A Shameful Event, 2 Samuel 2:7-10,

-A Shameful Episode in History-

Therefore, be strong and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and moved him to Mahanaim

…He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel. Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was forty years old when he became king over Israel; he reigned for two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David.
-2 Sam. 2:7-10

Saul, then David were both selected by God.

But, after Saul died, a man named Abner selected Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth to be king, and there was civil war for two years.

Selection and promotion from God clashed with selection and promotion by a man.

After a Saul’s death, it was time for David to step into office, but he was blocked from fully taking the reigns of power.

There is a contrast between David walking into his calling and Abner promoting Ish-bosheth to office.

David was not recognized, as king, by theses men.

We know, from reading the Bible, that David was God’s chosen one.

But all the people did not know it at the time.

Saul died, but persons with power refused to let it go, and hatched a plan to keep or regain power.

There was an immediate coup or insurrection against David.

This is sad and strangely encouraging.


Because we know how the story ends.

David wins and the bad guys die.

The rebels or the resistance did not have to die, but they chose a suicidal mission of treason and sedition and brought death upon themselves.

Why did they do it? What motivated them?

Everyone is ambitious and we are all competitive.

But, certain people are so ambitious and competitive that they employ immoral, unethical, anti-social, deviant, or psychopathic ways with others, to get what they want.

There are bad people who will use you, by offering you a promotion or position, for their own selfish plan, that ends up destroying you.

When the offer is made, pray about it, seek godly counsel, and consider, “Is this God’s will?”

Ish-bosheth’s name means, “Man of shame”.

Shame means embarrassment.

We carry shame when we have not been loved or nurtured.

Shamed people have low self-esteem and feel bad about or hate themselves.

It may be mostly subconscious.

Shame is from something that was wrong or hurtful that was not taken responsibility or accountability for.

Unrepentant, repeated abuse fosters shame.

The trauma of shame binds a person into being false, fake, or inauthentic.

Shame-based or shame-faced.

Shame bound people become actors to get love.

They play a role to become accepted.

They are phonies.

They have no visible core self, because it was damaged and has been covered over.

Shameful people can become shameless.

“Have you no shame?” No, they don’t.

They may end up doing immoral, unethical, devious, diabolical, evil things, without a blush.

All people who carry shame from abuse or neglect do not end up doing these things, but are at-risk.

The opposite of shame is honor.

The Selfish Worldly Person

After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed at Ziklag two days. On the third day a man with torn clothes and dust on his head came from Saul’s camp. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David asked him, “Where have you come from?”

He replied to him, “I’ve escaped from the Israelite camp.”

“What was the outcome? Tell me,” David asked him.

“The troops fled from the battle,” he answered. “Many of the troops have fallen and are dead. Also, Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

David asked the young man who had brought him the report, “How do you know Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” he replied, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear. At that very moment the chariots and the cavalry were closing in on him. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, so I answered: I’m at your service. He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him: I’m an Amalekite. Then he begged me, ‘Stand over me and kill me, for I’m mortally wounded, but my life still lingers.’ So I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he couldn’t survive. I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to my lord.”

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword—for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.

David inquired of the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I’m the son of a resident alien,” he said. “I’m an Amalekite.”

David questioned him, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” Then David summoned one of his servants and said, “Come here and kill him!” The servant struck him, and he died. For David had said to the Amalekite, “Your blood is on your own head because your own mouth testified against you by saying, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

