Romans 8:31 echoes this thought from David’s life when Paul says: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” For the Christian we don’t need to ever wonder if God is with us. He’s always with us. Sometimes we stray from God but other times we’re doing our best to obey and we still don’t feel His presence. In those times it takes a little extra faith but we know… beyond doubt, that God is still there.
This was the third time David was anointed as king. First, he was anointed by Samuel years ago, when there was God’s promise that he would be king. But it was a long time before he would become king. When David was an outlaw on the run it might have seemed as though the day would never come when God’s promise would be fulfilled. Secondly, he was made king over Judah. And then finally, he is anointed king over all of Israel.
David did not become king until he was 37 years of age. It took time, probably longer than he expected. Sometimes it takes patience to see God’s will come to life and reach fruition. Whenever we are tempted to look for instant results and success we should remember David. Waiting builds strength of character.
Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Let’s simply this story:
Ishbosheth – one of the surviving sons of Saul, is running into hiding trying to save his life. He is found by two good-doers – Rekab and Baanah, that are trying to find David’s favor. The two assassinate Ishbosheth, and return to the David’s camp to claim their reward. David ends up punishing them, and honors Ishbosheth with a proper funeral.
So what went wrong for the two? One can say David accomplished part of his goal to eradicate the house of Saul, but in his case the end did not justified the means. And that is the lesson that I take from this chapter. While there might be an easy way to accomplish something, that way might not be the right way.
Today I will encourage you to think about this story as a motto for our lives. The right thing to do, might be hard to understand by some but it is still the right way of doing things.
So go out there and let your love for God come through the things you do each and every day.
Our passage today contrasts two different personalities. First, there is Joab – a fighting man with little or no patience when it comes to diplomacy. Joab sees things in black and white…Abner is the enemy. Abner represents Saul’s forces and he killed Joab’s brother. For Joab, the only way to deal with an enemy is to kill him.
David, on the other hand, is interested in peace and enters into private negotiation with Abner behind Joab’s back. Even amidst the specter of war, David does not let war define him.
What’s interesting here is that Joab is family for David – a nephew…but Joab is a thorn in David’s side. Joab plots and succeeds to kill Abner. David could have easily sought revenge but instead deeply grieves Abner’s death. He publicly chastises Joab and those involved in Abner’s murder and David proceeds to make those responsible assist in the burial and march in the funeral dressed in clothes of mourning. Those responsible – those who got their identity in their weapons and violence are now essentially put to shame for their actions. And notice whose side the people chose…David’s.
We will see this time and again…it is not simply good enough to be on the right side…what is important is working in the right way…serving God and God’s causes.
The first few words of the passage are pretty telling: “During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David…” Not much has changed since David and Saul. We still fight for power and control. We do it at work, in marriage, in politics and even church. Paul tells us to do the exact opposite in Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” So what’s the first step to peace? Grace. We have to be willing to say, “You wronged me, but because of what Christ has done for me.. I will not wrong you.” We need to take the steps toward “considering others needs above our own…” as Paul would say. As long as we are fixated on repaying every wrong with more wrong, police violence will always happen. Angry mobs will always respond in turn. The wrong thing will continue to be done because its profitable and power will always be abused. Just like in 2 Samuel 3:6-21.
This history coincides with that of 1 Chronicles 3:1-4, the genealogy of the sons of David in Hebron, all from different woman. Apparently, as King of Israel, he had many outposts. In antiquity, baby boys were viewed more favorably compared to baby girls. It was the obligation of the sons to go to the field of battle, while still in their teens, to either defend or expand their country’s borders. It was a sign of strength and blessing for a king to sire many sons. This birthing is within the context of a bloody civil war that was raging in Israel between the supporters of Saul and the house of David.
“No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons.”
– Herodotus, “The Histories”
Here we see the deep pain and destruction of civil war in Israel. The House of Saul and the tribes in the North unite and Judah in the South stands with David.
Throughout David’s reign, from time to time, we will notice the tension between the tribes in the North and Judah in the South. David becomes King of Judah before the Northern Tribes acknowledge his Kingship. And so we see a nation divided here. These divisions will surface from time to time until one day when the nation is divided into North and South after Solomon’s reign.
There are times when we see divisions and disunity on the part of the Christian Church. Why are there so many denominations and independent churches? Why do we have Protestants, Catholics, and the Eastern Church? We can find divisions in the local church, too, from time to time.
There is the possibility of disunity on the part of those who claim Christ. Jesus saw it at times with his disciples. Perhaps that’s why Jesus, in John 17, prayed that his followers would be one even as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one, in community.
Returning to the Old Testament we find the Psalmist (Psalm 133) celebrating the unity of God’s people.
May we be one with Jesus and one in Christ with each other.
To move or not to move? Is this the right time to step in to Judah? Am i going to meet resistance? Is this the way my reign will start?
Those are some of the questions that could off kept David awake at night as he is inquiring the Lord about his next steps. And while he wait on God, there is no doubt in my mind for me that David wants to do good, to start right and to show everyone who he really is. His response to Saul’s funeral, reflects that desire to honor the fallen king, to set things right with the king’s tribe.
This is a reminder to all of us that big decision, are a chance for us to reevaluate who we are, make things right and venture in to the unknown knowing that we have done the right things before God.
So rise up, ask the right questions, step in faith be brave and do right. And may God bless you in your travels.
Today’s Passage: 2 Samuel 1:17-27
For nearly an entire book, one has been rooting for David at nearly every turn…there is almost a desire to cheer at the end of Saul…finally, David can climb to the throne. Yet, we realize here the devastation to Israel – its king has been killed. In these few verses today, we feel both the horror and honor of war. Blood spilled and the courageous bow. And we see just how David feels…here, David’s enemy and David’s friend are identified as equals in this grief laden poem. David truly is a leader – no matter what Saul has done to David, David in no way slights Saul in the end. And in the end, we see David’s feelings rise to the top regarding Jonathan…David’s lifelong friend. Thinking of David’s words for Jonathan reminds me how so many times we wait until the funerals of those in our lives to let our feelings come through. We will still grieve the loss of close friends in our lives but I submit that today’s passage should remind us not to wait until it is too late to ensure our feelings are made known.