Editor’s Note: AMI Quiet Times from May 1-10 are written by Dr. Ryun Chang, Teaching Pastor of AMI.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 Sam. 11:10-5 (NIV)
David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”  Uriah said to 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!”  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 out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”
When I was teaching in Mexico, I would go over the exam material beforehand so that my students would do well. That probably reflects the heart of most teachers, and it certainly captures the heart of God.
God “tests our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:4), but he “does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13); that’s what the enemy does. In theory, distinguishing between the two seems easy: testing is when we are being tested of the things we have learned for our growth; whereas, tempting is being tested of the things we don’t have the capacity to overcome so that we may fail. But in reality, it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. For instance, while the Greek word ekperizō is translated as “tempt” when referring to what the devil did following Jesus’ 40-day fasting (Matt. 4:1), it’s translated as “test” in Luke 10:25 when the lawyer was testing Jesus. But one thing is clear: whether tested or tempted, God won’t let us face it alone. Paul writes, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor.10:13b).
We see that God certainly does that for David here. David wishes that Uriah goes home and has a conjugal relationship with his wife Bathsheba, for only then her pregnancy could be explained away, and David will no longer be under suspicion. However, Uriah is too honorable to do that; instead, he sleeps at the entrance to the palace. Stunned by his loyalty, David should have scrapped his scheme, but he doesn’t. Plan B is to make Uriah so drunk that he will go home afterwards; again he doesn’t. Having given two chances by God to stop the charade and confess his sins to Uriah, David opts for Plan C—which is murder. His life will never be the same again.
It could be a ringing phone or dog barking or a sudden remembering of a Bible verse you’ve heard a while back: consider that as God’s way of “provid[ing] the way of escape” (NASB) so that you may not fall into temptation and be miserable.
Father, we praise and glorify Your Name. While we feel like we are inundated by more temptations now than before, the truth is we’ve gotten better at sinning. For the sake of temporary enjoyment, we’ve bartered our souls to our own dismay. Lord, help us to seize every opportunity You give so that we may not yield to these enticing temptations. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 5
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Chron. 21:1-8 (ESV): Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.  So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.”  But Joab said, “May the Lord add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?”  But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem.  And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword.  But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.  But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel.  And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.
Ps. 20:7 (ESV): Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Question to Consider
- What was so bad about David taking the census? Why did it displease God?
- In what sense did God provide a way out so that David didn’t have to fall into that temptation?
- Joab wasn’t a spiritually-sensitive man; in fact, he was often in the flesh. Yet, God used him to try to stop David from doing something that would later cost the life of 70,000 people. What kind of attitude should we cultivate so that we would allow just about anyone to speak into our lives?
- David had proclaimed and taught that Israel was going to trust God for victories, not the strength of its army or weapons. By counting the number of soldiers, David, in effect, was saying that he was going to depend on his army for victories. As a result, he broke what is called Suzerain-vassal covenant in which he was to completely rely on God for everything.
- Even Joab, not known for spirituality, understood the implication of counting the number of soldiers. Thus, he tried to persuade his boss to drop the project but to no avail. That was the way out which God provided so that David didn’t have to give into temptation, but again, he didn’t listen.
- The Bible is replete with examples of unlikable people (including a donkey) whom God used to speak into the lives of people more holier than them: God used the Babylonians to judge Israel, which puzzled Habakkuk and he asked God, “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (1:13). Thus, we should have a humble attitude.
Are you so numb spiritually that you aren’t even aware of having been tempted today? Is our standard of holiness so low that we actually feel okay even though we typically yield to any and every kind of temptation? So, what temptation did you face today? Are you walking any differently than the world in areas that truly matter? Ask God for discernment so that you may know what temptations you are facing in the first place. Then, ask God to overcome them.