#226: Remaining True to Your Principles in a Spiritual Battle

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

I imagine most of you are familiar with the adulterous story of David and Bathsheba. This tragedy is usually told from King David’s perspective. But what about Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband?

David hgnds letter to Uriah. Principles

This month in our Lessons from the Lesser Known I want us to shift our focus to see what we can learn from Uriah the Hittite.

Uriah’s Backstory

Uriah was a soldier in Kings David’s army. Some scholars suggest he carried the rank of a general. Uriah was honored as one of David’s 37 mighty men by David himself (2 Samuel 23:39).

Uriah’s home was just down the hill from King David’s palace which suggests that he was a man of means and social standing (2 Samuel 11:2).

David’s Treachery

While his army was out fighting against the Ammonites, King David was sitting back in his palace. He saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. He inquired about her, and despite knowing she was Uriah’s wife, he had her brought to him. David slept with her, and she became pregnant.

Hoping to conceal his act, David called for Uriah to be brought back from the battle under the guise of giving David a status report. David’s plan was that Uriah would go home and get his wife pregnant before returning to battle.

Uriah stayed at the palace with David’s servants that night rather than going home. The next day, David got Uriah drunk and tried a second time to get him to sleep with Bathsheba. But Uriah spent the night with David’s servants again.

Because David’ attempts to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba failed, David sent orders to Joab, his commander, to send Uriah into the battle where the fighting was the fiercest. Uriah died in battle, and his death was reported to David.

Uriah’s Principles

When David confronted Uriah about why he had not gone home and slept with Bathsheba, Uriah offered a principled explanation. Uriah said,

“The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” (2 Samuel 11:11).

Uriah put God first (the ark of God). He put God’s people (Judah and Israel) second. Then Uriah put God’s servants (Joab and the men of David’s army) next.

God first. God’s people second. God’s servants third. They were in the midst of a battle, camped in tents and open fields. Uriah could not see himself enjoying the comforts of home while his fellow warriors were not.

Uriah’s principles stand in stark contrast to David’s behavior. David should have been out leading his army. Instead, he stayed in the comfort of his palace while his men fought against God’s enemies for him.

This is bad enough, but he compounds his error by succumbing to lusts of the flesh when he inquired about a married woman, has her brought to him, and has sex with her.

David later married Bathsheba, but God considered the whole matter evil (2 Samuel 11:27).

Uriah, fighting a physical battle, remained true to his principles and faithful to God. David, fighting a spiritual battle, put his principles aside for his selfish interest.

Leaders, in this fallen world we are certain to face some combination of physical and spiritual battles. Let us strive to keep our eyes upon God the Father who has promised to give us the strength we need to stay true to Him (Philippians 4:13).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has adhering to your principles ever put you in a difficult or even dangerous situation? How did you respond?

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Category: Personal Development | Character


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  • John says:

    In the police academy we learned about the dangers of “the three B’s: Booze, babes and bucks. Addictions (alcohol,drugs,etc), sex (infidelity) and gambling (financial problems). Remaining true to one’s principles means avoiding the three b’s. Thanks for an excellent reminder, Ron!

    • Ron says:

      So true – men haven’t changed much over the centuries have we?! I wonder what they tell the ladies in the Academy to avoid? Booze, bucks, and bucks? 😉