"Taking What Isn't Yours"
"You shall not steal."
Exodus 20: 15, Amplified Bible
What do I believe it means to "steal"?
Have I ever taken something that wasn't mine?
How did I feel about this behavior?
"Securing treasures by a lying tongue is a vapor driven to and fro; those who seek them seek death."
Proverbs 21: 6, Amplified Bible
"Like the partridge that gathers a brood which she did not hatch and sits on eggs which she has not laid, so is he who gets riches by unjust means and not by right. He will leave them, or they will leave him, in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool."
Jeremiah 17: 11, Amplified Bible
I absolutely love bird watching. Right now, I have ten or more hummingbirds who are coming to the feeders on my back porch. They have become so comfortable with my presence that the other day as I was putting new nectar in the feeders, one iridescent green and purple feathered "hummer", dived repeatedly into my hair, as if to think I might be the source of its tasty treat, which in a way I was.
Living in a rather remote mountain area like we do, Jim and I are blessed with a wide-variety of birds who either make this region their home or migrate through this country when the seasons change.
While I've seen many different birds, I've never seen a live partridge outside of a wildlife preserve.
Evidently, the prophet Jeremiah knew something about partridges for in Jeremiah 17, he comments on their nesting habits. And this notation encouraged me to do some research on my own. It seems that unlike birds who make nests in trees or high places that keep their young out of harm's way, partridges have a habit of being "ground" nesters. As one author describes the partridge, it builds its nest on the ground rather than having to fly up into trees or high areas. And this bird, on occasion, will take occupancy in another bird's nest. While I don't want to cast dispersions on the partridge, it is apparent this bird occasionally takes the easy way out, latching onto what is easily available and within its grasp.
Does this sound familiar? It should for this is what our text today tells us David did. He sent his people (messengers) and "took" Bathsheba. Of course I had to get a better understanding of the word "took," and so I checked the Hebrew to find that this word in Hebrew is "lawkakh." The Hebrew dictionary states there are a wide-variety of applications for this word. And I want to take a look at a few, which I know, gave me a much broader and more illuminated view not only of what David did, but of what I do in my own life when I make the choice to "take."
Here are a few definitions of the way the word "took" is applied in Hebrew.
1. To accept
2. To buy
3. To carry away
4. To get
5. To seize
6. To take away
7. To use
8. To win
Now let's take these applications and compare them to David's behavior. First, David's target, Bathsheba, was a beautiful young woman who was the granddaughter of one of David's counselors and the wife of one of his most valiant warriors. Bathsheba was an easy target for if David sent for her, she could easily have thought it was just a friendly call. Her family had ties to David. Her family worked for David. Her family admired David. If I'd been in Bathsheba's shoes, I'm not certain I would have seen any red flags when the king sent for me.
But as we look at the intent that is hidden in the meaning of the word "took" in the Hebrew, it's easy to see that Bathsheba was viewed as a "something" David wanted to take ownership of; "something" he'd carry away or seize; "something" he could use! And I use the word "something" intentionally for when we take anything that isn't ours for our own pleasure, especially when it belongs to another person, we dehumanize that individual and turn them into a discardable "something," which demeans their value in our eyes.
I found it interesting that in nearly all the volumes of books with Christian quotations, there were minimal that dealt with theft or stealing and yet the Bible is filled with advice on this nasty problem - a great deal of which has to do with the way we as humans demean those who in our eyes are lesser, weaker, or poorer. Often we find the strong or rich preying upon the "least of these." Proverbs is filled with admonition that warns against the strong oppressing the weak - the rich stealing from the poor. Proverbs 22: 16 (Amplified Bible) is just one example: "He (or she) who oppresses the poor to get again for himself and he who gives to the rich - both will surely come to want." And let me be clear, "want" does not necessarily mean they won't have money or that they will lose their riches. It also means "want of soul" -- a lacking in the spiritual things that Jesus said matter for eternity.
When David made the choice to have his messengers "take" Bathsheba, he "took" the easy way out. He went after an easy target whom he could use to satisfy his personal desires. And the consequence was that in the end, before the acknowledgement of his sin, his heart came to want. Sadly, when we think we need to fill the wants in our hearts, if they are not the result of God's working in our lives, what we yearn for becomes only a momentary pleasure that leaves us hungrier than before we tasted of the bitter fruit.
If you and I want God's heavenly satisfaction to fill the inner longings of our hearts, let us follow the advice of the prophet Isaiah who asked, "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness - the profuseness of spiritual joy" (Isaiah 55, Amplified Bible).
And what will happen in our lives when we feast on heaven's bounty? The prophet Jeremiah paints this glorious picture of how your life and mine will be blessed: "They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion and shall flow together and be radiant with joy over the goodness of the Lord…And their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall not sorrow or languish any more at all…For I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and make them rejoice after their sorrow. I will satisfy fully…and My people will be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord" (Jeremiah 31: 12-14, Amplified Bible).
"Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord,
I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only all for Thee."
Frances R. Havergal
1836 - 1879
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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