Wednesday, February 17, 2021

2021.02.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 4

Read 2 Samuel 4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard what in 2 Samuel 4:1? How did he respond? What effect did this have upon whom? What two men does 2 Samuel 4:2 mention? What was their role, and where were they from (2 Samuel 4:2-3)? Upon whom does 2 Samuel 4:4 focus at first? Upon whom by the end? What happened to him? How/why? Who come to whom, where, and when, in 2 Samuel 4:5? Into where did they go, pretending to do what (2 Samuel 4:6)? But what did they do instead? With what did they escape (2 Samuel 4:7)? To whom did they bring it (2 Samuel 4:8)? How did they describe Saul? Whom did they describe as having done what to whom? With what work of Yahweh does David begin his answer to Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:9)? Of what incident does he inform/remind them (2 Samuel 4:10)? How does their action compare to that one (2 Samuel 4:11)? What does David say they have done and that he must now do? What does David command to be done to Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:12)? What do they do with the head of Ishbosheth?

Self-deception is rather easy, but it is ultimately quite deadly.

Baanah and Rechab thought they were clever, when they were really cowardly brutes. Three times, the text mentions that they killed Ishbosheth in his own house while he was asleep in his own bed (2 Samuel 4:62 Samuel 4:72 Samuel 4:11). It’s the last mention that is most telling, because it comes from David, who could only have known it from their own lips after they sprinted all afternoon, evening, and night to get to him (2 Samuel 4:7b). Apparently, they had thought it so clever that they had told David themselves. But he found it more wicked than wise (2 Samuel 4:11a), more culpable than clever (verse 11b). 

We too can congratulate ourselves for cleverness and not notice that really, our schemes are just enabling us to do what is wrong at low risk to ourselves.

They also thought (or at least insinuated) that they were accomplishing the will of God, when they were really just violating the Word of God. “We’re the delivering instruments of Yahweh,” they say in 2 Samuel 4:8. How very theological and spiritual of them! But David’s theology is too robust for that; “Yahweh has delivered me from every single trouble,” he says in 2 Samuel 4:9 (i.e., He doesn’t need murderers’ help!). 

Professing Christians often claim theological and spiritual motives for worship that pleases men not God, indulging unconverted children rather than bringing them under the means of grace—even invoking the “Spirit’s leading” for such wicked things as leaving their wife (husband) for someone they “feel more spiritually connected to.” I’m sure you can produce more examples. With God’s help, you might even find examples in your own heart and life. David wasn’t fooled; how much less is God fooled by our pious framing of our follies and sins!

As for David, the temptation would have been to reward Rechab and Baanah. With Abner and Ishbosheth out of the way, these two captains of troops (2 Samuel 4:2) represented a way to rally the northerners, who were still a bit rattled (2 Samuel 4:1). But this is not God’s way. God’s way is to execute murderers (2 Samuel 4:12). God Himself would see to the kingdom (cf. chapter 5), just as He had delivered David out of every trouble (2 Samuel 4:9). This freed David to do what is right, and it is a glimpse of the justice of great David’s greater Son, to Whom vengeance belongs. On the one hand, this should terrify us into repentance and faith (cf. Psalm 2:9–12). On the other hand, it should free us to do good even to our enemies (cf. Romans 12:19–21).

If we are going to evade self-deception, it must be by the Spirit’s blessing to us that marvelous certainty that Christ’s kingdom will come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It all belongs to Him, so let us kiss the Son lest we perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him—and they are liberated to do what He says is right, rather than what they think “will work.”

What wrong choices/actions are you tempted to theologize justifying? What helps you see yourself rightly?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

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