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, bit of a different sort of blog today. Play time is over. Today I am going to be looking at sports actually. At the outset, I’ve played many sports in my life, and a big part of my life is also watching sport. From football to cricket to tennis, I’ve played it and watched it. But in this story in 2 Samuel we are going to see some truths about “play time”. It is a must to keep sports where they belong in our lives. It’s a must to see where sports fit in the Bible, and to get God’s wisdom on it all. It’s good to see the bigger picture of things. In this story David’s army (led by a man called Joab) met with the opposing army of the late Saul (led by Abner). They were on the opposite side of a pool, and the two leaders said, hey let’s make a game here. They pitted their young men in their ranks against each other, while everyone else watched on for some entertainment. It’s a pretty nonsensical story, because they all just killed each other simultaneously and it started a real battle. But in it, we can learn an absolute ton!
In this story we see a lot of young men whose lives were completely wasted. Sport can be a complete waste of your life. Sport is an absolute pit for young men, they get so involved in it, obsessed with it, their whole life and thinking revolves around it. Their life is nothing without sport. They don’t even think they amount to anything without it. That’s just the fact, and they put all their youth into it. The Bible says to remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth… the Bible tells us to not despise our youth. Despising your youth is spending your youth on yourself, spending it on absolutely nothing of eternal value. Esau despised his birthright remember, selling something of eternal value for a bowl of food. Your youth are the best years you’ve got, and you spend it “playing”. I know because I have as well. While sports are good and healthy and there are a lot worse things young men could be doing, they need to have their place. However, devoting yourself to playing games, we can make an idol of sports, and that’s where sports doesn’t belong in our lives… remember the idolatry that they committed with the golden calf when the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:7 – Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. It was play time at the bottom of the mount. Is sport your golden calf… causing you to stumble greatly in your life and walk with God? Not up on the mount with God, but playing around at base camp.
Next in this story we see that it was not a real battle, it was play. Sports are play fights. It’s not real warfare. It’s something created by men and managed by organizations and sporting bodies for amusement and entertainment. It’s about money. It’s a creation of man. With sports, young men spend their whole lives training… to play. All their strength is spent on chasing or throwing or kicking or catching a ball. As big and as mighty and as famous as they are… all they are are “players”. They never fight a real battle in their life. Sport is made up thing, just like Joab and Abner made it up. A made up spectacle. So you’ve got your fitness, your intelligence, your discipline, your skill… and it’s all focused into an ultimately meaningless pursuit… into “playing”. Imagine your whole life being built on play. All the best of you is actually devoted to nothing really. Playing is not the real thing, when you go and watch a play, you’re watching actors act, it’s pretend. We’re playing games when the stakes are so high.
What about Joab and Abner? They were the two big dogs behind this event. They didn’t care about spending the young mens lives. In sports you are just wasting your life in the service of some stupid master who doesn’t really care for you at all. You’re cannon fodder. You’re only as valued as you are useful to them and their cause (money). As soon as sports people get old, or their talent and ability fades, they are replaced. Their lives really mean nothing. The masters of sports people today care not for the lives and souls of the young men, but for the entertainment and amusement, the spectacle they can provide… and ultimately money that they can make out of them. That’s just true. This world will use you up and spit you out the other end.
You know what, it’s amazing how up to date the Bible is. In this fight, everyone was a loser. In sport, everyone is actually a loser. Because you’ve all wasted your life for nothing. There’s nothing to show for it. A name for yourself? A name quickly forgotten? And what does a name even mean? You’re good at sport… who really cares? In sport, noone is ever the best, there’s always someone better. As soon as you win, you don’t even enjoy it, you can’t remain in the moment because the moment is gone… and you’re pushing on to the next thing. It’s like Solomon in Ecclesiastes bemoaning the futile circle of life under the sun. You’re always chasing something you never catch. And even if you do well, you’re doing well at something a person made up and defines. So who ultimately cares? You win some plaudits from man, what does that do for you when you’re alone in a hospital bed with cancer? Is being good at playing that much comfort to you beyond the momentary yeah man?
In this story play time came about because these guys were sitting down doing nothing. The thing is… people don’t have something better to do. They don’t have a better cause in life. Without God you don’t have any true purpose in life. So you gotta make one up or you buy into one made up for you. One designed to consume you so that you won’t have time to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, so you won’t consider things you must consider before you die. But this world is built on lust and pride. Isn’t this what the play time was about? I’m the biggest and the best and the strongest and the greatest. That’s why the young men were being pitted against each other. All about “I’m the best”. Why don’t you find a better cause to give your heart to than sport? This world has nothing substantial to offer. It’s ultimately purposeless and aimless, and people just live for the eat and drink now for tomorrow we die. It’s just I live for my own pleasure, my own entertainment. My purpose in life is to have pleasure and to be entertained and amused. You know, your life has so much more purpose than sport. It has so much more potential. You settle for so far less than what God has for you. You were created for his pleasure, for a relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ… but your life is just all about you. And in our own selfish pursuits you really just end up cheating yourself.
It’s interesting how both sides were involved in play time. Isn’t that the picture? Christians and the world are playing today. Christians get as tangled up in things they shouldn’t just like the world does. Christians should be smarter, but aren’t. These soldiers were David’s men… but a man called Joab caused them to die. Better watch who you are taking your cues from in life… just maybe that person will be the death of you. Christians today get lost in sports and all sorts of things, and end up wasting out, just like those great men of war who wasted out in the wilderness when they could’ve been fighting battles in the promised land.
Look, it’s not about sports are evil. It’s great to play sport, have fun, be fit… it’s good for us. But when it’s an idol it’s not. When it’s your golden calf, when it’s your high place… it’s not good for you. Anything that comes before and exalts itself above God isn’t. You can eliminate sport from your life and have a thousand other vices. What have you given your heart to? Young men today are consumed by sports, it’s just one giant system devouring young men. It all works in much the same way this little game time happened in this story here. The futility, the waste, the wrong cause… wouldn’t you rather die for an actual cause rather than just playing around? Playing sports isn’t going to ultimately mean anything really. And you can be so great at sports, yet so poor toward God, toward things that really matter.
This play time resulted in a full blown battle and many lives were lost. Sports isn’t the solution to your life, the Lord Jesus Christ is. That’s where your affection should be, that’s who your cause should be, that’s where your purpose and identity should be found. God doesn’t want you playing while the stakes are so high. Look how high the stakes really were, lives were lost… eternal souls. Playing games. Just like those soldiers playing games with their dice at the foot of the cross. Why are you rolling the dice on your soul? Are sports worth going to hell over? Surely the life of play time is over. These were soldiers in David’s army… playing games. When you should be a soldier, maybe you’re instead a player. And maybe it’s not sports, maybe you’re playing being a Christian? You’re pretend, you’re an actor. Stop being a player who’s playing games. Don’t waste your life, get in God’s word, believe the gospel, and find your identity and purpose abiding in Christ.
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)