But David answered Rechab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, "As surely as the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress,
2 Samuel 4:9-11. - (HEBRON.)
1. An oath, such as David took, is properly an act of worship - a direct and solemn appeal to God as a witness, in confirmation of an assertion or of a promise or expressed obligation. There is implied an imprecation of Divine displeasure if the truth be not spoken or the engagement be not fulfilled. It was customary from ancient times (Genesis 14:22; Genesis 21:23); often enjoined in the Law (Deuteronomy 6:13; Exodus 22:10); and served important purposes (Hebrews 6:16). Nor is it absolutely prohibited under the Christian dispensation (Matthew 26:63; Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 1:8). "The Saviour forbids absolutely such oaths only as are hostile to the reverence that is due to God" (Tholuck, 'Serm. on the Mount;' Hodge, 'Syst. Theology,' 3:307; Paley; Dymond, 'Essays').
2. Baanah and Rechab virtually claimed the Divine sanction to their deed, which, they said, was an act of judgment on David's enemies, and a means of preserving his life. But David could not admit their claim, and would have no part in their crime, however it might seem to promote his interest; and (lifting up his right hand toward heaven, Deuteronomy 32:40) he appealed to the living God, on whom, and not on man, least of all on man's wickedness, the preservation of his life depended, in confirmation of his purpose to inflict upon them the punishment of death, which was more richly deserved by them than by one on whom he formerly inflicted it when he confessed to a similar deed.
3. His appeal, considered with reference to the principles and feelings it involved, may be regarded as a statement of the motto of his life and expressive of -
I. BELIEF IN THE LIVING GOD. "Living (is) Jehovah," equivalent to "as surely as Jehovah liveth" (Judges 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Samuel 25:34; 1 Samuel 29:6; Jeremiah 38:16, "who has made for us this soul"). "Along with the name of God, the person swearing would at the same time designate his other attributes, his power and greatness, or whatever else of the essence of this God appeared to him at the moment of swearing of special significance" (Ewald, 'Antiquities'). "Jehovah liveth" (2 Samuel 22:47; 1 Samuel 17:26). A godly man believes in:
1. His actual existence and self-originated, personal, independent life. With him "is the fountain of life" (Psalm 36:9). He "hath life in himself" (John 5:26). He "only hath immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). The life of all creatures he gives, sustains, or takes away as it pleases him.
2. His immediate presence and accurate observation of everything as it really is, every thought, word, and action; and his approbation or disapprobation of it, according to its moral character. He is "a true and faithful Witness" (Jeremiah 42:3; Isaiah 65:16).
3. His active intervention in human affairs, with wisdom and might, justice and mercy. "He is the living God, and an everlasting King" (Jeremiah 10:10), and gives to every man his due reward (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is not merely a general persuasion of these sublime truths, but also an intense realization of them, and a personal surrender to their influence. It is "an intelligent conviction of the truth, a hearty affection for the truth, and a practical submission to the truth."
II. GRATITUDE FOR PAST DELIVERANCE. "Who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity" - an expression often on the lips of David (1 Kings 1:29; Psalm 25:22; Psalm 34:22; Psalm 103:4; Psalm 116:8), and never uttered without thankfulness to God.
1. The path of even a good man is beset by many dangers. What a scene of peril was David's life from his youth upwards (2 Samuel 19:7)!
2. He traces his deliverance from them to the hand of God, and sees therein an evidence of his loving, constant, and distinguishing care for his "soul."
3. He is wont to cherish the recollection of such deliverance; and is incited thereby to "speak the praise of the Lord." Nothing is more becoming or beneficial than a thankful spirit; but it is by no means a common possession.
"Some murmur when their sky is clear
And some with thankful love are filled,
III. CONSCIOUSNESS OF PRESENT RESPONSIBILITY. A good man feels that he is accountable to God; not impelled by forces over which he has no control, nor liberated from moral law; but, whilst free to act, bound by the highest motives to obey. His faith in the living God quickens his conscience, and shows him plainly the way of duty; his gratitude for past deliverance incites him to walk therein.
1. By abhorring that which is evil, and avoiding it.
2. By sincerity of heart, speaking the truth, and doing what is just and right.
3. By using the authority and power entrusted to him, not according to his own will and for selfish ends, but according to the will of God, and for his honour and the welfare of men. His motto is Ich dien ("I serve"). He ever lives under a sense of obligation, and finds in faithful service his strength and joy (John 4:34). "I must work" (John 9:4). "Remember now and always that life is no idle dream, but a solemn reality; based upon eternity, and encompassed by eternity. Find out your task: stand to it: the night cometh when no man can work" (Carlyle).
IV. CONFIDENCE IN FUTURE PRESERVATION. The path of peril is not yet past. But a good man looks to God rather than to men to protect him against the wrath of men and deliver him from all evil. And his confidence is strong, because of:
1. His conviction of the Divine faithfulness. "Jehovah liveth," to fulfil both his promises and his threatenings.
2. His experience of the Divine favour (see 1 Samuel 17:32-37).
3. His obedience to the Divine will, and express assurances of safety and of a "crown of life" to every faithful servant. "The righteous hath hope in his death." "Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth" (Psalm 31:5). "The foundation of David's character is a firm unshaken trust in Jehovah, a bright and most spiritual view of creation and the government of the world, a sensitive awe of the Holy One of Israel, a striving ever to be true to him, and a strong desire to return after errors and transgressions" (Ewald). - D.
