March 6, 2018

The Competing King

By: Larry Shaffer

 Beri and Ryker! Howdy partner!

2 Samuel 2

We went through 1 Samuel late last year. Now I am back digging into the continuation of the narrative surrounding David’s life. Saul is dead but the warfare, bloodshed, and political intrigue continues. Why do men contend against each other? Why is there always war and contention between nations and even life and death battles within nations. It seems relentless. As I read through the Bible and record my thoughts, I’m primarily asking two questions: Lord, what are your purposes in putting this section within Your inspired Word (in other words, what are You teaching us) and secondly, how then should I live considering the purposes of this section? Some days the answers just jump out with brilliant clarity and other days, not so much. Today as I read this chapter and asked those two questions, my honest answer was ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I don’t know’. If I don’t get clarity on the first question than it’s real hard to discover clarity on the application part. What I used to do was move on to something more devotional. Now I try to stick with the text and write through it and often, not always, but often that helps. So let’s press on.

Nothing is easy

David and his men are now free to move about without the armies of Saul pursuing him. He moves to Hebron and the men of Judah publicly anoint him as King over Judah. One of the surviving generals of Saul took Saul’s only surviving son and made him King over the other parts of Israel. So we have a divided kingdom. Bloodshed happens. Abner is the commander over Saul’s son’s territory and Joab was David’s general over the armies of Judah. So why can’t they just agree to disagree and live in peace, right? I suppose back in this culture, boys are raised to be warriors and generals are not satisfied unless there is war. So the generals and their armies come out and meet. Testosterone is running high and a battle breaks out. Joab’s men supporting David (Judah) over-power Abner’s men (Israel) and Abner retreats. God blesses David’s men. They pursue Israel’s army but eventually let them go. Abner lives to fight again.

Men contend with men God

Yes, men contend against men, but maybe it is more specific here. What’s really happening is men contend against God. God’s not physically here so the haters of God contend against God’s people. We see it today. There is a hatred for Christianity and biblical truth that is raging in our world. We say, ‘we’re nice moral people, why are we so hated?’ To us what seems good (being moral) is in fact at the heart of why we are hated. Immorality hates morality and wrong hates right and evil hates good. That’s why Paul says, “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God.” David was a hated man because he was God’s man.

Hand me my weapons

Today we are also in a battle, but our weapons are not physical but rather spiritual. They are weapons of righteousness. Paul outlines these weapons in 2 Corinthians 6, “in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.” Lord, teach us how to be mighty warriors, well prepared, skillful with the weapons of righteousness you have provided and humble in our use of them. The battle seems physical to us because it sometimes gets very personal and directed right at us. In those times, help us to remember that the battle is really yours. Amen.