Struggles of Israel Meditations: 10. Revelation through David
2 Sam 12:11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you.
Structure: There are, I would suggest, four phases to David’s story. Phase 1 is what we have been considering in the previous study, (seen as the third phase in 1 Samuel), him being anointed and then his tumultuous rise to becoming king. Phase 2 is his success as king, Phase 3 is his failures as king and then Phase 4 is his final years. As I have commented right at the beginning of this series, these chapters revealing the warfare and struggles of Israel reveal to us the interaction between God and man, mostly the failings of man and then the discipline of God but they do also accentuate the truth found in the ‘curses and blessings’ chapter of Deuteronomy, (Deut 28) that obedience brings blessing from God and disobedience brings curses or discipline from God. We also need to be honest enough to face these truths in our lives and this world today.
Phase 2 – Success: Remember the early call to Israel was to clear the land of its occupants. Over a hundred years had passed since that call and the Jebusites still occupied Jerusalem. David’s first task after becoming king over all Israel was to take that city, which he did (see 2 Sam 5:6-10). What follows is then two victories over the Philistines, with the Lord’s guidance (see 2 Sam 5:17-25). Subsequently he continued to defeat the Philistines (8:1) and the Moabites (8:2) and other opposing kings (8:3-6) so that, “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.” (v.6c) and went on to defeat the Edomites (8:13,14) and later the Ammonites (10:1-19). The Philistines continued to be defeated (see 1 Chron 20:4-8) Turning from battles, the accounts of the early parts of David’s reign turn towards returning the Ark to Jerusalem, seeking the Lord and receiving His prophetic affirmations about the future.
Phase 3: Downfall: Almost every person in the Bible (except Jesus) reveal something of their fallenness. David is no exception. David’s testimony in the historical books is quite remarkable: “For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” (1 Kings 15:5) If you are not familiar with the story, David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then had her husband murdered before he took her for his own wife (see 2 Sam 11) for which he is censured by the Lord (see 2 Sam 12) who declares, “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.” (2 Sam 12:10) and, “‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” (v.11,12) This is the background for all that follows.
Outworking: The outworking of this is seen in what follows:
- the family upheaval starts with one of David’s sons desiring his daughter (2 Sam 13:1)
- this results in one son, Absalom, killing that brother, Amnon (2 Sam 13:23-29) and fleeing (v.34-38)
- after three years he returns and is eventually reconciled to David (2 Sam 14)
- but then he stages a palace coup and David has to flee (2 Sam 15).
- The prophecy of 12:11,12 is thus fulfilled
- Absalom is killed by Joab (18:14,15) David returns to Jerusalem (Ch.19)
- but then a rebel, Sheba caused many to desert David (20:1,2,14,22) but he is pursed and killed
- subsequent battles occur with the Philistines (21:15-22) ad when David is nearly killed his men forbid him going out to battle any more. The prophecy of 12:10 fulfilled.
Phase 4: Aftermath – Solomon: In his final phase of David’s life he makes Solomon the next king. (1 Kings 1). Solomon was initially, with God’s help, a very wise king and he established the kingdom and his fame spread so that eventually the Queen of Sheba came (1 Kings 10) acknowledging the wonder of all the Lord had done for him. Tragically Solomon unwisely took many foreign wives and fell away from the Lord (1 Kings 11:1-8) so that the Lord decreed, “I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” (1 Kings 11:11-13) Following his death this occurs.
Discipline: However before that, the Lord disciplines Solomon by raising up Hadad the Edomite in rebellion (1 Kings 11:14-22) and Rezon (11:23-25) and then Jeroboam rebelled (11:26-40) who after Solomon’s death causes the split in the nation with ten tribes of the north following him with only two in the south remaining true to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son.
Summary of Two Great Kings: Thus we have seen the activities of two great kings and God’s dealings with them. First there had been David, a man after God’s own heart, raised up by the Lord to replace Saul after his death. Initially David had been very successful but then he gave way to temptation and committed adultery and murder. For this the Lord brought on him discipline in the form of family rebellion and for a while, before all the eyes of Israel, David has to flee. When he is restored he is never quite the same man again.
The second great king was Solomon who, by the grace of God, was known as the wisest man on earth and whose wisdom enabled him to establish the land as never before or since. Tragically he also gives way to temptation on a much bigger scale than his father and takes many foreign wives, falls away from the Lord and is disciplined by inner rebellions and, after his death, by the kingdom being divided so all his personal glory is gone.
Lessons: These events reveal a variety of lessons:
Grace: The first and greatest lesson must surely be that the God who knows all things – including the future and how history will pan out – must be a God of immense grace in that He calls people and uses people who He knows are ultimately going to fail Him!
All three kings we have observed so far – Saul, David and Solomon – got it wrong. David was the only one of the three who truly repented but even he had to live out the consequences that followed his sin. The lesson must be that God is not put off dealing with imperfect human beings – and that includes you and me!
Opportunities: Each of these three kings was given the opportunity by God to make good. When the Lord called Saul He anointed him with the Spirit so he knew the power of God. All he had to do was learn to be obedient to God, but sadly he failed to learn that lesson. David’s testimony shows a young man trained for war by God and who is then granted success after success. Tragically the actions of one afternoon led to a train of events that marred his rule. Solomon was granted wisdom that exalted him across the earth and yet wisdom and obedience are not the same thing and so as the years moved on he took wife after wife from abroad and allowed them to lead him away from the Lord. We need to check ourselves out, our hearts, our thoughts, our ambitions, our words and our deeds. They have the potential for leading us into disaster – even after we have been blessed in abundance by God!
Accountability: Paul said it: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7). Whether it be by ongoing circumstances or by the specific act of God, the Lord will discipline those He loves (Heb 12:6). For His name’s sake, He will step in and bring discipline but the thing that stands out in the case of each of these three kings, is that discipline comes first as the prophesied rebuke and only then as the following outworking. If we sin, we will know it. It’s not just ‘conscience’ but it is also the voice of God that speaks into our heart. That comes to call us to repentance and then we must throw ourselves on the mercy of God. Sometimes that means He limits immediately the consequences of our sin, but sometimes He allows the consequences to be fully worked out in order to teach us and change us, as well as give a warning to others.
There may be others, but I suggest that these are the primary lessons we really need to heed that come out in the studies of these three men. May we truly learn from them.
(Aware that these are rather ‘heavy’ studies, we’ll have a pause for a week or so before coming back and picking them up)