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December 09th, 2022
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gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

After seven months of study, on this Thanksgiving week we’re close to finishing a review of David’s life. Along with some parallel passages in 1 Chronicles, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel were not written by Samuel, or even David, but were compiled by one or more historians. As in other genealogies, we may find differences in spellings and accounts based on who reported the events. 

The final chapters of 2 Samuel seek to recognize, thank, and honor a number of people who had served David. And the main thing to remember when reading any Bible passage is that we can be comforted and encouraged by God’s Word. David had failures as a young man, with Bathsheba and Uriah; even near the end of his forty-year reign there were instances which required repentance. Yet he was on the throne because God put him there, and the Bible is a story of God’s everlasting covenant working through and for humans. 

Servants often are unnamed. However, last week we saw the accomplishments of four people who served under David, listing their names and the victories they’d won (2 Samuel 23:8-10). The writer continued to shine attention on more of David’s faithful subjects. 

Several were with him in battles against the Philistines, who at one point held control of David’s hometown Bethlehem. Three of those men heard their king say, perhaps thoughtlessly, “‘Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem!’” (2 Samuel 23:15), and they risked their lives to bring back water from the well. “Yet he would not drink it, but poured it out as an offering to the Lord” (verse 16), respecting their valor but realizing how precious the gift was, and the risk under which he’d placed his men. The scripture goes on to say that even David’s courageous nephew Abishai, chief among the soldiers, was no match for those three. Verses 18 through 38 pay tribute to each by name, thirty-seven mighty men in all. 

We’re told in Titus 3:9 and 1 Timothy 1:3 not to waste time on endless genealogies; however, Israel placed great significance on revering those who contributed to their history. Even more valuable is to have our names written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3 and Revelation chapters 20 through 22). 

One event occurred late in his reign, when the nation of Israel provoked God’s anger, and David gave an order that may have been a knee-jerk response. He told Joab, “‘Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know their number’” (2 Samuel 24:2).

Joab protested, seeing it perhaps a pride issue, or David making a point with God. Nevertheless, Joab and his men did so, and “… when they had gone about through the whole land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand” (2 Samuel 24:8-9). 

With the census complete, David’s heart grew troubled because of his error, and he prayed for forgiveness. The prophet Gad came with a word from the Lord. David had not lost his connection with God; he was still seeking the heart of God, but he would be punished for the pride he’d demonstrated in acting without God’s direction. Gad relayed three choices from God: seven years of famine; three months again on the run; or three days of pestilence in the land. The first and third options were penalties from God, and David trusted His mercy more than men, should he be forced to flee. 

Rather than choosing, David asked only that the second punishment not be imposed. “So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died” (2 Samuel 24:15). David witnessed God staying the hand of the angel before Jerusalem was destroyed. and built an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, which he bought for fifty shekels of silver. There he offered sacrifices to God, and the plague ended. 

I would recommend returning to 2 Samuel 23:1-7 for David’s last inspired words. He was not a perfect man, but the Spirit of the Lord spoke through David’s writings. He sought God’s heart, and he ruled his land in the fear of the Lord. His words are prophetic, pointing to a Messiah who would be a light to his people. Comfort and blessings lie ahead for those who follow after God, and curses on those who don’t (Matthew 13:30). The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the story of God’s plan and promise which will be fulfilled. Jesus came through the line of David, and through his sacrifice, each of us by faith becomes a member of Abraham’s family. 

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, and join us next week as our study transitions to Solomon’s reign. 

GUEST COLUMN, Ganon Evans, Kansas Policy Institute

 

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