We're firmly into Prophet Elijah and King Ahab territory. Mostly recently, Israel was attacked by Syria and God took a very personal interest in King Ahab, assisting for His own name's Sake. While Ahab was partially obedient to his nation's benefit, he was also partially wrong....continue reading "I Kings 21: God’s Amazing (and Surprising) Grace"
We've settled in to the wicked kings that ruled over Israel once it split from Judah. We are currently during the reign of the infamous King Ahab. Elijah and Ahab have gone head to head as Elijah shamed and then had slain the 450 prophets of Baal who professionally served Ahab and Jezebel's court.
God has proven himself as real and Baal has been proven as silent and unresponsive.
Ahab is racing back to Jezreel to meet up with his wicked wife, Jezebel; but God blesses Elijah with the strength to overtake Ahab on foot and get to Jezreel first. This is where the story picks up in Chapter 19....continue reading "I Kings 19: The Lord is Our Shepherd"
The Temple has been built and the Lord was faithful to fill it with His presence. Now Solomon dedicates and prays over this House of God. What a seismic moment in their history and ours. To speak into such a profound moment had to come from the Lord. No human, even the wisest one can do that without God's guidance.Read more
As mentioned in previous posts, I am reading the Old Testament chronologically; and am in I Chronicles: 26 related to the Temple gatekeepers. Below is a closer look at one of these Sons of Korah "gatekeeper" Psalms 45....continue reading "Of The Sons of Korah (Psalm 45)"
So far, the author, Ezra, has given us the general genealogies from Adam to David to the exile. Then the narrow genealogies of 10 of the 12 tribes. Then a detailed genealogy of Saul.
Now we begin with the death of Saul leading to the anointing of David....continue reading "I Chronicles 10"
When I first read verse 1 of chapter 24, I thought it was saying God incited David to take the census; but then it wouldn't be sin. Then I read that it was the anger of the Lord that David was responding to. Apparently, I Chronicles says it was satan who incited David. Now Wiersbe is saying the II Samuel does say it was God' but also satan by God inciting satan to incite David so that His will could be done....continue reading "II Samuel 24 (Wiersbe)"
As David wept, the people who had been celebrating the victory, turned to mourning the death of the King's son. They slinked back into the city quietly while David sobbed aloud. They were ashamed for breaking the king's heart and their victory became a loss.
Joab shows up and gives the king and absolute tongue thrashing. He points out that all of David's caterwauling shows those who fought to save the king, his family, and his throne, that the dead son meant more to him. And if Absalom had lived and they all died, David would be happier. Joab actually says that David has covered his people in shame.
Then Joab takes it up a notch and command David to go out and speak kindly to the servants who fought for him. He threatens David that if he does not, no man will stay and David will suffer more than he did for his whole life combined.
David does get up and go out to the gate. When people heard they assembled before him.
Meanwhile, those who tried to kill David and his followers returned home. People were quarreling over how to move forward. they seem to acknowledge David's situation and the fact that they had anointed Absalom and he was now dead. They wanted the elders to invite David back; but the elders had been in the front of the line with Absalom and were hesitant to bring back the man they had acted against.
v. 11 David sent word that they should invite him back and not fear. He emphasized that were all family- bone and flesh. He would keep Amasa as the head of the army- to show that the rebel army would be accepted, and to punish Joab for killing Absalom, most likely.
The Journey Home
v.15 David headed toward home as far as the Jordan. Then his people from Judah met him and brought him across the river.
v. 16 The sleazy Bejaminite (Shimei) who heckled and threw rocks at David as he fled suddenly decides to show up with the supporters from Judah. Another thousand Benjamintes came to help and bring all of the household back across the Jordan. Shimei fell down and begged that David not take it personally that he cursed and tried to stone David.
v.21 Abishai, as always, suggested that Shimei be put to death for cursing God's anointed. David answers and calls him an adversary for stirring up trouble when David is coming back and trying to reconcile. He swears not to kill Shimei for his treachery.
v.24 Oh...and then then continuing sad story of Mephibosheth (Saul's grandson via Jonathan). When last we heard, David was fleeing and Mephibosheth's servant (Saul's previous servant) had brought gifts to engraciate himself with David; but lied and said that Mephibosheth stayed behind in revolt to claim back the kingdom.
Now, David finds Mephibosheth in a state of extreme grieve and mourning. He hadn't cared for his lame feet or any other basic hygiene. This was not a man revolting against the king, but a cripple who had been left behind and betrayed.
