Great Expectations

April 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

In 2 Samuel, chapter three David is estranged from King Saul; more than estranged really, they’re warring against one another. David is the anointed king of all of Israel, but Saul is holding on to his claim on the title, unwilling to relinquish his crown despite the fact that the blessing of God is no longer upon him.

It’s in this politically charged climate that Abner—one of of Paul’s most trusted advisers—defects to David, bringing with him the sincere promise of uniting all of Israel under the new king. These two men who were once enemies are sudden allies and seem even to have developed a friendship.

As Abner departs David’s stronghold in Hebron, Joab—the leader of one of David’s raiding armies and a son of Zeruiah—catches wind of the fact that Abner and David have met and have reached some sort of an agreement. Joab cannot abide the king’s trust in Abner because this new ally was once an enemy, an enemy who had killed Joab’s brother in battle. He storms in to see David and warns him that Abner should not be trusted. David , who trusts Abner completely, dismisses Joab’s concerns.

Joab will not be dissuaded. He sends after Abner, and brings him back to Hebron. There, under the guise of friendship and collaboration, Joab pulls Abner aside and has him murdered.

When the news of this treachery reaches David he is stricken. He mourns and leads the nation in mourning over the traitorous death of this newfound ally, declaring in verse 39, “Today, 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.”

David is the king, he is God’s chosen one. God has elected him to be in charge of all of Israel, yet he can’t control his subjects. He admits his weakness as he ponders the reality that he has been given great responsibility but not great authority.

This is not an ideal leadership position.

No one wants the mantle of responsibility without the authority to carry it out. It’s all the work without the proper tools, all the leadership with none of the followers. But David is accustomed to the truth that the responsibility he carries is backed by great power and authority, only it isn’t his; it is the great power and authority of God.

I also feel as though I have been given great responsibility as a pastor and as a disciple of Christ, and I often feel overwhelmed by my lack of experience, and power, and authority. That feeling of being mired in quicksand up to my armpits is really God’s way of teaching me that the single greatest expectation he has of me is to have great expectations of him!

I may feel lonely, but I am not alone. I may feel overwhelmed, but I am not defeated. I may feel ill-equipped, but I am not powerless because the power on which I rely to accomplish the responsibilities God has given me is the responsibility of God.

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