Ish-bosheth’s Weak Leadership

In 2 Samuel 3, we have the story of Abner, Saul’s cousin and general of the Army of the northern tribes, turning against Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son and King of the Northern tribes, and bringing the tribes over to David to unite all of Israel under David’s kingship.

At one point, Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of sleeping with Rizpah, one of Saul’s concubines. Only a king – or a person who would have wanted to be king – would have done such a thing. This action would have been considered a usurpation of authority and power. We are not told if Abner actually did this, but we are told that he became so angry that Ish-bosheth became afraid of Abner and “did not dare to say another word” to him.

In most cultures of the day, had the king suspected his general of usurping his authority and power, he would have had the general killed without a second thought. His decision would have been swift and decisive. But Ish-bosheth was not like most kings. He was weak. And it cost him his kingdom.

Abner had an authority that was beyond his position as General of the Army. He was forced to fill in the leadership void created by Ish-bosheth’s weak leadership. Beyond bringing the northern tribes over to David, in 2 Samuel 3, we learn that when a leader is weak, others around him will naturally fill-in the voids the leader doesn’t fill himself.

When an organization has a weak leader, those around that leader will naturally be forced to pick up the leadership voids, assume power to themselves that isn’t rightly theirs and make decisions beyond the scope of their position. This often leads to turf wars, in-fighting, politics and a general degradation of the organization. Leaders must be strong and fulfill their role. They must make the tough decisions and then take the heat for those decisions.

Christ is not looking for weak Christians in business. When He entrusts a business to us, he does not want us to be so weak as to be afraid of our own staff members, like Ish-bosheth was of Abner. He wants us to lead. Are you a Christian business owner? If so, understand that in your leadership role, your organization will thrive only when you fulfill your role fully, make tough decisions and lead. God expects no less.


Bill English, CEO