2 SAMUEL  –  Covers David’s reign which is also contained in the Book of 1 Chronicles Chapters 11-29.

2 Samuel 1 – Three days after Saul’s death an Amalekite man came stumbling into David’s city at Ziklag. He had escaped from the battle and told David that both Saul and Jonathan were dead. He lied about finishing off Saul’s life. Saul, if you recall, took his own life when his armor bearer refused to kill him when he was mortally wounded and dying. This man took Saul’s crown and bracelet and brought them to David. I assume he had heard that David would be the next king. I also assume that he thought he would gain favor in David’s eyes for killing Saul (hence the lie) and bringing him the crown. Unfortunately, he did not know David very well. He was executed for not fearing killing the Lord’s anointed. So his lie to gain favor caused his death. David fasted and mourned the loss of Saul and Jonathan. One part of his lament is a famous quote used today, but few people realize where it comes from: “O how the mighty have fallen.” This was in reference to King Saul and son Jonathan who were both successful soldiers, anointed, and famous men from Israel.

v18: Some of David’s songs were recorded in the Book of Jashar. This book is also mentioned in Joshua 10:13, but it is a lost book.

Application for Today: No matter what we achieve ourselves or for God’s Kingdom, and no matter how great we become on earth, we all go to dust in the end. Let us hope that we die in honor rather than disgrace. Jonathan died in honor. Saul did not. We do not last long, so let us make the best with what little time God gives us.

2 Samuel 2 – God told David to settle in Hebron and the men of Judah crowned him king there. But he was only king of Judah (and probably Simeon as well), the rest of Israel followed one of Saul’s sons named Ish-bosheth, who was appointed king by Saul’s commander Abner. David had reigned over Judah for 7 1/2 years when Abner and Joab, who was a commander in David’s army, squared off in a public place. What started out as a contest between twelve men from each side ended in a full scale battle. Abner’s side came up short and as he retreated, Asahel, one of Joab’s brothers who was a fast runner, kept in hot pursuit of Abner. Abner pleaded with him to stop because he did not want to kill Joab’s brother. Asahel would not, however, so Abner killed him. By the time Joab caught up with Abner, Abner had reached his reinforcements and they stood as one band. Rather than continue the battle, Abner persuaded Joab to stand down, and so he did. David’s side lost 20 men while Abner’s lost 360, but it would be a little while longer for David to take control over all of Israel.

I think Abner and Joab tried to settle the division between the two camps by having a 12 vs 12 contest where the winner would take all. But when they all killed each other, civil war broke out and would continue for about two years. When Abner killed Joab’s fleet-footed brother, he used the butt end of his spear indicating that he did not want to kill him, as was further evidenced by his trying to persuade Asahel to stop chasing him. Unfortunately, this event fueled Joab’s hatred toward Abner and would lead to more treachery and bloodshed.

Application for Today: The Kingdom of God, that was birthed in the OT and was centered around Israel, was constantly shaken by violence and bloodshed. I don’t think God had yet revealed the concept of His Kingdom being spiritually in the hearts of men and that they need to fight with spiritual weapons. I still maintain that what God performed physically through sinful mankind in the OT He duplicates spiritually through mankind in the NT (1 Corinthians 15:46). Of all history, we find ourselves alive in a very privileged era where we are saturated with more knowledge of history and spiritual revelation than any other generation. Hopefully we all can take full advantage of this in our daily lives.

2 Samuel 3 – There was a long war between David’s side and Saul’s (Ish-bosheth’s) side. David’s side grew stronger and Ish-bosheth’s grew weaker. David had at least 6 wives who all bore sons to him. Abner was becoming very strong in Ish-bosheth’s group. But when he was confronted by Ish-bosheth concerning his sex relations with one of Saul’s concubines, Abner became enraged with self-righteousness and the king feared him. Possibly as a result of this, Abner decided to not only defect and serve David, but also bring all of Israel with him. David agreed to allow Abner to join him only if he returned his first wife, Michal to him. King Ish-bosheth agreed and took her away from her current husband who wept with sorrow upon losing her to David (when Saul regarded David as an enemy, he had taken Michal from David, who was never around anymore, and gave her to another man). Abner met with the elders of Israel and convinced them that God had anointed David to be their king. David welcomed Abner back and gave him a feast. Afterward, Abner left in peace to summon the rest of the people to come under allegiance to David. While this was going on, Joab had been away in battle. When he returned and learned of Abner’s defection, he became angry and told David that Abner was not sincere but was rather spying to get information in order to destroy them all. Without David knowing, Joab sent men to call Abner back for a “meeting.” When the two came together, Joab murdered the unwitting Abner to avenge his brother Asahel’s death. Later, when David heard of this, he mourned Abner’s death and put the blame totally upon Joab and cursed him and his family. David fasted and mourned further for Abner. This pleased Abner’s loyalists who could perceive that David was innocent of Abner’s murder. As a result of Abner’s defection and Joab’s treachery, all of Israel was about to be gathered under the authority of King David for the first time since he became King of Judah.

