"But David remained in Jerusalem."
II Samuel 11: 1, Amplified Bible
"The Deception of Self-Deception"
"The greatest fault is to be conscious of none."
Has there been a time in my life when I tried to deceive myself?
Like David, has there been a time when rather than doing God's will and following His way, I stayed behind "in Jerusalem" doing my own thing and deceiving myself into believing all was well?
"(She) that commands others is not so much as free, if (she) doth not govern (herself). The greatest performance in the life of a (person) is the government of (their) spirit."
"Nothing is so easy as to deceive one's self."
The above quote was spoken by Demosthenes, a prominent Greek statesman and orator. His speeches were examples of the contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and his words give us insight, not only into the politics of this ancient country, but its culture as well. Interestingly enough, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer for quite some time. Another noted Greek orator, Cicero, called him "the perfect orator." And from the above quotation, it is easy to understand why those who listened to him speak, admired his wisdom.
I happen to agree with the truth he expressed that, "Nothing is so easy as to deceive one's self." From my own personal experience, I have done more than my share of self-deception in my life. As a friend recently told me, "If you just tell yourself something over and over again, you can convince yourself of anything."
In the electronic media world of instantaneous advertising and information bombardment, it becomes even easier to be swept away by a tidal wave of falsehoods. Thus, the need for identifying what is truth and separating it from what is false becomes critical. While this may be a difficult task, from the life of David, we can learn that it is a necessary one. For self-deception can be lethal!
One of the things which strikes me as valuable about my heavenly Father is that the Bible doesn't just say that God knows about truth. Nor does God, in His Word, talk about "truth" in some abstract way. God doesn't just perceive truth. The Bible tells us, God is truth. In fact, in Psalm 31: 5, David identifies our Father as, "the God of truth." It is as though God is the fountain from which the spring of truth originates. I make this point because it is key to helping us better understand why God puts a story like the one about David and Bathsheba in the Bible. And lest we overlook this point, it is in the details of this story where our God of truth is so evident.
God could have skimmed over the sordid events in David's life but instead He chose to illuminate the truth in an ungodly relationship beginning with the circumstances that led up to the immoral situation that brought David down. This is what truth is all about. Truth shines a light on all the facts. Truth doesn't hide or cover. And in II Samuel 11: 1, we find truth arrayed as if on a large buffet table.
Here's the truth as God lays it out in His Word. In the spring, the kings and their armies went to war. For what reason, we are not told, David stayed in Jerusalem. Joab, the head of his army, was capable. All the people were willing to fight the battle, too. It may be David had enough war for a while. But it was out of character for the king to remain home while his army and those under his rulership risked life and limb. Not only could others perceive this as a sign of weakness on David's part, it also served to reflect a potential arrogance. And this is where truth too easily becomes blurred as we deceive ourselves into believing that what we are doing or aren't doing is "no big deal."
Somewhere along the way David deceived himself into believing that staying home didn't matter. He didn't need to be with the troops. They were capable. They could make it on their own. And just possibly, the thought may have gone through his head, "I'm the king. I'll let the troops do the fighting. They work for me. I'll take it easy for a bit. I've done my part. I've gotten them to this point. It's time for a rest. I've carried the burdens - now it's their turn."
While the Bible doesn't say exactly why David stayed behind in Jerusalem, it does say that "the kings went to war." So we certainly know that not only was David's behavior unusual, it was out-of-character. Frankly, it was self-deceptive behavior, for it was David convincing himself that it was just fine for him to sit in Jerusalem while others fought the battle.
Tomorrow, we'll find out what trouble self-deception can lead to. And to give you a glimpse into where our studies will lead us, I want to take you back in time to the story about Lot and his wife and children. This Biblical story is another case of self-deception. Lot and his family convinced themselves there was absolutely no problem living in the plain with their tents pitched looking toward Sodom - no problem at all! But what a tragic end was the result.
If you are wondering how Lot and his family and the city of Sodom have anything to do with David and Bathsheba and Jerusalem, come back tomorrow. The connection is much stronger than you could imagine. Furthermore, it is a BIG LESSON for all of us on what results when we try to deceive ourselves into believing false information instead of what is true.
"Human beings seem to have an almost unlimited capacity to deceive themselves, and to deceive themselves into taking their own lies for truth."
R. D. Laing
"Stay at the center of my soul, O God:
be in my longing and my hurting;
be in my hoping and my emptiness;
be in my eyes and lips and heart,
so that my desire to be true to You
and to myself
may prevail over everything else."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.