Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 14

2 Samuel 14

-Joab perceived that David’s heart was inclined toward his wayward son, Absalom, who was hiding out in Geshur after the situation of his retribution killing of his step brother, Amnon (see 2 Samuel 13) becomes a major player in the narrative of David’s kingdom in Israel and the fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecy (2 Samuel 12:10-11). Joab, David’s military commander, sent a wise woman from Tekoa (directly south of Jerusalem in the Judean hill country, the prophet Amos was from this town, Amos 1:1) with his words into the king’s presence for more discernment on the matter. This woman was instructed to pretend to be a mourner with mourning clothes anointed with oil. She was to go to the king and prostrate herself before him asking for help. When she actually did this, David asked her what her trouble was. She told him that she was a widow. She told him a fabricated story of her two sons who struggled together in the field where one had killed the other since there was no one to separate them. She further explained that her whole family had risen up against her wanting the justice of handing over this one who struck his brother so that they could put him to death for his wrong doing. They also wanted to destroy the heir, which would cut off the family name and lineage from the earth. David told her to go to her house after hearing this story, and that he would give orders concerning this situation. She reassured him that he and his throne were guiltless for this, and that all the iniquity was to be placed squarely on her and her father’s house. Because of this concession, King David said, “Whoever speaks to you, bring him to me, and he will not touch you anymore.” She was still afraid though and responded, “Please let the king remember the LORD your God, so that the avenger of blood will not continue to destroy, otherwise they will destroy my son.” David reassured her, “As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground (2 Samuel 14:1-11).”

-After hearing what she wanted to hear from the king, she ventured on with her real mission. After getting permission to speak, she stated, “Why have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in speaking this word the king is as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring back his banished one. For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him.” She reasoned with the king that she was afraid and sought his protection. She needed comfort, to be heard, and deliverance from the hand of the man who would destroy by her and her son from the inheritance of God. Then, she compared her king to an “angel of God” that discerns good from evil, and she blessed him that the LORD would be with him. Upon hearing these words, David’s spirit was informed. He said to the woman, “Please do not hide anything from me that I am about to ask you.” She consented to tell the truth now. So, David asked her straight up if Joab was with her in all of this. She had to acknowledge, “As your soul lives, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken. Indeed, it was your servant Joab who commanded me, and it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your maidservant; in order to change the appearance of things your servant Joab has done this thing. But my lord is wise, like the wisdom of the angel of God, to know all that is in the earth (2 Samuel 14:12-20).”

-David determined to do this thing of bringing back his son now. He commanded Joab to go and get the young man, Absalom, from Geshur. Joab prostrated himself in allegiance to the king and blessed him. He knew he had found favor in the sight of his king. Soon, Absalom would be back in Jerusalem; however, the king would not let his son see his face. Instead, he had him go to his own house and the two remained estranged. The text moves on to tell us that Absalom was the most handsome man in all of Israel at the time. He was highly praised from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. There was no physical defect in him whatsoever. He had enormous weight in his incredible hair. At the end of every year he would have it cut due to its heaviness, which would come out to about 5 pounds in our measurement system. That’s some serious hair dude! The text goes on to inform us that he had three sons and one daughter, whom he named Tamar (probably in honor of his beautiful sister that he adored). This daughter is described as beautiful in appearance as well. Now Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem in separation from seeing his dad, the king. He finally sent for Joab, which can be inferred for the purpose of regaining access to his father, but Joab would not come to him. He asked again, but again was denied. Therefore, Absalom told his servants to get some vengeance on Joab’s property, which was next to his. They were to set his field, that had barley in it, on fire, which they followed through on. This brought Joab over to Absalom’s house immediately with the question, “Why have your servants set my field (or portion) on fire?” This gave Absalom an opportunity to express himself finally, “Behold, I sent for you, saying, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me still to be there.” ’ Now therefore, let me see the king’s face, and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.” Joab complied with Absalom’s request, and the king indeed called for his son. When Absalom came before the king, he prostrated himself on his face to the ground in humility. David restored his son though by bringing him up and kissing him (2 Samuel 14:21-33).

-*Application* It would appear that all was well again in the household of David by the end of this chapter, but as we will soon see, national rebellion was just around the corner (see 2 Samuel 15-18). Family matters are some of the hardest things to decipher and straighten out. There are so many mixed emotions and feelings that can affect discernment and fellowship. Obviously David could have handled this situation better, but he was probably busy with other obligations as king that occupied his time. His family, and soon his nation, suffered because of his failures. Let’s learn from this and resolve to make peace in our families a high priority. Otherwise, we are truly unfit to lead anything (1 Timothy 3:1-5, Titus 1:5-9).

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 14:14, 20

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 13

2 Samuel 13

-The turmoil in David’s family now heats up in the form of rape and murder in aftermath of his sinful acts, which were forgiven but had consequence and fulfilled prophecy (see 2 Samuel 12:7-14). Now, it just so happened that Absalom had a beautiful sister by the name of Tamar, and Absalom’s step brother (both sons of David with different moms) by the name of Amnon loved her. Maybe we should say he was infatuated with her more than actual love as we will see. He was sick over her, feeling frustrated day after day, because she was a pure virgin and it seemed hard for him to do anything to her to demonstrate his affection. But Amnon had a friend. This friend was a brother of David’s, the son of Shimeah, by the name of Jonadab. He was described as “a very shrewd (chakam- crafty, cunning, wily, subtle, wise) man.” This Jonadab planted thoughts of sexual immorality in his friend and relative. He told Amnon not to be depressed over his love for Tamar, but to devise a plan to get close to her by deception. Amnon was told to lie down on his bed pretending to be ill and to ask for Tamar to be able to provide some food for him to eat so that he could eat from her hand. Amnon followed Jonadab’s plan to a tee, and when the king came to him thinking he was sick, his son beseeched his father to let Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in his sight so that he could eat from her hand. David obliged and sent for his beautiful-virgin daughter to assist what he thought was a sick son. Tamar obeyed her father and ministered to Amnon without raising any fuss. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked these cakes; then, she took them and dished them out before her step brother. But, Amnon refused to eat. He wanted everyone to go out from him, but he beckoned for Tamar to bring the food into the bedroom so that he could eat from her hand. Deceptively, he conned his step sister into his quarters for sexual intercourse. He took hold of her and said, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” But she replied with confidence and discretion, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing! As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” Instead of going through proper procedure and decorum, Amnon would not listen to her, and since he was the stronger one “he violated her and lay with her (2 Samuel 13:1-14).”

