Dealing with Underhanded People

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 3:6 (NIV)
During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul.

2 Samuel 3:6 (MSG)
Abner took advantage of the continuing war between the house of Saul and the house of David to gain power for himself.
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“Now while war continued between the houses of Saul and David, Abner was proving himself strong in the house of Saul.” -AMPLIFIED

They are called “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Those underhanded, manipulative, devious, subversive people who do whatever they need to in order to climb the proverbial ladder of success. They “strengthen” themselves to the detriment of others. We will find from our text today that Abner was that sort of person.

Abner had been the commander of Saul’s army, but with the death of Saul his desire was to strengthen himself in order to gain more power. In order to do this he did something perverse; he slept with Saul’s concubine, Rizpah. (Basically sleeping with the boss’s wife.) Abner’s desire was to gain power, possibly even wrenching the kingship from Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth.

“Many, like Abner, are not above committing base crimes, who are too proud to bear reproof, or even the suspicion of being guilty. While men go on in sin, and apparently without concern, they are often conscious that they are fighting against God. Many mean to serve their own purposes; and will betray those who trust them, when they can get any advantage. Yet the Lord serves his own designs, even by those who are thus actuated by revenge, ambition, or lust; but as they intend not to honor him, in the end they will be thrown aside with contempt.” -Matthew Henry Commentary

Ish-bosheth was outraged with Abner, because sleeping with a king’s wife or concubine was the equivalent to basically claiming the throne. Ish-bosheth confronted Abner with the evidence and said, “Why have you gone in to my father’s concubine?” -2 Samuel 3:7 (AMP)

Ish-bosheth accusation made Abner very angry. (Notice: it was the truth, but Abner was so arrogant, he thought no one knew what he was up to.) Abner’s response to Ish-bosheth charge against him was this: “Am I no better than a dog, whose head is turned by any female? Do I serve Judah? I have done nothing but give my loyalty to your father Saul, to his brothers, and to his friends; and I have not betrayed you to David. How can you come to me and accuse me of a crime concerning this woman? Now I will see you are overthrown. May the True God punish me severely if I don’t do for David what the Eternal One has promised him: to take away the throne from Saul and set up David’s throne, who will be king over both Israel and Judah, from Dan in the far north to Beersheba in the southern desert.” -2 Samuel 3:8-10 (VOICE)

Denial and threats were the weapons that Abner used against Ish-bosheth. We find Abner, with the utmost of arrogance and insolence, letting Ish-bosheth know that he had basically raised him up to his position as king and he could very well put him down. In fact, Abner told Ish-bosheth that he would indeed rip aways the throne of Saul from him. And he sealed that statement with a curse to show how serious he was about the whole situation. “May God help me if I don’t join David! I will make sure that what the Lord promised does happen! I will take the kingdom from the family of Saul and make David king of Israel and Judah, from Dan to Beersheba!” -2 Samuel 3:9-10(NCV)

Let us note something about Abner; he opposed God’s will with everything within him when it came to his ambition of power. But when he was found out for a fraud and confronted we find him changing his position (his mind); not because he wanted to do the right thing, but because he wanted revenge. It was all a pretense because he had been found out. He still had no desire to do God’s will; he was just trying to save his own skin.

We will find that God will deal with Abner’s sin. Abner will pay for his underhanded, aggressive ways eventually.

So what does the Bible say we should do when dealing with people that use unethical, underhanded, or use manipulative principles?

* “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” -James 1:5-8 (MSG)

* “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him].” –Matthew 5:43-45 (AMP)

* “But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” -Luke 6:27-29 (AMP)

* “After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers].” -Titus 3:10-11 (AMP)

Lest we judge others too quickly, let us remember these words from James, the brother of Jesus. “For we all stumble and sin in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says [never saying the wrong thing], he is a perfect man [fully developed in character, without serious flaws], able to bridle his whole body and rein in his entire nature [taming his human faults and weaknesses].” -James 3:2 (AMP)

My Prayer:
Lord, give me your wisdom when dealing with those who have an ulterior motive; those who do not care about whom they hurt as they climb the proverbial ladder to gain power. My desire is to exhibit you in my life and to handle those situations in a godly manner. Help me not to get angry or bitter. Instead, remind me to pray for those people, to turn the other cheek, and to allow you to deal with them as you see fit. Remind me always that I am responsible for my actions; not the other guys. Lord, help me keep my eyes firmly focused on you.