Application for Today: Once again God uses circumstances which are not good to bring about something good. He does the same for us today…if we have the eyes to see it.

2 Samuel 4 – More treachery in Israel. Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son and king over Israel, was murdered. His murderers brought his head to David thinking that they did right. Again, they did not know David well. David had them killed. Now Jonathan had a surviving son that was only 5 years old when his nurse fled with him to escape being killed during the transition of power. In her haste, however, he fell and became permanently lame in his feet. His name was Mephibosheth.

2 Samuel 5 – All of Israel now rallied behind David and crowned him their king. So after several years of civil war, Israel finally becomes one nation. David was 30 years old and he reigned for 40 years. He and his men attacked Jerusalem and won. He lived there now and defeated the Philistines each time they arrayed themselves for battle. Each time, he sought the Lord. The first battle, God said to attack their front. He did and won. The second time God said to come from behind them and wait for a sound over the trees before attacking. David did exactly what God told him and he won. Rather than becoming arrogant and drunk with power, “David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” A rare attitude for any king.

Application for Today: David passed a difficult test. Very few people who gain power can remain humble and serve for the benefit of the people around them. Whatever blessing or position that we have, God has a reason. So let us use what He gives to promote His Kingdom on earth. How? By believing upon the One He has sent (Jesus), and loving Him with all we have and loving others as we love ourselves. Use our gifts and abilities for Him. Only then can righteousness rule.

2 Samuel 6 – Being in full control now, King David wanted the Ark of the Covenant brought from Abinadab’s house to his city. Abinadab was a Levite (priest) and his two sons, Ahio and Uzzah guided the Ark that was resting on a new cart on its way to David. Unfortunately for Uzzah, the cart began to tilt coming down a hill, so he reached out and touched the Ark to prevent it from falling down. On the surface, this seems to us like a good deed on Uzzah’s part. But God regarded this Ark as extremely Holy and gave Moses strict instructions about how to move it:

1) It had to be moved by only Levites (priests before God).
2) The priests had to consecrate themselves before carrying it.
3) It was to be carried, not rolled in a cart.
4) The carriers had to use poles to support it and so no human would touch it.

We learn from 1 Chronicles 15:13-15 that David did not seek out these rules beforehand. Therefore, because it was in a cart, tipping over became a possibility. God’s anger was kindled because these people did not revere Him as He should be revered. It cost Uzzah his life, and David became angry with God and did not dare bring the Ark into his city, but rather left it with a certain family. That family became blessed over the next 3 months because of the Ark’s presence. So David, apparently aware of his mistake and seeing how the Ark was now blessing rather than killing, brought it properly to his city.

As the Ark was being brought in, David and many Israelis began to be touched with the joyful Spirit of God. The joy was so intense that David took off his kingly robes and wore only a linen ephod, which is something that priests (and sometimes others) would wear during ceremonies. I think it was the equivalent of a “dress-down” for David, but he was far from being naked. His fervent dancing may have been a skipping and leaping type of motion. In any case, all were rejoicing with him. Only his wife Michal condemned him for it. His defense to her was that it was done before the Lord. In other words, if God’s Spirit is causing people to rejoice, then dancing (or skipping), if done out of that spirit, is right in the eyes of God. Michal lived her life without ever having children and it is implied by verses 22-23 that it was caused by God being displeased with her attitude toward David who was worshiping God in a free and sincere manner.

Applications for Today:

1) God was Holy then and He is Holy now. He does not change. We always need to be mindful of His Holiness. When Jesus taught us to pray, the first thing we are to recognize is the Father’s Holiness.
2) There are many acceptable ways to worship God throughout the Scriptures, but we must be ever mindful of His Holiness: various musical instruments, lifting hands, dancing, shouting,  singing are all acceptable.

