From the Patriarchal Era comes a promise that won"t begin its fulfillment for almost a thousand years. Jacob blesses his son Judah on his deathbed, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (Genesis 49:10).
Following the "Judah" thread throughout the metanarrative captures a truth about God's sovereignty―a promise made by God is a promise fulfilled by God. Toward the end of 350-400 years of the Judges Era, full of idolatry, lawlessness, and oppression, Ruth has a son, Obed, by Boaz, the nearest kinsmen to the man of Judah, Elimelech. Obed has Jesse, and Jesse has David. Samuel anoints David, the teenage son of Jesse, as Israel's second king. After the Philistines kill King Saul, the men of Judah crown David as their king. Seven years later all of Israel submits to his reign. During that seven years, righteousness shines brightly in Judah's descendant.
Saul's son, Ishbosheth, succeeds him as king of Israel. Unbeknownst to David, two of Ishbosheth's men, Rechab and Baanah, enter Ishbosheth's house and assassinate him. They bring his head to David as a trophy. David's reaction stuns them!
The kingdom is God's to give, not man's to seize. Therefore, David rebukes Rechab and Baanah, "As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all adversity, when someone told me, saying, 'Look, Saul is dead," thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag—the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?" (2 Sam. 4:9-11). Their death celebrates their wicked deed.
History is shaped both by the promises of God and the foolishness of man. Ultimately, however, God's purposes stand, and He fulfills His promises―from one generation to the next. The sovereignty of God and the activity of man run concurrently throughout the Bible's story. Although man's activity is woven into the fabric of the biblical metanarrative, God's sovereignty and promises ultimately determine the flow of God's story.
What do David's responses to Abner's and Ishbosheth's deaths teach Israel?
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