Idleness is a Trap

by Justin Craft

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 11:1

Read: Samuel 11

Devotion: David’s dalliance with Bathsheba is one of the most famous events in the Bible. King David, the anointed of the Lord (1 Sam 16:12). King David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14). King David, the man who longed to build a house for the Lord (2 Sam 7:1-2). King David, the man through whom the Messiah would come (2 Sam 7:12-13). This same King David looks out from his roof one day, sees a woman he finds exceptionally attractive, finds out she is married, and sends for her anyway to commit adultery with her. Then he finds out she is pregnant! Remember, it is the Lord who opens and closes wombs, so don’t think that turn of events is a coincidence (Gen 29:31, 30:22; 1 Sam 1:5-6)!

But what is a man of God to do in that situation? We would hopefully say that a man in David’s situation should confess and repent. He would admit his sin and failulre to Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, and to the country, as their kind and spiritual leader. He should take responsibility for any consequence that sin deserves under the Law (Exod 20:14; Lev 20:10).

As we know from the story, however, David doesn’t do any of that. He instead piles more sin onto his sin. He first lies to Bathsheba’s husband to try and trick him into believing that the child is his. Yet, Uriah the Hittite has more honor than the King of Israel. Uriah refuses to go home and sleep with his wife while his fellow soldiers are still out fighting and risking their lives.

So now what is David to do? The right thing? No. David again adds sin to sin. He sends Uriah back to the battlefield, unknowingly carrying his own death sentence. David sends him with a letter to David’s general, Joab, saying that Uriah should not live through the next battle. Now David has implicated another person in his sin. Joab follows David’s instructions and orders a foolish attack against the city they were besieging. Uriah dies as planned, but what is often overlooked in this is that Uriah wasn’t the only casualty of that assault. “And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell” (2 Sam 11:17). David didn’t just murder Uriah. Only the Lord knows how many faithful men he murdered that day to cover up his sin.

We know the rest of the story. When David received the news of Uriah’s death he thought he had finally gotten away with his sin, but the Lord had seen everything. We know of Nathan’s rebuke, and the consequences of David’s sin that reverberate through the rest of the book.

There are many elements of the narrative that we could learn from, but I want to ask: How did this all start? Lust and adultery weren’t the first sins that catapulted him into lies and conspiracy and murder. Idleness was the catalyst for this entire chain of events. As verse one of the chapter indicates, the adultery occurred during a time when kings went out to battle. David’s army was out. Uriah was out fighting. But where was David? He was home, relaxing, doing nothing. He was idle. It was late afternoon, and yet he was just laying on the couch when he got up to go to his roof and first saw Bathsheba (v. 2).

There’s nothing wrong with vacations and relaxing when we need it. We’re finite creatures. God knows that, which is one reason why he gave his people a day of rest. However, when we are idle—which is doing nothing when we should be doing something—we’re not only sinning (2 Thess 3:6), but we’re also leaving ourselves wide open to further sin. If we’re not filling our minds and days with things that are good and acceptable and wholesome and righteous, we’re going to be filling them with their opposites. When we are lazy, avoiding our responsibilities, procrastinating, filling our days with things just to make time go by faster, we are not being vigilant as Christ called us to be. We will be prone to walk into whatever trap of sin that threatens to ensnare us (Matt 24:42; Rev 16:15). Trust in Christ’s words. Remain vigilant and avoid idleness, for idleness is a trap for your soul.

Ponder and Pray: Consider how idleness can lead to other temptations and sin. Pray that the Lord will help you to avoid idleness and enable you to consistently pursue diligence.

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