Day 101: Finding your focus (2 Sam. 19-20)

Posted: July 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath. Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bicri. 2 Sam. 20:8-10

I love to play around with cameras. I can’t really afford a really expensive one, like a Canon Rebel T1 (maybe someday!), but even with my little point and shoot model, we can do some pretty some neat stuff nowadays. Just the other day, Sarah and I went outside at night with a moon that was truly spectacular. A superb, clear night, perfect conditions, some clouds here and there. It was so bright and clear, we just had to take some photos. We played around with the shutter speed, exposure, etc., and we had a lot of shots that were blurry, out of focus, just all around disappointing. Then we found just the right exposure that let just the right amount of light in, and it was great. We got some very pretty shots of the moon, and even some shots of our silhouettes as the moon shone behind us. It took some playing around, but eventually, with the right focus and the right conditions, we got it right.

Thinking about today’s scripture, I see a man in Joab who lived his entire life out of focus. Here is a man that should be side by side with David living according to God’s plan, leader of Israel’s army – but he is quite the opposite. From the beginning, he is a man that is only out to please himself. He was the man that carried out David’s scheme to kill Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, after David committed adultery with her. He avenged his brother’s (Asahel) death by killing Abner. He killed David’s son, Absalom, against David’s orders. And in the above passage, he violently murdered Amasa after David had vowed to make him commander over Israel’s army instead of Joab. What a violent, selfish and blackened heart!

According to my notes, I’m told Joab’s fate is revealed in the beginning of 1 Kings, but I have to believe that God has justice in mind for Joab’s sinful life. Like an out-of-focus picture, Joab’s heart was set in his own selfish ways, out of focus, and never toward God, in fact, there is little evidence that Joab even acknowledged God’s standards in his life, and eventually, his self-centeredness destroyed him.

It’s an interesting lesson to glean from Joab’s life, that a life without a direction ultimately leads to destruction. Only with God’s guidance can we find the direction we need, the correct focus, to let that clear picture come into view. Only with God will we get that guidance. For Joab, his life was a blurry, violent mess. With the LORD, we have a clear field of vision!

In Joab’s life, nothing mattered but himself. How often do we have that attitude today? Even in the little things, I often find myself thinking, “What’s in this for me?” What I should be asking is, “What is in this for God’s kingdom?” and “What is in this for others?” I often forget that I need God in everything that I do, taking up the burden of my life in my own hands, and many times, failing, self-destructing.

I hope that none of us can closely relate to Joab’s self-destructive pattern of murder and rage and self-indulgent sins, but we can avoid his fate by admitting that we need God’s direction in our lives. Your life is a clear picture waiting to happen, and God is the lens. Accept God’s direction today, and bring your life into focus.

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