What if the news was of someone’s death? What if the news was about someone who was hunting you? What if the news was about someone who you loved like a brother? Would you respond any differently? Would you act any differently?
Today’s reading starts on just such a topic…
David Learns of Saul’s Death
1After Saul’s death David came back from his victory over the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag for two days. 2The next day a young man arrived from Saul’s camp. To show his grief, he had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head. He went to David and bowed to the ground in respect. 3David asked him, “Where have you come from?” “I have escaped from the Israelite camp,” he answered. 4“Tell me what happened,” David said. “Our army ran away from the battle,” he replied, “and many of our men were killed. Saul and his son Jonathan were also killed.” 5“How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?” David asked him. 6He answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and I saw that Saul was leaning on his spear and that the chariots and cavalry of the enemy were closing in on him. 7Then he turned around, saw me, and called to me. I answered, ‘Yes, sir!’ 8He asked who I was, and I told him that I was an Amalekite. 9Then he said, ‘Come here and kill me! I have been badly wounded, and I’m about to die.’ 10So I went up to him and killed him, because I knew that he would die anyway as soon as he fell. Then I took the crown from his head and the bracelet from his arm, and I have brought them to you, sir.” 11David tore his clothes in sorrow, and all his men did the same. 12They grieved and mourned and fasted until evening for Saul and Jonathan and for Israel, the people of the Lord, because so many had been killed in battle. 13David asked the young man who had brought him the news, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I’m an Amalekite, but I live in your country.” 14David asked him, “How is it that you dared kill the Lord’s chosen king?” 15Then David called one of his men and said, “Kill him!” The man struck the Amalekite and mortally wounded him, 16and David said to the Amalekite, “You brought this on yourself. You condemned yourself when you confessed that you killed the one whom the Lord chose to be king.”
David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan
17David sang this lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, 18and ordered it to be taught to the people of Judah. (It is recorded in The book of Jashar.) 19“On the hills of Israel our leaders are dead! The bravest of our soldiers have fallen! 20Do not announce it in Gath or in the streets of Ashkelon. Do not make the women of Philistia glad; do not let the daughters of pagans rejoice. 21“May no rain or dew fall on Gilboa’s hills; may its fields be always barren! For the shields of the brave lie there in disgrace; the shield of Saul is no longer polished with oil. 22Jonathan’s bow was deadly, the sword of Saul was merciless, striking down the mighty, killing the enemy. 23“Saul and Jonathan, so wonderful and dear; together in life, together in death; swifter than eagles, stronger than lions. 24“Women of Israel, mourn for Saul! He clothed you in rich scarlet dresses and adorned you with jewels and gold. 25“The brave soldiers have fallen, they were killed in battle. Jonathan lies dead in the hills. 26“I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan; how dear you were to me! How wonderful was your love for me, better even than the love of women. 27“The brave soldiers have fallen, their weapons abandoned and useless.”
–from 2 Samuel 1
How would you treat those who treated them properly? How would you respond to those who did not? Would it be any differently?
David Is Made King of Judah
1After this, David asked the Lord, “Shall I go and take control of one of the towns of Judah?” “Yes,” the Lord answered. “Which one?” David asked. “Hebron,” the Lord said. 2So David went to Hebron, taking with him his two wives: Ahinoam, who was from Jezreel, and Abigail, Nabal’s widow, who was from Carmel. 3He also took his men and their families, and they settled in the towns around Hebron. 4Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and anointed David as king of Judah.
When David heard that the people of Jabesh in Gilead had buried Saul, 5he sent some men there with the message: “May the Lord bless you for showing your loyalty to your king by burying him. 6And now may the Lord be kind and faithful to you. I too will treat you well because of what you have done. 7Be strong and brave! Saul your king is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me as their king.”
Ishbosheth Is Made King of Israel
8The commander of Saul’s army, Abner son of Ner, had fled with Saul’s son Ishbosheth across the Jordan to Mahanaim. 9There Abner made Ishbosheth king of the territories of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, and indeed over all Israel. 10He was forty years old when he was made king of Israel, and he ruled for two years.
But the tribe of Judah was loyal to David, 11and he ruled in Hebron over Judah for seven and a half years.
