July 19: Vengeance versus Blessing
2 Samuel 3:1–4:12; 1 Peter 3:8–22; Psalm 135:1–21
Comparing the passages of 2 Sam 3:1–4:12 and 1 Pet 3:8–22 teaches us that all Scripture can be used for instruction: Some passages provide wisdom on how to become more like Christ, while others are best regarded as “things not to do.”
Peter’s first letter tells us, “be harmonious, sympathetic, showing mutual affection, compassionate, humble, not repaying evil for evil or insult for insult, but [instead] blessing others, because for this reason you were called, so that you could inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:8–9). We can find the same lesson, told a different way, in 2 Sam 3:1–4:12. The violence of the war between David and Saul’s houses vividly portrays how acts of vengeance rob us of harmony and blessing.
Some passages in the Bible are beautiful, while others are barbaric. Both teach us we’re not meant to live in vengeance, like the houses of David and Saul. While we realize these individuals often acted against God’s will, we should still recognize their love for God (when it’s present) and their desire to follow Him (when it appears authentic) and live in those ways. Jesus is the only leader in the Bible we can look to as a supreme example of righteousness. Every other person in the Bible is flawed in their humanity, but that gives us hope: God can use us, like He used them—despite their mistakes.
If we could live up to Peter’s ideals of living in harmony and showing sympathy to others, the world would certainly be a better place, but we can’t do so without depending on God. In the midst of chaos, or when we give in to ego, it’s hard to live the way we should, even when we are people of faith. But when we learn to follow God in being compassionate, humble, and a blessing to people, we create opportunity for Him to bring harmony and sympathy. If David and Saul’s men had put vengeance aside to seek God, their story would certainly have been less barbaric and far more beautiful.
How can you incorporate humility, compassion, and the practice of blessing into your life?
JOHN D. BARRY
- There was then long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waed stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker. And unto David were children born in Hebron: and his eldest son was Ammon of Abinoam the Jezreelitess. And his second, was Chileab of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite: and the third, Abaslom the son of Maacah the daguther of Talmai the king of Geshur, And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith: and the fifth, Sephatiah the son of Abital: And the sixth, Ithream by Eglah David’s wife: these were born to David in Hebron. Now while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner made all his power for the house of Saul. And Saul had a concubine named Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ishbosheth said to Abner, Wherefore hast thou gone in to my father’s concubine? Then was Abner very wroth for the words of Ishbosheth, and said, Am I a dog’s head, which against judah do show mercy this day unto the house of Saul thy father, to his brethren, and to his neighbors, and have not delivered thee into the hand of David, that thou chargest me this day with a fault concerning this woman? So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the Lord hath sworn to David, even so I do to him. To remove the kingdom from the house of Saul, that the throne of David may be established over Israel, and over Judah, even from Dan to Beersheba. And he durst no more answer to Abner: for he feared him. Then Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose in the land? who should also say, Make covenant with me, and behold, mine hand shall be with thee, to bring all Israel unto thee. Who said, Well, I will make a covenant with thee: but one thing I require of thee, that is, that thou see not my face, except thou bring Michal Saul’s daughter when thou comest to see me. Then David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michael, which I married for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. And her husband went with her, and came weeping behind her, unto Bahurim: then said Abner unto him, Go, and return. So he returned. And Abner had communication with the Elders of Israel, saying, Ye fought for David in times past, that he might be your King. Now then do it: for the Lord hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hands of the Philistines, and out of the hands of all their enemies. Also Abner spake to Benjamin, and afterward Abner went to speak with David in Hebron, concerning all that Israel was content with, and the whole house of Benjamin. So Abner came to David to Hebron, having twenty men with him, and David made a feast unto Abner, and to the men that were with him. Then Abner said unto David, I will rise up, and go gather all Israel unto my lord the King, that they may make a covenant with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. Then David let Abner depart, who went in peace. And behold, and brought a great preay with them (but Abner was not with David in Hebron: for he bad sent him away, and he departed in peace.) When Joab, and all the host that was with him were come, men told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the King, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace. Then Joab came to the King, and said, What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee, why hast thou sent him away, and he is departed? Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner: for he came to deceive thee, and to know thy outgoing and ingoing, and to know all that thou doest. And when Joab was gone out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, which brought him again from the well of Sirah unknowing of David. And when Abner was come again to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him peaceably, and smote him under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother. And when afterwardi t came to David’s ear, he said, I and my Kingdom are guiltless before the Lord forever, concerning the blood of Abner the son of Ner. Let the blood fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house, that the house of Joab be never without some that have running issues, or leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that doeth fall on the sword, or that lacketh bread. (So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had slain their brother Asahel at Gibeon in battle.) And David said to Joab, and to all people that were with him, Rent your clothes, and