Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Supported By Those Who Knew the Truth And Attacked by Those Who Don’t

II Samuel 16:1-14

"And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. 

And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? 

And Ziba said, The asses be for the king's household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.” (II Samuel 16:1-2)

While Absalom was able to draw those who had little experience with life, those who had more experience followed David.  Ziba had been a servant of Saul’s and had seen Saul’s attitude and David’s response.  He had also seen David’s willingness to forgive and help those who had opposed him.   When he saw him forced out of Jerusalem, he brought food and transportation to make their flight less of a burden.

“And the king said, And where is thy master's son? 

And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father. 

Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. 

And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.” (II Samuel 16:3-4)

Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth had been a special recipient of David’s largesse, and David asked where he was.  Ziba accused him of staying behind in hopes that Israel would declare him king.  Having been betrayed by his own son, and by one of  his advisors, as well as many of the people, David assumed the charges were true and offered to Give Ziba everything that he had given Mephibosheth.

“And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.  And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 

And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.” (II Samuel 16:5-8)

At Bahurim, one of Saul’s relatives came out and cursed David and his followers and throwing dust at them, accusing him of being responsible for Saul and his family’s deaths.  Apparently he had spent many years brooding over it without bothering to find out what really happened.  He said that God was just paying David back for what he imagined David had done.  Such people usually rush to hit somebody when they are down.

“Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.” (II Samuel 16:9)

Shimei’s attitude was much like that of Piers Morgan, standing up and accusing the Americans of being stupid for not passing gun legislation, totally ignoring the fact that while the guns are banned in his home country of England, they have about the same number of murders per thousand people as the we do in the US every year.   He didn’t bother to consider that people might find his words offensive.  Abishai was offended and offered to just behead him for being so stupid.

 “And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? 

And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.  It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.

 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.” (II Samuel 16:10-13)

David basically asked what he was going to do with these cousins of his.  Their answer to everything was to kill somebody.  Compared to Absalom trying to kill him, Shimei’s cursing was pretty unimportant, and maybe it would catch God‘s attention.   With no clue the danger he was in from Abishai, Shimei ran along side cursing, throwing dust and rocks at them.   Fortunately he didn’t hit anybody or David probably couldn’t have stopped them.  

“And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.” (II Samuel 16:14)

With the Jordan river as a barrier between them and Absalom’s forces, David and his men felt safe to stop for a rest, eating the food Ziba had brought and relaxing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

David Flees Jerusalem

II Samuel 15:17-37

“And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.  And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.” (II Samuel 15:17-18)

All David’s servants and the men who had been with him in the wilderness, as well as the Chreithites, his Secret Service and the Pelethites or military staff.   There were also six hundred Philistines from Gath who had chosen to ally themselves with David rather than the Philistine rulers.

“Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile.  Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee.” (II Samuel 15:19-20)

David pointed out that the fight was not Ittai or the Philistines fight and that he would not be offended if they felt it was better to stay out of it.  After all, they had already been cut off from their own people, and if David was defeated, would also become enemies of Absalom.  David could not assure them that he would prevail.

“And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be. 

And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.” (II Samuel 15:21-22)

Ittai responded that they had committed to follow David, and not to Israel.  They would be wherever he and his men were.  Recognizing the loyalty, David accepted their offer to accompany him.

“And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.” (II Samuel 15:23) 

While the conspiracy included a lot of people, the majority were not involved and were upset at what was happening, just as they usually are about any such upheaval.   When David went out into the desert a lot of people accompanied him.

“And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. 

And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me again, and show me both it, and his habitation: But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.

The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.  See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me.  Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there. ” (II Samuel 15:24-29)

Saul had had the priests murdered for helping David, and when Abiathar came to David, he had promised to protect them.  When David fled Jerusalem, they went along, carrying the Ark of the Covenant with them.  When he saw them, David told them to go back.  If God wanted David to be king, he bring him back, or if not he would not.  That would not negate God’s promise to Israel.

God’s plans don’t change because the leader does, and we need to learn to follow him rather than the leader.  The priests had a responsibility to all the people, not just to David.  If David didn’t come back they needed to be there for the people.  As the priest, people would confide what they heard to Zadoc, and he could send his or Abiathar’s son to let David know what was happening, so they could still play a vital role in helping David.

“And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up. 

And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. ” (II Samuel 15:30-31)

As David and his followers were traveling, someone told him that Ahithophel had thrown in with Absalom.  II Samuel 16:23 describes Ahithophel’s advice.  “And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God.”  David knew how valuable his advice was and prayed that the Lord would make his advice be foolish instead.

“And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head: Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me: But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father's servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. 

And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king's house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.  Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok's son, and Jonathan Abiathar's son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.” (II Samuel 15:32-36) 

David stopped at the top of mount Olivet to worship God.  While he was theire, his old friend Hushai came up to him in obvious distress over his plight.  David was concerned that his health would not permit him to stay with them, and told him he would accomplish more if he could somehow counteract Ahithophel’s advice.

He asked him to go back and pretend to ally himself with Absalom, in order to learn teir plans.  He could then get a message to the priests and their sons could take it to David.  Hushai agreed to serve as a spy for David.

“So Hushai David's friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.” (II Samuel 15:37)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Absalom Usurps the Throne

II Samuel 15:1-16

“And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.  And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou?

 And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. 

And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.  Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! 

And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.  And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” (II Samuel 15:1-6) 

Absalom began to make an effort to usurp the kingdom.  First he hired a group of men and chariots to go with him everywhere to attract attention and make it look like he was an important person.  He began to meet everyone who came to town for court cases, asking where they were from and telling them that they had a good case and should be the winners, based on their statement, with no consideration of the other side, and complaining that David had not established an official court system to hear their case, and declaring that if he were king he’d see to it that they had a better court system.

It is flattering to be told you are right, and as long as he was not king, he could tell everybody what they wanted to hear with no concern for the consequences.  David, on the other hand, had to worry about the consequences of his decisions.  Because he had nothing else to do, Absalom could spend all his time talking to people and campaigning, kissing babies and shaking hands.  As a result of his campaigning, as the verse says, he stole the hearts of the people.

He used the same tactics crooked politicians have used throughout history to deceive people and steal control from more caring and honest leaders.

“And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.  For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD. 

And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.” (II Samuel 15:7-9) 

When he turned forty, Absalom decided to make his move.  He told David he had promised God he would serve him if he was allowed to return to Israel, and requested permission to go to Hebron to fulfill his vow.  David encouraged him, never suspecting anything.

“But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron. 

And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing.  And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.” (II Samuel 15:10-12) 

Hebron was where David had been declared king by the tribe of Judah, and Absalom convinced a number of unsuspecting leaders from Jerusalem, from David’s own tribe to go with him, to leave the impression that the tribe of Judah supported replacing David.  He also convinced one of David’s most influential advisors to go along with him, probably with the idea that David was getting old and by joining up now he could ensure his position with the new regime.

With such a strong and legitimate appearing movement, people flocked to get on board much like they did when it began to appear Obama would be elected.

“And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. 

And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.” (II Samuel 15:13-14) 

Absalom had murdered his own brother, and burned Joab’s field to get his way, and David was sure he would murder anyone who stood in his way.  Caught by surprise, David ordered his followers to flee to give them time to marshal his supporters and find out who remained loyal.  If they remained, Absalom would be able to catch  them before they could get organized and would not hesitate to kill everyone he suspected of supporting David.

“And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.  And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house.” (II Samuel 15:15-16)

David left behind ten of his common law wives to take care of the property, convinced that since they had no legal claim, Absalom would have no reason to harm them.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Incomplete Forgiveness

II Samuel 14:23-33

“So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 

And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face.  So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face.” (II Samuel 14:23-24)

While David had not seen his son for  three years, and was definitely concerned about Absalom, he refused to see him.  Undoubtedly he was trying to drive home the seriousness of his crime in murdering his brother.

“But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.  And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight.

 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.” (II Samuel 14:25-27)

Absalom would have been listed as one of the sexiest or most handsome men alive had they had such a competition in his day.  In a society where baldness was not uncommon he had a full head of hair that grew very fast, and was quite vain about it.  Once a year he had it cut and weighed to see how much there was, because it grew very fast and became quite heavy.  Since a shekel is about a half ounce, his hair usually weighed a little more than six pounds.

Absalom had three sons and a beautiful daughter he named after his sister.

“So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face.   Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.  Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire.” (II Samuel 14:28-30)

After two full years without being allowed to see his father, Absalom sent a message to Joab asking him to come see him because he wanted to meet with his father, but Joab refused to meet with him.  After Joab refused to meet him the second time, Absalom got angry and decided to get his attention.  He had his servants burn off Joab’s barley field.   It was a pretty childish action, but it did get Joab’s attention. Apparently Absalom had gotten used to having his way.

 “Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? 

And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.” (II Samuel 14:31-32)

Joab was quite upset about having lost and entire years crop and demanded to know why Absalom had had it burned.  Absalom felt that if he wasn’t going to be completely forgiven, he might as well have stayed with his grandfather in Geshur.  He demanded that if David was still mad at him he should go ahead and kill him and get it over with.

In I Corinthians 5, Paul instructed the church to implement church discipline on a man who was involved in an incestuous relationship.  In II Corinthians 2:6-8, the man had corrected the sin, and Paul instructed them to stop the punishment.  “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.  So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”  

Punishment is solely to make people aware that their behavior is unacceptable.  Carrying it beyond that point may cause them to turn away or rebel.  Absalom said he would rather be dead than constantly rejected.  When it is over, punishment needs to be clearly ended and the relationship fully restored.  Incomplete forgivness has the same effect today.  David’s failure to completely forgive will play a major part in Absalom’s rebelling against him.  It does not justify his rebellion.

“So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.” (II Samuel 14:33)

Finally, after five years, David acknowledges his concern for Absalom.  It would turn out to be too little, too late.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

David Allows Absalom To Return

II Samuel 14:1-22

“Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom.  And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead: And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.” (II Samuel 14:1-3) 

For three years after Absalom killed Amnon, there had been no communication with David.  Though he had been very angry at Absalom, David still missed him and worried about him.  Joab realized that David was concerned and began to try to bring about a reconciliation.

He got a wise woman from Tekoah, a village about ten miles from Jerusalem to come and tell David a story to elicit his sympathies.  She was to disguise herself as someone who had been through a lot of suffering to reinforce her story.

“And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king. 

And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? 

And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.  And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.  And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.” (II Samuel 14:4-7) 

The story the woman told was of her two sons fighting, with one killing the other.  In accordance with the law, her relatives called for the execution of the murderer.  She only had the two children and if they execute the second one she and her husband will have no heirs.  She realized it was the law, but she felt it unfair.

“And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee. 

And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless. 

And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more. 

Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the LORD thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. 

And he said, As the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.” (II Samuel 14:8-11) 

David told her to go home and not worry about it as he would take care of it.  If any one challenged her protecting her son, she could send them to David.   She was thankful, offering to take responsibility for any backlash or judgment for allowing a murderer to escape and asking that the avengers of blood be forbidden to carry out their purpose.  David assured her he would do so.

 “Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king.

 And he said, Say on.

And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.  For we must needs die, and are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. 

Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.  For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.  Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the LORD thy God will be with thee.” (II Samuel 14:12-17)

The woman then questioned David if he didn’t think it unfair to save her son while refusing to forgive his own son.  As she pointed out, every person dies, and God doesn’t play favorites, but he does provide a means of forgiveness so people can be reconciled to him if they will.  She had come to David, believing he would be willing to at least consider her request and seek God’s leadership.

David had not been executed for having Uriah killed and thus understood that God can forgive even murder,.  She complimented him as one who spoke as an angel or or messenger of God.

“Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. 

And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak. 

And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this?” (II Samuel 14;18-19a)

The story was uncannily similar to David’s situation, and when she asked David why he didn’t do the same for his own son, he realized that only Joab was party to all the information.  He asked if Joab was behind her coming.

" And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid: To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.” (II Samuel 14:19b-20)

She acknowledged that it had been Joab’s idea and plan.  She was amazed that David so quickly figured out Joab’s part in it.

“And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.

 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.” (II Samuel 14:21-22)

David instructed Joab to bring Absalom home, and Joab thanked him for doing so.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Absalom Avenges Tamar

II Samuel 13:23-39

“And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons.  And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant. 

And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.” (II Samuel 13:23-25)

Sheep shearing is a very labor intensive process even today.  It provided and opportunity for families to work together and strengthen their family ties.  David and his family were still close enough to their family roots to keep up the old tradition, so two years after Amnon raped Tamar, Absalom invited all David’s sons down to help in the shearing.

David was concerned that it would cause a strain for Absalom to support the entire family for the time that it would take and refused., despite his insistence, blessing him for the offer.

“Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. 

And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee? 

But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.” (II Samuel 13:26-27)

David was aware of the split between the brothers and when Absalom asked especially for Amnon to come he was suspicious,  finally convinced it might provide a reconciliation between them, he agreed to let all the boys go.
“Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.” (II Samuel 13:28)

Absalom had not forgiven or forgotten what Amnon had done to Tamar, and the sheepsheaqring provided a chance to catch him off guard.  Absalom ordered his servants keep Amnon’s glass full and get him drunk so he’d let down his guard.  When he was relaxed enough they were to kill him and Absalom would stand for them to protect them.

“And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded.  Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.  And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left.” (II Samuel 13;29-30) 

Absaloms’s servants followed instructions, murdering Amnon.  Fearing that it was and attempt to take over the kingdom by killing them all the other boys fled for their lives.  Even before they got back to Jerusalem, David had heard about the murder, although he understood that it included all his sons.

Growing up on th eNavajo Reservation, we were frequently amazed that family members would learn of an accident involving a family member even before the police arrived to investigate it in areas where there was no phone or radio facilities.  We called it the Navajo grapevine.  Apparently Israel had a similar method of communication that was even faster than the mules David’s sons rode.

“Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.” (II Samuel 13:31)

David had hesitated to send his sons, but had changed his mind at Absalom’s insistence.  He must have been asking himself why he gave in at that point.  After all he had known about the enmity between Absalom and Amnon.

“And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.  Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.” (II Samuel 13:32-33)

David’s nephew Jonadab had suggested the way Amnon got Tamar in a place where he could rape her.  He knew his cousins well and was sure that Absalom was only interested in killing Amnon.  He told david it wasn’t any big deal, that only Amnon was dead, and that it was because of what Amnon had done to Tamar.  Apparently he thought that would be a lot of comfort.

“But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him. 

And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come: as thy servant said, so it is.  And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.” (II Samuel 13:34-36)

A short time later, rest of David’s sons arrived in Jerusalem and Jonadab was proven right.  All of them were upset by Amnon’s murder, and Absalom’s treachery.  Though they were alive, there wasn’t much to rejoice about.

“But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.  So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.” (II Samuel 13:37-38) 

II Samuel 3:3 tells us that Talmai, king of Geshur was Absalom’s maternal grandfather.  When he fled from David that is who Absalom went to for support, staying for three years.  After all they were also family.

“And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.” (II Samuel 13:39)

Despite the fact that Absalom had killed Amnon, David still loved him and longed to see him.  He seriously thought about going to visit him but didn’t.    It will be a decision he later regrets.

This is the start of the fulfillment of the Nathan's prophecy as a result of David's sin.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Following Dad’s Example

II Samuel 13:1-22

“And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.  And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.” (II Samuel 13:1-2)

Amnon was the oldest of David’s sons.  His mother was Ahinoam the Jezreelitess   Absalom was the third son, and his mother was Maacha.  Tamar was Absalom’s full sister and Amnon’s half sister.  Amnon developed a crush on Tamar and wanted her, but since she was his half sister, the law forbid him from getting involved with her.

“But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtle man.  And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? 

And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister. 

And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.” (II Samuel 13:3-5)

One of Amnon’s cousins, Jonadab noticed he kept moping around and asked him what was wrong.  When Amnon explained his feelings for Tamar, Jonadab suggested that he could pretend to be sick and ask David to have her come to his house and fix him a meal, getting her alone so nobody could interfere.  As is stated, Jonaqdab was a subtle, or tricky man.

“So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand. 

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat. 

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.  And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat.  And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him. “ (II Samuel 13:6-9)

Amnon followed Jonadab’s instructions, and David obliged by having Tamar come down and fix him a meal in his house, not suspecting anything.  When she finished, Amnon refused to eat, playing up the being sick.  He made everyone else leave so he could get her alone with him.

“And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. 

And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.  And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.” (II Samuel 13:10-11)

He then asked her to bring the food into his bedroom and feed him because he was so sick.  When she did, he grabbed hold of her, insisting she have sex with him.

“And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.  And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. 

Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.” (II Samuel 13:12-14) 

In Leviticus 20:17, the law stated, “And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.”  Tamar reminded Amnon that committing incest would be violating the law and would cause both of them to lose their citizenship, making Amnon unable to become king or hold property and her unable to marry or have a home of her own.  If he would speak to David, as David’s eldest son, she had no doubt that David would allow them to marry.

Amnon had no interest in marrying her, he just wanted to have sex with her, so when she refused, he raped her, with no concern for the consequences to himself or for her.

“Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.” (II Samuel 13:15)

The ‘love’ Amnon had for Tamar was purely selfish sexual desire, not a genuine concern for her.  Once he had gotten what he wanted he had no further interest in her, and wanted her gone.  His love was nothing more than the obsession some serial murderers and rapists feel for their victims.

"And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me.  But he would not hearken unto her." (II Samuel 13:16)

According to I Corinthians 6: 16, the sex act created the emotional bonding that marriage is based on which would interfere with any future relationship  By forcibly raping Tamar, Amnon has emotionally scarred her in other ways as well.  It was a wicked thing he done, even if she had not been his half sister.  Having done it and left her emotionally scarred for life, he chose to abandon her in violation of Exodus 22:16.   “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.”  As Tamar pointed out, Abandoning her after having sex with her was even worse than the original rape, because it left her with no way of limiting the damage she incurred.  He was compounding the sin.

“Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her. 

And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.” (II Samuel 13:17-19) 

Tamar wore a robe that signified she was a virgin daughter and member of David’s household.   Nothing she could do could restore her virginity or take away the emotional damage of being raped.  To then be thrown out like a piece of trash was even more devastating.  Broken-hearted, she smeared ashes on her head and ripped the robe symbolizing her virginity.

“And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house. 

But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth. 

And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. (II Samuel 13:20-22) 

Absalom guessed what had happened and was saddened by Tamar’s hurt, but told her not to take it too seriously, offering to let her stay at his house where she’d be protected from it happening again or any gossip. While he told her to forget about it, he didn’t, however, never speaking to his brother again.

David was very angry about what his eldest son had done, but his guilt over having taken Bathsheba and having Uriah killed would make anything he said pretty hypocritical, so he took no action.  He himself had set the example.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Forgiven For His Sin

II Samuel 12:15b-31

“And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 

David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.  And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.” (II Samuel 12:15b-17)

Because of the effect on others of David’s sin, God warned him, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die,” in II Samuel 12:14.  When the child got sick,  David lay on the ground and went without eating for days.  The other leaders tried to get him to get up or at least eat something but he refused.

“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? 

But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? 

And they said, He is dead.” (II Samuel 12:18-19) 

After seven days, the child died, and considering how David had refused to get up or eat while he was alive, The servants feared he would go into deep depression when he found out he had died, and were hesitant to tell him.  David was alert and realized they weren’t telling him something and asked if the baby was dead.

“Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 

Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.” (II Samuel 12:20-21)

As soon as David heard the baby had died, he went down to the tabernacle and worshipped God, then went back and asked for a meal.  The servants were dumbfounded.  They had expected him to be even more depressed, and asked why he wasn’t.

“And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?  But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (II Samuel 12:23-24)

As David explained, his refusal to eat had not been a result to depression, but of hope that God would take pity and spare the child’s life.  When the child died, he knew that was not going to happen and accepted his death as God’s will.  Once the child died, it was obvious god was not going to bring him back to life so there was no further reason to keep praying for it.

At the same time, David realized that because the child had never sinned, there was nothing keeping him from going to Paradise.  While the child could not come back, David could meet him in heaven one day.  The child’s death would be only a temporary separation. Believing that, David had no reason to get depressed.

Because some people believe baptism is essential to go to heaven, they demand that infants be baptized.  David’s statement clearly indicates that infants who die do not need baptism, but go directly to heaven.

“And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.” (II Samuel 12:24)

Fathers have no real contact with a child until he is born, but the mother has an intimate connection from the time of conception.  As a result, they are far more affected by a miscarriage or death shortly after birth than fathers are.  David acknowledged that fact, and took the time to allow Bathsheba to deal with it.  Before long they had another son, known as Solomon.

 “And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.” (II Samuel 12:25) 

David called the baby Solomon or “peaceful”, but Nathan called him Jedidiah, or “beloved of God.”

“And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.  And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.  Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.” (II Samuel 12:26-28)

Over a year after the seige of Rabbah began, Joab realized that their defense was about to collapse and notified David of the impending victory  He recommended that David come up and lead the army into the city, so that David, rather than Joab would be credited with the victory.

“And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.  And he took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.  And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. 

So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.” (II Samuel 12:29-31)

David led the final assault on Rabbah.  When they conquered the city, David was crowned kin of the Ammonites as well, giving him all of present day Jordan and much of present day Iraq.

After the insulting treatment of his envoys who were carrying his condolences for the death of the king’s father, David was pretty aggressive in his treatment of the Ammonites, killing them in some of the most painful ways possible.  When we reject friendly overtures, they may get angry about it like David did.

While David had done wrong and it caused the death of his baby, God forgave him and did not continue to punish him, enabling him to expand the kingdom.

Understanding how much land Israel once controlled, it is not hard to understand the Arab's concern about Israel's claims based on history.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nathan Confronts David

II Samuel 12:1-15a

“And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.  The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 

And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.” (II Samuel 12:1-5) 

David had very carefully covered his sin with Bathsheba, calling her husband home to make it appear the child was his, then having him killed so it would look like a normal casualty of war.  Only his cousin Joab and a few trusted servants would know about the adultery.  He had gotten by with it, or so he thought.

God sent Nathan the prophet with a story that really touched David’s heart.  Rather than use one of his own sheep to feed his friends, a very rich man had taken a very poor man’s only pet lamb and killed it to feed them, leaving the poor man a deep sense of loss and nothing to fall back on.

