2 Samuel 4:1-12 (Part 2) – Satan Smiles When the Saints Fight Amongst Themselves

Posted: May 25, 2018 in Book of 2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 4:1-12 (Part 2 of 2)
The Murder of Ishbosheth

A house divided upon itself will not stand. Jesus made this statement in Matthew 12:25 when the religious leaders claimed that he cast out demons because he was a minion of Satan. Jesus simply used logic on them. If Jesus was one of Satan’s guys why the heck would he cast out one of his co-workers in evil from doing his evil deeds. Even Satan needs unity among the demons to accomplish his tasks. Yet, so often we see that God’s houses around the world, the church, is divided. We divide ourselves by denomination. We divide ourselves by whether we are Protestant (any non-Catholic church) or Catholic. Even locally within our local churches, we divide ourselves more often that we multiply ourselves. We also would rather our local expression of God’s choice die than allow others to participate in the leadership of our local expression. We fuss among ourselves. We grow weaker each and every day with all the in-fighting. That’s how Satan will make the church ineffective in our world is by inward dissension within local churches and by creating philosophical and theological fractures between denominations and between Protestants and Catholics.

We have become so estranged from each other in the two plus millennia since the church began in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the South, where the Catholic Church is admittedly sparse and weak, there are many people who have been so educated by the Protestant churches they attend that the Catholic Church as we know it today is anti-Christian. They often do not grasp that it was the Catholic Church, that catholic means universal, is the church that was born at Pentecost. It was the church. The universal church. It was the church all the way up until the 1500’s when the Protestant revolution began. Many Southerners, as well as all American Christians in general, do not know their church history. We should not think of Catholics as if they have two heads and are believers in some non-Christian religion. They are our brothers and sisters. And their church is the mother of all protestant churches. And most assuredly for all the trappings that Catholic parishioners have to wade through on their way to the cross, there are many, many Catholics who love the Lord with the same all-out passion as any Protestant. Even with all the fractures of the church since Pentecost, the Catholic Church, the original church, it remains as the largest single branch of Christianity in the world.

Certainly, the Catholic Church has lost its way over the centuries with its layers of tradition taken with the same weight as the Bible and with its outright heresies at times and with its current bent toward leaving bedrock and universal truths of the Bible so as to fit in with the world and with its cover up of sins (caused by the nonbiblical requirement that its ministers be celebate and unable to marry). These things caused fractures over the centuries from which the universal church of all believers has not recovered. And we need the Catholic Church to return to admit its mistakes and return to its roots. Satan smiles at these long time fractures.

Denominational Protestant Christianity is no better. We have divided ourselves into in excess of 150 blocs or genres of denominational thought. Sure there are some truly major denominations out there such as the Southern Baptists, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and so on (each of these majors are also fractured into many subdenominations). But we divide ourselves over what we think are hills to die on. We divide ourselves over theological derailments and we should because heresy is of Satan and misleads people. But most often, we divide ourselves over degrees of faith rather than faith itself. We divide ourselves on the theological tenet that we hold dear and fear that others do not hold it as dear as us. We divide ourselves by denominational lines because you and I do give certain beliefs pre-eminence over others. Satan smiles at the fractures within the Protestant band of Christianity.

Local Christianity as expressed in individual churches is also fracture-able. There are more church splits each year than there are church plants, according to the Barna Group, the Christian research institute. We divide over leadership struggles. We divide over some liking the pastor and others hating him. We divide over the color of the carpet. We divide over whether the fellowship hall was named after us. We divide over a room dedicated to our great grandparents 50 something years ago that has been converted to some other use 50 something years later. We divide over the kind and style of music that is played. We divide over every possible little thing. Satan smiles when each local church splits rather than when we send people out in love to plant a new church. Satan loves the split and hates the plant.

The fractured state of Christianity is what I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 4:1-12 for the second and last time before I move on to the next passage. The reason that I thought of that is how the murder of Ishbosheth was like cutting off the nose to spite the face. It was just a vengeful thing and not a thing that was going to unite the kingdom. It was and could have been a permanently divisive thing had it not been for how David handled it. Let’s read the passage now and see how he does it:

Chapter 4
1 When Ishbosheth,[a] Saul’s son, heard about Abner’s death at Hebron, he lost all courage, and all Israel became paralyzed with fear. 2 Now there were two brothers, Baanah and Recab, who were captains of Ishbosheth’s raiding parties. They were sons of Rimmon, a member of the tribe of Benjamin who lived in Beeroth. The town of Beeroth is now part of Benjamin’s territory 3 because the original people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim, where they still live as foreigners.

4 (Saul’s son Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth,[b] who was crippled as a child. He was five years old when the report came from Jezreel that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle. When the child’s nurse heard the news, she picked him up and fled. But as she hurried away, she dropped him, and he became crippled.)

5 One day Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon from Beeroth, went to Ishbosheth’s house around noon as he was taking his midday rest. 6 The doorkeeper, who had been sifting wheat, became drowsy and fell asleep. So Recab and Baanah slipped past her.[c] 7 They went into the house and found Ishbosheth sleeping on his bed. They struck and killed him and cut off his head. Then, taking his head with them, they fled across the Jordan Valley[d] through the night. 8 When they arrived at Hebron, they presented Ishbosheth’s head to David. “Look!” they exclaimed to the king. “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you. Today the Lord has given my lord the king revenge on Saul and his entire family!”

9 But David said to Recab and Baanah, “The Lord, who saves me from all my enemies, is my witness. 10 Someone once told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ thinking he was bringing me good news. But I seized him and killed him at Ziklag. That’s the reward I gave him for his news! 11 How much more should I reward evil men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Shouldn’t I hold you responsible for his blood and rid the earth of you?”

12 So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. Then they took Ishbosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb in Hebron.

In this passage, we see that when David learned of Ishbosheth’s death, he was angry. He had never harmed Saul (even though he had several opportunities to do so). He also thought the assassin’s method was cowardly. David wanted to unite Israel not drive a permanent wedge between him and the house of Saul. To show that he had nothing to do with the extermination of Saul’s royal line, he ordered that the assassins be executed and gave Ishbosheth a proper burial. All the tribes of Israel, recognizing what David was doing showed strong leadership, pledged their loyalty to him.

David could have said “yeah, in yo face northern tribes! Take that!” but he knew that the unity of the entire Israelite nation was at stake. He knew that the long range goal was that the kingdom be united. That’s what God wanted. Yet, men were working against it. David knew that if he succumbed to selfishness, he would lose an opportunity to unite the nation as God desired.

In Christianity today, we should disagree and stand firm on issues of heresy where any branch of Christianity has gone off the rails from the theology of the Bible and begins to interpret it in ways that are simply pandering to the current culture. We should disagree and stand firm against any belief that is contrary to God’s Word. We should disagree and stand firm against accepting beliefs that have no basis in Scripture. However, we should always keep in mind that when we begin fighting among ourselves and have no eye toward reconciliation, Satan smiles. When we fight among ourselves globally, nationally, or locally within our own churches, we forget the mission that Jesus gave us – to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that someday, we will quit fighting about carpet colors, room names, who is chairman, who is an elder, who is a deacon, and whether “those people” can come to our church, and whether we like the pastor or not, and remember why God gathered us together. May all the denominations learn to reconcile with one another and get rid of that which is not of God’s Word and focus on what is and get back to work together. May the Catholic Church return to its simplest roots that began in Jerusalem and spread throughout the Roman Empire within 100 years because the message was simple. May we all get out of the way of the message and all start focusing on seeking and saving the lost.

Let us quit arguing among ourselves and make Satan mad because we are working together to seek the lost and bring them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and make new disciples of our Savior and Lord. Let us keep an eye on the ball. Let us know what is important. Let us die on the hills that we need to die on and let us work to reconcile on those hills that don’t really matter when it comes right down to it.

Amen and Amen.

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