War between Israel and Judah
12Abner and the officials of Ishbosheth went from Mahanaim to the city of Gibeon. 13Joab, whose mother was Zeruiah, and David’s other officials met them at the pool, where they all sat down, one group on one side of the pool and the other group on the opposite side. 14Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men from each side fight an armed contest.” “All right,” Joab answered. 15So twelve men, representing Ishbosheth and the tribe of Benjamin, fought twelve of David’s men. 16Each man caught his opponent by the head and plunged his sword into his opponent’s side, so that all twenty-four of them fell down dead together. And so that place in Gibeon is called “Field of Swords.” 17Then a furious battle broke out, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men. 18The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel, who could run as fast as a wild deer, 19started chasing Abner, running straight for him. 20Abner looked back and said, “Is that you, Asahel?” “Yes,” he answered. 21“Stop chasing me!” Abner said. “Run after one of the soldiers and take what he has.” But Asahel kept on chasing him. 22Once more Abner said to him, “Stop chasing me! Why force me to kill you? How could I face your brother Joab?” 23But Asahel would not quit; so Abner, with a backward thrust of his spear, struck him through the stomach so that the spear came out at his back. Asahel dropped to the ground dead, and everyone who came to the place where he was lying stopped and stood there. 24But Joab and Abishai started out after Abner, and at sunset they came to the hill of Ammah, which is to the east of Giah on the road to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25The men from the tribe of Benjamin gathered around Abner again and took their stand on the top of a hill. 26Abner called out to Joab, “Do we have to go on fighting forever? Can’t you see that in the end there will be nothing but bitterness? We are your relatives. How long will it be before you order your men to stop chasing us?” 27“I swear by the living God,” Joab answered, “that if you had not spoken, my men would have kept on chasing you until tomorrow morning.” 28Then Joab blew the trumpet as a signal for his men to stop pursuing the Israelites; and so the fighting stopped. 29Abner and his men marched through the Jordan Valley all that night; they crossed the Jordan River, and after marching all the next morning, they arrived back at Mahanaim. 30When Joab gave up the chase, he gathered all his men and found that nineteen of them were missing, in addition to Asahel. 31David’s men had killed 360 of Abner’s men from the tribe of Benjamin. 32Joab and his men took Asahel’s body and buried it in the family tomb at Bethlehem. Then they marched all night and at dawn arrived back at Hebron.
–from 2 Samuel 2
Where does your hope come from? Where does your help come from What do you depend on? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
1The fighting between the forces supporting Saul’s family and those supporting David went on for a long time. As David became stronger and stronger, his opponents became weaker and weaker.
2The following six sons, in order of their birth, were born to David at Hebron: Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam, from Jezreel; 3Chileab, whose mother was Abigail, Nabal’s widow, from Carmel; Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur; 4Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith; Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital; 5Ithream, whose mother was Eglah. All of these sons were born in Hebron.
Abner Joins David
6As the fighting continued between David’s forces and the forces loyal to Saul’s family, Abner became more and more powerful among Saul’s followers. 7One day Ishbosheth son of Saul accused Abner of sleeping with Saul’s concubine Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. 8This made Abner furious. “Do you think that I would betray Saul? Do you really think I’m serving Judah?” he exclaimed. “From the very first I have been loyal to the cause of your father Saul, his brothers, and his friends, and I have kept you from being defeated by David; yet today you find fault with me about a woman! 9-10The Lord promised David that he would take the kingdom away from Saul and his descendants and would make David king of both Israel and Judah, from one end of the country to the other. Now may God strike me dead if I don’t make this come true!” 11Ishbosheth was so afraid of Abner that he could not say a word. 12Abner sent messengers to David, who at that time was at Hebron, to say, “Who is going to rule this land? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you win all Israel over to your side.” 13“Good!” David answered. “I will make an agreement with you on one condition: you must bring Saul’s daughter Michal to me when you come to see me.” 14And David also sent messengers to Ishbosheth to say, “Give me back my wife Michal. I paid a hundred Philistine foreskins in order to marry her.” 15So Ishbosheth had her taken from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16Paltiel followed her all the way to the town of Bahurim, crying as he went. But when Abner said, “Go back home,” he did. 17Abner went to the leaders of Israel and said to them, “For a long time you have wanted David to be your king. 18Now here is your chance. Remember that the Lord has said, ‘I will use my servant David to rescue my people Israel from the Philistines and from all their other enemies.’” 19Abner spoke also to the people of the tribe of Benjamin and then went to Hebron to tell David what the people of Benjamin and of Israel had agreed to do. 20When Abner came to David at Hebron with twenty men, David gave a feast for them. 21Abner told David, “I will go now and win all Israel over to Your Majesty. They will accept you as king, and then you will get what you have wanted and will rule over the whole land.” David gave Abner a guarantee of safety and sent him on his way.
