Summary: One of the most overlooked texts in all of Scripture... but also one of the most reassuring. What can we gain from David’s observation that he was "weak?"
OPEN: Rodgers and Hammerstein were amongst the greatest playwrights of our age. Plays like “Oklahoma” “The Sound of Music” “The King & I” are permanent part of the American heritage.
So when I was invited by a non-Christian friend of our family to attend a play written by Richard Rodgers entitled “Two By Two”, I thought it would be great experience. It was a religious play. It might even prove to be a great opportunity to talk with our friend about Christ. But it wasn’t.
The play I saw contained great acting, great singing, it was well cast and humorous. BUT... Shem’s wife’s main line was “Oh my (and then the name of God taken in vain)” at least 7 times. As the play wore on I wanted to get up and shout “give it a rest lady!”
But that wasn’t the worst...
Japheth was shown as unmarried and attracted to Ham’s neglected wife. To help Japheth in his search for a bride, this play’s Noah brought a temple prostitute on board to be Japheth’s bride. But Ham fell in love with the prostitute instead. The play ended with Japheth married to Ham’s bride and Ham to Japheth’s.
Oddly, in a comedic play, Noah’s wife died on the voyage (principally due to the strain of defending Ham and Japheth’s arrangement) and Noah, in the parting scene, “makes a deal” with God. He refused to leave the Ark until God promised never to flood the world again and saying “I don’t fear you anymore - you took away the only woman I ever loved.”
I was angry beyond imagination. I wanted to mount the stage and cry out against this blasphemy, or at the very least stomp out of the theatre declaring my rage...
But I didn’t… I just sat there. I remained where I was frozen in indecision. I COULD HAVE stormed the stage… I could have erupted in outrage as I walked out… But I realized it would have done no good at all. I was seated next to a man I wanted to reach for Christ and I suspected what effect such actions would have had on him.
AND if I had acted upon my rage I would probably have played into Richard Rodgers’ warped rational. I believe Rodger’s deliberately wrote the play to enrage Christians and to instigate a display of anger that would make such believers look puritanical and unreasonable.
So I just sat there cradling my head in my hands... reduced to uttering “No, no, this is wrong”
I was weak… and I couldn’t think of anything to do to effect the outcome of that evening.
I. David was weak
After King Saul died, David was crowned king of the tribe of Judah. The other tribes of Israel were under the kingship of Ish-Bosheth, the 4th son of Saul. A constant state of war existed between the two factions in the kingdom for the next 6 or 7 years. Eventually, Ish-Bosheth’s general Abner became offended by his king and reached out to David. He wanted to cut a deal – to make David king of ALL Israel.
But then, Joab (David’s nephew and the commander in chief of David’s armies) heard about Abner’s visit to David and he became angry.
You see, Abner had killed Joab’s brother in a battle not long before this. To JOAB this had become a blood feud and as far as Joab was concerned, Abner didn’t deserve praise from David…Abner deserved death. And Joab was more than willing to oblige.
So Joab sent messengers to Abner under the pretext of further negotiations. And in the dark corners of the gateway to Hebron, Joab drove his dagger into Abner’s body and murdered him.
When David heard of this he was outraged
“I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father’s house! May Joab’s house never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.” II Samuel 3:28-29
Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.” King David himself walked behind the bier. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept also. II Samuel 3:31-32
All that day, David fasted before the Lord
And then he declared: “though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!” II Samuel 3:39
II. David was weak???
Joab and his brother Abishai were “TOO STRONG” for him to deal with? What does he mean by that? Wasn’t David king of Judah? Didn’t he have all the troops of Judah at his beck and call?