2 Samuel 2:12 – And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.
2 Samuel 2:13 – And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.
2 Samuel 2:14 – And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise.
2 Samuel 2:15 – Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.
2 Samuel 2:16 – And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.
2 Samuel 2:17 – And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.
Hello readers, thank you for reading my blogs, I hope they point you to the Lord Jesus Christ and build your faith in the word of God! Back with a new blog today, and dealing with a strange incident in the Bible. I have titled my blog “Don’t play by the pool” and in this blog we will see that there is a big danger to not only unsaved, but also saved people in playing around with religion, in playing around with both your own soul and the souls of others, in playing around with God and God’s word. Playing around, and not getting real with the serious issues of life. The story is based in the time of transition of the kingdom from king Saul to king David. David was God’s anointed king, but Abner had other ideas. Abner was a very important man in Saul’s army, and he rejected David as king, so he took matters into his own hands and installed one of Saul’s remaining sons, Ishbosheth, as king over Israel. Most of Israel fell into line behind Ishbosheth and Abner, and chose to remain under Saul’s son, Saul being dead. Just the tribe of Judah followed David, and the rest of Israel followed Ishbosheth. Abner was the leader of Ishbosheths army, and Joab, David’s nephew was leader of David’s army. Abner and Joab went out with their armies and met together by the pool of Gibeon. Then they did a strange thing. They all sat down opposite each other by the pool, and Abner proposed to Joab that the young men play before them, to provide a bit of fun, entertainment, amusement. This thing was deadly serious, but to Abner it was a bit of a joke. What followed was remarkable, strange, and sad, as twelve young men from Abner’s army and twelve young men from Joab’s army went and all died together with all them thrusting each other through with their swords.After this a very sore battle followed, and Abner was beaten in the battle. So how is all this applicable and relevant to us today?
The pool of Gibeon represents the word of God. The word “Gibeon” itself means “Hill town” or “high hill”. And God’s word is a high hill, God’s word takes us to the heights of heaven, into fellowship and the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, God. It’s God’s word that takes dirty old sinners like us to heaven, to forgiveness, to light, to life. Jesus is the high hill, we are the sinners he has saved from the pit and mire of our sin and unworthiness. Throughout the Bible water is a consistent picture of the word of God, God’s word cleanses us, washes us, sustains us, is life giving. Think about water just in practical life. It is the most essential thing to our physical existence, without water humanity would be doomed. Water is precious, water is irreplaceable, there is no substitute for water, water hydrates, revives, without water we are parched, cracked, dry, dead. There is no wonder in John, Jesus spoke of the water of life which he gives, which in a believer is a well of water springing up into everlasting life, water that we will not thirst again after taking of. The servants of both Abner and Joab met by the pool, sat down, and then decided to play. Playing by the pool, playing by the word of God is dangerous. We all can sit down by the pool, but never get in the pool. Like the man at the sheep market in John 5, who lay by the pool of Bethesda year after year on end, but never got healed, never stepped in. We can play around with religion, around religion. People can assent to living good moral lives, they can be “good” people, they can be upstanding people of society, they can be churchgoers, they can be respectful, kind, thoughtful… and still go to hell. Because they were just BY the pool. Don’t play around by the pool of God’s word. Salvation, forgiveness, repentance, hell, sin, judgement are important and eternal topics, don’t play around with them.
The pool separated these two armies. All these servants of both kings were by the pool. Everyone can get saved, we all are without excuse. God has revealed himself to every man that has ever lived, but most are content just to sit by the pool. Being by the pool doesn’t saved you. You can have a Bible, you can know the truth, and still go to hell. It’s what you do with the truth, you have responsibility, you are accountable for what you do with the truth. It is not enough just to call Jesus a good man, or to know of Jesus, Jesus said you must be born again. As the pool separated the armies, so the word of God separates saved from unsaved. The word of God is a sword, it divides. It divides between families, it divides between nations, it pierces to the core of our very being dividing asunder between soul and spirit, it discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart. But Abner was not taking it all very seriously. He said to Joab, let the men play before us. He wanted some entertainment, amusement, he was being trivial with serious matters, he was toying with the lives of his men. Souls hanging in the balance, and yet Christianity is playing around by the pool. Playing with each other, rather than getting serious with God. Distracted by petty arguing amongst themselves, distracted by non issues, being tossed and turned by new doctrines, new words, new teachers, sleeping Christians who are useless. Jesus said if the salt had lost his savor, it was good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot. Good for nothing Christians, unprofitable Christians, and in many cases Christians in name only, but with no internal reality of new birth. Unsaved, unregenerate, unrepentant. “Playing” Christians “playing” church “playing” truth. It’s all a game, its a play. Playing is not the real thing. Playing is infantile, playing is childish, playing is not the mark of a true and growing and maturing believer.
