II Samuel 1:10 An Amalekite Takes Saul’s Crown
Two explanations are current relative to the manner of Saul’s death, one group says that Saul was still alive when the Amalekite young man came upon him who mercifully dispatched him, while the second view is that this same young man lied to David hoping for a reward. I favor the former and for the following reason, primarily.
Knowing that much of the Old Testament was written for our admonition “upon whom the ends of the world are come” and is indeed filled with types or figures of New Testament truth (I Cor.10:11 tupos meaning type is translated ensample), and understanding that the Amalekites could well be a type of the flesh which God hates, I think that Saul may be a type of the fleshly believer. As such he resists David, a type of the spiritual Christian, all the while acknowledging that David is the better man and will be king as soon as he is gotten out of the way (24:20). The Amalekite young man is Saul’s final undoing and significantly takes his crown (Rev.3:11). Theoretically if Saul had been obedient there should have been no Amalekites left and David who must have believed his story (v.16) did essentially to him as Samuel did to Agag ( I Sam.15:32). Once Saul is gone (reckoned dead) David begins to reign.
As to Saul’s misdeeds, a believer not walking in the Spirit can be guilty of heinous sins as was even David at times.
Before you judge the preceding work as frivolous let me remind you of a few passages that might also seem so if you didn’t know better. For example, who would have thought to call the Rock that Moses smote, Christ (I Cor.10:4)? Or who would have imagined that Aaron paid tithes to Christ while in the loins of Abraham by simply reading the O.T. story (Heb.7:9)? Or that the prophecy in Hosea 11:1 had reference to the Lord Jesus being carried to Egypt by Joseph (Matt.2:15)? In fact it is implied in Hebrews 5:11 that there are many things we might be told if our spiritual ears were not so filled with worldly glop. Who knows but that the type of Saul and the Amalekites might have been one of them. I would not dare say so, but I certainly tend to think that perhaps I will see Saul in the Glory. What do you think?
II Samuel 2:8 Ishbosheth
Let us spend a little time thinking about Ishbosheth, Jonathan’s brother, Saul’s son. Going back to the time of his birth, of which we know nothing, we may try to use our imagination to explain his name. The first part of his name is simply the word for a male and we find the word standing alone in Hosea 2:16 “thou shalt call me Ishi and no more Baali” and in my center column reference it is suggested that this is saying “ call me My husband and not My lord” because Jehovah is saying, Baali is too close to Baalim and I do not want to be called by that name.
The second part of his name bosheth speaks of shame and for some reason must also have pointed to Baal since in I Chr.8:33 this same man is called Eshbaal. The root word used here, the lexicon says, can mean by implication, disappointment.
Now the question is why did his mother name him, as suggested by some, man of shame? Would you want to affix to your son such a lifelong appellation. As a friend of mine, a pastor’s wife frequently says “I don’t think so!”
Okay then, his mother is either disappointed in the birth or ashamed of it for some reason or else she was a Baal worshiper and used a term that was current at the time saying something like, you may be ashamed of him but I am not, – somehow the idea of Baal or a sense of shame is implied. (Mephibosheth is also called Merib-baal in I Chr.8:34).
Any way, it was a crying shame that Abner ever got involved with him because poor Ishbosheth was afraid of him (3:11) and apparently was used by him to further his own ambitions. He comes to a cruel end in chapter 4, verses 5 - 12.
David called Ishbosheth a righteous man (v.11) and perhaps some day we may meet him, I hope so, don’t you? - and one of the first things I want to ask him is how come your mother tagged you with that name, or did Saul do it?
II Samuel 3:1 The Long War
I, for one, am so glad that God did not make me a judge and that I can put my confidence in the One about Whom Abraham said, “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” I firmly believe that He will and does, but sometimes it must have been hard even for him. This chapter accentuates this problem.
Here is David with six wives already and more coming later ordering Abner to bring Michal, his first wife, back to him. Our heart strings are plucked a bit with pity for her second husband Phaltiel who trails along behind her lamenting his loss. We can only imagine her feelings toward David at this point, but shortly we will learn of her seeming disaffection.
Perhaps if we asked David why, he would have told us that he still loved this wife of his youth and should he not rescue her from the enemies’ camp, besides, she was legally his wife and Phaltiel had no such claim upon her. As king of the land, how would it look to his enemies if he made no effort to reclaim her? Besides he paid a healthy price for her and he might want all doubters to remember that in spite of his recent unpatriotic excursions among them, the Philistines were still his enemies and had reason to hate him (v.14).
