Wednesday 9 November, 2016

2 Samuel 4:1-5:5

4 Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul, heard that Abner had died in Hebron. Then he wasn’t so brave anymore. And all the Israelites became alarmed. 2 Two men in Ish-Bosheth’s army led small fighting groups that attacked their enemies. The names of the men were Baanah and Rekab. They were sons of Rimmon from the town of Beeroth. Rimmon was from the tribe of Benjamin. Beeroth is considered to be part of Benjamin. 3 That’s because the people who used to live in Beeroth had run away to Gittaim. They have lived there as outsiders to this day. 4 Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son named Mephibosheth. Both of Mephibosheth’s feet were hurt. He was five years old when the news that Saul and Jonathan had died came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and ran. But as she hurried to get away, he fell down. That’s how his feet were hurt. 5 Rekab and Baanah started out for the house of Ish-Bosheth. They were the sons of Rimmon from Beeroth. They arrived there during the hottest time of the day. Ish-Bosheth was taking his early afternoon nap. 6 Rekab and his brother Baanah went into the inside part of the house. They acted as if they were going to get some wheat. Instead, they stabbed Ish-Bosheth in the stomach. Then they slipped away. 7 They had gone into the house while Ish-Bosheth was lying on his bed in his bedroom. They stabbed him and killed him. Then they cut off his head and took it with them. They traveled all night through the Arabah Valley. 8 They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to King David at Hebron. They said to him, “Here’s the head of Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul. Saul was your enemy. He often tried to kill you. Today the Lord has paid back Saul and his family. He has let you get even with them. You are our king and master.” 9 David gave an answer to Rekab and his brother Baanah. They were the sons of Rimmon from Beeroth. David said, “The Lord has saved me from every trouble. 10 Someone once told me, ‘Saul is dead.’ He thought he was bringing me good news. But I grabbed him. I had him put to death in Ziklag. That’s the reward I gave him for his news! And that’s just as sure as the Lord is alive. 11 Now you evil men have killed a man in his own house. He hadn’t done anything wrong. You killed him while he was lying on his own bed. You spilled his blood. So shouldn’t I spill your blood? Shouldn’t I wipe you off the face of the earth?” 12 Then David gave an order to his men. They killed Rekab and Baanah. They cut off their hands and feet. They hung their bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they buried the head of Ish-Bosheth in Abner’s tomb at Hebron. 5 All the tribes of Israel came to see David at Hebron. They said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, Saul was our king. But you led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will be the shepherd over my people Israel. You will become their ruler.’ ” 3 All the elders of Israel came to see King David at Hebron. There the king made a covenant with them in front of the Lord. They anointed David as king over Israel. 4 David was 30 years old when he became king. He ruled for 40 years. 5 In Hebron he ruled over Judah for seven and a half years. In Jerusalem he ruled over all of Israel and Judah for 33 years.

There is much in this passage to concentrate on – from the punishment for murdering innocent people, to the power of leadership and followership – even when kings acknowledge the leadership of another king which includes acknowledging the leadership gift of another.  However I want to concentrate on verse one in chapter 4.

“When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed”.  This verse reminds us of the critical character trait of courage.  Ish-Bosheth is said to have lost courage because the king’s general, Abner, had been killed.  Abner had been the protector of Saul and now that he was dead, Ish-Bosheth feared for his life as his protection was removed.  Courage is a powerful quality.  It is transferable, in that if we do not have it others around us sense it and vice versa.  All Israel became alarmed at the lack of courage of Ish-Bosheth.  Have you ever wanted more from your leader – the likely thing is that you wanted courage.  Of course every leader is human and there are times, like for Ish-Bosheth, that his courage drained away.  Was his courage misplaced – perhaps, but God had placed Abner as the general of Saul – it can be all too easy to say “be strong and courageous” and that our faith must be in God and our courage come from God.

Courage is needed in the family when things are tight or relationships are strained.  Courage is needed in business to chase down the next deal, to weather the storms, to take a new direction.  Courage is needed in the life of faith to continue to live counter-culturally in honour of Jesus.  The lack of courage, or the loss of courage has an effect on others and we need to ensure that we are strong and courageous.  How do we do this?  One of the ways is to remind ourselves of the deliverance of God – you know the times when the Lord has come through for you in the past and so you can be confident He will again!

Father – help me to be courageous as I go forward in obedience to You in all things.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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