2 Samuel 3:39 - An Inauguration Of A King
Nothing has been quiet, calm or smooth Since the election results came in for the 2020 election. Things got out of control this past week when the capital building was overrun and several people died in the process. I fear that in some ways we may be growing accustomed to the violence that we have seen over the last year in our streets and in the cities.
When David became king over all of Israel there was an event that occurred that reminds me of the events that we have recently experienced. David had met with Abner, the military commander of the house of Saul, and Abner had promised to give to David a united kingdom. David made a covenant with him and then sent Abner away in peace.
After Abner had departed David's men returned from a raid with much spoil and heard that Abner had been there and that David had met with him. Joab, David's military commander was angry that David had let Abner go. He told David that Abner was deceitful and that he had only come to spy upon them so that their enemies could have victory over them. The fundamental reason that Joab was mad was because Abner had killed his brother in the battle at Gibeon.
Without telling David, Joab went and brought Abner back to Hebron and killed him there. When David heard of this we read, "Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, 'Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner, and all the people wept. And the king lamented for Abner, saying, 'Should Abner die as a fool dies? Your hands were not bound; your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen.' And all of the people wept again over him." (1 Samuel 3:31-34)
Did you notice that David spoke directly to Joab and his men and told them to tear their clothes and to put on sackcloth and mourn before Abner. Joab and his brother, Abishai, had taken revenge on the man who killed their brother and now they are commanded to tear their clothes, put on sackcloth and mourn. Years of anger had built up as they waited for an opportunity to take their revenge upon Abner and this was the day that they did it. Yet, in that very same day they now are to mourn the death of this man. Was it real? Was it from the heart?
We often convince ourselves that revenge will feel great and that retribution will bring peace; but does it? Does it satisfy our longing to get even? Does it pull out the root of bitterness and anger that we have allowed to take root in our hearts for so long?
It could be that the mourning that David expressed was different than that of Joab and Abishai because the people recognized by David's actions that he had nothing to do with this killing. We read, "And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's will to put to death Abner the son of Ner." (36-37)
Joab and Abishai not only needed to mourn for Abner but for themselves. I say this because of what we read in 2 Samuel 3:38-39, "And the king said to his servants, 'Do you not know that prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? And I was gentle today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The LORD will repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!'"
Joab and Abishai allowed anger and bitterness to cause them to sin against the king who promised peace to Abner and against God who would have repaid any wrong committed against them. Now they are the guilty ones who will have to answer to the LORD.
There is something rare seen in David here in this story. David is now king and he has acted in gentleness; however, is men have acted wickedly. I love that the bible teaches us to be gentle. As a pastor I have needed to be taught to be more gentle than I thought the situation required. It is far to easy to respond like Joab and Abishai because that comes so natural for us. Yet, these actions come with consequences.
This week a new president will be inaugurated into the office of the president of the United States. Will he serve humbly and gently? Will he extend peace to the people or will he use the sword and his power? Everyone is talking about what will heal our nation. At this time in Israel's history the people were deeply divided but peace came in one day. In a single day the people took notice of the kings response and it pleased them. In fact, everything that the king did pleased them. Few men have ever been like David. So few of his own sons served the kingdom the way that David did. Wouldn't it be great if we saw that type of leadership in our day.
This past week we say many people storm the capital building. Since that time there have been many reactions but few have been as gentle and as honorable as David's. We all ought to mourn for those who died and for those whose actions will be repaid by the LORD for the wickedness. We all ought to stop for a moment and mourn, tear our clothes and put on sackcloth. We would do well to fast and display the true signs of repentance. So far, however, there are far too many Joab's and Abishai's among us. There is yet to be a man like David to come forward in this moment.