Fight or Flight? I Say You Need Both

Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament unto he Corinthian congregation, and more specifically, is found in the fifth chapter. It is within this particular chapter found within this epistle where the apostle Paul has to address yet another transgression that was being committed within this congregation. The fifth chapter of this epistle begins and opens up with the apostle Paul declaring how it was reported unto him that there was an act that was being committed among this congregation, and such that was both shameful and disgraceful. As you go on reading this chapter you will find that the transgression which the apostle was speaking of was the sexual immorality that was being committed between a man and a woman. What makes this iniquity, this immorality, this transgression so disgraceful is the fact that this man was committing formication and immorality with his father’s wife. Essentially that which this individual was engaged in was not only coveting that which did not belong to him, but also pursuing that which neither belonged to him, nor was lawful for him. I am convinced that the transgression which was committed by this man and this woman began long before the actual fact of fornication and immorality began. In all reality, I am convinced that any and every measure and form of adultery and fornication begins long before the actual act is committed. I am convinced that adulterous and fornication first begin in the place of coveting and lust as a man or a woman is aroused and awakened to a longing that is found deep within them.

In the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to John you read of a woman who was not only caught in the very act of adultery, but who was also brought unto the courts of the Temple and into the presence of Jesus. Now, while scripture speaks of this woman being caught in the act of adulterous, I am convinced it is not the act itself that is the only underlying issue that must be addressed. For us to treat the adultery itself alone while leaving the underlying roots and symptoms is to do a great disservice to ourselves and others. We must remember the words of Jesus when He spoke of us hearing that it was said that we should not commit adultery, but Jesus would go on to take this a step further and declare that if any one looks upon another with lust they have already committed adultery and fornication. These very words bring to mine the words which Job spoke concerning the covenant he made not to look upon another woman with lust within his heart. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare that if our right hand offends us and causes us to stumble, we are to cut it off and cast it away from us. More over, Jesus would go on to declare that if our right eye offend us and causes us to stumble, we are to cut it off and cast it away from us. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is what in our lives is offending us and causing us to stumble. What within our lives needs to not not only be cut off but also cast away from us?

I can’t help but be reminded of a passage that is found in the Old Testament book of Second Samuel concerning David king of Israel and something he allowed himself to engage in. If you turn and direct your attention to the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find the account of David and Bathsheba and the adulterous affair they allowed themselves to engage in, consider if you will the words and text that is found within this particular chapter of Second Samuel:

“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked up0on the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Elias, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? Why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten,a nd die. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; and charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of war unto the king. And if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so night unto the city when ye did fight? Knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? Who smote Abimelch the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? Why went ye night the wall? Then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for. And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate. And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittitute is dead also. Then David said unto the messenger. Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11).

When you read this particular passage you will surely come to recognize and understand that the adultery David committed with Bathsheba did not begin with the actual adultery itself, but long before the adultery was committed. In fact, when you read this particular passage you will find that in the time when kings would go out to war—in the time when Kings would go out to battle and would accompany the army into battle, David chose to remain still at Jerusalem and abide there. Perhaps the very first thing we recognize and notice when reading this passage of Scripture is David’s troubles began when he chose to remain in a place of rest, a place of comfort, a place of ease within the city of Jerusalem, and behind the walls of the city. David’s troubles began when he chose to refrain and abstain from the battle—a reality which is incredibly intriguing when you consider that David was always a man of battle and bloodshed. In fact, if you read the account of David’s life you will find that pretty much from the days of his youth—from the time when he engaged Goliath in battle and slew him in the valley of Elah unto this day, David was a man of the sword and shield. The question I can’t help but ask when reading this particular passage of Scripture is what would cause David to abstain and refrain from battle? What would cause this warrior-king to remain behind in Jerusalem while he chose to instead send Joab and the army of Israel into battle? While we might not know and/or understand exactly what would cause David to remain behind in Jerusalem while Joab and the army went out to battle, we know that David made the conscious and deliberate decision to remain behind—not only in the time when kings went out to battle, but also when he sent Joab and the army of Israel out into battle. We might never know why David chose to remain behind within the city of Jerusalem, but what we do know is that it was in the process of, and as the direct result of his staying behind within the city of Jerusalem that set the stage for the events we read within this chapter. If we are to truly understand the adultery of David and Bathsheba within this passage of Scripture, we must not begin with the adultery itself, for to do so would be to sorely misunderstand the root cause of David’s infidelity and indiscretion.

As you proceed to carefully examine and study this passage of Scripture you will find that the events which would unfold in this chapter began when David chose to remain behind within the city of Jerusalem at the time when kings go forth into battle. The progression of this chapter will reveal that it would be during the evening time that David himself would arise from his bed, and would walk upon the roof of the king’s house. What would begin with David tarrying and remaining within Jerusalem at the time when kings go forth into battle, would continue with David arising from his bed during the evening hour—perhaps because he could not sleep, or perhaps because he just needed to be outside. We don’t know what might have awakened David from his life, or what prevented him from going back to sleep, but we do not that as a direct result of his being awakened from his life, and rising from his bed, he walked the floor of the roof of his house. It was while David walked the roof of his house that he saw a woman washing herself, and that the woman was very beautiful to look upon. What we must recognize and understand is that David actually had two outs when it came to engaging with this woman whom he saw bathing herself at night. The first out David had was when he first saw this woman bathing herself at night, for David could have very easily chosen to turn away and return unto his own house, and unto his own bed. What’s more, is that David wasn’t without wife at this time, for he had Abigail whom he had taken as wife unto himself earlier on in his life. David could have very easily chosen to remove himself from looking upon this woman, and returning unto his own house and his own bed—perhaps even returning unto Abigail his wife and engaging in sexual relations with her. Instead of turning away from this woman and returning unto his own house, David chose to send and inquire concerning this woman. When report was brought back concerning this woman, David learned that this woman was the daughter of Eliam, and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. This was the second out David had, for the minute he learned that this woman was the wife of another man—especially the wife of one within his own army—David should have left it alone.

