…he desired…and he took. But when he got what he wanted, things certainly didn't turn out as planned.
The next thing you know, David was obsessing about ways to get out of a mess he created when Bathsheba became pregnant. So from a "desire" to have Bathsheba, David transferred his "desire" to eliminate her husband. All of his energy and time was dedicated to getting rid of this "thorn in his side." And guess what, as Andre Lorde said in Claudia Tate, "Our visions begin with our desires," and David's vision of getting Uriah out of the way, came true. As Marie de France correctly observed and as we recognize in David's life, his desires bound him "to the hazard of his enterprise." He ended up going down the specific path that his unscrupulous desires led him. What's worse, his undertaking ended up in a murderous plot which left him with blood on his hands, not only for Uriah's death but others as well.
When the messenger from Joab arrived at the palace with an update for David from the battlefield, he ended his report with the words, "and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also." If I had been David and heard this news, I think I would have been sick. It's almost as if the messenger was reporting the death of Uriah as an after thought, "Oh by the way, Uriah, your servant, he's dead, too." How could David sit on the throne and not hang his head in shame when one of his most valiant warriors, "his servant," as the messenger referred to Uriah, had been murdered? But this is where the desires in the heart of David took him.
In my book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, in Chapter 5, entitled "The Unfulfilled Woman," I share a personal story from my own life. This tale began when I was in high school and got a very coveted job after school at the local hospital. Every afternoon when school was out, I walked a few blocks to work. I intentionally took a route that led me through the physicians' parking lot where I could usually spot Dr. Chartier's powder blue Mercedes SL - my teenage dream car. I fantasized about the day I'd be able to have enough money to get a car just like it. I visualized myself driving around town with the top off, my long blonde hair flying in the breeze.
Well, fifteen years later, I was able to fulfill my desire. I was in San Francisco and had just sold a large account for the advertising company I worked for. Driving away from the client meeting I spotted "my" car in the window of an automobile showroom. It was a 1984 metallic blue convertible Mercedes 380 SL. The vehicle was used, but it looked great and I didn't care that it wasn't brand new. I just wanted the object of my desire. After conferring with my husband Jim, who felt the price was right, I purchased what I longed for.
During the next few months, my fantasy came true, or so I thought. You could see me all over town driving that car everywhere, especially on sunny, warm days when the top was down and my hair was flying. But things didn't turn out the way I wanted. Not at all. After repeated trips to the repair shop the hammer finally fell when the transmission on the car went out. With further investigation by our local dealership, it became clear, rather quickly, that the car wasn't all it was cracked-up to be. The odometer, which read 24,000 miles when I bought the car, had been tinkered with and rolled back. Seems the car had a lot more mileage on it than first claimed. I ended up getting rid of the car in complete frustration. What I had desired, in reality, was not what I wanted, nor was it what I thought it would be. As Jenny Holzer penned: "Protect me from what I want." And this is exactly how I felt. I needed protection from what I desired so badly.
In her book, The Romantic Comedians, written in 1926, Ellen Glasgow acknowledged that it is often, "human nature to overestimate the thing you've never had." And I just wonder if this isn't the critical lesson for us to learn from the way David's desire for what wasn't his, something he'd never had, led him down a path of treachery he, himself, could never have envisioned in his earlier life.
The great preacher Charles Wesley wrote, "Any unmortified desire which a man (or woman) allows in will effectually drive and keep Christ out of the heart." This is what happened when David's earthly desires outweighed his longing for God. In the words of Shepherd of Hermas: "Remove every evil desire and clothe yourself with good and holy desire. For if you are clothed with good desire, you will hate evil desire and bridle it as you please."
"Dear Lord! Accept a sinful heart,
Which of itself complains
And mourns, with much and frequent smart,
The evil it contains.
These fiery seeds of anger lurk,
Which often hurt my frame;
And wait but for the tempter's work
To fan them to a flame.
Legality holds out a bribe
To purchase life from thee;
And discontent would fain prescribe
How thou shalt deal with me.
While unbelief withstands thy grace,
And puts thy mercy by,
Presumption, with a brow of brass,
Says, "Give me, or I die!"
How eager are my thoughts to roam
In quest of what they love!
But ah! When duty calls them home,
How heavily they move!
O, cleanse, me in a Saviour's blood,
Transform me by thy power,
And make me thy belov'd abode,
And let me roam no more."
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 www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.