Friday, May 31, 2013

Solomon’s Wisdom Demonstrated

I Kings 3:16-28

“Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.  And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.  And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.  And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.  And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 

And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.” (I Kings 3:16-21) 

Two prostitutes came to Solomon with a complaint.  The attitude toward sexual promiscuity had deteriorated badly since Samson had set the example by going to prostitutes almost two hundred years before.   Deuteronomy 23:17 commanded, “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”  Deuteronomy 22 commanded that a woman who was sexually active before marriage was to be executed.  These two prostitutes were roommates, and each had had a baby, but no action had been taken.

Each had had their baby in bed with them, and during the night one of the women had rolled over onto her baby, killing it.  Modern doctors warn young mothers not to let their babies sleep with them because of this very real danger.  Rather than acknowledge what had happened, she switched the babies to make it look like ti was the other woman’s mistake.   She had no concern that her child was dead, caring only that she didn’t get in trouble.  The other woman was upset when she discovered that the baby she was holding was dead, but when it got light enough, she realized it wasn’t her baby, but the first claimed it was.  They finally came to Solomon to settle the issue.

“And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. 

And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. 

Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.” (I Kings 3:22-23)

After listening to their claims and counter claims, Solomon realized he would not be able to resolve the case solely on the basis of their statements. One was lying but both appeared equally sincere.  With no method of DNA testing, he would have to find out the truth another way.

 “And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.  And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.” (I Kings 3:24-25)

Solomon asked for a sword to be brought, and ordered that the child be cut in half so that each would get a half a child. It was the only way to be fair since it was impossible to determine which had the better claim from the testimony.

“Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.” (I Kings 3:26)

The one woman knew her baby was dead and didn’t care what happened to the other baby as long as she didn’t get blamed.  The real mother cared about her child and would prefer never to see it again rather than have it killed, so she offered to give up her claim so the child could live.  

“Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.” (I Kings 3:27) 

Any cow or sheep can identify their own offspring in a herd of others after just a prief bonding period.  The only reason infants can be switched in a hospital is because the mother and baby were not allowed to bond properly before being separated, because the hospital is more concerned with protecting themselves from lawsuits than with the emotional bonding of the mother and child.

Obviously both mothers knew which child this was.  The mother of the dead baby was not grieving over the death of her child, so the death of another child wouldn’t upset her any more, but the real mother had been willing to fight to keep her child, so she would be upset by it’s death.  He had no intention of killing the child, although he wanted them to think he would.  The woman who was willing to give up her claim to save the child cared about the baby, and would take far better care of it than the other.

“And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.” (I Kings 3:28)

The entire nation was impressed that Solomon had not based his decision on who presented the better sounding case but had devised a method for determining what the truth was.  It ensured that they could count on a verdict based on real evidence rather than on a skilled presentation.  His judgment quickly became respected, and those with fraudulent cases were afraid to bring them before him, knowing they had little chance of winning.

What a difference it would make in our court system if people knew that the decisions would be based on the truth rather than on persuasive argument.  We need wise judges who think beyond the testimony to ensure the truth is found.  Unfortunately, in the American system, those rendering judgment, the jurors, are not allowed to base their decision on anything but the testimony they have heard, with the result, that they often lack information they need to make a valid decision.  As a result, justice cannot be guaranteed.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Solomon Asks For Wisdom

I Kings 1:1-15

“And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.” (I Kings 3:1) 

Solomon made a treaty with the king of Egypt, marrying his daughter as a means of ensuring peace between Israel and Egypt.  It was a common practice to maintain an alliance until just a few years ago.  Unfortunately, in-laws don’t always get along, and it can make things worse.  Ultimately Solomon would marry seven hundred princesses for this purpose.  They made their home in Jerusalem until his palace and the temple were finished and Jerusalem was fortified.

“Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days.  And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.  And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.(I Kings 3:2-4) 

Samuel had established three other places where the Israelites could go to worship God besides where the Tabernacle was set up.  It was inconvenient to always go to the tabernacle so people frequently went up on a mountain or high hill to worship God, like the previous inhabitants, using the excuse that there was no temple.  It often led to idolatry.

Solomon loved the Lord and followed all his commands, except for one.  Like the others’ he worshipped in the high places, particularly the place in Gibeon, where he offered over a thousand different offerings.  In doing so, he violated God’s command in Deuteronomy 12:2-5. “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.  Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.  But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come.”  

When Solomon first started as king this was the only real sin he practiced.  Unfortunately, because he set the example, it would become a serious problem for Israel in the future, although it didn‘t seem very important at the time.  In the mean time, he was still trying to serve God, and would be blessed for his efforts.

“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 

And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 

And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.  And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (I Kings 3:5-9)

Because of Solomon’s sincere desire to please God, God offered him what ever he wanted.  Solomon was still humble about being selected as king and realized he didn’t know everything.  He asked God for the wisdom to lead the people properly, and to be able to tell the difference between good and bad.  Few political leaders realize they don’t really understand what their people face.

“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” (I Kings 3:10-12)

In the standards for church leaders in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, there is an emphasis on a meek spirit, not self willed, patient, and not soon angry.  That Solomon was more concerned with helping the people than getting his own way or building his reputation or wealth pleased God.  He agreed to give Solomon wisdom greater than any leader before or since.  Conflicts of interest cause most leaders to make really foolish decisions.

