August 17, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Steve Kim, Gracepoint Riverside.

2 Samuel 3:22-39

What kind of person is Joab?

Joab was assertive and aggressive.  He was so certain of his interpretation of Abner’s visit.  He says in vs 24-25 to David, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone! 25 You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.”

Now how could he be so certain of Abner’s motive for coming to David?  It’s one thing to suspect ill motives, but entirely another thing to be so confident in your own assumptions and intuitions when there’s no clear evidence to support your assumptions.  Joab’s instincts were practical and probably even wise from a worldly perspective, but he was blind to the fact that his instincts were skewed by his own bias and bitterness towards Abner for killing his brother Asahel.

It turns out that Joab’s desire to avenge his brother’s death was the real underlying motivation in casting such a negative, suspicious light on Abner’s visit.  Vs27 says, “to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.”

How must King David have felt in having a general like Joab under him despite the fact that Joab was a great warrior?

**  David must’ve felt  frustrated, upset and deeply concerned about Joab not sharing in the same heart and perspective that he had.  What was David’s perspective of Abner?

David saw him as a noble man, whose words he was willing to trust.  David referred to Abner as a ‘prince and a great man’.

I think David saw Abner as someone deserving of honor and respect despite being the general of the opposing army, because Abner was once the servant of the anointed king (Saul), who once fought the Lord’s battles.

Joab’s conduct in this chapter reminds me of Peter when Jesus predicted his death.  Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him for suggesting that He would suffer many things in the hands of the religious leaders in Jerusalem and would get killed.

Peter says to Jesus, “Never, Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”  Like Joab, Peter was so sure about his own judgment and instincts, but he was blind to his own bias and assumptions about what Jesus’ life should be about.  It was inconceivable to Peter that Jesus, His Messiah, would willingly surrender himself and be put to death.

What lesson does this have for me as I serve Jesus?

**  this teaches me to consider ways in which my instincts and perspective may conflict with Jesus’ perspective.  I need to carefully assess the assumptions and bias I have in approaching my Christian life and in relating to others.

If I have the assumption that Christian life should be easy and comfortable, then I may act like Joab and Peter in trying to correct God and my leaders for trying to uphold God’s commands and instructions for how I am to live out my Christian life.  I may even get angry like Joab when I can’t have things my way, and the crazy thing is I may even feel like I’m in the right about it.  But in reality my notions of what’s a ‘normal’ Christian life doesn’t come from the Bible, but based on worldly values that I picked up through media and the voices of relatives  and family friends I grew up with.

I know that for me I can be like Joab in having a certain bias about someone when I’ve experienced being hurt or betrayed by that person in the past.  Instead of being like David, who was willing to trust Abner’s word, I find my bias about someone get in the way of being fair and gracious towards him.

I’m so thankful that God is not like me.  He doesn’t keep a record of wrong when He relates to me.  He is a God who is willing to forget the past and give me a new chance with Him as soon as I repent and turn back to Him.  This sort of gracious heart is something David had towards Abner and something I’m challenged to have towards people in my life as well.

I know that this is only possible through being firmly rooted in God’s love and promises.   Only then can I afford to take risks relationally to open up my heart and extend 2nd chances to the “Abners” in my life.

Submtted by Pastor Timothy Rhee, Gracepoint Mineapolis

2 Samuel 3:6-11

What is tragic about Ish-Bosheth?

Ish-Bosheth is tragic figure because he is such a passive person despite being a king. He is a king in title only but certainly doesn’t act like a king. For example, he makes a very serious accusation to Abner but then is un-willing to follow through when Abner gets angry/defensive. He is too cowardly to deal with Abner at that point. Overall he’s very passive and just lets things happen to him, and just goes along as if he’s some hapless victim. He doesn’t do anything when Abner strengthens his position within his kingdom, he backs down when Abner gets angry and defensive about Rizpah, and he readily gives in when David asks for his wife (Ish-Bosheth’s sister) back. Like his father Saul, he is ruled by his fears and doesn’t seem to have any personal convictions that’s driving his life.

2 Samuel 3:1-21

What kind of person is Abner? Abner is a self-centered, consummate politician. His loyalty is clearly, primarily to himself. He is also a shrewd opportunist who knows that David is gaining increasing power and seeks to manipulate the circumstances so that he can benefit from it. He is more than willing to betray Ish-Bosheth and to Saul’s family as long as he comes out ahead at the end. He lacks morals or fear of God to restrain his actions. A person like this, without proper boundaries, is a very scary person to be around and Ish-Bosheth is right to be afraid of him.

2 Samuel 3:26-27

Why was it wrong for Joab to kill Abner, even though Abner killed Joab’s brother Asahel?

It was wrong because Abner killed Asahel in the heat of battle. And even in that situation, Abner warned him to stop pursuing him.  But Joab murders Abner during peaceful time. And to add to his treachery, Joab pretended to speak to him privately, and while Abner’s guard was down… murdered him in cold blood.

2 Samuel 3:22-39

What kind of person is Joab?

Joab is very similar to Abner. He is unscrupulous, doesn’t respect authority and also driven by self-interest. In the pursuit of his own goals, he is willing to deceive others(Abner) or go behind people’s back (David). For these reasons, Joab too is a very scary person to be around. David knows this about Joab and appropriately fears him (v.39).

How must King David have felt in having a general like Joab under him despite the fact that Joab was a great warrior?

It must have made David feel very uneasy to have someone like Joab under him despite the fact that Joab was a great warrior. As mentioned in previous question, he knew that Joab lacked boundaries for his life. Because Joab was very competent and shrewd person, it only made his capacity for evil even greater i.e. murdering Abner. It must have been very burdensome for David to know that Joab was capable of doing his own thing without David being able to constrain him.

What lesson does this have for me as I serve Jesus?

It’s easy for me to think that if I was more competent and/or gifted, then I can be more useful for God. But from Joab and Abner’s examples, this is clearly not true. Character is far more important than competence. It’s my character that will determine how much God can use me. It doesn’t matter how competent or talented I am, if my character is such that God cannot trust me to do the right thing or carry out ministry in manner that is honoring to Him. In fact, if my character is poor then I will be a liability for the kingdom of God. So I need to really take my character issues seriously and really struggle through them.


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