Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 7, 2 Sam 8-12

Today's readings are 2 Sam 8-12.

The events in 2 Sam 8 are not in chronological order but are a compiled list of victories given David by God. The seemingly bizarre means of determining which Moabite soldiers are spared in 2 Sam 8:2 actually has an explanation. Most defeated armies back in that time were executed so as not to pose a threat to the victor. Those that were allowed to live were frequently mutilated to the point that they could no longer fight or they were sold into slavery.  In some cases, they were thrown in prison and tortured for the rest of their days. David, going contrary to what was then current military strategy and wisdom, spares one-third of the Moabite army by a random means of choosing. Mercy is given where mercy is neither expected nor due, a picture of God's sovereign grace.

Under David's rule, Judah is becoming rich and powerful. We frequently hear that David has victory everywhere he goes. The bad fortunes and poor leadership of Saul have been reversed, and God's people redeemed. David forms a cabinet of wise and powerful men and priests (2 Sam 8:15-18).

In 2 Sam 9, David makes good on his vow to Jonathan and provides for Mephibosheth. Note:  Mephibosheth is not only handicapped but is the direct descendant of an enemy of David, Saul. In that culture, a lame person was considered cursed, and the enemies of a new king were summarily executed. David not only bestows mercy on Mephibosheth but invites him to the royal table and into the court of the king. Mephibosheth, the man who was unable to help himself, is suddenly transformed into a member of the king’s inner circle. It’s a beautiful picture of grace and an image of our own salvation. We too are unable to help ourselves but have been brought into our King’s inner courts!
David shows the same level of kindness to the Ammonites, and it is spectacularly rejected (2 Sam 10:1-5). Mephibosheth, who was grateful for the mercy extended to him, becomes a wealthy man and lives with the king. The Ammonites, who are ungrateful, suffer a significant military loss and abandoned by their allies (2 Sam 10:6-19).

Here’s a brief summary of David’s victories:
1. Captures Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6–10)
 2. Philistine power decisively crushed (2 Samuel 5:17–25; 8:1)
 3. Moabites are made David’s subjects, paying taxes (2 Samuel 8:2)
 4. Edom defeated, controlled by troops and taxed (2 Samuel 8:13–14)
 5. Ammon’s power destroyed. Ammonite people used for forced labor (2 Samuel 12:26–31)
 6. King Hadadezer the Aramean defeated. His vassal states (as far as the Euphrates) became David’s (2 Samuel 10:15–19)
 7. Damascus conquered, controlled by troops and taxed (2 Samuel 8:5–8)



David has defeated many of the kingdoms that Joshua was unable to occupy.

Then we find out that David is not perfect. 2 Samuel 11:1 "In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem."

Even the best of us can stumble if we allow ourselves to be in the wrong place and dwell on the wrong things. David stumbles badly. When he realizes what he's done, he is desperate to cover it up or "fix it" instead of confessing and repenting (2 Sam 11:6-13).  As is usually the case, things only get worse. People die (2 Sam 14-27).

Just about when it appears that David has gotten away with it, Nathan shows up and tells David God knows and there is a price to pay (2 Sam 12:1-14). Now we see the difference between a godly man and an ungodly one, the difference between David and Saul. Unlike Saul, who reacted with rage and jealousy when confronted by his guilt, David repents. There is still an earthly price to pay, but God shows mercy and grace.

David's baby dies (2 Sam 12:15-23). Yet, this is not a lesson that tells us we will lose our children if we stumble. There is another lesson being taught here. David, who fasted and prayed for God to spare the baby, gets up, cleans himself off and says, "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." Many believe this means that David thinks he will see the baby again in the resurrection. It may not be the case. David may simply be saying, "One day I will die and join him in the grave." The real lesson being taught is one of accepting God's answer to prayer even when it is not the one we were looking for. David will still grieve. Grief is an entirely normal response to this kind of loss, but he will not get mired in it.

Because David has been contrite and repented, he is forgiven. He is blessed with another son, Solomon (2 Sam 12:24-25). David also vanquishes the Ammonites and becomes their king (2 Sam 12:26-31).

The events detailed in these chapters are emblematic of our walk with the Lord. Like David, we are not yet perfect. God loves us, even though we stumble. He restores us when we repent and grieve over our sins. There may be consequences for our actions. They may even be painful or grievous, but God continues to bless and show mercy. We have to be aware of this and refuse to allow ourselves to get mired in our sorrow and regret.

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