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Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 3.31-39

2 Samuel 3:31-39
Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes and gird on sackcloth and lament before Abner.” And King David walked behind the bier. 32 Thus they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. 33 The king chanted a lament for Abner and said, “Should Abner die as a fool dies? 34 “Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put in fetters; As one falls before the wicked, you have fallen.”  And all the people wept again over him. 35 Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was still day; but David vowed, saying, “May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down.” 36 Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, just as everything the king did pleased all the people. 37 So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the will of the king to put Abner the son of Ner to death. 38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil.”

Here’s a little background to this story in case you have missed the previous devotionals. After King Saul died, David was crowned king of one tribe, Judah. The other 11 tribes of Israel were under the kingship of Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth. So it seemed that a civil war was imminent. But earlier in this chapter, Ish-Bosheth’s general, Abner, became offended by his king and reached out to David. He wanted to cut a deal to make David king of all the tribes of Israel. But then, Joab (David’s nephew and the commander in chief of David’s armies) heard about Abner’s visit to David and he became angry. You see, Abner had killed Joab’s brother in a battle not long before this. To Joab this had become an opportunity for revenge. Joab didn’t think Abner deserved praise from David, he deserved death. So, Joab took it upon himself to kill Abner putting the dream of a united kingdom in danger.

What do you do when others mess up your plans or the plans God has for you? Maybe we can learn from David’s example. David first called on all the people to lament to death of a great man, Abner. David even commanded Joab to lament. In this process I think we can read between the lines that David was also calling on Joab to repent. That’s bold. Would you call on the people who mess up your plans to repent and lament the mess they’ve made?

Now here’s a little more background to help understand this story. Joab killed Abner in the city of Hebron. According to Joshua 21:13, Hebron was a City of Refuge. It was a safe city where a person who committed accidental manslaughter could find refuge from the relatives of the decease who wanted to avenge the death. Joab was guilty of breaking God’s commandment not just messing up David’s plans. Joab shed blood in a city of refuge. This is important to catch. David is not upset over his hope for a united kingdom being disrupted. He is upset with his commander’s breaking of God’s law. God’s kingdom is more important that than David’s kingdom; or yours or mine.

When someone interferes with your plans, make certain you are upset for the right reasons. When you call someone to repentance, make sure you know it’s not about the potential harm done to you but the offense against God. Life plans are not about you but the will of our Lord.

Weekly Memory Verse: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3.16