Then there is Abner. He had killed Joab’s brother and according to the naked law it was up to the next of kin to do the duty of avenger. It did seem that Abner had wished to spare Asahel but that was probably because he would want to avert Joab’s wrath, but anyway it did seem to be an act of self-defense (v.2:22). Joab questioned Abner’s sincerity in his capitulation to David and of course we do not know his heart. David’s grief for Abner to the point of fasting won the favor of the people through his magnanimity. But one more member of the house of Saul must yet fall ere David becomes king over the whole land. Like the old nature in the believer, the house of Saul grows weaker and the house of David waxes stronger.
II Samuel 4:4 A Bit of Mephibo-fiction
A stranger makes his way across the barren plains of Lodibar. So named for its lack of pasturage, this town in Gilead of Manasseh was apparently a poor place but he hoped to find lodging for the night. Approaching a house in the dusk of evening where at least a ray from a lamp cast light through the open window, he spoke a friendly word of greeting and was answered by the same as the householder Machir came slowly to the door.
“Welcome to our humble home, friend, come in and share what we have though it be not much that we can eke out of this land of ours.” He was introduced to the old man Ammiel whose name bore the traces of belief in the one true God, Jehovah, but the young boy in the corner of the small room particularly caught his attention. Both feet were twisted and deformed making it extremely difficult for him to hobble forward to greet the stranger.
Throughout the evening the boy of about 15 years gradually warmed to the attention focused on him by the visitor who managed to draw from him an interesting story. His father had been a close friend of the vagabond who had once served his grandfather King Saul, David by name and as he spoke the name he shivered with fright. The last he had heard of this powerful man who had once slain a Philistine giant, he had joined forces with those very Philistines who in a great battle had slain both his father, his uncle and his grandfather. This he said had all taken place when he was but five years old and he could barely remember being taken on the long journey to this place across the Jordan. Looking down at his feet he cried a bit and said quietly, “it was at that very time that my nurse who carried me when we had to flee quickly and I grew tired, stumbled and seeking to recover her balance she dropped me and made me a cripple as you see.”
The stranger learned that the lad’s odd name was Mephibosheth and that he had been called (exterminator of Baal) after his uncle.
“We live in fear,” the boy said, “that David will come and find us here for we learned only weeks ago that another of my uncles, Ishbosheth, has been murdered while in his bed and since I am a grandson of Saul, David will probably want to kill me also and a man living near the court named Ziba knows where I am. I do not trust him, he has shifty eyes.”
Such an interesting story thought the stranger as he went on his way the next morning, “I wonder how it all will end.”
II Samuel 5:7 Zion
There are over 150 references to Zion in the Scripture. Most of them are in the Psalms
and prophets, however the first one is right here. The correction pronunciation is zee-own but we usually pronounce it with a long “I” at least I always have and especially when singing it seems more euphonic. As I have said, there is no desire on my part to visit the Holy Land. I just know I would be terribly disappointed, and especially so after dealing with this subject. I prefer to take God’s word when He says it is beautiful (Ps.48:2). If David had ever visited the coast of Maine, he might have had a bit of difficulty writing those words!
Seriously, I realize that to say it is “ the joy of the whole earth” (Ps.48:2) and the “perfection of beauty” (Ps.50:2) the psalmist must be speaking figuratively. From our own hymn book we sing about marching to Zion, the beautiful city of God and indicate that “the hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets before we reach the heavenly fields or walk the golden streets.” As such we are thinking of the blessings of our walk with the Lord and anticipating our being with Him in the new Jerusalem.
As David stood on the recently captured battlement of this city of the great king (Mt.5:35) his poetic heart must have swelled with the potential of these historic heights. Songs of Zion surely have swept over the vibrant heart strings of the sweet singer of Israel. No doubt as he looked across the neighboring hills he thought of the place where Abraham raised the sacrificial knife over the submissive body of his beloved son and perhaps already there was forming in his mind a plan for the house he would like to build for Jehovah on just such a sacred plat of ground.
We can imaging him looking up on some moonless night being inspired by the heavenly bodies. Each constellation had its message (Gospel in the Stars by Seiss) and one might indeed surmise that it was from just such a place that, while viewing the strong man wrestling with the serpent as it stretched toward the crown, his foot upon the scorpion whose tail is poised to strike the heel of the victor, he could have thought of the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 as night unto night was showing knowledge the world over (Ps.19:2&3).
But first he resolved to build his own house right here with those materials lately arrived from the king of Tyre (5:11), that is, right after we bring up the ark!
II Samuel 6:8 Perez-uzzah
Our lesson today speaks of careless hands and loose lips and makes me think of the
children’s chorus (O, be careful little hands what you do, etc.). First there is the case of Uzzah who merely reached his hand to steady the ark and was instantly removed to Sheol. Secondly we have the incident of Michal’s scorn. Let us examine these interesting stories together.
We should begin by reminding ourselves about Psalm19:14, also Matthew 12:37 for the God who “made a breach upon Uzzah” has not grown deaf over the intervening years, nor has there been any change in the principles by which He operates. O be careful.
