Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

“Errors of Judgment”

Categories: Congregational Bible Reading


The death of Abner marked a shift in the war between Israel and Judah. Ish-bosheth basically gave up and those who backed him shuffled to find a way out. During this time Baanah and Rechab hatched a plan to reposition themselves with David. They murdered Ish-bosheth in his sleep, and immediately made their way to the courts of David with expectation.

“…And they said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The LORD has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.” (2 Samuel 4.8)

Although this was a cleverly designed statement, it betrayed two serious errors of judgment.

First, these men assumed this is what David wanted. After all, eradicating the previous king’s line was common for a king seeking to establish his rule. But David didn’t want revenge, nor did he regard Ish-bosheth as an enemy. Since being anointed, David had consistently refused to seek the life of Saul or his family. It was David’s stated conviction that vengeance belong to the Lord (1 Samuel 24.12; 26.10-11), and on this occasion he reaffirmed that it was the Lord who had delivered him from all his enemies (2 Samuel 4.9).

Second, they presumed their actions were approved by God. They knew David was appointed by God and it seems they presumed that meant this opportunity was from God. We have seen this before: Abishai assumed it was God’s will for them to kill Saul when they came across him in the cave (1 Samuel 26.8), but David made no such presumption. In fact, David invoked God’s will as the reason for sparing Saul’s life (1 Samuel 26.11).

There are a couple things for us to consider here. First, assuming what others want is never good and tends only towards strife. It’s always better to know than to assume. Second, even if David wanted this, God certainly did not. Ish-bosheth was guilty of nothing as far as we know. There was no justice or loyalty in the actions of these men; only selfish ambition. The outcome of this episode reminds us that acting to please people instead of God will always fail us.

Finally, many today are tempted to identify situations as the will of God when it looks like a good opportunity for them. But this line of thinking has led to many foolish choices. I know too many who have abandoned their marriage because the opportunity presented, and they believed God led them there. What they fail to acknowledge is the explicit will of God condemning their actions. We must understand that opportunity does not equal approval. Unless God is explicit, we do not know his will. So, we must not be flippant or assume an opportunity represents God’s approval.

Because God is at work in all things, there are times he will use the wicked to advance his will. However, we must not mistake their “success” for approval. God will ultimately hold all accountable for their choices, according to his will.