Most scholars consider him a mercenary or a soldier serving for pay in a foreign army. He was a Gentile (Hittite), yet his name is clearly of Hebrew origin. It means, "Jehovah (Yahweh) is Light." (Was his name changed during a specific time in his life, or did his parents choose a name that would link him to the God of Israel?) He could have been a proselyte to the Jewish faith. Bathsheba was his wife. Her father, Eliam, was also one of David's mighty men (2 Samuel 23:34). Commitment and courage characterized this comrade.
Before Uriah is introduced into the pages of the Holy Writ, an interesting event unfolds in the life of King David. After some exciting exploits, the king decides to remain in Jerusalem instead of returning to battle — "at the time when kings go forth" (2 Samuel 11:3). Apparently, one night David could not sleep. He arose from his bed and took a walk upon the roof "patio." While looking down upon the other roofs, he noticed a woman. His eyes linger and lust enters into his loins. "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed" (James 1:14). After learning the woman's identity, messengers are sent to escort her to the castle. Secretly, David commits adultery with Bathsheba. All is well until he is informed that she is pregnant. Something must be done in order to hide his indiscretions. "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin" (James 1:15).
David decides to deceive his devoted soldier, the husband of Bathsheba. It must appear that Uriah is the father of this child. David sends for Uriah. Clearly, David appeals to all of Uriah's appetites. He was chosen by the king to return from the battlefield to discuss the state of affairs. He was fed from the king's table. He was allowed to return to his wife. Taken from a battle with his foes, Uriah is now thrust into a battle with his "friend."
Uriah will not be disloyal to his country, to his comrades or to his Creator. "The ark and Israel and Judah abide in tents; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in 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" (2 Samuel 11:11).
David must try again. This time, he "showered" him with "spirits." But even intoxicated, Uriah chooses loyalty over liberty. He maintains his integrity. David has become victim to his own vice of selfishness, whereas Uriah stands firm in his self-control. He will not indulge until the Ark and the armies are safely abiding at home. "Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier" (2 Timothy 2:3). Uriah remains consistent in his calling.
Convinced that there are no other options, David with his pen pronounces death upon this devoted one. Uriah carries in his hands a letter which sanctions his own execution. "And sin when it is finished bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). Joab, the captain of the army, reads the letter and obeys its contents. A messenger returns to David with the news: "Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead" (2 Samuel 11:24). Right to the bitter end, Uriah fights fervently and faithfully as a "valiant" man (2 Samuel 11:16). "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord" (2 Samuel 11:26). Sin poisoned the piety of David at the peak of his power and prestige.
Uriah's commitment is commendable. David's actions truly are atrocious. To have Uriah the Hittite on his side should have been an honor. But sin had clouded David's common sense. And from this time forward, the consequences of David's sin bring corruption and calamity to his kin and to the kingdom. Forever, this awful episode in the life of David would overshadow his other amazing exploits. Yet the loyalty of Uriah the Hittite continues to live. Isn't it interesting that when recording the genealogy of Jesus, Matthew states, "And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah" (Matthew 1:6)?
SMS International Field Representative