When King David was old and weak, his oldest living son tried to steal the throne in Chapter 1; but was thwarted when David found out about it and accelerated Solomon's anointing. He moved Solomon directly to coregenting from the throne....continue reading "I Kings 2"
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"
Ezra began the Chronicles with a genealogy of the nation of Israel from Adam to David and David to captivity. Then he narrowed his focus to the genealogies of ten of the twelve tribes (double Manasseh and Ephraim make it add up to 12; but Dan and Zebulun are missing from Ezra's list.) Now he's going back a bit to narrow even further on the tribe of Benjamin as we will slow down and examine the stories of Saul and David next....continue reading "I Chronicles 8-9"
The Gibeonites were the people in Canaan who tricked Joshua into making a treaty with them. They pretended to be from far out where the Lord didn't require complete extermination, so Joshua made a deal with them. In exchange they ended up being workers for Israel.
But this puts them in a position to expect protection from Israel, not attack....continue reading "II Samuel 21 (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.
The kindness of God refers to mercy and favor of the Lord to undeserving people.
David had made promises to bot Saul and Jonathan that he would not exterminate their line.
David asked if there was anyone left in the house of Saul for whom he could show kindness of God for Jonathan's sake. I get the impression that he had settled the military issues, got the government underway, had his house, relatively, in order and had some time to think and missed his dear friend, Jonathan, with whom is was going to co-rule. I'm reading into that, of course.
David brought in a servant of Saul's and found out the Jonathan had a son, crippled in both feet. David brought him to the house and called him by name, Mephibosheth fell on his face before David.
David told him not to worry and assured him that he, David, would show him kindness (for Jonathan's sake), restore the land that belonged to Saul, and share his meal table regularly.
Mephiboseth, again, fell on his face and asked why David would regard him like this. He called himself a dead dog. Then David assigned Saul's servant, Ziba, and Ziba's 15 sons, and Ziba's 20 servants to work Saul's former land and property and to bring in the harvest, even though Mephibosheth would most often be with David.
Mephibosheth ate at King David table, as one of his sons.
Mephibosheth had a son, named Mica.
Ryrie footnotes point out that the word "kindness: in verse 1 is the Hebrew word "Hesed" It means loyal love. The footnote references another footnote in Hosea 2 that talks about it being a love of belonging together. This would support my early theory that once David's life settled down, he missed his friend and wanted to know if there was any part of Jonathan left to belong with.
There's a lot here to unpack and I don't know if I would have caught it by myself, but I heard a message about this chapter at the women's retreat last summer.
- David and Jonathan had a covenant with one another and although it may have ended with Jonathan's death, David felt the need to pursue it. Our speaker this summer asked if we had any covenants in our life that needed tending to and I thought of my commitment to be the God Mother to my nieces and nephew. I didn't totally know what that meant at the tie, beyond being flattered; but now feel the weight of sharing in the spiritual journey.
- It also shows us grace. We live in a fallen world and all walk with a limp of one sort or another. We are all crippled apart from the King who showed us grace and made provision for us. Just like God said to Israel just across the Jordan: You'll live in houses you didn't build and you'll eat food you didn't grow. Don't forget who provides for you."
Fighting God's Battles
Wiersbe offers the following summary regarding this chapter:
- It probably occurred between chapters 6 and 7, which is between David bring the Ark to Jerusalem and the opening line of Chapter 7 when it states that the Lord had given him rest on every side.
- 8:1 is a victory to the west; 8:2 is a victory to the east; 8:3-12 is to the north and 8:13-14 is to the south
- Parallel account = I Chronicles 18-19
- Saul fought many of these same battles.
- God promised Israel the land from the River if Egypt to the Euphrates River. David was used to fulfill that promise.
- David reclaimed land that Saul had lost. He conquered land given by Joshua and not fully claimed by the tribes, and he expanded beyond the original tribes.
- For v 8:2, Wiersbe points out that David had a complicated relationship with Moab. Moab had been friendly to David because they thought he was the enemy of Saul. He even had his family hide there from Saul. David was also related to the Moabite through Ruth and they were all distant cousins via Lot. However, they were, ultimately, enemies of the Lord had had to be subdued. Rather than wiping them out, though, he spared every third soldier and turned them into servants- which was probably his way of showing some mercy to this complicated situation.
- By defeating the Arameans/Syrians to the north, he gained control of key caravan routes, which was a military advantage and an economic boon as traders had to pay a toll to travel through the routes.
