1 Kings 2

Today’s reading begins with David’s final instructions to Solomon before his death and concludes with Solomon being established as the sole monarch of Israel.

When the time of David’s rule over Israel was coming to an end there was a struggle for the throne of the kingdom of Israel. David’s son Adonijah had claimed the kingdom for himself, but the LORD had instructed that Solomon would be the heir to the throne after David. The decision that Adonijah made to claim the kingdom for himself quickly turned sour and Adonijah soon realized that he would be ousted.

This is where the text takes a twisted turn. In return for relinquishing the throne of Israel, Adonijah requested of David’s wife and Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba that she ask Solomon to grant him in marriage Abishag the Shunnamite. Abishag was David’s nurse in the waning years of his life. She tended to his needs and slept in his bed with him. It’s made explicit in the text that David never had sexual relations with Abishag, but regardless, one can imagine that this platonic relationship was an intimate one.

Bathsheba complied with Adonijah’s request and came before Solomon and asked that Abishag be given in marriage to Adonijah. This greatly angered Solomon and certainly with Adonijah’s presumption of the throne combined with this act of gross disrespect prompted Solomon to put a permanent end to Adonijah’s treachery against the throne. Solomon called upon Benaiah the commander of the armies of Israel and had Adonijah put to death.

The battle for the throne was a brief one and Solomon was now free to rule.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

2 Samuel 23-1 Kings 1

Today’s reading starts with David’s last speech to the Israelites and concludes with the battle for the throne of Israel shortly before the death of David.

Under David’s rule the kingdom of Israel had grown and prospered. David had been successful in his military campaigns and conflicts with surrounding nations were becoming fewer and farther between. For whatever reason the text of this passage mentions that the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people of Israel. The reason for the LORD’s anger isn’t made clear, but as a result, the text states that the LORD incited David against the people of Israel and David called for a census of the armies of Israel.

David’s commander Joab realized that not trusting the LORD and taking a census of the fighting men was an unfaithful action that the LORD would be displeased with, but David insisted and so Joab did as he was told. After taking the census, David realized his breach of faith against the LORD and confessed his sin to Him. At this time the prophet Gad came to David and told him that the LORD intended to punish him for his lack of faith and that David would have the choice of one of three consequences: three years of famine, three months of defeat against his enemies, or three days of pestilence throughout Israel.

David’s response again spoke to his trust in the grace and mercy of the LORD. He told Gad that it was his desire that the LORD bring pestilence on the land of Israel because he reasoned, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of men.” 2 Samuel 24:14 ESV

In response, the LORD sent pestilence throughout all the land of Israel and a total of 70,000 people died as a result. The angel of the LORD was just about to strike Jerusalem when the LORD interceded and stopped the angel from bringing the pestilence into the city. An interesting statement is made at this point in the text: “And the angel of the LORD by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.'” 2 Samuel 24:16c-17

It’s not clear how David knew the location of the angel of the LORD, but the pestilence ceased at that time.  In response, David bought the threshing floor of Araunah and the oxen he had to make a burnt offering to the LORD on an altar to be constructed at that place. Araunah was more than willing to give David all that he needed, but again, David shows his fear for the holiness of the LORD: “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24a  So David bought the threshing floor of Araunah, built an altar there and sacrificed to the LORD. At that time, the LORD ceased the plague against the people.

David’s life is always held up as an example of the attitude should be evident in the lives of those who come into a relationship with God. Certainly, David was a sinful man. From a human standpoint, David committed greater sin that you or I are capable of committing, and yet God holds him up as the example for us in our relationship with God. The legalistic mindset of me and many others ought to be changed by such grace and favor in the face of such grave immorality. I don’t know what that looks like, but it’s definitely worthy of greater understanding.

Leave a comment

I’m still behind on this mission…

Well, if you’ve been reading my posts on this journey through the Bible in a year, you’ve noticed that the posts have been fewer and farther between as of late. I went through and caught up with all of my draft posts so I now know how far behind I am: 30 posts.

There’s always excuses for these types of things, but it is my goal to catch up and stay on track. Basically what that means is you may have a lot of reading to do in the next few weeks. So stick with me and we’ll get through this.

Thanks for reading.

1 Comment

2 Samuel 21-22

Today’s reading begins with David avenging the Gibeonites and concludes with David’s song of deliverance.

This passage exemplifies the brutality of the Old Testament and is likely out of step with most people’s concept of God. Israel under David’s rule is going through a three year famine and David seeks out the LORD to find the cause. Even though King Saul has been dead for a number of years, God is exacting a price on Israel for the evil that Saul visited on the Gibeonites.

The Gibeonites had tricked the people of Israel into sparing them at the time that the Israelites were conquering the Promised Land. Saul however had broken the covenant that Israel had made with the Gibeonites and put many of them to death. After David had been told by the LORD that the prevailing famine was a result of God’s bloodguilt on Israel for the violation of the covenant with the Gibeonites, he went to the Gibeonites and asked them what he could do make atonement for Saul’s actions.

The Gibeonites asked of David the lives of seven of Saul’s sons. David gave the Gibeonites seven of Saul’s sons, specifically sparing Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth because of David’s covenant with Jonathan. The Gibeonites took the seven sons of Saul and hung them together. After the Gibeonites had executed Saul’s sons, David took the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and buried them. After this, God relented of the famine that he had put in place against Israel.

This passage runs so contrary to most people’s impressions of God when viewed through the lens of Christ’s compassion and forgiveness. I think what so often isn’t stressed or maybe even swept under the rug is that God is holy. He is completely just. He is completely righteous. Certainly God has mercy and grace for the most callous of sinners but He doesn’t back away from holding us to account. Not only is God calling Saul to account posthumously, He is punishing the entire country of Israel for the actions that Saul had taken against the Gibeonites. The consequences of the actions of the leader of the nation  were being visited on the entire nation.

