My friend Jack was what insurance companies would call an aggressive driver. I suppose he got his love of speed and driving danger from his love of NASCAR. He was quite the daredevil when it came to driving. In fact, he often considered traffic laws as mere suggestions. His car sported two bumper stickers. The one of the front of his car read “I’m not tailgating – I’m drafting.” There was also a bumper sticker on the back of his car that declared: “I’m not speeding – I’m qualifying.” I remember one particular time he ran a traffic light. It was a bright red when he went through the intersection. While it was late at night and there was no traffic, what Jack did not count on was the traffic camera. It was a couple of weeks after the incident that Jack received a photograph of his transgression, accompanied by a traffic ticket. Since he had received his citation in the mail with an accompanying photo, Jack decided to try his hand at humor by sending a photograph of a check to the police department. The police department decided to play along so they sent him a photograph of a pair of handcuffs.
Jack mailed the check.
Yeah, that’s just a joke. But what’s true is that people run red lights with alarming regularity. We don’t intend to run the red light, but most (if not all) of us have. I’ve notice over the years that a yellow light apparently means speed up. Anyway, I needed something as an introduction for the moral and spiritual red lights that we need to take seriously.
Consider our friend David. Of all the people in the Bible – and there are a lot of folks mentioned in God’s Word – David is the only one who carries the title: “a man after God’s own heart.” It’s written in Luke’s account in Acts. Paul was in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia when he was invited to speak. Paul stood and recounted Israel’s history with God, and when he came to the anointing of David as King of Israel, he said: “And when He (God) had removed him (Saul), He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 13:22). I cannot even fathom such a characterization. Could God say that of you? Well, that’s for another day.
David had an intimate relationship with the Lord, but that didn’t keep him from running a few of God’s red lights. In fact, I recall one episode in David’s life during which he ran several red lights. Here’s the account: “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am with child’” (2 Samuel 11:1-5).
Did you see them? They’re right there in the passage. Let’s look at them together. Red light number 1: “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle...But David remained at Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 13:1). David was not where he was supposed to be. Our text clearly points out that kings were usually on the battle field at this time of the year, and the phrase “But David remained at Jerusalem” speaks volumes. How many of us have run God’s red light by being somewhere we weren’t supposed to be? Red light number 2: “Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold” (2 Samuel 13:2). Since he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, it’s not much of a surprise to learn that David saw something/someone he wasn’t supposed to see. Bathsheba was bathing and the only way David could see her was from the roof of his home. This reminds me of the woman who complained to the police that her neighbor, when he was sunbathing, was wearing a bathing suit that was too revealing. She also complained that she nearly broke her neck when she fell off of the bucket that was on top of her dog’s house in her backyard as she looked over the fence to see him. Red light number 3: “So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’” (2 Samuel 13:3). It is at this point that someone (likely a servant) bravely informed King David that this woman was “the daughter of Eliam,” who was the son of Ahithophel, David’s counselor and thus Ahithotphel’s granddaughter (see 2 Samuel 23:34). David was also told Bathsheba was a married woman. She was “the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
God is setting a bunch of red lights and stop signs in front of David, and David blows right through them all. But before I get self-righteous, I need only examine my life to see the red lights I’ve gone through. Trust me, they are many.
When you see a red light or a stop sign...obey it – on the road and especially in your spiritual life. I’ll be trying to do the same. And when we see these warning signs from God, just remember: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB).
David could have saved himself a lot of grief if he had just stopped. We can as well. As we travel through life, let’s be careful out there...