Fair-Weather Faith

March 7, 2022 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Credit: “King David Playing the Harp” by Gerard van Honthorst (1622) / Wikimedia

In 2 Samuel 7, David, king of Israel, comes to the prophet Nathan with a concern:

Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent. (2 Samuel 7:2)

David wants to build a temple for God, whose place of residence has, up until this point, been a tent that the Israelites took with them across the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land.

In Psalm 132, we learn more about just how committed David was to procuring a more permanent residence for God:

He swore an oath to the LORD, he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: “I will not enter my house or go to my bed,I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalm 132:2-5)

The oath that David swears as he is considering building a temple for God is the same oath that David will hear just chapters later after he has committed adultery with another man’s wife.

When David sleeps with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his military commanders named Uriah, and gets her pregnant, he tries to cover up the affair by summoning Uriah in from the battlefield and encouraging him to go home and “enjoy” his wife so that no one will suspect she has been forced into sleeping with another man. But Uriah refuses, telling David:

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)

Like David four chapters earlier, Uriah refuses to go to his home while the ark of God is in a tent and his men are on a battlefield. But the same oath that David once made has now become a liability that David has. So, David commands his general, Joab:

“Put Uriah out in front 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. (2 Samuel 11:15-17)

It turns out that David’s oath to God was a fair-weather oath. It was fine for a building project that would make David look good, but it was discarded when David was caught in a sin that made him look bad.

We are called to be more than fair-weather fans of God. Our faith in Him is refined not when it’s easiest to commit to Him, but when it’s hardest. In the words of one of Jesus’ followers named Peter, who himself struggled to stick with his faith when things got tough:

Trials have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7)

May the oaths that we make be the oaths that we keep. May we be faithful. After all, God has been, is, and will continue to be faithful to us.

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