And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother.
1. Those who did not understand David, or took narrow and partial views of his character, imagined that they could always please him by relating some misfortune that had befallen the house of Saul. King Saul had a son who was of weak mind and of weak body, inanimate, dependent largely upon others for all that he was and did, especially dependent upon his uncle Abner. This man was accustomed to take a mid-day sleep. He went up into his room one mid-day to slumber, and there went in upon him two young men, Baanah and Rechab by name, and they made as though they would have fetched wheat from the royal residence, and when they found Ishbosheth asleep they smote him under the fifth rib and beheaded him, and ran through the plain all night until they reached Hebron, and when they found David they said, "The Lord hath avenged His servant; here is the head of the son of king Saul." David seems to have taken the large and true view of these men who brought him tidings which they thought would have pleased him. He said, "They are essentially mean men; their meanness in this case counts for me, but I will none of them — hang them, drown them, burn them — they only want an opportunity to thrust the dagger under my fifth rib that they have drawn from the life of Ishbosheth." We would teach this lesson especially to the young, and make it very clear to them, and write it upon their hearts and upon their minds, that they who would do a mean trick for us would not hesitate to do a mean trick against us.
2. It is not enough to be clever in life — we must always be right. There is nothing more contemptible than cleverness when it is dissociated from integrity. Always endeavour to avoid a merely clever person. Cleverness is a two-edged instrument, cleverness is a word you may apply to a thimble-rigger. Keep the word "cleverness" for very small occasions and for very small persons. Associate it with moral sensibility, associate it with the moral virtues, and it becomes proportionately dignified. The first thing you have to make out in all life is, what is right. "That ye may be sincere." What does that word sincere mean? It is two Latin words in one, and it means without wax, a term employed in describing the quality of honey, without wax. Or it is a Greek word, which refers to porcelain, and the meaning of it is that if the china be held up between the eye and the sun, it is sincere, without speck or flaw or breach. What should we look like if Christ were to take us up and look at us as we look critically at porcelain? That is the only true view to take of ourselves. Judging ourselves by ourselves we become fools; by social standards we are all respectable and good and fair and decent and honourable, but the grand test is the law of Divine rectitude, the standard and the balance of the sanctuary of heaven.
3. The real test of success is at the end. We never know what an action is, as to its real value, until we reach the end. Things may look tolerably well in the process — there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is death. What talk Baanah and Rechab had that night as they hurried across the plain, what pictures they drew how David would receive them, how he would house them in the royal palace, how he would show them to the military and to the populace, and call. for loud huzzas, how they would be the brothers whom the king would delight to honour, riding upon his noblest steeds, and for the time being sit at the front of his ranks and crowned with glory and honour. They went to Hebron, and never left it. The men were to be promoted — were promoted to the gallows. The clever men died as the fool dieth, and the earth was not allowed to have their bones. Let us be instructed by the narrative, for it may be even so with some of our own purposes and schemes. A thing is only everlasting, in its consolations and honours in proportion as it is genuinely right. Is our trade, is our purpose, is our programme, is our policy, is our set in life right. If so, we have succeeded even before we have begun.
4. Behold the contrast between nobleness and selfishness, as seen in David and in those who brought him tidings concerning the fate of Saul, and the ill-luck of his child. There are moments when a man is almost God; and it was so with David in this case. He had his moments of fretfulness about Saul, and his moments of supreme fear, but in his heart he loved the grand old king of Israel; and where there is a supreme love it rises above everything, and sacrifices everything that would oppose its sovereign sway. Have we any supreme love? Is our heart ever washed by a great tide of loving emotion about any man, woman, or little child? Then blessed are we; that river rises sometimes and submerges the whole life, and bears away all the ill-thinking and ill-behaviour of many days. Let us not allow our emotions to be talked down, nor allow the fountain of our tears to be sealed up so that it cannot be broken on any occasion. Sometimes it is good for the heart to sink under its own tears; it comes up out of that baptism sweeter and fresher than ever.
5. Beware of taking narrow views of life, then. The young Amalekite and Baanah and Rechab were men who saw only little points in a case. They were wanting in mental apprehensiveness and in moral expansion. There are many such Men in the world, keen as a hawk in seeing little points, blind as a mole in beholding the measure of a circumference. Let us pray for that enlargement of mind which sees every aspect of a question.
(J. Parker, D. D.).
PeopleAbner, Baanah, Beerothites, Benjamin, David, Ishbosheth, Israelites, Jezreel, Jonathan, Mephibosheth, Rechab, Saul
PlacesArabah, Beeroth, Gittaim, Hebron, Jezreel, Ziklag
TopicsAdversity, Answereth, Baanah, Ba'anah, Beerothite, Be-er'othite, Brother, David, Delivered, Distress, Kept, Recab, Rechab, Redeemed, Rimmon, Safe, Sons, Soul, Surely, Trouble
Outline1. The Israelites being troubled at the death of Abner
2. Baanah and Rechab slay Ish-Bosheth, and bring his head to Hebron
9. David causes them to be slain, and Ish-Bosheth's head to be buried.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 4:5-12
8471 respect, for human beings
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate, …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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