Abner Is Murdered
22Later on Joab and David’s other officials returned from a raid, bringing a large amount of loot with them. Abner, however, was no longer there at Hebron with David, because David had sent him away with a guarantee of safety. 23When Joab and his men arrived, he was told that Abner had come to King David and had been sent away with a guarantee of safety. 24So Joab went to the king and said to him, “What have you done? Abner came to you—why did you let him go like that? 25He came here to deceive you and to find out everything you do and everywhere you go. Surely you know that!” 26After leaving David, Joab sent messengers to get Abner, and they brought him back from Sirah Well; but David knew nothing about it. 27When Abner arrived in Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gate, as though he wanted to speak privately with him, and there he stabbed him in the stomach. And so Abner was murdered because he had killed Joab’s brother Asahel. 28When David heard the news, he said, “The Lord knows that my subjects and I are completely innocent of the murder of Abner. 29May the punishment for it fall on Joab and all his family! In every generation may there be some man in his family who has gonorrhea or a dreaded skin disease or is fit only to do a woman’s work or is killed in battle or doesn’t have enough to eat!” 30So Joab and his brother Abishai took revenge on Abner for killing their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
Abner Is Buried
31Then David ordered Joab and his men to tear their clothes, wear sackcloth, and mourn for Abner. And at the funeral King David himself walked behind the coffin. 32Abner was buried at Hebron, and the king wept aloud at the grave, and so did all the people. 33David sang this lament for Abner: “Why did Abner have to die like a fool? 34His hands were not tied, And his feet were not bound; He died like someone killed by criminals!” And the people wept for him again. 35All day long the people tried to get David to eat something, but he made a solemn promise, “May God strike me dead if I eat anything before the day is over!” 36They took note of this and were pleased. Indeed, everything the king did pleased the people. 37All of David’s people and all the people in Israel understood that the king had no part in the murder of Abner. 38The king said to his officials, “Don’t you realize that this day a great leader in Israel has died? 39Even though I am the king chosen by God, I feel weak today. These sons of Zeruiah are too violent for me. May the Lord punish these criminals as they deserve!”–
-from 2 Samuel 3
Don’t assume what someone else will think. Don’t assume their response. Do what is right! Do what is proper! Don’t be deceived by the lies of the enemy of your soul!
Ishbosheth Is Murdered
1When Saul’s son Ishbosheth heard that Abner had been killed in Hebron, he was afraid, and all the people of Israel were alarmed. 2Ishbosheth had two officers who were leaders of raiding parties, Baanah and Rechab, sons of Rimmon, from Beeroth in the tribe of Benjamin. (Beeroth is counted as part of Benjamin. 3Its original inhabitants had fled to Gittaim, where they have lived ever since.) 4Another descendant of Saul was Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was five years old when Saul and Jonathan were killed. When the news about their death came from the city of Jezreel, his nurse picked him up and fled; but she was in such a hurry that she dropped him, and he became crippled. 5Rechab and Baanah set out for Ishbosheth’s house and arrived there about noon, while he was taking his midday rest. 6The woman at the door had become drowsy while she was sifting wheat and had fallen asleep, so Rechab and Baanah slipped in. 7Once inside, they went to Ishbosheth’s bedroom, where he was sound asleep, and killed him. Then they cut off his head, took it with them, and walked all night through the Jordan Valley. 8They presented the head to King David at Hebron and said to him, “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul, who tried to kill you. Today the Lord has allowed Your Majesty to take revenge on Saul and his descendants.” 9David answered them, “I take a vow by the living Lord, who has saved me from all dangers! 10The messenger who came to me at Ziklag and told me of Saul’s death thought he was bringing good news. I seized him and had him put to death. That was the reward I gave him for his good news! 11How much worse it will be for evil men who murder an innocent man asleep in his own house! I will now take revenge on you for murdering him and will wipe you off the face of the earth!” 12David gave the order, and his soldiers killed Rechab and Baanah and cut off their hands and feet, which they hung up near the pool in Hebron. They took Ishbosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb there at Hebron.
