Abner is getting a lot of attention from King David. But is he the hero of this story? It certainly can’t be Joab, the one who killed Abner. In fact, Joab is having to mourn the loss of a man he caused to die. How odd that must be! David is setting a good example as king.
David needed a strong public response to the killing of this Israelite warrior. He did this to establish his innocence and pay tribute. David couldn’t afford to lose credibility with other leaders of the north. He summons the whole “government” to mourn, including Joab. What humiliation!
I suppose you might see David as the hero because he did the right thing. He didn’t cover up the murder. He paid his respects in a very visible way. Abner may have had victories in his life as a leader in Saul’s army, but in his death he was treated more like the victim of some thugs. David shines as a caring king, not one who is cynical and power hungry.
If David was attempting to appease the people, it worked. “This pleased the people very much. In fact, everything the king did pleased them.” David’s popularity didn’t take too big of a hit by Joab’s attempt to rid the kingdom of a potential threat. David even acknowledges that Joab and his brother are a bit like loose cannons that are not easily controlled.
David calls on God’s help to deal with them rather than reprimanding them himself. “So may the Lord repay these evil men for their evil deeds.” That must have been hard for David, too, because Joab and his brothers had been loyal to him. They were good warriors, and their intentions were meant for good. When there is bloodshed, however, you should ask, how good is it really?
David didn’t want to be a hero. He wanted Abner to be noticed and remembered. “Don’t you realize that a great commander has fallen today in Israel?” You have to wonder had Abner lived, would there have been a power struggle? Would David’s right hand man, Joab, been able to “play nicely” with Abner if Abner had taken an important role in David’s court?
Being a hero can be a goal we desire to become or a label given to us for some great feat that we have accomplished. Sometimes we’re deemed a hero even when we don’t feel very brave or successful. In someone’s eyes, you are a hero. You may know who those folks are (like your children or grandchildren) or they could be quietly admiring you from afar.
From the other perspective, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of “hero worship.” People are simply people. There are no superheroes like the movie industry would want us to believe. Athletes, actors, and other “famous” people get our attention because of how they “impress” us. But are they really heroes?
How do you define the word “hero”? Your answer may surprise you! My mind went immediately to the “heroes of faith,” like Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Peter, Paul, etc. But they were just men. Possibly even men with issues, shortcomings, lusts, etc. But they had faith. We can have heroic faith, too. Take some time today to figure out what having heroic faith means to you.
Let’s pray …
Lord, I am feeling so thankful for the heroes of faith I see in Your word and also in the world around me. I am forever grateful for the lessons they have taught me through their own trial and error. I pray that you will use me to be somebody’s hero of faith. I stand in awe of you, God, and you are my true hero! I love you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.