There is little doubt that Jehovah was pleased with David’s decision to bring the ark of the covenant to Zion (try zee-own-ugh). Had He not made it clear that there would ultimately be only one place where acceptable worship might be carried on (Deut.12:5-11)? Now that the heights of Jerusalem had been appropriated it was a project whose time had come.
Why then the severe displeasure? The answers should make us all sit up and take notice. We get the reason in I Chron.15:13 where the narrative begun here is completed. The words of David are forceful indeed “we sought him not after the due order” and should be sufficient warrant to remind us not to make the mistake made at Perez-uzzah. Any Kohathites present should have known better than to put the ark on a cart. I have heard preachers refer to this as a new evangelical expedient. Is getting the job done what is important or doing a good thing the right way? And how will we know the right way if we are ignorant of God’s ways? As a postscript we can imagine Uzzah in heaven now, telling the story ending with these words, “well anyway people remember me better and I’ve got a place named after me.”
Finally regarding Michal, either her being barren was retroactive or her words were indicative of an attitude that prevailed from the beginning. Either way she was wrong and suffered for it according to the last verse in our chapter today. Be careful little lips what you say.
II Samuel 7:29 David’s Eternal House
Nathan made a big mistake and certainly spoke in haste here when he gave David leave to “do all that is thine heart for the LORD is with thee.” It was commendable in God’s sight that David wished to do such a thing as to build Jehovah “a house for my name” and it is recorded as such in II Chronicles 6:8 but it was not to be. Rather it was indicated to David (v.13) that Solomon would be given that privilege and the reason why it would be denied to David is to be found later in I Chronicles 28:3, as he himself revealed which was because he had been a man of war and one who had shed blood. Being such, obviously, God felt was inconsistent with the role of building the temple though he was allowed to make all the provisions necessary to its accomplishment.
A second reason why the LORD did not want David to build Him a house perhaps could be that He was intent upon revealing that He would establish the Davidic kingdom (a house for David- as He said )and He did not want it to look like a trade off.
As to the promises that God made to David we must look at them from His standpoint. All the kings until the captivity would be in the Davidic line but there would be a great gap that we as dispensationalists call the church age following which there will not be one until the Lord will set up His kingdom in the millennium and from that time to reign forever and ever. In the meantime such words as are found in many of the Messianic Psalms (89 and 132 for example) indicate the longing of Israel for David’s great Heir and many New Testament verses speak of fulfillment in the birth of the Messiah (Lk.1:32-33, 69; Acts 2:30).
This is the Stone cut out of the mountain that will crush Nebuchadnezzar’s image and fill all the earth (Daniel 2:44). Revelation 22:16 confirms that Jesus is the offspring of David. Hallelujah!
II Samuel 8:1 All About David
This chapter is an Old Testament illustration of a great New Testament truth which is found in II Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ and manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.”
What we have here before us is a catalogue of David’s conquests and we can think of many parallel concepts between that which Christ is doing in the world and this rehearsal of David’s achievements. Everywhere David went during this great period of his life there were victories. It must have been a great experiences for David’s mighty men as they accompanied him from one triumph to another and a key word here is “always,” for “in Christ” as we yield to Him we can be assured of victory for Jesus never fails and with Him in complete charge, neither do we. Now David wasn’t always victorious as other chapters will reveal, and neither will we be if we resort to the flesh as he did.
Note all the places mentioned. These could represent our homes, our jobs, our recreation, etc. David was known for having a great character (executing judgement and justice.) He dedicated all that was valuable to the LORD. The enemies were subdued, he was protected wherever he went. He was involved in establishing garrisons to represent his presence. I see local assemblies here or they could be church leaders.
Thinking of the savor of life and death, we can see a parallel between verse 2 of this chapter and verses 15 & 16 in the Corinthian passage mentioned above. What do you think?
Did you notice that we switched back and forth between Christ and the believer? David picturing both. That is as it should be for as a type he certainly does pictures both.
II Samuel 9:11 A Child of the King
...And now, the rest of the story. All speculation aside we come to the facts about Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. Prior to this chapter, all we really knew about him we learned from II Samuel 4:4, which was that at the age of five he was dropped by his nurse who was fleeing at the news of Saul’s and Jonathan’s having been killed in their battle with the Philistines, an accident which had permanently damaged both his feet. She probably feared unnecessarily for his safety since being an heir to Saul’s throne might well put him in jeopardy due to the perceived threat from the son of Jesse.
Somehow David knew of Ziba, a servant from the household of Saul, who being summoned gave him the information he sought, namely whether there might be survivors of Saul’s family to which he, David, could show kindness. Learning of Jonathan’s injured son’s whereabouts he immediately was sent for in Lodebar where he had been living for years with a person named Machir.