“And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.  And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.” (I Kings 3:13-14)

Because Solomon was willing to set self interest aside, God promised to give him not only the wisdom he asked for, but greater riches than any king of his time as well.  Many leaders today consider only their short term benefits because they don’t understand that what is best for everyone ultimately benefits them more also.  

“And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.” (I Kings 3:15)

Solomon had been offering sacrifices at Gibeon.  Interestingly, when he realized God had spoken to him he returned to Jerusalem to offer God thanks at the ark of the covenant, rather than in the high place in Gibeon.  When people are really devoted to God, worshipping out in nature seldom is good enough.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shimei Breaks His Promise

I Kings 2:36-46

“And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither.  For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. 

And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.” (I Kings 2:36-38) 

Shimei was one of Saul’s family.   He still resented that David had taken the kingdom, possibly feeling it should have been given to him.  He blamed David for Saul and his son’s deaths, and tried to stir up trouble for David.  According to II Samuel 16:5-8.  “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: 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.”

David warned Solomon to watch out for him because with his attitude he could never be trusted, in I Kings 2:8-9.  “And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.  Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.”  He was not to let him get by with anything.

Solomon essentially told Shimei that he had to stay in Jerusalem where he could keep an eye on him.  If he went farther a  field than the little brook, the Kidron, he would forfeit his life.  It was his responsibility to stay within the boundaries.  Shimei agreed that he could live with Solomon’s conditions.

“And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath. 

And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.” (I Kings 2:39-40) 

For three years, Shimei had no problem living within the boundaries.  Then two of his servants ran away to the Philistines in Gath.  Not trusting anyone else to get them back, Shimei went to Gath himself, ignoring his agreement with Solomon, probably assuming Solomon would not hear or wouldn’t care.

“And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again. 

And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by the LORD, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good.  Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?” (I Kings 2:41-43)

Solomon did hear about Shimei’s excursion and called him in, reminding him of the agreement they had made.   He questioned him as to why he had not kept the agreement after making it, especially since it was an agreement they made before God as witness.  To discount it was essentially a mockery of God.  Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 warns, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.  Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?”

It is a reminder of how seriously God takes our word.  That so many today take a promise so lightly, and especially an oath of marriage or office is especially troubling.  I do not think God will overlook the times when we have made such a production of our promise, then break it.

“The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the LORD shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head; And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever.” (I Kings 2:44-45)

Solomon then reminded Shimei of why the agreement had been made, that Shimei had knowingly falsely accused David of killing Saul and his family, trying to turn people against him.  It was his own wickedness that had brought about the agreement, and now it was his violation of the agreement that would result in his death.  Solomon would not be held guilty for his execution.

“So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.” (I Kings 2:46)

With the death of Shimei, all the prospective troublemakers from David’s reign were eliminated.  Solomon no longer had to worry about questions about his right to be king.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Conspiracy Foiled

I Kings 2:12-35

“Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.” (I Kings 2:12)

With David’s having made it clear that Solomon was his choice for king, his death removed any doubt as to who the king should be.  The country was unified behind him.

“And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. 

And she said, Comest thou peaceably?

And he said, Peaceably.  He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. 

And she said, Say on. 

And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's: for it was his from the LORD.  And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not.

 And she said unto him, Say on. 

And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife. 

And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.” (I Kings 2:13-18)

Just when everything seemed to be settling down, Adonijah approached Solomon’s mother to ask a favor.  Knowing he had tried to usurp the power and have her and Solomon killed, she didn’t trust him, but he was her husband’s son and she didn’t want to just ignore him.  He played on her sympathies, claiming that he had had the support of the people but that God gave it to Solomon instead, and asked her to do a favor for him.

When she asked what the favor was, he told her that he wanted her to ask Solomon to give him the girl who had taken care of his father to be his wife.  After all, Solomon wouldn’t dare tell his mother no, although he might well refuse to do it for Adonijah.

“Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand. 

Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. 

And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay. 

And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife. 

And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.” (I Kings 2:19-22) 

Solomon had no intention of denying his mother anything, but when he heard her request, he realized she had no idea what Adonijah was up to.  She had been scammed.  Adonijah was considerably older than Solomon, and for him to take Abishag as his wife after her being known as David’s nurse and having slept with him would imply that Adonijah was the rightful ruler and that  Solomon had tricked David into having him declared king.  She just as well have asked Solomon to abdicate the throne in Adonijah’s favor, because with Abiathar and Joab’s support he might well split the kingdom or succeed in discrediting Solomon.

“Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.  Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day. 

And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.” (I Kings 2:23-25) 

In I Kings 1:52, Solomon had warned “…If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.”  Another attempt to seize the throne clearly indicated he was not going to cooperate or accept God’s will.  To prevent him causing more trouble he had to be removed, just as it is sometimes necessary to put some one out of the church who refuses to do what is right.  Please understand this was not a minor offense but a full fledged attempt to seize control.

“And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.  So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.” (I Samuel 2:26-27) 

Abiathar and Joab had been privy to Adonijah’s request, and probably suggested it.  Because Abiathar had stood by David throughout his life, Solomon did not have him killed for treason, although he did strip him of the priest hood, fulfilling the prophecy about Eli’s family more than a hundred years before in I Samuel 2.
“Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. 

And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. 

Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. 

And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. 

And he said, Nay; but I will die here. 

And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” (I Kings 2:28-30) 

Knowing he was guilty of treason, Joab fled to the tabernacle for sanctuary, clinging to the brazen altar and refusing to take the punishment he deserved.  Unsure how he should handle it, Beniaiah went and told Solomon what happened.