“And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” (II Samuel 12:5-6)

David was horrified that anyone would be so heartless as to kill a man’s only friend when they had hundreds of their own.  By doing so he had put the poor man’s very life and livelihood at risk.  While the law required that a man repay double for anything he stole, The penalty for stealing something that affected his ability to survive required a far more severe penalty.  Exodus 22:1 commanded, “If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.”  David was determined to see that the law was enforced.

“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.” (II Samuel 12:7-9)

It must have shocked David when Nathan accused him of being the guilty party and then proceeded to describe how David had several wives, but had taken the only one Uriah had for himself, than had had Uriah murdered, using the Ammonite army to make it appear as just a natural result of war.  People might not know what David had done, but God knew every detail.  Proverbs 5:21 states, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.”  

He had not been fooled by David’s efforts to hide the sin.  Galatians 6:7 warns, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  We are fooling ourselves when we think we have fooled God, and we will reap the results of what we have done.

“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.  For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” (II Samuel 12:10-12)

By not being satisfied with what God had given him, and taking Uriah’s wife, David had implied God’s provision was second rate and unacceptable, and that God wasn‘t smart enough to catch him.  He had despised and been disrespectful to God.

As a consequence of David’s action, his descendants would be constantly at risk of being killed, and part of the problem would come from within his family.  One of his own family would publicly have sexual relations with David’s wives as a sign of disrespect ot David.

“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.”  (II Samuel 12:13a)

When confronted with proof of his sin in I Samuel 15. Saul blamed the people and insisted he had done nothing wrong, excusing his action by claiming it was for the prupose of sacrificing to God.  He didn’t acknowledge his sin until there was incontrovertible proof.  David, on the other hand acknowledged his sin immediately, with no effort to shift the blame to Bathsheba or anyone else.

"And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” (II Samuel 12:13b-14)

Under the law, the penalty for adultery and the penalty for murder were both  death.  Because David did not deny his sin, but confessed to it, God would forgive it as he has promised us.  I John 1:9-10 advises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  By denying his sin Saul further despised God, accusing him of lying.  David would not be killed for his sin, But Saul would.

Although David was forgiven, the consequences of his sin would not be erased.  Many people believe that forgiveness erases the consequences of sin.  When a murderer asks forgiveness, it does not bring the victim back to life, and when a girl gets pregnant as a result of sex outside the marriage, asking forgiveness does not erase the pregnancy.  In the same way, asking ones mate for forgiveness for having an affair does not restore the trust.
 David’s sin brought a reproach on the Lord, implying that it was okay for man of God to do wrong if he was important enough.  The world needed to see that power and prestige did not earn special favors from God.  The child that resulted from that sin would die.

“And Nathan departed unto his house.” (II Samuel 12:15a)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

David’s Great Sin

II Samuel 11:1-27

“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah.” (II Samuel 11:1)

 When the crops were all harvested there was a period when things were rather slow, and kings had time to think about expanding their kingdom.  It was also easier to gather the army when the men were not busy, and needed an income, so raids and attacks were more common during that time of year.  David took advantage of the period to conquer the Ammonites, sending Joab and the army to beseige the capital at  Rabbah, near present day Amman, Jordan.  They had destroyed and defeated the rest of the country.

“But David tarried still at Jerusalem.  And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” (II Samuel 11:1b-2)

Confident of Joab’s military skills, David sent the army, but didn’t see any need to lead them himself.  With the army gone and no pressing business, he found it hard to get to sleep and went up on the rooftop to relax late at night.   Because her husband was out of town fighting the Ammonites, one of the neighbor ladies had decided to take a bath after everyone else had gone to bed to relax.  From the rooftop, David could see down into the courtyard and saw her.

He could have simply turned and went back into the house, and their would have been no sin on either part.  Instead, excited by what he saw, he stayed to watch and imagine what it would be like to be with her.  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  When he stopped to enjoy the sight and think about it, he yielded to his lust.

Human nature wants to blame somebody else for their sin.  Some would blame the woman, but she had waited until she was sure no one would be watching, so it wasn’t her fault.  Others would blame God or the devil for tempting David by causing him to go up there at that time.  James 1:13- 14 warns, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”  The problem is not what we see, but how we respond to it.

When David chose to enjoy what he saw, yielding to that lust he began to sin.  James 1:15a warns, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.”  Once the sin sprouts, like a weed, it just keeps growing and spreading, taking over more of your life.

“And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (II Samuel 11:3) 

David next toyed with the idea a little, finding out who she was and thinking about how beautiful she was.  Despite the claims to the contrary, adultery doesn’t just happen accidentally.  There is a conscious choice to flirt a little and to go as little farther, to let down the bars just a little.  David knew she was married, and that God forbid adultery, but he didn‘t stop.

“And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.” (II Samuel 11:4) 

Notice that even at this point David was still in control, concerned that he would not be breaking the law by having sex with a woman during her period.   He still had the ability to stop if he chose.  The excuse that things just got out of control and we were unable to stop is a lie.  They just got to a point where we were no longer willing to stop.

“And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.” (II Samuel 11:5) 

Knowing that pregnancy was a probable outcome of having sex, both Bathsheba and David chose to do it.  Her pregnancy was the result of their choices.  The abortion movement would like us to believe the woman had no choice, so they call their position pro choice.  In reality they are against taking responsibility for their choice.  Since abortion was not an option under the law, and adultery required the execution of both parties, her pregnancy presented a serious problem.

“And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.  And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.  And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.  But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.” (II Samuel 11:6-9) 

Hoping to cover up his adultery, David requested that Uriah be sent home to give a report.  Having been away from his wife for an extended period, he expected him to turn to her immediately, and thus when her pregnancy became apparent, no one would question it.  He sent a romantic dinner with him to encourage such and outcome, but Uriah didn’t stay the night, returning to the palace.