While it is a good and spiritual thing to be still and know that He is God, this is not the only acceptable manner that He expects us to present to Him. Sadly, many churches only sing a few songs and repeat memorized passages. In my view, they have placed worship into a box and they refuse to see beyond that. I think this radical scene with David dancing was placed in the Holy Scriptures to prevent stoic Christians from dominating worship. Can believers get carried away with emotionalism? Certainly, because anything can be taken to an extreme degree, but this does not make all emotional expression wrong. Too many believers today throw the baby out with the bath water with this issue. I have rarely found that stoicism leads to humility and evangelism. I do find the people who get excited about serving Jesus wanting to share Him with others rather than keeping it privately to themselves. I hope that more churches find the good balance between the extremes. I also do not believe that this can simply be mustered up by the people, but it must be wrought by the Holy Spirit. Hence, a group that desires to break from stoicism, must seek, fast, and pray for the Spirit to “visit” them. I cannot think of any person throughout history that is more exciting than Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus’ Body (the universal church) should be the most exciting thing on earth. The Scriptures teach that the joy of the Lord is our strength in Nehemiah 8:10. If we have no joy, how strong in Him can we be?

This intense joy expressing itself in the form of exciting worship is not found in any other group in this world. When I listen to people of other religions, for example, I never hear of their intense joy for their god(s) and how much they love them. I do see a lot of self-righteousness, rules, and bondage to some rather unhealthy practices. True Christianity is impressive when objectively lined up with all other isms or creeds. I will forever love that holy, exciting, and loving gleam in the eyes of those who are connected to the real Jesus…and if they want to dance before the Lord, I say “Yes and Amen.”

2 Samuel 7 – Finally, David has rest from enemies. He sits before the Lord and talks to Him. He is of humble spirit as he marvels about all that God has done for him and promised him in the future. As David speaks to God, he professes that “there is no God besides thee.” I believe this was “music to God’s ears.” It is what He was trying to accomplish in His people for years. This is yet another reason I believe that God would say that David was “a man after His own heart.”

With more time on his hands, David now wants to build God a nice dwelling instead of that old portable tent. God, however, tells Nathan the prophet to decline David’s request because He wants David’s descendant to build His Temple. We learn in 1 Kings 5-7 that it was Solomon who built it. God’s reason? He wanted a man of peace, not a warrior to build it (1 Chronicles 22:7ff). David did, however, draw up the plans and provide the materials (1 Chronicles 28:11ff; 22:2-5). As God was prophesying over David and his descendant (Solomon), there were some references to a deeper prophecy of the eternal Messianic rule of Jesus Christ. Verse 16 is basically repeated in Luke 1:33. Also see my commentary on  1 Chronicles 17:9-14. Finally, since verse 14 says “when he commits iniquity” it must be talking about Solomon. But I believe there is still a deeper message and picture being prophesied here.

Lastly, I find verse 15 particularly interesting because God promises not to remove His lovingkindness from Solomon (I assume) as He did with Saul. When we view Solomon’s life, he backslides miserably at the end with no Biblical evidence that he repented and found his way back to God except, perhaps, his Book of Ecclesiastes where he realizes that this world offers nothing and all people need to be connected to God. This chapter may shed light on his eternal fate, i.e., God forgave him and he is in heaven today.

Application for Today: When we worship and pray, it is good to tell God that He is the only God, not because He is on an ego trip (we learn that from the cross), but because it pleases Him to see the Truth in His kids and it always builds up our spirit when we worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Maybe it’s like a little child telling dad or mom that they are the only parent the child will ever have. Any dad or mom hearing this would bless them.

2 Samuel 8 – David defeated and subdued many Philistines and other heathen tribes. He killed many captured soldiers and kept alive a small percentage to serve as slaves. He amassed much gold, silver, and bronze, but dedicated the wealth to the Lord. He ruled righteously for all the people.

2 Samuel 9 – David discovered that Jonathan (his deceased best friend) had a surviving son named Mephibosheth who was lame in both feet (as you may recall). Because of an oath with Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:42), David honored him with wealth and the privilege of eating supper at the king’s table each day. Mephibosheth was stunned at David’s kindness. He probably feared for his life when David summoned him into his place.

