Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?” (2 Samuel 2:26)
As a quick reminder, Abner was the commander of King Saul’s army; Joab was the commander of David’s. One fateful day they encountered one another in a bloody battle north of Jerusalem. In the particular scene above, Abner had a strategic advantage; he could have inflicted sizable damage to Joab’s army. But instead he does a surprising, yet commendable thing – he calls for peace.
Under normal circumstances a cease-fire should have sounded good to Joab. But Abner had just killed his brother, so Joab very easily might have felt justified in continuing the pursuit – no matter what the cost.
Yet despite his anger, Joab stopped long enough to consider Abner’s words. Yes, he had just lost his brother, but if he continued to pursue Abner, how many additional fellow Israelites would die? Israel had been through so much together…they’d traveled into Egypt as a single, small family. They’d enjoyed some good years there before enduring decades of slavery. They’d seen God’s hand move as He miraculously brought them out of Egypt. But like in most groups, strife eventually entered. And before long, the people were at one another’s throats.
At some point, we all need a peacemaker – someone who will stand up and say, “Enough; we’re family. Can’t we stop hurting each other? Gotta stop hurting each other. Making each other cry; breaking each other’s heart. Tearing each other apart.” (Carpenters, Circa 1972 – sorry, I couldn’t help myself)!
Will you be that person? Will you be the one willing to set your rights down, seek the higher good, and call for peace? As you consider that role, let’s remember Jesus’ promise – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:19).
We don’t have time to look at it in depth today, but Joab responded well – he set aside his desire for revenge, listened to reason, and called his men off (v. 28).
Want to be called a son of God? Play the role of peacemaker when you can!
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