Ain’t no feud like a family feud…

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2 Samuel 2:1 After (David learned of the death of Saul and Jonathan) David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” The Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” He said, “To Hebron.” So David went up there, along with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David brought up the men who were with him, every one with his household; and they settled in the towns of Hebron. Then the people of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah… But Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ishbaal son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and over all Israel. 10 Ishbaal, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. 11 The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. 

Saul was David’s predecessor as king. When Saul was killed in battle, David (who had been chosen by God) was anointed king. However, not everyone was onboard with this. Ancient custom was that the eldest son would assume the throne upon death of a king. Abner, Saul’s commander, sought out Saul’s son eldest Ishbaal and made him king. So the kingdom of Israel was divided with some people following David and others following Ishbaal. Eventually David would be sole king, but it wouldn’t last. Within two generations of David, Israel would be divided once more – never to be reunited.

When you read the Old Testament and the New Testament there are some marked differences in the way God guides and directs his people. In the Old Testament, taking retribution on the enemies of Israel is perfectly acceptable, even sanctioned by God. Yet the New Testament is filled with teachings on forgiveness, perhaps most clearly illustrated with the words of Jesus himself:

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…”

You might wonder why the change of tune related to forgiveness. I believe our story for today may shed a bit of light on the issue. The resentment of David as he followed Saul as king, rather than Saul’s son Ishbaal, was deep and lasting – particularly by the tribe and clans of Saul. During the reigns of David and his son Solomon, Israel experienced a season of relative peace within. But after the rule of Solomon, the old grudges re-emerged to the point that Israel split into a northern and southern kingdom.

The people of God spent so much time fighting each other over hundreds of years they were weakened from within, to the point they became vulnerable to attack from outsiders and were eventually conquered as a kingdom. One expectation of a Messiah was that God would send a king who would unite Israel and restore the united kingdom that was lost.

Human grudges are alive and well, aren’t they? I’ve seen them in my own extended family – it’s not pretty. Unforgiveness can tear apart kingdoms as in the bible, but can also tear apart families, communities, churches, and so on. Lord, search my heart for unforgiveness and give me grace to give it to you. Amen.

One thought on “Ain’t no feud like a family feud…

  1. Marcie Sandall

    So this is when the two kingdoms began and the story/history behind it. If I knew, I had forgotten.. Good to learn it again.
    The forgiveness part is what I am struggling with. The people at Sandy Lake Rehab are not doing what I expect and want! I am learning to accept the procedures, “the system”, as is. Hmmm. I am in the middle of it.
    Ralph & I would like for you to visit him again when I am there. You can email me but I read it in the night so phoning is better.
    Home: 972-471-1240. Don’t leave a message. Phone me on the cell phone:
    Cell: 972-768-1929 Thanks so much. Mimi said you 2 talked.
    Blessing on you, Marcie ( I will email you that we want your visit. Communion too.)

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