I’m seeing some parallels between yesterday’s reading and today’s readings.
In 2 Samuel, David starts to gain strength. Saul is dead. Israel, divided into Judah and everyone else, looks to make David the one king over all. Abner, formerly commander of Saul’s troops, comes to offer peace terms to David. Joab, leader of David’s men, lures him back under false pretenses and kills him. Turns out Joab and his brother Abishai were still sore about Abner killing their brother Asahel. Whew!
David decides not to punish Abner for this. He says: “I vow by the Lord that I and my kingdom are forever innocent of this crime against Abner son of Ner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May the family of Joab be cursed in every generation with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or dies by the sword or begs for food!” (2 Samuel 3:28-29).
And Abner gets to live and continue to lead David’s hordes, along with his accomplice and brother, Abishai.
In the next chapter, Ishbosheth, Saul’s last living son and heir to the throne, is murdered by 2 random others. Triumphant, they present Ish’s head to David: “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you. Today the Lord has given my lord the king revenge on Saul and his entire family!” (2 Sam. 4:8). Because David had nothing to do with that particular coup and no desire to gain the kingdom by treachery, he has both assasins killed. David had their hands and feet cut off to emphasize their heinous act’s impotence and hung their bodies by the pool in Hebron (v.12).
Ishbosheth’s death seals David’s rule. David is crowned king in 2 Samuel 5. But this is not how David would have done it. David mourned the death of Abner as well as the death of Saul and his covenant friend, Saul’s son Jonathan. I wonder if David ever thought, If only I could rule without armies or subjects! Why didn’t God intervene? Why was there so much bloodshed necessary?
Skipping ahead to day’s reading in John 12, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with costly perfumed oil. She wipes his feet with her hair. The scripture says the house was filled with the fragrance (12:3). What a beautiful act of love!
Judas Iscariot didn’t think so. “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor,” he gripes (v.5). Not that he cared about the poor. He liked to dip his hand into the till and help himself.
We know Judas is key in Jesus’ betrayal a few chapters later. And Jesus knows Judas will do it. Jesus must also have known Judas stole from the poor, too. But Jesus does nothing about it. Judas was part of the original 12 disciples. Couldn’t Jesus have excluded him. “Oh, God, you know this one’s a rotten apple. Next!”
I can really see God’s plan continually moving forward despite us flawed humans in the mix. We add so much baggage. Ambition. Greed. Intrigue. Betrayal. They’re part of the human story and all mixed up in God’s story of love and redemption. David sometimes left vengeance up to God to decide, trying to hear God’s voice in the melee. Jesus listened to the Father’s voice in all He said and did on earth, carrying out the plan to restore mankind to God. Our free will gums up the works sometimes. We aren’t so different from these folks. Maybe our methods aren’t quite as drastic. Still…We try to hurry things along already. Make it so, Number 1! But our maneuvering can’t stop the plan.
Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. ~ I Corinthians 13:12