–from 2 Samuel 4
Do you realize what will happen when you do things God’s Way? Do you realize it makes a difference? Do you realize the impact of doing things God’s way?
David Becomes King of Israel and Judah
(1 Chronicles 11.1-9; 14.1-7)
1Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and said to him, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2In the past, even when Saul was still our king, you led the people of Israel in battle, and the Lord promised you that you would lead his people and be their ruler.” 3So all the leaders of Israel came to King David at Hebron. He made a sacred alliance with them, they anointed him, and he became king of Israel. 4David was thirty years old when he became king, and he ruled for forty years. 5He ruled in Hebron over Judah for seven and a half years, and in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years. 6The time came when King David and his men set out to attack Jerusalem. The Jebusites, who lived there, thought that David would not be able to conquer the city, and so they said to him, “You will never get in here; even the blind and the crippled could keep you out.” ( 7But David did capture their fortress of Zion, and it became known as “David’s City.”) 8That day David said to his men, “Does anybody here hate the Jebusites as much as I do? Enough to kill them? Then go up through the water tunnel and attack those poor blind cripples.” (That is why it is said, “The blind and the crippled cannot enter the Lord’s house.”) 9After capturing the fortress, David lived in it and named it “David’s City.” He built the city around it, starting at the place where land was filled in on the east side of the hill. 10He grew stronger all the time, because the Lord God Almighty was with him. 11King Hiram of Tyre sent a trade mission to David; he provided him with cedar logs and with carpenters and stone masons to build a palace. 12And so David realized that the Lord had established him as king of Israel and was making his kingdom prosperous for the sake of his people. 13After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David took more concubines and wives, and had more sons and daughters. 14The following children were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.
Victory over the Philistines
(1 Chronicles 14.8-17)
17The Philistines were told that David had been made king of Israel, so their army set out to capture him. When David heard of it, he went down to a fortified place. 18The Philistines arrived at Rephaim Valley and occupied it. 19David asked the Lord, “Shall I attack the Philistines? Will you give me the victory?” “Yes, attack!” the Lord answered. “I will give you the victory!” 20So David went to Baal Perazim and there he defeated the Philistines. He said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies like a flood.” And so that place is called Baal Perazim. 21When the Philistines fled, they left their idols behind, and David and his men carried them away. 22Then the Philistines went back to Rephaim Valley and occupied it again. 23Once more David consulted the Lord, who answered, “Don’t attack them from here, but go around and get ready to attack them from the other side, near the balsam trees. 24When you hear the sound of marching in the treetops, then attack because I will be marching ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army.” 25David did what the Lord had commanded, and was able to drive the Philistines back from Geba all the way to Gezer.
–from 2 Samuel 5
God’s rules aren’t for keeping us from getting things, BUT RATHER PROTECTING US FROM THINGS THAT WILL HURT US. WHEN WE DO IT HIS WAY, things go well. Consider the 10 commandments about honoring or being obedient to your parents…
The Covenant Box Is Brought to Jerusalem
(1 Chronicles 13.1-14; 15.25—16.6, 43)
1Once more David called together the best soldiers in Israel, a total of thirty thousand men, 2and led them to Baalah in Judah, in order to bring from there God’s Covenant Box, bearing the name of the Lord Almighty, whose throne is above the winged creatures. 3They took it from Abinadab’s home on the hill and placed it on a new cart. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the cart, 4with Ahio walking in front. 5David and all the Israelites were dancing and singing with all their might to honor the Lord. They were playing harps, lyres, drums, rattles, and cymbals. 6As they came to the threshing place of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out and took hold of the Covenant Box. 7At once the Lord God became angry with Uzzah and killed him because of his irreverence. Uzzah died there beside the Covenant Box, 8and so that place has been called Perez Uzzah ever since. David was furious because the Lord had punished Uzzah in anger. 9Then David was afraid of the Lord and said, “How can I take the Covenant Box with me now?” 10So he decided not to take it with him to Jerusalem; instead, he turned off the road and took it to the house of Obed Edom, a native of the city of Gath. 11It stayed there three months, and the Lord blessed Obed Edom and his family. 12King David heard that because of the Covenant Box the Lord had blessed Obed Edom’s family and all that he had; so he got the Covenant Box from Obed’s house to take it to Jerusalem with a great celebration. 13After the men carrying the Covenant Box had gone six steps, David had them stop while he offered the Lord a sacrifice of a bull and a fattened calf. 14David, wearing only a linen cloth around his waist, danced with all his might to honor the Lord. 15And so he and all the Israelites took the Covenant Box up to Jerusalem with shouts of joy and the sound of trumpets. 16As the Box was being brought into the city, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and jumping around in the sacred dance, and she was disgusted with him. 17They brought the Box and put it in its place in the Tent that David had set up for it. Then he offered sacrifices and fellowship offerings to the Lord. 18When he had finished offering the sacrifices, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty 19and distributed food to them all. He gave each man and woman in Israel a loaf of bread, a piece of roasted meat, and some raisins. Then everyone went home. 20Afterward, when David went home to greet his family, Michal came out to meet him. “The king of Israel made a big name for himself today!” she said. “He exposed himself like a fool in the sight of the servant women of his officials!” 21David answered, “I was dancing to honor the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family to make me the leader of his people Israel. And I will go on dancing to honor the Lord, 22and will disgrace myself even more. You may think I am nothing, but those women will think highly of me!” 23Michal, Saul’s daughter, never had any children.