2 Samuel 10 – David wanted to bless the son of an Ammonite King named Nahash who showed kindness to him. Nahash had just died, so David sent emissaries to console the mourning son. But the son’s servants convinced him that David’s men were sent to spy and make war later, so they dishonored the men and humiliated them by shaving off half their beards and tearing their robes. All this lead to war in which David and the Israelis won easily, even with hired Syrians on the Ammonites’ side. As a result, many kings made peace with Israel and served them. So things are finally settling down and looking good for David, but it’s like the old war movie line, “Yeah, it’s too quiet!”

Application for Today: Keeping our word with people is like adding gold and silver to our reputation, and it will pay off for us sometime in the future.

2 Samuel 11 – Enter Bathsheba

While Joab and the army were out fighting battles, David saw from his roof a beautiful woman bathing. He sent servants to bring Bathsheba to him. He had sex with her knowing she was married to Uriah, a Hittite who was a very loyal man in David’s army. Upon finding out that she was pregnant by him, David tried to get Uriah to spend nights with his wife so that people would think the baby would be Uriah’s. Uriah did not think it was proper to enjoy the “comforts of home” since many army men were sleeping in open fields. David even got him drunk one night and he still refused to sleep with his wife. In desperation, David ordered Joab to place Uriah in a position during the next battle that would get him killed. Joab obeyed and it worked. Uriah died. After Bathsheba completed her days of mourning for her husband, David took her to be his wife and she later gave birth to a son.

Application for Today: Sin will have its consequences even though we can be forgiven.

2 Samuel 12 – Did David Torture His Enemies?

God revealed to Nathan the prophet what David had done. Nathan tells David a sad story about a rich man who took a precious animal from a poor man to supply a meal for his guest. David was appalled at the rich man and concluded that he should pay restitution fourfold and then be executed for his lack of compassion. Nathan then said, “You are that man, David!” This is what David did to poor Uriah. Consequently, violence would never part from David’s house, evil will come forth from his family, and his wives would be given to David’s “companion” (which turned out to be his son Absalom). What David did in secret, God would occur in public. Ouch! At this, David admits his sin. Nathan then said David would not die because God had taken away his sin, but this would now give opportunities for the heathens to blaspheme the God of Israel. Also, the child would have to die (maybe so the child would not be a constant reminder of this horrible episode). The son became very sick, so David fasted in case God might change His mind. Once the child died, David ate food and said, “He will not come to me, but I will go to him.”

Some time later, Jedidiah was born to David and Bathsheba. He was better known as Solomon and the Lord loved him much. In the meantime, Joab was still attacking tribes and winning, but he brought David in at the last moment so his king could get the credit for the victory.

Controversy with v31 – What did King David do to the captives from the recent victory over the Ammonites? Some scholars think that David tortured and executed them by sawing them in two, chopping them with axes, spearing them with sharp iron instruments, and making them walk through fire. Others believe he made them slaves who worked with those implements and tools. In 1 Chronicles 20:3, it recounts this same event and says he “cut them with saws…” The King James Version in this chapter says, “put them under saws.” Three major versions other than KJV interpret this as a description of slavery, not a torturous death. Those that believe he executed them claim David used the same barbaric methods that the Ammonites practiced, including making their children walk through fire as a ritualistic sacrifice to the horrible god Molech. In other words, they believe David was giving them a taste of their own medicine. Some argue that David’s heart was still hard from his sinful escapade with Bathsheba, hence the terrible treatment. While I believe that the KJV is a good one, it still is a translation into English and may not be as perfect as the original Hebrew. Even Hebrew scholars, however, can disagree. It is not so easy to know the truth on this.

Applications for Today:

