2 Samuel 2:18-3:1 – Even Christ Followers Can Get Turned Sideways By Idolatry & Pride: A Prayer For A Marriage

Posted: May 13, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 2:18 – 3:1
The Death of Asahel

Recently, Elena and I had a very long phone conservation with a very dear friend of ours. Though we have not seen this friend in several years. He and his wife were so instrumental in our growth in Jesus Christ that we are intentional about staying in touch with them. He and his wife are a mile-marker kind of relationship for us. Profound is the word that I would use. To say that we love them both, both him and her is an understatement. However, in all the time that we have known the husband of this couple, he has made his relationship with his wife an idol. He was consumed with her. He lived his life trying to control her view of him.

Although he is a brilliant guy. He is kind of like my brother in that regard. He has detailed knowledge of so many things that you kind of feel like the dumbest person ever when you hear all the knowledge on so many things this guy has. I have surface knowledge of many things but he has detailed knowledge of many things. He has an eidetic memory like my brother. However, when it comes to matters of love, he became stupid when it came to his wife. He was so insecure in his relationship with her that he overcompensated. He was too much. He made her his idol. He somehow drew his value from how she felt about him. So, he spent all of their marriage trying to manipulate and control the responses that she gave him. When you are trying to please a god it is difficult at times to manage and manipulate the responses of the god. When you make a god of another human being, you will be constantly trying to curry favor and enough is never enough. When you make your spouse your god, you will be living an exhausted life because trying to manage their responses to you is like a drug. It needs to be refueled and re-appeased every day. Hour by hour and minute by minute sometimes.

That rollercoaster ride and constant emotional turmoil self-imposed in homage to his god actually drove his wife away from him instead of closer to him. But there is no excusing her responses to her husband making her a god. Infidelity is never a response that brings good. Their co-dependency has been so destructive for them both. She is the master and he has been the slave in their co-dependency. She had learned a long time ago that she could pretty much do whatever she wanted and he would respond like a dog seeking a treat. Her infidelity exacerbated his insecurity in their relationship and he was willing to put up with anything and everything she did just to be in a relationship with her. In the midst of trying to control her responses to him (appeasing his self-imposed idol), he ended up taking a wrong turn into porn (as place to control, in his mind, the responses of a woman). The marriage had become a train wreck of epic proportions. However, in the crux of it all was this co-dependence and idolatry.  Somehow, though he would dispute it to your face, he defined himself by being in this relationship with her. It was sad to watch him respond like a puppy dog to everything she did. He thought he could make her love him again and he would accept whatever actions or terms she set in front of him. The marriage was a train wreck. He has been a train wreck. It was just sad to see him go down this path of constantly pursuing what he could not catch. She was a drug to him. And even though everyone could see the self-destruction he was causing to himself, he had to have more of the drug.

The sad thing here was that I did the very same thing in my previous marriage. Every mistake he has been making. I know it because I lived it. Living at the mercy of another’s persons feelings about you and trying to control their responses by how you acted is idolatry at its finest. I lived it. It was a rollercoaster ride that someday you have to get off. Finally, in our conversation yesterday, he finally shed himself of the slavery of co-dependency. He finally has gotten to the point that he no longer sees her as a god in his life. The freedom in his voice was noticeable. The relief in his voice is noticeable. Finally, to get to that point, where you realize that you have been worshipping someone and built altars to them in your life and finally say “I can’t do this anymore!” is where we have to get. When we remove our obsessions and our idols that stand in the way of our relationship with God, there is freedom there. I have been there myself. That day that I finally smashed the idols that I had created of my previous wife was the day I finally felt free and could actually breath without wondering if she would approve of my breath patterns. There was such freedom in that.

Who knows what is going to happen between this dear friend and his wife. Their marriage is on the rocks and may not recover because of this war that has ravaged it. His obsession with her to the point of idolatry and her seeking affections elsewhere and refusing to fully give that up may have done too much damage to the relationship. But one thing is for certain, for my friend, to remove her as his idol, as his god, he has gained a closer walk with Christ in the process. Maybe in letting her go, maybe in releasing her as his god, they will find reconciliation in their future. God never gives up on people so I think that He does not give up on marriages either. Maybe with all the damage that has been done by the sins of idolatry, pornography and infidelity they need some time apart to heal.

