Holy God, accept my praise. Your grace is amazing and your love is unending. I am glad to be with you now.
Read 2 SAMUEL 2:18 - 3:5
18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”
“It is,” he answered.
21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.
22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”
23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.
24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.
26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”
27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”
28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.
29 All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the morning hours[a] and came to Mahanaim.
30 Then Joab stopped pursuing Abner and assembled the whole army. Besides Asahel, nineteen of David’s men were found missing. 31 But David’s men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. 32 They took Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.
3 The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.
2 Sons were born to David in Hebron:
His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;
3 his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel;
the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
4 the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5 and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah.
These were born to David in Hebron.
- 2 Samuel 2:29 See Septuagint; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’*
Leaders matter. And what leaders say and do matters. Joab versus Abner. David versus Ish-Bosheth. Asahel versus Abner… with terrible consequences for Asahel (2:19–23), his wasted life leaving a lasting impression on those who found him (2:23). Conflict and dispute aren’t, of course, only between leaders – their followers, too, are often drawn into taking sides, whether in 900 BC or 2023 AD. People often look at leaders for clues on what they stand for and who they should stand against.
Psalm 133 poetically describes what happens when unity among brothers is present with the promise of God’s blessing. In today’s passage, we see what the opposite brings: ‘The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time’ (3:1) and yielded needless death, wasted lives and generation-long resentment. Over time, David’s ‘house’ grew stronger than Saul’s, but at what cost? Today, it’s unlikely that you find yourself at war with anyone, but disagreement and broken relationships are perhaps likely. If you’re leading formally (through the responsibility you’ve been given) or informally (through the influence you have on those around you), you can make a difference for good.
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’.**
Lord, relationships within the church family can be difficult at times. Remind me again that I belong to others in the body of Christ because I belong to you.
*1 Sam 3:10 **Martin Luther King Jr, Strength to Love, Harper and Row, 1963
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