He came out from Jerusalem to meet the king and David asked why he hadn't fled with David. Mephibosheth told him about his servant's treachery when they were fleeing. He also explained that the servant has slandered him; but he trusted David to do whatever he thought was right. he points out that David had the right to kill everyone related to Saul and take the estate, so Mephibosheth had no claim now, especially since David had taken Mephibosheth into his own home and he didn't need the estate.
v. 29 So David proclaimed that Mephibosheth and Ziba (the servant) would split the estate. Mephibosheth said Ziba could have it all in celebration that the king had come home.
I wondered why David let Ziba keep half. It reminded me of Issac letting Jacob keep the firstborn blessing, even though it was earned by deceit. There seems to be some rule that your word must be upheld, even if earned by deceit. I would like to learn more about this.
But I also wondered if David felt genuinely indebted to Ziba for the provisions he brought when David needed it most.
Ryrie has three theories: David showed bad judgement, David wanted to avoid alienating Ziba, David didn't believe completely in Mephibosheth's innocence. So, none of these three align with the two I considered above. We'll see what Wiersbe has to say on the subject later.
v. 31 Apparently, while in Mahanaim, David was sustained by a wealthy old man named Barzillai. Barzillai came and met David at the Jordan and David asked him to come with him and promised to care for him in Jerusalem. But Barzillai pointed out that he was 80 years old and couldn't see, hear, or taste well anymore. He wanted to stay close to home and die near his ancestors.
But Barzillai did send his son or someone he was supportive of, Chimham. David promised to do whatever Chimham directed in repayment of Barzillai's generosity and support in David's time of need.
The Heart of the Matter: Reconciling for a Future
This seems like a key scene in David's journey. He was maneuvering between the past and the present in everyone one of these mini-dramas on the journey.
- First he tried to grieve his son, but ignoring what the people in his life had done to save him. past=Absalom and the sin that started all of this; present= grieving; future= Joab makes him choose his future- keep grieving the traitor and lose all of his supporters or suck it up and go congratulate all of those who will be in future supporters.
- Next, the people who, in his recent past, had been his enemies returned home and struggled as to what to do for a king. They ran the Lord's anointed king out of town and they anointed their own. Who was now dead. they needed to bring David back; but those who conspired against him hesitated. David helped everyone get from the past to the future together by appealing to the people of Israel and assuring the that they were all a family who would get past this.
- Then he started home and had to face some people who were still stuck in the way past, grieving Saul. They all seemed to enthusiastically want to come and help David back across the Jordan. Something had changed for them and they seemed to embrace the future with David as King. But the past came back in the form of Abishai, who wanted the Benjamite who cursed David to be slain. David once again navigated a past and the future. He had every right to stop and punish those who cursed him; but he saw the need to rebuild and restore as he retook the throne. He once again chose reconciliation.
- Then again with Mephibosheth, his past colliding with his future. He and Ziba and Mephibosheth had a long history and it had gotten even further confused in the fog of war. David asked Mephibosheth for an explanation, and Mephobosheth's poor state of being seemed to back his story that there was no treachery there. David pulled a Solomon 🙂 and split the baby. He gave each man half pf Saul's remaining estate.
- Finally, Brazillai was a generous provider in David's recent past, but refused to come with him into the future. Although, he did send an envoy. We'll have to see how that plays out in the future.
In all, the Jordan is once again such a strong symbol in the Bible. David crossing back to the Promise Land, wrestling with the past and making his way on a journey to the future. As usual, God is working through this at His own pace. Sometimes, especially when we are suffering, we want God to be a genie. Rub the bottle and get three wishes. But God tells the tale over time. He brings many characters into the journey and all of their tales intertwine. It's a tapestry and we are but threads. Pottery to the Potter. Servants of the king. The Lord loved David and was faithful to keep the covenant; but David made choices that forced the Lord to have to redeem David as part of being faithful to the covenant.
From the Jordan to Home
v. 40 Now the king went on to Gilgal, bringing Brazillai's envoy (son?) with him. By now, he had all of Judah and half of the rest of Israel accompanying him.
That's a strange thought. More than half of a nation journeying out to meet their king and bring him home. I wonder if this was a sign from God. that He moved in their hearts and brought them out to their king. Or a desire on their part to be a united nation once again under David? I guess it's not as hard to imagine when I remember the first time the Denver Broncos won a Super Bowl and HALF of the population of the state of Colorado poured into Denver for the welcome home celebration. If we can be that enthusiastic for a pro-sport team, how much more a people for their lost king's return.
But, of course, it was not so simple. The men of Israel were annoyed that the men of Judah had rushed ahead to bring the King across the Jordan. Apparently, it was not lost on any of them how strong that symbol was as well.