-2 Samuel 1:1-16
I came across this story, of the Amalekite man who killed Saul.  It is a curious story to ponder.  What is the lesson here?
The Amalekites were bad, evil people.  Amalek was the grandson of Esau.  There is a lineage of earthiness.  Augustine said that Amalekites represented the city of the world and Israel represented the city of God.(1)
The heritage or culture of Amalekites was self-interest.  They were a mercenary people.  In Jewish tradition, Amalekites represent pure evil in that they are anti-faith or cynical.(1)
Amalekites are purely driven by self-interest.  They have no faith in God nor others, but live with eyes of doubt.  Lying, cheating, stealing, and killing is their way.
The default communication way for an Amalekite is to lie.  The way of self interest is so pervasive, that there is a delusion where they don’t realize that someone, like David, is going to smell a lie.
Part of this story is that whether or not the report was a fabrication, it was wrong to kill Saul.  This is how David sees it, even as being the person that Saul wanted to kill.  And David was a killer, a killing machine warrior.
But there is a difference between killing in warfare and murder.  And even when a man tries to kill you, who has been anointed by God and still stands in a place or role that was given by God, even if it has been rescinded by God; it is never right to kill him.
The previous account of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, in 1 Samuel 31, just say they were killed in the battle.  Knowing that cynical lying is the default for Amalekites, our best guess is that this man’s story was a fabrication.  And his words instruct us about what someone is like, who is wholly given over to selfish, self-interest.
These notes about this passage, and this man, the Amalekite, are copied here from a scholar named D. Fraser.

Seven aspects of selfish craft:

1. Dominant selfishness. He is supremely concerned about his own interest. Self-love is an original principle of our nature, and, when properly regulated, points in the direction of virtue and happiness. But it easily degenerates into selfishness, “the source of all the sins of omission and commission which are found in the world.” And when a man comes under the dominion of the latter, he may sink into any depth of meanness.

2. Subtle scheming. Amidst the dying and the dead, after the battle, his only thought is of gain; and, having plundered the fallen king of the regalia, he coolly calculates how he may dispose thereof to the greatest advantage; and then hastens a long distance across the country to one whom he expects to find ready to welcome the prospect of his own elevation by an enemy’s death, and to pay him “the wages of unrighteousness.”

3. Feigned sympathy. He comes into the presence of David “with the marks of distress and dismay – dust and clay smeared over his face, and his clothes torn” – on account of the disaster which has befallen Israel (1 Samuel 4:12). But how little does his appearance correspond with the feelings of his heart! “Self-love sometimes borrows the face of honest zeal” (Hall).

4. Obsequious homage. “He fell to the earth, and did obeisance;” prostrating himself before the rising sun of the new era with abject, insincere, and wicked mind. “To those who are distinguished in the kingdom of God as specially called and favoured instruments of grace, falsehood and hypocrisy draw near most pressingly and corruptingly in the guise of humility and self-abasement” (Erdmann).

5. Plausible lying. (Vers. 6-9.) He artfully mingles falsehood with the truth he utters, for the sake of enhancing the value of his good offices. If he had been satisfied with simply telling the tidings of the death of Saul, all would have been well with him; but by his gratuitous inventions he entangles himself in a dangerous snare.

6. Unconscious self-accusation. “I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen” (ver. 10). He accuses himself in the excuses he makes for his conduct. Qui s’excuse s’accuse. Even the request of Saul would not have justified his act or absolved him from responsibility. And how could he be sure that the wounded king could not live? Even the most hardened villain deems it needful to endeavour to palliate his offence. And he who is solely intent upon his own interest often makes admissions that clearly reveal his guilt.

7. Fatal miscalculation. He judges of the character of another by his own, meets with a generosity, loyalty, and justice which he cannot understand, fails of his purpose, and receives a reward which he did not anticipate. “The incident gives us the opportunity of marking the immense difference in the order of mind and character which may subsist between two individuals brought together by one event, and having their attention occupied by one and the same object” (J.A. Miller, ‘Saul’). “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (Job 5:13). “The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands” (Psalm 9:16; Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 18:7).