It’s worth noting that David deliberately and intentionally chose to ignore both warning signs and both red flags that were presented unto him. David could have very well and very easily chosen to turn and walk away from the roof of his house—never to look upon this woman again. Instead of doing this, David persisted in continuing to look upon this woman with lust and desire within his heart. It was as a direct result of David’s decision to remain atop the roof and burning in his lust toward this woman that caused him to send and inquire concerning this woman. IGNORING THE WARNING SIGNS! IGNORING THE RED FLAGS! When you read this particular passage of Scripture you will quickly and easily discover that not only was David provided with two ways out from this particular temptation that was before him, but he deliberately and intentionally chose to ignore those outs. I can’t help but be reminded of a familiar passage in the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning Joseph when instead of allowing himself to engage in that which was improper and immoral before the Lord, Joseph chose to run away and flee all appearances of evil. If you turn and direct your attention to the thirty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the account of Joseph being brought down unto the land of Egypt and being sold into the house of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, who also happens to be captain of the guard. Consider the account of Joseph as it is recorded in this thirty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis:

“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored. And it came to pass after these things that his mater’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my Master wotteth not what is with. Me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me, but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he heartened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to passa bout this time that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And he’s caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: and it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: and it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (Genesis 39).

While Bathsheba did not make any type of advance to David being the wife of one within David’s army, it nonetheless holds true that David could have very easily chosen to flee and run from the appearance of evil that was before him. Was Bathsheba evil in and of herself? No, absolutely not. Was Bathsheba bathing herself in the night evil? No? Was David walking the roof of his palace evil? No, absolutely not. What was evil, however, is that David first refused to look away from this beautiful woman bathing at night, and choosing to return unto his own house. What’s more, is that as if it weren’t enough for David to look away from this beautiful woman bathing herself and returning unto his own house, he chose to instead continue looking upon her, and eventually sending for her. IF DAVID WASN’T WILLING TO FLIGHT, HE SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST GIVEN HIMSELF TO FLIGHT! What is to incredibly tragic about this particular passage within Scripture is that not only did David not engage in fight against the enemies and adversaries of Israel, but neither did David engage in flight from the temptation which was before him. Oh, we play an incredibly dangerous game when we not only refuse to engage in fight against our enemies and adversaries, but we also choose not engage ourselves in flight from those temptations which are before us. NO FIGHT, NO FLIGHT! NO FIGHT, TO FLEEING! It’s worth noting within this passage that not only did David not engage himself in fight within the battle against the enemies and adversaries, but neither did David engage himself in flight from the temptation which was before him. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand the dangerous place we are in when not only do we not engage ourselves in fight against our enemies and adversaries, but we also refuse to engage ourselves in flight from the temptation(s) which are before and around us. If David wasn’t willing to fight, he should have at least been willing to flee and to engage himself in flight from the temptation which was before him. In fact, if you read the words which his own son wrote in the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will find this reality to be confirmed in an even greater light. In fact, not only once, but twice within the Old Testament book of Proverbs we find this concept of flight to be written of by Solomon, son of David, king of Israel.

In the fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs we find and read these words which were written by Solomon concerning the flight of man from the face of temptation. Consider if you will the words which are found in this passage beginning with the first verse of this chapter: “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is mother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now there, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not night the door of her house: lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labour be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when they flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly. Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Proverbs 5).

If you turn and direct your attention to the seventh chapter of the same Old Testament book of Proverbs you will find yet another reference to this flight from temptation, this flight from adultery, this flight from fornication, this flight from immorality. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the seventh chapter you will find the following words written by Solomon king of Israel: “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: and, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and sutbil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: he hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. HE goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or Las a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knowth not that it is for life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7).

When you turn your attention back to the fifth chapter of the epistle which Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth, you will find that it was reported commonly that there was fornication among them, and such fornication which was not so much named among the Gentiles. There was a man among them within the congregation who not only engaged in an adulterous affair and in sexual immorality, but he did so with his own father’s wife. What’s more, is that as you read this passage of Scripture you will not only find the tragic indictment of the fornication which was committed by this man in having his father’s wife, but you will also find that the congregation itself was puffed up, and did not mourn, in order that this deed might be taken away from among them. In other words, not only was this deed continuing to be committed by this man, but the congregation itself neither rebuked, nor corrected it. When writing this epistle the apostle Paul declared unto the saints at Corinth that though he was absent in body from among them, he was present in spirit, and as such, had already judged this man. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul declared that such a man should be delivered unto Satan fro the destruction of the flesh, in order that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. It is incredibly tragic and dangerous when a congregation is aware of deliberate and willful sin and iniquity, and yet choose to do nothing about it. It is an absolutely dangerous thing when a congregation is aware of adultery, fornication, immorality, idolatry, and the like, and yet instead of purging it from among them in their midst, they choose instead to allow it to remain among them in their midst. Like Eli the priest of God at Shiloh who refused to deal with and correct the wickedness and immorality of his two sons, pastors, leaders, ministers, and even the members of the congregation themselves choose to ignore the transgression and wickedness that was before them in their midst. I believe the words which the Lord spoke unto Samuel are directly applicable to this generation concerning the iniquity and transgression we might not only engage in, but also choose to overlook and not confront. Consider if you will the word of the Lord which Samuel declared unto Eli the priest after the Lord called unto him three times:

“And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then sSamuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. IN that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Ellie, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever” (1 Samuel 2:10-14).

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