II Samuel 20-24: David’s final years.

May 26, 2015.

Daily Reading: II Samuel 20-24.

Background: II Samuel 16-19.

Concepts and Connections.

Chapter 20

The rebellion of Sheba: The kingdom under David certainly had its challenges throughout his reign, often with political confusion and mixed loyalties. As the aftermath of Absalom’s conspiracy is settling down, a worthless man by the name of Sheba tries to similarly take the kingdom away from David, just as Absalom tried, but he did so with seemingly much less planning and conspiracy. He simply blows a trumpet and announces that Israel has no part in David. There must have been some residual feelings of either betrayal or mistrust in Israel, for many people follow Sheba in his rebellion. David had put Amasa in charge of his army instead of Joab (see previous chapter), and he told Amasa to assemble the men of Judah in three days before him, likely to go after Sheba. When he didn’t come back in the allotted time, David sent Abishai after Sheba with Joab his brother’s men. Joan would go on to kill Amasa, eventually moving his body to a field and putting a covering over it so that people wouldn’t keep stopping and staring at it. Joan and Abishai then pursued Sheba and trapped him in Abel of Beth-maacah. When the people of the city saw the army of Abishai and Joab coming, a wise woman went out to reason with Joab, asking him why they were coming against a city of Israel, their own people. Joab makes it clear that all they really care about it Sheba, and the woman goes into the town and convinces them to give up Sheba, so that the army of Joab and Abishai would not come against the city. The people of the city agreed and they cut off the head of Sheba, throwing it out to Joab, who then called his people back and left the city in peace. Notice how communication was key in avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. (Compare this story with Ecclesiastes 9:14-15).

Chapter 21

Famine and war: For three years in David’s reign there was a famine that came across the land, and finally David inquired of the Lord as to why the famine had come on the land. The Lord made it clear to David that the famine had come because of what Saul had done to the Gibeonites. Israel had made a vow to the Gibeonites (even though it was through deception) a long time before this instance that they would not kill them like they were the people who were in the promised land (see Joshua 9:3-17). Evidently, Saul had broken this vow by striking some of them down. This was not good in the sight of the Lord, and because of this a famine was on the land. David made peace with the Gibeonites by giving them seven of the house of Saul for them to hang, and he took the bones of Saul, Jonathan and the seven sons and buried them in the tomb of Kish, their father. The famine was then lifted from the land. Unfortunately for David, this would not be the only hardship he would have, for there was also war with the Philistines, one in which he almost died in, if it had not been for Abishai. David was not allowed to physically go into battle with the people after that. Though the Philistines had giants and there were more wars with them, David was given victory over them.

Chapter 22

Praising God for deliverance: This is David’s psalm that he wrote in response to deliverance from his enemies and from the hand of Saul. This psalm is recorded as Psalm 18. See notes on Psalm 18.

Chapter 23

1. The last words of David: David, referred to here as the sweet psalmist of Israel, makes a final address in which he praises God for His righteousness and deliverance, and the everlasting covenant that He had made with him (see I Kings 7:15-16, Psalm 89:29 and Isaiah 55:3). This is one of the few instances that we see David explicitly say that the Lord is speaking by him, denoting himself as a prophet. This may be implied at times, and it is apparent that New Testament characters (including Jesus) certainly took the psalms as prophecy (see Matthew 22:43-44 as an example), but here David explicitly says that he is speaking by the Spirit.

2. David’s mighty men: At the end of this chapter there is a record of the mighty men of David, three of which are specifically called out as being on a different level than the others. How great these men must have been to receive the honor of having their name recorded as one of David’s mighty men. These were likely part of the cohort that went with David when he was fleeing from Absalom (and eventually fighting against him), perhaps even joining David first when he was fleeing from Saul (see II Samuel 18 and I Samuel 24, 26, respectively). The three mighty men were honored on a different level than the rest, but all are noteworthy. Perhaps one of the most interesting names on this list, however, is Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba, who David had killed after his affair with Uriah’s wife (see II Samuel 11). This gives an interesting insight to the great sin of David, implying that he knew Uriah fairly well, and probably knew his wife before he had the affair with her.

Chapter 24

1. The census: It would seem that there was some intent in David that was not good (such as he didn’t trust the Lord, or he wanted to go to war with someone he shouldn’t or for the wrong motives) when he told Joab to number the children of Israel. I Chronicles 21 tells us that it was Satan who prompted David to call for this census. Joab tried to get David not to do it, but David’s word prevailed, and Joab counted the people. There were 800,00 valiant (perhaps “seasoned”) men who drew the sword in Israel and 500,000 in Judah. After taking the census, there was guilt in David’s heart, and he realized that he had sinned in numbering the people. God sent the prophet Gad to David with a choice of three punishments for the sin that he had committed: three years of famine, three months of not availing against enemies or three days of pestilence. David chooses the pestilence because he doesn’t want to be given into the hands of men (and presumably because the famine would have lasted three years), and this pestilence killed 70,000 people. When then angel of the Lord was about to spread the pestilence to Jerusalem, however, the Lord relented from His wrath and said “It is enough.” Thus, the consequences of David’s sin was ended.

2. David’s altar: After the pestilence, Gad is sent back to David to tell him to build an altar at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David goes to Aruanah and tells him what he has been sent to do, and Aruanah tries to give him the threshing floor and animals for the sacrifice for free; he was the king after all. David, however, refuses to sacrifice to the Lord what had cost him nothing. This is a good point for us to remember throughout our spiritual lives. The sacrifices we make for God are likely going to be just that- sacrifices. We should not want to only sacrifice things to God that have cost us nothing. After David built the altar, the Lord abated the plague that He had brought about on the land.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 29-32.

Praise be to God.

-Walter

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