THE BOOK OF
2 SAMUEL Anne O’Brien’s
BIBLE STUDY This study notes provide the core content of a group of bible studies in the book of 2 Samuel. While the core message of the study has been captured for you to read, written text can not fully express the sense of anointing upon the discussion of the word or the joy of corporate fellowship. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.
2 Samuel Let’s begin by looking at how 2 Samuel, and David’s reign, fit into Old Testament history:
The Fall e The Flood e The Patriarchs e Egypt and the Exodus e The Promised Land e Judges’ rule e Period of the Kings e Exile e Return to Israel e promised Messiah soon to come
Originally there was no division between 1&2 Samuel. 1 Samuel deals with the histories of the prophet Samuel and the first king, Saul – and finishes at his death. 2 Samuel is about David’s accession to the throne and his reign. A parallel history of David can also be found in The First Book of Chronicles. 2 Samuel chapter 1
Read verses 1-16: Saul had been slain in battle and the Amalakite had “helped” him to die. Jonathan, his son, had also been killed. People may have thought that David would be pleased, because Saul had made life so difficult for David – and with Jonathan out of the way too, it was now possible for David to be made king. But verses 11-16 show that David still respected Saul as God’s anointed; helping a soldier to die was not an unusual thing to do, but killing the king was far more serious – it was an act of treason and an act of dishonor towards God’s chosen one. Anointing was a spiritual calling, instituted by God Coronation was a political election, instituted by men
Read verses 17-27: Here we have David’s elegy, his poem remembering the dead, in which he shows praise and adoration for Saul, and thanks for Jonathan his closest friend; it very clearly shows David’s immense grief and his respect for Saul. (This was despite the fact that David had been hiding from Saul for ten years!) Although it meant David could now fulfill his long-awaited anointing, David’s thought were not on himself, but on others.
2 Samuel chapter 2 Read verses 1-7: David had a good habit of seeking the Lord’s will before he acted. How many mistakes might be avoided if we all did that?!! At the time Hebron was probably the most important city in Judah so David moved there with his men. He was no longer a fugitive, and his return was the signal for the people to recognize him as their new leader. So they anointed him and made him king. BUT ...
Read verses 8-32: David had a trusted commander of his army called Joab (his nephew). Saul’s right hand man had been Abner, and he continued to oppose David for a long time after Saul had died. He refused to accept David’s kingship and instead he made Saul’s one remaining son, Ishbosheth, king over Israel. Ishbosheth was a tool in Abner’s hands. He may have been crowned by Abner but he was not God’s anointed. It was to be 7 years (v.11) before Abner’s opposition failed and David was eventually made king over a united Israel. The account of Abner’s challenge is in verses 12-30. Q. How is David’s attitude towards Saul an example for us in relation to our leaders a) in the church and b) in the country?
2 Samuel chapter 3 Read verses 1-5 David settled in Hebron and had children – but all that time there was civil war between the house of Saul (led by Abner) and the house of David (led by Joab). Read verses 6-21 6-11: Abner was the mainstay behind Ishbosheth’s kingship (Ishbosheth was weak in health and character) but he was unappreciated; his righteous indignation would suggest he had not acted inappropriately. Notably, Abner understood the Lord’s promise that David would ultimately become king over all Israel (v.9&10). “The throne of David” is first mentioned in this verse. Q. Why does that phrase have great significance? Is it the same type of kingship as Saul had, or is there a difference? 12-20: Abner wished to make a treaty with David and conferred with various elders in Israel (v.17) so that he could meet David with an offer. David said he would be prepared to meet Abner if he brought Michal (his first wife) with him. Michal was Saul’s daughter – by claiming her he was claiming Saul’s kingdom too. After conferring with all the parties Abner went to Hebron and told David that all Israel was behind him and were ready to make an agreement (v.21). This was a shrewd move on his part because it was probable that he expected to be commander over all the armies of Israel. BUT ... Read verses 22-30 David’s general, Joab (who was also his nephew), comes back, realizes what has happened and accuses Abner of deception. (He hated Abner because his brother had died at Abner’s hands (ch.2v22&23). Not only did Joab hate Abner, but his position as commander of David’s army was now threatened. Without David’s knowledge, and putting his own interests first, Joab killed Abner (v.27). David declared he had no part in the shedding of Abner’s blood. David’s respect for Saul as the Lord’s anointed encompassed all his household. His attititude would have won the respect of all Israel.
