Stay in the City of Refuge

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Today’s Passage – 2 Samuel 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 15 – 16Proverbs 8Psalms 36 – 40

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Psalm 25

Read the “0408 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib, that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.” – (2 Samuel 3:27)

These first few chapters of the Book of 2 Samuel make for some exciting reading, as well as for some valuable truth. In our verse above, we see the murder of Abner by Joab and Abishai his brother. To fully understand what is happening here, there is an underlying principle that we must learn, as well as some additional background information.

First let me give you the principle. The city where this killing took place was Hebron, which was known as a City of Refuge. You can read all about the cities of refuge in the Book of Numbers 35:9 – 34; and Joshua 20. In a nutshell, though, a city of refuge was a place where somebody could flee to for safety. You see, the law in Israel stated that if you killed somebody in wartime, or if you unintentionally killed somebody (not for cases of pre-meditated murder) that the family of the dead person could avenge the blood of their relative without any legal action being taken against them. If the person who committed the “manslaughter” could get inside the city of refuge, then he would be granted safety and refuge as long as he remained in the city; but if he was to leave the city at any time, he was fair game for the revengers of blood.

Now let’s look at the background to this story. Chapter two tells us that Joab and Abishai had a brother named Asahel that was killed by Abner during a previous battle. Naturally, Joab and Abishai had never forgotten what Abner did to their brother, and even though the act was committed during a time of war, they wanted Abner to pay for their brother’s death. The problem was, however, that they had to get him outside the gate of the city. Notice our text tells us that Joab pulls him aside, in the gate, to speak with him quietly (privately).  But why would Abner willingly leave the protection of the city in order to speak with a man that wanted him dead? Because Joab had deceived him into thinking that he meant no harm. As soon as he gets him outside, however, he kills him.

Now let’s make application. The city of refuge is a picture of the will of God; and Joab is a picture of the devil. The devil cannot touch us directly as long as we are inside the walls of the will of God, so what he does is try to lure us out of the city so that he can kill our ministry for the Lord. The moral to the story is: stay inside the city. Don’t stray from God’s perfect will for your life. Don’t let Satan convince you that life will be better outside of the walls of the city. Stay in the Word of God; stay in the prayer closet; stay in church; stay out soul winning; stay separated. Stay in the City!


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