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astute businessman April 26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Samuel 2:1-3:5; 1Chronicles 3:1-4a; 2Samuel 3:6-4:3; 2 Samuel 4:5-5:5; 1Chronicles 11:1-3

Defusing Power Struggles with Diplomacy

In America we have a political primary season every two years about this time of the year or perhaps earlier, and then we watch the power struggles between the political parties for supremacy. But there are other types of power struggles. We see them in our homes between siblings or between parents and their children, and we see them in our jobs. Diplomacy is the art of handling conflicts or potential conflicts with people with sensitivity and grace. In other words diplomacy is being adept and tactful in dealing with people (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd College Edition, ©.1980, p.398). This may require giving proper honor and exercising restraint.

In a competitive spirit, many people encourage taking advantage of another's weakness to capitalize on opportunities. We encourage this in sports or games, and even in business. We consider it smart and savvy, but is this always good? What should we do when the previous manager of a company or organization was popular and well loved, or the previous parent (in the case of a divorce or death) was well-loved? To take advantage of these situations can backfire on us. It is sometimes challenging to be diplomatic and to show honor and restraint. During times of stress or transition we may want to take advantage of someone's downfall or unpopularity. We may despise and speak abusively of that person, and espouse our own ideas and methods as being superior. We may even become manipulative. All of this is human nature. The newly crowned King David shows us a different, more godly way of handling power struggles and how to defuse them.

In the history of Israel that we have been studying, David was now king in the large southern tribe of Judah. King Saul had died in battle. An Amalekite helped kill Saul and brought Saul's crown to David with the intent or pretense of honoring him. He probably saw an opportunity to be rewarded by David. Instead, David grieved for Saul and killed the Amalekite. In this he showed honor and respect for God's anointed. He did not rejoice over Saul’s death, even though Saul (in his mad jealousy) pursued David constantly to kill him. David loved his father- in-law, the king. He grieved Saul’s death. Is our love greater than our hurt? How can we love our enemies like David? Jesus said we must love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use and abuse us (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27). Obeying that command is not easy; we need God’s help.

After Saul's death, Abner, Saul's head commander, put one of Saul's sons, Ishbosheth, on the throne of the northern kingdom of Israel. Ishbosheth was a weak king, however, and Abner strengthened his position in the realm. Perhaps to shore up his own image, Ishbosheth accused Abner of sleeping with one of Saul’s wives. Abner was so offended by the attack on his integrity that, instead of being ashamed and submitting to the king, he told Ishbosheth he would attempt to turn the whole kingdom of Israel over to David. Ishbosheth feared Abner and said no more.

Abner lost no time in meeting with David and trying to convince the elders of Israel to elect David as their next king. When Joab, the head of David’s command, came back from battle and heard about it, he was irate that David might forge an alliance with Abner, the one who had killed his brother Asahel in battle. He pursued Abner and killed him.

Did David seize this opportunity to attack Ishbosheth and gain the kingdom for himself? Not at all. In fact, David held a public lament for the great commander of Israel’s forces, and who should lead it but Joab, the one who had killed Abner! David himself followed the casket to its burial place. By showing genuine grief and honor for Abner, he showed honor for the armies of Israel who had followed him into battle. There was no malice in David’s heart; indeed, he had no part in the death of Abner. David even cursed his own commander for his wrongful deeds. Putting loyalties aside, we must stand with the righteous and rebuke the wicked, even if they are on our own team or in our own family. That is difficult to do, but that is true godly leadership.

How were David's actions toward Abner received? 2 Samuel 3:36-37 says, “All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.” (NIV) How we behave in certain circumstances tells other people what we are like. Do we treat people with honor or are we manipulative? Do we have the wisdom to show restraint? Can we wait for God to work or do we feel we have to help him?

When Ishbosheth heard Abner, his head commander of Israel’s forces, had been killed, he lost all confidence to lead Israel. All Israel was alarmed, and some Benjamites killed Ishbosheth. Thinking that they might gain favor with David, they cut off his head and brought it to David. Like the Amalekite who tried to deliver “good news” to David about Saul’s death, they, too, were killed for murdering a defenseless man. In doing this, David showed to all Israel that he had regard for the family of King Saul as he promised Jonathan by an oath (1Samuel 20:15-17). David then gave Ishbosheth a proper burial. We, too, need to defend the defenseless and give proper honor to those in power.

David was a man of God, and he was also a good diplomat. When Israel saw that David honored them as a nation, they asked him to be king over them and all of Judah. The nation was united. David's action brought peace and unity by showing honor, respect, and restraint.

Lessons to live by: (how to defuse power struggles)

  • Jesus said we must love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use and abuse us (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27). Obeying that command is not easy; like David we need God’s help.
  • Putting loyalties aside, we must stand with the righteous and rebuke the wicked, even if they are on our own team or in our own family. That is true godly leadership.
  • Treat people with honor and don’t be manipulative. Have the wisdom to show restraint. Wait for God to honor you and do not feel you have to help him.
  • Defend the defenseless and give proper honor to those in power.
  • Our actions should bring peace, not divisions. Handle power struggles in a diplomatic fashion with tact. Show proper respect, honor, and restraint.
  • Are you in a power struggle with God? If you will humble yourself and receive his gift of salvation, peace, and spiritual life, he will be on your side, not against you (more...).

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 37:34 “Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.” (NIV)

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