put on sackcloth, adn mourn before Abner: and King David himself followed the bier. And when they had buried Abner in Hebron, the King lift up his voice, and wept beside the sepulcher of Abner, and all the people wept. And the King lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth? Thine hands were not bound, nor thy feet tied in fetters of brass: but as a man falleth before wicked men, so didst thou fall. And all the people wept again for him. Afterward all the people came to cause David eat meat while it was yet day, but David swore, saying, So do God to me and more also, if I taste bread, or ought else till the sun be down. And all the people knew it, and it pleased them: as whatsoever the King did, pleased all the people. For all the people and all Israel understood that day, how that it was not the King’s deeds that Abner the son of Ner was slain. And the King said unto his servants, Know ye not, that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel? And I am this day weak and newly anointed King: and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the Lord reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness. And when Saul’s son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, then his hands were feeble, and all Israel was afraid, And Saul’s son had two men that were captains of bands: the one called Baanah, and the other called Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite of the children of Benjami; (for Beeroth was reckoned to Benjamin, Because the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and sojourned there, unto this day.) And Jonathan Saul’s son had a son that was lame on his feet: he was five ears old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Israel: then his nurse took him, and fled away. And as she made haste to flee, the child fell, and began to halt, and his name of Mephibosheth. And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah went and came in the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth (who slept on a bed at noon.) And behold, Rechab and Baanah his brother came into the midst of the house, as they would have wheat, and they smote him under the fifth rib, and fled. For when they came into the house, he slept on his bed in his bed chamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and got them away through the plain all the night. And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth Saul’s son thine enemy, who sought after thy life: and the Lord hath avenged my Lord the King this day of Saul, and of his seed. Then David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the Lord liveth, who hath delivered my soul out of all adversity, When one told me, and said that Saul was dead, (thinking to have brought good tidings) I took and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings. How much more when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house, and upon his bed? Shall I not now therefore require his blood at your hand, and take you from the earth? Then David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron, but they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulcher of Abner in Hebron. 2 Samuel 3:1–4:12
- Finally, be ye all of one mind: one suffer with another: love as brethren: be pitiful, be courteous. Not rendering evil for evil, neither rebuke for rebuke: but contrariwise bless, knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should be heirs of blessing. For if any man long after life, and to see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips and they spake no guile. Let him eschew evil and do good: let him seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: and the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is it that will harm you, if ye follow that which is good? Notwithstanding blessed are ye, if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake. Yea, fear not their fear, neither be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and reverence. Having a good conscience, that when they speak evil of you as of evil doers, they may be ashamed which slander your good conversation in Christ. For it is better (if the will of God be so) that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, and was put to death concerning the flesh, but was quickened by the spirit. By the which he also went, and preached unto the spirits that are in prison. Which were in time passed disobedient, when once the long suffering of God abode in the days of Noah, while the Ark was preparing, wherein few that is, eight souls were saved in the water. Whereof the baptism that now is, answering that figure (which is not a putting away of the filth of the flesh, but a confident demanding with a good conscience maketh to God) saveth us also by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Which is at the right hand of God, gone into heaven, to whom the Angels, and Powers, and might are subject. 1 Peter 3:8–22
- Praise, the Name of the Lord; ye servants of the Lord, praise him. Ye that stand in the House of the Lord, and in the courts of the House of our God. Praise ye the Lord: for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his Name: for it is a comely thing. For the Lord hath chosen Jacob to himself, and Israel for his chief treasure. For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever pleased the Lord, that did he in heaven and in earth, in the sea, and in all the depths. He bringeth up the clouds from the ends of the earth, and maketh the lightnings with the rain: he draweth forth the wind out of his treasures. He smote the firstborn of Egypt both of man and beast. He hath sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants. He smote many nations, and slew mighty Kings: As Sihon King of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan: And gave their land for an inheritance, even an inheritance unto Israel his people. Thy Name, O Lord, endureth forever: O Lord, thy remembrance is fro generation to generation. For the Lord will judge his people, and be pacified toward his servants. The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, even the work of men’s hands. They have a mouth, and speak not: they have eyes and see not. They have ears and hear not, neither is there any breath in their mouth. They that make them, are like unto them: so are all that trust in them. Praise the Lord, ye house of Israel: praise the Lord, ye house of Aaron. Praise the Lord, ye house of Levi; ye that fear the Lord, praise the Lord. Praised be the Lord out of Zion, which dwelleth in Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 135:1–21