He is always spoken of as the doting husband of Bathsheba, brutally slain to cover up for King David’s misdeed with her. The helpless victim of a kingdom-wide adultery scandal, Uriah is often depicted as the stain in the otherwise clean record of the “man after the heart of God.”
Sadly, his death had easily been the highlight of his life, that only a handful few took the time to know the kind of life he lived.
But while his account can be found in only a chapter in the 39 books of the Old Testament, it is still a story worth reflecting on. Because there was definitely more to remember about him than his sad death. He was, after all, not just a simple-minded soldier who blindly walked towards his downfall, but a loyal soldier who refused to abandon his post... even to the point of death.
But his death could have been prevented—if he had followed King David’s order: “Go down to your house and wash your feet” (2 Samuel 11:8). The kindest, most heart-ending command for a soldier who had stayed in the battlefield for such a long time, for it meant home... rest... family. The things that soldiers of his kind most yearn for.
Yet as tempting as the offer was, Uriah refused to give in, and his reasons couldn’t have been any clearer: “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing (2 Samuel 11:11)!”
The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents... How could I, a soldier of the nation of the Living God, go to the safe boundaries of my home while my entire country is in peril?
My commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country... How could I, their comrade in arms, a soldier who pledged to live and die with them, rest even for a bit while they struggle in the open field?
How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? How could I enjoy even the comforts of my home and the love of my wife when I am supposed to be out there, fighting to win this war?
As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!
No worldly pleasure was enough for him to turn his back from his calling. And he paid for that strong devotion with his life...
Though he was only one of maybe thousands who died during the war, God made sure that his death would be remembered. For it was written in the last verse of ‘Uriah’s chapter’ that “the thing David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).
It was for this strong devotion that Uriah had died a hero. It was his refusal to abandon his duty that he had left his mark in the heart of God. It was definitely his stubborn faithfulness – not King David’s sin against him and his wife – that had given a name to this otherwise nameless soldier.
And this kind of strong devotion, this refusal to abandon duty, this stubborn faithfulness, is what we, as soldiers of the Living God, must covet.
May we NOT, like Uriah, give up our heavenly duty for the sake of worldly pleasures.
May we, like him, remain God’s devoted soldiers until the very last breath of our lives.
May we, like him, live and die... a hero.