Morning Light – July 8th, 2015

MLx250Today: [2 Samuel Chapter Twenty]: Generational Consequences of Sin. Absalom’s rebellion is put down but a man named Sheba of Benjamin revolts with the 10 tribes of Israel. The seeds of what will ultimately be a divided kingdom are planted. Joab assassinates David’s kinsmen Amasa leads the army in Joab’s place and the legacy of blood shed and mayhem that began generations ago continues. We never know and cannot measure the consequences of choices we make. David made choices with Bathsheba that ultimately cost thousands of lives – yet God in his mercy brings forth the Messiah from this union.

[2Sa 20:1-26 KJV] 1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name [was] Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel. 2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, [and] followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem. 3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women [his] concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood. 4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present. 5 So Amasa went to assemble [the men of] Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him. 6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than [did] Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us. 7 And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Absalom is dead and the rebellion about him is crushed. However a Benjamite by the name of Sheba calls the ten tribes other than Judah after him to reject David and set up their own kingdom. We know from history that Israel will be a divided kingdom. Here we see the beginning of that fracture. Where did all this begin. First of all Sheba is a Benjamite of the tribe of Saul so Sheba is drawing on the old loyalties to the house of Saul before David came to power. How is it that Saul of Benjamin become king? Remember that throughout the book of Judges the people cried out for a king like other nations. During that time a Levite sex trafficker kills his concubine who was left raped and bleeding at his door by a gang of Benjamites. The Levite cuts her body into pieces and sends them to the 10 remaining tribes – calling them to punish the entire tribe of Benjamin for this act. The ten tribes slaughter the tribe of Benjamin to the point of extinction leaving only 600 men alive having killed every other man, woman and child. Saul’s father is among the 600 men left alive. In order to give them wives the 10 tribes agree to look the other way while these 600 men invade a local festival of young girls to take them wives among them by force. Therefore Saul’s mother was a victim of kidnapping and Saul himself a product of rape. In retaliation for the near destruction of the tribe of Benjamin God raises up a king from Benjamin to rule over the people even though the desire for a king is an open rejection of God’s rule over the nation. Now four generations later a man of the tribe of Benjamin lays the seeds for what will in two more generations be a divided kingdom. The ultimate consequences of a divided kingdom is seen in the fact that when the 10 tribes go into captivity to Babylon they never return and in fact breed themselves out of existence by intermarriage with Gentile peoples till their blood lines are completely extinguished. Where did all of this begin? When a cruel Levite opened his door one morning and found a raped and bleeding concubine who he chooses to murder in order to cover up his cruelty. Never under estimate the far reaching implications of the choices you make in your personal life. You have no idea whether the thing that you allow to fester in your life that no one other than your family may know about could grow and spread and in generations to come exact a horrible price.

David nonetheless – has appointed Amasa to replace Joab and sends his armies against Sheba to put down this new rebellion among the 10 tribes against his rule.

8 When they [were] at the great stone which [is] in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle [with] a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out. 9 And Joab said to Amasa, [Art] thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that [was] in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth [rib], and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri. 11 And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that [is] for David, [let him go] after Joab. 12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still. 13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri. 14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.

Amasa was David’s kinsman and the leader of the delegation of the tribe of Judah that brought Judah back to David. David appoints him as Joab’s replacement and Joab in revenge disembowels him and leaves him wallowing with his fatal would for all the army passing by to see. David has replaced Joab because Joab mocked him and threatened revolt if David didn’t stop openly morning for Absalom. Absalom is dead because he rebelled against his father after Joab arranged for him to return to Jerusalem after murdering his brother Amnon. Amnon had raped his half-sister Tamar after seeing David commit adultery with Bathsheba and murder her husband. Nathan had warned David that the sword would never leave his house because of the matter with Bathsheba and as Amasa wallows in his own entrails on the highway – Joab’s cruelty is an ominous and further fulfillment of that prophecy. All of this which could have been avoided if David had been out seeking the kingdom in battle with his army rather than remaining behind idly looking over his roof at a unchaste young woman exposing herself to him. Again there is no reckoning the potential and far reaching consequences of decisions we make in the privacy of our own lives that may eventually affect the destiny of millions.

Amasa’s body is removed from the highway and the army follows Joab after the rebel Sheba who has taken refuge in a nearby city.

15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that [were] with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down. 16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee. 17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, [Art] thou Joab? And he answered, I [am he]. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear. 18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask [counsel] at Abel: and so they ended [the matter]. 19 I [am one of them that are] peaceable [and] faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD? 20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy. 21 The matter [is] not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, [even] against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. 22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast [it] out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king. 23 Now Joab [was] over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada [was] over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites: 24 And Adoram [was] over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud [was] recorder: 25 And Sheva [was] scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar [were] the priests: 26 And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.

Joab puts down the rebellion of Sheba and the city of Abel is spared through the counsel of the wise woman who negotiated with Joab. As a result Joab is restored to his place at the head of David’s host once again. David says nothing about the murder of Amasa. How could he? If he punishes Joab for the death of Amasa his kinsmen Joab need only bring up the matter of Uriah the husband of Bathsheba. David is weak in this matter and Joab’s treacheries and brutality remains unchecked.

Throughout this chapter we see the consequences of decisions that in their beginning seem out of the public view and not producing further consequences. However in tracing the history going back to the seeds of these tumults we find that an unnamed Levite who showed cruelty to his ravaged concubine set the stage for six generations of bloodshed and ultimately the total destruction of the 10 tribes of Israel who go into captivity to Babylon. David in a moment of indiscretion plants the seeds of murder and sedition in his own house that lead to tens of thousands of deaths and the raising up of Joab a man of cruelty who is a stain on the testimony of David who is intended by God to be a type of Jesus Himself. How could all of this been avoided? Once temptation presents itself it is very difficult to steer away. If David had chosen however to keep seeking the kingdom instead of staying behind in the city of Jerusalem the problem might never have occurred. If the Levite had been more concerned with his duties as a priest than gathering about him concubines for his sexual appetites the tribe of Benjamin might never have been destroyed. What does seek the kingdom in your life look like? Do that and you may by your obedience be avoided generations of difficulty for yourself and those that come after you.

What of David and Bathsheba? Is there no mercy? Are they doomed to be a metaphor of the consequences of infidelity? God doesn’t judge the way men do. Ultimately God takes this woman who may have gone down in history as a prototype of Jezebel herself and brings forth from her son Solomon the very blood line of Christ Himself – the Savior of the world.

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