II Samuel 15:1-12 Absalom’s Treason.

II Samuel 15:1-12 Absalom’s Treason.

The practice, since the formation of the nation, was that the gate to city was the place where judicial cases would be dealt with, and the royal city became a supreme court of sorts, much like how Moses only dealt with cases that could not be resolved in the lower courts, as it were. This may have been one, if not the chief reason why Absalom wanted to return to Jerusalem. He had his own contingent of fifty men, with horses and chariots (v. 1), and he would rise early to go stand beside the gate. “So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision,” Absalom would be the one who greeted them, and he would ingratiate himself to them, telling them that their case was good and right, but there was no deputy of the king to hear it. He also told them that if he were such a judge that he would deliver justice for them.

“So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (v. 6). “After 40 years” (a generational change), Absalom asked and got permission from David to go Hebron, supposedly to fulfill a vow if he returned to Jerusalem (v. 7). Well, Jerusalem may have been the royal city, but Hebron was the place of covenant renewal and succession, so he staged a coup (vv. 8-9). The people that he had ingratiated himself to for 40 years were told that, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom reigns in Hebron!’” (v. 10). We also read that 200 men were invited from Jerusalem who were not aware of the coup plan, but eventually the momentum grew strong for Absalom’s conspiracy.  He also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor,” as one who offered sacrifices (vv. 11-12).*


II Samuel 14 The Stage Is Set Again.

II Samuel 14 The Stage Is Set Again.

Since David was still concerned about Absalom, Joab plotted with a so-called “wise woman”.    to have him return. A kind of deceptive parable was used, but David ultimately knew that Joab was behind it all. In any case, David let him return, but he initially did not see David’s face (vv. 1-24). Again we read how Absalom was “praised…for his good looks,” like Saul (v. 25). He had lots of hair that he cut once a year (v. 26), and he had three sons and one daughter, and it should not go unnoticed that his daughter’s name was Tamar. “She was a woman of beautiful appearance” (v. 27). We know that he was previously forced to leave because he avenged his sister Tamar who was violated by Amnon, Absalom’s brother by a different mother, and David’s firstborn (Ch. 13). After two years Absalom still wanted to meet his father, but even Joab refused to make this happen, so Absalom, perhaps bitter because Joab paved for the way for him to return, had one of his barley fields set on fire to light a fire under Joab (vv. 28-32). “So Joab went to the king and told him. And when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.” (v. 33).

II Samuel 13 Amnon, Jonadab, Tamar, And Absalom.

II Samuel 13 Amnon, Jonadab, Tamar, And Absalom.

While David was in Hebron he had six sons, all by different wives (3:2-5; I Chr. 3:1-4). What follows in this passage is just one of the consequences for him not following the creation ordinance of marriage between one man and one woman. Absalom and his sister Tamar were born of a different mother that Amnon, David’s firstborn. Amnon became sick not just because he couldn’t have sex with her, but he couldn’t have sex with her because she was a virgin and they would be found out (v. 2). David had a nephew named Jonadab, who was Amnon’s friend, who inquired as to why Amnon was so sickly (v. 3). When he learned of why this was so (v. 4), he conconcted a plan to get Tamar to visit Amnon (vv. 5ff.). David told Tamar to go to Amnon, and when Amnon ordered everyone but Tamar out he was taking away Tamar’s option to alert others that she was about to be raped (Dt. 22:24). She even counseled him to talk to David, that he would give her to him (v. 13), but he raped her anyway (v. 14), and then “hated her exceedingly” (v. 15). Amnon had his servant put Tamar away, but she said this would be a worse evil even than rape, for it would take away her presumption of innocence (vv. 16-17).

Tamar could not participate in this lie, so she put ashes on her head, tore her robe of many colours, which was indicative that she was a virgin daughter of the king, and went about crying bitterly (vv. 18-19). Absalom, her blood brother, told her to keep silent, and she “remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house” (v. 20). David became angry, and Absalom hated Amnon so much they never spoke to each other (vv. 21-22). However, Absalom plotted Amnon’s murder (vv. 23ff.), stating to his servants that he took the responsibility for his command to them to kill him (v. 28), and his brothers, “all the king’s sons,” did not prosecute a case, instead they fled (v. 29). However, the news that got to David was that Absalom had killed all his sons (v. 30). This caused David and his servants to tear their clothes and to mourn, but his nephew Jonadab, the author of the original scheme, informed David that it was only Amnon who was killed (vv. 31-32a). “For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar” (v. 32b). Note well, the schemer Jonadab acts like David’s comforter (v. 33).

As the schemer had said, David’s other sons returned to him, and together they wept (vv. 34-36). “Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur” (v. 37), because he was also “the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur” (3:3). In other words, he fled to his mother’s family, Talmai being his maternal grandfather, who when he learned of what had taken place, provided him a place of refuge, and he “was there three years” (v. 38).* “And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead” (v. 39). There are plenty of actors in this horrible drama, but one can see how it all ultimately started with David having many wives, and children by all those wives. The rivalry would manifest itself in the lust of Amnon, no doubt a spoiled firstborn, and in the conniving activity of his nephew Jonadab, which no doubt stems further back to the rivalry that was present between David and his older brothers. “According to the Bible, it was allotted to the half-tribe of Manasseh which settled east of the Jordan river, but its inhabitants, the Geshurites, could not be expelled (Joshua 13:13).” (Wikipedia)

*Joshua 12:5 and 13:11 “seem to make Geshur and Maacath the western boundary of Bashan. If this were so, then these unconquered peoples literally ‘dwelt in the midst of Israel.’” (bibleatlas.org) Golan was the northern most city of refuge in Bashan. “Golan was a city in the territory allotted to Manasseh in Bashan, the most northerly of the three cities of refuge East of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:43 Joshua 20:8); assigned with its “suburbs” to the Gershonite Levites (Joshua 21:27 1 Chronicles 6:71). (bibleatlas.org)

II Samuel 12:26-31 The Battle Is Won.

II Samuel 12:26-31 The Battle Is Won.

Joab continued to lead the nation in battle, while the events on the home front unfolded. In sending word that he had taken the Ammonite royal city of Rabbah, we are told that by this he meant that he had taken the city’s water supply (vv. 26-27). He then invites David to join in a mopping up operation, as it wear, so that history might record that he took the city, and it could be named after him. It should not be forgotten that part of the circumstances that led to David’s sin with Bathsheba, in part stemmed from his not doing his job and going to battle with his army (11:1). Now it would appear that Joab wants to both take David away from any further temptation, as well as to honour his position as king (v. 28). David wisely accepts Joab’s advice, and gathers the people to lead the nation to victory over the royal city (v. 29). In this manner David also obtained a crown belonging to the LORD’s enemies and put it on his own head, the anointed of the LORD (v. 30a).

In this we may be justified in seeing something of what has taken place with David’s greater Son, the anointed of the LORD. Unlike David who suffered for his own sin, but was then forgiven, we know that this was possible because his greater Son would come to suffer for the sins of all his own, so that we also might be forgiven and placed in the battle to take the kingdoms of this world and make them his. This is the Great Commission, the fulfillment of Psalms 2, 110, and many other prophetic promises. Also, just as David and the nation reaped the rest of the Ammonite riches, even so the church reaps the world’s riches for her King (v. 30b). In this case David also put the people defeated to work for him and Israel (v. 31a). “So he did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.” (v. 31b) If we take I Chronicles 20:1-2 into account, this appears to be the conclusion to the battle that was involved in the case of Uriah.

II Samuel 12:24 – 25 What Is In A Name – Solomon Jedidiah.

II Samuel 12:24 – 25 What Is In A Name – Solomon Jedidiah.

David comforts Bathsheba, she conceives and they have a son. Solomon’s “name is usually considered to be derived from the Hebrew word for “peace” (cf. 1 Chr. 22:9). Another possibility is that it means “replacement”; the birth of Solomon compensates for the loss of the first child.” (NGSB. 443) We are not told who chose the name, perhaps it was Bathsheba or both her and David. It is also possible it means both – peace now with the LORD, and a replacement for the loss of her firstborn. Names carry great significance in biblical times, and just as the name ‘Solomon’ no doubt reflects the thoughts and feelings of his parents, even so we are also told that the LORD loved the child, therefore he sent word by Nathan that they should also call him Jedidiah, which means “beloved of the LORD” (v. 25). From the perspective of his parents, Solomon represented the peace his parents hoped for in their covenantal bond with the LORD. From the LORD’s perspective, their hope stemmed first and foremost because of the love they found in their relationship with him.

