Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2

OT: 2 Sam. 19:11-20:13

Yeah...about Joab.

I may have mentioned earlier (when Joab killed Abner) that I remembered eventually coming to like Joab. I think I might need to revisit that statement, especially since he carries on his stomach-stabbing tradition in today's reading. The victim today is Amasa, whom David has appointed to take Joab's place as commander of the troops. Apparently, David does this to curry favor with Judah in order to regain his kingship. I'm thinking that a secondary motivation for Joab's demotion is David's bitterness over Joab's murder of Absalom. That's just my speculation.

Anyhow, Joab doesn't say much about it, one way or the other. He simply bides his time until he gets the opportunity to murder Amasa in the middle of a hug. Nice. His last words to his victim? "How are you, my brother?" Wow.

So that all brings me to the question, "Why did I like this guy?" Clearly, Joab is in many ways the opposite of a Jesus-following Christian. He is decidedly ambitious, outrageously self-serving, and stunningly ruthless. Whatever loyalty he has toward David is easily set aside when David's orders contradict his own passions and ambitions. Plus, he truly is a cold-blooded killer.

I think, though, what impresses me about him is his sheer effectiveness. Joab is good at what he does, very good. He is a survivor, he is a man of action, and he is bold and decisive. Joab gets things done. And when I contrast that with David's weeping and waffling, there is just something impressive about Joab.

But really, he is bad. Bad, bad, bad. I guess he is just...really good at being bad. He's good at what he does.

NT: John 21:1-25

Like yesterday's passage, today's reading had a really cool moment of recognition, when John, Peter, and co., realize that they are speaking with Jesus. I love that motif of people interacting with Christ without realizing what they are doing. It reminds me of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who have a whole conversation with Jesus while being completely unaware of His presence. I definitely think that happens today, though not necessarily literally. There have been many times in my life where only after the fact did I realize that God had been with me and had been working in my life the whole time.

Here are some observations I have heard about this passage:

--When Peter announces, "I am going to fish," it is a sign of how directionless and confused the disciples are. I've heard Peter's pronouncement interpreted as coming from confusion and perhaps frustration and discouragement. It is hard to buy that interpretation in its entirety, as Peter and the disciples have seen Jesus, so it is not like they are hopeless. I can see that they would be confused about what to do next, and so how, as a default, they would revert back to their old lifestyle. After all, when I am confused about which direction to go, I tend to revert back to what I know. I guess that tendency can be dangerous and can lead to complacency and backsliding, but I do think it is natural to revert to our default settings.

--Of course, John has to note that he recognized Jesus first, just like he has to point out that he outran Peter. Such rivals. At least he didn't feel compelled to note whether the boat beat the swimming Peter back to shore. In fact, since he didn't let us know, we can probably surmise that Peter arrived first, though I'm sure that it was cumbersome to swim with his outer garment wrapped around him. That whole picture was a bit amusing to me.

--In his three commands to Peter, Jesus once again directly links love for Him to service to others. Clearly, there is no getting around that in Scripture.

--If this whole passage was added later, perhaps one of the purposes was to explain John's upcoming death. As time passed and Jesus didn't return, perhaps John felt the need to dispel the rumor of his living until Christ came back.

Psalm 120:1-7

We are done with Psalm 119!

This psalm is kind of random, but the overall theme is that the psalmist wants God to rescue him and to punish the liars around him. To me, the most striking verse was verse 6: "Too long have I lived among those who hate peace." It is always good to see Biblical figures crave peace, especially since they all seem to love war in 2 Samuel.

Proverbs 16:16-17

Some typical, yet good, proverbs extolling the pursuit of wisdom and the avoidance of evil.


  1. After reading this and then reading your response to it...I read the scriptures again! My original impression of this reading was and is that David was so ready for peace. He was forgiving to those who appeared to be repentant and offered peace. In the midst of good, however, there seems to be always someone wanting to stir things up and he usually influences many around him. That was so sad to me. I did not want the men of Israel to side up with that troublemaker, but they did and then they faced the consequences. I didn't particularly think that Joab's actions were inappropriate given the circumstances, just most unfortunate! But maybe his motivations were as you said - he was a man of action though.

    John: You have clearly pointed out the rivalry between John and Peter which in all my life I would have never noticed. It is so interesting and such a display of human nature. It sort of surprises me that Jesus permitted it, too. So odd.

    Proverbs: That was enjoyable reading to me and served as a reminder to pursue the things that really matter in this life.

  2. Mom--I agree that the whole incident was tragic. My understanding about Joab's actions was that he stabbed someone on the same side as he was, who also happened to be his replacement. To me, that is just NOT what David would have wanted.

    As for John and Peter's rivalry, it just shows me again that God uses imperfect people. I don't think that John and Peter were at each other's throats or anything; I just think that as humans, they had a hard time fully conquering their petty jealousies. And at the time, they did not have the Spirit. Even with the Spirit, I know that I have not conquered all my pettiness, as much as I would love to do so. So, to me, Peter and John's little rivalry just makes them more human.

    Thanks for weighing in. I love to have people with whom to talk about the Bible:). Love you!