If you’re only reading the New Testament, if you’re only reading about Jesus and His great acts of mercy, grace, compassion and forgiveness then you’re only getting a glimpse of God.

Leave a comment

2 Samuel 18-20

Today’s reading begins with the killing of Absalom and concludes with death of Sheba.

After years of Absalom undermining David’s rule and ultimately attempting to have him killed, Absalom met his end. He was riding a mule and came upon a thicket and his head got caught in a tree. When David’s commander Joab came upon Absalom he had his men kill him. When David was informed of his son’s death he was deeply grieved. Grieved to the point of rebuke by Joab.

It certainly would be a devastating personal conflict for David. It would seem to me that this would be one of the most difficult situations for a person to reconcile in his mind. Certainly any person who had been pursued by another who was intent on killing him would feel a great sense of relief. Who wouldn’t? Knowing that this person was dead and could no longer seek your demise liberating. On the other hand, what parent finds it easy to see their son or daughter killed?

In refusing to deal with the sin of one son, Amnon, David set in motion this tragic series of events. The events were birthed in the unrighteous act of conspiracy against Uriah when David had him killed in the battlefield to cover his own tracks with regards to his adultery with Bathsheba. It ought to serve as a warning to every human being. Although God may be merciful to us as people and not make us deal with the direct consequences of our actions, each act of sin or disobedience sets in motion unforeseen events. Even typing that sentence frightens me. What have I set in motion for my life by the actions I’ve taken?

I guess that’s the most sobering reality of David’s life. Although blessed by God and loved by God and held up for all subsequent human history as the best example of a man after God’s own heart, God did not remove the consequences of his actions with Bathsheba. In another sense, although David’s disobedience led to such great tragedy it was through this union that God chose to perpetuate the bloodline of David leading to the birth of Christ.

I can’t understand it. I can’t see that God condones what David did, but miraculously, God took the disaster that David wrought and created the path for the salvation of the world.

Leave a comment

2 Samuel 16-17

Today’s reading begins with Ziba’s lie to David and concludes with David and his men being refreshed at Mahanaim.

David really isn’t in a great place at this point in his life. His son Amnon raped his daughter, his son Absalom killed Amnon his son, his son Absalom had worked to turn the hearts of the people of Israel away from David and had been so successful at doing so that David had to flee in order to save his life. The reading for today begins with the servant of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth lying to David, telling David that Mephibosheth had stayed behind in Jerusalem because he expected the kingdom to return to Saul’s family. In accordance with this lie, David granted all that belonged to Mephibosheth to his lying servant Ziba.

After the incident with Ziba as David continued to flee, he came to the land of Bahurim. When he came to this region, a man who was a relative of Saul came out and hurled abuse at and stones at David. Although David’s servants were willing to take this man Shimei and put him to death for his disrespect of the king, David prevented them from doing so because he felt that God may have been prompting Shimei to speak the abusive words and curses at him.

While David was fleeing from his son Absalom, Absalom inquired what he should do in order to gain the respect of those fighting for him against his father David. When Absalom inquired of Ahithophel as to what he should do, Ahithophel advised Absalom to have sex with all of David’s concubines. Absalom followed this advice, but didn’t do so with any sort of discretion. Instead of using discretion, Absalom made a show of his dalliances with his father’s concubines by setting up a tent for all of this to take place. Certainly not an attempt at discretion.

The only positive news for David in the reading for today was when Absalom inquired of Ahithophel what he should do after committing indecent acts with his father’s concubines. Ahithophel recommended that Absalom stay put where he was at, but when Absalom inquired of Hushai the Archite, Hushai recommended that Absalom pursue David. Although Hushai was in the presence of Absalom, he was completely loyal to David and was working a trap against Absalom. Absalom followed Hushai’s advice and began his pursuit to find his father David and put him to death. It would have been wise for Absalom to stay put, where he was safe, but Absalom was out to take the life of his father and the pursuit held too much allure for him not to take advantage of it.

Leave a comment

2 Samuel 13-15

Today’s reading begins with the rape of Tamar by David’s son Amnon and concludes with David fleeing from Jerusalem.

God had promised David after his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent actions in having Uriah sent to his death, that the sword would not leave his house. The reading for today begins covering the fulfillment of that word from the prophet Nathan. David had several wives and as such had several children from his several wives.

David’s son Amnon by his wife Ahinoam began to lust after his half-sister Tamar, the daughter of Maachah. On the advice of his friend, Amnon made a request through David to have Tamar come a care for him during a time when Amnon feigned illness. David instructed Tamar to go care for her half-brother and when she complied with David’s instruction Amnon forced himself upon her and raped her. Filled with guilt for his actions or disappointment in himself for having committed an act of wickedness, Amnon sent Tamar away and when her full-brother Absalom found out about it he became enraged.

David had found out about the rape of his daughter by Amnon, but refused to punish Amnon. Absalom found out about his father David’s refusal to punish Amnon and decided to put him to death. Absalom gathered all of the king’s sons together for the shearing of the king’s herds and when Amnon was merry with wine Absalom ordered Amnon killed. When David heard of his son’s murder he was greatly distraught but took no action against his other son Absalom.

From this point forward, Absalom would do his best to undermine the kingdom’s confidence in their king. He would stay at the entrance to the city and lament his father, David, and his unwillingness and inability to make judgments on behalf of the people. Daily he would do this and while David refused to punish his son, Absalom did his best to win the hearts of the people until finally Absalom was able to force David from his throne and the royal city and seeking refuge from the people he ruled.

Absalom had won the hearts of the people and David now feared for his own life. His lack of action in punishing the evil of his sons was costing him the kingship.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: