June 25, 2023
“They (Baanah and Rechab) entered the house while Ish-bosheth was lying on his bed in his bedroom and stabbed and killed him. They beheaded him, took his head, and traveled...'”
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“They (Baanah and Rechab) entered the house while Ish-bosheth was lying on his bed in his bedroom and stabbed and killed him. They beheaded him, took his head, and traveled by way of the Arabah all night. They brought Ish-bosheth’s head to David at Hebron and said to the king, ‘Here’s the head of Ish-bosheth son of Saul, your enemy who intended to take your life. Today the Lord has granted vengeance to my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.’” 2 Samuel 4:7-8 (HCSB)
I really like watching MMA (mixed martial arts) on TV. My wife thinks it is completely brutal, which is funny to me because she has a black belt in Taekwondo! A while back, I watched an MMA fight that was a great match-up. The fight was in the upper rounds when fatigue set in on one of the fighters. He dropped his hands for just a moment… This was all his opponent needed to finish him off. In a split-second flurry of pugilistic pounding, the fight was over: knockout! That pretty much describes where Ish-bosheth was, politically, just before he was murdered.
When news came of Abner’s treacherous death in Hebron, Ish-bosheth “lost heart” (literally, “his hands dropped”), and “all Israel was terrified.” Nothing is more terrifying than being on the losing side of a political coup. Once the inevitable sinks in, people begin betraying even their closest friends. This was the story of Baanah and Rechab, the “brother thugs” who led Ish-bosheth’s raiders. They decided they must seize the hour by killing David’s impotent opponent.
Baanah and Rechab may appear bold and daring. But take another look. They are not strong but weak, not courageous but cowardly, not manly but mercenary. The whole matter underscores something about ourselves, how urgently we need discernment and how prone we are to lack it. In these two men, we see our inability to see the real beneath the veneer of the apparent. I must confess that when I first read this account (as well as the account of the Amalekite who claimed to finish off Saul on David’s behalf), I thought David would have honored them. I was not expecting their execution. Lord, give me discernment!
So, were Rachab & Baanah servants of the Lord executing justice by eliminating David’s rival and solidifying David’s position? That is certainly what they were putting forth. Undoubtedly, they advertised themselves as ones to whom David owed the debt of posh government jobs. They come with blood on their hands and theology on their lips, expecting the latter would magically bleach the former. Murder always seems more pleasant when wrapped in religious rhetoric.
We still see Baanahs and Rechabs in our congregations. Beware of those who use theology to cover sin and folly! For them, theology is not a truth that encourages us to worship God but a technique that enables them to justify themselves and their selfish manipulation of honest righteous-minded people.