Offside

By Michael E. Brooks

“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” (2 Samuel 11:1-2 NKJV).

This has been a summer of soccer (OK, of “football” for all you non-North Americans out there). With the World Cup earlier in the year, and KBC’s students forming an unofficial team and having some matches, I have gotten more involved in the game than ever before, which to be honest is still not saying much.
To prove my lack of expertise I will confess I still don’t understand the offside rule, at least not to the point of being able to spot an infraction with any confidence.
But I do understand that in soccer, you cannot be in certain places on the field under certain circumstances. If a player is too far ahead of the ball he is offside, and his team forfeits possession; if they score a goal while a player is offside the goal is nullified.
That sounds a lot like life doesn’t it? There are places a person should not be. There are times when we ought to be in a particular location, or ought not to be somewhere else. We can easily be caught offside — in the wrong spot.
David provides a good illustration. In the spring of the year, the time to start military campaigns, he sent his army out to fight Israel’s enemies. But he stayed in Jerusalem. One night he walked on the roof, where he was tempted by the sight of a beautiful woman. That temptation led to adultery and the adultery eventually led to murder.
In this story, at least one person and maybe two were off side. The writer of 2 Samuel makes it plain that in normal circumstances a king would have been with his troops. In previous years that had been David’s practice. But on this occasion he did not go out to battle.
The writer does not specifically condemn him, but the implication seems plain — David was not where he should have been. Had he gone with the army, the incident with Bathsheba would not have occurred.
Perhaps Bathsheba also was off side. Was her bathing more public than proper? Was she being deliberately immodest and provocative? Again we are not told in so many words, but the inference may be intended.
Two people were found in a situation that was conducive to temptation and sin. They yielded to temptation and great evil resulted with harm to innocent people other than the two participants. Penalties were paid. It is a sad and tragic story.
In many cases evil can be avoided if we simply ensure that we are where we should be at any given time, or that we are never where we clearly should not be.
A maxim in sport is “Keep your eye on the ball.” Watch it, follow it, pay attention, and be where you should be. That is a key to athletic success.
It is also a principle in life. If we continually focus on our primary goal (the ball), and ensure that we are always in the right place, we will be blessed.

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