1) We cannot hide sin from God. He sees and knows all.
2) Our sin can have bad consequences on other people.
3) We need to be honest when God confronts us with sin.
4) God has taken the punishment for our sin, but He does not necessarily cancel its ripple effect on this world. We do reap what we sow.
5) If a human becomes rich or powerful or famous and is loved by all, we cannot think we can get away with more sin. This is what Tiger Woods cited as his problem that led to his sinning with other women. I think David may have had a touch of this lying voice in his head too.
6) Verse 23 may imply that babies who die, go to heaven. If so, then at what age does this not apply? I don’t believe we can say. Maybe God knows each child’s future no matter when they die, and He therefore would know if they would believe in Jesus or not. This  reasoning and speculation is called “skating on Scheer ice.” In other words, don’t go to the bank on it. All I know is that God cannot be fooled and that all His judgments are perfect and just.
7) David’s sin caused the death of that baby boy, just as the sin of abortion causes deaths today. But God forgives and restores. He gave David Solomon right after this tragedy. God also forgives people who have aborted their unborns and can restore their lives through Christ Jesus.
8) Our sins as Christians can cause non-Christians to mock the Body of Christ. It has been going on for a long time. Televangelists and other church leaders have led the way. Satan tries to bring down the more famous and powerful believers so more people can reject Christianity. Therefore, the next time we feel the urge to sin, we need to pause and think about its full ramifications. We also need to constantly pray for our church leaders because they will be targeted by the demonic host. Finally, do not forget that Jesus taught us to pray that we would not be lead into temptation but be delivered from evil. If temptation comes our way, we can always opt to pray it away (only if we really want to, however). God always provides the way of escape (1 Cor.10:13), but  we must want it to make it work.

2 Samuel 13 – Love vs. Lust

David’s son Absalom had an attractive virgin sister named Tamar. Another son of David named Amnon loved her. After raping her and treating her like dirt, he hated her more than he had loved her. Absalom was furious but did nothing for two years, then had Amnon killed. Fearing his father David, he fled the city and David mourned the loss of his two sons — one to death and one to exile. Absalom stayed away from David for 3 years while David yearned to have him return.

2 Samuel 14 – Joab talks David into allowing Absalom back to Jerusalem. Joab got him, brought him back, but David did not want to see him face-to-face. So Absalom stayed away from David for 2 years. Then finally they met. Absalom prostrated himself before his father and David kissed him. Now Absalom was very handsome and had lots of favor with the people.

2 Samuel 15 – Absalom was on a quick rise to power. He won over the hearts of many within Jerusalem by cunning. After a number of years, he organized a rebellion against David and crowned himself king of Hebron. When this conspiracy grew stronger, David got word of it and feared Absalom. David decided to flee from Jerusalem in haste, but he left 10 concubines behind to keep house. Many people wept along with David as they left the city for the wilderness. David, however, did send some loyal men back to Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. These men were to secretly act on the behalf of David while pretending to be loyal to Absalom. Finally, Absalom arrived in Jerusalem.

Application for Today: When we lust after someone and think that it is love, there will be trouble. This explains why Amnon hated Tamar after the rape. Tamar was just as beautiful as before, although she was put to shame and treated horribly by Amnon, but Amnon could not see it anymore. Lust and love are opposites:

1) Love builds, lust destroys.
2) Love lasts a long time, lust but a short time.
3) Love is not jealous, lust is always jealous.
4) Love does not demand its own way, lust does.
5) Love is a giver, lust is a taker.
6) Love is selfless lust is selfish.

Often, teens do not take time to discern the difference between lust, love, and infatuation. Infatuation usually focuses on unsuitable persons and parents will tend to disapprove, it tends to focus on a few highly visible or fantasied traits, it’s more common among young or immature people, it can attach itself to 2 or 3 people at the same time whereas love sticks to one person, infatuation can reoccur soon after one is over, boredom is frequent once sexual excitement dies down, partners depend on external amusement rather than getting to know each other personally, little change in the relationship over time, and problems and barriers are disregarded. When we love someone, we want to know the other person’s interests and aspirations and we want to share the joys with them. Problems are tackled as they arise. Sexual lust exploits another soul like one abuses a drug. The other person is just an object for superficial pleasure that satisfies only temporarily whereas love fulfills long-term. Although rape is not always caused by lust (often it’s a power grab), I am sure many of the above statements were true for Amnon.

Also bear in mind that lust takes many forms other than sex. We can have a lust for money, fame, power, or drugs. It is basically the same thing. Proverbs tells us that he who longs for money will never be satisfied with money. So we can conclude that whatever lust we have, the more we get of that thing, the more we will want, and it always ends in destruction.