-The experience was not pleasant. We know this because in the aftermath of this rape, Amnon hated Tamar with “a very great hatred.” In fact, this hated trumped what infatuated love he felt for her previously. He told her to “Get up,” and to “go away.” She reasoned with him that this would certainly be wrong to send her away like this making it an even greater wrong than he had already accomplished, if we can imagine that in this ancient culture. Yet, he still would not listen to her and had his young man servant throw her out of his presence with a locked door behind her (2 Samuel 13:15-17). Grievous situation to say the least.  

-As a daughter of the king, all the virgins would wear long-sleeved garments with their robes. Tamar put ashes on her head in sorrow for what had just transpired and tore her long-sleeved garment, which was on her. She put her hand on her head and went away from Amnon’s lair crying aloud as she went. Then Absalom saw her and spoke, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.” The Word says that she remained then in Absalom’s house desolated (shamem- awestruck, appalled, deserted). When King David heard of all these matters, he was “very angry.” On Absalom’s part, he refused to speak to Amnon for neither good or bad. His hatred boiled for his step brother over the violation of his sister and the silent treatment was his offensive weapon (2 Samuel 13:18-22).

-After two full years after this incident, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to go where he had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim to the north of Jerusalem. Absalom asked his dad to go along too, but David felt like he would be burdensome to his son during this event for whatever reason. He did bless him and sent him on his way though. Absalom had urged his dad to go, but was denied. Perhaps this was a plea by a son for his dad to step and rectify a tense situation between the brothers. There is no doubt that David missed an opportunity to intervene in what turned out to be a violent crisis. Absalom, and the text does not state the motives in the situation although we do know there was intense hatred, continued to pursue bringing Amnon. When David asked why he should go along, Absalom entreated him to let all the king’s sons join the party, to which David consented. When they got to Baal-hazor, Absalom commanded his servants, “See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” This was a vengeful killing, not of the LORD and not like his father David in so many instances where he forgave and restored people. He took his own retribution instead of letting the LORD handle the sin. Therefore, at this time the son of David went in the wrong direction. The servants of Absalom did to Amnon exactly as Absalom had commanded in killing this former rapist. Some would say he got what he had coming to him. But when this happened, all the king’s sons arose, mounted their mules, and fled. In the meantime, a false report came back to King David informing that Absalom had struck down all the king’s sons with none left. Can you even imagine what this would have done to the king’s heart? Even if it was short-lived, this news would have been devastating. David arose, tore his clothes, and assumed the same position on the ground that he had when he found out the LORD had stricken the first child borne to Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 12:15b-16). All his servants who were around him tore their clothes as well in deep sorrow and mourning. But, somehow, the cunning and shrewd Jonadab, who was in attendance, calmed the chaos by stating, “Do not let my lord suppose that they have put to death all the young men, the king’s sons, for Amnon alone is dead; because by the intent of Absalom this has been determined since the day that he violated his sister Tamar.” Then he reiterated his belief that all were not dead as had been erroneously reported. This at least infers inside knowledge by conspiring Jonadab. Absalom had fled the scene entirely, but the king’s watchman raised his eyes and saw many people coming towards Jerusalem from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. Jonadab told the king that it was his sons as they came rolling in. As they came they also lifted up their voices in bitter wailing over the whole situation. Meanwhile, Absalom had fled to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur (modern day Golan Heights area in ancient East Manasseh directly east of the Sea of Galilee). David mourned every day, the Bible tells us, over this lost son for three long years. “The heart of David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead (2 Samuel 13:23-39).”

-*Application* Preemptive action is something we all too often take for granted. David could have been more perceptive and in tune with his family during these days of conflict and averted this catastrophe. We can get too busy, too often, too if we’re not careful. Pay attention to the things going on on the home front. Watch out for deception, hatred, and possible vengeance of one relative against another. Above all pray and ask the LORD to watch over the house. Otherwise, we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). Take it from David, the results can be very discouraging when we are aloof and don’t lead with spiritual insight.

Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 13:14, 39

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 12

2 Samuel 12

-Nathan the prophet is sent to deliver a confronting word to the king. He used tact in a brilliant illustration that helped David get the point (see 2 Samuel 12:1-4). David’s anger burned when he heard about a rich man’s lack of compassion. He exclaimed that a man like this surely deserved to die with restitution made fourfold. When he found out it was himself that the prophet was talking about, David acknowledged his sin against the LORD. It was a humble display of repentance by a powerful individual. He allowed God’s messenger to point out that even though he had been anointed and delivered from all his adversaries and lifted up with his master’s house and his master’s wives and all of Judah and Israel under his control with more promised, he had done this great evil in the sight of the LORD by despising His Word. David was rightly accused of striking down Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the sons of Ammon (see 2 Samuel 11), and taking his wife away from him as his own in a selfish-lustful act. There were additional prophetic curses placed on the house of David as consequences for this sin. The sword (violence) would never depart his house. Evil would be raised up against the king from within his own relatives. His wives would be taken before his eyes and given to his companion in broad daylight for everyone to know. David accepted his fate with resignation and sorrow though; we can easily discern this from the text (2 Samuel 12:5-13a). In the days ahead, all of these prophecies would come to fruition.

-When Nathan was through with his courageous encounter, which I am sure was not an easy task, he noted that the LORD, because of David’s repentant heart, had taken his sin away. Not the consequences, but the sin, let us note that. He would not die because of his transgressions. However, because of this deed that he committed, David had given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme; therefore, God told David through Nathan that his son would surely die. Upon stating this, Nathan returned to his house (2 Samuel 12:13b-15).

-Then, according to His word, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s widow had borne to David with severe sickness. David once again inquired of God with his life’s issues (see 1 Samuel 23:2-4; 30:8 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19, 23 for other inquiries). He fasted and wept and lay all night on the ground in utter sorrow for what he had caused. The elders of his household tried to get him up, but he was despondent and would not even eat with them. On the seventh day of the crisis, the child finally died and went to be with the LORD. David’s servants were afraid to tell the king this news thinking that he might harm himself because of it. But when David observed them whispering to one another, he was perceptive enough to know that his child was deceased. He plainly and straightforwardly asked if the child was dead, to which they confirmed the bad news. David did an unusual thing upon hearing this. He arose from the ground where he was lamenting, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and came into the house (tabernacle, tent) of the LORD and worshiped. Afterwards, he returned to his own house, requested food, and ate it. His servants were astonished by his actions and inquired why he had done this in such a fashion. David’s reply was insightful, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him (as in Heaven, indicating an age of accountability theology), but he will not return to me (2 Samuel 12:16-23).”

-In the following days, King David comforted his wife, Bathsheba. They had further marital relations, this time more appropriately in the LORD’s sight, and conceived another son. This son was named Solomon, and “the LORD loved him.” Word was sent through Nathan the prophet that he be named “Jedidiah (beloved of the LORD) for the LORD’s sake.” God was showing both His justice and His merciful compassion throughout this ordeal (2 Samuel 12:24-25).

