Refresher: Saul and three of his sons have died in battle against the Philistines. Instead of crowing over the passing of his enemy, David grieves over the news. Afterward at God’s direction, David moves into Hebron, a city of Judah, and is declared king…but only over Judah. Abner, Saul’s right hand man, has acted quickly and installed Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, as king over the 11 other tribes. Now there are two kings in Israel…
Read 2 Samuel 2: 12-32
o VV. 14ff - Before this skirmish, the division within Israel could have been headlined as ‘Courtier Gone Rogue Vexes the Establishment.’ But the instability has developed, to the point that there are now two kings in Israel. In other words: civil war! At these dismal junctures in Israel’s history, one should reflect on how far Israel has strayed from what she was intended to be (Exodus 19: 5,6). Yet in the upheaval God is still guiding things forward. GOD DOESN’T REQUIRE STABILITY TO WORK OUT HIS PURPOSES: “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known” (Psalm 77: 19).
o VV. 14ff – This episode prevents the possibility that David and Ish-bosheth will reign amicably over their respective tribes. In fact, it will be an enmity, fueled partly by the acrimony sealed in bloodshed between Joab and Abner.
o V. 16 – All wars have a certain pointlessness to them, though it’s rarely on display as clearly as here.
o VV. 18ff – Asahel is energized by zeal for his lord David… and probably after a little glory for himself. Abner is reluctant to confront Asahel, not because he fears him, but rather because he knows he’ll kill this brother of Joab, and his respect for Joab doesn’t allow him any satisfaction in that. Let this complexity remind you of two things: a) that in any quarrel almost always motives are complicated, and b) outside of our Christ, it’s difficult to find anyone to wholeheartedly admire and get behind.
o VV. 26- 28 – The end of this battle between Israelite brothers comes not in victory, but when one leader speaks common sense, and his opponent recognizes it as such. What mollifying good sense do you see in Abner’s little speech?
Read 2 Samuel 3: 1-25
o V. 1 – Not where he is going to end up, where he by all rights should be… yet there is progress. Notice that! “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
o V. 6ff – Ish-bosheth loses his most valuable asset through jealous insecurity. This is not the first time that David has advanced without lifting a finger, because of in-fighting among his enemies. A house divided cannot stand.
o VV. 9,10 – It appears that the house of Saul has known for some time that they’ve been fighting on the losing side, against the sworn intention of God.
o VV. 13ff – Not only is David advancing, what he lost before is being returned. With all of his other wives (vv. 2-5), David still misses Michal, his first. Was there an emotional bond that still intact? Was the daughter of Saul still politically advantageous?
o V. 16 – Not sure why the writer wants to fit this seemingly insignificant “human interest” angle in here. Thoughts?
o V. 24 – At this point, we don’t know if Joab just feels threatened by David’s favoring of a man of Abner’s rank, or he really does believe that Abner has nefarious intentions. Because he’s known Abner for a while, I lean toward the former. For the second time today, our passage reminds us of the proverb: “Who can stand before jealousy?”
Read 2 Samuel 3: 26-39
o V. 27 – Government was instituted by God so that this kind of private vengeance would be unnecessary. Private vengeance tends toward injustice, as seems to be the case here. Do you agree?
o VV. 28, 29 – Whatever else compelled David to make this statement, it was surely politically astute to distance himself from the killer of a man of high reputation and great clout among the tribes of Israel. Among other difficulties, David’s curse on Joab’s descendants pronounces that “one who holds a spindle” be among their number. Hmm – what do you think this means?
o VV. 31ff –As we saw when David grieved Saul’s passing, he is a noble soul who finds reason even to praise his enemy. (Surely some of his heaviness lies in the fact that he’s missed out on the service of Abner, that “prince and great man.”) Finally, though, his goodness is being widely appreciated. As they observe David, the people of Israel learn that he appreciates virtue and despises cruelty wherever they’re found, that he’s not blindly loyal to his tribe, that he honors the fallen even if they’d once fought against him. Lesson: “At the length, truth will out.” (cf.1 Timothy 5:25)
Read 2 Samuel 4
o V. 4 – We’ll hear more about Mephibosheth later.
o V. 6 – You might recall from 2: 8 that Abner was the driver to make Ish-bosheth king of Israel. Everything we hear afterwards suggests that Ish-bosheth was weak and nothing more than a political pawn of forceful men. Poor guy.
o V. 8 – Say it over and over: Good men don’t want to win at all costs. Good men don’t want to win at all costs. Good men don’t to win at all costs… The bad guys can’t seem to learn this lesson!
