Read the Bible in a Year
This week, read: 2 Samuel 1-24
At Least Know This
1 Samuel is the origin story of King David. In 2 Samuel, we see the rise and fall of King David.
Author and Date
There is no named author of the book of Samuel. It was most likely a number of authors (or groups of authors) that wrote the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. It is likely that it was written during the time of the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC), as a reflective history to describe how God led them during their early years in the land.
The book of 2 Samuel describes the time during the years 1000-980 BC.
King Saul has died, so David takes the opportunity to set himself up as king. David becomes King over the southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) in chapter 2. The northern tribes are in some chaos without a king. David’s right-hand man, General Joab, goes on a killing spree to eliminate David’s “competition.” In chapter 5, David becomes king over the northern tribes as well.
The first thing David does is to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites (chapter 5). He brings the Ark of the Covenant there. It’s a shrewd political move, since Jerusalem was a border city between the northern and southern tribes. The Ark represents the unity of the tribes.
David spends much of the book warring on neighboring nations. And it isn’t long before he loses the support of the people.
Future generations loved David’s kingship because he solved three problems:
· How will we unify the tribes? David’s answer: Make me King, and I’ll use the Ark of the Covenant to unify the tribes.
· Will we have an orderly kingly line? David’s answer: My son will be king, the first of a dynasty of kings.
· Where will we worship? David’s (and Solomon’s) answer: Jerusalem.
David solved all these problems, and so future generations regarded him as a hero. In the New Testament, the people want the Messiah to be just like King David—make war on our enemies, expand our territory, and make Israel an independent nation again. As you know, those things were not on Jesus’ agenda.
In chapter 7, you’ll see that David tells God he wants to build a temple. But God says he doesn’t really want a temple. God says he values moving among his people, and doesn’t want to get locked up inside a temple. God uses the opportunity to tell David that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants. Of course, the first thing Solomon does when he becomes King is to build a temple.
In chapter 11, we see the familiar story of David and Bathsheba. Usually, this is turned into a morality story about the dangers of adultery. However, adultery really isn’t the issue here (you may recall that King Solomon, David’s son, had 700 wives and 300 concubines). This issue here is the rules of Holy War. During the time of war, Kings led the charge. As you’ll see in 11:1, In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab… During a war, soldiers were not allowed to sleep with their wives. Bathsheba’s husband was a Hittite (not an Israelite). And this foreigner obeys the rules of Holy War better than the king (2 Samuel 11:6-13). In chapter 12, David repents (after he was caught).
In chapter 14 and following, David’s son Absalom makes a play for his father’s throne. The people choose Absalom (15:13), and David makes a run for it. In 15:18, it identifies David’s bodyguards—they are all Philistine mercenaries. Apparently David didn’t trust his own people. Finally, in chapter 18, General Joab kills Absalom, and David comes back to the throne. At the end of 2 Samuel, David is on his deathbed, and we see David’s sons fight for the throne in 1 Kings.
In 2 Samuel 5:6-10, David lays siege to the city of Jerusalem, where the Jebusites live. The city had pretty impressive walls, so when David’s army surrounded Jerusalem, the confident Jebusites laughed. They shouted, “Our defenses are so good, even our blind and lame people could keep you out!” Well, David’s army found a way into the city through a water duct. And the first thing David did when he got into the city? He killed all the blind and lame people. What’s the first thing Jesus did when he came into Jerusalem? He healed the blind and lame people.
Jesus didn’t just heal the blind and lame to be compassionate. He was trying to make a statement. He was trying to say, “I’m a different kind of king than David was.” David ruled a land. Jesus wanted to rule people’s hearts. David ruled with a sword. Jesus wanted to rule with a life of servanthood. David had little compunction about killing people who were in his way. Jesus saved the people who hated him. Jesus loved and forgave the people who killed him. Jesus loved the unlovable, the foreigners, the prostitutes, the diseased, the vulnerable, and the tax collectors. That’s still our call today—to love people into the kingdom.
If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here, and then click on the most recent reading guide. You can also feel free to email the question to me.
Our next face-to-face meeting is on April 11, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.