1. Amalek and Spiritual Warfare, John J. Parsons

Valiant: Courage With Determination

“Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
-2 Samuel 2:7 (ESV)
There is a crossroads that we come to in our lives, when we have to choose to be courageous or not.  One way or another, we are given the discernment of what the right thing is to do.  But to do the right thing will require courage.
There is a word, that we do not use much, that describes this very thing.  And that word is ‘Valiant’.  To be valiant is to show or possess courage, with a determination to do the right thing.
In the story that 2 Samuel 2:7 is a part of, to a group of men, David sends this word: “Let your hands be strong, and be valiant”.  The surrounding context of the story tells us that for these men to turn their allegiance to David, it will be difficult and dangerous.  And that is why David says, “Be strong and be valiant”.
To be valiant is to show or possess courage with determination.  Valiant to a word that is not in most of our vocabularies. To be valiant is to be brave and not cowardly.
Valiant people are the ones you want on your side.  And you call people that you are encouraging to stand with you to be valiant.
Valiant, valiance or valor are words that the writer of Samuel and the writer of Judges use to describe formidable warriors, who exercise the power of their personal strength.  Through Judges and Samuel there is war and there are warriors, and some people are described as valiant or men of valour: brave and courageous.
Valiance is also something you want in someone who is going to lead others.  For leadership, it is not enough to just possess godly wisdom and character.  A leader is a person who also has courage: “Having the courage of their convictions”.  This same Hebrew word, ‘ḥa-yil‘, translated ‘valiant’, in 2 Samuel, is translated, ‘able’, in Exodus 18:

But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every important case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear it with you. If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.” 

Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. So Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them leaders over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.

-Exodus 18:21-5 

Here we have an illustration of the delegation of authority or leadership.  The people that should be selected to lead will fear God, be truthful, not corrupted by bribes, and bravely courageous.  This is an Old Testament, rough draft of the qualifiers for an elder in the people of God.

Back to the story in 2 Samuel:  While it is clear to us that David was meant to be king and that God had rejected Saul, many people, ‘on the ground’ and ‘at the time’, did not get this.  The people had to come around or come to the realization, that David was meant to be their next king and was indeed ‘God’s chosen’.

It is ironic or perplexing for us today to read these stories and see people who are part of the twelve tribes, reject and oppose what we know to be God’s plan or God’s man.  These ideas go along with the saying today that, “God has no grandchildren”, or Paul’s words in Romans 9:6, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”

In other words, we are not born into faith.  We must choose and decide what we believe and who or what we will follow.  My son and your son or daughter must decide for themselves if they will follow Jesus.

David, plainly said or told his messengers to say, to the men of Jabesh-gilead, that he had been anointed king over Judah, after Saul’s death.   He blessed them and said thanks for what you did for Saul, that was kind, and he said that he planned to be kind to them as well.  In that context, David encourages them to be valiant, which means to show or possess courage with determination.

The context of this statement and David’s words, are that there was danger and uncertainty about how things were going to shake out.  Saul’s army or those who had fought for and were allied with the house of Saul and particularly against David, were still unsubmissive, insubordinate and at odds with David and what we, the readers today, see and read as God’s plan.

David is doing diplomacy with the men of Jabesh-gilead.  He said, “God bless you and thank you for showing kindness to Saul.  I am now becoming king and I will show kindness to you.  Be strong and valiant.”  They needed to be strong and valiant because they were in danger from the Philistines, and the Saul faction that was not behind David, would soon be knocking on their doors, asking or demanding their backing.

More of the story that helps us understand how difficult a situation that Jabesh-gilead was in, is the fact, told later, that it would be about seven years before other tribes would get behind David.  This snapshot, part of the larger story, takes place in a seven year, tumultuous window of time, where David is almost, but not yet fully, king of all Israel.

We know David is God’s choice, but in the story, David and our eyes with David, looks for, seeks and invites people to join him as ‘early adopters’.  And it is not simple or easy.  For seven more years, there would continue the last chapter of the civil war between the Saul loyalists and David.

What we learn is that David does not force himself on the rest of Israel, after Judah, but patiently waits for things to shake out.  David, who has already done a lot of waiting, has to wait some more.  David specifically waits on God to fully promote him.

In this context, David sent that message, contained in 2 Samuel 2, asking for support, and he encourages them to be courageous, and to do the right thing.

The word of wisdom in this story is applicable and relevant for us today.  To be shown or to realize what the right thing is to do, but not to do it, is cowardice.  But to have the courage of your convictions, and to do the right thing, in the face of opposition and unpopularity, is valiant.

To be valiant is to show or possess courage, with a determination to do the right thing.

We are called to be a valiant people.  And our war is not against flesh and blood.  We are a warrior people, doing battle against the devil’s schemes.

Valiance is to have courage to do the right thing in the face of adversity and opposition.