Now, we will speculate a bit and assume that Mephibosheth would have been somewhat disturbed at the prospect of being brought into the presence of Saul’s arch enemy according to all the scuttlebutt. Would he die at David’s hand?
Rather to the contrary, all grace was extended toward him. The lands of Saul would be given him, Ziba and his family would serve him but above every blessing, he would be treated as a son of King David and dwell in Zion!
In this we see that those crooked fallen feet of ours are placed perpetually under the table of King Jesus for He has been gracious unto us and now treats us as sons. Praise the Lord!
Can there be yet more to come? Oh yes, both for Mephibosheth and for us too!
II Samuel 10:6 Ammonite Stinkers
It is certain that whoever finds themselves in the lake of fire will know they are there justly but none will be there more justly than all liars (Rev.21:8). It was in questioning the word of God that Satan was designated as the father of lies but furthermore it is not surprising that much abuse of the truth is still thought to originate from the same source. It is by hardly any stretch of the imagination that we can assume that in this world of demons filled there are myriads of them assigned to the spreading of vicious untruths that “threaten to undo us.”
If we might conceive of these underworld creatures spending their time honing their nefarious skills this would be one at which they work to constantly develop and if they should succeed as in the case before us their elation must know no bounds. To be so clever as to turn something meant for good into such an appearance of evil as to involve several nations in warfare must be worthy of the highest commendation from the Prince of Darkness.
Here King David thought to do good to Hanun whose father had recently died and he sent an embassage to comfort him. Some one of the princes of Ammon had an evil thought straight from the pit, which was eagerly caught up and indulged by his compatriots.
Wicked men with wicked thoughts find it hard to believe that there could be such a man as good as David could be at times when he was thinking God’s thoughts. Others, ready to believe the worst, were not long in agreeing with the human originator of the evil thought with insult and warfare resulting.
Perhaps at just such a time David may have written Psalm 35:11-19. I with him have often called out to God to stop the mouths of lies (Ps.63:11). There is not much else one can do for we are helpless at such times when we are falsely accused and we have no opportunity to defend ourselves. It helps when we recognize the true source of all lies and we cry out to our great Defender.
II Samuel 11:27 The LORD is Displeased
Frankly, I would rather skip over this chapter, wouldn’t you? But “all scripture is ... profitable” etc. and this one perhaps more so than others. The first thing we must remember is that not even King David had the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as does every believer today and that must have been a distinct disadvantage and one that we definitely find difficult to comprehend. Ordinarily the average Hebrew, doing such a thing as David did here, would incur the death penalty and deserve it twice over, once for adultery and also for murder. Though it is clearly stated that Jehovah was displeased by what David did (v.27) we are told in the next chapter (v.13) that he would not die for these sins which is now the case under grace. Does this mean that what Ananias and Sapphira did was worse in God’s sight than these sins of David (Acts 5)? We would certainly not think so but obviously we do not always see things as does Jehovah God. There is an interesting statement in I Kings 15:5 as a assessment of David’s life in relationship to this sin.
Certainly there are many lessons for us here. I have inscribed over this chapter the reference of I Cor.10:12, also I John 2:16 with the notation “lust of the eyes” and the names of Eve and Achan. At the bottom of the page here in my Bible is the reference written out in full, Matthew 5:28. May I encourage you to put notes in your Bible when you encounter such suggestions while your pastor is teaching. Many people make notes on slips of paper and often never see them again. A wide margin Bible is most useful for keeping notes where they will be helpful as mine have been on this occasion.
Furthermore, I have heard it said that if David had been with his men in the field he would not have been in the place of temptation. What a poor example he was to the messengers (v.4). They must have been laughing up their sleeves as they aided him in his wicked endeavor. What we do speaks so loudly that people cannot hear what we say. And finally we might ask, “purified, and where was her mind?” They were both hypocrites (vs.4 &25).
II Samuel 12:25 Jedidiah
David was quick to pass judgement on the poor man whose pet lamb was taken from him in Nathan’s parable. Thomas a Kempis says that we seldom weigh ourselves with the scales we use to weigh others. We admire Nathan for shooting from the hip, a rather dangerous practice when dealing with a king. “Thou art the man,” quickly came the words of condemnation. The Hebrew word translated commandment here in verse 9 is translated over 800 times by word and to despise His word is the equivalent of despising the LORD Himself (v.10).
The 3-fold penalty for his sin was very severe though David’s life was spared. The sword would not depart from his house (v.11), retribution would be on public display involving his wives and, seemingly most difficult of all, the child born to Bathsheba was struck by Jehovah with sickness and death.