- Tucked in v 8:12 is the end of a long, ugly story- the defeat of Amalek and the Amalekites, whom God had declared war in the time of Moses and whom Saul failed to obey in their defeat. David finally brought God's will to completion.
Wiersbe has a similar take as I had in the previous post regarding the significance of verse 8: 15-18. It's remarkable that the leader could win the military battles but also take care of things at home. They were desperately in need of restoration following the time of the judges and the flawed reign of Saul. The dawning of a new day and the rising sun after a rain.
Expanding David's Kingdom Under God's Blessing
He defeated and subdued the Philistines
He defeated the Moabites, and spared 1 line, slaying 2 lines. Ryrie thinks this either means he spared every third man, or he measured height, so that he was slaying the adults and sparing the children. Survivors became their servants.
Then it says he defeated the king of Zobah as he went to restore the rule at the River. And the generic word river was capitalized. So it made me wonder what river and why we got that extra little commentary. The only info in my Ryrie footnote was that Zobah was north of Damascus and Zobah was an Aramean kingdom. Because of the capitalization, I assumed the river was the Jordan; but I looked at the map and it seems to distant for the Jordan. There are rivers there that may connect to the Jordan; but it isn't clear.
Saul, David, and Solomon Kingdoms
Then, I ended up down a rabbit hole.
I was looking at the map in the back of my Bible for David's Kingdom and the best choice was the one that compared Saul, David, and Solomon's kingdoms. (right side of the image below) Here are some thoughts I had:
- Saul's is much smaller than David's, which isn't a surprise, except that Saul was the first king of Israel and he was king over all 12 tribes.
- So I compared Saul's kingdom to the map on the twelve tribes of Israel as it was given to them by the Lord through Joshua. (left side of the map below)
- Saul never reclaimed much past the Dead Sea, which left chunks of Simeon and Judah.
- Then there was this chunk missing from the north Trans-Jordan side; but the section right below it was expanded.
- So. East Manasseh was severely shrunken and Gad was expanded.
- At first I thought that must be Saul's tribe, because he would focus on his own, but he was of the tribe of Benjamin.
- According to the map on the right, none of these kings fully conquered Philistia, which is carved out of Judah and Dan. I expect we'll hear about this phenomenon later.
- It also shows Phoenicia being oddly untouched, as it seems it would be prime territory just a sliver between them and sea; but if you look at the map on the left, it wasn't given to any tribe. It's outside the boundary of the Promise Land. The Phoenician King was the one who send David the materials for his house and made alliances with his as well. One commentary (Ryrie or Wiersbe?) suggested it was an attempt to preempt warfare and that these two nations had become dependent on one another because of the geography. The Phoneticians needed the agricultural output from Israel and Israel needed access to the sea and the wide array of good the Phoneticians brought back from their sea travels.
- It is impossible to know God's thoughts and reasons, but it seems like He had a special blessing or protection on Phoenicia. I remember from World History what a significant influence they had across the world with their sea-going civilization. They spread goods and culture, like the alphabet, across the world. And as blessed and successful as David and Solomon were, they didn't seem to touch this kingdom. I just found this interesting.
- Looking closer, Damascus is north of the Promise Land, so to my original question, David was expanding, not just restoring. Which is the title of this post; but I didn't have the map out to understand the actual territory yet.
- Similarly, Moab is the square below Reuben's inheritance. SO even taking that was expansion...see how much more you learn when you use the reference materials! I should know better.
- However, as mentioned above, the Philistines weren't an expansion. They were part of Judah and Dan's inheritance. So we can see why God wanted the enemy completely defeated, or they would never stop coming at Israel until it was enslaved or destroyed.
- So, in conclusion...I guess...since it was just a random set of observations...it looks like Saul did rule over most of the original Promise Land, except the chunks I mention above. It just looks small because David expanded so far, and Solomon even further.
One more observation from looking at the map. I think in the back of my mind I wondered how Saul, the King, couldn't find David with such a large contingency attached to him. I used to think it was just David on the run; but when I learned he had a huge entourage, plus their families, it was harder to imagine them hiding. But looking at the map, I can see God's long-term planning. David was from Judah and Judah is HUGE. And, it is placed at the far reaches of the kingdom. And Benjamin is tiny. Saul would have to enter deep into Judah's territory and couldn't necessarily depend on the locals for supplies and intelligence. As King, he probably could force that a little bit; but tribe is tribe. Again, the map brings the story to life more.
I'm just now on verse 4!
Ok, got a little off track there.