“And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? 

And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. 

And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart.  So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. 

And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.” (II Samuel 11:10-13)

When David questioned Uriah about why he didn’t spend the night with his wife, he responded that he felt guilty taking things easy and enjoying his pleasures while the rest of the men were out fighting for their country.  I wonder how David felt then, taking his wife while he was doing the same?  Desperate to conceal his adultery, David got him drunk in hopes he’d forget, but Uriah didn’t go home.

“And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. 

And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.  And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.” (II Samuel 11:14-17) 

Knowing Joab’s unethical nature, David sent a secret message back with Uriah the next morning to deliberately expose Uriah  to danger than desert him so he’d be killed.  Joab did as David ordered, putting Uriah in one of the most dangerous positions, and when others were killed, no one questioned Uriah’s death.  James 1:15b warns, “…and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  The sin of  watching and lusting after Bathsheba led to adultery, and then to murder to cover it up.

“Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king, And if so be that the king's wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall?  Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

So the messenger went, and came and showed David all that Joab had sent him for.  And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate.  And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king's servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” (II Samuel 11:18-24) 

Not only did Joab have Uriah killed as David ordered, he provided a source of plausible deniability, implying they had taken unnecessary chances, and accidentally had several killed, including Uriah.  David could then complain about bad judgment and remind them of what happened to Absalom and no one could ever suspect it was a deliberate murder.

“Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.” (II Samuel 11:25)

David pointed out that no one could predict who might be killed, and advised Joab not to worry about having made a mistake that resulted in men’s deaths.  It must have seemed that he was going to get away with both adultery and murder.

“And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.  And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son.” (II Samuel 11:26-27a) 

Carefully observing all the normal proprieties so no one would suspect, Bathsheba and David waited to get married until the dust settled, and it would seem that the baby was Uriah’s,  Since Uriah wasn’t around to dispute the assumption, no one would be the wiser, and David could marry her without question.  There was just one problem.

“…But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (II Samuel 11:27b)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Insult Leads To War

II Samuel 10:1-19

“And it came to pass after this, that the king of the children of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his stead. 

Then said David, I will show kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David's servants came into the land of the children of Ammon. “ (II Samuel 10:1-2)

Most of the countries around Israel had made repeated raids against them.   Saul had repelled them numerous times, but the only ones he had defeated soundly enough to stop their attacks were the Ammonites.  When he died, The others were emboldened to try again, leading to David’s victories over them.

Thanks to his defeat by Saul, Nahash had not allowed the Ammonites to attack Israel again.  Hoping to establish a similarly attitude of non-aggression with his son Hanun, David sent an envoy to carry his condolences when Nahash died.

“And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? 

Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.” (II Samuel 10:3-4) 

Every country seems to have those who live constantly on the defensive, constantly assuming everyone is out to get them, usually because that is their attitude toward others.  Some of the Ammonite Leaders had that attitude and convinced Hanun that David was using the occasion to send spies to see if Nahash’s death might provide a window of opportunity for attack.

To send David a message, Hanun shaved one side of his messenger’s faces and chopped off their clothes at the waist, sending them home wearing nothing but their shirts to embarrass them.  Even today, to treat ambassadors in such a fashion is considered a declaration of war, which is why the attack on the embassy at Benghazi is such a serious incident.  It was especially embarrassing since God had told Israel, “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard,” in Leviticus 19:27.  Not only did they look silly, but they were violating God’s command.

“When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.” (II Samuel 10:5)

David recognized their humiliation and recommended they stay at Jericho because it was an isolated area where people didn’t go until their beards had a chance to grow out enough they wouldn’t be embarrassed.

“And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men.” (II Samuel 10:6)

When you  hurt or insult people, it should come as no surprise they get upset, and sometimes they hit back, but bullies like Nabal and Hanun ignore that possibility,  convinced nobody will dare fight back.  When they realized how upset David was, the Ammonites hired thirty three thousand troops from the Syrians to come help them fight Israel, escalating the hostilities.

“And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men. 

And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ishtob, and Maacah, were by themselves in the field.” (II Samuel 10:7-8)

Learning that the Ammonites were amassing an army on the border, near present day Amman, David sent his army to stop them.  The Ammonite forces were arrayed at the gate of the city, to defend it, while the Syrian forces were off to one side in the open field, where they could attack from behind.

“When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians: And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother, that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon. 

And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will come and help thee.  Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good.” (II Samuel 10:9-12)

Recognizing the Ammonite strategy, Joab split his forces, placing the main army under his brother Abishai’s command and charging them to attack the Ammonite forces, while he took a contingent of special forces against the Syrian army.  If either group needed help, they could call on the other for reinforcements.  As he reminded them, they were fighting for Israel, and would depend on God to make things turn out the way he wanted them to.

 “And Joab drew nigh, and the people that were with him, unto the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.  And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, then fled they also before Abishai, and entered into the city. So Joab returned from the children of Ammon, and came to Jerusalem.” (II Samuel 10:13-14)

Mercenaries have no real stake in the battle, so while they may be tremendous soldiers, they have little incentive to die for their employers, and may desert if they are convinced they are going to lose.  The Syrians broke before Joab’s onslaught and fled from the field.  The Ammonites had counted on their help and when they fled, retreated inside the fortress.  With the threat of invasion removed, Joab returned to Jerusalem with the army.

 “And when the Syrians saw that they were smitten before Israel, they gathered themselves together.  And Hadarezer sent, and brought out the Syrians that were beyond the river: and they came to Helam; and Shobach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them.  And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam. 

