The perils of dealing gently

2 Samuel 18:5 Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom.

By this time Absalom has:

1- killed David’s son Ammon

2- schemed to undermine David’s handling of kingdom affairs and sought to gain the favor of the people to himself

3-had himself declared king in Hebron and caused David and his household to flee into the wilderness

4-slept with David’s concubines

5- plotted to chase David and kill him

Most of our accounts of David show him as a man of mercy. And when dealing with our children our desire to be merciful is multiplied. But mercy to Absalom could have cost David his life. Had Absalom been spared, he would have eventually returned to his intrigues. That was what was in him. The kingdom would have been always vulnerable to another upending. Absalom, by his actions, had made himself an enemy to David and this situation had to be dealt with severely.

I am very aware how closely this mirrors my own situation from the last year. Compassions can be so strong that they override wisdom and good judgment and when we coddle and protect that which is at enmity to the life of the King is us, we leave ourselves vulnerable to spiritual overthrow.

Joab, the commander of the army, realized the foolishness of leaving Absalom alive (and actually David surely did also), and Joab did the hard thing that David wasn’t able to do-he removed the threat of Absalom. The Holy Spirit often acts as our heavenly Joab, rising up and taking action on our behalf to rescue our future. Sometimes we are just too weak to do the hard thing. But our Helper helps us. There may be some tears and sorrow, but that will pass and we will see the wisdom of God in what He has done.

 

Leaving everything for a king

I have always loved the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. She was obviously an amazing woman having suffered through marriage to a man like Nabal…. a wise woman, able to disarm the anger of an offended David….. and a humble woman willing to take the blame for the act of a foolish husband for the sake of her household.

1 Samuel 25:2 Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.

Nabal wasn’t just rich. He was very rich. Abigail enjoyed a comfortable life with all the luxuries that wealth could afford someone in those days. She lived in prosperity (25:6) The day that David’s servants came to Nabal, he was holding a feast and was very drunk so Abigail told him the next day everything that had happened and how shamefully he had treated the servants of David. Apparently Nabal immediately had a heart attack and died ten days later.

While Jewish inheritance laws may not have given Abigail complete possession of Nabal’s wealth (and we do not know whether there were sons), she would have been well provided for by the estate. She would have continued to have a comfortable life. But when David sent an offer of marriage to her she didn’t hesitate or reason whether she wanted to leave the comforts she enjoyed for a life that would involve wandering the wilderness of Israel with David and his army. She simply walked away from everything.

1 Samuel 25:40-42 When the servants of David had come to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her saying, “David sent us to you, to ask you to become his wife.” Then she arose, bowed her face to the earth, and said, “Here is your maidservant, a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” So Abigail rose in haste and rode on a donkey, attended by five of her maidens; and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife.

Even though David was a fugitive at this time, she knew that he was destined for more (25:30). So she left everything for the promise of a kingdom that was to come and a relationship of intimacy with the king. Life would have become more difficult for her, less comfortable. Those who knew her may have through she was crazy. He didn’t seem to be much right now except a fugitive. But she saw the reality that was to come and who this man was to be and she was willing to give up everything to be with him and to be part of his future.

Let’s learn from Abigail. Can we not respond with the same level of abandon to a much greater King? Walking with Him may not always be the most comfortable life….but THE KING! We get to be with THE KING! Wealth, prestige, power and everything the world has to offer will all fade away. But the kingdom of Jesus Christ will endure forever. He picked up His cross and came for you….now pick up your cross and follow Him. You may not see the glory of His kingdom now, but one day…soon…that glory will fill the whole earth.

Give me a man

The Philistines are first mentioned in the book of Genesis in connection with Abraham, but we don’t really see any conflict with them until Isaac had to re-dig the wells that Abraham dug because the Philistines had stopped up the wells by filling them with earth. The Philistines made themselves an enemy to the son of promise and remained at enmity with Israel from that time forward.

Saul was king of Israel when Goliath of Gath, a Philistine, issued this challenge:

1 Samuel 17:10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

The entire Israelite army was dismayed and greatly afraid for Goliath was a giant (estimated to be at least 9 feet and possibly over 11 feet tall). Day after day, for forty days, Goliath issued his challenge and it remained unaccepted. This was more than just the challenge of one man to another man, but it was the challenge of one people to another. The freedom of an entire people rested on the outcome of this battle. On one of these days David was present. I love his response to the words of Goliath…..” who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

And so, after being approved by King Saul to accept the challenge, David gathered his weapons for battle….

1 Samuel 17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

Nothing fancy or elaborate here. Nothing seemingly very powerful. He is so unimpressive that Goliath disdained him because he was only a youth (17:42). He was just a boy. We are familiar with the story from here – David’s mighty victory and the beginning of his fame. But as amazing as his victory was, there was always another battle to fight and another enemy to conquer.

The enemy demanded a man. Saul sent a boy. The victory was incomplete.

The enemy (Satan) is still demanding a man. For multiplied thousands of year, he has been demanding every man. And he has won so often because there was no champion to defeat him, and thus he makes slaves of men. Slaves to sin….slaves to depravity…slaves to lawlessness….slaves to self-will.

But heaven watched on…..a plan already formulated. A body was prepared for THE MAN who would defeat this powerful enemy for all time. No other battle would be necessary.   The enemy raged…”give me a man”. And God did just that.

John 19:5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”

And just as David, he chose no elaborate battle gear or wartime weapons. He defeated the enemy with a cross.

Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The uncontested champion of time and eternity – Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Behold the Man.