II Samuel 12:15b – 23 Grace, Blessing,  And The Consequences Of David’s Sin.

II Samuel 12:15b – 23 Grace, Blessing,  And The Consequences Of David’s Sin.

When the LORD initially struck the child it was not death but sickness. In David’s mind he sees the possibility of a change on the LORD’s part. After all, the LORD showed mercy and grace to David, the chief sinner, so it leads him to go to fast and pray for the life of the child (v. 16). His servants tried to no avail to get David to rise and eat, so when the child died they feared that he might harm himself (vv. 17-18). However, David could tell that the child had likely died, and simply asked them to confirm it to him (v. 19). David not only made an about face and rose to live, but he spared his servants the difficulty they faced. David was not angry with the LORD,  just the opposite, for “he went into the house of the LORD and worshipped” (v. 20). In response to the bewilderment of his servants at verse 21, he in effect preached to them the gospel, that David was hoping for the grace that forgave him to extend to a reversal of the consequences of his sin (v. 22). David also understood that though he had sinned terribly, first and foremost against the LORD, the covenant that is established forever testifies to the hope of eternal life that he would share with his infant son (v. 23).

II Samuel 12:1-15a Nathan’s Parable, The LORD’s Judgment, And David’s Confession.

II Samuel 12:1-15a Nathan’s Parable, The LORD’s Judgment, And David’s Confession.

Nathan’s parable, it should be noted, concerns a rich man who is David, and a poor man which is Uriah. We shouldn’t think of Bathsheba as being an innocent as a lamb. The mention of the lamb is seen from the perspective of Uriah and how he cherished his one and only wife (vv. 1-4). David is angry and said that the rich man deserved to die, and from his estate the poor man restored fourfold (vv. 5-6). Nathan then confronts him as the rich man. Nathan begins with the privilege which the LORD afforded to David in his being anointed as king, and the defeat of Saul (v. 7). Not only did the LORD give David everything of his master’s house, but this included all his wives. One could argue that David should have purged the nation of the practice of polygamy, which did happen over time, but instead, in the light of the incident with Bathsheba, the LORD highlights that David already had multiple wives. Furthermore the LORD gave him the leadership of a united kingdom of Israel and Judah. “And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more” (v. 8). Nathan makes clear to David that the LORD knew what David did, and that he was now delivering his verdict through Nathan.

Note well, it all began because David “despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight” (v. 9a). II Samuel 11 details just how many commands were broken, with the primary one being “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). He is not charged with murder, but he is charged with killing Uriah by the sword of the Ammonites (v. 9b). Secondly, David did this evil in the LORD’s sight. This no doubt is part of what led him to write what he did in Psalm 51. Having used the sword of the enemies of the LORD, David would now suffer from the sword working in his own house (v. 10a). Again, there were two evils – despising the LORD, and the taking of Uriah’s wife (v. 10b). Part of his punishment would also include the taking of his wives by his neighbours, but out in the open, not in secret like David tried to do (vv. 11-12). Finally, David realizes that he has sinned against the LORD, but with true repentance comes forgiveness (v. 13). However, being forgiven does not mean that there would be no consequences. David’s deed gave the enemies of the LORD an excuse to blaspheme his great name (v. 14a). Therefore another consequence would be the death of his son (v. 13b). “Then Nathan departed to his house” (v. 15).

II Samuel 11 David, Bathsheba, Uriah, And The Capital Crime Of Adultery.

II Samuel 11 David, Bathsheba, Uriah, And The Capital Crime Of Adultery.