We can learn much from other people’s mistakes. I’ve always laughed at the shallow excuse that says, “Hey, how do you know you won’t like if you’ve never tired it!” First of all, it is not a matter of liking or disliking. It is a matter of moral conscience, something that only human beings have. Second, God says that these events were recorded for us to learn. Why should I try cocaine, for example? From being a drug educator and drug counselor at a rehab place, I know that cocaine will make me fell great for a very short time, followed by a depression, and it will destroy my character and my life. How do I KNOW this although I’ve never tried it? Drug research, studies, and testimonies of hundreds of cocaine addicts that I have personally known in my career. There are myriads of other things that can make me feel good without all the bad stuff attached. It’s a no-brainer. If we have diabetes, we do not demand to have a doctor that is diabetic. Just because he/she is not a diabetic does not mean they know nothing about it and cannot counsel those who have it. Therefore, if you or I have never used pot, we can still counsel those who think it is good (apart from legitimate medical use). It’s important to the younger generation that someone makes the Bible super relevant to their world.

2 Samuel 16 – As David was fleeing Jerusalem, he found out that Mephibosheth stayed there thinking he would become king since David left and that he was Saul’s son. So after all the nice treatment David gave him, this was all that was in his mind. To make things worse, a relative of Saul named Shimei began throwing stones, dust, and curses at David and his servants. He accused David of murdering Saul (a lie) and took satisfaction in condemning David for his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, and he asserted that God had stripped the throne away from him and gave it to his son Absalom. One of David’s men had enough and asked permission to cut off Shimei’s head, but David would not permit that because he thought that this was God’s judgment against him, and that the Lord Himself was telling Shimei to do all this. At this point, David was hoping that God would begin to have pity on him or show him some mercy as he took this harassment for quite some time. In the meantime back at Jerusalem, David’s undercover friend Hushai convinced Absalom that he had transferred allegiance from David to him. A highly esteemed counselor named Ahithophel, who David had previously prayed that God would make his advice be rejected, told Absalom to have sex with David’s concubines who had been left behind to tend house. A tent was set up on the roof and Absalom had his way with all those women so that the public could not only see it, but sold the idea that Absalom had totally overpowered his father so that his power would be established with the people of Israel. This fulfilled Nathan’s prophecy over David when he confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba – “the sword will never depart from your house…I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight” (2Samuel 12:10-11).

Application for Today: In our sinful state, we often feel we can get away with sin. Sin has power to deceive (Hebrews 3:13). But David saw the relationship between sowing and reaping spoken about in Galatians 6:7 and I’m quite certain he remembered Nathan’s prophecy. David’s reaping may have been extreme compared to our experiences, but he had much revelation from God and had huge responsibility before God and God’s people, therefore he received a stricter judgment (James 3:1). Similarly, Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land because he had the wrong attitude when striking a rock for water. In any case, no one really gets away with anything. Fortunately, God is compassionate, merciful, and forgiving, but wrongdoing will always have repercussions.

2 Samuel 17 – Does God’s Mercy Lead to More Sinning?

Ahithophel also advised Absalom to send out troops against David immediately and that he would go along and kill David himself. Hushai, David’s plant, convinced Absalom and his men to delay the attack in order to gather up more troops because David and his men were all gallant warriors. A message for David was sneaked out, but a boy saw what was going on and he reported it to Absalom. Men almost caught the secret messengers but they were hidden in a well and escaped and got the message to David. They needed to quickly move further away from Jerusalem and keep going across a river. When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not heeded he hanged himself because he could not bear the public disgrace. He was the grandfather of Bathsheba. So I assume he had resentment and unforgiveness toward David for what David did to Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. In the meantime, Absalom and his army drew near to David’s army and set up camp and prepared for the fight. He appointed Amasa to replace Joab as the army commander. Sympathetic people brought food and beds to David and his men. The stage is set for the showdown.

Application for Today: Even though our sins were like scarlet but now are like the white of pure snow, there are sometimes lingering consequences. In this case, David, although totally forgiven, would need to deal with treachery and violence throughout his reign. Critics who belittle the Christian faith scoff at the idea of someone being suddenly pardoned from all they’ve done wrong just because they turn to God. They further assert that if we are saved by mercy and not works, then we might as well keep sinning since it will all be forgiven in the end. What they fail to realize is that the true Christian faith is a love relationship between God and his children, and when we sin, it damages that relationship. Furthermore, if a person wants to continue all sorts of sinning as a lifestyle, it indicates they really do not love the Savior. At some point, there will be no room for God to grant repentance (Hebrews 12:17). Perhaps Galatians 6:7 best defends this humanistic challenge: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked (or fooled); for whatever a man sows (does), this he will also reap.”

