Swamped at work? Here’s a surprising reason to thank God.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba”...Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:1-4a)

Many historians believe that this famous scene took place towards the middle of David’s 40-year reign as king of Israel. And today’s passage suggests that David was growing lax on the job. 

Samuel says that “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war,” David didn’t. He “remained in Jerusalem.” Then we’re told that “one evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.” 

The picture Samuel paints is of David being bored. He couldn’t sleep (perhaps due to a lack of exhaustion from a hard day’s work) and now he appears to be moseying around the palace roof aimlessly.

That’s the context for David’s most notorious sin. Boredom. Slothfulness. A lack of hard work. David is Exhibit A, supporting the old adage that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” 

This passage reminds us that one of the reasons Christians should celebrate the gift of work is that God often uses it to keep us from sinning. How should we respond to that truth?

For those of us who frequently complain about being “too busy,” (hand raised) I think we should respond by giving thanks to God. Is it wrong to lament about the “thorns and thistles” that make our work “painful” (see Genesis 3)? Absolutely not! But if you’re feeling swamped at work today, David’s story should compel you to also praise God for using even painful things like overwhelm for your sanctification and his glory.

But maybe you don’t resonate with feeling “too busy.” Maybe you, like David, have started to coast through life. Or maybe you dream about spending your final years on cruise ships, beaches, and golf courses. With all due respect, there is no biblical support whatsoever for this version of “retirement.” 

Now, could God be calling you to trade the work you do for pay as a marketer, therapist, or general contractor for unpaid work as a mentor, tutor, or guardian ad litem? Absolutely! But to quit being productive altogether in the work of the Lord is a recipe for disaster and unfaithfulness as David so vividly demonstrates.

May we be people who accurately reflect the image of God who “is always at his work to this very day” (John 5:17) and join the Apostle Paul in saying, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me” (Philippians 1:22).


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