–from 2 Samuel 6
It’s not all for you to do. Sometimes, God has a plan that allows you to be the catalyst or the one who is preparing for someone else to do. Just as God goes before us to prepare in advance the good work He has for us to do, there are times when God will use us to be part of that preparation!
Nathan’s Message to David
(1 Chronicles 17.1-15)
1King David was settled in his palace, and the Lord kept him safe from all his enemies. 2Then the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Here I am living in a house built of cedar, but God’s Covenant Box is kept in a tent!” 3Nathan answered, “Do whatever you have in mind, because the Lord is with you.” 4But that night the Lord said to Nathan, 5“Go and tell my servant David that I say to him, ‘You are not the one to build a temple for me to live in. 6From the time I rescued the people of Israel from Egypt until now, I have never lived in a temple; I have traveled around living in a tent. 7In all my traveling with the people of Israel I never asked any of the leaders that I appointed why they had not built me a temple made of cedar.’ 8“So tell my servant David that I, the Lord Almighty, say to him, ‘I took you from looking after sheep in the fields and made you the ruler of my people Israel. 9I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have defeated all your enemies as you advanced. I will make you as famous as the greatest leaders in the world. 10-11I have chosen a place for my people Israel and have settled them there, where they will live without being oppressed any more. Ever since they entered this land, they have been attacked by violent people, but this will not happen again. I promise to keep you safe from all your enemies and to give you descendants. 12When you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will make one of your sons king and will keep his kingdom strong. 13He will be the one to build a temple for me, and I will make sure that his dynasty continues forever. 14I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him as a father punishes his son. 15But I will not withdraw my support from him as I did from Saul, whom I removed so that you could be king. 16You will always have descendants, and I will make your kingdom last forever. Your dynasty will never end.’”
17Nathan told David everything that God had revealed to him.
David’s Prayer of Thanksgiving
(1 Chronicles 17.16-27)
18Then King David went into the Tent of the Lord’s presence, sat down and prayed, “Sovereign Lord, I am not worthy of what you have already done for me, nor is my family. 19Yet now you are doing even more, Sovereign Lord; you have made promises about my descendants in the years to come. And you let a man see this, Sovereign Lord! 20What more can I say to you! You know me, your servant. 21It was your will and purpose to do this; you have done all these great things in order to instruct me. 22How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is none like you; we have always known that you alone are God. 23There is no other nation on earth like Israel, whom you rescued from slavery to make them your own people. The great and wonderful things you did for them have spread your fame throughout the world. You drove out other nations and their gods as your people advanced, the people whom you set free from Egypt to be your own. 24You have made Israel your own people forever, and you, Lord, have become their God. 25“And now, Lord God, fulfill for all time the promise you made about me and my descendants, and do what you said you would. 26Your fame will be great, and people will forever say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel.’ And you will preserve my dynasty for all time. 27Lord Almighty, God of Israel! I have the courage to pray this prayer to you, because you have revealed all this to me, your servant, and have told me that you will make my descendants kings. 28“And now, Sovereign Lord, you are God; you always keep your promises, and you have made this wonderful promise to me. 29I ask you to bless my descendants so that they will continue to enjoy your favor. You, Sovereign Lord, have promised this, and your blessing will rest on my descendants forever.”
–from 2 Samuel 7