Reading through the Bible together

Friday, January 11, 2013

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The LORD blessed the house of David in spite of his weakness and imperfections. David following the custom of the time for building a strong political alliance to strengthen his kingdom, he resorted to polygamy against the plain command for multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17).  His insistence that Abner bring Saul’s daughter, Michal, back to him as a condition in making a league with Abner and to bring all Israel together also had significant political considerations. David seemed to have made every effort within his human power and understandings to seek peace and unity. In all these events, David demonstrated a spirit of forgiveness, acceptance, and deep concern for the welfare of the kingdom. The LORD understood his heart and blessed his kingdom in spite of his defections.


The ambitious, power-seeking Abner was the main figure in this chapter. His malice against David and ambition for power led him to make Ishbosheth king over Israel. However, his improper behavior with one of Saul’s concubine and his angry reply to Ishbosheth evidenced that he neither honored the LORD nor his king.


Thwarted at the losing result of a two-year long war he initiated against David and Judah and dissatisfied with the weak and incompetent Ishbosheth as king of Israel, Abner slipped into treachery against Israel and made a proposal to David which was received with honor and which objectively paved the way for David to be king over all Israel.


However, Joab, the chief commander of David, was not happy with Abner and his plan, for he had killed his brother Asahel and would constitute threat at Joab’s military leadership had Abner successfully joined David. After Abner finished his conference with David and left, Joab sent messagers to bring Abner to Hebron, and then tricked him to come out of the city of refuge and killed him.


David announced he had nothing to do with the shedding of the blood of Abner and spoke a serious curse on Joab and his descendants. He mourned for Abner and fasted over his unexpected death. His magnanimous recognition of one who had been his bitter enemy won the confidence and admiration of all Israel. David did not deal with Joab directly, but relinquish the matter to the LORD, believing that Job would receive his payback for his wickedness in due time. David understood what it meant to wait upon the LORD to rectify things and so must we.


Samuel Wang

Center for East Asia Work