“And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.  And the LORD shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah.  Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the LORD. 

So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up, and fell upon him, and slew him: and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness.” (I Kings 2:31-34) 

Joab had murdered two innocent men, using trickery, and Exodus 21:14 commanded, “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.”  The tabernacle or church was not to provide sanctuary in such cases.  Solomon ordered Benaiah to kill him right where he was.  In doing so, he relieved himself and the land of Israel of their guilt in not punishing him.

I John 5:16-17 deals with the New Testament Church’s responsibility in such cases. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.  All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.”  We are not even to ask God to save the lives of those who have committed sins requiring the death penalty under the law, such as murder, adultery, and sexual perversion.

“And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar.” (I Kings 2:35)

Solomon promoted Benaiah to chief general in Joab’s place, and made Zadok high priest in Abiathar’s place.

Monday, May 27, 2013

David’s Final Instructions.

II Kings 2:1-11

“Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.” (I Kings 2:1-4)

 Death  is something that happens to all of us, despite many people’s efforts to prevent it through medical procedures or cryogenics.  David recognized that as Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” and accepted it as part of life.

His instructions to Solomon were to stand as a man, obeying God in every area of his life.  He ought to have an attitude of obedience in all things.  He was to keep all God’s statutes or basic laws we know as the ten commandments  He was to obey God’s commandments as to how to fulfill those laws, and to enforce the penalties or judgments prescribed.  All the memorial feasts and sacrifices were to be kept as testimonies or memorials of what God had done for them.  All were to be kept as dictated by God and written by Moses.

By keeping those things which had been written, Solomon could be assured of success in everything he did, and that God would keep his promises, including the ones to David, that if his children would obey God, there would never be a time when one of David’s descendants was not king of Israel.

“Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. 

Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.” (I Kings 2:5-6)

David then reminded Solomon that while Joab had been a great general and powerful ally, he had also murdered Abner when he was trying to help them, had disobeyed orders about Absalom and had murdered Amasa just so he could retain control of the army.

Numbers 35:30-33 commanded, “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.  Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.  And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.  So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”

Only by executing Joab could the land of Israel be relieved of guilt for allowing him to get by with the murders of Amasa and Abner.  David told Solomon to see to it that he was executed so the land could be released from their guilt, and free to receive God’s blessings.

Many today insist that we do away with the death penalty, convinced that we should give people the opportunity to repent.  Jesus said until heave and earth pass away one jot or tittle would not be taken from the law, implying that that standard still applies today.

“But show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table: for so they came to me when I fled because of Absalom thy brother.” (I Kings 2:7)

David reminded Solomon how Barzillai had brought food and camping gear when he fled from Absalom, and instructed him to show his appreciation by doing the same for them.

“And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by the LORD, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.  Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.” (I Kings 2:8-9)

The final instruction David gave was regarding Shimei.  Shimei’s apology was based on fear of David, not real sorrow or repentance for what he had done.  While David had not had him executed, the guilt was still there.  If the opportunity arose, Shimei would do it again.  David warned Solomon not to ignore it but to see that he paid for his sin.  Once again we are reminded that an apology is not necessarily the same as repentance.

“So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.  And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.” (I Kings 2:10-11) 

From II Samuel 5:4 we learn that David was seventy when he turned th kingdom over to Solomon. “ David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.”  Apparently, he lived only a short time after relinquishing the reins.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Solomon Crowned

I Kings 1:32-53

“And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. 

And they came before the king.  The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. 

Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” (I Kings 1:32-35)

Fulfilling his promise to Bathsheba, David had Zadoc, Beniah, and Nathan take Solomon to Gihon and anoint him as the new king in David’s place.  They were to place him on David’s own mule as a sign that his coronation had David’s approval, and have it proclaimed that this was David’s appointment.

“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.  As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David.” (I Kings 1:36-37) 

Benaiah was relieved to have David’s input on the matter, and stated that he believed it was what God wanted.  His prayer and hope was that God would bless the kingdom even more under Solomon’s reign.

“So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon. 

And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. 

And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.  And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.” (I Kings 1:38-40)

Zadok, Benaiah, and Nathan gathered David’s palace guard and special forces to escort  Solomon to his coronation, placing him on David’s mule as instructed to make it clear they had his approval.  Zadok performed the official anointing as the Lord had directed.

When the official anointing was complete, the priests blew with the trumpets and the people shouted “God save king Solomon,” making it clear they approved David’s choice.  They then had a parade down to the palace with the people playing music and shouting so the earth shook from the noise.

“And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar?” (I Kings 1:41)

Adonijah and his guests were just finishing their celebration dinner when they hear d the trumpet.  Joab demanded to know who was stirring things up since they had not and didn’t think David would.

 “And while he yet spake, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came: and Adonijah said unto him, Come in; for thou art a valiant man, and bringest good tidings. 

And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.  And the king hath sent with him Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule: And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that ye have heard. 

And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.  And moreover the king's servants came to bless our lord king David, saying, God make the name of Solomon better than thy name, and make his throne greater than thy throne.

 And the king bowed himself upon the bed.  And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.” (I Kings 1:42-48)

Abiathar had been one of Adonijah’s supporters.  His son Jonathan came to let them know David had himself made Solomon king while they were getting ready to make their own announcement.  He stressed that there could be no question as to  David’s backing, or that he had the support of David’s mighty men, as well as that of the common people.  David himself had acknowledged him as the new king, rejoicing that Solomon would be king.

