September 15, 2021
2 Samuel 3:12-16 (The Message)12 Abner went ahead and sent personal messengers to David: “Make a deal with me and I’ll help bring the whole country of Israel over to you.”
13 “Great,” said David. “It’s a deal. But only on one condition: You’re not welcome here unless you bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, with you when you come to meet me.”
14 David then sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul: “Give me back Michal, whom I won as my wife at the cost of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”
15-16 Ish-Bosheth ordered that she be taken from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. But Paltiel followed her, weeping all the way, to Bahurim. There Abner told him, “Go home.” And he went home.
“Who IS in Charge?”
This year, I am reading the Old Testament using Eugene Peterson’s dynamic translation, The Message. The beauty of this paraphrased edition of the Bible is the storybook movement of the characters in everyday language. My reading has been very entertaining and much more compelling than the King James Version’s poetic language that I grew up reading and memorizing. Today’s passage is clearly an example of how God’s will prevails regardless of the immorality of the humans who are characters in the story. The first verse of this chapter emphasizes that “the war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger while the house of Saul grew weaker.”
Saul’s army had been severely depleted by David’s army. The tipping point was when the commander of Saul’s army, Abner, was accused of sleeping with one of Saul’s concubines by one of Saul’s sons, Ish-Bosheth. Looking at this story, you would think that a great warrior like Abner would have let an accusation like this just roll off his back without incident. But in his anger, he moved from defending the house of Saul to embracing David as king. One would imagine that this would begin Abner’s rise to even greater power; however, this is the beginning of Abner’s demise. This convoluted story that began with Abner killing one of David’s men, Joab’s brother, continued with Abner bringing David’s first wife who was also Saul’s daughter, Michal, back to David. This story concludes with Joab’s suspicion of Abner and the revenge of his brother’s death, which led Joab to murder Abner.
So, where is God in all of this? The big picture was that David would be king of all of Israel. Even Abner concedes this in verse 18. How God accomplishes his will reminds me of the enigma of Isaiah 55:8,9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways.” To sum this up, God works in mysterious ways and uses means that we can never understand while on this earth. Our challenge is always to trust him and “lean not unto our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). God is in control and his ways are always the best ways.