An interesting episode took place surrounding the death of the baby which indicated David’s insight into infant mortality in contrast to the thinking of his servants. I have often used David’s words to comfort those who have lost young children by death. It seems to me that he was absolutely confident and probably God would not have allowed it to stand if it were not true. Surely if this child was a safe little lamb considering all the circumstances relative to it’s birth and death then we could conclude such would be true of all little ones who die before the age of accountability.
The son that would succeed David to the throne in Judah was soon born of Bathsheba and in grace it is immediately stated that his name was called Solomon and Jehovah loved him.
II Samuel 13:28 The Sword Takes Amnon
It isn’t long before David’s chickens come home to roost. The lust of the eyes produces more sorrow and heartache as David’s son Amnon follows in his father’s footsteps. How foolishly do men plunge headlong into that regrettable sin as so often follows such lustful actions “whoso committeth adultery (or fornication) ... lacketh understanding and he that doeth it,” says the Proverbs (6:32), “destroyeth his own soul.” Like the “ox goeth to the slaughter” by whatever path it is not long before the dart strikes through his liver (7:22 & 23).
Thus begins a chain of sad events that David must have known had their beginning when he first departed from the way of righteousness. The sword had begun to strike his house and at first he must have thought that the fulness of the curse (12:10) had already run its course when he heard that all of his sons had been slain, a report that was not yet true.
It was a very fickle emotion that drove Amnon to carry out the deceitful strategy of his so-called friend Jonadab, actually his uncle, when he feigned sickness in order to entrap Tamar. The short-lived pleasure turned immediately to hatred as she was driven from his presence.
Here also begins the tragic story of Absalom’s estrangement with his father who was apparently more than willing to forgive him, but such is the behavior of the conscience that led these two into the first period of separation which would only end when the sword will once again cut off another of David’s house.
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal.6:7). “When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
II Samuel 14:33 A Cool Kiss
The question is that if David felt this way about Absalom, why didn’t he do something about it? If he mourned for him every day for three years, why, oh, why didn’t he follow through and let him know how he felt? You would think that being a king he would know how to talk. But no, instead of acting on the matter, he put it off until a civil war was developed and eventually another son was dead.
Listen to your own prayers, David. You asked God to restore unto you the joy of your salvation and to uphold you by His free spirit and then you would teach transgressors His ways and you believed that God would cause sinners to be converted ( Ps. 51:12 & 13). Why is it that we think that this would not work right in the home where we live? There is no place any more needy for your faith and love to be demonstrated than in this situation that exists right now between you and Absalom. What is that about a father who pities his children (Ps.103:13), how is your pity for him being displayed when you refuse to meet with him face to face (14:24)?
After setting Joab’s barley field on fire just to get his attention, Absalom reasons thus with him, “I might just as well have stayed in Geshur for all the good it has done me for the king still hasn’t called me to come see him. I would sooner that he kill me than to treat me like this.”
Unfortunately, the harm was already done when the so-called kiss of peace was finally rendered. O, David, was it really this difficult for you who saw the importance of humbling yourself before God to display some humility in dealing with your son especially in the light of your own failure?
God is not the only One Who weighs our actions.
II Samuel 15:22 Over the Kidron With Him
If we are not occasionally troubled over David it must be that we are not doing much thinking on the subject. How is it that in one chapter we extol the man and in the next we excoriate him? Is he a villain or a saint? Ah, God has given him to us that while thinking about him we might have a fuller revelation of our own hearts. We wonder how it might have influenced this renegade son of his had he poured upon him the love of which he was capable. With what spiritual wisdom we see how he handled Ittai, Hushai and later old Barzillai. Up one minute, down the next!
Living on this part of the Maine coast helps illustrate such constant change. I love it when the tide is at flood stage in the marsh at Frankfort and in the river when the rough stones are covered and there are no shags standing on them looking silly with their wings hanging out to dry. Then perhaps on the next trip to Bangor up Route 1A, the tide is “way out” and the flats stink.
Praise God we have the blessed Holy Spirit indwelling us to help even us out whereas with poor David He came and went.
Furthermore, Jehovah has given us in David a wonderful type of His Son, Jesus, filled with the glory of His perfect character but we are so briefly on the Mount with Him when suddenly we are abruptly brought back to this valley of our frailty in the fact that David is also a type of a sinful believer beloved of the Father. Even with our new nature and its great potential for shining there is the necessity for keeping us humble for the Father rather wants us like that and there is no better method than the Hebrews 12: 11 way.
The newly arrived Philistine warrior Ittai the Gittite understood. He thinks, “how different is this man, even in his humility as he flees from Absalom, than the Philistine kings. Oh no David, I have found you and I will never let you out of my sight again. David will be magnified by me and my 600 men whether by life or death.”
David saw he meant it and said “pass over”(v.22). I have passed over the Kidron (Rom.12:1), have you? The secret word is commitment.