“And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.  And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.” (I Kings 1:49-50)

Adonijah and his fellow conspirators had thought they could declare him king and make Solomon appear to be in the wrong.  Now they found their roles reversed, and fled, hoping avoid being connected to the conspiracy.  Adonijah himself recognized he could be charged with treason and went into the tabernacle, clinging to the altar for protection from Solomon.

“And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, Let king Solomon swear unto me to day that he will not slay his servant with the sword. 

And Solomon said, If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.  So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house.” (I Kings 1:51-53)

When told of Adonijah’s fear, Solomon promised he would not harm him as long as he did nothing to interfere with Solomon’s administration.  If he did anything against the kingdom, he would be executed immediately.  Adonijah agreed and came to Solomon, bowing down and promising to behave.  Solomon sent him home with no reason to fear.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adonijah Capitalizes On David’s Inattention

I Kings 1:1-31

“Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.  Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. 

So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.  And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.” (I Kings 1:1-4) 

David’s metabolism slowed with age just like other people’s, and he was no longer producing enough heat to stay warm, even when they piled blankets on him.  Since they had no electric blankets, his servants decided to get a young woman to sleep with him to keep him warm.   Abishag was chosen and served as his care giver, although there was no sexual relationship between them.

“Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.  And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.  And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.” (I Kings 1:5-7)

Adonijah was David’s fourth son, just younger than Absalom.   With Amnon and Absalom gone and David very weak, he decided to make himself king.  He used some of the same ways of self promotion Absalom had used to gather a following, although there had never been any conflict between him and David.  He managed to get Joab and Abiathar’s support in his effort to take over.  Abiathar was one of the descendants of Eli.

“But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.” (I Kings 1:8) 

Adonijah was not able to get the support of David’s mighty men, or of part of the priests, including Zadok.  Nathan, as the prophet of God was aware of what David wanted and refused to go along.

“And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants: But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.” (I Kings 1:9-10)

Like Absalom, Adonijah gathered the leaders of Judah to a great feast where he would have himself declared king, inviting his surviving brothers.  He deliberately did not invite David’s closest friends and advisors, knowing that David would have told them that Solomon was his choice.  Apparently, he hoped to present his coronation as a finished action so that any who opposed it would be going against an already established situation.

“Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?  Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. 

Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?  Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.” (I Kings 1:11-14)

Realizing that due to his age and health issues, David was no longer aware of the political maneuvering around him, Nathan went to Bathsheba to warn her what was happening.  Since it was generally known  among the administration that Solomon was David’s preference as the next king, it was probable that Adonijah would have him and his mother killed to prevent a coup. He advised her to go tell the king what was happening, and promised to provide necessary evidence to convince David what was happening.

“And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.  And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. 

And the king said, What wouldest thou? 

And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne.  And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not: And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called. 

And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.  Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.” (I Kings 1:15-21)

Bathsheba went to David’s bedroom where he was under Abishag’s care.  She told David that he needed to make it clear who his choice for king was to the public because Adonijah was in the process of making himself king.  She reminded David that he had promised Solomon was to be the king, but that Adonijah had the support of Joab and Abiathar, and unless he took action, their claims would be viewed as treason when David died.

“And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.  And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. 

And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground. 

And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?  For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Adonijah.  But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called. 

Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not showed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?” (I Kings 1:22-27) 

When Nathan came before David, he asked if it was David’s plan for Adonijah to be king and if he had just forgotten to inform him.  He did not take a confrontational approach, just asking.  He pointed out that Adonijah was acting as if he had David’s full approval, except that he had not invited David’s closest advisors, or Solomon.

David had been so wrapped up in his health problems and his own agenda that he had lost track of what was going on around him.  Unfortunately, the same thing happens to anyone who gets caught up in their own agenda or problems.  As a result problems are not recognized and dealt with until they become very serious.  Many times such problems have to be brought forcibly to the attention of the parent, pastor, employer, or political leader to prevent disaster.  It needs to be done in au inoffensive fashion if the desired results are to be obtained.

“Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king. 

And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day. 

Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.” (I Kings 1:28-31)

Because the problem had been called to his attention in a strong but uncondemning fashion, David promised to take the necessary action to see that Solomon became king.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Offering His Own Sacrifice

II Samuel 24:15-25

“So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.  And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.” (II Samuel 24:15-16)

David had become focused on the size of his army, rather than on the power of God.  
Romans 14:23 states,”… for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  God took the move from placing his faith in God to placing his faith in the army very seriously.  Seventy thousand people died as a result of this sin.

Because David had chose to leave the consequences to God, rather than to people, the number of deaths was limited to seventy thousand.  When the death angel came to Jerusalem, God said it was enough and stopped him.

There is a great deal of emphasis today on the size of a church, or the amount of finances that can be raised.  I can only wonder how many churches and people’s lives have been destroyed because the leaders began to focus on these things rather than on faith in God.  Obviously, God takes it far more seriously than we do.

“And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.” (II Samuel 24:17)

Only when he saw the results of his sin did David consider how serious it was.  He realized his sin was causing the deaths of innocent people.  He prayed that God would focus the consequences on himself rather than on the innocent.

“And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.” (II Samuel 24:18)

When David prayed, confessing his sin, god sent the prophet Gad to tell him what he needed to do.  He was to set up an altar to worship God at the place where the angel of God stopped killing people, at the threshing floor of Araunah.

“And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. 
And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. 

And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? 

And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people. 

