Focal verses: 2 Sam. 4:5-8
5“So the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, departed and came to the house of Ish-bosheth in the heat of the day while he was taking his midday rest. 6They came to the middle of the house as if to get wheat, and they struck him in the belly; and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. 7Now when they came into the house, as he was lying on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him and killed him and beheaded him. And they took his head and traveled by way of the Arabah all night. 8Then 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 4:5-8 [NASB]
Rechab and Baanah were commanders of troops in Saul’s army, which Ish-bosheth inherited from his father, Saul. When Joab, the commander of David’s army, killed Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, in revenge for killing his brother, Rechab and Baanah took matters into their own hands. Before we go further in this study, I find it interesting that the Hebrew meanings of the names Rechab and Baanah. Rechab means “rider” and Baanah means “affliction.” They enacted their names when they killed Ish-bosheth.
Back to your story. Why would Rechab and Baanah decide to kill their king, Ish-bosheth? That is an interesting question. Immediately prior to the time of Ish-bosheth’s murder, Abner began encouraging the Israelites to give their allegiance to David. He did this out of spite when Ish-bosheth reprimanded him for lying down with one of Saul’s (his father) concubines. Abner did not like being called-out and reprimanded so he swore he would change allegiances and take Israel with him. Later in 2 Samuel 3, Joab killed Abner.
Back to our question: Why did these two men kill Ish-bosheth? Two possible answers come to mind. The first is they wanted to finish what Abner tried to do before his death. They wanted to make David king of all Israel. The means of it did not matter to them. For Rechab and Baanah, the ends justified the means. They did not ask David or God how to make David king of all Israel; they decided for themselves. By taking the head to David, they wanted recognition as loyal followers of David and consideration as men of worth.
The other possible answer to this question could be Rechab and Baanah were loyal to Abner in life and so wanted to be loyal to him in his death. They decided to finish what Abner began. Again, Rechab and Baanah did not consider how Abner wanted to make David king over Israel and Judah; they just acted upon their impulses. In this answer, they perhaps sought the approval and applause of their fellow Israelite army and civilians. Faithful even after death. Once again, they considered the ends justified the means.
Rechab and Baanah were not commanders of armies, but of troops. There is a reason they were not higher commanders and it probably hinges upon their wisdom and maturity about purposes, actions, wisdom, and maturity. When a goal reaches into the future, the best course of action is not necessarily the most expedient one. Rechab and Baanah were both a part of the nation of Israel God created. Their father and rabbis taught them about Yahweh. Each of these men knew to seek the Lord’s will before acting. Yet they are like people nowadays, too. They wanted to reach a goal and took whatever means they felt most necessary to bring about a quick result. They did not consult with God, a rabbi, another military leader, or an elder. Rechab and Baanah heard God anointed David. They wanted to follow the command of their leader who was murdered, but they wanted to do it the way they wanted and for the desired intent of their own good. They wanted recognition by the new king who ruled over them.
In life, we believe we know God’s plan and want to make it happen. We immediately begin to make plans to make God’s results happen. Then we wonder why we are experiencing difficulties. When we do this, we become like Rechab and Baanah. We get too concerned with reaching the goal and consider all costs necessary to get to the end. The goal becomes our focus and not God. Our commendation of “good servant” becomes more important than continuing to listen to God. Teachers and preachers expressed in the past, “God is more concerned with the journey than with the destination.” Our walk with Him here on earth is about becoming closer to God and becoming more like Him. It is not about getting to the goal, heaven. If that were the case, then we would all just kill ourselves now. God, though, created us for relationship with Him and He put us on this earth to begin and develop that relationship. He put us on earth to enjoy His creation, too. If the goal were merely to get to the end result and be with God in heaven, then He would not have created the universe and placed us on earth to live.
God anointed David to be king over all Israel over fifteen years before he actually began his reign. He had a plan, but it would happen in His time. Things needed to happen. David needed to grow and mature. Rechab and Baanah did not wait on nor ask God what He wanted them to do when Abner died. They aimed to accomplish the goal no matter how they had to do it. These commanders of troops killed the God-appointed king of Israel then. David, as God’s instrument, administered punishment to them for killing God’s appointed king for Israel.
God cherishes our lives. He created us to love us and have a relationship with us. This takes time to grow and know. All relationships take time to be built. Our lives are about the journey as well as the end. The journey is the time we need to know God and grow more like Him. The end is the place we will forever be with God in His heavens if we accept Him and His gift of salvation.
Those teachers and preachers were right. Life is about the journey. It is also about the destination – heaven. Do you work doggedly to get the job done and forget to ask God how He wants it done? Do you spend too much time working for God instead of getting to know Him His heart, and His plans? Maybe it is time for you and me to turn to God and consider His plans and timing. Maybe you have walked about from God in your process of doing His work.
Do not be like Rechab and Baanah. Seek God first when trying to help Him bring about His will. Seek God so you can know Him and be known by Him. Seek God so you can have life through the salvation He provided through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now is the time to turn around and seek God first (Matthew 6:33).