“While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
In what follows here we see an almost Game of Thrones style transition of power from Saul to David. The two houses are at war, there’s trouble within one house, jealousy leads to accusations that may or may not be false but which lead to permanent rifts, there are sides being swapped, old wounds being nursed, long-simmering hatreds being acted upon, and the list goes on from there. The question it leads me to ask is what on earth is this kind of stuff doing in the Bible?!?
We hold David up as one of the best and brightest characters in the Scriptures. He was Israel’s greatest king and the one to whom all the rest were compared. He was labeled a man after God’s own heart and is consistently held up as a model of righteousness. And all of those things are true. But David was also a man of his times and his times were pretty wild.
These kind of monarchical intrigues have always been a part of monarchies and David’s was no exception. Neither was Saul’s. The same kind of thing still exists today in our own halls of Congress, just without all the violence…mostly. The point is that when power gets concentrated in a small group of people, or in a centralized location, it tends to attract people who want power. And because there’s only so much power to go around, people tend to fight over it. And fights over power tend to get ugly quickly. Just consider the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh.
All of this still doesn’t answer my question: What is this kind of stuff doing in the Bible? Too often we are given a kind of sanitized view of the Scriptures. We think of it through the lens of children’s picture Bibles where everybody is smiling, happy, and nice. We imagine it to be like the Precious Moments Bibles. The truth is: It wasn’t. It’s not. The Scriptures are full of people who were broken and sinful. It tells their stories without holding back much in terms of the ugly details of sin working itself out in and through their lives.
None of this, however, diminishes the presence or working of God throughout the process. He was revealing Himself to and through them. He was advancing His plans to reveal Himself through His Son, slowly and steadily and in spite of their rampant sinfulness. He consistently took people as they were and gently shepherded them in the direction of righteousness. Sometimes they came easily, sometimes not. Sometimes they turned and went the other direction. It was rarely a pretty picture. But it was real.
This very real-ness is where we can find a great deal of comfort and hope. If God could work so consistently through them and all of their issues, then ours pose no trouble for Him as He continues working His plans out until the time arrives for Christ to return and all sales are final. Usually our lives don’t have the drama of David’s here and we should be grateful for that. Those weren’t pretty times. But God is still at work in and through us to accomplish His plans. Let’s work with Him and experience the wonders He has in store for us.