If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Samuel 3, 1 Corinthians 14, Ezekiel 12, Psalm 51. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Samuel 3.
David was a killer; a “man of blood” as some translations call him in 1 Chronicles 28:3. But look how horrified he was when Joab killed Abner here in 2 Samuel 3. David called on God to bring a perpetual curse on Joab’s family as a consequence of Joab’s sin (v. 29). He mourned the death of Abner, attending his funeral, crying for him, singing a lament for him (vv. 31-34), and fasting to demonstrate his horror over Abner’s unjust death (v. 35). Why would David, who killed so many people himself, be so horrified by the death of Abner?
The answer is that David’s killing was done in defense of his nation Israel. The Philistines, David’s most frequent opponent, attacked Israel repeatedly. Israel was not the aggressor in these situations; it was the victim of the aggression of its neighbors. It is true that during Joshua’s conquest Israel attacked the nations living in Canaan. However, God made it clear that the command to attack them was not only to fulfill his promise of this land to Abraham but also to punish these nations for their own sins (see Deut 9:5, 18:12). Just as God later used the Assyrians and Babylonians to judge Israel for her sins, he used the Israelites in the days of Joshua to punish the Canaanites for their sins. Having taken the land that God promised to them, Israel focused on settling and developing the promised land, not building an empire through never-ending attacks on other nations. War and the killing that it requires, the killing that David did, was done in defense, not because David was a bloodthirsty man.
Our nation’s leaders should consider the ethics of war. War is murderous unless it is done in self-defense to a direct attack. But American foreign policy in the past few decades has involved attacking other nations that have not attacked us. While this might seem like a smart idea tactically, it is not morally justified. It is, in fact, murder on a large scale. There is a time for “just war” but the “just” nation in any war is the one seeking to defend its people and property. Human life is sacred, as David’s response to Abner’s death demonstrates. Since human life is sacred, one should never attack another nation or person; neither you nor I should ever take another person’s life unless that person has attacked us first with potentially deadly force. David’s response to Joab’s murderous attack on Abner shows that he understood the difference between defeating an enemy who has attacked you and getting revenge on someone through murder.
For much more on this, here is an article to read and consider: http://americanvision.org/9926/bahnsen-war/. Or you can listen to a radio interview here that covers many of the same points biblically: https://huffduffer.com/jonesay/345975
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.