Thursday, August 18, 2011
How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?
2 Samuel 4:11
David is administering justice with this statement. Ish-bosheth, Saul's son and acting king of Israel, was assassinated by two of his trusted military commanders. The two Benjamite brothers, Baanah and Rechab, entered into the palace and as Ish-bosheth lay napping they murdered and beheaded him. They then fled to Judah with their grisly trophy, hoping they would appease David with the head of Israel's king, ending the last resistance to a united Israel.
They did not count on David's sense of justice convicting them of the evil that they had done. But David had refused to kill Saul who had sent army squads out to destroy David. At issue was the fact that God had not called David to fight his way to the throne. David was upset when a non-soldier had performed a "mercy killing" on Saul as he was wounded on the battlefield. He ordered that Saul's killer by avenged with capital punishment. These two calculating murderers would face the same sentence.
David had many times negotiated peace with Saul. I believe he was committed to a peaceful transition of the kingdom, even as the civil war had raged. The text is clear that Israel was at a point where negotiations might have been effective. Ish-bosheth knew that the war could not continue without Abner as the general in charge of his armies. The soldiers were demoralized. The king was dismayed and lacked the will to fight (2 Samuel 4:1). David very well may have been able to easily march into the palace and depose Ish-bosheth by treaty.
Now, with the murder of Saul's son, and the killers seeking to gain favor with David, it outwardly looked like David was behind the assassination plot. David deals with this by justly executing the assassins. By taking care of the needed justice, he clearly spoke to the nation that he was outraged at the death of Saul's son. He defused any further accusation of his own complicity in the awful events of Abner's murder and the assassination of Ish-bosheth.
David was really a man of peace. He could fight with great courage when he needed to, but he knew where peace was possible, and he pursued it. He was also a just ruler. He would not acknowledge that a murder ever advantaged him and that shows his moral leadership. He led in justice and in peace.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13