“When they told David, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.’” (ESV – Read the chapter)
There’s nothing so much like righteousness to reveal sinfulness for just how ugly it really is. David had raped a man’s wife—this man’s wife—and now he’s trying to get Uriah to unwittingly help him cover up his evil deed. But Uriah just won’t play along no matter how hard David tries. And the harder David tries to cover his sinfulness with Uriah’s righteousness, the worse he looks and the deeper into it he falls.
Kind of like the punchline of the parable of the Good Samaritan, the interaction of David and Uriah presents a reversal of the character we would expect from these two. David is the king of God’s people. He was chosen by God for this position because of his character. Up to this point in his story that character has mostly shined. He twice spared the life of the previous king in spite of his aggressive efforts to kill David. He and his men rescued villages who then betrayed him to Saul. Once he had established his own reign David had sought out one of Saul’s relatives to show kindness—a generosity and grace that was totally unexpected.
Uriah, on the other hand, is rarely mentioned or thought of without his other title: “the Hittite.” The Hittites were one of the people groups of Canaan who were displaced by the Israelites when they moved into the Promised Land. That’s a nice way of saying they were destroyed. Or at least, that was God’s intent. They were included in the group of people groups who were deemed evil to the point of judgment by extermination. There shouldn’t have been any Hittites left. That there were represented a failure on the part of the Israelites. There’s no way one should have been included among the people of Israel.
And yet, here was Uriah, the Hittite. He was not merely included among the people of Israel, he was one of her warriors. More than that, as we learn later, he was among the group of David’s “mighty men,” a particularly elite group of thirty warriors whose bravery and skill were almost mythic in their proportions. He wasn’t just a warrior, but as we can see here, he was an admirably faithful one. He was a trusting and trustworthy one too. We don’t see any evidence that he suspected a thing wrong with his king’s behavior.
In other words, he was a perfect counterpoint to the vileness of what David, the king from whom we would have expected righteousness instead of this man who was a leftover from an evil people who should have been destroyed years before, had done, was doing, and would yet do.
Sometimes righteousness comes from places and people we would never expect. Yet God is not limited in where and how He places His servants. Our challenge is to not make assumptions about people based on their various external realities and focus instead on evaluating them based on who they are and what they’ve done most recently. It’s what God does with us. Better than that, when we are in Christ, He treats us based on what Jesus has done. Let’s make sure we are found in Him, then, and encourage others to do the same.