Why did he become a traitor?

It was all a real shocker, an intriguing mystery to most people in the country until an insider revealed the pertinent facts. General A., the administration's top military advisor had joined in the plot to overthrow the government. The conspirators were successful in taking over the capital, but when the new head of state rejected A.'s strategy for smashing the defeated leader's troops, A. became convinced that the coup would fail and committed suicide.

The mystery was why such a high government official would betray the man who trusted him for years and regarded him as the closest of friends. The insider's tell-all hints at the reason: it's because of a sordid affair that happened decades before. Although the granddaughter of General A. was married to a war hero, the Commander in Chief got her pregnant and then arranged for her husband to be killed in battle so he could marry her.

General A. must have concluded that a man who committed such atrocities did not deserve his loyalty. Bitterness must have taken root in his heart and grown until revenge became his consuming passion. When the opportunity arose, A. joined the conspiracy with relish.

By now you have probably figured out that the head of state was King David. The abused woman and her war-hero husband were Bathsheba and Uriah. The insider who told the tale was probably Nathan the prophet (1 Chron. 29:29). And General A., the woman's grandfather, was Ahithophel (see 2 Sam. 11:3; 23:34).

Sin - even forgiven sin - takes its toll in our lives. It can alienate a close friend. It can plant in another's heart a seed of bitterness whose awful fruit can even be suicide. It can devastate all whom it touches.

Forgiveness quenches the guilt of sin, but its evil effects can go right on burning a swath through the rest of your life and beyond. Let's take sin more seriously, snuffing the spark before igniting the inferno.

—Steve Singleton