2 Samuel 2:8-11 – Whose Side Are You Going to Be On: You Gotta Choose!

Posted: May 9, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

2 Samuel 2:8-11
Ishbosheth Proclaimed King of Israel

I remember my brother and I were always rivals growing up. We were so different. He was super-intelligent (still is!) but back in those days, he was a Sheldon Cooper-like character who lorded his intelligence over others. As a result, he was socially awkward during those years. On the other hand, I was a pretty smart kid (where my brother would make straight A’s I would be the 5 A’s and 1 B kind of kid) but I had to work at it harder than my brother. I love learning and accomplishing academic goals but I just have to work much harder at it than people like my brother. He has an eidetic memory and can recall facts and figures with ease. As for me, I had to study harder than him just to keep up with him. Because I was less innately intelligent (and that’s still true) than him but I have always worked hard at academics, I was able to make good grades but at the same time I could more easily fit into social situations than my brother. As you might expect, you can see numerous conflicts coming up in this set up.

A socially awkward older brother and the social butterfly little brother, this is the stuff of teen movies. Nerds vs. the cool kids and the choices we have to make in the pressure cooker miniature society that school has always been is the stuff of teen movies throughout the 50s, 60s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and now. The 80’s teen movies were the best. The John Hughes written and directed teen movies from that time period still play on television today. These were classic and timeless movies. The styles and clothes and unique language of teens may change but the problems of growing up in America will always be the same – fitting in, running with the crowd, standing up for what’s right or following the herd, outcasts vs. the in-crowd. It’s all the same generation to generation. Although nowadays kids have to deal with 24/7 effects of social media where we did not, we still can identify with their struggles of the social scene of school because we lived there ourselves for that time in our lives.

The biggest thing that I remember about school back in the day with my brother and I just 18 months apart in age which meant we were at the same school virtually all our secondary education years. So, the set up for conflict was always there. We were the classic teen movie. He was the socially awkward braniac and ran with that crew. I was the kid that hung around with the social in-crowd or some sphere thereof. The braniac crowd was always picked on by the rest of us who had less developed brain power but much more developed social skills. As you can see, in the social cauldron of school, my brother and me were on opposite sides of the social divide. There were always situations where I had to choose whose side I was going to be on in those intense moments of standoff between the brainiacs and the social butterflies. I had to chose between blood and the crowd. I had to choose to follow the herd or stand up against the social stampede. I use to dislike my brother that much more for drawing attention to himself and setting himself up for social ridicule. Often, I had to choose between my brother and my friends.

I would like to sit here and tell you that I always chose my blood over my friends. I would like to tell you that I never failed in that effort. But I can’t. I chose the crowd over my brother probably 95% of the time. I knew my dad would kick my butt (either metaphorically or literally) for choosing the crowd over my blood brother each and every time but the pull of the crowd was so strong and I was so weak against it. If I could go back and change it, I would – knowing what I know now about family. That’s what I thought of this morning when I read about Abner in 2 Samuel 2:8-11. He had a choice to make – submit to David or go his own way. It is like that choice I had to make – defend my brother or run with crowd. Let’s read this passage now:

8 But Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had already gone to Mahanaim with Saul’s son Ishbosheth.[a] 9 There he proclaimed Ishbosheth king over Gilead, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, the land of the Ashurites, and all the rest of Israel.

10 Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he became king, and he ruled from Mahanaim for two years. Meanwhile, the people of Judah remained loyal to David. 11 David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years.

In this short passage, we see that David ruled over Judah alone (not the entire nation of Israel) for seven and a half years, while Saul’s cousin and military commander, Abner, installed Ishbosheth as king of a northern confederation of Israelite tribes and their land. Ishbosheth only ruled the northern kingdom the last two years of time that David was ruling in Judah (those 7 ½ years). Because of the ongoing northern conflict with the Philistines, Abner was probably was ruling the northern tribes under some style of military rule. Instead of submitting the northern tribes to David’s rule, Abner directly and then through his puppet king, Ishbosheth, decided to go his own way. The invitation had been made by David and Abner refused first because of war and then because of pride to submit the area that he ruled to David. This points out the choice we have to make as well – what king are we going to serve? The King of Kings or our own selfish desires. The invitation has been made through the work already completed by Jesus Christ. It is up to us to accept the invitation.

As with me and my brother, as with Abner and David, we can choose to submit to Jesus Christ or we can choose to go our own way. It is our free will that God allows us to have that leads us to that choice. We can follow Jesus or follow the pull of the world. Following Jesus is increasingly difficult in a world that tempts us in ever greater ways. Following Jesus has never been easy with the wiles of the world calling us like a beautiful siren on the shore but it is increasingly difficult in a society that is rejecting Him in greater and greater numbers each year. Following Jesus will require us to make a choice at some point. Following Jesus will pitch us against the world. Who are you going to follow? What is important to you – the love of man or the love of Jesus? Where do you stand? With Jesus or with the crowd that is shouting crucify Him? It is like me having to choose between my blood brother and the pull of the social circles of school? Are you going to make the easy choice and follow the crowd or are you going to stand with Jesus against the tide of culture?

Amen and Amen.

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