People Who Promote You For Themselves in Shame

Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and moved him to Mahanaim.  He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel.
2 Samuel 2:8-9

Have you ever been in a situation where there is personal ambition and competition that got ugly?  Everyone is ambitious and we are all competitive.  But, certain people are so ambitious and competitive, that they behave in immoral, unethical, anti-social, deviant, or psychopathic ways with others, to get what they want.

The account here says that Abner made Ish-bosheth king.  Sounds sort of good.  Abner might have been the most powerful figure on the ‘Saul side’.

Unfortunately, the ‘Saul side’ is the wrong side.  We know that God wanted David.  But from a worldly perspective, it was Ish-bosheth’s turn and Abner knew that.

Because Ish-bosheth did not get it about David and stepped up into a kingship that was not his, there would be civil war, with a lot of blood spilled (2 Sam. 3:1).  Abner openly took a step, to show just how deep his lust for power and contempt for Ish-bosheth and the house of Saul went, when he took Saul’s concubine, Rizpah, and slept with her (2. Sam. 3:6-7).  In his weakness, Ish-bosheth, did nothing and showed everyone who had the power (2 Sam. 3:11).

Abner and Ish-bosheth will both be killed in 2 years.

What is the lesson here?

  • Be careful about taking a promotion that is not from the Lord.  God does promote us, but in his way and in his time.  
  • Sometimes in hierarchies, there is someone without the title who has the power and feels entitled to that power.
  • Beware of people in powerful positions who lack Christ’s character.
  • Be careful not to yoke yourself to someone ‘unequally’ (2. Cor. 6:14).
  • Being ambitious is good, but selfish ambition, where we run over other people is wrong (Phil. 2:3-4).

Ish-bosheth’s name means, ‘man of shame’.  Abner was shameful, in what he did, as was Saul.  At the very least, Ish-bosheth bore their shame and acted out on it.

From the little we know about Ish-bosheth, we can say that he had low self-esteem.  He was weak and might have even been a coward.  Yet, he took the throne, in the midst of a violent warrior culture.

Picture: Pixabay

The consensus opinion in the psychology/counseling/recovery community seems to be that shame is usually and commonly the result of lack of nurture in childhood.  We were not loved for who we are.  Our caregivers did crazy stuff, abused us, or neglected us; all resulting in the lack of nurturing of our authentic selves.  That is shame, in a nut-shell.

Folks who have this inner shame feel a ‘badness’ (“I am bad”), or even self-hate.  Many times, it is sub-conscious.  Either way, low self-esteem is the result and inauthentic, dysfunctional behavior patterns are developed and lived out; that are all the result of a self that was not loved unconditionally, that is off kilter and trying to “fake it to make it” as a survival mechanism.

But, at some point, we encounter the Love of God, the Father’s affection, the Love of Jesus, and the loving comfort of the Holy Spirit, that is real.  Then begins our journey to wholeness, our awakening to unconditional love.

In regards to promotion or getting something you want, there is a saying that goes something like, “Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it”.  The lesson is to be wise, be considerate, take consideration, look at the big picture, and count the cost before you take the job, the promotion, or get involved with a person.

Imagine being ushered into power by someone.  If someone tries to make you king, you should have a ‘red flag’ go off for you.  No man made David king.

Hebron – Joining, Teaming Up, Alliance

Matteo Rosselli, The triumphant David, (PD)

Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”

The Lord answered him, “Go.”

Then David asked, “Where should I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.

