Respect for Authority

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 18:5 (NIV)
The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

2 Samuel 18:5 (MSG)
Then the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The whole army heard what the king commanded the three captains regarding Absalom.
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“The king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the men heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.” -AMPLIFIED

Remember, David was torn between his duties as king and his love for his wayward, rebellious son. His parting words to his men as they went off to do battle of HIM were these, “For my sake, be merciful to the young man Absalom.” (VOICE) And mind you, everyone, all of the troops, heard exactly what they king had said.

That day David’s army went out to fight against the rest of Israel, those who were in support of Absalom. The Bible tells us exactly what happened on that day and it was not a pretty picture. “…the battle was fought in the wooded areas of Ephraim. David’s forces won a great victory against Absalom’s men, and 20,000 men were killed in the battle that day. The battle spread all across the landscape, and more of his opponents were lost to the forest than to the sword.” -2 Samuel 8:6-8 (VOICE)

Consider what must have been going through David’s mind and heart at this point in time. The country that he loved, served and ruled was being devastated because of his own family and ultimately because of his own sinful choices. What was happening was part of the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba. It was also part of the consequences of his poor parenting skills. Knowing this fact, and seeing the affect it was having on the country and the people he loved must have been heartbreaking.

The Voice footnote gives us this bit of information about the battle. “David takes the fight into a forested area rather than staying out in the open field. Since his army is more experienced in fighting in such terrain, there is an opportunity for a smaller force to defeat a larger one. Absalom’s men (and Absalom himself, as illustrated in the following verses) die as a result of not knowing how to fight in the forest and avoid its pitfalls.” -(VOICE)

At some point in the battle Absalom encountered David’s men. He tried riding away on his royal mule, but the animal took him into the thick overhanging branches of a huge oak tree. There, the very hair that he was so proud of and never cut, was caught in the branches and caught him. He dangled between the sky and earth as his mule fled from underneath him and he was left hanging.

Now we need to remember David’s parting words to his men in order to understand what happens next. A soldier saw Absalom hanging in that huge oak tree helpless and told Joab. Joab’s response was typical for him, “You saw Absalom? Then why didn’t you kill him while he was hanging there? I would have given you 10 pieces of silver and a belt!” -2 Samuel 18:11 (VOICE)

The soldiers response to Joab though showed not only the love that he had for his king, but also the fear of crossing him. “If you put 1,000 pieces of silver into my hand, I wouldn’t raise it against the king’s son. We all heard the king say to you generals, “For my sake, protect young Absalom.” If I had taken his life despite that, you would stand back and watch as they strung me up. Nothing is hidden from the king.” -2 Samuel 18:12-13 (VOICE)

Joab, being the the presumptuous, arrogant know-it-all that he was, decided to take matters (once again, mind you) into his own hands. Scripture tells us, “Joab said, “I can’t waste my time with you.” He then grabbed three knives and stabbed Absalom in the heart while he was still alive in the tree; by then Absalom was surrounded by ten of Joab’s armor bearers; they hacked away at him and killed him. Joab then blew the ram’s horn trumpet, calling off the army in its pursuit of Israel. They took Absalom, dumped him into a huge pit in the forest, and piled an immense mound of rocks over him.” -2 Samuel 18:14-17a (MSG)

Joab had no respect for David or his authority. Eventually he will also pay for the consequences of his sin. But, we will find, that will not happen until after the death of David.

The Bible is very adamant about the need for the children of God to be respectful to those in authority.

* “Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.” -Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)

* “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” -1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)

* “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” -1 Timothy 2:1-3 (MSG)

Sadly, we will find, that Joab never learned to be respectful of those in authority over him. He tended to have his own agenda and he usually took matters into his own hands. In 1 Kings 2 though we can find the consequences to his sin of disrespect to David. We are told that David, who was on his deathbed told Solomon to have Joab killed citing Joab’s past betrayals and the blood that he was guilty of. Joab ended up paying a high price and dying in a very violent manner because of his arrogance, pride and refusal to respect those in authority over him.

Be respectful of those in authority over you and also their wishes.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to humbly accept the authority of those you have placed over me. You have given them jurisdiction over me for a reason. Instead of pridefully criticizing or bucking the system; help me instead be supportive, encouraging and prayerful for those people. Ultimately you are the final authority and I know that you are in control of all things.

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