Which Trail

Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.                                                                            2 Samuel 12:10 NIV

Recently, while reading in 2 Samuel, I was struck by the trail of death that extends outward from chapter 11, where David violated Bathsheba and had her husband killed. It starts with the crown prince, Amnon. The narrator does not tell us that Amnon justified violating his half-sister Tamar on the basis of what his father had done, but the juxtaposition of the two events surely invites us to make the connection.

Surprisingly, David does nothing about this; the result of his own guilt over what he had done? So Absalom, Tamar’s brother, and Amnon’s half-brother, engineers Amnon’s death at a party. According to the text, David is actually glad about this, but of course he cannot countenance bloody treachery in his own house (!), so he must refuse to be reconciled with Absalom in any meaningful way. That leads Absalom to revolt and the life of David itself is threatened.

Ahithophel, David’s most gifted counselor, sides with Absalom, but when he recognizes that one of David’s other counselors, Hushai, is secretly working against him for David, and that Hushai’s counsel is being accepted, Ahithophel commits suicide. The trail of death.

Ahithophel’s counsel would have led to the capture of David alone, but that having failed, Absalom must lead his army against David’s, resulting in many more deaths, finally even Absalom’s.

But the trail has not ended yet. Because of the revolt, the country has become divided, with Judah becoming separated from the other tribes of Israel. David, unable to forgive his faithful general Joab for having brutally killed Absalom, offers the generalship to Amasa, a Judean, if he will bring the Judean army under David’s control. But Joab, unwilling to accept such a demotion, kills Amasa. The trail of death.

I remind you of this gruesome story for one reason. You and I can start a trail. It can be a trail that leads from life to life. Or it can be a trail that leads from death to death. Did David have any idea what a trail he was starting that afternoon when he stole his neighbor’s wife? No, he did not. He thought it was just a moment of stolen pleasure with no consequences. But that one sin splashed a widening smear of blood across David’s life and the lives of all those around him. Don’t think your sudden little choices have no consequences. They do. What will be the result of your choices today? Life, or death?

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