In this infamous passage our author makes two key points right at the outset. Firstly, springtime was the time that kings go out to war. So common is war in this fallen world, that king’s made plans for it every spring. History, including the 20th century, is strewn with the defeat of armies that attempted to fight in the dead of winter. Secondly, Israel wanted a king to fight their battles for them, but now when spring had arrived their king decided that he wanted more leisure (v. 1). As so often happens, when men don’t concern themselves with the tasks that the Lord sets before them, they slip into an ease that often is the occasion for temptations and sin. David, who had been one who sought to honour his covenantal commitments with his neighbours, is about to let lust for another man’s wife lead him to break that married couple’s covenantal bond. David the warrior became David the voyeur, with eyes roaming his neighbours premises from his royal perch. From here he sees the nude Bathsheba, and he wants her, and as king he determines to get her (vv. 2-3a).

David, not wanting to go himself, sends someone to inquire about her, and we are told that someone proceeds to make the point that this is the daughter of Eliam, a man they know, who is also the wife of Uriah (v. 3b). We should not miss the point here. This “someone” was making the point that this was a married woman that the king was inquiring about. David sent messengers to Bathsheba. Note well, that these are not servants or military guards, these are messengers. Messengers send messages, and the message they sent was clear, a message which Bathsheba accepted. Some are quick to treat this incident as if it were rape on David’s part, but it is clear that Bathsheba went willingly, for she “was cleansed from her impurity” (v. 4). Bathsheba’s period was over (Lev. 15:19-30).* Did she think that her husband would soon return? There was no basis for believing that. The men were off fighting, and for all she knew she would never see him again. In any case, when she got to David it would have been crystal clear why he wanted her, and the law made provision for her to refuse (Dt. 22:24).

If anyone had people close who could hear a scream it was a king with his entourage. It is clear that both David and Bathsheba were mindful of following the law, they just chose to follow the part which said that a man must not lie with a woman “in the days of her customary impurity” (Lev. 12:2). David did not want to be regarded as impure that day, but he and Bathsheba were prepared to commit a sin resulting in a far greater impurity, one that in the OT allowed for a punishment of death for being a capital crime (Lev. 20:10, 18; Dt. 22:22). Just in passing, it is important to note that what appears as a cut and dried issue in terms of punishment in Leviticus, nevertheless clearly had other portions of the law which took into account extenuating circumstances, and other possible punishments to impose. In the case of adultery, this even included a “certificate of divorce” (Dt. 24:1), to which Jesus made the point, had been abused to the point that men were divorcing their wives for far more trivial things than adultery (Mt. 5:31-32; 19:7; Mk. 10:4).

In the same way, the ten commandments do not include what is to be done to those who break them (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18), including what happens when we break them in our own minds and spirits, if not in the actual deed (Mt. 5:27ff.). To argue that we are to follow the ten commandments but not the laws pertaining to the breaking of them, whether internally or also in actuality, is ludicrously inconsistent, and it is an arrogant presumption to assume that we know better than God how the breaking of his commands should be dealt with. It is in effect to be guilty of breaking the commands ourselves if we do not also follow up with all the legislation and warnings which the LORD himself has provided. In any case, it is clear that both David and Bathsheba knew the consequences, for Bathsheba informs David that she is pregnant (v. 5), and David busied himself with some means of covering up their sin with some supposed plausible deniability (vv. 6ff.). Again, at no point do we read that Bathsheba sent word to Uriah that she tried to resist David, that she screamed, but no one heard.

David’s first thought is send someone to the front lines, under the pretext of seeking to learn of the state of the battle, to have Uriah sent home, assuming, especially since he would know that his wife would be clean from her “customary impurity”, that he would lie with her. In what can only be termed as a brutal twist of irony, it turns out that Uriah is such a man of honour, committed covenantally to his brothers in arms and to the LORD who was represented in the presence of the ark in battle, that he could not imagine enjoying the pleasure of sex with his wife, but instead deliberately refused to go home that he might not be tempted to do so (vv. 6-11)! Then, David decides that he will give it a couple of days, thinking that Uriah can’t keep it in his clothes any better than he could. Sadly, for David, Uriah had more self-control than he did (v. 12). Then, after David sears his conscience some more, he decides to get Uriah drunk, thinking that he won’t think so clearly and go home. Sadly for David, Uriah “went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house” (v. 13).