o V. 9 – Why does David say this about God here: “As the LORD lives, WHO HAS REDEEMED MY LIFE OUT OF EVERY ADVERSITY…”? Why this description of God?
o V. 10 – David’s a little fuzzy on the details here. As you’ll remember, he didn’t have the messenger killed because he was the bearer of bad news, but because he said he took Saul’s life.
o V. 11 – Interesting to be exposed to old honor codes: It seems that some of the affront was that he was killed ‘in his own house,’ and even ‘on his bed.’ The home is supposed to be a sanctuary.
o V. 12 – Both Abner and Ish-bosheth are buried in Hebron, David’s capital city. David is doing everything he can to express honor to his political enemies.
Read 2 Samuel 5: 1-10
o VV. 1-2 – Remember that the nation had been divided between Judah, David’s tribe, and everyone else. What the tribes of Israel say to David is interesting: 1) Even when Saul was king you were practically our leader and 2) The LORD had chosen you to lead us. To this, David could have retorted – so what took you so long to get behind me? But David seems to be a person who resists bitterness. He accepts the way things turns out as from a “faithful Creator.”
o V. 4 – Who else was about 30 when he began his big work? Here’s a very tenuous application that you could loosely plan around: Try to have the bulk of your formal education completed by age 30.
o VV. 6-13 – The writer wants to say: when you think of David’s reign think of Jerusalem. Connect David to that place.
o V. 6 – The Jebusite’s (over) confidence surely didn’t come out of a contempt for David’s martial capabilities. No one could think of him as other than a competent warrior. But Jerusalem was so well-fortified they couldn’t imagine anyone posing a serious threat. They were wrong.
o V. 8 – If it’s not clear to you, we’re not talking about people who are actually “blind and lame.” David, and then the later proverb, are riffing on what the Jebusites had cockily said originally.
Read 2 Samuel 5:11-25
o V. 11 – A long way from being a no-name and passed-over shepherd! Remember that 1 and 2 Samuel are originally one book, and then flip over to 1 Samuel 2:8 – that’s the theme of this book. God can take you from point a to point b (I don’t say he’ll make you a king!). So you don’t have to scheme or manipulate. Just keep it simple: follow him and wait on him.
o V.17ff – Do you recall David’s last interaction with the Philistines? Amazing difference, right?! God can change things for you in ways you could hardly imagine. Just keep walking with Him and following His commandments.
o V. 19, 22 – Prayer brings success. Success can breed confidence. Confidence can take you away from prayer the next time. Don’t fall into that old trap. *Every time* look again to God, even (especially) when you think you know how things work.
o V. 24 – I believe, but I’m not sure I understand the point of the sound of marching in the tops of the trees. Of course, practically it was the signal for David to attack. Could it have also confused the Philistines and/or muffled the sound of the advancing Israelites? Or (and here’s my favorite option) perhaps all of the above, PLUS the emblem that the armies of the LORD of armies were at the vanguard! Prayer sometimes brings to light the fact that God is fighting for us, brothers and sisters.
Read 2 Samuel 6: 1-11
o New capitol Ö. Defeat the Philistines Ö And now what about the Ark…? Good men make worship a high priority.
o VV. 3ff – There’s a lot to like here. A new cart is constructed for carrying the ark, demonstrating great respect. Everyone is on the scene as the ark is carried into the city. Out in front are many skilled musicians –so there’s been a lot of thought put into this maneuver. But what’s amiss here? (Exodus 25:14, 15).
o V. 7 – Uzzah was sincere, and we don’t blame him for reaching out to steady the ark. Yet he paid the price for someone’s failure to make sure that the Ark was carried exactly as God ordered. Warning: don’t treat the commands of God casually. Further warning: the Presence of God among His people is something fearful and awesome, and should neither be trivialized nor handled by one’s own directions. “Do you not know…?” Contemporary application: take your body (1 Corinthians 6:19) and your church (1 Corinthians 3:16) very seriously! Contemporary pointed applications: don’t work to divide or otherwise harm the church and don’t have sexual relations outside of marriage.
o V. 10 – A good move of David to set aside the Ark for a while. Either worship God properly or stop the whole production. In worship, half-baked, partial obedience is not one of the options! Brothers and sisters – are you worshiping God, living in the Presence, in full obedience?
o V. 11 – A simple illustration of this simple truth: The Presence of God brings blessing. What we want is God’s Presence. Will you read Psalm 114 today to reinforce this?