"David sent this word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.' and Joab sent (him) Uriah to David."
II Samuel 11: 6, N.I.V.
"Cohorts In Crime"
"Everybody is influenced by somebody or something."
What person in my life influences me the most?
Have I ever made a decision that was contrary to what I believed was right; however, I felt pressure from someone to go against what I believed?
"(She) who goes with wolves learns to howl."
"There is little we touch but we leave the print of our fingers behind."
I'll never forget some advice my dad gave me when as a 17-year-old, I left home and went off to college near San Francisco. At this time in history the drug scene was rampant in the beautiful "city by the Bay." I'm certain my parents, aware of all the temptations that would confront a young girl, left me at the dorm with a certain amount of fear and trepidation. As my dad walked away, he turned and said soberly, "Remember, it matters who you let influence you."
It wasn't long before I completely understood what he meant for more quickly than I could realize, I found that who a person chose to associate with had a great influence, not only on their reputation, but on their personal decisions.
In the book Sisters In Crime, author Gillian Roberts, describing the relationship between two characters, Jackson and Laurel, vividly portrays the influence of Jackson on Laurel's life in this way: "Jackson embezzled Laurel's life. He pretended it was still in her account, but little by little, he transferred it to his own. And finally, she was bankrupt."
This particular passage struck a cord with me, and maybe it will with you, too. Nearly all of us have, at one time or another had someone enter our lives who has stripped away what we are and what we want to be, layer by layer. In my younger years, way too often I found myself trying to mold myself into the somebody that another individual wanted me to be. What I found was that after futile attempts to try to conform into what another person wanted, I never quite made it. I didn't do a good enough job being "the someone" that "somebody" else wanted or needed.
This is why the statement that Laurel found herself "bankrupt" touched me so much. Perhaps this statement hit home with you as well.
What's more, it is in observing carefully, how the Bible shows us, that we become bankrupt, that we can take the proper steps to avoid making the same mistakes again.
Who would have known that a text like II Samuel 11: 6 would be a warning flag -a wake-up call - shouting out, "Beware who you let influence you. Watch carefully who you associate with. Make certain you don't let the wrong influence strip away the moral fiber of your life." This is why I called the title of the "Inspiration" section in today's devotional, "Cohorts In Crime." A "cohort" is one of the ten divisions of a Roman legion, containing 300-600 men. In other words, a cohort is a protective force associated with the military. It is a group united in a struggle. And this is an important fact for us to remember. However, in an informal way, the word "cohort" can also refer to a companion or associate who aids you.
After finding out the news that Bathsheba was pregnant, David knew full well he had a big problem on his hands. He desperately needed a "cohort" who would be "united with him in a struggle." And in this case, the struggle involved saving the throne of Israel as well as David's reputation and potentially his life and Bathsheba's, too.
So we are told, David called Joab, the head of his army. And here's where this story gets interesting - and it won't be the only time we'll find one dirty hand helping another dirty hand.
If you remember, back to the time when David was being chased by King Saul, a soldier in David's camp named Abishai, who just happened to be Joab's brother, encouraged David to kill King Saul, who was found sleeping in a cave, unprotected from David's attack. It was at this time David showed a heart after God for he restrained the men in his band from "laying a hand against God's anointed" (I Samuel 26: 4-10). This was a time when we see God's gift of mercy running through David's heart. And upon an enemy, David bestowed loving kindness.
Later, we find in II Samuel 2: 18, that Zeruiah, who was David's half-brother, had three sons - Abishai (who we just referred to), Asahel, and yes, Joab. Seems these three young men had King David as their half-uncle. And if you remember, they ended up on a murderous adventure when they felt their "Uncle David" was being taken advantage of by Abner, the former head of Saul's army, and so they murdered Abner.
All of a sudden the picture becomes very clear. At a time when David found himself in dire straits, with the throne and his life on the line, he needed a "cohort" in this struggle who had as much to lose as he did - so he called on Joab, a family member no less, as well as a man who had proved his loyalty by getting blood on his hands in times past. If we don't think the Bible is a timely book, then there's something wrong with us for this story sounds as if it came off the pages of any newspaper in any country on planet earth. Someone decides to use somebody who is beholden to them to get their dirty work done - that's why I call all of these people "cohorts in crime."
Sadly, by associating himself with people who would do his bidding without thought of what was right, David, himself, found that the heart that used to yearn for Godlike behavior, became blunted to heaven's call. And instead, this once Godly man, surrounded by individuals whose, "yes, David" mentality left him thinking he could do anything and get away with it, did just that!
Not long ago I was reading about an entertainment star who has through great adulation, managed to keep their feet on the ground. They noted that what has helped them most is that they have people in their lives, who care for them the most, who are not afraid or hesitant to "call them out" when they act too high and mighty. Oh, that David had had a friend like that who would have lovingly refused to follow a wayward king's demand.
George Truett wrote, "The most serious thing in all the world is this matter of personal influence." David had the power to influence those around him and so did Joab. But instead of lifting each other up, they became cohorts in crime - and in the end were found morally bankrupt.
"The serene silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the Spirit of God."
C. H. Spurgeon
"O God, who madest me for Thyself, to show forth Thy goodness in me: manifest, I humbly beseech Thee, the life-giving power of Thy holy nature within me: help me to such a true and living faith in Thee, such strength of hunger and thirst after the birth, life and spirit of Thy holy Jesus in my soul, that all that is within me may be turned from every inward thought or outward work that is not Thee…and heavenly workings in my soul."
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.
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