-2 Samuel 2:1
After Saul had died and it was finally time for David to become Israel’s king, he went to live in Hebron.  “The name Hebron comes from the root-verb חבר (habar), meaning to join”, writes Arie Uittenbogaard.  The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, has it, that Hebron means association or league.  David took a step up and into his kingship, but it would still be over 7 years before he began to reign from Jerusalem.  
Even though David was “the man” God chose, and of whom Jesus, would be called, “the son of David”; he needed to join himself to allies, associates, and team up or bind himself to those who were “friendlies”.  Jerusalem, and much of the people of God were not ready for him yet, but Hebron was.
Hebron became a place where David put down some roots, because he stayed there over 7 years.  It turns out that David was king in Hebron for 7 years, then in Jerusalem for 33, totaling 40.  David was anointed by Samuel at about the age of 10, when Saul had been king for 15 years.  It took Saul 25 years to step aside, in death; which is what happened at the end of 2 Samuel, chapter 1.
Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s close friend, died in battle, with his father.  David had been friends with Jonathan for about 20 years.  During the past 10 years and the last 10 years of Saul’s life, he pursued David and wanted to kill him.  So, for 15 years, David had a “grace period”, with Saul, where he grew and Saul deteriorated. (See William H. Gross, Chronology of David’s Life)
Instead of a gracious understanding and a “changing of the guard”, David was banished and then pursued, with a death sentence, for 10 years.  Imagine being called, actually receiving a dramatic call, to full-time ministry.  It does not get much more dramatic than the prophet Samuel giving you the word, in front of your family!  Yet, it would be 25 years until 2 Samuel 2, when David would join himself to a place in Israel that would recognize the calling that God put on him.
What if David is the practical model for how it works?  Called at age 10 or so, but it is not official until about age 35 and it is not completely official until age 42.  What if David’s life shows us that it can take 25 years and then another 7, for your calling to come into fruition?
If you were born in 1980, got your dramatic prophetic call in 1990, as a child; then went through 25 years of life, good and bad, in the school-of-hard-knocks, then, you might be ready to step into your destiny today.  I can think of some people that I knew in 1990 who are flying today in (“full time”) ministry: traveling, speaking, and publishing.  They were far over the age of 10 in 1990, so their 25 years had already started then.
I also think of many more people who have crashed and recovered and been in the wilderness.  Everyone is different and God does not do cookie cutter lives, but there is a principal here of prep. time.  
The wilderness is an important metaphor for anyone who wants to serve the Lord in their life.  You will go to the wilderness and you need to understand what God wants to do with you there.  The wilderness times are very important.  You will go there.  All Christians go there.  
God teaches you things like how to be a warrior and how to worship, in the desert.  This seems paradoxical, but it is true.  You learn to be, then do.  In the promised land (speakin’ metaphorically), you do from who you are (who you “be”), who you have become (be-come) in the desert.  It is a tragedy for Christians to try to “do”, when they have not done the “be”.  They haven’t become and they don’t do from authentic being.
Back to my verse:  At the strategic juncture of Saul & Jonathan’s deaths, David inquires of God, “Should I go up?”, or, “Shall I move?”, in the MSG & NLT Bibles.  And God answers, “Yes”.  There is a time to go or to move.  We do have a geographic will of God sometimes.  God might say, “Don’t go”, or where to go; or God might leave it open to you; or put a wall in your path, if you try to go someplace he has forbidden.
I am taking the position that names in the Bible are oftentimes meaningful.  Hebron means something here.  And what it means is “joining”.  God has “alignments” or “alliances”, or people that he has for us to “team up with”.  David already had cohorts, but his move to Hebron was a joining with “friendlies” who would accept or affirm him.
There comes a time, and now or very soon or coming soon, might be that time, when we join up, team up, and make alliances, in the Lord.  God has people he wants us to join with, at strategic times.  David stayed in Hebron for 7 years, then moved on and up to his final place, in Jerusalem.  Hebron was in-between the wilderness and Jerusalem.
All of life is in-between, transitional, or a sojourn.  There are liminal times, when we are profoundly in transition.  There is a liminal time called transition, in the birth of a baby, that is critical.  There is a liminal time, when boys transition to being men and girls transition to becoming women.
If we miss these transitions, we will be hampered, retarded, delayed, or immature.  We get this picture with the children of Israel, that did not, then could not, and were barred by God, from entering in to the land of promise.  The author of Hebrews teaches on this and applies it to the Christian’s life (Heb. 3).
There might be special, strategic, times when it matters who you join with and where you live.  And in that special time, God might direct you, if you ask him.  And God might tell you where to live or who to do life with, join with, ally with, and team up with.  What is your assignment and who are you meant to be aligned with?
For more study on liminality:
Communitas (from liminality) – Alan Cross on Alan Hirsch
Dis-orientation and renewal, by Len Hjalmarson  (click on the liminality link)

The Tragedy of Hubris

Joab, Abishai, and Asahel–the three sons of Zeruiah–were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a gazelle.

