12 March 2016

Stone 10 - 2 Samuel

At the end of 1 Samuel we read that Saul, Israel's first king died. There is a seamless transition to 2 Samuel as David becomes informed of this event.

Beware the Message You Bring
In the first chapter a messenger comes to relay the news to David about Saul's death and the defeat of the Isrealites at the hand of the Philistines. What is interesting is that the messenger thought that he was bringing good news to David (2Sam 4:10). In fact, the messenger even delivered the armband and crown, knowing full well that David is the next anointed (2Sam 1:10).

I imagine that to the messenger's surprise, David is pained and tears his clothes over it and mourns (2Sam 1:11). David later had the messenger killed for having killed the Lord's anointed (2Sam 1:14-16). I am pretty sure that was not on the messenger's radar as a possibility.

Civil War
David becomes king over Judah (2Sam 2:4) but Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was king over the rest of Israel (2Sam 2:8-9). At a certain point they came together and it appears as though they were going to try and settle matters with minimal bloodshed by having a smaller group of 12 men from each side come out and fight in a sort of gang-style underground fighting ring or something but they all died anyway so the bigger battle ensued (2Sam 2:14-16).

Verse 17 tells us that David wins and they began pursuit of Abner, who is the commander of the Army, and we later learn that the war was long (2Sam 3:1). Something that appears to have been somewhat pivotal is when Ish-bosheth questions his commander Abner about sleeping with a concubine (2Sam 3:7). Abner is offended and seems to vow that he will now help David become king (2Sam 3:8-10). So Abner makes a covenant with David (2Sam 3:12) to hand over all of Israel to him. Unfortunately, Joab, who is David's commander, runs into Abner and kills him saying that he is an enemy (2Sam 3:24-25) but really taking vengeance on him for the death of his brother (2Sam 3:27).

Later, Ish-bosheth is also assassinated (2Sam 4:7) and his head is brought to David like some kind of gift (2Sam 4:8). I think of the cat that leaves the dead mouse on the doorstep as a gesture of love. As with the messenger in chapter 1, the assassins think they have done well and are bringing good news but what they have done was not God's way and David brings the same punishment on them as the messenger (2Sam 4:9-12). Finally, David becomes king over all of Israel (2Sam 5:3).

More Conflict
The Philistines now try to come in and take over (2Sam 5:17-18) to no avail as David listened to the Lord (2Sam 5:25).

Though not a battle, David wants to move the Ark from its current spot to Jerusalem with him and give it a better place (2Sam 7:2) but God tells David, through Nathan, that He has never commanded this (2Sam 7:7).
An interesting note in this part is during the move of the Ark when it begins to fall off of the cart (2Sam 6:6). A man named Uzzah tries to grab it to keep it from falling and dies (2Sam 6:7). It is worth noting that Uzzah is not slain because of his good intention but because he was not an authorized priest and touched the most holy object. This was a violation for which death was promised. Remember the sons of Aaron who came before the tent in an unauthorized way (Lev 10:1-2)?

The Ammonites later came on the scene when the king passed away and reign passed on to his son (2Sam 10:1). David tries to be nice to Hanun but the feeling was not mutual - or at least the counsel from leadership was flawed (2Sam 10:3-5). The battle ensues and Israel comes out as victor.

The Lasting Consequences of Sin
Now we come to the famous account of David and Bathsheba where David sees this married woman bathing from his roof and summons her to have sex (2Sam 11:2-5). **Personally, I cannot ignore the coincidence that she was bathing and her name was Bathsheba...** OK - OOPS - she gets pregnant and now David knows that he has a problem on his hands so he tries to be really slick and cover it up by bringing her husband in from battle to sleep with with her so that nine months later he would think it was his (2Sam 11:6-9). So that does not work and so they get Uriah drunk and even then he does not go home (2Sam 11:13). With his plans foiled, David arranges to get Uriah killed in battle (2Sam 11:14).