II Samuel 16:14 “The King and All”
Wow, what a lot of interesting people! We will spend some time later revisiting the story of Mephibosheth when we get to the truth of the matter and discover what a barefaced liar is his servant Ziba even though it doesn’t take much discernment to read him like a book. I hope all of my lying detractors are half as transparent as he. In the meantime, let us rest in the knowledge that for each of us the truth will be exposed just as certainly as it was for Mephibosheth only it will most likely be in eternity. For now we can rest in the comfort of David’s words written about this time in which he trusted (regarding Ahithophel) that “the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped” (Ps.63:11).
I don’t know which is worse, to have a friend like Ziba or an enemy like Shimei. I guess I would prefer the latter because when someone is out in the open there is more opportunity to defend against them if need be. Again, we know from the later record (I Kings 2:37-46) that Shimei lived to regret his recriminatory words against his king. I really wonder what it will be like to meet brothers and sisters in heaven whom one has led to Christ who must by now realize how wrong they were in slandering their pastor. It must have been for a reason, even as David said, though he had a bit different attitude before he died (I Kings 2:9). One thing we might pray for those who have despitefully used us is that they would get right with God before they die, lest they too face an angry Judge. Please Lord, not on my account. I can’t wait to say “I forgive you” if it must be said at all.
We may wonder at the lying that Hushai the Archite did on David’s behalf. It might have been better if David just left it entirely up to the LORD to defeat the council of Ahithophel without relying on the utter deception in which he engaged. It is, after all, that for which he prayed (15:31). What do you think?
II Samuel 17:27 Barzillai
We meet here a Bible character that I think should be better known and we will speak of him now because when we get to the chapter where his story is told we will take up our space speaking about another, even Mephibosheth whose story must be finished. Barzillai, however, comes into our text at this point and along with Shobi and Machir are seen providing sustenance for the king (19:32) while David was in exile in Mahanaim.
Barzillai was indeed a great man and very valuable to David’s cause though now eighty years old and apparently suffering a lot from old age. When offered a special place in David’s court he begged rather that Chimham be considered. At first I thought that this was a great example of the Scripture “in honor preferring one another”– but in studying I found out that it is quite certain that this was a son for whom Barzillai was seeking David’s favor, for the Jewish Targum says that David gave Chimham a habitation near Bethlehem speaking of him as his son. This is found in a note by John Gill on Jeremiah 4:17.
What we might take for an example from this passage, however, is the concern that this father had for his son and perhaps we can spiritualize it especially since we are near Father’s Day. If only fathers in our churches were as concerned for the future of their children. Oh, not that they aren’t, at least when it comes to material things which, of course, we realize this would have been, but thinking of David as a type of Christ changes that aspect. It is a troubling matter of concern, it seems to me, that aside from fathers who are in Christian service, most seem interested primarily in the material welfare of their children. Let us praise God for the fathers who want their children to live at King David’s court.
II Samuel 18:9 Taken Up Into the First Heaven
It seemed quite evident from 14:26 that one of Absalom’s assets was his great head of hair of which he grew about seven pounds per year. It was just too bad for him that he didn’t go to the barber as he was getting ready for this battle with the king for it certainly became his undoing. As he rode his mule under an oak his locks must have become entangled in the branches and as the animal ran with fright from the battle Absalom was left hanging in the tree as his prideful uplifting became his sudden downfall.
Though the man who discovered him was reluctant to slay him because he had heard David’s parting command (v.5), Joab had no such compunction so he and his armor bearers made short work of him and sounding the proper trumpet call, ended the battle.
Apparently Absalom was not the only one that was trapped that day near Shibboleth Crossing in the midst of the Ephraim woods which must have grown like Absalom’s hair for the trees had apparently been cut (Joshua 17:18) a few years before but now were so thick that it was as if they fought on the side of righteousness (v.8).
In fact in might have been said, though it was not, that the trees were indeed fighting on the Lord’s side for it was said as much in Deborah’s song when she sang that the stars fought against Sisera (Judges 5:20). Hailstones were flung by God at His enemies at Azekah (Joshua 10:11) where, as on this day in the Ephraim forest more were said to be destroyed by natural forces than by the armies of the enemy. In fact God Himself told Job (38:22 & 23) that He actually reserved treasure stores of snow and hail to be used in “the day of battle and war.”
We might have found it a bit difficult to conceive of the woods devouring more than the sword but the LORD punctuates the statement by showing how, at least in one instance, the trees reached out their leafy tentacles and “devoured” Absalom, so that, though the army numbering in the thousands and led in three companies by Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite, all heard David’s parting instructions and were duly warned to spare his son, it was plain to Joab that God intended his destruction and by what better means than by that miserable mop of hair!
