1 Chronicles 19-20, Colossians 3
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, Joab led out the army and ravaged the country of the Ammonites and came and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. – 1 Chronicles 20:1 ESV
There is an interesting omission in chapter 20 of 1 Chronicles. It starts exactly like 2 Samuel 11, but then leaves out the entire story about David and his elicit affair with Bathsheba. It is unlikely that the chronicler was attempting to cover up David’s infamous sin, because it would have been well-known to all of his readers. More than likely, he omitted the details of this less-than-flattering event in David’s life because his purpose for the chapter was to highlight David’s victories over his enemies at the beginning of his reign. But that one phrase, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle” stands out. It tells us that Joab, the commander of David’s army, led the troops into battle while “David remained at Jerusalem” (1 Chronicles 20:1 ESV). While David should have been busy defeating the enemies of God, he was falling victim to “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” (Colossians 3:5 ESV). David had been by God to be the king of Israel in order for him to lead the people of God. “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2 ESV). But in the missing story of Bathsheba, we have a case of David losing sight of his real objective. He became distracted from God’s intended purpose for his life. And while David would experience great victories in the years ahead, he would also suffer tremendous losses within his own household as a consequence of his sin.
What does this passage reveal about God?
The chronicler obviously knew well the sin of David with Bathsheba, but his real objective was to write of God’s activity among His people through the kingship of David. In spite of David, God was still at work, providing the nation of Israel with victories over their enemies. He was still giving them His divine assistance in conquering the nations that occupied the land of Canaan. And His efforts would be so effective that by the time Solomon, David’s son, took over the throne, his kingdom would experience a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity. But even Solomon with all his wisdom, riches, and obvious blessings from God, would prove to be unfaithful, allowing his love of women to lead to his worship of false gods. He would lose sight of the fact that God had given him wisdom in order for him to lead the nation of Israel wisely. God had blessed him with abundant resources that he might provide for the people of God. Both of these men were God’s handpicked kings over His people. They were not to be like all the other kings of the world. They were never to forget that they had the God of the universe on their side and that their actions and attitudes were to reflect their unique relationship with Him. God wanted to bless their reigns and provide them with victories over their enemies, peace and prosperity for their people, and the assurance of His abiding presence.
What does this passage reveal about man?
David and Solomon both illustrate man’s unique capacity to give in to focus on what is earthly. In Colossians 3, Paul provides a short, but relatively comprehensive list of what constitutes an earthly, rather than heavenly mindset: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and coveteousness” (Colossians 3:5 ESV). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul provides an even longer list of what he calls the “works of the flesh”: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV). Together, these two lists serve as a compendium of a life lived with an earthly, rather than a heavenly focus. So Paul tells us we are to put to death what is earthly in us. These are internal issues that emanate from within. Jesus Himself said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19 ESV). David’s sin with Bathsheba was an outflow of an internal problem in David’s heart. Solomon’s idolatry and unfaithfulness was the direct result of a heart problem. James reminds us, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14 ESV). But Paul gives us the antidote to the problem. He tells us to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God ” (Colossians 3:1 ESV). He says to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2 ESV). Our focus, interest, and primary concern is to be on eternal, rather than temporal things. We are to desire the things of God instead of the things of this world. Paul would have us know that, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, we have “put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self” (Colossians 3:9-10 ESV). The tense he uses in this sentence suggests that this is a past event. It has already taken place. We have been given a new life in Christ. We are new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). Paul’s emphasis seems to be that we are to recognize our new identity as redeemed, renewed creations and live accordingly. In other words, our conduct should begin to reflect our new status as children of God. We are “being renewed” daily – an ongoing process by which we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. Paul would have us remember that our job is to live in accordance with who we are in Christ. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgiving each other” (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV). This is practical, real-life stuff.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
My relationship with Christ is to transform every area of my life. “In whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17 ESV). I am to live with a heavenly mindset, not an earthly one. I am to live a life that reflects my new identity in Christ and my new Spirit-empowered capacity to reflect His holiness and righteousness. I don’t have to live according to my old sinful nature. Yes, it is still there and is alive and well. But God has given me a new nature that can effectively counteract my old nature. Paul puts it this way: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 ESV). I can live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit. I can bear the fruit of the Spirit. But I must set my mind on the things above. I must seek God’s will and saturate my mind with His Word. I cannot live like Christ if I attempt to exist on a steady diet of earthly things. If I fill my mind with the things of this world, I will bear the fruit of this world. So Paul encourages us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16 ESV).
Father, I want to become increasingly more heavenly minded. I know that I have to live and exist in this world. Even Your Son prayed that You would not take us out of this world, but that You would protect us from the evil one. I pray that I could live in this world, but not be of it. That I could reflect my true identity as a child of God and a new creation, filled with Your Spirit and bearing the fruit that is evidence of His presence in my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men