Tuesday, March 06, 2007

So you think you've failed? (Part 2)

Ok, last time we borrowed a story from the Bible to talk a little about the fear of failure by giving you an example of a real mess-up by Abraham. Today, we're going to look at another story from the Bible about David.

This time we will go to 2 Samuel. Here is our main character David:

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." (2 Samuel 11:2-5)

Oh dear, we have a little problem here. So much for that "Thou shalt not commit adultery" command, huh? It turns out that David slept with Uriah's wife and got her pregnant. That could be considered a failure on a couple of points, right? But, that's not all! As we read on, we find out that Uriah is a soldier in David's army and is off fighting in a war. So, there is no possibility that Bathsheba's baby could be Uriah's child.

Then, David has an idea... if he could bring Uriah back to town for a night and send him home to his wife, Uriah would surely have relations with Bathsheba and then David would be off the hook. Brilliant! One teeny, tiny problem... Uriah did come to town but he didn't spend the night with his wife.

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. (2 Samuel 11:10-13)

Ok, just what David needed an honorable soldier in his army. So Uriah didn't do what David had hoped that he'd do. Uriah, being the dedicated soldier that he was, was not going to enjoy the pleasures of home while his comrades were out in the field. So, David had to come up with yet another brilliant idea. He decided to get Uriah all liquored-up so that in his drunkenness he would stumble home and possibly then, Uriah wouldn't know if he had slept with his wife or not. But, David was foiled again! Now what was he going to do? Bathsheba was still pregnant and it couldn't be her husband's child. David had one more plan up his sleeve... (desperate times call for desperate measures, right?)

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. (2 Samuel 11:14-17)

Did you catch that? David had Uriah carry a note back to his commander that told the commander to make sure the Uriah died in the next battle. Now there's a picture of audacity for you.

So, it happened as David so ordered and then...

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 11:26-27)

It seems as though David got what he wanted even if he made God mad, right? Well, as the story progresses, we find out that Bathsheba and David's son dies because the Lord was 'displeased'. However, David and Bathsheba did have another son, Solomon, whom God blessed beyond measure. Many experts will tell you that Solomon was the richest and wisest man to ever live on this earth.

As for David... well, in Acts 13:22, God describes David by saying, 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' Isn't that the ultimate compliment?! David was a man after God's own heart.

Does that seem at all weird to you? God actually blesses a man who committed adultery? Yep, that's what it says.

So, what can we learn from this story?

  1. Even the best intentioned people fail sometimes - and fail BIG. This is nothing that we should be afraid of. David failed often (just like Abraham in the previous blog entry), but he never gave up.
  2. Failure is not final and can be overcome. David continued to learn and grow and do his very best to serve. He was truly sorry for his mistakes and did his best to make up for them.
  3. What do you have to worry about anyway? It's not like your failure is going to be published in the Bible! So, you live with it for a few days, weeks, years. Look, David's failures are timelessly recorded in the #1 best seller of all of eternity. (And you were worried about what your boss said in that email. ;)

Sometimes our very best isn't good enough in the world's eyes, but it's really all that we have to offer at that time. When you act with pure intentions, it may not always turn out as you expected but you will always have your integrity and you will have strengthened your mind, your heart, your body and your soul.

I want to encourage you to look your fear of failure directly in the eye and realize that it's just one of the thoughts that is in your mind. You can choose at any time to think another thought - try it!

Instead of fearing possible failure, what would you dare to accomplish if you knew you couldn't fail? Go on, give it a try. I promise that if you mess up, it won't be as bad as you imagined AND it won't be published in the Bible for all to see.

(All Bible quotes are from the New International Version.)

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