Read verses 31-39 David ordered a public funeral for Abner and showed him great respect, recognizing his qualities. It was a wise decision personally and politically, as the people were now all behind him. But David now had misgivings about the sons of Zeruiah: General Joab and Abishai – he could no longer trust them. Q. How does this chapter show that being true to God’s will and being true to yourself are more important than trying to please all of the people all of the time? Q. What does this chapter teach us about respecting God’s anointing on a person, whatever our relationship is to them?
2 Samuel chapter 4 Read verse 4 Ishbosheth was not the last of Saul’s house. Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth is still alive and the account of his story is picked up in chapter 9. Read verses 1-12 (excl.v.4) Two of Ishbosheth’s leaders in the Israelite army – Baanah and Recab – turned on him, killed him and took his head to David. They knew Ishbosheth’s days as king were numbered and wanted to curry favour with David. David was not pleased at the death of an innocent man and ordered their execution. The death of Ishbosheth did, however pave the way for David to at last accede to the throne. Q. What, if anything, did David do to hasten his kingship? Q. Despite all the deaths and bloodshed, how did God’s grace reign in these situations?
2 Samuel chapter 5 This chapter, and the next, record events of significant political and spiritual importance. Firstly, David became king of a united Israel with Jerusalem as its capital – the “City of David” (v9). And secondly, the spiritual throne of David would culminate in the accession of Jesus Christ the true king of Jews and gentiles alike. Read verses 1-5 and 13-16 The Israelite elders recognized David as God’s choice of king over all Israel and anointed him as such at Hebron (where he had already reigned for 7 years). He was to reign a further 33 years over all Israel in Jerusalem. David continued to “grow” his family. He had at least 17 children by his 13 wives plus several more by his concubines. Read verses 6-12 Until this time Jerusalem had been a foreign city inside Israel, occupied by a Canaanite tribe called the Jebusites, who thought their city was impregnable because of its walls and steep 3
slopes. But David, ignoring the scorn of the Jebusites, took the city and there established his throne. Even King Hiram of Tyre (N.W. of Israel on the coast) recognized David’s kingdom and sent all the necessary building materials and craftsmen to build a palace for David – no doubt also, to establish a friendly alliance. Q. What does verse 10 tell us about David’s success? Read verses 17-25 These verses show how David defeated the Philistine opposition to his kingship. Although David was a brilliant soldier twice we read that David enquired of the Lord – in verses 19 and 23. His words in v.20 were prophetic, “As waters break out, the Lord has broken out my enemies before me”. Verse 24 hints at there being an army of angels marching before David, “the sound of marching” in the trees. Q. Do we realize the Lord goes before us when we place ourselves in His will?
2 Samuel Chapter 6 Read verses 1-8 The Ark had been neglected for many years and David made its recovery a day of national importance (30,000 people). The Ark was special to the Israelites because it was the visible sign of God’s presence with them. God had specifically said that the Ark should be carried on poles so that it would not be touched (Ex. 37) – the Ark represented God’s Holiness and Presence and as such, was not to be handled. But, it was not being transported in the correct way and Uzzah had acted disrespectfully. God had made it clear that he would be with his people to bless them, but on the other hand they must never take him for granted. Read verses 9-15 The Ark was left at the house of Obed-Edom who, unsurprisingly experienced 3 months of blessing as a result! So David renewed his decision to bring the Ark to Jerusalem – but this time in the proper manner, with careful regard to the sacredness of God’s presence. The Ark was probably carried on its poles (necessitating the need for frequent stops) and the solemn occasion was marked with sacrifices along the way. David was so full of the joy of the Lord that he danced before the Lord in the presence of all the people ... in what was basically his underwear! Read verses 16-23 The Ark was placed in a tent (there would be no Temple until Solomon built it) accompanied by fellowship offerings, and food and celebration. David’s wife, Michal, was not amused. In fact she despised David and accused him of being vulgar or common. But David asserted that even if it meant he was humiliated or undignified he would celebrate before the Lord. As a result Michal was barren. If she had had a son he would have been heir to the throne – but he would not have been a believer;he would have been of Saul’s line which was not in God’s purpose. The “Royal” line would be of David.