- Israel complained that Judah stole David.
- Judah defended themselves by reminding them that David was close family.
- Judah also pointed out that they hadn't taken anything from the king.
- Israel replied with, we are 10 tribes of the 12 and so we own him more.
- Israel claimed they were the ones who had pushed to bring David home.
- Judah's response to that was "harsher".
This is the end of Chapter 19, so I'll pause the action here to reflect on the last two chapter with the Wiersbe commentary in my next post. Then we'll conclude his journey home in Chapter 20.
I will add a thought to ponder. David is such a complex person. I feel like I would need to read this a hundred times to encapsulate it all. There were times when he fiercely abided by and defend the law and then time when he blatantly ignored God's law and time when he forgave others for doing the same. No one can be perfectly consistent over a lifetime (or even a day for most of us), but it is interesting to see in this person's life. To wonder how he could do the amazing and heroic things, only to watch him make such crazy mistakes.
I don't know what to make of it yet, it's just a topic I have floating around in the back of my head. the man who grieved cutting a piece of trim from Saul's robe then left and joined the Philistine army! The man who slayed the messenger of Saul's death murdered a man to cover up impregnating his wife. There were (relatively) small laws he kept to a "t", but huge laws he violated, seemingly without any regard.
Just to be clear, I am not judging, as I am riddled with my own sins and hypocrisies. It just stuns me to see it so clearly in others.
Maybe this is back to my earlier post- we want heroes and villains. We want our good guys bullet proof and our bad guys unlikable so we can cheer when they get their comeuppance. But humans aren't like that. Jesus is the only one who is perfect, without hypocrisy. He can save us. Wanting that from anyone else, even a type and shadow of Jesus, will leave you disappointed.
Wiersbe points out that Nathan had the privilege of being God's choice to present the covenant with David and now has the heavy responsibility of dealing with David's sin.
What this brings to mind for me is that God is the I am. All time is the same for Him. He knew when He sent Nathan with the covenant that He would be sending Nathan back with the judgement. And yet He still sent Him with the covenant. That blows my mind. As He is lifting David up he was experiencing the disappointment of the ultimate and permanent state of spoiler alert. He knows we are going to blow it and blow it big, even on our worst day. It's mind blowing; but it is comforting. He knew Jesus was going to pay for all of those sins so that we can return to and remain in communion with our Lord.
Praise the living God. Grace and mercy in one painful scene.
There is something so compelling, not just the image of a man on his face fasting and pleading with the Lord, but when told no, calming getting up, cleaning up and anointing himself and then worshiping the Lord. And then, and only then, breaking his fast. The servants who observed it firsthand marveled.
We just don't see that much today. It all could happen in private; so maybe it does happen. But we don't hear much about God from our public figures. If they don't do much to emphasize Him, it's hard to imagine the rest. I guess that's why David would get such a honored moniker of "man after God's own heart", despite his horrific sin- this side of him was such a positive example.
v. 24 A lot happens in this verse.
- David comforts Bathsheba. That seems significant. It shows he was compassionate and recognized her need. It sees very pro-woman for the time. Giving time and attention to her need after the loss. Many cultures dismiss woman as second class citizens and yet God included this in His Holy book.
- Then they tried again within the confines of a legal marriage and she conceived, and gave birth to Solomon.
- "Now the Lord loved him." I assume this means Solomon, since that's the last male name in the story; but I wonder if it also means David- having restored the situation.
God (via Nathan) named Solomon Jedidiah, for the Lord's sake. This means beloved of the Lord. Ryrie says this name marked him as successor for the throne.
One final thing that struck me from this whole passage. This seems to be a model of how to be restored after sin. You confess, repent, ask for forgiveness, worship God, and then you accept forgiveness and return to walking in faith, understanding that, although there still may be consequences to come, your sin itself has been forgiven. David didn't walk around letting the devil tell him what a bad person he was. He didn't walk away from God and go his own way. He didn't stay at the castle, hidden in shame. He went on with life, as God had granted to him; letting God's forgiveness be enough. Because it is enough and it is all that can be. Nothing David did could have added to what God granted.
We cannot let the enemy chase us around waving our past at us, 'for shame, for shame'. Accept the unearned gifts of grace and mercy, worship the Lord, and move on with life.
Back to the Battle
Verve 26 takes up back to the battle against the Ammon battle. Joab had, basically, won the battle and told David to come and claim the victory. So David arrived with the rest of the troops and took the crown from the king (75 pound crown!)
vs. 31 is a grim ending to this chapter. After David defeats Ammon, takes their spoils, and then, depending on the interpretation, he either puts them all to hard labor or kills them all in gruesome manners similar o how they killed prisoners.