And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.  All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.” (II Samuel 24:19-23) 

David went immediately to Araunah, to seek his permission to buy the threshing floor to give it to the lord and to use for a place of worship.  David did not ask, but Araunah volunteered to give the property for that purpose.  In addition, he offered to give his own oxen for the sacrifice and his ox yokes and farm implements to provide the wood for the fire.  It was a magnificent and sincere gesture on his part.  Most leaders today would have viewed it as a wonderful provision by God.

“And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.  So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.” (II Samuel 24:24) 

David refused to take Araunah’s offer, because to take it would make it not David’s sacrifice, but Araunah’s.  David would have actually given nothing.   One of the speakers at the BBFI meeting in May described his own surprise to learn that for years, he had been responsible for his church donating thousands of dollars, but that until he retired, it had never occurred to him that he had personally never donated anything to those projects, although he was often touted as having given such a large amount..

David refused to take credit for what somebody else gave.  He insisted on paying a fair price for what he offered so it would be his gift, not Araunah’s.

“And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.” (II Samuel 24:25)

David then offered a sacrifice for his sin as well as thanks that God saw fit to stop the punishment at that point rather than allowing Israel to be destroyed.  Because he obeyed God in this situation, the suffering stopped immediately.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Focusing On Numbers

II Samuel 24:1-16

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” (II Samuel 24:1) 

From the very beginning, there had been Israelites who chose to disobey God.  Samson’s bad example as judge made such behavior appear acceptable.  While most of Israel followed David’s example, there were always those who rebelled, and frequently, like Sheba, gathered a following.  Even David was infected by the prevailing attitude, grttingh caught up in his own power and fame.  God used his pride to punish Israel, encouraging him to focus on how large an army he had.

“For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people. 

And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (II Samuel 24:2-3)

David ordered Joab to take a census of all the people so they could know how big they had grown.  In the past a count had been made at God’s instruction, for a specific purpose such as dividing the land or organizing for battle.  This time the purpose seems to have been solely so David could gloat in the power he had, much like a preacher gloating over his church attendance.

Joab was not a good or spiritual man, having murdered four men out of selfish motives.  Even he recognized that David’s motivation was wrong, and advised against it.  The number really didn’t matter, even if it was a hundred times as many.  He questioned why David even cared.

“Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. 

And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer: Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,  And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.  So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.  And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.” (II Samuel 24:4-9) 

As king, David didn’t much like having his decisions questioned and he insisted his orders be followed.  The census took almost ten months.  It showed about eight hundred thousand experienced warriors in Israel and five hundred thousand in Judah, giving David a standing army of over 1.3 million men, and making him one of the most powerful men in the world at the time.  It must have been a real ego trip.

“And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people.  And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. 

So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.” (II Samuel 24:10-13)

God directed the prophet Gad to go to David about his taking the census.  David recognized his sin in focusing on the numbers instead of on god, and asked that the sin be taken away.  God offered him three choices as to how to deal with it.  The entire nation could experience seven years of famine, with the resulting suffering, or David could be attacked  and forced into exile for three months, or there could be a three day epidemic of fatal disease.   Either famine or epidemic would reduce the size of David’s army, while three months of fleeing in exile would weaken his dependence on the army.

Once again we are reminded that even though the sin is forgiven, there are consequences for it.  Justification does not mean that it is just as if we had never sinned, but that things have been set right.

One is left to wonder how many religious organizations split because God wants to move the focus from the size of the organization to dependence on himself.

“And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.” (II Samuel 24:14)

None of the punishments were desirable to David.   Either he or his people were going to suffer severely as a result of his sin.  When he thought about it, David knew that people tend to go to extremes.  He decided to place the outcome in God’s hands, as he believed God would show more restraint and consideration than people would.

“So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.  And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.” (II Samuel 24:15-16)

Seventy thousand men died of the epidemic, throughout the land.  When the plague came to Jerusalem, God said that was enough and it spread no further, justifying David’s choice to trust God rather than other people.

Monday, May 20, 2013

David’s Last Official Message

II Samuel 23:1-39

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,  The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.  The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.  And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. 

Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. 

But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.” (II Samuel 23:1-7)

This was David’s last public speech, but it is not the last we hear of him, as we will back up in time and look at the details of the transition from David to Solomnon.  It is again a speech of praise, recounting what God had done in David’s life and thanking him for it.

God had chosen David when he had no aspirations to be king.  He had used David as his messenger, and despite his failures to live up to God’s standard, had made an everlasting covenant with him, ensuring his salvation, while refusing to do so for those who persist in wickedness.  Instead the wicked shall be utterly destroyed.

The chapter finishes with a list of David’s mightiest warriors, his special forces team, listing them according to their accomplishments.

“These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.” (II Samuel 23:8) 

The leader of David’s special forces and the top field commander was Adino, the Eznite, known as a Tachmonite or wise man.  He didn’t hesitate to take on eight hundred man at one time and killed them all.  He was also one of David’s trusted advisors.

“And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.” (II Samuel 23:9-10) 

Eleazar earned his position as David’s second best warrior fighting the Philistines.  He and David, along with other men were confronted by the Philistine army.  He fought until his hands were cramping around the handle of his sword and he couldn’t turn it loose.  By the time the others returned to help him there wasn’t anyone left to fight, and they just helped him gather the weapons of the dead.

“And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.  But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.” (II Samuel 23:11-12)

Shammah was ranked third.  When a troop of Philistines attacked a field of lentiles, the other workers fled.  Shammah stayed to fight and defeated them, killing the entire troop.  He, Eleazar, and Adino comprised the equivalent of Seal Team Six.

