II Samuel 23:8-24 David’s Mighty Men And Judgment.

II Samuel 23:8-24 David’s Mighty Men And Judgment.

The writer tells of three mighty men who were with David and their exploits (vv. 8-17), and then of another three, Abishai (the brother of Joab), Benaiah, and Asahel (another brother of Joab). What is significant with respect to these six is that Joab is not mentioned among them. There then follows a long list of others who were with David (vv. 18-39). “By concluding the list of David’s mighty men with Uriah, the victim of David’s great sin in ch. 11, the chapter ends with a poignant reminder that David was, like all men, a sinner and in need of God’s forgiveness (ch. 12). This theme is continued in the next chapter.” (NGSB. 464) We then read that “the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah” (24:1).

Previously the nation suffered from a drought for 3 years because Saul, as the nation’s covenantal head, broke the covenant that had been made with the Gibeonites through Joshua (Ch. 9). The drought was a part of the covenantal curse they had brought on themselves (21:1-2). The cataloguing of the mighty men of war may have been the cause of the LORD’s anger (I Chron. 27:23-24)* In effect the LORD decided to give David up to his own folly, and as indicated at I Chronicles 21:1, he would do so through the instrumentality of Satan.** Joab acknowledges that it is a blessing to have many people, and even for the king to see them, but he asks David why he wanted to number them. However, it does not appear that he told Joab why, and David did not change his mind (v. 3-4a).

Joab and the captains proceeded to do as David had requested (v. 4b-7). Joab may have simply not wanted such a menial task, one which took nine months and twenty days (v. 8). Israel had 800,000 valiant men, and Judah 500,000 (v. 9). Upon hearing the report “David’s heart condemned him, and he asks for the LORD’s forgiveness (v. 10). It would appear that David was forgiven, but as in the case of his sin with Bathsheba, there would be consequences. Rather than a long protracted 7 years of famine, or to be humiliated by an enemy (v. 14), David chose 3 days of a plague, as the punishment choice which the LORD had given him through his Seer Gad (vv. 11-13). David also knew that the LORD was rich in mercy. As it turns out, the LORD did eventually restrain the angel (vv. 15-17).

David, seeing the angel striking the people, actually asked the LORD to punish him and his house instead (v. 15). It is worth noting that the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor, and it is to the threshing floor that the LORD directs David to go to in order to erect an altar to the LORD (v. 18). “So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded” (v. 19). David decided he wanted to buy the plot of land on which was the threshing floor, from one Araunah (vv. 20-21). Aranuah offered David whatever he needed, including the animals for the sacrifice (vv. 22-23). However, David insisted on buying the plot, and animals for a burnt offering, since he would not offer anything that did not cost him something (vv. 24-25a). The LORD answered prayer and the plague ended (v. 25b).

*“Taking a census does not appear to have been wrong in itself (Nu. 1:1, 2; 4:1, 2; 26:1-4), but see Ex. 30:11, 12. This act of census may have pointed to a lack of trust in David’s heart, or even a desire to gain control of God’s sovereignty by making an inventory of his apparent resources. That the report (v. 9) emphasizes military strength may suggest that David wanted to take more territory than what the Lord (sic) had granted him.” (NGSB. 464)

An alternative reason may be that posited by S. G. DeGraaf in his ‘Promise And Deliverance’. “The Lord (sic) brought this about because His anger was directed against the people on account of their misdeeds, for which they had not yet been punished. Hadn’t the people rejected David for Absalom and then for Sheba? They had rejected the head of the covenant – and thereby the Lord’s (sic) covenant itself. For this the Lord (sic) now intended to punish them.” (188)

**“The Scripture is clear that God is not the author of evil (James 1:13-15), but it also teaches that the wicked acts of men and of Satan do not fall outside God’s sovereign determination (Ex. 4:21; I Sam. 2:25; 1 Kin. 22:20-23; Job 1:12; Ezek. 14:9; Acts 4:27, 28).” (NGSB. 464)

II Samuel 23:1-7 An Everlasting Covenant.

II Samuel 23:1-7 An Everlasting Covenant.

