Then they brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Behold, the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life; thus the LORD has given my lord the king vengeance this day on Saul and his descendants.” 2 Samuel 4:8, NASB
Rechab and Baanah must have been pretty shrewd political operators. They could see that David’s kingdom was on the rise and their master Ish-Bosheth’s was waning. They must have thought that taking Ish-Bosheth out for David would be a sure way to win his favor. It sounds like the kind of idea a modern-day political strategist or power-hungry wannabe dictator might come up with, right? These guys had what they thought was a perfect opportunity to catapult themselves to power and prominence. The only question was, would King David see things their way?
David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. “How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?” Then David commanded the young men, and they killed them… 2 Samuel 4:9-12
Not exactly the outcome they would’ve expected. This reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew 7: not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will be saved, but those who do the will of the Father. If you continue reading, you get the impression that the misguided people of whom Jesus speaks sincerely think they are doing something good in His name. Perhaps they were zealous for King Jesus’ favor because they were expecting temporal rewards, much like Rechab and Baanah.
David is one of the biggest types of Christ we find in the Old Testament, the only man that God calls a man after His own heart. So what does the way David ran his kingdom tell us about how Jesus runs His? David could’ve killed his mortal enemy twice, but he refused to lift his hand against Saul, saying to him, “May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you” (1 Samuel 24:12).
So, God says we shouldn’t take our own vengeance on others, and He will punish those who murder, even if they convince themselves that they did it in His name. I suspect that those who killed believers in centuries past and did not repent will also find themselves on the wrong side of the King.
Jesus, help us to trust our avenging to You, our goel.