“And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.  And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 

And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! 

And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. 

And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.”  (II Samuel 23:13-17)

At one point the philistines had captured Bethlehem, David’s hometown.  When David commented how much he’d like a drink of water from the well in Bethlehem, three unnamed members of the special forces fought their way in just to get him a drink of water.  David refused to drink it, saying that it would be like drinking the three men’s blood, since they had risked their lives for it.  Instead, he offered it to the Lord.

“And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.  Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three. “ (II Samuel 23:18-19)

David’s cousin Abishai, Joab’s brother led the second three man team.  He only killed three hundred by himself, which wasn’t enough o make the first team, although it gave him leadership of the second.

“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear.  These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.  He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three.  And David set him over his guard. “ (II Samuel 23:20-23)

Initially Benaiah led a three man team as well.  He earned his position by numerous heroic acts.  Rather than throwing a spear from above to kill a trapped lion, he jumped into the pit with him even though the ground was slippery with snow.  He defeated a well armed Egyptian soldier with only a walking stick, using the Egyptians own spear to kill him.  David set him over his personal guard.

“Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,  Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,  Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan, Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite, Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite, Zelek the Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah, Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite, Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.’ (II Samuel 23:24-39)

David had thirty seven who would have been Medal Of Honor winners, although we don’t know what most of them did.  They attained their reputations before David became king, and went on to play important roles in his kingdom. A few stand out for various reasons.  Asahel was Joab’s younger brother, and in his eagerness got himself killed by Abner.

Nahari became Joab’s aide when David made him  commanding general.  Uriah was a Hittite, rather than a Jew, and he was the one David had killed to conceal his affair with Bathsheba.   Igal was a Syrian from Zobah, and Zelek was an Ammonite.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Song Of Praise

II Samuel 22:1-51

“And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.  I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. “ (II Samuel 22:1-4)

I am often amused when I see the present day emphasis on Praise and Worship songs.   Many times they wish to eliminate the use of  psalms and hymns.  I have the feeling that those who have coined the name have little or no understanding of what the terms mean, of church history, or of scripture.  Ephesians 5:18-19 describes one of the results of being filled with the Spirit.  “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Colossians 3:16 states that when the Holy Spirit is allowed free reign in our lives, he will use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach, encourage and warn us.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”   Literally, the Songs the Holy Spirit uses will affect more than just one’s emotions.

Interestingly, the word psalm refers to a song of praise, and hymn to a song of worship.
Hebrews 13:15 defines praise as thanks giving.  “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

This song David sings is a psalm or song of praise.  Notice how the focus is on what God has done for David in various situations and how that David can depend on him in the future.  He starts with some generalizations about God as his rock and personal deliverer, but moves to specific actions on his behalf because David asked for help.

"When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears, 

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.  There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.  He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.  And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.  And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.  Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled. 

The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.  And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.  And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.  They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.  He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” (II Samuel 22:5-20) 

The song then explains why God has responded to David’s plea, teaching us how we can experience the same blessings.

“The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. 

For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.  For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.  I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.  Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.” (II Samuel 22:21-25)

David then praises God for his character, that causes him to respond in such a fashion to those who do what is right.

“With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt show thyself upright.  With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself unsavoury.  And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down. 

For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.  For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. 

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.  For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?” (II Samuel 22:26-32)

It is through God’s power that David had been able to live in such a manner as to please God and receive his blessings.  It is through his power that he has been able to learn how to fight, and to do the various things, and it is through god’s power that he has been successful.

“God is my strength and power: And he maketh my way perfect.  He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.  He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. 

Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.  Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip. 

I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.  And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet. 

For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.  Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.” (II Samuel 22:33-41)

 God’s power has impacted others as well as David himself,  so that both heathen and professing believers have been forced to examine what they are doing.

“They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.  Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad. 

Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.  Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.  Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.” (II Samuel 22:42-46) 

Because of what God has done, David is strengthened in his resolve to follow God forever.  He is rejoicing fopr the wondrous blessings he has already received, and looking forward to future blessings.

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.  It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me, And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.  Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. 

He is the tower of salvation for his king: and showeth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.” (II Samuel 22:47-51)

Because of the message in this song, we learn that if we obey God, we can expect him to bless in a mighty way, even when others who claim to be Christians oppose us.  We have solid reasons for expecting God to do what he did for David.  It gives a tremendous example of the kind of songs the Holy Spirit uses.  The style of music is irrelevant, but the message is crucial.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Age Catches Up

II Samuel 21:15-22

“Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.”(II Samuel 21:15)

By this time, David has been king for over thirty years, and is in his sixties.  II Samuel 5:4 stated, “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.”  Like most people he didn’t want to admit he was not as strong as he had been before.  When he went out to battle with the Philistines, he played out.  Sooner or later age catches up with every man who lives that long.

“And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.  But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. 

Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.” (II Samuel 21:16-17)

One of the old family of giants who lived among the Philistines made it his goal to kill David.  He was a very large and strong man, using a spear with a head weighing nearly ten pounds, and carrying a new sword he hoped to break in by killing David.  Anyone who has ever used a ten pound sledgehammer can get an idea how strong Ishbibenob had to be to handle such a spear effectively.  Had Abishai not come to David’s rescue and killed the giant, David would have been killed when he played out.  After that David’s men refused to let him go into battle for fear he’d be killed and leave Israel leaderless.