In David’s “last words” (v. 1a) as he approached the end of his life, and despite all the great things the LORD for and through him, the thing which stuck out the most for him was that he was privileged to have the Spirit of the LORD speak by him (v. 2). This is why he is remembered as “the sweet Psalmist” (v. 1c). This is also what is meant by him being “the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob” (v. 1b). He was raised, as a prophet, to the very council of heaven and there was given the words he spoke and wrote for the canon of holy scripture. He was told that real rulers are those who are “just, ruling in the fear of God” (v. 3). The ruler who heeds God’s word is “like the light of the morning when the sun rises” (v. 4). Sadly, David had to confess that not all his house were as inclined as he was (v. 5a).

For David the covenantal bond with the LORD was everlasting, but some were outward members only – circumcised in body but not in spirit. It is the covenantal bond which “is ordered in all things and secure” (v. 5 Cf. Ch. 7). The covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered” (O. Palmer Robertson ‘The Christ Of The Covenants’). For this reason it is everlasting and ordered with a purpose – to include all things and be secure. Our salvation involves the whole of life – all things. It is also secure unto the elect. This is the salvation and desire of all God’s true children. Furthermore, it is a work of God that is ever increasing, as through the word and Spirit we are continually being sanctified. Those outside the covenant, or mere external members, are regarded as “sons of rebellion,” destined for the fire (vv. 6-7).

II Samuel 21:15-22:51 Praise To The LORD For Victory.

II Samuel 21:15-22:51 Praise To The LORD For Victory.

When David started to grow faint in battle it was decided that he would no longer go out with the army. David was the first to drop one of the Philistine giants, but he would not be the last. After the victories recorded at 21:15-22, David then spoke to the LORD the words of the following song. The covenant LORD is the rock, fortress, and deliverer of all who trust in Him. He is our shield and the horn of our salvation, our strength. Worthy to be praised indeed (vv. 2-3). Our greatest enemy is death (vv. 4-6). I the midst of darkness deliverance comes from the glory cloud (vv. 7-16). “The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice.” (v. 13) “He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.” (v. 20)

God takes us from hiding in the crags and caves of defeat and fear to a broad place of peace and security. David was righteous. “For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, and I did not  put away His statutes from me.” (vv. 22-23) The temptation is great when suffering and persecution come to deny the word of the LORD, but David did not. It may not seem like it in the midst of the struggle, but God is a just judge. “For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.” (vv. 24-28) It was not ultimately in himself that he trusted. One look at himself was enough to humble him (cf. Pss. 32; 51), but he knew that with the covenant LORD there was forgiveness.

The proud think they have it all together but, He “will bring down haughty looks.” David did not trust in his own wisdom or insight. It was the LORD who lit his lamp and enlightened him in his darkness (v. 29). And that light was nothing less than the word of God proven (v. 31). David did not manufacture his own righteousness-it was the LORD who made his way perfect (v. 33). God is the one alone who gives strength for victory (vv. 34-35, 37-42). Salvation is our shield, and it is broad and complete (vv. 35-36, 38-46). “The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (v. 47) We do not avenge ourselves. It is the LORD who will do this (vv. 48-49). This is a cause for thanksgiving (v. 50). However, this is also a messianic Psalm, and it is good to note the most obvious points.

Jesus the Christ is our deliverer, savior, and refuge (vv. 1-20. The LORD hears our prayers because he hears the Son’s prayers (v. 7). He is our King who thunders from heaven (vv. 8-16). The Father delivered him because he delighted in him, and through him he also delights in us (v. 20). His righteousness was rewarded, because he kept his ways and judgments (vv. 21-25). The church needs to get a larger vision of the scope of our salvation and the LORD our God! Christ will reign from His heavenly throne till all His and our enemies are put under His feet (vv. 43, 47 cf. Ps. 110:1; Mt. 22:44; I Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 1:13). Great mercy and deliverance He has shown to His Anointed (v.50) “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Rom. 16:20)

II Samuel 21:1-14 David Keeps Covenant With The Gibeonites.

II Samuel 21:1-14 David Keeps Covenant With The Gibeonites.

