"And he (David) wrote in the letter, saying, ‘Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.'"
II Samuel 11: 15, King James Version
"Smitten and Afflicted"
"The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Do I feel as though my life is going through the furnace of affliction right now?
How and in what ways have I been "smitten"?
"Affliction is a divine diet which though it be not pleasing to mankind, yet Almighty God hath often imposed it as a good…to those children whose souls are dearest to Him."
"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
Isaiah 48: 10, K.J.V.
Several days ago, I received a magazine in the mail which I've seen copies of since I was twelve-years-old. It's called Town and Country and I remember as a young girl, in the local library, turning the pages of this periodical that gave me a glimpse into a lifestyle I knew nothing about. This exclusive magazine has, through the years, featured advertisements for the most expensive jewelry the world has to offer along with the exclusive homes and rare cars of the rich and famous. As a young woman, I'll never forget looking at the back pages in the magazine, which carried pictures and covered the stories behind the most prestigious weddings every month - weddings that spared no expense on anything a bride and groom desired. Of course, there wasn't one picture in the entire magazine that showed what life might have been like ten years later for some of the joyous couples who appeared to have everything life could give them.
As I thought about the glamour portrayed in this slick magazine which showed the advantages of the so-called "good-life," I reflected on what it may have been like at Bathsheba's and Uriah's wedding. A valiant soldier, one of the king's elite men and an inspiration to all the Israelites, married the granddaughter of a royal advisor. Doesn't this sound as though it had the makings of the society event of the year? And yet, not long after, we find that before Uriah and Bathsheba even had their own child, infidelity combined with a murderous plot, threw Uriah and Bathsheba into the furnace of affliction.
Lest we forget, Uriah was the moral person in this story. He was the principled, loyal soldier who did what was right. And yet, he was the person who died - or may I say it correctly - he was the person who was "slaughtered." And this recognition prompted me to go back and reread II Samuel 11: 15 and to underline three particular words in this text. The words are:
And I'm using the King James Version of the Bible if you are following along and want to identify these words in this passage.
First of all, as I read this text, I decided to check on the Hebrew translation of each of these words and here it is:
1. Hottest: Meaning the most violent or strongest in a bad sense.
Obviously, David told Joab to put Uriah in the place in the battle where things were not only the most violent, but where things were going the worst. In other words, David wanted Uriah placed in a position where he didn't have a chance to survive.
2. Retire: Meaning to withdraw or pull back. To reverse the course and go backwards.
Not only was Uriah stationed where the fighting was the most violent and where the chance of winning was the poorest, to add to this, David instructed Joab to pull back all the support around Uriah. Just think about this fact for a moment.
3. Smitten: Meaning to slaughter.
When Uriah was placed in the most vulnerable position on the battlefield; when his support withdrew and headed in reverse; this lone warrior, without any defense was left to be slaughtered.
Now I want to ask you a question. Has there ever been a time in your life when you have felt that you've been left on the battlefield alone? All your support has been withdrawn and you have been forced to face the impending enemy alone?
I believe I can answer this question for many of you because I personally read and pray over all the emails I receive each day. And many of you have told me you're fighting in a battle with apparently no support. Whether it's a financial battle that has left your life in tatters or a battle with an enemy called cancer that has stripped you of your strength and will to live, or possibly you are on the field of battle because of a marital collapse and you're feeling as though everyone has pulled out and left you all by yourself, whatever you are going through, like Uriah, you may find yourself feeling "smitten and afflicted." And this is where I'm so thankful that when God's Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, He didn't come and live the Town and Country life. He chose to align Himself with the "smitten and afflicted" as the prophet Isaiah so beautifully shares with us in Isaiah 53. In fact, when talking about Christ's coming, Isaiah used the same Hebrew word for "smitten" that was used to describe the way Uriah was also "smitten," something all of us can relate to in times of affliction. The knowledge that we have "Immanuel," God With Us, -- who not only walked the path of affliction before us but who will be there every step of our way today, gives me a great deal of encouragement in my own life. As the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon penned, "As sure as God puts His children into the furnace of affliction, He will be with them in it."
I'll never forget the first time as a child hearing the story of the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - three faithful young men who were thrown into a fiery furnace for their disobedience to the king. Just like Uriah, the fires of affliction surrounded them. But as they stood in the fire, there was with them, "the Son of God" (Daniel 3: 25). As I thought of Uriah alone on the battlefield, with no visible means of support, I can assure you with complete confidence that the Son of God was at his side during his time of affliction, just as He's at your side right now. I take great comfort during the painful times in my own life from the words of Henry Martyn, "There is more safety with Christ in the tempest, than without Christ in the calmest waters. The brook would lose its song if you removed the stones. My soul, alas, needs these uneasiness in outward things, to be driven to take refuge in God."
There's an old hymn entitled, "Never Alone," and I'd like to share a few of the words with you:
"Lonely? No, not lonely while Jesus standeth by;
His presence always cheers me, I know that He is nigh,
Friendless, No, not friendless, for Jesus is my friend;
I change but He remaineth the same unto the end.
No, never alone, no, never alone;
He has promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone."
G. O. Elderkin
No matter the affliction you face, no matter if those you trust have reversed direction, you are not alone. You have a Friend who has walked the way before you and He has promised never to leave you alone.
"Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise."
Henry Wadswoth Longfellow
"May we long
not for the smoothness of sand
which looks good, and feels flat,
and is easy to walk on
but will not withstand a storm.
May we build our hopes on You.
Though You may not prevent the storms,
You keep us firm within them.
So even if we're battered, we cannot fall
except deeper into a crevice in the rock;
deeper into You."
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.