2 Samuel chapter 7 Read verses 1-3: David’s conversation with Nathan. David’s palace had been built with the materials sent by King Hiram, King of Tyre (chap. 5v11). David hadn’t sought to exalt himself. But now he is concerned because he has a palace, but the Ark of the Covenant (symbolising the dwelling place of God) is still housed in a tent. It appears that, without giving it much thought, Nathan the prophet agreed with him. Q. Just because something is a good idea does that necessarily mean it is the thing that God wants us to do? Read verses 4-17: God speaks to David through Nathan. v.4-7: Did I ask you for a permanent dwelling? v.8-11a: I have established you as king and will give my people rest from their enemies. v.8b-17: I will establish an everlasting kingdom. Solomon will build my Temple (thus also nominating Solomon as David’s successor Q. As Christians, how do we interpret the phrase “an Everlasting Throne”. Who is the King now? Read verses 18-29: David speaks to God in prayer. v.18-21: David appreciates his place in God’s plans, according to God’s word and his will (v21). He shows submission to God’s will by addressing God as Sovereign (7 times in this prayer). v.22-26: In these 5 verses alone David refers to the Lord 15 times, but to himself only once, leaving us in no doubt as to his priorities. v.27-29: David praises God for the prophecy that his house would be established for ever, and he asks for blessing – not on himself – but on his “house” – the eternal house/line of David (sometimes referred to as the Royal Line). Q. In our prayers, how much of what we say refers to us and how much refers to the Lord? What can we learn from David’s prayer?
2 Samuel chapter 8
Read verses 1-10 Praise God, we are no longer physically at war with God’s enemies – but we must not forget that we are still at war spiritually. David’s conquests – although very gory to us – were to rid the land of all the sinful influence of those opposed to God. Q. How do we apply this to ourselves metaphorically? Read verses 11-14 David dedicated his victory and the spoils to the Lord because he acknowledged it was God who gave the victory. Q. Do you see a connection between chapters 7 and 8? Read verses 15-18 The writer acknowledges other people who were instrumental in the success of the county. 5
2 Samuel chapter 9
Read verses 1-8 David was king over a highly successful nation and yet he took the time and effort to go out of his way to show kindness and generosity to one individual – Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth had been crippled when young (see chap.4v4). How would Mephibosheth have felt? After all, Saul his grandfather had hated David, whereas Jonathan his father had loved David. Q. What was David’s motive for honouring Mephibosheth? (See 1 Samuel 20v14-16) Read verses 9-13 David sought out Mephibosheth and gave him the place of honour at his table – this is what Jesus has done for us! God shows us kindness for Jesus sake – and we should show each other kindness for the same reason. 2 Samuel chapter 10
This chapter contrasts David’s generosity and kindness to Mephibosheth with his kindness to Hanun, leader of the Ammonites. Read verses 1-5 David sent Hanun a genuine letter of sympathy but Hanun’s nobles acted with suspicion and turned Hanun against David. The result was that Hanun responded by humiliating David’s men. (Note how David treated his own men kindly) Q. What lessons can we learn about listening to others people’s speculation and suspicions? Read verses 6-12 The outcome of Hanun’s men’s (deliberate?) misunderstanding was further conflict, resulting in many deaths, and David’s army gaining victory. Read verses 13-19 Eventually, with so many losses and casualties, the kings from the East made peace with David. Q. Why do you think God gave David such great victories? What was God’s purpose? 2 Samuel chapter 11 Read verses 1&2 David’s men had gone to war, fighting for the sake of the kingdom, but David stayed at home, where he had time on his hands ... he went for a walk and saw Bathsheba – and he was tempted. Q. Had David done anything wrong so far?
