Wednesday, February 03, 2021

2021.02.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 2:12–3:11

Read 2 Samuel 2:12–3:11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who go, where, in 2 Samuel 2:12? Who meet them, where, in 2 Samuel 2:13? Who proposes what in 2 Samuel 2:14? Who participate in the contest (2 Samuel 2:15)? How does it end up (2 Samuel 2:16)? What does the place come to be called? What then happens between whom in 2 Samuel 2:17? Whom does 2 Samuel 2:18 describe? What does Asahel do (2 Samuel 2:19)? When Abner learns that it’s Asahel (2 Samuel 2:20), what does he tell him to do (2 Samuel 2:21)? Does he? What reason does Abner give (2 Samuel 2:22)? How does it “end” (2 Samuel 2:23)? Who do what in 2 Samuel 2:24? What new development in 2 Samuel 2:25? How does the newly reinforced Abner propose a ceasefire (2 Samuel 2:26)? What does Joab say that the people would have done anyway (2 Samuel 2:27)? What does Joab do in 2 Samuel 2:28? Where does Abner end up (2 Samuel 2:29, cf. 2 Samuel 2:12)? How many had David lost (2 Samuel 2:30)? How many had they struck down (2 Samuel 2:31)? What did they do before they returned (2 Samuel 2:32)? Where did they end up (cf. 2 Samuel 2:11)? Of what was this battle a beginning (2 Samuel 3:1)? With what outcome? Whom does 2 Samuel 3:2-5 list/detail? While Saul’s house was getting weaker (2 Samuel 3:1), what was Abner doing (2 Samuel 3:6)? What was one way he did that (2 Samuel 3:7)? Who challenged him? In what manner does Abner respond (2 Samuel 3:8)? With what words? And what vow (2 Samuel 3:9-10)? How does Ishbosheth answer (2 Samuel 3:11)? Why?

Sometimes, we willingly allow local success and influence into deceiving them that they can act with impunity. A man who has little clout in the workplace or community may be a big tyrant to his family. A woman who is frustrated with how hubby runs the show may turn into a mama bear, not in defense of her cubs but in how demanding and demeaning she is toward them.

Enter Abner. In the increasingly weak kingdom of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 3:1), he grew stronger and stronger (2 Samuel 3:6). He grew accustomed to dealing with the little king that couldn’t say anything (2 Samuel 3:11), and so felt bold enough to make a provocative move (2 Samuel 2:12) and a macabre proposition (2 Samuel 2:13-16). He appears every bit the part of the self-assured aggressor. 

On one level, his problem was that he hadn’t counted on how much stiffer the resistance (2 Samuel 2:17), swifter the pursuit (2 Samuel 2:18-19), and skillful the warriors (2 Samuel 2:30-31) would be from Judah. And God just keeps making His anointed stronger (2 Samuel 3:1–5). 

By the time Abner figures things out, it’s too late. In 2 Samuel 2:22, we can see that Abner can now see 2 Samuel 3:27 coming a mile (or 12) away. In 2 Samuel 2:26 the war-starter is suddenly complaining about what a terrible thing war is (even though Joab points out in 2 Samuel 2:27 that Judah was only maintaining their defense because they had to). And finally, in 2 Samuel 3:10, it seems that the general has concluded that the kingdom of Ishbosheth is a losing cause, and declares himself “Benedict” Abner in a temper-tantrum about Ishy’s completely understandable resistance to his play for the throne (2 Samuel 3:7, cf. 2 Samuel 16:20–23).

But there’s a much more terrible miscalculation on Abner’s part. He knows the words to “Christ Shall Have Dominion” (2 Samuel 3:9), but somehow the fact of David being God’s chosen king doesn’t seem to have factored at all into his previous decisions. He has known, the whole time, that Yahweh has sworn that David will be king from Dan (northernmost) to Beersheba (southernmost); but up until this point, he has submitted to and served only “king Abner.”

But Abner isn’t the only one. Romans 1 tells us that everyone knows that God is God (Romans 1:19–20), and even knows His law in their hearts (Romans 1:32, Romans 2:14–15). Psalm 2 tells us, however, that their response is to do whatever they can come up with to resist Him (Psalm 2:1–3)—which resistance Christ will shatter (Psalm 2:8–9). 

Even believers grievously miscalculate like this, so often, in our lives. Isn’t this what we do, whenever we do as pleases self instead of as pleases Christ? Our sin bothers us not only for its inherent wickedness, but because it denies the kingship of our Redeemer. But He is always present and always reigning. Let us not be deceived into asserting ourselves in sinful ways in those situations where we are more able to do so!

When is it easiest for you to get away with sin? How will you marshal the truth about God’s sovereignty to help you battle sin in those situations? What is your comfort when others, who are more able to oppress you in certain situations, take advantage of it?

Suggested songs: ARP7B “God Is My Shield” or TPH46A “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength”

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