But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1
In 2019, a climber saw his last sunrise from the peak of Mount Everest. He survived the dangerous ascent, but the high altitude squeezed his heart, and he passed away on the trek down. One medical expert warns climbers not to think of the summit as their journey’s end. They must get up and down quickly, remembering “they’re in the death zone.”
David survived his dangerous climb to the top. He killed lions and bears, slew Goliath, dodged Saul’s spear and pursuing army, and conquered Philistines and Ammonites to become king of the mountain.
But David forgot he was in the death zone. At the peak of his success, as “the Lord gave David victory wherever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6), he committed adultery and murder. His initial mistake? He lingered on the mountaintop. When his army set out for new challenges, he “remained in Jerusalem” (11:1). David once had volunteered to fight Goliath; now he relaxed in the accolades of his triumphs.
It’s hard to stay grounded when everyone, including God, says you’re special (7:11–16). But we must. If we’ve achieved some success, we may appropriately celebrate the accomplishment and accept congratulations, but we must keep moving. We’re in the death zone. Come down the mountain. Humbly serve others in the valley—asking God to guard your heart and your steps.
Are you climbing your mountain or near the top? How might you avoid the pitfalls that come with success?
Father, grant me success, and protect me from its excess.
We see the results of temptation throughout the Bible, beginning in the garden of Eden and clearly here in David’s situation (2 Samuel 11). The New Testament tells us that Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan in the desert for forty days (see Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4). And so “because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted [yet without sinning], he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). We’re to “watch and pray so that [we] will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).