Read verses 3-5 We are all tempted by different things. It’s when we give into temptation that we sin. David wasn’t even very discreet. He involved others in finding out about Bathsheba (and learnt that she was married) and in bringing her to his palace, where he slept with her. A couple of months later David hears of the pregnancy. • You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife • You shall not steal from your neighbour • You shall not commit adultery Read verses 6-13 David’s plan was to get Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, back home to sleep with her (for obvious reasons). Good, faithful, loyal Uriah was not suspicious of David’s kindness – “Have a day off”, “Here’s a gift”, “See your wife” etc. But Uriah remained faithful to David and the army – how could he leave his colleagues fighting and go home to his wife? So, David tried Plan B – which was to get Uriah drunk - but that didn’t work either. So he sent him back to join the fighting men, with a letter for Joab, commander of the army. • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour Read verses 14-21 Joab put Uriah in the front line as David instructed – and Uriah was killed as David planned. • You shall not kill David had broken all 5 of the second half of the Ten Commandments which relate to how we should treat one another. Read verses 22-27 Clearly Joab saw this as terrible news and sent the messenger with an explanation. At this point David was relieved to get Uriah out of the way and says: the sword kills one as well as another. Naturally Bathsheba mourned for her husband – had David not considered her feelings? After the time of mourning David took Bathsheba as his wife and she had a son. Q. Why did David act so much out of character? What did the Lord think of this episode?
2 Samuel chapter 12 Read verses 1-6 Nathan was a prophet and an advisor to David. What David had done was no secret and he had somehow seemed to justify his actions to himself. Therefore Nathan didn’t come to him with a direct rebuke. Instead he told him this story about a rich man whole stole a poor man’s sheep and killed it to feed his visitors. Not suspecting a trap, David was furious and demanded reparation, according to the Law given by the Lord. (See Exodus 22v1 and compare with Luke 19v8) Unwittingly, David had pronounced judgment on himself.
Read verses 7-10 “You are that man!” The conviction couldn’t have been clearer. Now God speaks his word to David. God had anointed David and given him everything of Saul’s – the land, the fighting men, wives, money, kingdom etc. And God would have given David more, but David took what belonged to someone else. (Notice in these chapters how often Uriah is affirmed.) David’s house would now always know strife and conflict – “the sword will never depart”. Read verses 11-14 David took one man’s wife – he would have to suffer the pain of seeing some of the women of his own household being violated (and in public) – see chapters 13 and 16. David, the King, was under the covenant Law of Lev. 26 the same as his subjects. But worse was to follow – he would not die, but his and Bathsheba’s son would die. • Praise God for the New Covenant of grace. Without it we would find ourselves in David’s position every time we sin. Q. But who has paid the price for that grace? Who has suffered and made reparation that we might have grace? Someone had to pay for the sin (if not us), so that God’s anger can be appeased. Read verses 15-19 Although David pleaded and fasted, his son died. Old Testament Law required a life for a life. David killed Uriah and should have died. The baby died in David’s place. • Jesus has died in our place God is holy and just, but praise God, he is also a God of love and forgiveness. We should never underestimate his holiness - and his grace. David accepted the news of the baby’s death. God had shown him so much grace, but on this occasion he had to accept God’s justice. Read verses 20-25 By his actions and words David showed repentance and submission to God’s will. Verses 23 is often seen as an encouragement to people who have lost a child. One day they will see their child again in heaven. This time round, God was to bless David’s union with Bathsheba. They had another baby, Solomon, whom God called “Jedidiah – loved by God”.
The result of David’s sin and the punishment that befell him brought him back to the place of humble submission before God. David pours out his confession and devotion to God and records it in Psalm 51. This would be an appropriate time to read the Psalm. Q. How does it make us feel when we realise we’ve let God down? Do we feel responsible for Calvary? Should we? Conclude reading 2 Samuel chapter 12 8
Read verses 26-31 Meanwhile, whilst we have our personal problems, everyday life goes on. David rallies round and joins his troops where God gives them victory over the city of Rabbah and other Ammonite towns east of the Jordan. David is able to move forward in the presence and strength of the Lord. 2 Samuel chapter 13 David nearing the age of 60,faces new problems: unrest and fighting within his own house.
Read verses 1-14 Amnon was David’s eldest son by Ahinoam. Chileab, David’s second son is never mentioned, so has probably died. Absalom (3rd eldest) and Tamar were David’s children by Maacah. Amnon was obsessed with his half sister Tamar and wanting something he knew he couldn’t have was making him ill. Jonadab (David’s nephew) helped Amnon to hatch a plan in order to trap Tamar into being alone with him. 2 things contributed to Amnon commiting the sins of rape and incest: • He had been set a bad example by his father, David • He had been given bad advice from his friend, Jonadab Read verses 15-22 Lust turned to hate and Amnon cruelly shut Tamar out. She had been disgraced and could no longer live with David’s other unmarried daughters. It was the responsibility of a brother to protect the honour of his sister and so she lived in Absalom’s house. Note that David was furious, but did nothing about it. Q. Why do you think that might be? Absalom appeared to do or say nothing, but he was brewing a plan which would avenge Tamar, and at the same time progress his chances of becoming the next king. If he could kill Amnon he would be next in the line of succession. His motives were not pure. Read verses 23-39 At a family celebration (sheep shearing) the opportunity arose for Absalom to have Amnon killed. The rest of David’s sons fled, afraid. David was grief-stricken at the loss of Amnon, his eldest son – as were all his other sons. It was therefore not safe for Absalom to return home and he fled to Geshur (where his grandfather was king – 2 Sam 3v3) where he stayed for three years, biding his time. But David longed to see Absalom again. 2 Samuel chapter 14
Read verses 1-12 Joab, commander of David’s army, was thinking strategically - the crown prince, Absalom, should be in Israel or there could be civil war. So Joab devises a plan: A wise woman, and a good actress, would approach the king with a problem which involved one of her sons killing the other ( a similar tactic to that used by Nathan in chap. 12). David took 9
an oath to agree that the woman’s living son would not be slain for killing his brother. David had been cornered! Read verses 13-20 If David had sworn to protect this woman’s son whom he did not know, how much more should he protect and forgive his own son Absalom? Verse 14 has a lesson for David, and in the spiritual sense for all of us. Although sin must be punished, God seeks out sinners and finds a way for them to be forgiven. (David had committed rape and murder himself and had been forgiven.) Then David realises that Joab had engineered his meeting with the woman in order to change the situation. Read verses 21-33 At first Absalom was allowed back to his own house only. Verse 25 tells us he was the most handsome man in Israel and had a thick head of hair. He was extremely popular with all the people and he had a growing family. His success was only marred by not being able to see his father, so he asked Joab to arrange a meeting between himself and David. In order to get Joab’s attention he had to burn his field! Eventually King David received Absalom and their relationship was reconciled. Q. Why was this reconciliation so important to David,Absalom and Joab? Were there ulterior motives?
2 Samuel chapter 15
Following Nathan’s prophecy ... David, the victorious one, always in control, now faces rebellion and circumstances beyond his control. Read verses 1-9 Absalom was able to persuade people to be on his side by pretending to be interested in their problems – like many a politician!! By intercepting all of David’s visitors he “stole the hearts” of all Israel. He then found a reason to go to Hebron – to fulfil a vow (which would be worthless before God because his heart was full of deceit). He may have been handsome and loved by his followers, but he was a cold, calculating man of lies, whose only interest was to take the throne from his father, David. Read verses 10-12 Ahithophel had been David’s favourite counsellor; but he was also Bathsheba’s grandfather. Absalom probably seized on this fact to persuade Ahithophel to join his ranks. Note: he did this while he was supposed to be worshipping God! Outwardly he appeared Godly and an attractive proposition to be the next king. From Hebron Absalom pronounced that he was king. Q. David, like Jesus, was experiencing abandonment by his closest friends. Why did God allow this? 10
Read verses 13-22 David realised he had to act quickly. He realised that Absalom was capable of murder and so he rallied his household and his officials into leaving Jerusalem, leaving 10 concubines in charge of the palace. By doing this, David was risking his own life but ensuring the safety of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Ittai was a gentile, but he declared loyalty to David (reminiscent of Ruth and Naomi). David’s family may have been disintegrating but he still had support from many other people who had pledged allegiance to him. Read verses 23-29 As they fled, they wept. Zadok the High Priest, and Abiathar and the Levites, carried the Ark and made sacrifices to God. David sends the Ark back to Jerusalem where it belongs and throws himself on God’s grace and mercy – “if I find favour in the Lord’s eyes”. Read verses 30-37 On the Mount of Olives David wept, and all the people too. He was totally in the Lord’s hands. (David wept for his own sin and future. Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, wept for our sin and future.) When he heard about Ahithophel’s defection to Absalom, he prayed that God would make his counsel to become foolish to Absalom. And then David appoints a “spy” of his own – Hushai, who will gain Absalom’s trust and report his findings to the priests who will pass the information on to David. Q. What was David weeping about? 2 Samuel chapter 16
Following Nathan’s prophecy ... David faces mental and physical abuse Read verses 1-4 Ziba was custodian of Saul’s land and of Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. Ziba brought donkeys loaded with provisions for David’s men, but although David was suspicious he accepted Ziba’s story and made a rash promise which he was later to regret. Read verses 5-14 Now we see Shimei, throwing stones. Satan is attacking David every way he knows how – and he is using a succession of people: so-called friends, and enemies. But David accepted much of it as from the hand of God, and relied on God’s grace to bring relief from his troubles – see many of the Psalms. Read verses 15-23 Absalom is now self-proclaimed king in Israel and following Ahithophel’s advice rapes David’s concubines in public. Hushai, David’s spy, pledges (deceitfully) allegiance to Absalom and wins his trust. Although forgiven by God, David still suffers the punishment for his sin.
2 Samuel chapter 17 Read verses 1-6 Ahithophel had been David’s advisor, but had defected to Absalom. Hushai was David’s spy in Absalom’s camp. In this instance, Ahithophel gave good advice, but not Godly advice (notice how many times he used the word “I”). Q. How can we gauge the difference between good and Godly, and what difference might it make? Read verses 7-14 Hushai plays for time and advises Ahithophel to gather all the men together before attacking David. Hushai is God’s way of answering David’s prayer that God would confuse the advice of Ahithophel. Read verses 15-22 Hushai’s advice gave him time to send the priests to alert David, giving him time to escape to the other side of the Jordan and regroup his men ready for battle. Read verses 23-29 Why did Ahithophel take his own life? Did he suddenly realise he had made a mistake following Absalom; did he realise that David would win the battle with Absalom? If David regained his kingship he would surely have Ahithophel put to death for being a traitor. His was a good life that ended dishonourably. Q. Do we still have the same devotion and enthusiasm for God as we had when we first became a Christian? Makir and Barzillai brought bountiful provisions for David and his men. No wonder David penned, “you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies in Psalm 23.
2 Samuel chapter 18 Read verses 1-5 David divided his troops into three groups so they could attack from whichever way Absalom approached. He didn’t argue with their advice to stay out of the battle. He didn’t want to fight his own son anyway and he made a point of telling the commanders not to treat Absalom roughly – even though Absalom had treated him so badly. Q. In what way does this remind us of our heavenly Father? Read verses 6-15 The battle took place in a dense forest which seemed to work in David’s favour. There were many casualties and then Absalom got caught in a tree. Some suggest that it was his long, thick hair (of which he was very proud – see ch.14v25&26) getting caught in the branches that prevented him from breaking free. The first man to find him refused to kill the king’s son, but Joab had no qualms about ending Absalom’s life. 12
Read verses 16-18 Absalom wasn’t buried like a king – he had a simple pit grave with a monument he had already made for himself! That was the end of Absalom’s line, so David would get no further trouble from that quarter. Read verses 19-33 Joab had the problem of working out how to break the news to David without the messenger taking the brunt of David’s anger (hence the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger” as might have happened). Two people offered to run and they managed to convey the devastating news. David was heartbroken and he could not celebrate his victory in battle because it ended in the death of his own son. David had now paid fourfold for his sin of killing Uriah: he saw the deaths of his baby, & of his sons Amnon and Absalom; and the loss of his daughter Tamar’s reputation. 2 Samuel chapter 19 Read verses 1-8 What should have been a day of victory and celebration became an embarrassment as David mourned for Absalom. He had won the battle but lost his sense of victory. It was Joab who told him to “pull up his socks” and get on with leading the people. Q. As Christians we know that Jesus has Christ has won the battle for us, but do we always feel victorious? Do we let the circumstances affect our feelings? Read verses 9-15 Having dealt with Absalom’s threat to his kingship, David should now once again take up his throne in Jerusalem. David told the elders in Judah (his own tribe) that the other tribes were calling for his return, so why weren’t they? Maybe they were afraid because they had sided with Absalom. David appointed Amasa as general of his army in place of Joab (remember it was Joab who had killed Absalom). This meant the army, including the rebel factions was now united. Read verses 16-23 Shimei – who had thrown stones at David (see chap. 16v5-14) came to meet David and begged him for mercy and was forgiven; this was probably seen as David offering a general amnesty to all who had followed Absalom. (Shimei was however, later to cause problems for Solomon – see 1 Kings chap. 2). Read verses 24-30 Mephibosheth – Saul’s grandson and Jonathan’s son who was lame (but whom David had taken in and provided for) also came to meet David. Mephibosheth and David realised they had both been betrayed and double crossed by Ziba. Ziba – had been Saul’s P.A and David asked him to take charge of Mephibosheth’s affairs after Saul’s death (see chap.9v9,10). 13
Now we see that Ziba had left his post of caring for Mephibosheth and taken food to David when he was fleeing from Absalom, whereupon David had rewarded him (foolishly, it turns out) with Saul’s land. David hears the truth from Mephibosheth and seeks to right the wrong that Ziba committed. Read verses 31-43 Barzillai – was the man who had abundantly provided for David and his men before the battle with Absalom (see chap. 17v27-29). He also came to meet David on his return to Jerusalem. In contrast to Shimei and Ziba he was a good man who gave freely to David, and now he sought no reward. But he did want what was best for his son and asked that he might live in Jerusalem. David agreed and gave Barzillai a parting blessing. On David’s return, sadly there was still much unrest between the twelve tribes – his troubles weren’t over yet. 2 Samuel Chapter 20 Read verses 1-13 Sheba – was a trouble maker from the tribe of Benjamin. The rift between the two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) and the other 10 northern tribes was getting greater. David asked his new commander, Amasa (also his cousin), to gather troops and quench the rebellion. Before he could act, Abishai and Joab decided to “interfere” as they didn’t trust him. Rather than just taking command, Joab killed Amasa with his dagger. One of Joab’s men moved Amasa’s body and rallied the troops to follow Joab and pursue Sheba. Read verses 14-26 It was a wise woman who confronted Joab and dealt with the situation, without bloodshed, save for the death of Sheba. And Joab was once again (by his actions) in command of the Israelite army. 2 Samuel chapter 21
(You can read the story of the Gibeonites in Joshua chapter 9.) Read verses 1-6 Saul had broken the vow that the Israelites had made with the Gibeonites back in Joshua’s time (up to 400 years had passed), and this brought judgment on Israel in the form of a 3 year famine. David sought the face of the Lord (v.1) and God showed him that the broken vow was the cause of their suffering. David immediately sought to make restitution; he agreed that 7 of Saul’s male descendants would be executed. These verses remind us that: a) a broken vow was/is a very serious thing b) all sin has to be paid for This reminds us that Israel was under the Law, and not under grace as we are, and should cause us to be thankful to God for his grace to us in Jesus Christ.
Read verses 7-14 David spared Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, according to the vow that he had made; and he chose two sons of Saul’s concubine, Rizpah, and five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab. Verse 10 suggests that the corpses were exposed for about 6 months, after which time David gave them a decent burial with the bones of Saul and Jonathan in the family grave. (The coming of the rains showed that God had accepted what David had done as He broke the drought and famine.) The final burial was an act of respect and compassion on David’s part. Read verses 15-22 These verses are a summary of 4 battles in which had David fought the Philistines some years earlier. They are a reminder of how giants can be beaten (the word Rapha in v.16 means “giant”) and how we can trust God for the victory. Q. Do we sometimes think our problems are giants, that they are bigger than God? What can David teach us? 2 Samuel chapter 22
Following on from the account of battles won, this chapter is David’s song proclaiming God’s help in times of trouble. It is also included in the Book of Psalms, Psalm 18. It is probable that David wrote these words before he sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah. Read verses 1-20 The first phrase sets the tone of the Psalm which is about deliverance. God had delivered David from the hand of Saul and also from all his enemies – north, east, south and west of Israel. You can imagine David taking refuge in a strong cave and using the imagery of the rock to describe his real refuge. In verses 9-18 David draws on images from nature to describe his feelings – a flood of adversity to describe his enemies; earthquake and fire to describe God’s anger; thunder and lightning to describe God’s presence breaking through; and rescue from the sea to describe his deliverance. David had learned from all his experiences and God was able to bring him into a “spacious place”, a bigger experience of God’s love and protection, a place where he knew that God was pleased with him. Read verses 21-29 David was praising the Lord for enabling him to, not only have victory against his enemies, but also to have victory in his own life. God was his “lamp” and God had rewarded him. Q. How do we give God the glory for what he has done in our lives, without coming across as “holier than thou”? Read verses 30-51 There is repetition here, but David emphasises that God’s way is perfect, the only way to a righteous, victorious, blessed life. We have to remember that the enemies of Israel were enemies of God’s plan to send a Messiah to bring salvation to the world and that David, unlike Saul, understood his responsibility and calling in God. Q. Do we? 15
2 Samuel chapter 23
David’s death is recorded in 1 Kings 2v1-12. These opening verses in this chapter are his last written words.
Read verses 1-7 These verses are like David’s legacy which he left to Israel, and also to us. Verse 1 shows us that this was a legacy of spiritual anointing and spiritual songs (The Psalms). The spiritual anointing was not only upon David but upon David’s house and those in covenant relationship with God. Verse 5 hints at David’s “house” being the eventual bringer of salvation, as indeed do many of David’s Psalms. Read verses 8-39 Here the writer lists some of the name and exploits of David’s leading men. These are all referenced in Samuel and Chronicles, but mentioned again as if to affirm both them and what God had accomplished through them. Verses 8-12 mention Josheb, Eleazar and Shammah; Verses 13-17 mention three unnamed men who risked their lives to get water for David, such was their respect and devotion to him. David turned the cave into an altar and poured the water out as a drink offering to the Lord, symbolising his surrender to God’s will. Verses 18-23 mention Abishai and Benaiah who were both loyal to David. Verses 24-39 mention all of David’s other prominent and faithful soldiers, including last but not least, Uriah the Hittite. This chapter is about David’s reign, but the recognition is there that he was only able to accomplish what he did because of the support of faithful men and women. Q. What does this say to us about the part we play in our local church? Q. What value is there in affirming what people have done? Q. What value is there in naming people by name? 16
2 Samuel chapter 24 1 Chronicles 21v1 says: Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
Read verses 1-9 God allowed Satan to tempt David. What did David do that was so wrong? He ordered a census to see how big his army was. (The real purpose of a census was to number the people and collect a Temple tax for God’s work.) Even Joab was against it (v.4). At the end of David’s life, had a certain amount of pride set in? The exercise took Joab and his men 9 months and we can read in 1 Chronicles 21v7 that David’s action displeased God. Read verses 10-17 David realised his foolishness and sinfulness. He confessed his sin and repented. In v.10 David said that he had sinned “greatly”. He realised that pride was perhaps the greatest sin of all, and it was to have dire effects. Gad the prophet gave David 3 options of punishment: a) three years famine in the land b) three months on the run from enemies c) three days plague in the land David chose the plague, which sadly took 70,000 men. Verse 1 indicated that God was displeased with Israel although it doesn’t give us a reason (God’s anger may have been against those who sided with Absalom when he tried to usurp the throne); this was their punishment. Read verses 18-25 As King, David could have taken Araunah’s land, but he knew that an offering was only worth something to God if it cost the giver something, so he insisted on purchasing the land. He offered a burnt offering (surrender and commitment) and a fellowship offereing (restoring peace with God) and God brought an end to the plague. Q. How much does our worship cost us? 17
Bible studies from the book of 2 Samuel