This post is by my good friend, Dr. R. B. Ouellette. Dr. Ouellette is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, Michigan, where he has served for over thirty-seven years. The church has grown tremendously under his leadership and sees consistent, lasting fruit through soulwinning and outreach. Dr. Ouellette is also the author of several Christian books.
It is a sad, tawdry tale—and one in which the hero isn’t who you might guess it would be.
- David—The young man of faith who slew Goliath with a mere slingshot and who became God’s chosen king should have been the hero of this story. But he’s not. He’s over fifty now and has grown self-indulgent in many areas.
- Joab—He’s a crafty, self-serving general who happens to be David’s nephew. He’s fierce but unscrupulous and always looking for an expedient way to increase his power.
- Bathsheba—For her, the story is especially sad, for she is the victim.
- Uriah—His name means “Flame of Jehovah.” And as you might have guessed by now, it is Uriah who died a hero.
You probably know the story, but if you don’t you can read it in 2 Samuel 11. Verses 6–17 specifically deal with Uriah and his heroic death. What can we learn from him? How can we, too, be sure that as our lives end—regardless of circumstances outside our control—we bring honor to our Lord and die heroes?
1. Be Alert
Always be on duty.
Talk about a contrast between the aggressor and the aggressed. David’s great mistake was in being spiritually complacent, whereas Uriah’s great strength was in being perpetually alert.
And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.—2 Samuel 11:8–9
David seemed to assume victory because of his position or his past accomplishments. And I’ve seen too many godly people do the same today—only to fall as David did.
Be alert to the obligations and opportunities God has entrusted to you. God has given us responsibilities to our families, our churches, and to our Lord. Don’t abandon these.
Also be alert to opposition. We have an enemy always on the prowl—always intent on bringing destruction to our lives and ministries. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
2. Be Aware
Be mindful of the sacrifices of others.
One of the most heart-gripping aspects of this entire saga is the contrast between King David allowing his men to die on the battlefield while he indulged himself versus Uriah, conscious of the sacrifices others were making, refusing to even briefly partake of well-deserved comfort.
And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.—2 Samuel 11:11
We are called to be saints (1 Corinthians 1:2), servants (Ephesians 2:10), and soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3). We are connected to one another in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). How can we then be less than committed to each other?
3. Be Allegiant
Be completely loyal to your King.
Uriah was faithful to his country and his king—even though his king betrayed him at the deepest level.
And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.—2 Samuel 11:12–13
There is a biblical principle of leadership in the local church. Unlike Uriah’s loyalty to David, we are not called to give loyalty to immoral, disqualified leaders. But we are called to follow those spiritual leaders God has placed in the church who can sincerely say, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
But the principle of leadership is rooted in a larger principle—the principle of Lordship. We are called to be “followers of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1). That is, we are to give unquestioning loyalty and immediate obedience to our Lord.
4. Be Apathetic
Pay no attention to what others are saying about you.
Sometimes I wonder if Uriah suspected something was up. I wonder if the letter containing his death sentence burned in his hands on his way to Joab. Regardless, Uriah faithfully delivered the message he had been given.
And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.—2 Samuel 11:14
Have you ever considered what would have happened had Uriah peaked into these orders? If he had been caught, he would have died in punishment—not as a hero. If he had not been caught, he would have been a coward in the battle. It was best he didn’t know.
We hurt ourselves when we have to know everything that anyone says or thinks about us. Today’s social media makes it so much easier to investigate the opinions of others toward us. But it is wasted ease.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t pay attention to what others are saying about you. Press on for your King regardless.
5. Be Active
Keep on fighting even if everyone else stops.
In Uriah’s final moments, his bravery shined the brightest. For when everyone around him withdrew from the battle, he fought on—unhesitating and unfailing.
And he 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. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.—2 Samuel 11:15–17
I talk to Christians all the time who have become discouraged in serving the Lord because they feel that they are alone. The bus ministry that used to bring them great joy has become a burden. The opportunities to go soulwinning with their church family that used to be a joy has become tiresome. They see others who were once serving with them dropping out of the race, and they want to quit too.
If this is you, could I challenge you? “…be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Uriah did not die under ideal circumstances. He was betrayed and murdered by the king he served. Yet, he did die a hero.
You and I cannot control the choices of others and the circumstances of our lives brought on by those choices. But we can choose to live in a way that honors God and keeps us in the hero’s battlefield until we see our King face to face.