OT: 2 Sam. 19:11-20:13
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.
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.
Some typical, yet good, proverbs extolling the pursuit of wisdom and the avoidance of evil.