And the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him.  And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen, and smote Shobach the captain of their host, who died there.  And when all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer saw that they were smitten before Israel, they made peace with Israel, and served them. So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more.” (II Samuel 10:15-19)

Embarrassed that Syrian forces had been defeated by Israel, the main Syrian king or emperor, Hadarezer gathered the entire Syrian army to attack Israel, and regain their reputation.  David learned of their plans and  assembled the army at Helam to stop them.

Israel defeated the Syrian forces, wiping out the men of seven hundred chariots, the equivalent of destroying seven hundred armored vehicles, today, as well as forty thousand horsemen, the most mobile strike force.  It would be like taking out our Air Force and drones.  They also killed the supreme commander, disrupting the chain of command.

Syrian power was broken, and the states they had controlled surrendered to David.  The Ammonites alliance was destroyed, leaving them to fight alone if they continued to fight Israel.

Monday, April 15, 2013

David Honors His Covenant With Jonathan

II Samuel 9:1-13

“And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” (II Samuel 9:1) 

David and Jonathan had made an agreement in I Samuel 18.  They renewed that covenant after Saul tried to get David murdered, in I Samuel 20:14-17.  “And thou shalt not only while yet I live show me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not: But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.  So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.  And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

Over twenty years later, David finally has control of the country and is able to honor his commitment. When he had last visited with Jonathan neither of them had children, so he was just looking for some of Saul’s descendants he could help in honor of Jonathan.

“And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? 

And he said, Thy servant is he. 

And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him? 

And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. 

And the king said unto him, Where is he? 

And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar.” (II Samuel 9:2-4)

Learning that one of Saul’s servants was still around, David contacted him asking if any of Saul’s descendants were still alive, as most had died when the Philistines defeated and killed Saul.  Ziba informed him that Jonathan had had a son named Mephibosheth, and that he was living in Lodebar with the family of the nurse who had rescued him.  He had only been five when Saul and Jonathan were killed.   According to II Samuel 4:4, his legs were injured during the escape and he was handicapped.

“Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.  Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. 

And David said, Mephibosheth.

 And he answered, Behold thy servant! 

 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.” (II Samuel 9:5-7)

Throughout history, most rulers have killed any members of the previous administration to eliminate any claims to power.  When Mephibosheth was brought before David, he had every reason to suspect David might have him killed.  David was quick to reassure him that he had no such intention, and that instead he would have what had belonged to Saul’s family restored to him.

“And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (II Samuel 9:8)

Mephibosheth was very appreciative, knowing that as a handicapped person, he had little chance of recovering his father’s property, and in most societies he would have just been killed to make sure he didn’t .

“Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.  Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 

Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do.  As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons.” (II Samuel 9:9-11)

Ziba himself had become quite well off, but David ordered him to serve Mephibosheth like he had Saul, farming the ground for him, as tenant farmers, so that Mephibosheth would have his own property and income so that he could enjoy  David’s bounty as an equal, and not as a charity case.   Ziba agreed to the terms.

“And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth.  So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.” (II Samuel 9:12-13)

Mephibosheth and his family were treated as members of David’s own family, eating with them everyday, even though he could hardly walk.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Israel Becomes a Major Power

II Samuel 8:1-18

“And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.” ( II Samuel 8:1)

There had been a respite from fighting, and David had decided to build a temple, but God told him not to.  A short time later the philistines again attacked, and David was able to subdue them, occupying their territory and claiming some of it for Israel, because he was able to focus on that job.  It was only the first of a long series of conquests of the groups that had threatened them for six hundred years.

“And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.” (II Samuel 8:2)

 The Moabites, descendants of Lot, occupied an area on the east side of the Dead Sea.  They had regularly attacked Israel.  David defeated them, executing two thirds of them.  The remainder chose to become tributaries to Israel, rather than be killed.

“David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.  And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David hocked all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.” (II Samuel 8:3-4)

David defeated the king of Zobah, a section of present day Syria extending north to the Euphrates river, and including the area around Haran where Abraham‘s father had settled.  David captured a thousand chariots, twenty thousand foot soldiers and seven hundred cavalry men.  He hocked or disabled all the horses except enough for a hundred chariots, which he kept for himself.

“ And when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.  Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.  And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.  And from Betah, and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass.” (II Samuel 8:5-8)

 When the Syrians from around Damascus and eastward attempted to aid Zobah, David defeated tham as well, occupying their territories and making them vassals, after killing twenty two thousand in battle.  He established several military bases in Syria to maintain peace.  There was considerable mining in the area and David procured a lot of copper and brass as a result.

“When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer, Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass: Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;  Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah.” (II Samuel 8:9-12)

Toi, king of Hamath, the area just west of Zobah, had fought with Hadadezer before.  He decided he would rather not fight David and voluntarily became a tributary to David.  David took the tribute he paid as well as that of the other countries and dedicated them to the Lord.

“And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.  And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David's servants.” (II Samuel 8:13-14)

After wiping out another army of eighteen thousand Syrians in the Valley of Salt, the other countries began to take David seriously.  When he occupied Edom it gave him control of the entire region on both sides of the Jordan and eastward from the Euphrates river to the Gulf of Aqaba.  Essentially, he controlled most of present day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and a small piece of Egypt.  He seems to have controlled parts of present day Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well.

“And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.  And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.” (II Samuel 8:14b-15)

While Saul had been king, Israel had been a military state, with Saul constantly trying to build his own power.  I Samuel 14:52 declares, “…and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.”  David was far more interested in developing Israel’s spiritual state.  The military and economic strength were the results of serving God, rather than the primary goals as they had been under Saul.  Consequently, David conquered far more territory than Saul did.  As Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

“And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe; And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.” (II Samuel 8:16-18)

David delegated authority, making Joab commander of the army, Benaiah head of security, Jehoshaphat the recorder to keep records and Seriah as scribe or press secretary to handle communications.  His sons were assigned to oversee various departments.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

David Forbidden To Build The Temple

II Samuel 7:1-29

“And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. 

