Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Eiffel Tower

Monday, April 10, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 11, 2 Sam 22-24

Today's readings are 2 Sam 22-24.

David's song in 2 Sam 22 parallels Psalm 18. Read it carefully, David recounts all the Lord has done for him, giving the glory to God. This song should be considered in the context of his circumstances, which have drastically deteriorated. Nonetheless, David turns his attention toward God and pours out his heart in thanks to Him.

2 Sam 23:1-6 is not intended to be David’s dying words. They are more of a testimony of God's power and presence in David's life and in the future of David's throne, more like a will or testament than a death bed proclamation.  David wants to make sure folks who follow him understand where his blessings originated. The poem is prophetic, an oracle (2 Sam 23:1). Some see this passage as being a Messianic prophecy.

The poem is chiastic in structure, the primary emphasis being on the central element of the chiasm.
A. David speaks of himself in the third person (vs 1)
B. David speaks in the first person (vs 2-3ab)
       C. The Lord speaks (vs 3cd-4)
              B1 David speaks in the first person (vs 5)
A1 David speaks, in the third person, of the wicked (vs 6-7)

As is always the case with chiastic structure, the primary subject is the central theme of the chiasm. David’s poem/will/last testament gives God the final word.

2 Sam 23:8-39 gives honor to the valiant men who fought with David. Combined with the oracle in the first six verses, we see that David is providing a retrospective of his reign.

2 Sam 24:1 seems like a dichotomy. God is angry with Israel yet, He incites David to take a census which will later turn out to be a sin that requires repentance (2 Sam 24:10). 

Meanwhile, the situation is further complicated by Joab’s initial resistance to David’s order (2 Sam 24:3). Furthermore, Joab does considerably less than David orders him to do (2 Sam 24:4; 1 Chr 21:6). Notice, he doesn't venture far into Benjamite territory nor does he count the Levites.


The reader is left to wonder what’s going on! Did God order David to sin? Is David wrong about his sin? What is Joab's problem that he seems to be constantly at odds with David's orders?

The answer is found in 1 Chr 21:1, which looks back on this incident. In that passage we see that Satan, appealing to David’s pride, is the messenger regarding the census. God allowed Satan to tempt David so that God could show David that his heart still needed some work, particularly after the amazing, God-centered statements made in 2 Sam 22-23. God is not punishing David, but reminding him that, as good a man as he is, he is not yet perfect.

That David responds to the idea of the census reveals that God is spot on about David’s pride. Ultimately, once David's sin is exposed, his integrity will not allow him to move forward without humbling himself, and repenting before the Lord (2 Sam 24;10-11).

Yet again, we see that there are consequences for David’s sin (2 Sam 24:12-17). They are the result of David numbering Israel out of pride, Joab resenting the order of the king, taking things into his own hands and making things worse by doing less than he was told. The emphasis in both passages is not on the accuracy of the numbers, which will differ from those seen in 1 Chr, but the pride and disobedience of the participants and the confusion and consequences that ensue when God is not in the proceedings.

The lesson for us as believers is to be careful of numbering our accomplishments for our own satisfaction and edification. David struggles with the issue of pride. Joab struggles with being judgmental and self-righteousness. Notice how David stumbles and Joab makes things worse. Sin in response to sin never edifies or heals. 

But there's another lesson as well, one we see repeatedly. The appropriate response to sin is repentance -- heartfelt, contrite repentance. We neither ignore it nor incessantly revisit it. We repent; God restores. David knows this. Apparently, Joab does not.

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