2 Samuel: Abner, the commander of Saul’s army made Ish-bosheth, one of Saul’s sons, king over Israel. Then Abner and Ish-bosheth’s servants went to meet Joab and David’s servants at Gibeon. The two commanders agreed to have twelve young men for each side compete with each other. They killed each other and the rest of the armies began to fight. Asahel, Joab’s brother chased Abner and wouldn’t let up, so Abner killed him. Then Joab and his other brother, Abishai pursued Abner. Abner’s troops rallied at the top of a hill and Abner convinced Joab to stop the fighting. Nineteen of David’s men died and 360 of Abner’s men died.
War continued between Judah following David and Israel following Saul’s son. Judah became stronger and Israel became weaker. David also had children and another wife during this time. Even though Israel was growing weaker, Abner was running the kingdom. When Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth accused Abner of sleeping with his father’s concubine, Abner was insulted and told Ish-bosheth that he was going to make sure David became king over all Israel as the Lord had promised. Ish-bosheth was afraid to speak against Abner.
Abner sent messengers to David to set up the transfer. David agreed if Abner brought Michal, his wife. So, Abner took her from her husband, Paltiel. Abner talked to the elders of Israel and Benjamin reminding them that the Lord had promised David to be king over all Israel. They all agreed and Abner went to Hebron to tell David. David had a feast for Abner and the men who came with him.
Joab had been on a raid and came back just after Abner left. When he found out that Abner had been there, he told David that Abner had only come to spy on him. Joab left David and sent a messenger to bring Abner back. When Abner came back, Joab killed him.
David found out put a curse on Joab and his family. David tore his clothes and made the people and Joab do it also. They put on sackcloth and mourned for Abner. David fasted and the people took notice so it pleased them and all Israel. They knew David was innocent.
Psalm: Those who follow the Law of the Lord are blessed. They do what is right. The Psalmist wants to do that and avoid shame. He will be upright in heart and ask not to be forsaken.
He can keep his ways pure by living by God’s word, seeking God with his whole heart, and memorizing God’s word. He asks for the Lord to teach him as he speaks of God’s word, delights in it, meditates on it, and fixes his eyes on it.
Proverbs: The Lord doesn’t come near the wicked to hear his prayers but he does come near and hears the righteous person’s prayers. Light and good news help provide joyful hearts and renewed strength.
John: Jesus knew it was time to depart and return to the Father. At the Passover supper, he washed the disciples’ feet. Peter resisted but submitted when Jesus told him he wouldn’t have any share in Jesus unless he did. Jesus said they were clean but not all. Though clean, they needed to wash their feet.
He explained that washing their feet was an example of how to be a servant to others. He is Lord and Master but stooped to wash their feet. However, a servant is not greater than his master. Knowing this, they will be blessed if they follow Jesus’ example. But not everyone will because one will betray him according to Scripture. He told them this so that when it happens, they will believe in him. Whoever receives the one Jesus sends receives Jesus and anyone who receives Jesus receives the one he sends.
Jesus is troubled in spirit and plainly says one will betray him. They all wonder who and Peter asks John to find out. It turns out to be Judas and Satan enters him. Jesus tells him to do it quickly. Judas leaves but the other don’t understand.
What Stood Out
2 Samuel: “So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had put their brother Asahel to death in the battle at Gibeon” (2 Sam 3:30).
Psalm: “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways” (Ps 119:2-3)!
Proverbs: “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones” (Prov 15:30).
John: “Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me’” (John 13:8).
2 Samuel: The next strange story is when Joab and Abner seem to have an amenable meeting and then decide to have some of their young men have a contest. The contest is more ruthless than the seemingly friendly terms between Joab and Abner. 24 young men end up killing each other quickly and then the two armies join in a huge battle.
The Lord doesn’t shed any light on the battle between Joab and Abner. It isn’t until later that we find out that Joab carries a grudge against Abner. This is presented as a background for later events. It shows that the Lord will use people’s ungodly actions to set up event later to achieve his purposes. It doesn’t mean that God condones these things or causes evil, it means that in God’s sovereignty, he uses even bizarre battles to shape history in the way he wants.
Joab’s vengeance several years later is a shock. He is deceitful and distrustful. He doesn’t show respect for David’s leadership. His wickedness could very well be a result of his anger over his brother’s death in battle. It took years and it festered until he was willing to do whatever he could, including defying the king to work his vengeance.
Unforgiveness only causes bitterness and sin. It never accomplishes God’s purposes in the way he would want it. It is something that we all need to consider when we have been wronged or we think we’ve been wronged. It is better to do as David did and let the Lord take care of the matter.
Psalm: There are some verses in the Bible that are crisp summations of how to live for the Lord. Psalm 119:2-3 is one of these. They aren’t intended to be a complete and comprehensive explanation of salvation or how to live a sanctified life but are significant as following them will lead to other ways of honoring God with holy living. Keeping God’s testimonies would refer to keeping God’s laws, obeying everything Jesus commanded us would be a good example. Seeking God with our whole hearts would be putting God above all other things. There certainly wouldn’t be any problems with false gods or conflicting motives. Keeping God’s commands would seem to preclude doing wrong but the Psalmist reminds us that includes not doing wrong and walking in God’s ways. We will be blessed if we do this.
Proverbs: When I read that light brings joy to the heart, I thought about people who suffer from SAD, seasonal affective disorder. The long days of winter and days without sunshine bring depression to some people. From a spiritual standpoint, long periods without Bible study, prayer, and worship will do the same thing. However, the spiritual depression is much more serious than the physical depression. It reveals an underlying heart problem where the person may actually need to be saved in the first place. Without the good news to refresh and create a new heart in a person, the season of depression for the lost is eternal. Sometimes, Christians need to re-hear the good news of the gospel as well so they can see the light again and break out of life enslaving sins.
John: When Jesus washed the Apostle’s feet, he told the Apostles they would understand what he was doing afterward. Then, Peter objects to having Jesus wash his feet. Jesus’ response is to tell him that if he wants to have any part in Jesus, he must let Jesus wash him. How much of this do we really understand? Certainly, Jesus clarified that he was setting an example for servanthood among believers. But there is more. That more can only be understood in the context of Jesus’ comments to Peter.
Unless Jesus washes us, we have nothing to do with him. Note that this is something Jesus does to us. It isn’t something we can do for ourselves. Paul explains it, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6 NIV). Jesus also told them whoever receives the one he sends receives him and vice versa. Since the Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus and the Holy Spirit renews and washes us, it fits. We have the Holy Spirit the minute we are saved.
Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet was a prefigure of what happens to believers when we are saved. We shouldn’t be self-sufficient like Peter who didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. And we shouldn’t be like Peter who then wanted a total bath. Once saved, we will never need to be saved again, but we will need to confess our sins and wash the dirt of the world from our feet.
I need to confess my sins, the thing I do wrong because I’m not yet in heaven with a glorified, sin-free body. I need the daily cleansing of God’s word to lead me. I need to seek Jesus daily, hourly, and minute by minute.