In verse 4, Chapter 8 of II Samuel, for those who lost track...it lists some of the booty David captured from the King Zobah. In the Ryrie footnote, it assumes a copyist's error because the numbers do not match the I Chronicle account. There have been a few of these so far, where the math doesn't make sense, or it is contradicted in another place in the Bible. This seems like evidence against Biblical Inerrancy. I think it's worth sorting out what i think about this.
From my understanding from others who are much more learned about theology than I, the Word, as it was given to the original author, in inerrant. God breathed into a person with their own personality and voice; but inerrant none the less. Then passed through CENTURIES and MILLENNIA, it was passed down through careful copying and sharing. The New Testament books have thousands of copies to compare across time and they remain consistent. The Old Testament has fewer, but has a single cultural group who fostered their copies as prized possessions.
So what does that mean. It does seem like some human error has been introduced here. Doesn't that, but definition make this errant? Not to mention simply reading two translations side-by-side and noting some significant word choice differences. Which one is "correct"?
These are fair questions. And to an unbeliever I think the investigation stops there. These are hard arguments to counter without the aid of the Holy Spirit. However:
- Again, the inerrancy comes at the point of God giving the Word to the author. It is incumbent on the reader to pursue the original language to the degree to which they are able if there is something they suspect is being lost or confused in the modern translation. We can't always read it in our modern language and culture and grasp the complete meaning. We are called to be able to make a defense of our hope and faith and that's going to take a lifetime of study, not a drunken debate about copyist errors.
- The Bible is a complete artifact and no one part can be excised. So, even if there are errors, they can be easily spotted because the Bible continually references itself and tells a story along a consistent arc.
- Also, and most importantly, even more importantly than all theology, Jesus is the Word. And Jesus was perfect. So when He left us with His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, so He could be with each of us always...we have His Word in our hearts all of the time. I have complete faith that, if I am reading a man-made, translated version of His word, and I run across an error, I have Him. He's going to handle it. Most of the time, from what I've seen, it's an issue with a number transcribed, or a single letter, not a whole story or concept. So I don't have much concern. But again, if it's more than that, it will stand out because it won't align with the rest of the collection that God wrote with a consistent arc using 40 authors, 66 books, 6000 years of history and two testaments.
- I know how this sounds. It sounds like I am admitting to errors or, at a minimum, variations and then dismissing them to still use the term inerrant.
- Again, I can see how an unbeliever would come to that. And they are correct. IF. If you don't have an eternal relationship with Jesus, through His saving grace, you only have the old man; not the new man to comprehend the world, let alone heaven. Heaven is now.
I'm just now on verse 5!
Wow. I am on a roll. Slow going through the chapter. I was sick earlier in the week and took the previous two days off and completely rested. It was really, really nice. I also fasted for breakfast and lunch for both days. The rest and fasting has left me felling so refreshed. Able to concentrate. And think more deeply than I have in a long time.
So, back to II Samuel 8, now on verse 5!
v.5 The Arameans had help arrive and David slayed 22,000 of them. (Ryrie labels these as Syrians)
v.6 David built garrisons to help control the Arameans, as they became servants and paid tribute. "And the Lord helped David wherever he went."
v7-12. David collected substantial wealth from those he defeated. Gold shields, silver, bronze. What's significant was, he dedicated it all to the Lord. He was accumulating personal wealth, but treasure to build his Lord's temple, when the time came after his reign.
If we can just get our mind to that perspective. It's seems like a small thing; but it's actually everything. If we can consider all of the workls of our hand and all of our victories to be collecting resources for the Lord, we would see our finances and all of our resources, including our time and talents, as sacred. Not as ours but His. We would make different decisions and we might even find that: "the Lord helps us wherever we go."
v. 13 David was making a name for himself.
v. 14 He also put garrisons in Edom. They also became servants. "And the Lord helped David wherever he went."
v. 15 "David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteous for all of his people."
v.16-18 Lists his various entourage: Joab= army; Jehoshaphat=recorder; Zadok and Ahimelech=priests; Seraiah= secretary; plus other administartors, including his sons.
These last verses, 15-18, show an incredibly well-rounded leader. He delegated big jobs to others. this requires trust and shows that the leader isn't a cult of personality trying to hoard power with fear and greed- such as demonstrated by Saul. This is what the Lord had in mind for His people, if only they had worshiped and trust Him. Now they had David, who was shepherding them as a people, as a nation, and as the Lord's city on a hill for the world to see and through whom they could come to know the Lord.