This is not story book Christianity here where reconciliation is going to happen right away. There is so much damage to their relationship that has been done. It is going to take a long time for them to repair – if they are willing to repair it at some point. I love both of these two people. Maybe, who knows because of the consequences of sin, they may never get it back together. I cannot say. I wish I could say. However, I do know that when their marriage was not so damaged as it is now, they were an awesome couple for the Lord. They were plain out amazing together as a couple. It was this wife that lovingly led my wife to the cross. It was through this husband that I was challenged to grow up in Christ. He challenged me to be more than a Christ follower who thinks Sunday morning is it. He challenged me to make Jesus Christ my Lord and not just my Savior. He challenged me to make Christ the center of my world, 24/7/365. To see their marriage ravaged by sin, maybe beyond repair is heartbreaking. Even Christ followers can get turned sideways by idolatry and pride. We can ruin our witness and make ourselves ineffective for God’s kingdom when we follow Satan’s siren call.

That obsession with an idol whether it be a person or a prize or a goal or a job is what I thought of this morning as I read this passage, 2 Samuel 2:18-3:1. It cost Asahel everything. To pursue what amounts to the pursuit of pride destroyed him. Let us read this passage now:

18 Joab, Abishai, and Asahel—the three sons of Zeruiah—were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a gazelle, 19 and he began chasing Abner. He pursued him relentlessly, not stopping for anything. 20 When Abner looked back and saw him coming, he called out, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“Yes, it is,” he replied.

21 “Go fight someone else!” Abner warned. “Take on one of the younger men, and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel kept right on chasing Abner.

22 Again Abner shouted to him, “Get away from here! I don’t want to kill you. How could I ever face your brother Joab again?”

23 But Asahel refused to turn back, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there.

24 When Joab and Abishai found out what had happened, they set out after Abner. The sun was just going down as they arrived at the hill of Ammah near Giah, along the road to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25 Abner’s troops from the tribe of Benjamin regrouped there at the top of the hill to take a stand.

26 Abner shouted down to Joab, “Must we always be killing each other? Don’t you realize that bitterness is the only result? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?”

27 Then Joab said, “God only knows what would have happened if you hadn’t spoken, for we would have chased you all night if necessary.” 28 So Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men stopped chasing the troops of Israel.

29 All that night Abner and his men retreated through the Jordan Valley.[a] They crossed the Jordan River, traveling all through the morning,[b] and didn’t stop until they arrived at Mahanaim.

30 Meanwhile, Joab and his men also returned home. When Joab counted his casualties, he discovered that only 19 men were missing in addition to Asahel. 31 But 360 of Abner’s men had been killed, all from the tribe of Benjamin. 32 Joab and his men took Asahel’s body to Bethlehem and buried him there in his father’s tomb. Then they traveled all night and reached Hebron at daybreak.

Chapter 3

1 That was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.

In this passage, we see that Abner repeatedly warned Asahel to turn back or risk losing his life, but Asahel refused to turn from his self-imposed duty. We see nowhere in this passage that he was commanded by Joab or even given a word by God to chase down Abner. Persistence is a honorable trait for sure but only if it is for the right reasons. But if the goal is only personal honor, gain, glory or control, persistence may be no more than stubbornness, an unwillingness to see things that are important and an all consuming focus that blocks out all things that are important. Asahel’s stubbornness not only cost him his life but it also spurred unfortunate disunity in David’s army for years to come (see 2 Samuel 3:26-27 and 1 Kings 2:28-35). Before you become obsessed with a goal, let us make sure that it is a goal that gives God glory and does not become an all consuming idol in our lives.

Please thank God for my friend’s realization that he had made and idol out of his wife and realizes it now. That is spiritual growth that was sorely needed. Please pray to God that they can someday restore their marriage through repentance and humility before the Lord. If you are similarly situated, I pray that this blog about my friend and his estranged wife will help you see your life in its proper light. When we pursue that which is not God honoring, when we obsess over someone or something, we can make it our god. When we put things before God, whatever it may be, we bring destruction to our lives. I pray that you see it before it is too late if you find yourself there.

Amen and Amen.

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