There was a famine in the land for 3 years, and when David finally inquired of the LORD he was told that it was because Saul had broken the oath that was sworn to the Gibeonites to spare them.* “Saul had tried to annihilate the Gibeonites (v. 2; 4:3), though obviously with only partial success. Israel’s treaty with the Gibeonites is recorded in Josh. 9.” (NGSB. 458) Although Israel had been remiss in entering into such a treaty without inquiring of the LORD (Josh. 9:14), they were still obligated to do so. In effect, the house of Saul was guilty of murdering the innocent. When the Gibeonites stipulated the perfect number of 7 to be executed, they were stating that their death would resolve the matter, even though those who were murdered far outweighed 7. Likewise, in choosing 7 of the house of Saul to die, because of his oath to Jonathan, David spared his son Mephibosheth (v. 7). The bones of these men were then recovered by Israel and buried with Saul and Jonathan’s.

*“Not uncommon in the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:10; 26:1; Ruth 1:1), famine is often recognized in the Bible as a manifestation of God’s judgment (e.g., 24:13; Deut. 32:24; 2 Kin. 8:1; Ps. 105:16; Is. 14:30; Jer. 11:22; Ezek. 14:21; Rev. 6:8).” (NGSB. 458)

II Samuel 20 The Rebellion Of Sheba.

II Samuel 20 The Rebellion Of Sheba.

Sheba came from the same tribe as Saul, which may help explain his rejection of David. However, other Benjamites did receive David back (vv. 1-2). It should be noted that the concubines that David left behind were cared for as widows. He did not have sex with them after Absalom had done so (v. 3). Sheba had succeeded in breaking up any reconciliation which David had sought. The division between Judah and Israel returned. This may be seen in the delay with which Amasa, (who was from Israel , and whom David had chosen to be commander of the army in place of Joab), sought to assemble the men of Judah (vv. 4-5). To counter Amasa, David first goes to Abishai, Joab’s brother. “Though Amasa is proving unsatisfactory, David is still unwilling to reinstate  Joab (19:13), so he addresses Joab’s brother Abishai instead. By the end of the episode, however, Joab will have retaken his former position, regardless of David’s wishes (vv. 13, 23).” (NGSB. 456) Apparently David would not, among other things, let the upbraiding from Joab at 19:5-8 go unpunished. The command to Abishai is to pursue Sheba, “lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us” (v. 6).

Abishai must have immediately gone to his brother Joab, because we read that “Joab’s men, with the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him” (v. 7). In this pursuit they met up with Amasa, and Joab addressed him as ‘brother’ grabbed his beard and kissed him, but as he did so he struck Amasa in his stomach with his sword, and he died (vv. 8-10). Perhaps it was David’s desire to reconcile that gave him his distaste for Joab, who was clearly a man of vengeance. It was one of Joab’s men who had to remove Amasa from the road and cover him, since all were stopped by his presence. When this was done the men then followed after Joab, as if they were following after David (vv. 11-13). Joab and his men pursued Sheba all the way to the city of Abel, and were about to throw its wall down, when a wise woman cried out to Joab (vv. 14-17). The woman told Joab, if he did not already know, that Abel was the place where people used to go to resolve disputes. Therefore she asked him why he was seeking to destroy such a peace loving people and mother in Israel – “the inheritance of the LORD” (vv. 18-19).

When Joab made clear that he was only after Sheba, for his being a traitor against king David, she then spoke with her fellow citizens, and they threw Sheba’s head over the wall. To some this appears as frontier justice, and there is no doubt that the context was very much a frontier of sorts. However, the wisdom of this woman can be seen in the consultation with the citizens of the city, and their judgment in the execution of a traitor and the saving of an innocent city (vv. 20-21). “So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem” (v. 22). Among the brief list of David’s government officials, including Shiva the scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar the priests, there is Joab listed as the one over the whole army of Israel (vv. 23-26). Joab was not a politician. David was both a warrior and the king. David, as the head of state, sought reconciliation. However, through the preceding events it can be seen why even David was not allowed to build the temple, for as the LORD had said to him, he was a man of war with blood on his hands (I Chron. 28:3). He was a mighty warrior, and a good politician of sorts, but he was certainly not a man of true reconciliation or peace, though he also aspired to be such.

II Samuel 18:19-19:43 David Seeks Reconciliation.

II Samuel 18:19-19:43 David Seeks Reconciliation.

Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok the priest, immediately wanted to run to take the news of their victory to David. Joab, David’s leading general decided instead to send a Cushite. It would appear that had David not immediately been told of the death of his son Absalom, he might have rejoiced with his men. Ahimaaz, who was allowed to go anyway, and who outran the Cushite, focused on the victory, but the Cushite also added how happy he was that Absalom was killed. It would seem that Joab probably knew that the Cushite would bring news of Absalom. Absalom had made Amasa commander in place of Joab, and he was also “the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zuruiah, Joab’s mother” (17:25). Needless to say, Joab was delighted to see the death of Absalom. However, for David he was still his son. However, David did acknowledge Joab’s words, that he must congratulate the soldiers, and let them rejoice in their victory.

At the same time David upbraids the priests for them being the last to bring him back to his royal place (19:11). However, David also kept Amasa as commander of the army in place of Joab, no doubt to also win the favour of the people of Israel, uniting them with the people of Judah. David was also joined by Shimei, who had earlier cursed him (16:5ff.), and Ziba, who as Jonathan’s servant had remained covenantally loyal to David, and David to him (16:1-4). However, David also reconciled with Mephibosheth and wanted him to split the land of Jonathan between him and Ziba, but Mephibosheth was just happy to be friends with David again (19:24-30). Barzillai the Gileadite, who had helped David at Mahanaim (17:27-29), also met David and escorted him across the Jordan. David offered him a place in the royal city, but at 80 he wanted to return home, but one Chimham went in his place (19:31-39). However, the half of Israel left behind were not so quick to be reconciled with Judah (vv. 40-43).

II Samuel 17:15-18:18 Hushai Warns David, And Absalom’s Defeat And Death.

II Samuel 17:15-18:18 Hushai Warns David, And Absalom’s Defeat And Death.

Through speaking with Zadok and Abiathar the priests, Hushai sought to warn David of Absalom’s intent to assemble his whole army to wage war against him. The plan was that a female servant would carry this news to the priests’ sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, who would then seek out David (vv. 15-17). “Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom.” (v. 18a) However, they hid themselves in a well, and a woman covered it and put grain on top, and then she lied and told the servants that the men had fled across the water brook (vv. 18b-20). In lying this woman bore true witness that these men had done nothing deserving of death. They then went on to warn David, and he and those with him crossed the Jordan (vv. 21-22). When Ahithophel learned that his advice had not been followed, he set his house in order and hung himself (v. 23).

David, on the other hand, continued on, while Absalom crossed over the Jordan also, in pursuit (vv. 24-26). Absalom then did something reminiscent of the advice from Ahithophel, when he slept with his father’s concubines, in that he promoted a man named Amasa, one of David’s nephews, who had sex with Abigail, who “was either David’s sister (1 Chr. 2:15-17) or perhaps his half-sister since she is here described as ‘the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah.’” (NGSB. 451) When David arrived in Mananaim, Shobi and the people of Ammon, helped David and those with him with supplies of food and beds (vv. 27-29). David then numbered those with him and set up leaders of hundreds and thousands, all under the command of his three generals – Joab, Abishai, and Ittai (18:1-2).

David wanted to lead the charge himself, but the people convinced him to stay behind at the gate of the city, he then gave his orders, including one to be gentle with Absalom (vv. 3-5). 20,000 Israelites died that day at the hands of David’s men (vv. 7-8). Then we read that Absalom was caught in a tree and hung there. Joab asked the man who sent the news why he did not slay Absalom, but he said he did not kill him because David had commanded them to deal gently with him (vv. 9-13). Joab then decided to kill Absalom himself, and they buried him in a pit in the woods (vv. 14-17). At that time, and even yet today, men have children to keep their name in remembrance. However, Absalom did not have a son, therefore he set up a pillar “and called it after his own name…Absalom’s Monument.” (v. 18)*

*Apparently his three sons died (14:27).

II Samuel 16:15-17:14 Conflicting Words.

II Samuel 16:15-17:14 Conflicting Words.

