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2 Samuel 1-4: The Lord Establishes His Anointed Print E-mail
2 Samuel
Sunday, 16 July 2017

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Most human thrones are taken either by sword or succession. At times, the king dies and the kingdom is passed on to his son (or daughter). But other times, an individual who is not in the family decides to take the kingdom by force. Sometimes this even happens within the family, with different members fighting for power. Of course, how a king comes to power can determine how loyal the subjects will or will not be. A throne that is taken by force can often be rejected by the people. Normally this will lead to even more bloodshed.

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For the first time, the throne of Israel is without a king. The book of 1 Samuel ends with the death of Saul, Israelís first king. Who will succeed him as king? Who will rule over Israel in his place? Samuel has already anointed David as the man who will be the next king of Israel. And it seems many others have agreed with his prediction. But much time has passed since David was a shepherd boy too young to even be considered for the role as king. Yet, through it all, Godís promise to Him has never failed and we are still waiting with expectation for him to be named king. So how will that happen? Now that Saul is dead, how will David become king? Well, as we have seen, David refuses to take the kingdom by force. He will not take matters into his own hand. Rather, he will trust the Lord to keep His promises in His own timing and in His own way. We see the Lord doing just that in the first four chapters of 2 Samuel. So then, how does the Lord establish David as king over Israel?

David becomes the king of Judah (1:1-2:7)

Although some might think that David would be relieved to hear of Saulís death in battle, the truth is that the news grieves him greatly. He receives the news from an Amalekite, who perhaps embellishes the story. Instead of Saul dying by falling on his own sword, the Amalekite tells David that Saul asked him to deliver the fatal blow. It could be that this truly happened and was simply left out of 1 Samuel 31 since it would have taken place after Saul fell on his sword. But the more likely explanation is that the Amalekite is trying to make himself look good to David, so he lies. Unfortunately for him, he was unaware of Davidís love and respect for Godís anointed. Look at his response in 1:11-16.

David weeps for the death of Saul and his sons, especially his best friend Jonathan. He has the Amalekite executed for striking the Lordís anointed (or at least claiming to). And then he writes a song of lament for Saul and Jonathan, which is a beautiful poem of love and devotion. David cared deeply for these men, which again illustrates the fact that he would not take the kingdom by force. Because of verse 26, some have argued that David had a homosexual relationship with Jonathan, but that goes way beyond what the text actually says. As we noted a few weeks ago, just because David and Jonathan care for one another does not mean that they were involved sexually. And the fact that both of these men had wives and children is contrary to the idea as well. David simply loved Jonathan as a brother and grieved his death.

After this, David asks the Lord what he should do. Remember, he is still living in the land of the Philistines with all of his men. Instead of moving forward in his own wisdom, he asks the Lord for guidance. Look at 2:1-4. The Lord tells him to move to Hebron, where the people decide to make David king over the house of Judah. This is the first step of David being king over all of Israel and notice that it happens in response to Davidís prayers. The Lord is establishing David as king. His first act will be to reward the men of Jabesh-gilead who risked their lives to recover the bodies of Saul and his sons. Again, we see Davidís support of the former king.

David has victory over Abner (2:8-32)

After the author tells us that David has been made king over Judah, he then tells us of a rival king, who is put on the throne by Abner the commander of Saulís army. Look at 2:8-11. These words are foreshadowing of the conflict to come. David is king over Judah but Saulís son Ish-bosheth is king over the rest of Israel. Surely David will have to take the kingdom by force now? How will the Lord establish David as king in light of this?

The story continues with a battle between the two rival factions. Abner and Joab, the two commanders of the respective armies meet for battle. It begins with just twelve men fighting from each side, but that eventually turns into a full battle and Abnerís army is defeated. The author gives us the stats in verses 30-31. Look at those with me. It was a sound victory for David and his men. The Lord continues to give David victory on the battlefield, which will further establish him as the best candidate to be the next king in Israel.

David is innocent of the Abnerís death (3:1-29)

One detail that the author includes concerning the battle between Abner and Joab is the fact that Aber kills one of Joabís brothers, Asahel. Abner was only defending himself, but he killed him nonetheless. It is an important detail that will cost Abner in the end.

But first, the author tells us about Abnerís falling out with Ish-bosheth. Davidís strength is growing and so is his family (see v. 1-5). But the house of Saul is struggling. King Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of sleeping with one of Saulís concubines (an act that would have been a claim to the throne if true). Abner is angry at the king for accusing him. Look at his response in verses 8-11. His words are interesting. He tells Ish-bosheth that he is switching sides to give to David what the Lord has sworn to him, namely the kingdom of Israel. Apparently Abner is tired of fighting against the Lord and so he will now fight for David and use his influence in Israel to make David the new king. He carries out this plan by sending messengers to meet with David, who requires that Michal, Saulís daughter be returned to him. Ish-bosheth returns Michal and Abner goes to the elders in Israel to encourage them to make David king. After gaining their support he finally meets with David and they feast together to celebrate what has happened.

But you remember that detail from the battle that the author mentioned in chapter 2? The one about Abner killing Joabís brother? Yea, Joab hasnít forgotten either. When he hears about David speaking with Abner in Hebron, he sends men to go and call Abner back to the city. When he returns, Joab meets him at the gate and kills him to avenge the death of his brother. Look at Davidís response to this in verse 28. He goes on to curse Joabís family and forces them to mourn the loss of Abner. Notice how the people respond to Davidís actions in verses 36-37. David is innocent of the death of Abner, which helps establish him as the rightful king in the eyes of the people.

David is innocent of Ish-boshethís death (4:1-12)

Surely with Abner gone, David will now seize the throne from Saulís family. The only one that remains to challenge him is Ish-bosheth. But again, David does not take matters into his own hand. We see this play out in chapter 4. The author tells us of the sons of Rimmon who sneak in and kill King Ish-bosheth in his sleep. They decide to cut off his head and go show it to David, perhaps thinking that this will win them favor with the King of Judah. But like the Amalekite before, David is not pleased by their actions. Look at his response in verses 9-12. David is not trying to wipe out the family of Saul so that he can take the throne of Israel by force. No, he trusts in the Lord, who has redeemed (his) life out of every adversary. Through the battles that he has repeatedly faced, David has learned to trust the Lord. His trust will not be perfect, but we do see evidence of it as the Lord is establishing him as king in Israel.

Conclusion
No matter what happens, God keeps bringing about His promises to David to make him king. Using various means, God is accomplishing all of His purposes, including establishing David as king over Israel. The same is true of the life of Davidís greater Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Our Savior came and lived a perfect life, being misunderstood and mistreated and even mocked as king of the Jews. But King He was and King He is. When Jesus sacrificially died on the cross to pay for our sins, God the Father raised Him from the dead and established Him as the forever King and the Savior for all who will turn from their sins and trust in Him.

This is the message Peter proclaimed on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). He recites a psalm of David and applies it to Jesus. He tells the people that Jesus is the Promised Son of David who was given victory over the grave by the Father. And then he concludes: ĎLet all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucifiedí (v. 36). Like David, God established Jesus as King. He is the one who now reigns at the Fatherís side and will one Day come again for His people. Just like nothing could stop David from being king over Israel, nothing can stop Jesus from being King over all. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. The good news is that you can bow your knee to Him today, confess Him as Lord, and be forgiven of your sins and reconciled to God! The Father has made Him King and given us the gracious privilege to be His people. Follow King Jesus today! Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 October 2017 )

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