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit.” If I get on my mule and flee into the deepest woods or get in my car and drive hundreds of miles, I can run but I can never hide. (Psalm 139:5 - 12).
II Samuel 19:31 Peace?
All of the commentaries that I consulted were agreed that Joab spoke words of wisdom to David but he exaggerated when he accused him in verse six of loving his enemies to such an extent that had Absalom lived and Joab’s army all been killed, David would have been pleased. Certainly that was not the case. What would have pleased him would have been the sparing of his son and it is doubtful Joab was capable of understanding such love. There was, in his words, a veiled threat that he might take matters in his own hands if David didn’t snap out of it.
I think the reason why David would not let Abishai slay Shimei was that he seemed to be the leader of a thousand men (v.17) whom he did not wish to alienate at this critical juncture. The time of his judgement would eventually come (I Kings 2:8 & 9). David’s words concerning Amasa’s replacing Joab were probably an additional attempt to heal the breach that had been caused by Absalom (v.4).
We begin in this chapter to see the rupture taking place between the tribe of Judah and the remainder of the tribes. These latter are accusing Judah of being slack in bringing the king back (v.10) but when they finally get around to it (v.12) the other tribes complained of being left out of the process (v.41). They start squabbling like children. “He is our king” says Judah, “yes but we have ten shares to your one,” says Israel and the chapter ends with Judah being able to out shout their brethren. It sounds like some business meetings I have witnessed.
In closing we come to the final phase of the story of Mephibosheth. His side of the story (probably the right one) was that while he was trying to find an animal to ride on because he was lame, Ziba went off without him and told David a big lie. Since it is one person’s word against another David forgave them both and tells them to settle it between themselves. Mephibosheth’s attitude certainly speaks well of him.
Who is right, Joab or David; Abishai or Shimai; Israel or Judah; Ziba or Mephibosheth? We can conclude by being thankful that our God knows the truth in every disagreement and one day will straighten it all out.
II Samuel 20:19 Mothers in Israel
Until I began to work on these devotionals, I thought that Zeruiah was the father of Joab and Abishai but not so, she is their mother and one of David’s sisters, perhaps a half sister. It would certainly be interesting to know why her husband is never mentioned while she is referred to 25 times in the KJV. One thing is certain and today’s chapter fully confirms it and that is how hard and bloodthirsty a man is her son Joab and for that matter her other son, Abishai as well. It is obvious that David felt himself to be no match for these men (II Sam.3:39) and several times sought to be free from Joab’s influence and his insolent behavior towards him as his king.
Joab’s motivation for the slaying of Amasa in our text today is certainly rooted in his jealous lust for the control his position afforded him. It is clear from the last chapter (19:13) that it was David’s plan to put him into Joab’s position. Probably the same was true in his murder of Abner who had decided to abdicate the position he held under Saul and throw in with David. Both of these acts of violence were mentioned by the latter in his instructions to Solomon in which Joab’s execution was carried out by Benaiah the son of Jehoida the high priest.
As to insolence we have seen that only recently in the last chapter, but it certainly reached its full expression in the slaying of Absalom in direct disobedience to the order of the king.
Perhaps we see in Joab (mentioned 150 times) a picture of our old nature with David always troubled by him until the day he died.
A post-script. So that’s where the term “ mother in Israel” comes from– she was quite a gal wasn’t she! If you don’t know what I am talking about it is because you haven’t read the text yet, and it is against the law of the Medes and Persians to read the devotionals and fail to read the chapter.
II Samuel 21:1 Famine
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Rom.12:19), saith the Lord. Here we have an instance that shows us that God means what He says. Back in Joshua chapter nine, we remember, there appears the story of the deceitful ploy by the Gibeonites and the promise, by Israel to let them live (v.20) even after they found out the truth. The princes of Israel feared what Jehovah would do to them if they were to go back on the oath they had made and now we see that they had good reason to be afraid.
We now find out that Israel, in the person of king Saul, had broken the promise to the Gibeonites and thinking he was doing God service had massacred a group of them. The facts of this did not surface until now, but we learn here that Jehovah has been punishing Israel with famine for three years because He had warned of the necessity of vengeance when innocent blood defiled the land. Only by the blood of the guilty could it be cleansed (Num.35:33).
Just as the blood of Abel cried to Jehovah from the ground (Gen.4:10), the blood of these Gibeonites, who knows how many, shouted in a multitude of voices demanding vengeance and He withheld His blessing until justice was satisfied and He had been “entreated for the land.”
It was specifically to the land of Israel that the laws governing such matters as this were given (Deut.28:15-24). This having been said, however, it behooves us to be mindful that with God “actions are weighed” and He watches ours very carefully. If we experience a spiritual famine we should ask Him why.
