My mother has a sister-in-law who is also her aunt. No, she isn’t from the hills of West Virginia.
Many years ago, my father’s oldest sister met a man on a train while on their way to a Christian youth camp. Eventually they married. Quite some time following that, my father married that man’s niece. Her uncle instantly also became her brother-in-law.
Today while reading about David’s return to Israel I noticed a familial connection I’d never seen before.
Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a deer, and he began chasing Abner. He was relentless and single-minded in his pursuit. – 2 Samuel 2:18-19
Like most people, I tend to just trip past the weird names in the Bible. However, for some reason I kept coming back to this section of scripture. In doing so I discovered that Zeruiah is a female, the verse is listing their mother – something rarely done in the Bible. The reason for her inclusion is because Zeruiah is David’s sister! The three men mentioned are David’s nephews. David is their uncle.
But Asahel would not give up, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there. – 2 Samuel 2:23
I find that later Abishai and Joab eventually murder Abner in revenge. However, David, who also suffered this very personal tragedy at the hands of Abner responded very differently.
Quite some time had passed and a meeting was called where Abner pledged allegiance to David, turning the rest of the kingdom over to him. Then Abner left. Joab discovered this and was furious.
Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner. They found him at the pool of Sirah and brought him back with them.
But David knew nothing about it.
When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he drew his dagger and killed Abner in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.
When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the LORD that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May his family in every generation be cursed with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or who dies by the sword or who begs for food!”
So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.
Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Go into deep mourning for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. – 2 Samuel 3:26-32
Where does vengeance end? David had it right. The Lord is the one who will rightly judge and repay. He was leaving justice in the hands of the supreme judge of all.
Lord, may I leave in your hands those things that are not mine to handle. Please give me the wisdom to know what that is. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
We are all one family – God’s.