-2 Samuel 2:18 (NLT)
Joab means, “the LORD is father”, or “Jehovah-fathered”.  The man in this verse was David’s sister’s son & captain of his host, noted here.
Abishai means, “my father is Jesse”, or “father of a gift (i.e. Probably generous), noted here.
Asahel means, “God has made”, or “thanksgiving… thanking God for what he has made”,noted here, and here.

Zeruiah means, “Balsam of Yah” Balsam is a spice, perfume,cosmetic and medicine.  It is also an ingredient in the incense burned in the Tabernacle.  Scholars are not in full agreement, some taking the position that Zeruiah means “Cleft”, as in a crack that occurs from pressure.

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Asahel is noted as being fast on his feet.  We find out that Asahel’s speed was a snare.  Asahel got overconfident and was killed by the better warrior, Abner.  Abner actually gave him the chance to back off, but he went right into Abner’s spear and was killed.

…Asahel could run like a gazelle,  and he began chasing Abner. He pursued him relentlessly, not stopping for anything. When Abner looked back and saw him coming, he called out, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“Yes, it is,” he replied.

 “Go fight someone else!” Abner warned. “Take on one of the younger men, and strip him of his weapons.”  But Asahel kept right on chasing Abner.

Again Abner shouted to him, “Get away from here! I don’t want to kill you. How could I ever face your brother Joab again?”

But Asahel refused to turn back, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there…  -2 Samuel 2:18b-23a

We, like Asahel, can be endowed with special gifts, but we have to know how far they can take us, then stop.  He had speed, but not the warrior skills to take Abner, hand to hand, by himself.  “Pride goes before the fall”, applies to good guys and bad guys.  Perhaps if Asahel used his speed to be the scout for his men, chasing Abner, he would have lived.
Joab avenged Asahel’s death, by murdering Abner (2 Sa. 3:27), which David did not appreciate (2 Sam. 3:31-9).  Later, Joab, who was David’s top general, helped David have Uriah killed (2 Sam. 11:14-25).  He also killed Absalom, against David’s wishes, when that rebellion occurred (2 Sam 18:1-33).  Joab also murdered his cousin, David’s nephew Amasa (2 Sam. 20:8-13), whom David promoted over Joab, after the rebellion of Absalom (2 Sam. 19:13).  Joab was finally given a death sentence by David (1 Kings 2:29-34) , who cited his past betrayals and for for siding against Solomon, with David’s eldest son, Adonijah (1 Kings 1:1-27).

Abishai was the oldest of the three brothers mentioned here.  He was the only one brave enough to accompany David to sneak in on Saul as he slept (1 Sam. 26:5-12).  Abishai was one of the mightiest warriors of David’s mighty men, and he personally slew 300 men by himself one time (2 Sam. 23:18-19).  He also took part in the slaying of a Philistine giant (2 Sam. 21:15-17).  But, and unfortunately, Abishai played a role in the murder of Joab (2 Sam. 3:30) and David pronounced a curse on Joab’s whole family (2 Sam. 3:29).  Abishai receives the curse, since he was complacent in the murder.

These three brothers were mighty warriors, counted among David’s might men, that probably numbered between 30 and 37 guys (2 Sam. 23:8-39).  Things went wrong for these three, when Asahel got ahead of his assignment.  It was like Asahel got too big for his britches.  This is hubris.

He authentically served David, and by extension, God; before this incident.  But, perhaps the victories he had been involved in, gave birth to pride in himself.  The more victories you are involved in, the more you must learn to discipline yourself to be humble.

Asahel was born into a special family and became part of a move of God, through his uncle.  It seems to me that the anointing to be king and to be a Philistine killing machine, overflowed and touched a number of men who came to serve David and serve Yahweh, who anointed David.

Besides the wars with the pagan peoples, there were also civil wars in Israel where many were killed.  Asahel ended up a casualty, and the record of his death documents that he died because of his own foolishness.  Lack of wisdom, would be true of him also, but the word I was looking for was presumption (Psalm 19:13).

With just seeing here that Asahel has a gift for speed, what can we say?  We can say, “be careful!”. We have a, “need for speed”, culture.  We have a spirit of ‘hurry’ in our world, at least in the places I frequent.  It used to be rare to see someone run a red light, but now I see it all the time.