What was Joab doing? Joab cost David’s young men their lives. Soldier’s lives wasted. All their training, ability, fitness wasted. Futility, pointlessness, they paid the price for playing by the pool. Joab and Abner were selfish, self centered leaders both of them, Joab had no respect for David, and he paid no mind to the God of David. Joab was a mighty man, but Joab went to hell. David’s servants were following a man who was not saved himself. And how often in Christendom, the sheep, or those claiming to be the sheep of Jesus, are following a false shepherd, a false preacher, a false prophet… maybe very mighty in the world’s estimation, or in human estimation, even in Christendom’s estimation. Satan can appear as an angel of light, Satan’s ministers appear as ministers of righteousness, there are people that are so cunning, subtle, deceptive that if possible, they would deceive even the very elect. Joab was a man of war, a successful man, but he was unsaved. Joab cost twelve young men their lives. We can follow great scholars, great orators, seeming giants of the faith, who are nothing but sellouts, they are hirelings, they are for sale, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, they are not who they appear or claim to be. Measure these people against God’s word, do they reject God’s word, have they forsaken God’s word, do their words and deeds line up against the plumbline of God’s word?
It was a time of battle, but instead these armies were sitting down. This is what happens when you are sitting down, not living for God, not growing in the faith. You start listening to the enemy as Joab did, you start falling for the traps of the enemy, you start doing things the devil’s way. People like to debate, dispute, contend, justify, and this is what happens when a wise man debates with a foolish man. This is what happens when you cast your pearls before swine, as Jesus said not to do. In 2 Kings, wicked king Ahaziah said to Elijah, come down. Come down from the top of that hill. When you are in Christ and in fellowship with him, abiding in his word, you are on the hilltop… but Satan wants to bring you down from that hill, down to his level, to bring you down. Please note, being on the hilltop isn’t our doing, it isn’t us being all self righteous, it is God that takes us there, it is God who is the hilltop, we have no worthiness in and of ourselves, we have nothing to glory in, our boast our glory is in Christ. His cross, his blood. Evil men want good men to come down to their level. And in this story they did. What happened was just like when wicked king Ahab got good king Jehoshaphat into big trouble by enticing him to go to war against Syria with him. Jehoshaphat was saved by the grace of God, he would’ve got killed because of Ahab otherwise. He listened to the wrong guy, he took the wrong council, he heard the word of the Lord from Micaiah, the only faithful true prophet in Israel, even though there were over 400 prophets telling them to go into battle, lying about the prosperity of such a battle to the king’s face! He went with consensus, he was tricked into going into a battle that Ahab was destined to lose, in which Ahab was destined to be killed. Jehosophat was in the wrong battle, are you in the wrong battle? Are you playing on the enemy’s home ground, are you dancing to the tune of your enemy, are you marching to the beat of the devil?
Wasted young men following bad leaders, playing by the pool. They all died together. The sat on opposite sides of the pool. Christians can sit on oppositie sides of the pool today. One pulls to this doctrine, one pulls to that doctrine, and in the end God’s word is cast aside. Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. The only thing that matters is what the word of God says. We have an uncountable amount of denominations, cults, religions today, all sitting down by the pool. They all may have some traces of truth, but they are all just BY the pool, they are not the pool itself. They may be CLOSE to the truth, but they are still not the truth. They may appear to be the real deal, but they are just another of Satan’s counterfeits, just another of Pharaoh’s magicians powerless snakes. God’s word, God’s truth, God’s way is unfakeable. But do you want truth? God’s word is one, it is above, it is the light that is eternally separate and distinct from the darkness. It is the true and certain light, not a treacherous false light, not a mixture of light and darkness, but a pure light. Jesus is the Light of the world. There are traps, there a pitfalls everywhere. God’s word is the light in the darkness, God’s word is what orders our steps, God’s word is the SURE word. Playing around by God’s word is not enough. It will get you in the end. The young men from both sides were wasted, it will waste you. Make sure you are saved yourself. Don’t be wasted. If you are unsaved your life will be a waste. If you are not truly born again your life will be a waste. If you play around with truth, but never take hold on truth you will be a waste. You can set your tent by the truth, but it is not enough. You must lay hold on eternal life, you must take the cup of salvation. Playing is dangerous, do it for real guys. Don’t play around the pool anymore.