2 Samuel 18 – David’s army defeated Absalom’s army. While retreating on a mule, Absalom’s head got caught in tree branches and his mule kept going leaving him dangling. Now King David told all his men to go easy on his son Absalom, but when Joab heard about his vulnerability, he went to him and speared him through his chest while ten others finished him off. The details of Absalom’s death were not told to David. He deeply mourned the loss of his son in spite of his rebellion.

2 Samuel 19 – Joab gets David to cease his mourning at least enough to speak to his people. The people who had anointed Absalom, however, were arguing among themselves about what to do now that their king was dead. David then said he would welcome them all back to his kingdom and they would be treated as brothers, so they all came back. David even promised Amasa, Absalom’s former commander, to replace Joab eventually. I’m sure this did not sit well with Joab. Now Shimei, that curser of the king, humbly came to David and deeply apologized and confessed his sin. One of David’s men wanted to kill Shimei immediately, but David showed him mercy. One thing that gave David this ability was his feeling of security that God had established him as king, so he did not feel threatened any more. Then Mephibosheth came to meet David and told him his servant lied about him not wanting to follow David earlier. David believed him and told him to divide his land with his servant, but Mephibosheth gladly gave his portion to his servant so he could be with David. Finally, an 80-year-old loyal servant of David named Barzillai was invited to be with David, but he wanted to go home and finish what little time he had left with his family so as to not be a burden to David. In his place, however, he asked David to take his servant. Nice gesture. What a guy. After crossing the Jordan, the men of Israel started to argue against the sons of Judah because they alone surrounded David as he crossed the river. They wanted to be part of that as well. Are these guys grown-ups? Foolish pride. Sad.

Application for Today: We all need to be brainwashed!

In the midst of this treachery, dishonesty, hatred, and violence, arises Barzillai. His character was a breath of fresh air for me and reminded me that God always had righteous people alive on earth. When we allow the media and movies to assault  our minds, we need a good “brain-wash” to get God’s perspective and to see His goodness and faithfulness. His Word does this for us.

2 Samuel 20 – More unrest. A worthless fellow named Sheba stirred up the men of Israel against submitting to David, but the men of Judah remained faithful to him. When David settled back into Jerusalem, he sent men after Sheba. On the way, Joab met Amasa and ran him through with his sword (murdered him). Something tells me that Joab, since he is living by the sword, will die by the sword. Joab’s men laid siege to the city where Sheba was and prepared to destroy it, but a wise woman made a deal with Joab. She had the people behead Sheba so Joab would leave the city alone.

2 Samuel 21 – David began to get tired in battles, so his men insisted that he not fight any more so that the “lamp of Israel” would not go out. So David’s men finished off Goliath’s four brothers. One of them had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He also defied Israel just like Goliath did. This chapter may have pre-dated earlier chapters.

2 Samuel 22 – David composed a long song of praise to the Lord emphasizing that God was his rock, fortress, and refuge through all his trials. Some of these passages seem to fit what Jesus may have prayed at times when He walked this earth.

Application for Today: Joab was a man who got easily carried away with his power, stature, and success in battle. He became a murderer and would later be killed. One time Jesus’ disciples were angered when a town did not welcome them in, and they wanted to have God send down lightning on them. Jesus warned them that they did not realize what kind of spirit they gave themselves over to at that point. We Christians need to be ever careful not to carry our truth and righteousness with an angry, judgmental spirit that hates sinners. Jesus spent considerable time with such people. The one thing that I have found to be successful in changing evil human behavior is love, not hate. Countless times, Joab witnessed David showing mercy to guilty people yet he never embraced it himself.

2 Samuel 23 – Some of David’s last official words of poetry to his people were recorded here. He started by proclaiming that the Spirit of God was upon him and His Word was given to him. There would also be a judgment between the saved and the worthless (unsaved) people. The rest of this chapter contains a list of King David’s “Hall of Fame.” These were valiant men who served him well in battles. Joab was not mentioned, although his brothers Abishai and Asahel (the fast runner reluctantly killed by Absalom) along with Joab’s two armor bearers were named. Interestingly, Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband whom David had murdered, was included. Good move!

