CHRISTIAN TRAVELERS GUIDES
READINGS FOR THE CHRISTIAN
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Fulfill the commandments out of love. Could anyone refust to love our God, so abounding in mercy, so just in all His ways?
St. Augustine, Commentary Psalm 6
Christ so loved us that for pure love, He came down from heaven. It was the Father's will that we, beholding the manhood of Christ, should love him.
Martin Luther, Sermon 1518
A good life maketh a man wise according to God, and giveth him experience in many things.
Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Open your eyes and look round the world. Tell me who was ever really happy without God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. Look at the road in which you are travelling. Mark the footsteps of those who have gon before you: see how many have turned away from it and confessed they were wrong ... He that serves Christ is happy on earth, and will be happier still in heaven.
J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, on Happiness
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant." So David sent this word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house. When David was told, "Uriah did not go home," he asked him, "Haven't you just come from a distance? Why didn't you go home?" Uriah said to David, "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!" Then David said to him, "Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home. In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die." So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. Joab sent David a full account of the battle. He instructed the messenger: "When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, the king's anger may flare up, and he may ask you, `Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn't you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelech son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn't a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?' If he asks you this, then say to him, `Also, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.' " The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. The messenger said to David, "The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance to the city gate. Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king's men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead." David told the messenger, "Say this to Joab: `Don't let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.' Say this to encourage Joab." When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.
2 Samuel 11.1-27
Tom Paine and other eighteenth century Deists thought that stories like the adultery of David and Bathsheba, and David's judicail murder of Bathsheba's husband, proved that the Bible is an immoral book unworthy of the name "the Word of God." In fact, the story is one of the most important in world history. It sets the stage for the unthinkable: the judgement of a King. What's more this is no ordinary King. David is the greatest King in Jewish history. Yet he is shown as a shabby individual whose lusts overcome any sense of justice. What is remarkable is not that the Bible records an immoral story, it is that the story is told at all.
Other ancient books praise great Kings while depicting them as super humans who are the font of virtue beyond all criticism and judgment. But, the Bible is different. It shows one of its greatest heros as in all with all his weaknesses as someone capable of evil deeds. There is no hero worship here. David is shown at his worst. Thus it sets a new standard in history by placing truth beyond propaganda and treating even kings as mere humans who are as weak and frail as the resto of us.
What follows in the next passage is even more remarkable. The king is judged, but more about that tomorrow.
Day: 4- 5-6
These readings are based on a) John E. Rotelle O.S.A's., excellent Augustine Day by Day, (New York, Catholic Book Publishing, 1986). Permission to use these passages has been sought, although I believe what I have used falls within a "fair use" policy; b) Various works of Martin Luther (1483-1546); c) Thomas á Kempis (1380-1471); d) Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle's (1816-1900) Holiness (18??) or Practical Religion (1900); e) Zondervan's New International Version of the Bible.
© Copyright Irving Hexham 2001