-The scene shifts back to the war with the sons of Ammon in Rabbah in the remaining verses of this enlightening chapter. Joab fought against Rabbah and captured the royal city that had been secure for quite a while. Messengers were sent to the king to inform him of the victory over this “city of waters.” It had water supply, which was crucial in this region, especially in ancient cultures. Joab called for the rest of Israel to come and camp against the city to fully capture it for the nation; else he would do it by himself and name the city after him as the conqueror. So David gathered everyone upon this request, and they went and fought to fully capture the city. David took the exclusive crown of their king, Hanun (see 2 Samuel 10:2), and placed it on his head. The crown weighed a talent of gold and had a precious stone in it. Great spoil was also brought out of the city for Israel’s benefit. David also brought out the people who were in the city and set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, iron axes, and made them pass through the brickkiln. In fact, all the cities of the sons of Ammon were subjected to this plight, and then David returned with all his people back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 12:26-31).

-*Application* The courage and wisdom of the prophet Nathan to confront an evil act should be noted here. It’s not just confronting sin that is important, but how we do it that can provide effectiveness and restoration in a situation. David’s heart for accepting his fate and consequences should also be admired from this narrative. God forgives when we come clean and admit our sins. Let us not forget though that there are always consequences that can be quite severe in our lives when we decide to take a licentious stance and do evil in the sight of God as His children. David’s relationship with God was intact, but his fellowship was truly tested because of his wrongful decisions. They had long lasting effects on his family. We need to learn from his mistakes and avoid these pitfalls. Avoid the sorrows, live a holy-blessed life by resisting any and all temptation as a child of the King.

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 12:13

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 11

2 Samuel 11

-Up to this point, David had been a man of character and honor in all his encounters. He had certainly not been perfect, but he had sincerely followed the LORD. He had risen in power as the anointed ruler over the kingdom of Israel and had been given the blessing as the inaugurator of the eternal Kingdom, which would be fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. However, in this chapter we see the frailties and faults that can occur when a person becomes at ease with his situation. David’s struggles begin with lust, intensify with adultery and deceit, and end up making him virtually a murderer.

-“Then it happened.” This is a prelude to the situation after David had gained full confidence as a king. Times were good. “In the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle.” This denotes a shrinking back, a leisurely attitude, an aloofness, a non-involvement, a delegating where perhaps more hands on action would have suited him better. David instead sent his capable commander, Joab, with his servants and all of Israel to destroy the sons of Ammon (see 2 Samuel 10 for background) and besiege their wall-protected city of Rabbah. David stayed back, content, in Jerusalem. “Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house.” This informs us, as the readers, that laziness had enveloped the king of Israel. He was in a state of complacency and was probably lethargic, perhaps very bored. That is when Satan snatched an opportunity through the eye gate (1 John 2:16). David, from his roof in this mountainous city, looked down and saw a very beautiful woman bathing. She captivated his lustful heart, and soon he was inquiring about her and sending for her. He found that she was married to one of his faithful soldiers, Uriah the Hittite. He learned that her name was Bathsheba. Soon after he sent his messengers and she was brought before him. He committed adultery with her in sensuous passion. In the aftermath, she purified herself from her uncleanness and returned to her house. It was not long before she found that she had conceived a child in her womb, and David was told about her pregnancy (2 Samuel 11:1-5). Whoops!

-The intrigue then picks up as David sent to Joab commanding him to send Uriah the Hittite back to Jerusalem. When the warrior arrived, the king asked him of the welfare of Joab, the people, and the state of the war going on. Indeed, small talk to comfort the tension and guilt in his spirit. David had devised a plan to try to get out of his sexual misconduct. He told Uriah to go down to his house, and David sent out a present to him as he left. He was hoping that Uriah would go and take pleasure in his wife while he had a retreat. But, the faithful soldier was committed to his God, king, country, and fellow warriors. He did not go down to his house for a vacation. Instead, he slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord. When it was told to David that he had done this thing, David upped the ante. He strongly encouraged his soldier to go down to his house and receive rest from his journey. This is where Uriah’s character shines through and puts David in an even bigger predicament. Uriah’s response was this, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.” David was scrambling now. He had him stay there another day with the prospect of sending him back on the tomorrow. David called him, and the Hittite ate and drank before the king to the point of getting drunk by David’s design. But, he still would not go down to his house. He insisted to lay down with the servant’s at the front of the king’s house for the night. So, in the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, sent by the hand of Uriah. It was his death warrant basically. Uriah was to be placed in the front line of the fiercest battle. When the fighting was intense, the fellow soldiers were to withdraw from him, leaving him defenseless and vulnerable, so that he would be struck down and killed. And, so it was as Joab kept watch of the city that the commander obeyed the wishes of the king and put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. As some of the sons of Ammon went out to fight from the city against Joab, some of David’s servants fell including, unfortunately and tragically, the honorable, Uriah (2 Samuel 11:6-17).

-As Joab sent and reported all the events of the war, he told his messenger, “When you have finished telling all the events of the war to the king, and if it happens that the king’s wrath rises and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck down Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittitite is dead also.’” When the messenger delivered this report to the king, David seemed very satisfied. He exclaimed, “Thus you shall say to Joab, ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it’; and so encourage him (2 Samuel 11:18-25).”

-Soon, Bathsheba heard the news that her husband had been killed in action. She mourned properly for her loved one, but when the time of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to his house to be his wife. She bore him the illegitimate son, “but the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD (2 Samuel 11:26-27).”

-*Application* Uriah the Hittite, not even an Israeli, had more character than David even when he was drunk. This should be a lesson for us in vigilance and pressing on in faith even when things seem at their peak (Philippians 3:12). Complacency is the devil’s playground, and we cannot afford to listen to his schemes. Don’t let boredom overtake us. Set new goals, have new vision, resist temptation and all of this world’s pleasures for the sake of God’s Kingdom and our personal testimony (James 4:7). David would eventually repent and find forgiveness. So can we when we mess things up with wrongful lusts and decisions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We must guard ourselves on the front side to avoid Satan’s pitfalls. Learn these lessons from David’s struggles. Even though David thought initially that he had gotten away with this sin, God knew all about it, and it was evil in His sight. We have to come clean with our God who knows and see all of our thoughts and works. Let’s let His Holy Spirit convict us and search us out to know any wicked way within. Then let’s turn into His everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 11:2, 27

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 10

2 Samuel 10

-After David had shown his kindness to the house of Saul and blessed Mephibosheth, the king of the Ammonites (people living east of the Jordan) died. Hanun, King Nahash of Ammon’s son, became the newly crowned king. David sincerely wanted to show kindness to him just as Nahash, his father, had shown kindness to him in years past. So King David sent some of his servants to console Hanun concerning the loss of his father. They were truly offering support. However, in a huge miscalculation in judgment, the princes of Ammon convinced their king that David had mischievously sent these servants as spies to search out the city so that they could overthrow it. Therefore, Hanun took these Israelites and embarrassed them greatly. He had their beards shaved off half-way and cut their garments off in the middle as far up as their hips. Then he sent them away in shame (2 Samuel 10:1-4).