And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee.” (II Samuel 7:1-3)

David had consolidated the kingdom and established himself as a good king, having defeated and broken the Philistines’ power.  He had built his palace and had no major problems.  As he looked around and realized how he had been blessed, he realized that the house of God was still just a tent, while he had upgraded to a permanent structure of wood.  Nathan told him he should act on what he was thinking about, because God was blessing him.

“And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?  Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. 

In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?” (II Samuel 7:4-7)

That night, God spoke to Nathan giving him a message to David.  God pointed out that he had not asked for a regular house any time during the preceding six hundred years they had lived in the land.  He had been content with what he had for the entire time.

“Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. 

Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.” (II Samuel 7:8-11)

Nathan was to remind David that God had called him to rule over his people, to deliver them from their enemies and guide the people in serving God.  His focus was to build and train the people, establishing them securely in the place God wanted them.

“ Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house.  And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.  I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” (II Samuel 7:11b-16)

God wanted David to focus on the Job God had given him, and would bless him for doing it, but David was not to worry about building a nice temple.  Later his son would be allowed to do so, but for the moment, David needed to stay focused on the needs of the people.  While he didn’t know it at the time, David still had a lot of other things that needed done.

When the Baptist Bible Fellowship first started, most of the churches started in a home or storefront and remained there until they grew enough to build their own building.  In recent years, so-called “experts” have insisted that you can no longer do it that way because people have become too “sophisticated.”  As a result, the focus has changed to obtaining a nicer building rather than on teaching the people.

I frequently receive letters from pastors or missionaries wanting a donation to help a new church obtain a building that they can work to fill.  In most cases, they are getting the cart before the horse, worrying about the building rather than about the people.  People who are turned away because the building is less than ideal are more concerned with appearances than with God.  A church full of them will not please God, and the rush to get a nicer building has caused a lot of church splits and bankruptcies.

“According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David. 

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?  And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?  And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD, knowest thy servant.  For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.” (II Samuel 7:17-20)

When told that God didn’t want him to build a temple at that time, David acknowledged that God knew him and what he could do.  Rather than proudly deciding he could do both, and being upset, he accepted God’s will and was thankful that God was blessing him with what he was doing, and for his promise to bless his family in the future.  He thanked God for letting him know what he needed to do and that God was going to reward him for his obedience.

“Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 

And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?  For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.” (II Samuel 7:22-24)

On behalf of Israel, David thanked God for being the only God and for having chosen them for his special people, gathering them out of Egypt and giving them their own nation.

“And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.  And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.  For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee. 

And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:  Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.” (II Samuel 7:25-29)

He finished by thanking God for his past blessings on himself, and for the as yet unfulfilled promises to come, asking that future generations would continue and obtain the blessings promised.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Doing It God’s Way

II Samuel 6:12-23

“And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness.” (II Samuel 6:12)

After seeing how God had blessed Obededom because of the Ark of the Covenant, David was determined to bring it on to his capitol.  This time however, they moved it the old fashioned way God had intended rather than trying some new fangled technique.  There were no more problems.

“And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.  And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.”(II Samuel 6:13-15)

When the priesrts had carried the Ark six paces, they stopped and offered sacrifices to God.  David was so excited he couldn’t stand still, dancing with all his might.  He was wearing an ephod similar to what the priests wore, and again they were escorted with the band.

“And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.” (II Samuel 6:16)

One of the reasons Saul had allowed David to marry Michal was that she loved him, and he thought he could use that to trap David.  When David fled for his life, Saul then married Michal off to Phalti.  Ishbosheth took her away from Phalti and gave her back to David.  The bonding between her and David were now messed up, contaminated with other relationships, even though it was not their fault.  The effect was the same as if each had had affairs.

Instead of being pleased that David was so excited, Michal despised his lack of dignity, because after all he was the king and ought to be dignified.  Her dissatisfaction with things in the past affects her current relationship with David, and she blames him for them, rather than her father.

Marriage requires total commitment from both parties, and once the bond is established with one person, an affair with someone else does a lot of harm.  In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 God forbid a person who had divorced and remarried to leave their second mate and go back to the first one, “for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  The marriage will no longer be what God intended it to be.

“And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.  And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.  And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.  Then David returned to bless his household.” (II Samuel 6:17-20a)

David had had the Tabernacle set up for the Ark, and they offered sacrifices and offerings in away they had not for about eighty years.  When they finished with the sacrifices, David served a banquet to everyone there.  When it was all over, he went home to enjoy some time with his family.

“And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!” (II Samuel 6:20b)

David didn’t even make it into the house before Michal was ragging on him about his lack of dignity, even accusing him of exposing himself like some kind of pervert.  What an end to a great day.

“And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.  And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.” (II Samuel 6:21-22) 

I am sure we have only the most important points of the argument, and from David’s comments she apparently compared him unfavorably with her father.  David stated that he had been rejoicing for hat God was doing, and that God hadn’t been all that pleased with her father, taking the kingdom from him and giving it to David instead.

Things escalated and David told her she’d be even more embarrassed by other things he’d do, and that the maidservants she said he was making a fool of himself in front of would be looking up to him.  Before it was over, they both said things that shouldn’t have been said, and left with hurt feelings.

“Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.” (II Samuel 6:23)

The marriage never recovered from that fight, and they never again had an intimate relationship.  Several times authors have said that couples need to learn to fight fair.  Recently one author said he no longer believes that is good advice.  Instead they need to learn to consider each other’s feelings and discuss things without having a fight.   Fights leave permanent scars and injuries, some of which never stop hurting.   Eventually the injured person just wants to avoid getting hurt again and avoids contact.