May 5, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Samuel 5-9.
Background: II Samuel 1-4.
Concepts and Connections.
David crowned king over all Israel and Judah: In the opening chapters of II Samuel, we saw that there was a lot of confusion and civil war that broke out after the death of King Saul and his sons. David had been anointed king of Judah and reigned in Hebron for seven and a half years, while the rest of Israel set up Ish-bosheth the son of Saul to be their king. After the events in the previous chapter took place, however, all the tribes of Israel were ready to unite under David’s reign. He would reign over the united kingdom for 33 years. Once David was established as king, the Lord was with him and gave him success against the enemies of Israel, first with the Jebusites and then with the Philistines (and more in subsequent chapters). David’s house was built by Hiram king of Tyre, who would later play an important role in building the house of the Lord under the reign of Solomon, David’s son (see II Chronicles 2). It is important to note that the success that David had in rising in power is attributed to God, and David inquired of the Lord before he went into battle. With the Lord by his side, his path was made clear.
Lessons surrounding the ark of the covenant: The last time we read about the ark of the covenant, we find that it has been left in the house of Abinadab in Kiriath-jearim after it had been sent back from the Philistines (see I Samuel 5-7:2). David decides in this chapter that it is time to bring the ark to the city of David. However, in the midst of celebration and praise, disaster struck when Uzzah touched the ark and the anger of the Lord was kindled against him. Uzzah was struck down for touching the ark, which was against the law (see Numbers 4:15). A quick reading of this story might lead to a misunderstanding of the wrath of God displayed here, as it may seem out of place or uncalled for by some standards. However, this was a completely preventable occurrence if David had followed the law concerning the moment of the ark in the first place. Here we read that the ark was placed on a new cart, carried by oxen. This was in violation of the law of God, as the ark was only supposed to be moved by a specific family of Levites, the family of Kohath, borne on their shoulders (see Exodus 25:12-14 and Numbers 7:9). Note that it was the oxen that stumbled that caused Uzzah to stabilize the ark, something that would not have happened if the ark was carried in the proper manner. The Lord had given specific instructions of how to move the ark, and who could touch it. The situation was set up for disaster, and should have been handled much differently. Here we can see that even though we might think a certain way is good, if it goes against the word of the Lord then it should not be done.
After Uzzah’s death, David was both angry and afraid, and he halted the progression of the ark, leaving it in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite for three months. When word was received that the Lord blessed the hose of Obed-edom, David decided to once again bring up the ark, and this time he did it the right way (notice that verse 13 says “those who bore the ark,” showing that it was no longer being carried on a cart). There was again much celebration and praise, and David danced before the Lord with all his might, apparently somewhat provocatively according to Michal his wife. When she confronted him for uncovering himself before the other women, however, David rebuked her, saying that it was before the Lord that he was dancing. It would seem that Michal had no place to judge the intent of David’s heart and tell him that he shouldn’t have danced like he did. She would remain barren for the rest of her life for this comment. Nevertheless, the ark was finally brought to the city of David properly.
Good intentions versus the will of God: In this chapter, we read a story that might seem a bit counter intuitive at first, but with a deeper reading we can reveal wisdom and truth. Here David looks out and sees that he has been given rest from his enemies and has been able to build a massive house for himself. This is unsettling to David, a man after God’s own heart, because he has built a house for himself but not for the Lord. Thus, David decides that it would be good to build a house for the Lord, and the prophet Nathan (without council with God) tells him to go and do all that it in his heart. When Nathan goes home, however, the Lord tell him that David is not to build a house for Him, for that is not what He asked for, nor has He dwelt in a house throughout Israel’s history. David wanted to do what he saw as a good thing. He was going to build a house to honor and praise the Lord, making a permanent resting place for the ark of the covenant. Nathan thought it sounded just as good as David did. But God said, “When did I ask you to build me a house?” It was not God’s plan for David to build it. At this point, it may seem that God was displeased with David for wanting to do something God didn’t ask him to do, and that Nathan’s message to David from God is a rebuke. However, when we consider what Solomon said when he was building the house of the Lord (as commanded), we get a better picture of what is going on. The Lord said to David that the intent that David had here was good, that it was good that the idea of building a house for the Lord was in his heart, but it simply wasn’t the will of God (see II Chronicles 6:7-10). The house of the Lord was to be built by David’s son, who would reign in a time of peace and prosperity. Though David’s intent was good, it was not what he was supposed to do. The Lord was not angry with David (other than perhaps for the fact that he should have inquired of the Lord before deciding to build the house), but rather gave him a blessing, saying that He would establish his house for generations. The lesson that we can learn from this is that just because our intentions are good, this doesn’t mean that it is the will of the Lord. When we want to do something, we should always ask for wisdom and guidance in prayer, so that we might discern the will of God and follow in His path. David is very thankful for the message he receives from Nathan, and he says a prayer of gratitude at the end of this chapter to express his thanks and willingness to follow the will of God. May we have the heart of David as displayed here.
The rise of David, though the Lord: In this chapter, we find David firmly establishing his reign and kingdom, having success everywhere he goes. The Lord is with him as he goes to battle against the enemies of Israel, obtaining victory after victory. David was chosen by God to be the king, and now that it was his time, the Lord gave him great success over his enemies so that Israel would rise as a dominate nation. This rise to power would lead into Israel’s golden age as David’s son Solomon took the throne. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went. When the Lord is fighting for you, your enemies do not stand a chance.
Mephibosheth: David and Jonathan had a very close relationship, a bond of friendship that was closer than family (see I Samuel 20). Because of the love that David and Jonathan shared, David wanted to do something for the house of Saul, Jonathan’s father, to show kindness after Jonathan had died. Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth who was crippled due to an accident that happened when his nurse fled with him as a child when she heard that Saul and Jonathan had died, probably fearing that someone would be looking to kill the rest of the house of Saul (see II Samuel 4:4). The king calls for Mephibosheth to come into his presence, and he restores all the land that belonged to him and Ziba his caretaker. Mephibosheth would eat at the king’s table, just like one of his own sons, for the rest of his life. Even after Saul’s death, David shows great loyalty to the Lord’s anointed, especially due to his bond with Jonathan.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 51-53.
The Lord bless you.
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