God is not in a hurry.  There is something good about getting up and going for it, but we also can get ahead of God.  Patience is a virtue, but speediness is not.  There is no, ‘peddle to the metal’ Bible verse, but there are many verses about continued perseverance.

But, what about our God given gifts?  What is the difference between Asahel and Eric Liddle, the man who’s life was put on the big screen in ‘Chariots of Fire‘?  Eric was in a missionary family, and there were expectations that he would himself serve God that way, but instead, he put off missionary service to became an Olympic runner.

When people said to Eric, “what are you doing?”, he told them that he felt the pleasure of God when he ran.  Eric Liddle brought glory to God through is natural gift that was also his passion.

But, Asahel got in trouble and was killed.  Why?  He did not steward his gift properly and got into a presumptuous situation where he was blinded by his ambition.  Asahel should have known this word of wisdom:

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall”
-Prov. 16:18

We can move ahead of God and be destroyed.  Bravery and arrogance are not the same.  We have to go after the targets God gives us.  God gives grace to the humble and opposes pride (Prov. 3:34).

This last point might seem tangential, but I looked for a verse about getting too far ahead, and found 2 John 1:9, where John warns about getting ahead of the teachings of Christ and falling into deception.  F.F. Bruce notes that it literally says, “whoever taketh the lead and abideth not in the teaching of Christ”.

We can get ahead of Christ, spiritually, and add things that are not in his teachings, nor in the apostolic witness, and ruin our selves and lead others away from Christ.   Bruce notes that the junk that John is warning about is Docetism, which is the belief that Jesus was a phantom, that he was pure spirit, and did not have a physical body that really died on the cross.  Docetism is a heretical belief within Gnosticism.

When we ‘take the lead’ and get ahead of God, we can get into trouble.  Leadership, yes; but ‘taking the lead and not abiding in the teaching of Christ’, no.

God’s kindness

This is the story of a man that was the king’s grandson. His dad, who was a very good man; was the king’s first born son which made him heir to the throne. The grandson was his dad’s first born, which put him next in line. Life could not have been better for the young man, but then things changed.

His grandfather, the king, became corrupt. He began losing wars with the barbaric tribes that surrounded their country. He also seemed to have lost the favor of the people and God’s favor as well. There was another man who was a very gifted man, a fierce warrior, and a born leader; who seemed to have won the hearts of the people. He even seemed to have God’s favor.

This man, the warrior, and the boy’s father became close friends. I should mention that the boy’s father was also a brave warrior. The boy’s grandfather, the king, became jealous of the warrior man and it made it difficult for the boy’s dad to be close friends with him because the king eventually wanted the warrior dead, and the boy’s father could not be a part of that.

After some time, the king and the young man’s father were killed in battle. The boy’s uncles were on the side of their dad, the king, and wanted to kill the warrior, who seemed to be vying for the throne. The warrior’s men, knowing this, killed the boys uncles and it looked like their whole families could be killed to remove any threat to the warrior from taking the throne for himself.

In this chaos, the little boy’s caretaker took the little boy and began to run with him. But she tripped and the little boy fell out of her arms. Maybe he was asleep? Maybe she was running downhill on rocky terrain? She dropped him and both of his legs or feet were injured and it was permanent. He became suddenly and for life, crippled.

He made it to safety and began to live a life in hiding. A period of time went by and the boy became a man and he got married and had his own little boy. He was living in obscurity when a knock came on his door. He had been found. The warrior who was now the king had summoned him to come see him.

He might have thought his life was now over, but his life was about to improve vastly. The warrior king had been thinking about his old friend and wondering if there was anyone left that he could show kindness to from his old friend’s family. He discovered that his friend’s son was still alive.

The new king told him not to be afraid and decreed that he get all the land that should have passed down from his grandfather to his father and then to him. He also gave him an open invite to have dinner at the palace every night, seated just like his own children, at the king’s table.
This is the story of David and Mephibosheth, from 2 Samuel 9.

This story is an illustration of how Christ comes and finds us and restores to us what was lost.

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