Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 19-20
Today’s Reflection: 2 Samuel 19:5-7
5) Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, 6) because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 7) Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”
King David had just come as close as he ever had to losing the throne of Israel. His son Absolom had usurped him, and set David and his loyal men to flight from Jerusalem. But God was at work behind the scenes to restore David to his rightful position. When David’s men had the advantage they attacked Absolom’s forces, but not before David made them swear they would spare Absolom’s life if possible. The chief of David’s army, Joab, as Godly a man as could be found among David’s mighty men, was having none of it. So when Absolom became trapped during the battle, Joab and his men killed him. And while David’s men celebrated victory David mourned the death of his son.
Joab spoke to him sharply, insisting David show a strong, brave, and grateful face to the men who had risked their lives to return him to the throne of Israel. On the surface it may seem that Joab’s request was insensitive—mortal enemy or not, Absolom was still David’s son. But often things are not what they seem from our perspective. Despite His loss and having to bear tragic circumstances, David was expected to keep calm and carry on, both by his men and by God. Earlier examples from scripture prove this to be true.
When God killed Aaron’s sons for offering strange fire God expected him not to publicly mourn and to continue serving Him as high priest before the children of Israel (Leviticus 10:1-3). When God first spoke to young Samuel, He gave the boy a prophesy against the high priest Eli because of his failure to discipline his sons, both of whom were corrupting the priesthood (1 Samuel 3:10-14). Eli learned that he and his sons would die, and his entire family line would be wiped out, and he merely said “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him” (1 Samuel 3:18). And there’s one more notable example: when the baby conceived when David seduced Bathsheba into committing adultery against her husband Uriah died, David got up from where he was praying for the child and worshiped God (2 Samuel 12:15-23).
Because God is holy, those who represent Him must also be holy and are held to a higher standard than others. God’s harsh judgments in these situations demonstrated the seriousness of sin, how much God hates it, how it is completely incompatible with His character, and how it compromises His character and His purposes. In each of these situations people were representing God publicly, they all knew the seriousness of what they had been called to, they knew they or their family members had sinned, and they had received warning from God about the judgment to come. Though God showed mercy for a time, He also had to decisively show He was just.
And for David, there’s more. He knew that all of the challenges facing him were a result of his sin with Bathsheba. As God warned David through Nathan the prophet:
2 Samuel 12:10 – ‘Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
The rest of David’s reign would be marred by violence and rebellion because of his sin. Even from within his own household.
Being in God’s service is a solemn and serious calling. And those who take up this duty while continuing in sin risk bringing God’s judgment upon themselves. I hope people in this situation listen to God’s warnings, because God will send them. I hope they will turn from their sins, because God will forgive and restore those who do. But for those who continue in sin and risk publicly dishonouring God before those hungering to hear from Him, judgment will come. If this happens, those who remain must accept what God has deemed necessary, keep calm and carry on.
Leviticus 10:3 – Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.