I really slowed down in this chapter. There just seemed to be so much there. I look forward to comparing what struck me with what I find in the Wiersbe commentary.
Consequences of Sin
v10-12. You slayed by the sword; and now the sword will never leave your house. Consequences:
- Rise up evil from your own household
- Take your wives
- Companion will lie with them in broad daylight
- You did in secret, I will do before Israel and in the sunlight
v 13 Just when it seems the Lord's anger is building and the consequences are increasing, an amazing thing happens.
- First, David's response to Nathan's Word from God. He admits that he sinned, and specifically, sinned against God. This is good that he recognized and acknowledged his sin; but this isn't the amazing part.
- In the same verse, Nathan responds to David's confession with, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die."
- Sadly, this is followed by, "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
Then Nathan leaves.
There's a lot to unpack in these few verses.
Previously, God had reminded David of who God was and what He had done for David. Then He explained how David sinned against Him, the Lord. Then God recounts David's sin against Uriah. Now we come to the consequences.
It's not explicitly noted, but it seems like there are separate sins for the murder and then the adultery. And they seem to be a reflection of each sin itself. This is tragic and scary. However, we have often seen this in the Old Testament books. People sin. God delivers righteous judgement and consequences.
And David's response is within what we'd expect as well. Confession when faced with God's judgement. Even Saul did this (several times).
But then we immediately see God's mercy and grace in a moment.
He takes away David's sin, removing the well deserved death penalty.
The grace and mercy is not surprising. Every time Israel or one of her people sinned and God sent punishment, He always sent mercy and grace to allow them to go on. But it's never been so stark and immediate to me. This took my breath away. "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die."
Why would David receive such preferential treatment? I know. I know. He pays a HUGE price, beginning in the next sentence. And God doesn't free Him from the other natural consequences of his actions; just the legal requirement that he face death as punishment. So God didn't etch-a-sketch the whole thing away. But still, in the midst of His judgement, He also delivers immediate amnesty. It seems noteworthy. Shocking, really. So...why?
Of course, if God wanted us to know why, He would have added it to the text. So there might be a million reasons and they are all His own. We're not entitled to them (or anything else). But there is a substantial hint in the next verse, when David hears the bad news side of the commutation:
"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also born to you shall surely die."
He gave us the the "because", so He gave us the "why". Lots of people commit adultery; but never once, that I know of, did God note that the adultery could give God's enemy a weapon.
What made David's adultery different? In chapter 7, God established an individual covenant with David and it included promises such as God establishing a forever kingdom in God's name.
God spared David for God and God's name, in my opinion. To our human ear, maybe that sounds like I'm calling God selfish. But God's forever kingdom comes through Jesus. And if that baby is born in the sins of adultery and murder, God's plan, as we now know it, is stained and imperfect. Stained and imperfect cannot redeem humanity and gets us back to a right relationship with God.
God spared David for us. All of us. BUT...THROUGH HIS PLAN. And since we don't know His thoughts or His plans, all we can do is pray and have faith and be grateful that we know He is good and He is for us. A baby was born and then died for all of us. Seems to have some parallels to another story we hear much later in this book.
It's worth remembering, God has a plan and his plan will not be denied. And even if we fail our part of the plan, we can either be Peter, failing and being redeemed by Christ, or Judas, failing and paying with his life for eternity. We learn in upcoming verses that David fails and God's plan proceeds anyway; AND David is redeemed by His faith in God.
One final question I pondered from this short set of verses. When Nathan finished giving his original message from the Lord, the first words out of David's mouth was a confession that he had sinned against God. He got it. He wasn't apologizing for getting caught; or for the sins themselves. He was confessing that those sins had actually been against God. It was immediately after that confession, in the same verse, in the next sentence, Nathan spoke forgiveness to David from God.
So here's my pondering...what if David hadn't? What if, instead, he had blamed Bathsheba, or God himself, like Adam did? Or if he blamed his men, like Saul did? Or some other rationale or defense?
I think God would have found a way to move His plan forward, regardless. But I wonder what would have happened to David? Things get really bad as it is...I have to wonder what God would have done if David had acted like the other men who sinned before God in previous books? I don't have a theory, so I didn't explore it very far. But I suspect. The answer would be sobering.
It's worth remembering that, it seems, God takes it quite seriously when one confesses immediately, taking personal responsibility, and most importantly, recognizing that sin itself is less important than recognizing that the sin, any sin, is directly against God.