The wicked plans of Pharaoh and…King David?

Pharaoh and King David each devised wicked plans to deal with the problems they were facing. When the Israelites were in Egypt, Pharaoh considered their strength and large numbers to be a threat. Exodus 1:8-10 records:

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Pharaoh’s wicked three-phase plan

Each phase of Pharaoh’s plan was more ruthless than the previous phase. First, the Egyptian slave masters oppressed the Israelites with forced labor. Exodus 1:11-14 record:

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

When that didn’t work, the second phase called for the Hebrew midwives to kill every newborn male infant. Verses 15-21 record:

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

When the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s command, the third phase called for the Egyptians to throw every newborn male into the Nile. Exodus 1:22 says:

Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

David’s wicked three-phase plan

There’s another passage of Scripture that covers an equally wicked pattern of behavior. David’s sins with Bathsheba and Uriah contain a number of similarities to Pharaoh’s plan:

  • David was facing a serious problem—Bathsheba’s pregnancy.
  • He hatched a three-phase plan to solve the problem
  • Each phase of the plan was more ruthless than the preceding phase.

First, David tried a “clean” cover-up in 2 Samuel 11:6-11

So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”

Second, David tried a “dirty” cover-up in 2 Samuel 11:12-13:

Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

When the first two cover-ups failed, David committed a “criminal” cover-up in 2 Samuel 11:14-17:

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, then, if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”

Although Pharaoh’s efforts failed in getting rid of the Israelites, David’s efforts succeeded in getting rid of Uriah. At least it looked that way at first. David’s “success” was only temporary. God saw what he did and punished him accordingly. Just like with Adam and Eve, David also reveals we can’t cover-up our sin.

The reason for David’s failure

In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection.” The Greek word for:

  • “Discipline” is hypōpiazō, which means, “to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots.” 
  • “Bring it into subjection” is doulagōgeō, which means, “to make a slave.”

This is what we need to do with our bodies. The problem for David is even though he was disciplined in a number of areas of his life, when it came to women, he didn’t bring his body into subjection. This led to a decision with unimaginable consequences. God was merciful and forgave David, but it changed the entire trajectory of his life.

People like to presume on God’s mercy and grace too much. They think they can engage in sins and God will forgive them without punishing them. Oftentimes that’s not the case. There can be complete forgiveness, but there can still be terrible consequences.

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