Uriah was a Hittite who worshipped the God of Israel. His name means “light of Yahweh” or “flame of God.”
Uriah joined Israel’s army and became one of David’s elite soldiers. He was very faithful in his duties, to God, the king, his army commander and to Israel at large. In 2 Samuel 11, we read the story of how King David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and later had him killed in battle as a cover-up when Bathsheba became pregnant.
10 things we can learn about Uriah the Hittite
Hittites were the descendants of Heth, who was the son of Canaan according to Genesis 10:15. And, Genesis 15:20 tells us that the land of the Hittites was part of the promised land for the Israelites.
So Uriah could be one of those who surrendered and joined the Israelites after the Hittites were conquered and displaced from their land (1 Samuel 11:3). But originally, they were not worshippers of the God of Israel. That’s why when Esau married a Hittite woman, his mother, Rebecca, was displeased (see Genesis 26:34, 27:46).
From the fact that he was a Hittite who had a Hebrew name, Uriah must have changed his religion and nationality. Especially because his name reflects a belief in the God of Israel.
Uriah’s zeal to serve the true God is further shown in his work as a soldier for Israel.
Uriah joined the army of Israel to fight against the enemies of Israel. That means that he would possibly end up fighting even his own people, the Hittites. This is because the Hittites were considered enemies of Israel. Actually, Israel had been commanded to “utterly destroy them” among other tribes. Yet Uriah joined the army still and served faithfully (Deuteronomy 20:17).
Uriah did not just become a soldier in Israel but he excelled to become one of David’s 37 mighty, elite men of war (2 Samuel 23:8-39).That means he had demonstrated special achievements in other previous battles.
He addressed King David and Joab, the Captain of the army as “my lord”. He understands their authority and doesn't treat them as equals (2 Samuel 11:11).
When David tried to take him off his duties at war and have him go home to his wife, he protested saying: “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing” (2 Samuel 11:11).
His mention of the ark, Israel, the army and Joab his Captain in battle, shows his loyalty to them. Also, he could not endure the thought that the ark of God and his fellow soldiers were fighting while he was enjoying himself at home.
When asked by the king why he didn’t sleep in his house, he explained himself firmly and concluded by saying, “I will not do this thing” (2 Samuel 11:11). Even when the king made him drunk, he still stuck to his belief that he shouldn’t go to his house while others were at war (2 Samuel 11:12).
He stood for what was right even when it was against the king’s command. This was a time when the king’s word was law, and he could be punished even with death. But he chose to stand his ground.
David sent Uriah to the battlefield with a letter to Joab. A letter that gave instructions on how he would be killed. David must have been sure that Uriah was not going to open it, because he was trustworthy.
When he was called from the battlefield, he obeyed. And when David sent him back to the battlefield with a letter to Joab, the Captain of the army, he obeyed (2 Samuel 11:14,15). Still, when he was assigned by Joab to fight at the front of the hottest battle against valiant men, he obeyed, even to his death (2 Samuel 11:15-21).
Everywhere he was, and in everything he did, he did it to the glory of God, just as his name meant. His home life, his life on the battlefield, and his relationship to his leaders were all characterized by godly principles (1 Corinthians 10:31).
It is clear that God is a God of all peoples. He does not show favoritism, “He is no respecter of persons”. But in every nation, he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted” (Acts 10:34,35).
You too can join yourself to the Lord, to serve Him faithfully, and God will accept you no matter your background. And after this life, you are assured of eternal life “at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14).
Uriah’s story also gives us an important insight into God’s justice. That God watches all that happens among men and He follows up each case to deliver justice to the oppressed. Though Uriah died without knowing what happened, God ensured that David was rebuked, and even faced consequences for his mistakes.
So, we too can trust “that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor“ (Psalm 140:12). And that was the case with Uriah. He was accepted as part of God’s people and showed himself to be faithful to the end.