-When they told David what had transpired, he sent to meet them in Jericho, before they came all the way back to Jerusalem. David verified every action and intention. The king instructed them to remain at Jericho until their beards had fully grown back, and then they were to return to Jerusalem, to the king’s presence (2 Samuel 10:5).

-It did not take long for Ammon to realize that they had now become odious in David’s sight. They escalated things and began to prepare for a war by hiring the Arameans of Beth-rehob and of Zobah. 20,000 foot soldiers were hired along with the king of Maacah with his 1,000 men. Also coming aboard on their side were the men of Tob. They added 12,000 men to the total alliance. This was indeed a sizeable force now gathering themselves against the nation of Israel. Trouble loomed. When David heard of this activity, he decisively sent for his commander Joab and all the Israeli army, the mighty men. “The sons of Ammon came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city (Rabbah).” They had the Arameans, the men of Tob and Maacah stay by themselves out in the field. Joab perceptively noticed that the battle was set against him in front and to the rear. At that point he selected all the choice men of Israel and arrayed them against the Arameans, who were out in the field and left more unprotected. The remainder of the Israelis who were with him were placed in the hand of his brother, Abishai, and arrayed against the sons of Ammon. An agreement was made between the brothers that if either conflict became too great for them, they would come to the others’ rescue and help out. A final exhortation to be strong and courageous was given by Joab for the sake of their people, their cities, and their God. They prayed for the LORD to do what was good in His sight, and then they drew near into battle. As this happened, the Arameans fled from before them. When the sons of Ammon, who were in the city, saw the Arameans fleeing, they also fled before Abishai and entered into the protection of their city. “Then Joab returned from fighting against the sons of Ammon and came to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 10:6-14).”

-When the Arameans realized that they had been defeated by Israel, they reassembled and gathered themselves at Helam, which was northeast of where they had helped Ammon in Rabbah. Hadadezer, who had previously been defeated by David (2 Samuel 8:3-10), at this time sent and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the Euphrates River to Helam with his commander, Shobach, leading them. When King David became aware of this activity, he again took bold and decisive action. He gathered all of Israel and crossed the Jordan coming to Helam. The Arameans arrayed again for battle in this rematch to meet David and the armies of the Living God. They fought against him, but lost again fleeing before Israel. 700 charioteers and 40,000 horsemen of the Arameans were struck down in this brilliantly orchestrated display of the LORD’s power, and the commander, Shobach, was killed there as well. “When all the kings, servants of Hadadezer, saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Arameans feared to help the sons of Ammon anymore (2 Samuel 10:15-19).”

-*Application* A couple of things we should learn from this experience in Scripture. First, don’t let suspicion rule your discernment in matters. David had intended to show kindness, and distrustful reactions that were not reality ended up plunging a country into war. Secondly, we have to be careful as to who we ally ourselves with in life. The Arameans, and others, ended up losing power, prestige, and peace because they wanted to retaliate for a previous failure. They would have been better suited if they had not gone with the sons of Ammon in the first place. Pride will cause us to make rash and ungodly decisions that hurt us in the end. Seek the LORD, His wisdom, and His guidance for all alliances and decisions. A final thought today for we as humans; we will serve the LORD one way or another. It’s better to ally with Him sooner rather than later.

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 10:19

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 9

2 Samuel 9

-A tender story of compassion and servitude fills the verses of this pericope of Scripture. David begins the action with asking the question, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” There was a servant of the house of Saul named Ziba who was called to the king and questioned concerning any survivors of the house of the former king. David truly remembered his covenant with his best friend (1 Samuel 18:1-3; 20). Ziba informed them that indeed there was a lone survivor by the name of Mephibosheth, who happened to be in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar. He was quickly summoned into the king’s presence, where he fell prostrate claiming to be David’s servant. The kind king said to Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet from a fall in escaping with his life at a tender age (2 Samuel 4:4), “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.” This prompted Mephibosheth to prostrate himself once again asking why, as David’s servant, that he should receive such blessing. He considered himself a “dead dog,” but in the king’s eyes he found favor (2 Samuel 9:1-8).

-The king immediately called Ziba and informed him that everything from the house of Saul was now given to Mephibosheth. Ziba was assigned the task of cultivating the crippled man’s fields along with all his servants and sons. Nevertheless, Mephibosheth would be eating at the king’s table regularly. Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants, so this was an impressive staff to take care of Saul’s land, now given to Mephibosheth. This would certainly have been lucrative. Ziba agreed to the proposition, and Mephibosheth ate with David just as one of his own sons regularly. Mephibosheth at the time had a young son by the name of Mica, and they lived in Jerusalem while Ziba and his sons and his servants cultivated their inheritance in the nearby land of Benjamin (2 Samuel 9:9-13).

-*Application* This picture of grace and restoration is inspiring to say the least. This is definitely a foreshadowing to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary and the future glory we will receive in Heaven (Revelation 19:9). We could also look at the sacrificial servitude of Ziba and his house as examples of lives well lived. Giving is an incredible blessing, and pouring favor on others gives us the greatest joys in this earthly life. Don’t we just love happy endings? (for more inspiration in song see: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=carried+to+the+table+leeland+lyrics&&view=detail&mid=4A4626A2D9C46BDE79244A4626A2D9C46BDE7924&FORM=VRDGAR)

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 9:7

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 8

2 Samuel 8

-This chapter gives the reader an understanding of the regional conquests of David in the nations that surrounded Israel during this unified time in their history. He took control of the chief city of the Philistines defeating them and subduing them. Moab was defeated with many being put to death, the rest becoming servants of King David and his people. They brought tribute to their conquerors. Then David’s armies defeated Hadadezer, the son of Rehob of Zobah, as rule was reestablished at the Euphrates River. 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers were captured. David had their horses hamstrung, but reserved enough of them to provide for 100 chariots. When the Arameans came to ally themselves with Hadadezer, 22,000 of them were killed by David’s legions. He put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus (present day Syria), and these also became servants to David and Israel, bringing tribute. In fact, Scripture states repeatedly that “the LORD helped David wherever he went (2 Samuel 8:6, 14). Shields of gold and large amounts of bronze were brought as spoils of war to Jerusalem from Betah and Berothai, which were previously cities of Hadadezer. When King Toi of Hamath, who had been at war with Hadadezer, heard that David had defeated his enemy, he sent his son, Joram, to King David with greetings and blessings. He also gave the Israeli king articles of silver, gold, and bronze, which David immediately dedicated to the LORD his God along with all the other things he had gained from all the nations he had subdued. Some additional nations listed among the vanquished included Aram (some manuscripts read Edom), Ammon, and Amalek. David became more and more famous as 18,000 Arameans were cut down in the Valley of Salt (Dead Sea area). He then put more garrisons in Edom, and they became his servants too. “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteousness for all his people (2 Samuel 8:1-15).”

