BROTHERS AT ARMS
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.
‘For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light.’1
David’s house rises while Saul’s house collapses. With hindsight we can appreciate God’s repositioning, but how God’s heart must break as those he has loved, saved, and covenanted with seem determined on self-destruction as brother fights brother. It’s easy to criticize from afar. Often I have felt disquiet sitting in a service and thought that I can somehow do better, or that ‘the church’ needs my wisdom! It’s so easy to bring division, to destroy rather than build.
Abner stood and questioned, ‘Must the sword devour forever?’ (v 26). The enemy loves divisions within our fellowships and seeks to find any way to widen them.2 We find it hard not to wield the sword of pride; it takes a godly heart to let the ‘other’ speak. As Joab says, ‘If you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning’ (v 27): a difficult challenge to our path of righteousness and its outworking for God. So often the battles that rage are not with the ‘enemy’,3 but within the body itself, as it reflects diversity in various states of glory into glory, each of us trying to live according to God while being very aware of the ever-present flesh!
Is it time to stop running? To stop to talk to one another and to God? To realize that the man who brought the young David to Saul after David had fought Goliath is the same man now fighting against David? The Philistines were the enemy. Somewhere along the way, God’s people split and turned on themselves – and bloodshed followed. Stop running, stop fighting. Stand and face the ones you think are against you, for they are more than likely your brethren with the same heart, after the same God.
‘If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’5 Am I still teachable, willing to listen?
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 D Taylor, In His Presence, ASB/16, Wheaton & Co, 1983, p120 2 1 Pet 5:8 3 Eph 6:12 4 1 Sam 17:57 5 Gal 5:15, TNIV
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