"Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ishbosheth said to Abner, ‘Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?' Then Abner was very angry at the words of Ishbosheth and said, ‘Am I a dog's head (despicable and hostile) against Judah? This day I keep showing kindness and loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman!'"
II Samuel 3: 7-8, Amplified Bible
"A False Accusation"
"I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble."
Have I ever had anyone make false accusations against me?
How did it make me feel?
What were the consequences?
"No greater injury can be inflicted upon men (and women) than to wound their reputation."
"At every word a reputation dies."
In 1884, in a book called Wisdom, Wit and Pathos, a quote was penned by an unknown source which contained these words that hold a great deal of truth: "A cruel story runs on wheels, and every hand oils the wheels as they run."
During my short lifetime, I've rarely seen so many false stories spread with such avid fervor as in recent times. I believe the internet, where some purveyors of lies can keep their identity hidden, is partly at fault for this phenomenon.
It seems the time has arrived when truth is in too short supply. And little thought or concern is given in trashing another person's reputation. Too often venom is gleefully used by those who would rather convince others to believe a lie even when the facts are clear as day.
Our text today in II Samuel 3, reminds us that God's word is immensely applicable to our current day situations. Although the story we are studying happened thousands of years ago, the lessons we can learn from this experience are ones we can and should incorporate into our daily lives.
Now I don't know if you have ever read this story before. While I've read the Bible through, to be quite honest, I didn't remember this story at all. So here are the basic facts.
To set this incident in its proper context, we need to remember that David was once one of Saul's sons-in-law. This means that Ishbosheth, one of Saul's surviving sons was David's brother-in-law at one point in time. However, we also shouldn't forget that in order to save her neck, Michal, David's wife, told her father, King Saul, that David had threatened to kill her. In fact, as we found out, this may have been one of the reasons Saul was so unending in his pursuit of David.
Having grown up in a family where loyalty was replaced with treachery and gratitude was overlooked with arrogance, it isn't surprising that Saul's son, Ishbosheth, perceived David as nothing but a threat. However, you would think, he would at least have expressed some appreciation to Abner, for as the head of Saul's army, this one person had convinced several tribes of Israel to follow the leadership of Ishbosheth.
Yet we find that instead of repaying Abner's loyalty with gratitude, Ishbosheth decided to take to "reputation ruining" as a technique to slander Abner. He attempted this in a most evil way. He picked on a defenseless woman. If you will recall from the story we studied several months ago about the Levite's concubine, a woman called a "concubine" wasn't identified as a "cheap" woman. In fact, many Biblical scholars noted that concubines were what were called "second-class" wives. If you were poor and came from a family that didn't have adequate funds to provide a dowry, you would think yourself honored if someone, especially a king, came along and made you his "second-wife, his concubine. However, as King Saul's concubine, Rizpah belonged to Saul. She was his property -- the property of his family. Thus Abner had no right to "take" her.
So Ishboseth started a slanderous rumor against the loyal Abner and he did it at the price of demeaning a woman who was poor and defenseless. Ishboseth accused Abner of having sex with Rizpah.
If you think about this situation, it is often the powerful who prey on the poor and defenseless. It was this way in the Bible and things haven't changed much to this very day. Slanderous words can rip into another's reputation and if they are someone who cannot protect themselves, you'd better look out.
To Abner's credit, he decided not to stand idly by and be falsely accused of having sex with Rizpah. He defended his reputation and in doing so, defended Rizpah, as well.
How I wish that today all God's children would be protective voices for the voiceless. That never would we stand by and let false accusations tear another person apart.
In the 1800's, a Russian monk named Macarius of Optino was writing to someone who was trying to destroy the reputation of a woman. Here's what he penned in response to the slander: "Your chief accusations against her are touchiness, conceit, an absurdly exaggerated opinion of self. But surely, if these were not your own most prominent defects -- which they quite obviously are -- you would not be so greatly irritated by perceiving them in her. Beware your own failings."
Ironically, as I read our texts today and the accusations that Ishboseth made against Abner, I began to wonder what motivated this ruler to try and destroy a loyal friend. The truth for all of us is as it was for Ishboseth: "Beware your own failings!"
Tomorrow, we'll find out that betrayal can carry a high price -- as it did in the life of Ishboseth.
"Do not listen gleefully to gossip at your neighbor's expense or chatter to anyone who likes finding fault."
"O God, fountain of love, pour Thy love into our souls, that we may love those whom Thou lovest with the love Thou givest us and think and speak with the love Thou givest us, and think and speak of them tenderly, meekly, lovingly; and so loving our brothers and sisters for Thy sake, may grow in Thy love."
Edward B. Pusey
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus is available where Christian books are sold. They can also be purchased through Paypal at www.transformationgarden.com or by calling our office toll-free at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.