2 Samuel 11: 1-25

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said that he learned to pray in a Siberian concentration camp because he had no other hope. Before his arrest, he says, when things were going well, he rarely gave a thought to God.

The toughest test for authentic faith is quite possibly not affliction but affluence. Many have withstood the tests, trials, and heartaches that have confronted them, but could not stand the pitfalls of prosperity and success, which tempted them to believe they could be secure without God.

It’s when things go well for us, when we finally get that ‘A’ grade or promotion at work; when our income significantly exceeds our expenditure; when we win the hand in marriage of the girl of our dreams or buy the house we’ve always wanted. It’s at such times that success can cause us to stumble. We can get too comfortable enjoying our (hard-earned) prosperity and become preoccupied pursuing our pleasures; lazing on the sofa (in front of the TV) or getting up to mischief in the bedroom (or, with the assistance of modern technology, on the internet), resting on our laurels, expecting others to play their part, rather than fighting the good fight of faith. “There is nothing that fails” writes GK Chesterton, “like success.”

This is precisely what happened to David in this most infamous of displays of inauthentic faith. He’s indulging himself in the bedroom rather than fighting on the battlefield. He failed the test of affluence. He was the most successful man of his generation, and yet we discover that lust begat adultery which begat murder.

God unapologetically paints a portrait, even of the “man after God’s own heart” with warts and all. Which, incidentally, affirms the Bible’s authenticity, since any human author would have attempted to deny or hide such a significant person’s darker side from view.

The danger in studying this well known passage is to shake your head at David and proudly presume that this couldn’t happen to you. And in doing so, to miss the warning, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) We must learn instead from David to “take heed” in times of affluence by taking sin and its many temptations seriously, watching out for them with the attitude, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

We must flee from temptation and stand firm against its seductive solicitations or be suffocated by success. That’s what this study will hopefully teach us.

The question is, will you be authentic in affluence?