Uriah was not prepared to break his commitment and blame it on being drunk. This guy just has too much integrity, which must have frustrated David to know end. Things were now so dragged out that passing off the baby as Uriah’s was less likely, so now he resorts to sending Uriah to Joab with instructions to send him to the heat of the battle, and to abandon him (vv. 15-17). This was the man who refused to lie with his wife while his brothers fought. Joab and those who abandoned Uriah thus became as guilty as David (vv. 18-21). There can be no excuse that they were simply following orders. Covenant fidelity exceeds military commands. David was now sure that he had the cover he needed. Uriah died in battle, and Bathsheba was now a widow. They still had just enough time to make it look like their baby was conceived as soon as they were married (vv. 22-25). Bathsheba played her part as well (vv. 26-27a). “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (v. 27b). David and Bathsheba made themselves impure, David corrupted his servants and soldiers, sent Uriah to his death, and ultimately sinned against the LORD (Cf. Ps. 51).

*“If the reference is to menstruation (Lev. 15:19-30), the point would be to remove all doubt that David is responsible for Bathsheba’s pregnancy.” (NGSB. 441)

II Samuel 10 David’s Military Campaigns Continue.

II Samuel 10 David’s Military Campaigns Continue.

David was engaged in covenant faithfulness when he engaged in the military campaigns of chapter 8, and then in the favour he showed to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth in chapter 9. The fact that we are told that David wished to “show kindness” to Hanun, the son of Nahash, suggest that he also a covenant relationship with Nahash (Cf. 9:1). “The Hebrew phrase translated “show kindness” suggests that there was a covenant between David and Nahash, even though Nahash’s aggression towards Israel had helped Saul rise to power (1 Sam. 11:1-11; 12:12). The friendly  relationship between David and Nahash may have been established during the period when David was a fugitive from Saul.” (NGSB. 439) However, instead of greeting with the hand of friendship, Hanun believes in a conspiracy put forward by his servants, that these men were just spying out the land.

Seems like strange behaviour for spies, who usually like to stay hidden! In any case, Hanun decides to humiliate these men instead, and David tells them to stay in Jericho until their beards grow back so that they don’t return ashamed to Jerusalem. Realizing that they had incurred the wrath of David, the Ammonites decide to hire Syrian mercenaries to help them resist David and the Israelites (vv. 6ff.). The brothers Joab and Abishai, David’s premier generals divided themselves between the two opponents, and when the Ammonites saw the Syrians fleeing they followed suit. However, the Ammonites and Syrians re-grouped, but only to be defeated by David and his forces. With what follows, it is important for our author to note that David did not rest, but rather he entered the battle himself. Furthermore, with their defeat, the alliance between Ammon and Syria was broken.

II Samuel 9 David’s Covenantal Commitment To Mephibosheth.

II Samuel 9 David’s Covenantal Commitment To Mephibosheth.

David was a man who tried to practice covenant faithfulness. It wasn’t just lip service for him. He had a covenantal bond with Saul’s son Jonathan, and he wanted to honour that commitment by showing favour to anyone who might be of his house. Ziba, who was a servant in Saul’s house and was now the same to David, informed him of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was lame in both his feet (vv. 1-5). Like Ziba, Mephibosheth presented himself as David’s servant, with the added point that “he fell on his face and prostrated himself” (v. 6). One might presume that since he was lame in both his feet he had no choice but to fall on his face, but in that we are also told that he prostrated himself, we are led to believe that this was a deliberate act on his part. He is also referred to as Merib-Baal (I Chr. 8:34).

No doubt anyone might have some fear when approaching such a mighty king, especially one who found favour with the LORD. However, David quickly allays that fear when he says to Mephibosheth that he would show him kindness for the sake of his father Jonathan, part of which included restoring all the land of his grandfather Saul to him (v. 7). Ziba, who seems to have been Saul’s chief servant, is then directed by David to dedicate himself, and his house, to now be in the service of Mephibosheth, including working his land and bringing in the harvests (vv. 8-10). To this Ziba concurred. Mephibosheth was also privileged to eat at David’s table like one of his own sons. Moreover, we are told that Mephibosheth had a son named Micha, who we might assume would also serve his father and inherit what was his.