The hotel where we stayed in Kathmandu was pretty modest by our standards, but was comfortable and clean. The window in our room overlooked the flat roofs of neighboring buildings, with the Himalayas looming in the distance. Buddhist and Hindu prayer flags strung between two buildings fluttered in the breeze, and I could see washtubs sitting beside the stairway that led to the roof a couple buildings away.
Kathmandu is an interesting place. One would think that the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains would be cold or at least moderate, but in fact it is subtropical, with banana and stubby palm trees growing in the gardens festooned with orchids and other tropical flowers. It took awhile however, to get accustomed to the architectural embellishments on many of the buildings. Our hotel, a small two-story structure surrounding a tropical courtyard, had an awning across the entire front of the building, supported by wide wooden posts angled into the brick walls and filled with carvings depicting in detail every imaginable sexual act. Given that these depictions are part and parcel of the religious life, it is little wonder women are ill-treated and valued only for what they can do for the men. It is no accident that women's rights have only flourished in the world where Christianity has held sway. St. Paul set the stage for it when he declared that in Christ, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).
One morning after arising and preparing for the day, I looked out our window to see an attractive young woman on the roof next door. Before I knew what was happening, she looked my way and dropped her sari before stepping into the washtub beside her. The Scripture I read today immediately popped into mind as I turned away. It's from 2 Samuel 11. "It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold."
The story continues with David's adultery with Bathsheba, his subsequent murder of her husband, and his exposure at the hand of Nathan the prophet. Up to this point in the story, David can do no wrong. He has the Midas touch in every area of life. But from here on, it's one problem after another, beginning with the rape of one of his daughters by one of his sons, the retaliation murder of the perpetrator by another brother, and his insurrection and death. It is a Camelot tale that connects the dots between David's unbridled lust and the unraveling of his kingdom.
All that ran through my mind that morning. I never expected to find myself in the same situation as that of an ancient king of Israel, but there I was, but with this advantage: I knew the story. And I knew Christ. I've made plenty of mistakes in my life, have had many sins for which I've had to repent, but on this day, the Scriptural admonition was loud and clear: "Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted."
(1 Corinthians 10:6).
This morning, I read that story once more, and was reminded of God's faithfulness to make sure that his Word does not return to him empty, but that it accomplishes the purposes for which it was sent forth. (Isaiah 55:11). I am grateful for these promises, for the story that warned me, and for for God's power that stood by me that morning years ago.