David Takes Charge

Description

Jesus told us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. How, then, should we understand war in the Old Testament when it takes place at God's command?

Pray: 

Teach me today, Lord, what it means to live in You, to rest in You, and to hope in You.

Read: 

2 Samuel 19:8-18

Meditate

Consider:  Although there will always be wars and rumors of wars, we are to bearers of, and negotiators for, peace. This is true in our relationships, society, and the wider world.

Think Further: 

Tired of war, David begins the process of taking back his capital and his throne by cajoling and encouraging rapprochement between enemy groups. The northern tribes who had followed Absalom remind themselves that King David had protected them from the Philistines and hurry to march into Jerusalem behind the king. David nags the men of Judah into action. He replaces Joab with Amasa, Absalom's commander (2 Sam. 17:25), who is also David's nephew and Joab's cousin! He makes sure that his clansmen and relatives are at the forefront of his triumphant return. Crowds can be fickle, and he makes sure that no group is left out, so that order can be restored as quickly as possible. Even Shimei, who stood up and publicly cursed David (2 Sam. 16:5-8), hurries to join in. The narrator tells us that they rushed to the Jordan to do whatever he wished (17-18). Tired of war, will they rebel again? We know that they do, as we shall see in chapter 20, and later when the next son in line seeks to snatch the throne (1 Kings 1:5).

As I write this, the civil war in Syria fills the news--devastated cities, traumatized children, inadequate hospitals filled with broken bodies, and millions of refugees fleeing to barren tented camps. How do we view war? As a necessary evil in a fallen world? Jesus told us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. How, then, should we understand war in the Old Testament when it takes place at God's command? Stories of the defeat of the Philistines and the other enemies of Israel, under David, are thought-provoking texts, but David's battles are defensive ones, protecting Israel from enemies without and rebellion within so that God's people under God's hand can serve his purposes.

Apply: 

"Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus said (Matt. 5:9). Does peacemaking sometimes involve compromise and accommodation?

Pray: 

Loving Father, I ask for Your enabling so that I may become a peacemaker. I long for healthy relationships in my life, my church, and society.

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