Whose Orders Do We Follow?

There is a soldier under the command of David who has gone out seeking to fight back against the opposing forces under Absalom. As he leaves he hears David mention that Absalom is to be protected. So when this soldier finds Absalom trapped and vulnerable to attack, he passes over him. When he gets back to his superior, Joab, and has an exchange that goes like this:

2 Samuel 18

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ 13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”

This soldier stands between two commands from two commanders. Even though he must have felt pressure to kill the enemy of David, he was more compelled to be obedient to him. He stands up to Joab, disregards his offers of money, and even draws to his attention the fact that David gave his command to protect Absalom in the presence of Joab.

At times we may stand between two opposing commands, but we should follow the lead of this unnamed man. Even in his dangerous position, he heeds the higher calling. We should recognize that the orders of our higher commander, of our Lord, should be what we obey over and sometimes against all other authorities.

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