August 18, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Will Sam, Gracepoint Berkeley

2 Samuel 4:1

What kind of man is Ish-Bosheth? Ish-Bosheth is someone who is somewhat tragic.  Though he was the son of Saul, he certainly does not exhibit the same kind of leadership or cunning as his father; nor the warrior like abilities of his brother, Jonathan.  We see earlier that Ish-Bosheth was really only in power because he was put there by Abner.  It’s not clear whether he had any of the abilities of being a king at all.  The picture that emerges, instead, is a picture of someone who is all by himself.  Once Abner falls, Ish-Bosheth has no way whatsoever to be full of courage, for his source of courage was obviously in the men who supported him.  As his source was removed, he knew that his time was quickly coming to an end.  Ish-Bosheth is also a godless man, since he clearly does not take into consideration God’s role in his life.  He is not set into power by God’s will, but merely at the hands of another.  And being thus propped up in this puppet-like position, when his support fades, he quickly loses courage.

What is the source of my courage? My source of courage needs to come from the Lord God.  My source of courage cannot be based on anything else, for anything and everything else fades away and is not capable of providing that sense of courage and rest.  My source of courage cannot be based on myself, my own talents and my own abilities.  If it were, then I will constantly be uneasy because this world is cut-throat, and competition is fierce and how long can any courage or confidence last for?

What are some ways in which people take refuge in things that cause them to be enslaved by fear?
There are many different ways that people take refuge in things that actually cause them to be enslaved by fear.  Recently, many people who invested heavily in the stock market, suddenly found themselves full of fear as their investments were worth X amount one day, and then suddenly, literally within one week, their investments were only worth a fraction of that amount.  Each day’s economic news would bring only trouble and heartache as the world’s economy simply kept going up and down, unable to stabilize, unable to keep the steady growth.  For many, taking refuge in economic wealth would therefore prove enslaved by fear because the economy is not something you can control.

People who take refuge in their careers are similarly faced with such fear and problem.  Work becomes an arena where we are constantly called to perform, constantly called to put out a certain bit of output.  Our coworkers then become the competition and things become a zero-sum game – either I’m rising up the ranks, or you are, but we both certainly can’t because there simply aren’t enough positions at the top.  When news of a coworker getting promoted, getting praised, then, we cannot take it with joy but instead, we get riled up thinking – but what about me?

2 Samuel 4:2-8
What kind of men were Baanah and Recab? Baanah and Recab were men who were politically savvy.  They understood the times – they were aware that the time of Ish-Bosheth was essentially over and that very little stood in the way before David’s reign would begin.  The two men were crafty, bold, and yet also cowardly.  The men were bold because they decided that they would go into the very house of the King, past the guards and soldiers, weasel their way all the way into the inner part of the house.  The men would then slip into the room of Ish-Bosheth and kill him.
And yet while their actions are “bold” in some sense, their actions are also undoubtedly cowardly.  Their plan of action was not to challenge Ish-Bosheth to a battle (not that he would have taken that challenge anyway); their plan was to kill him while he was lying there, unarmed, unable to defend himself, and at rest.  This is cowardly in a very big way.

2 Samuel 4:8-12
Once again, we see David responding very differently from the norms of the world.  He does not see Ish-Bosheth’s death as the removal of the final obstacle to the throne.  Instead, what does he see in this incident? David recognizes the wrong that was done to Ish-Bosheth.  As a man who was simply taking his noonday rest, Ish-Bosheth does not deserve to be struck down in this way.  The two men, then, are not doing something noble and right by bringing David’s kingdom to him, but they are scoundrels who would kill an unarmed, sleeping man, in his own house.

How is it that David responds this way? David can respond this way because his moral bearings are working properly.  David is not seeking his own throne by taking all the possible measures that are out there.  There is no doubt that at the moment of Abner’s death, the path towards David’s ascension was very clear.  Without Abner in the way, Ish-Bosheth simply had no power.  David could have easily gone and taken the throne by force.  And if this had been the only thing that mattered to David, then what just happened to Ish-Bosheth would not be viewed in a negative way, but just the final step.  We see David has a much higher moral bearing though, and his complete trust in God allowed him to not take the throne by his own force.

What can I learn from David? David’s response is beautiful.  When news comes that Saul has been killed, David responds by taking the life of the news-bearer.  When news comes that Abner has been eliminated, not only does David respond by completely renouncing Joab and his antics, he also leads the mourning for Abner.  When news reaches him that Ish-Bosheth has been murdered in cold blood, the perpetrators are summarily killed.  David is NOT about himself or the power that has already been designated to be his.  David trusts in the Lord and believes that God will certainly deliver to him the throne that God promised.  In this way, David completely trusts that God will do what God has promised.

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