-Some of the important people in his regime are now listed. Joab stayed on as the man over his army. Jehoshaphat was the recorder, a historian of sorts. Zadok and Ahimelech were priests with Ahimelech being a vital asset in his ascension as king (1 Samuel 21-22). Seraiah was the secretary, an important person as anyone in leadership knows full well. Benaiah, who was one of David’s mighty valiant warriors (2 Samuel 23:22-23, 1 Chronicles 27:5-6), was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, who were closely associated with the Philistines but sided with Israel historically. David’s sons were also appointed chief ministers (2 Samuel 8:16-18).

-*Application* When God is with us, nothing we do fails. The question for us becomes, “Why was God so with David in all of these events?” God knew his heart, and that it would rise to the mantle of leadership with “justice and righteousness for all his people.” He was not swayed by popular opinions or faddish impulses. He was focused on God’s commands, and he obeyed Him at all times. He was not perfect, but he was yielded in his heart to the will of the LORD. He feared Him and followed Him. This is the recipe for our own success if we dare to copy it.

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 8:15

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 7

2 Samuel 7

-Now that David was safe and secure in his new built house in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:11) with rest on every side from all his enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwells within tent curtains.” Initially, Nathan told him to “Go, do all that is in your mind, for the LORD is with you.” However, God had other plans and came to Nathan that very night to correct the man of His Word. He told him, “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD,’ Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:1-16).’” Nathan faithfully delivered this ultra-important vision from God to the king (2 Samuel 7:17).

-Now, after hearing this incredible prophecy, the king went in and sat before the LORD. He had a lengthy, thought-provoking, and informative reply to his Maker. “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord GOD, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord GOD. Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord GOD! For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know. For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a Name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods? For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God. Now therefore, O LORD God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as You have spoken, that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You. For You, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant. Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord GOD, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”

-*Application* Why is this chapter so vitally important? This is the real beginning of the Messianic line coming through King David. It is the eternal Kingdom, the One that will consummate the ages through Jesus Christ. The Divine connection from Heaven to earth. It provides for the redemption of all mankind. We could go on and on about the significance of this Word, but sufficed to say we are completely indebted to a gracious God who loves us and desires for us to know Him in a relational way. This fills our hearts with joy, wonder, and praise!

Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 7:9, 16, 24

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 6

2 Samuel 6

-This chapter takes us on the Ark of the Covenant’s journey from Baale-judah at the house of Abinadab on the hill (see 1 Samuel 7:1-2) to its new home in the city of David. There was peril along the way as David arose and went with all the people who were with him to bring this Ark of God which is called by His Name (the very Name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim) to its new location. The Ark was placed on a new cart, and Uzzah and Ahio, who were the sons of Abinadab, were leading it. While this procession was taking place, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with various sorts of instruments (2 Samuel 6:1-5).

-However, when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, tragedy occurred. Uzzah reached out his hand toward the Ark of God and took hold of it because the oxen had nearly upset it. This violated the LORD’s command (Exodus 25:10-15, Numbers 4:15), and the anger of the LORD therefore burned against Uzzah to the point of striking him down dead right on the spot for his irreverence. This activity frustrated the previously jubilant King David, and he became temporarily angry because of the LORD’s outburst. This led them to name the place Perez-uzzah (the breakthrough of Uzzah). David that day developed an extraordinarily agonizing fear of the LORD, which led him to comment, “How can the Ark of the LORD come to me?” He was then unwilling to move the Ark into the city of David there in Jerusalem initially. The Ark did however find its spot in the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite, and stayed there for three months (see also 1 Chronicles 13:13-14). During this time the LORD blessed the household of Obed-edom, and it was told to David. Therefore, David finally went and brought up the Ark of God into the city of David with gladness. This time he moved it in complete obedience to the Law of the LORD (see 1 Chronicles 15:1-15). It was carried by the priests, not stuck on a cart like the Philistines had once done (1 Samuel 6:7-8). When the bearers of the Ark had gone six paces, the king sacrificed an ox and a fatling. Then David danced before the LORD with all his might wearing the linen ephod of the religious leaders. “So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the Ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.” Michal, David’s first wife and daughter of Saul, looked out of her window at this time and observed David, her husband, leaping and dancing before the LORD, and “she despised him in her heart.” As the Ark was now brought into it place within a tent that David had prepared for it, he again offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. After these things, he blessed the people in the Name of the LORD of hosts and distributed to all the people of Israel, men and women alike, a cake of bread, a date, and a raisin to each one. After this massive celebration, they all departed each to their own house. But, when David returned to his household to bless them, Michal came out to meet him and scorned, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” David’s response was classic, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the LORD. I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.” The Word says that Michal, the daughter of Saul, was cursed by having no children to the day of her death (2 Samuel 6:6-23).  

-*Application* Sometimes the LORD has to do drastic things to bring us back into conformity with the fact that He is God and we are not. This deal with the Ark came at a real high point of David’s life when the temptation for haughtiness and pride were at its peak. In other words, he was feeling pretty good about himself and what was happening to him as this newly crowned king. God had to straighten him and his country out with an overwhelming reminder that He was holy and expected total obedience in genuine reverence. Our lesson? We can’t let unbridled passion, even in a worthwhile celebration, exceed the commands of our God. David learned from his mistakes, which is his mark of greatness, and corrected his errors the next time he moved the Ark. He followed God’s way, still celebrating before the LORD with what some perceived as undignified abandon, and esteemed himself lightly with humility. This is a true plan for success and will really distinguish us among people of our culture too.

Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 6:14, 18, 21-22

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 5

2 Samuel 5

-Finally, after many years of trusting the LORD and eluding his enemies, David is anointed the rightful and ordained king over all of Israel. All the tribes came to David in Hebron after the death of Ish-bosheth (see 2 Samuel 4) and acknowledged him as their sovereign who had shepherded his people Israel as a great ruler. Even when King Saul had positional authority, the people recognized the actual man of God who was to be their eventual leader. “So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel.” This happened when David was 30 years old. It had been a long and arduous, but faithful, journey. His time had now come, the LORD had lifted him up and exalted him to what he had been called. He would eventually reign for 40 golden years, 7 ½ years in Hebron as the leader of Judah and 33 years in Jerusalem as the king of all Israel and Judah united (2 Samuel 5:1-5).

