You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead.

2 Samuel 19:6 (NIV)

Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We know that our neighbors include everyone who isn’t us. While we might not think of those closest to us as neighbors, especially family, they, too, are neighbors.

In 2 Samuel 19:6, David had been mourning the death of his son Absalom who was killed because he rebelled against David. Before David’s men had gone out to battle, he asked them to take it easy on Absalom because he was his son. However, when Joab heard that Absalom had gotten himself entangled in a tree, he and some of his men killed Absalom. Thus, ending the uprising.

When David heard that his son Absalom was dead, he wailed over his death and lamented that it would have been better if he had died instead of Absalom. One problem with David’s outburst of grief was that he did it before all his men. These were the same men who had probably lost friends and brothers fighting against Absalom’s army. The same men had just risked their lives for David and the kingdom. Hence, Joab’s statement in 2 Samuel 19:6 that David loved his enemies and hated those who loved him.

Now, David didn’t literally love his enemies and hate his friends, but he didn’t act like it. Instead, we get this insight into how his men felt.

The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle.

2 Samuel 19:3 (NIV)

One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that sometimes I can treat those closest to me with less kindness than those neighbors of mine who are mostly strangers. For example, many years ago, my family had some people over to the house. While those people were over at the house, I tended to their needs. Did they need their drink refilled? Something more to eat, etc. In other words, I was hospitable to them.

However, after the company left, it was brought to my attention that I rarely treated my family the same way. Indeed, if I were grabbing something to eat or drink, I’d ask if I could get anyone anything, but I never gave the same attention that I had to our guests to my family. I had been in error. I treated company, who were my neighbors, better than I had treated my own family.

Today, I am reminded that sometimes we expect those closest to us to “understand” us if we don’t treat them with as much love, kindness, and respect as we should. That, somehow, because they know us, we can “get away” with things we’d never do to strangers. While this is oddly paradoxical, we’re prone to do it if we’re not careful about how well we treat those who love us the most.

So, as you go about your day and interact with those who love you the most, remember what the Bible tells us; “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV); remembering that just because you already know someone that your family and friends are also your neighbors.