Now David may have thought that he finally got this covered up but God knew about it and was not pleased (2Sam 11:27). Some time later the prophet Nathan is sent to David with a story (2Sam 12:1-4) that gets David riled up and says the man deserves to die (v. 5) to which Nathan replies that David is the man in the story (v. 7). Due to this sin, God says that David's house will be filled with disaster (2Sam 12:10-12).

So the newborn dies and some time later David and Bathsheba are blessed with Solomon.

David has many wives and children. One of his sons, Absalom, has a sister named Tamar who is apparently so beautiful that another son Amnon cannot seem to get over her (2Sam 13:1-4). This plan gets devised to bring Tamar close to him and he rapes her and immediately hates her (2Sam 13:12-15). Obviously this brings just a little tension to the family and we eventually have one brother plotting to kill another a couple years down the road (2Sam 13:23,28). Absalom then runs away (v. 38).

Are we seeing the disaster God promised yet?

So Joab puts together this plan to reunite king David with his son Absalom which does work but David indicates that he can come back but not be allowed to see him (2Sam 14:24). A couple years later Absalom burns Joab's field to get his attention (v 30) so he could petition to see the king (2Sam 14:33).

Not long after - Absalom starts building himself a following by intercepting people coming in the city and telling them that the king did not have anyone to listen to them (2Sam 15:1-6). After four years of building some fame and notoriety throughout Isreal, Absalom goes to Hebron and plans to make himself king (2Sam 15:7) but does it in a decietful manner. Word finally gets back to David that people are starting to follow Absalom and so David flees (2Sam 15:14).

Some time later, Absalom moves into Jerusalem (2Sam 16:15). His advisors tell him to sleep with the concubines (2Sam 16:21-22) - this goes back to what God said would happen (2Sam 12:11-12). It is also my understanding politically at this time that the one who controls the harem holds the reigns. This, then, becomes a public symbol of who is in charge. Plans are then made to go out and attack David. **Imagine having your own son try to hunt you down and kill you...**

An insider, Hushai, gives advice and then sends messengers to inform David of the advice (2Sam 17:16). Battle later ensued through which David comes out victorious (2Sam 18:7). At some point Absalom got himself hung up in a tree by his massive hairdo (2Sam 18:9). While he was hanging there, Joab and his men came along and killed him. **What is interesting to note here is that king David specifically told the people in v. 5 not to harm Absalom. Joab has him killed anyway. From a military standpoint this seems a wise decision but it defies the king's orders nonetheless. Even though his own son was trying to kill him, he still loved him.

So David is now restored as king over Israel but there is a small dispute of sorts and Sheba pretty much walks off with most of Israel following him (2Sam 20:1-2). A party is sent out to take care of Sheba who clearly didn't have much of a support group because the city he was in simply handed over his head at the request of Joab (2Sam 20:20-22).

Something Doesn't Add Up
David calls to have his military counted but Joab hesitates and queries this as if knowing it should not be done (2Sam 24:2-3). It happens anyway, over the course of roughly ten months, and even David feels bad about it afterwards (2Sam 24:10). Perhaps it was the meotivation behind the counting as if to boast of his strength as opposed to the strength of the Lord.

David is given three options for punishment and goes with the plague from God rather than a punishment at the hands of men (2Sam 24:14). So the plague comes and 70,000 men die by the time David cries out to say that the punishment should be on him and his family since it was his sin. Now the text says that 70,000 men die - I wonder if that means there were many more women and children that dies as well...? Either way all this counting up ended in a net loss. **Despite the alluring intial potential benefits, sin does not have a payoff in the end.**

David was then instructed to build an altar to the Lord (2Sam 24:18). David obeys. **Another interesting note is that the owner of the property where the altar was to be built was willing to simply hand over all of it and David refused and insisted on buying it since he would not give offerings that had cost him nothing (2Sam 24:22-24)

Things seem to settle down for now - at least until David grows old and it is time for a new king. We will look at David's son Solomon next time in the book of 1 Kings.

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