Goliath was one of five, perhaps the reason for five smooth stones.
II Samuel 22:1 David Delivered
These words are almost a repetition of what is found in Psalm 18. It is quite probable that David wrote these words at the time they are entered here when his battles were mostly in his past as indicated in verse one. He probably edited them for use in the temple hence the version in Psalms.
The part of this chapter which is most difficult to comprehend is the section embracing verses 21-27. I know of no better explanation than given in The Expositor’s Bible, as follows: “We may surely believe that all that was meant by him was to express the unswerving sincerity and earnestness with which he had endeavored to serve God, with which he had resisted every temptation to conscious unfaithfulness, with which he had resisted every allurement to idolatry on the one hand or to the neglect of the welfare of God’s nation on the other. What he here celebrates is, not any personal righteousness that might enable him as an individual to claim the favour and reward of God, but the ground on which he, as the public champion of God’s cause before the world, enjoyed God’s countenance and obtained His protection. There would be no self?righteousness in an inferior officer of the navy or the army who had been sent on some expedition saying, "I obeyed your instructions in every particular; I never deviated from the course you prescribed." There would have been no self?righteousness in such a man as Luther saying, "I constantly maintained the principles of the Bible; I never once abandoned Protestant ground." Such affirmations would never be held to imply a claim of personal sinlessness during the whole course of their lives. Substantially all that is asserted is, that in their public capacity they proved faithful to the cause entrusted to them; they never consciously betrayed their public charge. Now it is this precisely that David affirms of himself.”
Since God spoke of David as a man after His own heart (I Sam.13:4; Acts 13:22) and referred to his spiritual failure comparatively (I Kings15:5) we should probably accept this explanation as an accurate assessment.
II Samuel 23:8 David’s Mighty Men
Please God give us a few good men in each of our fundamental churches. I love to teach , yea, train men who are willing to serve the Lord but where are they? Watching T.V., no, sleeping in front of it. We pray for men who are sleeping through the church service. Try to get them into the Scripture but they can’t read or they aren’t interested in reading the Bible let alone studying it. They are too busy, with no quality time for the things of God. They run hither and yon, waiting on children and grandchildren but sit down with a good instructional book, forget it! Good men, yea, even sweet men with wonderful skills in everything but holiness. I love you (Titus 1:7) but sigh for your shortcomings!
Have you ever noticed how much time Jehovah required of men? Days and weeks at a time were to be spent at the several feasts (Ex.23:17). What happens these days when men get a little time off? They play or run around the country sightseeing. Not that some leisure is probably necessary, but where is the priority?
Those were wonderful days at Evangel in Bucksport when about half a dozen men quit there regular jobs and settled down to study to serve the Lord. That church today has 4 or 5 men who interrupted their lives to seek training for service and are doing so in the local church. Some are serving in other churches or are in full time service as pastors or missionaries. May their tribe increase!
David had his mighty men and what a great lot they were! Reading about them is certainly exciting. Does Jesus, our great and wonderful Savior, have a desire like David did, I think He does, not for a drink from the Bethlehem well, but for men to respond to His wishes for them? Oh that men would be willing to even put their lives in jeopardy (v.17) to do for Him as David’s men were willing to do.
We have almost 60 men who receive this devotional and if 10 even take time to read it, I would be surprised. And if five read the Scripture... the whole chapter...
II Samuel 24:1 Why?
To get the entire picture one must also read the companion passage with this one, I Chr.21:1 where it specifically says that satan moved David to number Israel. Some feel that the “he” in this first verse is a reference to satan though it certainly reads as if the “he” is the antecedent of the subject which here is the LORD. I am inclined to the latter however, though certainly both verses are true and therefore we have an interesting situation. The LORD used David’s pride to discipline Israel, for whatever reason, but He, at the same time dealt with David over that very sin of pride.
Furthermore this story shows exactly how Jehovah employs the devil to carry out His will. Satan would always be more than willing to be involved in anything that would bring discredit upon one of the saints as well as death and destruction to a multitude of God’s people.
A similar example of this way of working is seen in the book of Job where God grants a license to the devil to carry out limited action with regard to a saint whom He is disciplining and perfecting.
David’s desire to know the strength of Israel’s forces was carnal and even Joab was wise enough to know this, prompting him to quit the project in disgust (I Chr.21:6 and 27:24).
Since the term angel of Jehovah (v.16) is a reference, in other places (Judges 13:16) to the Lord Jesus, He must have been involved it seems.
God makes it clear that He wants us to put our entire trust and confidence in Him rather than in man (Ps.118:8&9). In fact these may even be David’s own words. We do know he advocated that trust not be placed in chariots and horses but rather in the name of the LORD our God (Ps.20:7).
I wonder how inconsistent we may sometimes be ourselves in this regard.