-Now, David took decisive action with his men by going up to Jerusalem. They went against the Jebusites, who controlled this mountainous stronghold that would eventually house the Temple of the Living God. The conventional thinking at the time was that the city was so well fortified that even the lame and the blind could protect it. A more accurate rendering of the text might explain the wording “let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul, through the water tunnel.” This could actually in the Masoretic Text take a Qere option that would make it passive to mean, “…the blind and the lame, who are hateful to (or towards) David (see http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1322).”  Whatever one’s understanding and interpretation of this passage, David used a cunning tactic to invade this coveted real estate and capture it. The stronghold of Zion was taken. The blind and the lame were excluded from coming into the house, which is more than likely referencing the future Temple of God, which was to be built during the reign of David’s son, Solomon. David now lived in this stronghold and at that time it became known as the “city of David” by the king’s own choosing. In fact, David strengthened it by some building projects from the Milo (citadel) inward. “David became greater and greater, for the LORD God of hosts was with him.” At that time, alliances began to form as well. Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to David with cedar trees along with carpenters and stonemasons. These built a house for the king to live there in Jerusalem. David now realized his good fortune from the LORD in establishing him as king over Israel. God had exalted him and his kingdom for the sake of His people, Israel. Also notated in the text was the fact that King David took more wives and concubines from Jerusalem at this juncture. More sons and daughters are born, which are listed in the text (2 Samuel 5:6-16).

-But all was not pleasurable and peaceful in the beginning of David’s reign after the conquering of Jerusalem. The Philistines, upon hearing that David had been anointed king over all Israel, went up to seek out their notorious enemy. When the king caught wind of this, he went down, presumably with his trusted fighting men, to the stronghold. This was somewhere in the vicinity of the valley of Rephaim because this is where the Philistines came and spread themselves out. The valley of Rephaim is pretty much due west of Jerusalem toward what was still known as Canaan. It was about mid-way between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Coastline in some pretty mountainous regions of the hill country. There, David inquired of his LORD once again as to whether or not he should go up against his foe. God told him to, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” Therefore, David and his men went and came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there. David proclaimed, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters.” This is why it is named Baal-perazim (the master of breakthrough). The Philistines abandoned their idols there at Baal-perazim with David and his men carrying them away. But the trouble wasn’t over just yet. The Philistines remobilized and came back up once again in the valley of Rephaim. David again inquired of his LORD, and the LORD provided him specific advice on how to handle the battle. Israel was to go directly up, circle around behind them, and come at them in front of the balsam (or baka-shrubs) trees. When they heard marching in the tops of the balsam trees, they were to “act promptly, for then the LORD will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” David followed through exactly with what the LORD commanded him, and the Philistines were struck down from Geba as far as Gezer (2 Samuel 5:17-25).

-*Application* God is indeed the Master of the breakthrough. He will come to our aid at the critical times of our lives when we yield whole-hearted devotion to His plans. This is a lesson for us in persistence, faithfulness, endurance, steadfastness, patience, and devotion among many other things. David gives us hope when we see all the testing and hardships that he had to go through in order to be exalted as the king over a united Israel. Keep trusting God, keep inquiring of Him at every juncture, and enjoy the breakthrough when He ensures the victory!

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 5:3

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 4

2 Samuel 4

-This chapter describes the events of Ish-bosheth’s murder two years after he had succeeded his father Saul as king over Israel (2 Samuel 2:10). When Ish-bosheth heard about the developments with Abner’s death in Hebron, he lost all courage and all Israel was disturbed. Among the remaining commanders of bands, Baanah and Rechab, who were brothers, plotted at this pivotal time to kill the fragile king. In an important aside, the text also informs us briefly of Mephibosheth, who was a crippled (from a fall early in his life) son of Jonathan’s. He was five years old when the report came from Jezreel of his father’s death along with King Saul, his grandfather. His nurse at that time took him up and fled for safety in a hurried rush. This is when Mephibosheth’s falling accident occurred where he became lame (2 Samuel 4:1-4).

-Anyway, the text returns to the rebellious plans of Baanah and Rechab as they went to the house of Ish-bosheth. At midday, when the king was taking his rest, the brothers came into the middle of his house as if to get wheat, went to the bedroom, and assassinated their king by striking him in his belly. Then they beheaded him and escaped. They took the head of Ish-bosheth and went by the way of the Arabah all night to Hebron where they presented proudly their accomplishment to the Judean King David. They purported, “Behold, the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life; thus the LORD has given my lord the king vengeance this day on Saul and his descendants.” David’s reply was unostentatious and reviling, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead.’ and thought he was brining good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news (2 Samuel 1:1-16). How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?” David then had them killed at the hands of his young servants in his army. Their hands and feet were cut off, and they were hung up beside the pool in Hebron. As for the head of Ish-bosheth, that had been presented to them auspiciously, it was buried in honor in the grave of Abner there in Hebron (2 Samuel 4:5-12).

-*Application* David again presents us with a code of honor that is respectable and worthy of imitation. He truly meant things from his heart when he supported the anointed line of the LORD in regards to Saul and his descendants. He kept his word to his friend (1 Samuel 20:42). He saw with discernment the bigger picture and was not afraid to let God truly fight his own battles with patience and righteousness. Anything that interfered with that, he opposed vigorously. He was not lured by the temptation for self-gratification and human vengeance, nor should we. The LORD is our only Redeemer from all of our distress.

Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 4:9-11

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 3

2 Samuel 3

-A prolonged war between the house of Saul and the house of David begins this unique, and necessary, chapter of Scripture. David grew steadily stronger under the Divine will of the LORD as the house of Saul grew steadily weaker and weaker. The text then describes the six sons that were born to David by various wives at Hebron while he ruled Judah from there (2 Samuel 3:1-5).

-The narrative now picks up with Abner, who was the commander in Saul and his son Ish-bosheth’s army, making himself strong in the house of Saul. He did a mischievous thing, which initiated a pivotal turn in the dynamic of Israel. He slept with one of Saul’s concubines named Rizpah, which angered the reigning King Ish-bosheth. Upon the king’s asking why he had done such a thing to dishonor the royal line, Abner retorted in his own prideful anger, “Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman. May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the LORD has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him, to transfer the kingdom form the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.” This stunned and stymied the poor and falling king. Ish-bosheth was so afraid of his commander now that he could not even speak an answer to him, not even a word (2 Samuel 3:6-11).

