Posted by: arieliondotcom | April 14, 2013

A Lesson from Rebellion (2 Samuel 20)

A Lesson from Rebellion
(2 Samuel 20)

This chapter seems on the surface to have nothing to say to us today. Why should we care about some battles centuries ago? Because they way GOD uses people and circumstances then, yes, even in the “Old” Testament has lessons for us today.

A man starts a rebellion against David and uses the fight between the tribe of Judah, David’s family tribe, and all the other tribes, to his advantage. He tells them, let them have David. I will be your king. And as we’ve seen from previous chapters they’ve been ready for rebellion. They feel disowned by David, just as Absalom had. That’s why they drifted to Absalom. Now that Absalom is dead they drifted back to David but are tired of fighting for his attention. But notice that this leader they follow is called “a son of Belial.” He was a destructive kind of guy. Belial is one of the names of the evil one, whom JESUS will later say seeks only to kill and destroy. Yet all the tribes of Israel except Judah go to him. They are like children who feel neglected and will accept any attention they can get. (As a side note, you will find that most cases of homosexuality and gang membership start this way.)

Notice that David does two things that show he is still mourning for Absalom though his official public mourning has ended. First he puts his harem into seclusion as if to punish himself and keep his mind off the lust that had started his troubles. But there’s a sense that although they were well kept and fed there was a negative aspect to this, if nothing but denying them sex or children the rest of their lives. Next, David doesn’t go to his own general, Joab. He has seen Joab’s traitor side. Instead David goes to Amasa, the very general his son had used to rebel against him. He tells Amasa to get anyone still loyal to him and gather them before him in three days. But Amasa stays away too long. David still doesn’t go to his general, Joab. Instead he goes to Joab’s brother, Abishai, an old battle buddy and sends him to get the soldiers they had and go after the devilish rebel Sheba. Joab joins in and kills Amasa by (as usual) treachery. And, significantly, betrays him with a kiss, as Judas will later betray JESUS. But Joab not only kisses Amasa but guts him with a hidden sword. More shades of Judas as we are told the guts of Amasa gush out the way the guts of Judas will in the field of blood when he hangs himself. Those who had been following Amasa, though it’s unclear whether to go back to David or become traitors with Amasa and Zeba, are literally stopped in their tracks by the blood. Only after all traces are hidden do they snap out of it and obey to follow Joab after Zeba the traitor or die like Amasa did.

Zeba, while on the run, is also on a mission of trying to win people over to choose him as king over David. He hides out in a town called, of all things, Abel. Now don’t confuse this with Adam and Eve’s son. It’s a different word in Hebrew. But it’s significant because it can be seen as a sort of pun with Abel’s name. Abel who had good judgment and offered the proper sacrifice. This is also the spot where many years before, the Ark of the Covenant had come to rest after being sent away from the Philistines who thought they’d gotten a war prize and got nothing but plagues for their trouble. This is a city known for its judgment as a townswoman calls over the wall to Joab. He explains that if the people give over Zeba the rest of the city will live. We know this is true because he trusts her enough to come close enough to the wall to speak to her. You’ll remember they knew from past experience that was deadly. She tells the townspeople and they throw the head of Zeba to Joab over the wall. The siege is ended and Joab and the armies go home, with an ominous reminder that Joab is now in charge of those who had rebelled and in an uncomfortable alliance with David’s court.

Rebellion. Betrayal. We see it in Zeba, Joab, the tribes of Israel, and probably Amasa. We might even see it in the way David had treated his concubines who had been faithful but seem to suffer for his feelings of guilt. But more than that we hear echoes of the ultimate betrayer, the deceiver and enemy of our souls, both this guilt after forgiveness, in a reminder of the first murder and a foreshadowing of the betrayal of Christ that would lead to His crucifixion.

Joab used treachery but ultimately was being used by GOD through David. Judas will betray Christ but JESUS is no victim but King. In both situations what seems to be rebellion is actually like a yo-yo string that is allowed to play out until it is snapped back to do the will of the king. It’s that lesson we heard from Joseph to his evil brothers and will see when GOD ordains how severely the destroyer may touch Job and when the string will snap back. Evil is a choice some make but no human choice or action is outside the control of GOD. So take heed and take comfort. Every decision you make has consequences. And every act of sin is being used. Everything will, in the end, be shown to have had a purpose of GOD behind it. But we will still be accountable for those choices. As the wise woman told Joab over the wall, if you seek out wisdom first, it will save destruction in the long run.

Are we still punishing ourselves for what GOD has forgiven? That’s an act of the destroyer. Are others suffering because of our guilt? That’s an act of the destroyer. Are we neglecting others because of our obsession with ourselves and our sin? That is an act of the destroyer. Yet none of these things can occur without our acceptance. David took three days to decide to fight the rebellion. What will we do with the three days Christ spent in the tomb (and some say rescuing souls from hell)? The armies stopped in their tracks and changed direction because of the blood in the road. What effect does Christ’s Blood have on the road we choose for our lives? All of these are choices of how we will answer the destroyer when he calls us to rebel against GOD and the King, JESUS Christ.

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