Like David, we all come to a point where we cannot do everything we used to, and like David, trying to keep on begins to put others at risk.  We will be forced to let others do those jobs if we do not voluntarily do so.

“And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant. 

And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.” (II Samuel 21:18-19)

In subsequent battles other members of the giant family were killed, including Goliath’s brother more than forty years after David killed his brother.  We have no idea how large Goliath’s brother was, but the shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, probably five to six inches in diameter.  His hands must have been huge to even grip it firmly.  Just a glancing blow could crush an ordinary man’s skull.

“And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.  And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him.” (II Samuel 21:20-21)

David’s friend Achish, king of Gath had died and the younger generation wanted to take over Israel.  Another of the family of giants with a genetic abnormality that caused six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, like Goliath almost fifty years before, defied the armies of Israel, and like Goliath, was killed by someone he thought had no chance.  David’s nephew killed him.

“These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.” (II Samuel 21:22)

Almost seven hundred years after the ten spies had refused to go into the land because of a few giants, there were still giants, and individual normal Israelites were still able to kill them, with God’s help.   Unlike man, God’s strength is not eroded by time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Letting Sin Slide

II Samuel 21:1-14

“Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.” (II Samuel 21:1) 

In Deuteronomy 28, God promised Israel that if they would serve him he would bless everything they did, but that if the began to go against him. He would gradually remove their blessings like a loving father until they began to pay attention,  one of the things he would do was to allow their crops to fail as a warning that they were getting too far away from what was right.

When the famine first started they didn’t think much about it, but after three years, it began to register that this was more than just a temporary drought.  Finally David took the trouble to ask why God was allowing it.  God’s response was that it was because Saul had slain a lot of the Gibbeonites, and that there had been no effort to make it right.

“And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)  Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD?” (II Samuel 21:2-3) 

Believing that God was going to give the land of Canaan to the Jews as he promised, The people of Gibbeon had deceived the people of Israel in order to make a treaty with them, In Joshua 9.  Because they believed what the Gibbeonites told, them, Israel signed the treaty, even though God had forbidden them to make treaties with the local peoples.    When they realized what had happened, most of the Israelites wanted to break the treaty and kill the Gibbeonites.

Joshua and the other leaders admitted they had broken God’s command in making the treaty.  They pointed out that if they broke the treaty, they would then have broken another of God’s commands, compounding the problem.  Committing another sin would not alleviate the problem of the first.

About five hundred seventy five years after Israel signed the treaty, Saul decided that he needed to get rid of the non Jews to purge the Jewish culture of outside influences.  He simply ignored the treaty and had many of the Gibbeonites slaughtered.  Israel had done nothing about making theirs right for about fifty years, so God brought judgment on them for it.

Numbers 35:33 warns of the danger of letting murderers go unpunished, and Saul’s killing the Gibeonites was murder.  “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”  By not executing the murderer, any nation tacitly approves murder, bringing God’s judgment on the entire nation.  By doing nothing about it, Israel had accepted responsibility for the murder of the Gibbeonites.  Since Saul and most of his family were dead, David asked the Gibbeonites what they thought was fair.  Only by executing the murder could the judgment be lifted.  Numbers 35:31 says that no alternative punishment can be substituted.  “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.”

With this in mind, it is easy to understand why David would later instruct Solomon not to allow Joab to die of natural causes.  Please note that the defilement is for any nation, not just for Israel.  Think of the judgment America deserves because they approve murder by not administering the death penalty in most cases.

Similar statements are made about homosexuality and other sexual sin. Leviticus 18 stresses that these types of sins were why God took the land from the Canaanites, and warns that it will happen for any nation.

“And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. 

And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you. 

And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel, Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose.” (II Samuel 21:4-6a” 

The Gibbeonites did not ask for a monetary judgment against Saul’s family, or that somebody be executed, but that they be allowed to execute judgment on seven of his descendants for Saul’s crime while he was king.

“And the king said, I will give them. 

But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the LORD'S oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. 
But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.” (II Samuel 21:6b-9)

David acquiesced to their request but remembered his agreement with Jonathan and refused to allow Mephibosheth to be killed.  The only remaining members of Saul’s family were two illegitimate sons of Saul by Rizpah, and five sons of  Adriel that Saul’s daughter Michal had adopted and raised since she had no children of her own.

The Gibeonites executed them in first few days of barley harvest, and hanged the bodies for all to see as a reproach on Saul’s family.

“And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. 

And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. 

And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa: And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.  And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was entreated for the land. ” (II Samuel 21:11-14)

Though they had been executed for their father’s crimes, Rizpah was hurt by th etreatment of her sons, and protected the hanging bodies from the weather and scavengers.  David heard about her efforts and recognized her pain.  He had Saul and jonathan’s remains exhumed in Jabeshgilead and all the bodies were moved to Saul’s family plot Benjamin, at Zelah, to provide relief to the family.

God accepted the efforts to make the sin right and removed the curse, ending the famine.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jumping To Conclusions

II Samuel 20:13b-26

“all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.  And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Bethmaachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.  And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.” (II Samuel 20:13b-15)

 Taking advantage of the resentment over not being consulted about bringing David back as king, Sheba had found it easy to stir up a rebellion and gather a large following  campaigning throughout the various tribes, and assembling them at Abel.  Joab and the army caught up with him at Abel of Bethmaacah.  When Sheba took refuge in the city, they placed the city under seige, casting embankments all around it and blockading any who might go in or out.  They then started to tear down the walls to break in.

“Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.  And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid.

 And he answered, I do hear.  Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.  I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?” (II Samuel 20:16-19)

The men of the city were concerned about defending the city and resentful about being attacked.   Their pride demanded the fight to defend themselves.  A wise woman overlooked the pride and asked why Joab and the army were attacking one of the cities in Israel, trying to destroy it.  Why should they be killed when they didn’t even know what it was about?

When God created woman, he fitted her especially to complement and complete the man, providing a different perspective and approach to problems.  Joab was completely focused on killing Sheba, no matter who he had to kill to do it, and the men of Abel were concentrating on defending their homes, at whatever cost.  The woman looked at it from the standpoint that no matter who won the battle, many people would be killed simply because Joab had decided to destroy them.

“And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.  The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. 

And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. 

Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab.” (II Samuel 20:20-22)

Joab explained that there was no desire to destroy the city.  Sheba had committed treason and their only interest was in punishing him.  They had just assumed because he taken refuge in the city, that the people of the city supported his rebellion.  The woman promised that they would execute Sheba themselves and throw his head out to prove it.

When she explained what the attack was about to the men of the city, they had no qualms about keeping her promise, and executed him, throwing his head out to Joab.  It was a relief to know they were not going to have to fight to the death.

Unfortunately many conflicts explode out of control because everyone is focused so much on their own feelings and concerns they don’t take time to find out what the conflict is really about.   Both sides end up with a false idea of the other sides position and feelings boil out of control.  Frequently there is somebody like Sheba at the bottom stirring things up in hopes of getting his own way, accusing the other side of being unfair.

“And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.” (II Samuel 20:23)

Having attained his purpose of destroying the leader of the rebellion, Joab withdrew from the attack and returned to Jerusalem.

Had the wise woman not bothered to ask what it was all about,  but taken the same attitude as most of the people, Joab and the army would have destroyed the city and killed everyone in it believing they were intentionally helping Sheba.

In his teaching on resolving conflicts in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus stressed that the first step must be to make sure both sides understand what is at issue.  “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.”

A failure to make sure what the issues are often results in even more injustice, and increases the problems.   It is important that we take the time to be sure what is really going on instead of simply taking action.

“Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites: And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder: And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests: And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.” (II Samuel 20:23-26)

We finish with a listing of those in positions of power during the last period of David’s reign.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Discontent Leads To Rebellion
II Samuel 20:1-13

“And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel. 

So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.” (II Samuel 20:1-2)

Israel felt that they were taken for granted and their opinion was not valued when Judah moved to make David King again without consulting them.  With the people already upset, Satan inspired Sheba to play on their feelings, insisting that the rest of Israel had no real connection with David, and that Judah would be the only real beneficiary of having him as king.  It caused a major split in the country, with Judah standing for David, and the rest of Israel turning after Sheba.

“And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.” (II Samuel 20:3)

Absalom had deliberately had sex with these ten of David’s common law wives in a public display of disrespect for his father to emphasize the rift between them.  David realized it wasn’t their fault, so he continued to support them as his wives, but no longer maintained the sexual relations with them, on the basis of Deuteronomy  24:3-4.  “And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; 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.”  Though the women had been forced, the relationship would always be a fact between them, interfering with the relationship.  Forgiving a mate for an affair does not necessarily mean accepting them back.

“Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.  So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him. 

And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord's servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.  And there went out after him Joab's men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.” (II Samuel 20:4-7)

Recognizing that failure to act could well result in a permanent split of the country, David ordered Amasa to assemble Judah’s army within three days.  When amasa was late returning, David sent Abishai out to lead Joab’s men and David’s personal guards in an effort to prevent Sheba from gathering too much strength  As he warned Abishai, Sheba’s actions were a bigger threat to the nation of Israel than Absalom’s, because they threatened to split the country.

“When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab's garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out. 

And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.  But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died.” (II Samuel 20:8-10a)

When they came to Gibeon, Amasa caught up and took over leading the army, as David’s commanding general.  Joab had allowed his younger brother to lead, but he refused to allow someone else to have the position he thought of as his own.  Hurrying as they were, Joab’s sword fell out of the sheath, so he was carrying it in his hand.

When he saw his cousin Amasa, he greeted him as a dear relative.  Amasa thought nothing of the short sword in Joab’s hand and went forward to hug and kiss him as was customary.  Joab took the opportunity to stab him under the fifth rib, puncturing the heart and probably a lung, and opening up his abdomen so his intestines fell out, killing him.

“So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.  And one of Joab's men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab. 

“And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.  When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.” (II Samuel 20:10b-13) 

Leaving Amasa’s body still flopping around, Joab took command and he and Abishai continued their efforts to capture Sheba, leaving one of Joab’s men to direct the others to keep following.  Seeing Amassa’s boddy flopping around, everyone stopped to look, so the man dragged the body into the field and covered it up so it wouldn’t distract them.

Amasa was the fourth person Joab had murdered, and he no longer even bothered to try to hide his guilt, convinced David would be unable to move against him.  While he could legally excuse his killing of Abner, and claim killing Absalom was justified to end the war, even though he was breaking David’s command, there was no way of justifying Amasa’s murder.  He just refused to relinquish command of the army when David replaced him.  To prevent a major scandal and rebellion, David will be forced to overlook his crimes, but he would advise Solomon to take the first opportunity he could to get rid of him, and not just allow him to die of old age.
When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue