Read – 2 Samuel 3
Focus on verse 36-37
The term “wise politician” may seem a little like an oxymoron in the current arena of American politics, however, I suspect that amidst all the corruption that is becoming evident, there must still be a few men and women who like, David in today’s reading, have the wisdom and patience to navigate the swamp without being sucked into it by the snakes that lurk there.
All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner. (v. 36-37)
David was both a man of integrity and a wise political leader, both qualities which God used to make him one of the greatest kings of ancient Israel. When Joab undermines David’s attempt to unify the nation by making an agreement with Abner, David recognizes that Abner’s murder would not be taken lightly by the tribes that were following Abner. In order to do some damage control, David makes it clear to all the people that the murder of Abner first of all was not David’s idea, and that he was angry with Joab for doing it. Wisely David does also does not immediately punish Joab, since now that Abner was dead David would need Joab to continue to be the commander of his army. While David often does not agree with Joab’s methods, he does whatever it takes to to make the arrangement work, and Joab continues to serve David faithfully, although at times it seems his motivation seems more than a little self-serving. The way David brings the nation together, and galvanizes the people around his leadership at this point is nothing short of politically brilliant, though David would rightly credit it to the hand of God working to bring it about. Interestingly, one of David’s last instructions to his “soon to be king”, son Solomon is to follow through on the execution of Joab for the murder of Abner.
So many potential lessons could be drawn from this reading, it is difficult to focus on just one. Perhaps one of the more prominent things one might learn from David’s leadership here is one that David had already learned from his interaction with King Saul, that lesson being to allow the Lord to bring about justice in His time, rather than to attempt to administer it in the heat of the moment. I suspect one of the reasons David did not sentence Joab to death immediately for the murder of Abner is that he knew this would create an unhealthy leadership vacuum within the military component of the nation.
Another thing we might glean from this is the consistency with which God uses both our obedience and our disobedience to bring about His desired will. The difference between the two paths is whether we are blessed as a result of our obedience, or bereft of blessing on account of our disobedience. Either way it is somewhat reassuring to know that God’s will is not thwarted by the disobedience nor the blatant rebellion of humanity.