The Loneliness of Honesty
Robert Wurtz II
And Jehovah said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shall you say unto her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will feign herself to be another woman. (1 Kings 14:5)
Our passage is a fascinating account of a woman attempting to get answers about her sick son. She was sent by her idolatrous husband Jeroboam, king of Israel, to an old reliable prophet who had gone blind from old age. Since her and her husband were not on good terms with the prophet (or God), Jeroboam counseled her to disguise herself and take an offering to the man who was more like a peasant than a king. These measures were hoped to be sufficient to fool the man of God into telling her what will come of their son. The logic behind this appears to be that if someone else asks how the child will be, who has no controversy with God, they will receive a good report.
Apart from the full implications of this passage and the story involved, I would like to drill down upon the king’s willingness to act deceptively. If we can focus on this area, we may discover one of the core problems that were wrong with this man — that ultimately led to his complete rejection by God. In other words, deceitfulness was a major obstacle for him going on with the Lord.
In Psalm 51 David wrote a song in response to his repentance in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. Verse 6 is instructive and relevant to our discussion. It reads, Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts; And in the hidden part you wilt make me to know wisdom. The Hebrew word tuwchah for inward parts means ” the inner parts. ” Some see the word like a bow that fires an arrow. It’s the place from which the issues of life are derived or spring forth. In that inner place from which all our decisions are made, God desires truth. Perhaps David was reflecting on how he tried to deceive Uriah into believing the baby was his. He went as far as to get the man drunk trying to deceive him. This is very sobering.
God desires truth in the inward parts. He expects His people to move in truth. Dishonesty creates distrust. Deceit works to undermine the very foundations of life.
We have looked at two examples of how men can have deception in their inward parts and move in lies. This is an awful thing to contemplate. When a person is willing to say or do anything necessary to deceive a person, there is going to be trouble. It is only a matter of time. Why? Because they have made lying optional. If they get into a scrape, they can just lie or deceive their way out of it. Nevertheless, the person who matters the most is never fooled. God knows when truth has vacated the inward parts.
How often have we heard someone say, “You just can’t trust anyone these days.” You listen to a person talking and you hope they are being honest. You hope they are telling everyone the same message they are telling you and not modifying it to tell you what they think you want to hear. Abraham Lincoln was once reported to have said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. ” He missed a line. “You can’t fool God any of the time.” However, this has not stopped people from trying. Jeroboam believed he could deceive the man of God, but He had no idea that God was ten steps ahead of him. This ought to alarm anyone who has allowed deceit to invade their inward parts.
Think about the two examples we have given in this entry: Jeroboam and David. What if, for some reason, God did not uncover their deceptions? What if the blind prophet would not have heard from God and just gave a general blessing to the woman? What if Uriah the Hittite would have raised a son that did not belong to him? The consequences would have been awful. And this is why God desires truth in the inward parts. When a person has a tendency to deceive others in order to put over something false they cause chaos and confusion unlike anything we can imagine.
Bathsheeba comes into view. Here is a woman who would have been forced to tell David one thing and Uriah the Hittite something else. Jeroboam’s wife did essentially the same thing. She played the part of wife to Jeroboam, but something else to the blind prophet. This kind of deception can be very subtle and extremely dangerous. These women were counseled by their conspirators to give different messages to different people — depending on who it was. Had they been walking in truth they would have all been forthright in telling and conveying the truth.
There is no new thing under the sun. The pattern that David and Jeroboam was in is commonplace today. The issues may not be a serious as idolatry and adultery, but they are serious still. How often does a man or a woman alter who they are, and how they feel about issues in life, depending on who they are talking to? Tell one person something and then tell another person something completely different. The scriptures call it being “double-tongued” (delogos) and it disqualifies a person from leadership. (1 Timothy 3:8) Some people have told so many variations of stories that they can no longer keep them straight. In fact, this is one of the greatest causes of strife and division in the world. Telling one person one thing and another person something else makes every party involved a victim of lies. A person like this can never be trusted.
It is hard for a deceiver to acknowledge deceit. David apparently lamented the fact that had he been successful in lying to Uriah, he not only would have damaged him, but everyone else that believed the lie. The crime was so great that had God not confronted him in the mouth of Nathan the prophet, he may had denied the sin and the deception to his grave. Uriah may have gotten suspicious, but denial would be the base response. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts. Why? Because it can keep you from causing a serious mess. Lying, falsehood, feigning, all just heap trouble on top of trouble.
Sometimes being truthful is a very difficult thing. If we have truth in the inward parts, we will be honest and genuine as a matter of course. We won’t pretend to be one thing in front of one person and something else around others. That only betrays everyone. Soon nobody knows who we really are. If we have said so many different things and worn so many masks — were liable to forfeit any meaningful identity — other than deceiver. And nobody wants to be thought of as a liar and a deceiver.
Jeroboam was given a word from God and apparently never repented. David realized his error and sought the Lord for a change of heart. Nevertheless, multitudes have never learned from these serious examples. It’s not too late to change. Step one is to realize that God desires truth in the inward parts. He doesn’t want to look into the core of our being and see a liar or a deceiver. He wants to see truth. He wants genuineness. He wants consistency. He wants our default attitude to be one of integrity and honesty.