2 Samuel 24:

1-4: This can be confusing when coupled with 1 Chronicles 21:1 which is also covering this part of David’s history. Was it God or Satan telling David to take this census? The best explanation is that Satan put the thought into David and it angered God against David and Israel. The New King James Version further confuses this difficult verse by stating: “And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, ‘Go number Israel and Judah.'” The NKJV changes “he” to He” to make it sound like God wanted David to do this. Without the whole Biblical context supplied by 1 Chronicles 21:1, it would appear that the NKJV is correct. It makes more sense, however, to conclude that Satan did indeed instigate this — perhaps due to David’s pride or him beginning to trust in big numbers rather than God for Israel’s protection. Clearly this whole thing was recognized by Joab as being wrong. We find in Exodus 30:12 that God alone is supposed to order a census and that each man was commanded to give a little money (perhaps about 50 cents) as a “ransom for his soul.” All gave the same amount whether rich or poor signifying that all people need the same redemption and protection from God alone. Since David’s census did not include this ransom, it is safe to conclude that God did not ordain this. On the surface, taking this census does not appear to us as being too serious of an event, but in the spiritual scheme of things wrapped in the Old Testament times, this was a huge sin on David’s part. David, being a leader and a spiritual person at heart, should have known better.

5-9: After almost 10 months, Joab had the results: Israel had 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword and Judah had 500,000. The 1 Chronicles 21:5 passage, however, stated 1,100,000 for Israel and 470,000 for Judah. This passage also reveals that Joab did not bother to count Benjamin and Levi because the job was so abhorrent to him. Why the discrepancy in the numbers? The context of each is clearly referring to the same event in history. I think it is safe to assume that each was recorded at different times in history, and maybe one account was preliminary numbers. While the accounts are relatively close, it is always uncomfortable not seeing an exact match. The best explanation I have found to explain why the numbers differ comes from:


10-13: After about 9 months, David’s conscience finally wakes up and he realizes his sin and confesses it to the Lord. Through the prophet Gad, God gives David three choices for a punishment: 1) seven years of famine for the land, 2) three months of running from enemies, or 3) three days of pestilence in the land.

14: In great distress, David chose pestilence, not because it was a shorter time of sorrow, but because he would fall into God’s hands rather than man’s. He knew that God had more mercy than man.

15-17: Pestilence came and 70,000 men died. David couldn’t stand it anymore and pleaded with God to punish him directly because it was his sin not the sin of the people. When the angel of the Lord stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem, God relented and stopped the calamity (mercy). At this moment, that angel was by the threshing floor of a man named Araunah, a Jebusite.

18-25: The prophet Gad told David to erect an altar on that threshing floor. Araunah offered to freely give David that area, but David insisted on paying for it because he did not want to sacrifice to the Lord without costing him something. Hence David took possession of the threshing floor and offered a burnt offering to the Lord as a result of all that had happened pertaining to his great sin.

Interesting note: The Temple was later built on this floor and it was near the same place where Abraham offered Isaac to God (2 Chronicles 3:1; 22:1).

Applications for Today:

1) Although Uriah the Hittite tragically lost his life prematurely, God honors him in His Word forever (Matthew 24:35). We, too, can be assured that no matter what happens to us, we have an eternal reward and will have face-to-face fellowship with Jesus Christ.
2) We are not to trust in physical strength or human intelligence, but only in Christ. Yes, mankind can build great bridges, but every time I drive over one, I trust in God to prevent that thing from falling down while I am on it. Yes, I have had many orthopaedic surgeries and doctors can do great things, but I put my trust in God each time. The United States’ military is the strongest on earth, but unless God is protecting and blessing it, it will not succeed. People are fallible. God is not.
3) Our sin, though it be forgiven, can still have lingering negative consequences.
4) The Bible never says to trust in another human. Love them, yes. Trust them, no. Jesus never did (John 2:24-25). David didn’t, and he threw himself into the merciful hands of God. Man will disappoint us. God is forever faithful. If a believer has jumped from church to church over the years because of constant offenses, they need to get their eyes off people and onto Christ as well as work through those offenses in the proper manner. Some people judge churches on what they think they can get out them rather than going to a place to serve the Lord with the talents given to them by God.
5) David’s difficult experience led to the physical foundation for a later great work, the foundation for God’s Temple. We, as spiritual stones in God’s hands, will probably be shocked to find out on Judgment Day how some of our own difficult experiences had led to great things that God wrought later, perhaps even after our death (Romans 8:28). IT IS SO GREAT TO SERVE HIM.