2 Samuel 2:18-32

Cheetah chase

18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle.19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“It is,” he answered.

21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”

23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.

24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.

26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”

28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the morning hours and came to Mahanaim.

30 Then Joab stopped pursuing Abner and assembled the whole army. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David’s men were found missing. 31 But David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. 32 They took Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.

tranquil flower

My Thoughts

Madness!! If we read between the lines in this story we can see a people who should be friends, people who should be united under one head. Instead of unity they are fighting and playing petty politics.  Abner clearly knows Joab and does not want to kill his brother (Asahel) but is forced to defend himself.  The killing would have continued if Abner did not call a halt to the madness… “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness?”

This story seems so far from the reality that we live in today that I find it difficult to relate to.  But the human heart is a funny thing, when we believe that we are fighting for a cause or for God we can sometimes do the most ungodly things.

Abner’s words at the end remind me of what happened to Jesus in the garden as he was being arrested.  Peter pulls out his sword and chops off the guard’s ear.  Jesus turns to Peter and tells him to put away his sword saying… if you live by the sword you will die by the sword.  Jesus then demonstrates a profound truth about the kingdom of God.  He takes Peter’s violence and turns it into peace.  He heals the ear and allows himself to be arrested without a fight.

My prayer for you and myself is that we will learn to turn brokenness into wholeness, anger into peace and discord into unity.  Because when we gratify the “cravings of our flesh”… we make the choice to remain captive even though Christ has set us free.  So take a moment… draw closer to God and allow His kingdom to reign through you today.

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2 Samuel 2:1-17

Hand-to-HandDavid Anointed King Over Judah

In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The Lord said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” “To Hebron,” the Lord answered.

So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.

When David was told that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to them to say to them, “The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them.”  8 Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.

10 Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. 11 The length of time David was king in Hebron over Judah was seven years and six months.

12 Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. 13 Joab son of Zeruiah and David’s men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side.

14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.” “All right, let them do it,” Joab said.

15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David.16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim. 17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men.

My Thoughts

It is good to see David enquiring of the Lord again; he listens to God and moves from Ziklag to Hebron in Judah.  David does not come in and take the throne, he is appointed by the people of Judah who have faith in him.  On the other side we see Abner (Saul’s commander) take Saul’s son and makes him king over the rest of Israel.  This Abner is the same man that pursued David all over the country trying to kill David while Saul was still alive.  This is the same Abner that would have heard Saul speak these words, “…May the Lord reward you (David) well for the way you treated me today.   I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.  Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family … So David gave his oath to Saul

There will always be people who don’t like you – people who oppose you and the purpose that God has set before you.  In this case it is Abner and his conflict with David just leads to bloodshed and strife.  We will never be able to please all the people around us, people will disagree by the shear nature that everybody has been created differently.  How we respond to those who disagree with us is something we have control over.  In this case David is the rightful King of Israel through the anointing of Samuel.  David knows this and has a right to make a claim on that throne but I am not sure that killing innocent men is the way to do it.  If God proclaims that David will be king then our responsibility is not to give God a hand because we think He may need some help.  Our role is to have faith… to believe that God will enable what He has proclaimed.  Our job today is to draw close to God to allow His wisdom, His strength and His will to influence the way we live our lives.  Have a great day.

2 Samuel 1:16-27

relational giving

David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan

17 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):

19 “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!

20 “Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

21 “Mountains of Gilboa,
may you have neither dew nor rain,
may no showers fall on your terraced fields.
For there the shield of the mighty was despised,
the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.

22 “From the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
23 Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

24 “Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.

27 “How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!”

 

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My Thoughts

I am not sure what to make of this.  David writes such a wonderful poem about the man that destroyed his life and did so much harm to the people who tried to help him.  Why would he do that?  One thing is clear though, David has not lost his ability to compose a good poem.  This poem is placed in Book of Jashar which is a collection of poems that have been lost.  This poem is written about men, for men and so it is not included in the book of Psalms.

David is using his gift to speak well of the dead, to leave a memory in Israel of a good king who should not have met this end.  In a way he helps to restore people’s confidence in a king who at times did some good in the land.

It takes grace to be able to forgive an enemy, but it takes something very special to write a poem about your enemy in such a way that he will be remembered as a great man throughout history.  I am not going to say anything more about the poem other than I think we can learn about forgiveness and grace from this poem.

Too often I focus on the negative aspects of the people around me, I start to expect the worse and so that is what I get.  Why don’t we make a special effort to look passed the wrong and try to see the good underneath.  Take somebody who you don’t like and try to write something good about them.  I think we may find that this is how God sees that person… which is why He gives grace to them in the same way that He gives grace to us.  Have a peace filled day.

2 Samuel 1:1-15

bloody hand

Welcome back, I feel like it is time for us to continue the David story. We have worked through 1 Samuel and some of the Psalms that David wrote at various points in the story. At this point in the story David is in exile, he has fled from his home country and king Saul. He is now living among the Philistines. David reached such a low point in his history that he was about to march into battle against his own people, however just before the battle some of the Philistine leaders sent him and his men away. They did not trust that David would not turn on them during the battle. When David returns to the town he was staying in (Ziklag) he discovers that a group of Amalekites have raided their village and stolen all their possessions including wives and children. They pursue this raiding party and retrieve everything that was taken.
In this story we start to see some of the character of David returning, he spends time talking to God and starts standing up for those who could not stand up for themselves but he is not quite back to himself yet. At this same time the Philistines are fighting the armies of Israel and when King Saul sees that he is surrounded he asks his armour bearer to kill him but the man refuses so Saul throws himself on his own sword.
This is where 2 Samuel starts, with the poor unfortunate person who happened to come across Saul dying on his sword…

David Hears of Saul’s Death


1 After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honour. 3 “Where have you come from?” David asked him. He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.” 4 “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.” “The men fled from the battle,” he replied. “Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”
5 Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”
6 “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’ 8 “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ “‘An Amalekite,’ I answered. 9 “Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’ 10 “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?” “I am the son of a foreigner, an Amalekite,” he answered.
14 David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” 15 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the LORD’s anointed.’”

peaceworld
My Thoughts

How often do people take the law into their own hands and make decisions on behalf of Gods honour? This poor man did what he thought was right, he risked his life to come and bring the news of Saul’s death to David and gets himself killed for his trouble…because he tried to help the king. I know that we don’t do things like help people kill themselves in this day and age but this was thousands of years ago in the middle of a war. David’s accusation against this poor man are not that he committed murder… because David was murdering people all over the place. The problem for David was that the man lifted his hand against “God’s anointed”. If we read back in the story though, we see that God removed His anointing from Saul and gave it to David a long time ago.
The point I am making is that people (we) tend to make decisions for God (in His name) but actually what we are doing is fulfilling our own desires and wants. When we spend our time trying to defend the “codes of God” or the “righteous ways of God” we are often not focused on our intimacy with Him. Being in God’s presence somehow transforms us into people who have grace and compassion. We understand our place, we know that we are loved and forgiven and our hearts are brought into alignment with God’s heart. The most telling sign for me here is that David has not written any Psalms at this point in the story. David is a man who is known for his worship of God but for some reason he is not worshiping. Our focus should always be to return to His presence to draw close to Him, to renew our relationship with Him. In this place our heart is restored, our purpose is restored. When we try to fix things by doing works that we feel we should do to improve our faith… that’s were things tend to go wrong. Forget about all the things you think you need to do and just draw close… you know you are being restored when worship is your response.