"But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house."
II Samuel 11: 9, King James Version
"How To Avoid Temptation"
"No one can ask honestly or happily to be delivered from temptation unless (she) has honestly and firmly determined to do the best (she) can to keep out of it."
If I had been in Uriah's place, how do I think I would have reacted to the king's offer to return to my home?
What does Uriah's behavior tell me about his moral fortitude?
"Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory."
Frederick William Faber
"The heron's a saint when there are no fish in sight."
We live just a mile from a beautiful place called Oak Creek Canyon. Quite often out my kitchen window, I'll see a heron flying toward the creek, I'm certain on its way to get some tasty treat from the flowing waters. The image in my mind of this large bird gracefully flying across the sky toward the unsuspecting fish prey in the waters of the shallow creek, helps me understand better the Bengalese Proverb above which notes that if there were no fish, the heron would not even make its way to the creek at all.
How interesting for you and me, in a very practical sense - for each of us is tempted in different ways. If you don't like ice cream, then it isn't a temptation if a large bowl of luscious ice cream with nuts and hot fudge is set before you. By the same token, if you love ice cream, but have been forbidden to eat it because of a health problem, sitting at a table while others are lapping up their bowls of delicious treats can become an almost irresistible temptation.
Fish for a heron will tempt the bird every time. And for each of us, there is something or someone that becomes the bait on the hook that reels us in. A temptation we find extremely difficult to resist.
Many times, this bait of temptation comes to us in the form of a person. As Matthew Henry warned, "Many a dangerous temptation comes to us in fine gay colours, that are but skin-deep." This observation reminded me of a very personal experience many years ago when a friend from a previous time in my life called and wanted to go to lunch. He happened to be passing through town and thought it would be fun to get together to talk about old times. While my better judgment said, "No," I agreed and we met at a local restaurant. Within five minutes of arriving, I knew I had made a mistake. While nothing "improper" happened, it was how I felt inside that really caught me off guard. Hearing and seeing that this individual was still a person who did not have heavenly boundaries surrounding his life, let me be vulnerable to being drawn into an unsavory situation. When I finished my lunch, I smiled. Said, "Thank you," and got in my car, alone, and drove home. I vowed that never again would I put myself in a position where unintended compromise was even an option.
Here's where I want to emphasize again the reason I love the Bible. God could have chosen to leave us with philosophical ideas about good and evil. He could even have left one simple page of laws if He had chosen. But He didn't. Instead He incorporated the assistance of real people, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and who were inspired by God to write that which is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3: 15-17, I Peter 1: 20, 21).
Thus, the Scriptures contain the detailed experiences of real people like you and me, who faced sorrow and suffering - heartache and pain. Individuals who lost their footing and fell into the pit of sin but who also found the redemption they longed for. The Bible tells us the sordid and the heavenly. The evil and the good, with nothing hidden. And these necessary portraits are what provide us with the basic protective gear that can be used to surround and shield us from the tempter's scourge.
No where is heaven's advice so aptly laid out as in II Samuel 11: 9, where we are told that even with the king of Israel, David, trying to aid Uriah by encouraging him to go home and partake in the pleasures of marital bliss, this principled soldier chose not to leave his post of duty but instead slept with David's servants at the palace.
I have to admit, at first, and even after second and third reading of this text, I thought to myself, "What's the big deal if Uriah went home to his wife? Isn't this going a little overboard?" And then I thought about what a friend, whose husband and two sons have both served in the U.S. Army overseas told me. She explained that when her husband and sons are on duty, others lives are dependent on their vigilance. The individuals they serve with rely on them to be steadfast and not to slack off. Nothing should or can divert their attention or lives may be lost.
This was the commitment Uriah had to the king's army - to the army of Israel. When the king called him home, it wasn't, in Uriah's mind, a time for frolic and fun. The troops were still on the battlefield. The war was still raging. And Uriah wouldn't celebrate victoriously until he could do so with all his comrades. What a fine man. What a courageous man. What a moral man.
To think, as we will study in the upcoming weeks, Uriah didn't just say "No" to temptation once, he did so three times. And his first move in avoiding temptation is to be found in the words of Mark Twain who said it simply: "It is easier to stay out than get out." As the Bible tells us "But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants." He stayed out of trouble. He stayed away from temptation.
I love these words penned by the poet Robert Browning. "Why comes temptation, but for man to meet and master and make crouch beneath his foot, and so be pedestaled in triumph."
"Blessed is the man (and woman) that endureth temptation; for when they are tired, they shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him."
James 1: 12, K.J.V.
"If my soul has turned perversely to the dark;
If I have left some brother wounded by the way;
If I have preferred my aims to thine;
If I have been impatient and would not wait;
If I have marred the pattern drawn out of my life;
If I have cost tears to those I loved:
If my heart has murmured against thy will,
O Lord, forgive."
F. B. Meyer
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.