-Abner immediately took action to follow through with his threats. He sent messengers to David asking for a covenant with him to make Israel all united under King David. He pledged his allegiance to the Judean king if the covenant was accepted. David felt like the offer was “Good!” The only thing he asked for was his original wife, Michal, back, whom Saul had taken from him to give to Paltiel (1 Samuel 18:20-28; 25:44). He asked this of Ish-bosheth ironically, and the king complied agreeably probably out of sheer fear by now. Michal was taken from her husband, Paltiel, by Ish-bosheth and given back to David. Paltiel sorrowfully followed her all the way to Bahurim weeping, but Abner at that point made him turn around and return, which he did. Meanwhile, Abner gathered the elders of Israel for consultation reminding them that in times past they had desired David to be king over them. He told them that this was the time to “do it! For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’” Abner also told these things to the sons of Benjamin, and let these words be heard in Hebron where David was privy to his message. Everything seemed good to Israel as was presented by this commander. Therefore, David made a feast for Abner and the 20 men who had come with to Hebron. Here, Abner said to David, “Let me arise and go and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may be king over all that your soul desires.” David sent him away to do this peace, but trouble was on the horizon (2 Samuel 3:12-21).

-Joab and other servants of David came back to Hebron from a raid and brought spoil with them. Much to their chagrin, they were informed of the peace overtures purposed by Abner, who had been there and left in peace. They were more than likely misinformed and negligent in their assessments. They mistrusted Abner, and Joab, along with his brother Abishai, had a vendetta because of what had happened to their brother, Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18-23). They were convinced that this was a spy mission, and that Abner had come in deception to learn of their strategies and plans to find out all they were doing. This seemed feasible given the fact that these two parties were at war for a prolonged time. They assessed in fear, vigilance, and trepidation rather than trust. They did not bother to get all the facts. They acted impetuously, and tracked down Abner bringing him back to the well which was at Sirah without consulting their king. David had no knowledge of this action according to the text; therefore, Joab acted alone in his inquiry and retribution. There in Hebron, as Abner was brought to Joab, Joab took him aside into the middle of the gate to speak with him privately. There he struck him in vengeance right in his belly so that the commander died. The text simply says it was “on account of the blood of Asahel his brother” as to why Joab was so impatient and ruthless. When David got wind of this debauchery, he exclaimed, “I and my kingdom are innocent before the LORD forever of the blood of Abner the son Ner. May it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and may there not fail from the house of Joab one who has a discharge (physical infirmities), or who is a leper (disease), or who takes hold of a distaff (affliction), or who falls by the sword (violence), or who lacks bread (provision).” David pronounced a well-deserved curse on his military leader for his hasty decisions and actions (2 Samuel 3:22-30).

-The murder turned into a time of mourning and healing as David told Joab to join him and all the people in tearing their clothes and girding on sackcloth to lament and weep for the deceased Abner. David walked behind the funeral procession following the bier of Abner as they buried him honorably in Hebron. At the grave site, King David lifted up his voice and wept along with all the people who were gathered. Laments were chanted by this poetic leader as the grieving was intense. Afterwards, all the compassionate people came to David to convince him to eat some bread while it was still day, but he vowed not to do that. He told them, “May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down.” This was a day of sorrow and penitence. All the people took note of David’s somber actions and realized that this whole thing was not the will of the king and that unity could definitely be achieved in their nation. These things pleased all the people, and David grew in favor once more with them because all that he did was in righteousness with the right heart motivation. They were perceptive. By the end David noted, “I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah (namely Joab and Abishai) are too difficult for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil (2 Samuel 3:31-39).”

-*Application* Do we act on gossip, lies, and slander without getting our facts straight sometimes as well? Much like Joab, we jump to conclusions all too often if we have a vendetta or foul dispossession towards someone or something. Our prejudice keeps us from righteousness, and retaliation is not becoming of the child of the King. Let’s get our facts straight and give people and situations all the grace that they deserve (Ephesians 4:29). Let’s be innocent of wrongdoing, like David was in this narrative. It will please the people around us as they see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 3:1, 27, 36

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Chapter 2

2 Samuel 2

-David, as was his custom, inquired of the LORD for a big decision and direction in his life. This would impact those who were faithful to him in his family and the wider clan of followers. They went up at the LORD’s discretion to Hebron, which were of the cities of Judah with his two wives and the men who were with him along with their families. A fairly large exodus of people by now which had to have been well over 1,000 individuals in total. “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-4).” This is an important development in the saga.

-At this time, the men of Judah told David how it was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul. Therefore, David sent messengers to those in Jabesh-gilead (to the north and east) proclaiming blessings on them from the LORD for their kindness to Saul in his death. David extended the lovingkindness and truth of the LORD as His favored and anointed king promising them goodness from his kingdom. He also let them know that their hands should be made strong and that they should be valiant due to the death of their king; plus, he informed them as to the fact that Judah had anointed him their king at this point (2 Samuel 2:5-7).

-But, there was trouble in the house of Israel that revolved around the commander of Saul’s army, Abner, who had taken Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, to Mahanaim (east of the Jordan approximately half way between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea) and set him up as king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, even all of Israel. Ish-bosheth was 40 years old at this juncture and lasted as king for a mere two years. This caused a rift in the nation since Judah had decided that David was their king and followed him. Therefore, David’s kingdom, which was a division from Israel, in Judah lasted 7 years and 6 months in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:8-11).

-Civil war soon ensued as Abner brought the servants of Ish-bosheth from Mahanaim to Gibeon, just northwest of Jerusalem and directly north of Hebron in the vicinity of where Saul was from in the land of Benjamin. Joab, who was a military leader faithful to David, and the servants of David went out and met the forces of Abner by the pool of Gibeon. There they all sat down, one group on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool. Finally, Abner said to Joab, “Now let the young men arise and hold a contest before us.” Joab replied, “Let them arise.” The contest consisted of 12 on 12 in a sword fight. As they drew near one another the Scriptures say that “each one of them seized his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together.” The place of this tragic occurrence was then called Helkath-hazzurim (the field of sword edges) which, again, was in Gibeon. This erupted a “very severe” battle between the two clans of the sons of Abraham. Joab’s men, the servants of David, ended up beating the forces of Abner and Israel. The three sons of Zeruiah including Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were there, and Asahel, who was very fast of foot, chased after Abner in straight course. As Asahel was catching up to this commander a conversation took place. Abner first asked if it was indeed the fleet footed Asahel to which Asahel answered, “It is I.” Abner warned him to turn to the left or right and collect spoil from one of the already fallen young men, but Asahel refused in his pursuit. He continued to follow the commander at a rapid pace, and Abner spoke warning once more, “Turn aside from me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” However, Asahel refused the directive once more and advanced on this warrior. Therefore, the Bible tells us that Asahel was about to catch Abner, the commander cleverly struck him in the belly with the butt end of his spear to the point that the spear pierced through and came out of his back. Asahel fell there where he was struck and died on the spot. All who came to this place stood still, but Joab and Abishai continued to pursue Abner. As the sun was going down on this bloody day “they came to the hill of Ammah, which in front of Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.” The sons of Benjamin gathered there together as one band of brothers behind Abner and stood on the top of a certain hill. From this lofty spot Abner called to Joab saying, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the end? How long will you refrain from telling the people to turn back from following their brothers?” Joab responded, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely then the people would have gone away in the morning, each from following his brother.” Then Joab blew the trumpet signaling a halt for the people, and they pursued Israel no longer, “nor did they continue to fight anymore.” Abner and his men fled through the Arabah all that night. They crossed the Jordan and walked all morning back to Mahanaim where they had begun. Joab on his part returned from following Abner to find that 19 of David’s servants, besides his brother Asahel, were missing (unaccounted for, presumed dead). But, the servants of David had killed many of Abner and Benjamin’s men. In fact, 360 men had died on the side of Israel. This indicated a decisive but hollow victory for the men of David. Asahel was taken up and buried in his father’s tomb which was in Bethlehem. “Then Joab and his men went all night until the day dawned at Hebron (2 Samuel 2:12-32).”