When Absalom entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him, Hushai convinced him that he would now be his counsellor. Nevertheless, Absalom turned to Ahithophel for advice. The latter was worldly wise, for his advice to Absalom was to have sex with his father’s concubines, whom David had left to take care of the house. Ahithophel’s reasoning was that this would make him abhorred by his father, but it would strengthen those with him (v. 21). Absalom proceeded to follow this advice, and by pitching his tent on the top of the house, all could see what he was doing (v. 22). We are told that Ahithophel’s advice was regarded by many, including David and Absalom, “as if one had inquired at the oracle of God” (v. 23). In other words they regarded his advice above the law-word of the covenant. The latter strictly forbids a man to have sex with any woman whom his father has had sex with, and it being a capital crime, death was ultimately allowed for as a punishment (Lev. 20:11). Moreover, he advised Absalom that he would pursue David, and when he supposed that the men with him would flee he would kill, that is assassinate, only his father, and so with inheriting the kingdom he would presumably inherit all the people with David (17:1-3). “And the saying pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel” (v. 4).

However, Absalom eventually also turned to Hushai for advice, but sadly not until after he had committed the grievous sin of having sex with his father’s concubines (vv. 5-6). Clearly he did not think this to be as serious, or as a threat to his own person, so he only turned to Hushai when Ahithophel’s advice posed a perceived potential threat to his person. As to war, Hushai sought to thwart Ahithophel’s advice, reminding Absalom that his father was a mighty man of war, that he and the men with him would not be so easily defeated (vv. 7-10). Instead, he advises him to gather all Israel and to lead the battle himself. Hushai appealed to Absalom’s arrogant pride, so that he, and all the men of Israel with him, chose his advice for war over that of Ahithophel. However, this was but the means which the LORD God used for Absalom’s destruction. “For the LORD had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring disaster on Absalom” (v. 14). Absalom’s greater war was with God. He had spurned the law-word of the LORD of the covenant, and now cursing would fall upon him and those with him. In his arrogant presumptive pride, Absalom assumed that victory was only a matter of his own strength and man-made wisdom.

II Samuel 16:1-14 Blessing And Rest In The Midst Of Cursing.

II Samuel 16:1-14 Blessing And Rest In The Midst Of Cursing.

Due to his covenantal bond with Jonathan, David had committed to bless his surviving son Mephibosheth, putting Ziba his servant in charge of all that he had inherited from his father (Ch. 9). No doubt to return the favour, Ziba met David with supplies (vv. 1-2). He also learned that Mephibosheth decided to stay in Jerusalem, believing that he would also inherit the kingdom (v. 3). Does this signify and covenantal break with David? David decided that Ziba should keep the supplies for himself, in effect continuing the covenantal bond with Jonathan through Ziba his servant (v. 4). As David and those with him came to Bahurim, a man named Shimei basically said that David had it coming to him for how he was believed to have usurped the reign of Saul (vv. 5-8). Despite the desire of one Abishai to kill Shimei, David strangely accepted his curse as possibly coming from the LORD (vv. 9-10). In any case, he was not going to kill a Benjamite when his own son Absalom was out to kill him (v. 11). However, he did leave the door open that the LORD might in fact bless and not curse him (v. 12). Shimei continued on with his cursing, but David and those with him found rest (vv. 13-14).

II Samuel 15:13-37 David Flees The City, But Leaves Behind Friends.

II Samuel 15:13-37 David Flees The City, But Leaves Behind Friends.

Due to Absalom’s long political scheming, David and those loyal to him are forced to cross the brook Kidron and flee to the wilderness. This was a reversal event of sorts, of the earlier deliverance from the wilderness into the promised land. They were initially accompanied by “Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant” (v. 24), but David sent him and his two sons back to Jerusalem and was willing to let the verdict of the LORD, in word and deed, to determine its and his own future together. Besides, Zadok was not a Seer, one who David could turn to for a word from the LORD (v. 27).

David, barefoot and head bowed, went up the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and when he learned that his long time counsellor Ahithophel was with Absalom, he knew that his only hope was to pray that the LORD would turn his counsel into foolishness (v. 31). Sometimes we need to pray to the LORD asking him to thwart the counsel of those who seek our destruction. David knew that Ahithophel’s counsel was always wise, so in this case the LORD provided a spy in the person of Hushai the Archite, whom David instructed to thwart Ahithophel’s counsel (vv. 32-34). With Zadok and Abiathar, and their two sons, David had friends who Hushai could conspire with and bring him news.