Your Own Private Sheol

or Having No Controversies With God


The devil hates confession. It breaks his power over us. He would rather have us confine ourselves behind the bars of  our own private Sheols than get right with God.

Why is confession so powerful? Because it is judicial. It is an application of the knowledge of good and evil. James Jordan writes:

“…Adam and Eve were supposed to be patient. They were to feed on the Tree of Life, and become gradually built up in wisdom and understanding. Then, when they were strong enough and wise enough, God would let them eat of the Tree of Knowledge, and would invest them with authority.

Adam fell, however, into the “dominion trap.” He assumed that because he was a child of God he was ready to take on mature responsibilities. He was unwilling to wait for the prerogatives of age. He was unwilling to remain passive and wait on the Lord, but instead seized the throne.

God elected to honor man’s decision. Immediately Adam and Eve found out that the devil had lied about wisdom. They had the office, but they lacked the wisdom, the psychological heaviness, to bear it. They were embarrassed. What they had expected to be robes of office — garments they made for themselves —now had to do double duty as a means of concealing their inadequacy. With a sinking feeling in their bellies, they realised that had gotten themselves into a position they could not handle. They did not have wisdom, but now they had to judge.

Right away, God called on them to exercise their new office by evaluating their own actions. “Judge righteous judgment,” said God. Did they do so? No, they called evil good and good evil (Is. 5:20). They did not each blame himself or herself, but they tried to shift the blame to each other and even to God.” [1]

After their sin, the Lord called on the sinners to be judges of their own actions. “Whose side are you on?” They had wanted to be gods, kings, so now they were required to execute judgment. They failed again.

This was the chasm of difference between Saul and David. David’s sins were actually worse than Saul’s, but the aftermath–at least concerning the king’s continued dynasty–was the exact opposite. Peter Leithart writes:

“Modern commentators are wrong to find excuses for Saul; he was plenty good at finding excuses for himself.”[2]

Psalm 51 is David’s confession, but it is also his judgment upon himself. He demonstrated that he no longer had any controversy with God over what he had done. He agreed with the Lord against himself. He and the Lord were two witnesses against the sin of David, and the actions were judicially put to death. The child of David’s sin was made the scapegoat. This was God’s judgment, and it was true and righteous. Regardless of how we feel about it, it was just. [3]


Dominion commanded over Ammon – David stays home

False Sabbath (Disobedience) – David rebels against his anointing and 
remains in Jerusalem instead of going to “holy war”

…..False Passover (Union) – David seizes Bathsheba and sleeps with her. 
…..As a false prophet, he tries to cover his sin by calling Uriah home to his
…..wife, breaking his own Nazirite vow (no circumcision of heart – death)

……….False Firstfruits (Betrayal) – As a false priest, David offers Uriah’s
……….blood (the Gentile convert) instead of his own

……………True Pentecost (Serpent) – Nathan, as the seven eyes of the Lamb,
……………challenges the deceiver

……….True Trumpets - David repents and retains the throne

…..True Atonement
 - The son dies in David’s place. David stops 
…..mourning and washes and anoints himself (baptism – resurrection)

True Tabernacles - Solomon, the “resurrected” son of Bathsheba,
is born to build God’s house [4]

Dominion achieved over Ammon – David wears Ammon’s crown


God’s Word to David, the story of the beloved lamb slain by the wicked ruler, is the hero of the story. ”True and righteous altogether” is something we should be able to say of our Lord’s judgments even when we are the guilty party. Only after self-examination and the judicial death of our sin can there truly be resurrection life. We can punish ourselves, or we can put ourselves into the hands of a merciful God, as David did more than once (2 Sam. 24) and stop the mouth of the accuser.

Confession is a righteous judgment that sets the captive free, with Jesus as the mourned and resurrected son. Through Him, the kingdom we sold is given back to us in the judicial wisdom of Solomon—every time we confess our sin.

[1] See James B. Jordan, The Dominion Trap. I also highly recommend Rich Bledsoe’s essay, On Becoming A True Judge. A wealth of uncommon sense here.

[2] See discussion in Peter J. Leithart, A Son to Me—An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel, p. 203-204.

[3] David had failed as mediator, so the Lord intervened. We accuse when He does, and we accuse Him when He doesn’t. See The Go-Betweens.

[4] Notice that again this last step concerns succession.

Share Button

6 Responses to “Your Own Private Sheol”

  • Drew Says:

    One point — The text never says that Uriah took a Nazirite vow, and even if he did, there’s no condition within the Nazirite vow which would prevent Uriah from sleeping at home.

    Other than that, good post.

  • Mike Bull Says:


    Thanks for your comment. Great to hear from you again.

    I think the idea of ‘holy war’ is built into these tours of duty against Canaanites, which infers short-term Nazirite vows. Uriah wouldn’t have been allowed to eat raisins, drink wine or sleep with his wife. But you are right, it is not explicitly stated here.

    However, it also explains the fact that Ahimelech allowed David and his men to eat the Showbread once they confirmed they had not been with women. A Nazirite was sort of a temporary “priesthood” for the purpose of holy war.

    This is one of those things Jordan mentions that makes you scratch your head but actually seems to play out in more ways than you thought.

  • Drew Says:

    Well, the priests weren’t allowed to have sex while they were on duty because that would make them unclean for a day (Leviticus 15:18), so I can understand the part about bread. But you should be careful not to give ground to the gnostic Romanists by inserting celibacy into the Nazirite vow. Numbers 6 doesn’t mention it, and both Samuel and Samson had wives. (The Catholics would just love to prove otherwise!) I think vows of celibacy are pagan and evil, so that’s why I figured I’d critique your idea slightly.

    Uriah probably just acted the way he did because he was so gung-ho about being a soldier that he couldn’t stand the thought of living in comfort while his friends were out dying. Whereas Uriah cannot bear to go home and leave David’s servants, however, he does *agree* to drink alcohol (2 Samuel 11:13).

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Good points. I will look into that some more.

  • Mike Bull Says:


    I think you are right. Must have misheard, misread or dreamt this no-women factor up. It would still apply to Uriah’s consumption of alcohol. But that would mean that Ahimelech’s question had nothing to do with a Nazirite vow. Fair enough! Nice to get some critical feedback.

    I just found an interesting article by Jordan on the vow here:

  • Mike Bull Says:

    I asked Mr Jordan, and he replied:

    “Your friend is right. Nazirite or not, the issue with Uriah is that the Ark is in the field. I can only suppose that since an innocent noctural emission meant you had to leave the camp for a day, deliberate sex was completely forbidden. David, being under a vow and on the king’s mission, he says anyway, seems to be claiming something similar. I may be wrong, however, in making too much of a comparison between the two. Good question.”

    Thanks Drew