-*Application* Sometimes the decisions we make in haste can have catastrophic consequences. David is our example here of inquiring of the LORD before any important change in direction or action. He was blessed with a kingdom, security, and homes there in Judah. Asahel proved to be impulsive, raging, and unconscious of the dire straits he was putting himself into, which ended costing him his life. This civil war need not have happened. Both Abner and Joab would have been better off consulting the Sovereign LORD before agreeing to a destructive contest that eventually lead to hundreds of Israeli lives lost for virtually nothing. Wisdom is a stake here for our lives as we meditate on the mistakes of the past. Consider God before taking next steps. It makes all the difference in the world for blessing, honor, and favor.

Verse to Memorize: 2 Samuel 2:4

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 2 Samuel- Introduction and Chapter 1

2 Samuel 1

-Introduction: The book of 2 Samuel narrates the kingdom of David with an accurate depiction in the years of the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). David presents for us, the readers, a model and example to emulate in many regards, yet David was by no means a perfect individual as we will explore. We tend to gravitate to people who define and personify our ideals. Unconsciously, and sometimes on purpose, we copy their actions and adopt their philosophies and worldview. King David is one of the Scriptures foremost heroes, and a person worth considering. He comes along at about the half-way point between Abraham and Jesus in the national history of Israel. He is their second king and is given, by God’s authority, the eternal Kingdom line through which Christ Jesus would be born (2 Samuel 7:16-29, Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). This book was probably written somewhere around 930 B.C. perhaps by the prophet Nathan’s son, Zabud (1 Kings 4:5). There are also some parts that can probably be attributed to Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29). The completion of this book, named after the prophet Samuel who anointed David as king yet deceased by the time of the events of this book, was approximately 40 years after the reign of King David had ended. His reign begins at the time of King Saul’s death in 1010 B.C. when David was ascribed authority in Judah. By 1003 B.C., some seven years later, David was in full control of a unified Israel and enjoyed the expansion of the kingdom, the ark being brought back to its rightful place in the tabernacle, and military success after success. But, despite all these accomplishments, we also see the dark side of this king who at times is merely a sinful human and succumbs to temptation involving laziness, pride, and lust. We see his family issues spring forth in stunning array, and the pain of dealing with surmounting situations there. However, through it all David provides for a way back with his repentant heart (which makes him the man after God’s own heart), which we can discern extends the grace of God to the humble and contrite. In the end by 970 B.C. when he goes to be with the LORD, we know that David has an abiding peace and was in perfect fellowship with his Creator, even though he like everyone else he had to endure the consequences of his wayward actions. Look for the themes of God honoring characteristics, for example: faithfulness, patience, courage, generosity, commitment, honesty, modesty, justice, and penitence. While enjoying those qualities, also notice the Kingdom growth, the perils of personal greatness, the consequences of sin, and the repentant heart themes. 2 Samuel is a classic work of art and an inspiring Word from the LORD.

(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 496-497)

-Chapter 1: The book begins after the death of Saul, which occurred on Mount Gilboa in a battle with the vaunted Philistines (1 Samuel 31, canonical ties). David had just returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites because of their vicious attack on his people in Ziklag (see 1 Samuel 30). He was back in Ziklag, which had been burned with fire, and remained there for two days. On the third day, however, an Amalekite man who said he had been in Saul’s camp came with clothes torn and dust on his head. When he approached David, he fell prostrated to the ground before this valiant warrior out of perceived respect. Upon David asking where he had come from, the Amalekite told him what had transpired in the battle between Israel and the Philistines. David was anxious to know how things were going and was then informed of the carnage that Israel was dealt including the death of Saul and Jonathan. David wanted proof of the cessation of the king and his son. The man lied about the way it all went down, which can be accurately found in 1 Samuel 31. But, he did present the king’s crown and bracelet that was on his arm. He claimed he had killed the king who was in agony for his life after the injuries he had received in battle (2 Samuel 1:1-10). This was untrue. The Amalekite was more than likely a battlefield scavenger that happened to come upon the king before the Philistines were able to find him.

-Upon hearing the horrid news, David took hold of his clothes and ripped them apart. His men who were with him followed suit in tearing their clothes as well. “They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” This was indeed a fulfillment of prophecy, but it was a painful time in the camp of David (1 Samuel 28).

-David now attended to the matter of this Amalekite, who was in fact an alien and despiser of the king. David asked him where he was from and how it was that he was not afraid to stretch out his hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed. He eventually had one of his young men to go and cut him down, which ended the man’s life. Here is David’s final evaluation of the man, “Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’”

-Then, in grief, David chanted this lament over Saul and his son, Jonathan. He told his people to teach the sons of Judah this “song of the bow,” which was written in the book of Jashar:

"Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How have the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult. O mountains of Gilboa, let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, and the sword of Saul did not return empty. Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, and in their death they were not parted; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women. How have the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"

-*Application* Our world scorns the emotions of grief and often tries to repress them to our detriment. Consider how we act around people that are going through agonizing times in their lives. How do we respond? Do we shut them up and shut them down? Or, do we offer the hope and help of Christ in these instances? Too many people are turning to addictions instead of the Savior in times of intense hurt and pain. We should give them Jesus as the real healer. We can also see the importance of truthfulness from this episode in the Scriptures. The Amalekite paid a high price for his distortion and deception. We will too if we get tangled up in the web of lies and false story telling. God is a God of truth and reality. Finally, let us consider the friendship of David and Jonathan. True friends are rare in our world and should be genuinely cherished.

Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 1:16, 26