2 Samuel 4

Fitting the Crime

For thousands of years Middle-Eastern society has had a very clear sense of justice or retribution for crimes. I think it was first codified in about 1790 B.C in the code of Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king. Many of Hammurabi’s 282 laws dealt with swift justice and having the punishment either in relation to the crime or immediate death. 

In reading about Recab and Baanah, the murderers of Isbosheth, I noticed David’s punishment of them. 

Now what reward should I give the wicked men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Should I not also demand your very lives?” So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. – 2 Samuel 4:11-12 

But somehow this account seemed lacking to me. What was the reference to cutting off their hands and feet? So I did some digging and found that Flavius Josephus wrote about it in his Antiquities of the Jews in book 7. Upon being told of their action David said… 

 …you have slain a righteous man upon his bed, who never did evil to any body, and treated you with great good-will and respect? Wherefore you shall suffer the punishment due on his account, and the vengeance I ought to inflict upon you for killing Ishbosheth, and for supposing that I should take his death kindly at your hands; for you could not lay a greater blot on my honor, than by making such a supposal.” When David had said this, he tormented them with all sorts of torments, and then put them to death… 

David didn’t simply order his men to kill them, and then cut off their body parts. He first had them tortured for their crimes, then he had them executed and publicly displayed as a warning to others. He made their punishment fit the crime. 

Man am I glad that Jesus came to take my punishment. I could never have paid for my crimes against God and his righteousness. There aren’t enough body parts on me to cut off. 

Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus. May I never take it for granted. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

May my praise fit the mercy. Jan

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