DAVID’S ROCKY START
2 Samuel 1:1 – 7:30
David, who had stayed behind when the Philistines and Israelites fought, is brought news of Saul’s defeat by a messenger who, hoping to gain favor with David, tells David that it was he who killed Saul. David, still loyal to his king, has the messenger killed for his foolishness, and mourns the loss of Saul and Jonathan.
The people of Judah anoint David as their new king, while the rest of Israel chooses Saul’s son, Ishbaal. Obviously, this creates a problem. The two sides attempt to solve the issue of succession with a multi-person duel, but when everyone on both sides of the duel kills each other, they find that nothing has been decided. Abner, the general under Ishbaal, and Joab, David’s general, fight and fight and fight, until Abner realizes he is on the losing side of this conflict and defects to David’s side. But Joab does not forget the harm Abner caused, including the killing of Joab’s brother, and slays Abner in cold blood.
Hoping to end the conflict quickly, two of Ishbaal’s soldiers assassinate him, cut off his head, and bring it to David. Remember the messenger from earlier? Yeah, these two get the same treatment–they are killed as well.
With Saul’s line clearly and quickly dying out, the rest of Israel decides that the best choice it so make David king. They anoint him as king over all Israel at Hebron, which becomes David’s capital for a short time thereafter.
Hebron doesn’t suit David, and he marches out against Jerusalem, which is controlled by the Jebusites. He achieves victory and fortifies the city, making it his new capital. He settles down with a host of wives and concubines to begin his rule.
The Philistines attempt to make trouble for the new king, but he dispatches them with ease. His next task is bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It is loaded on a cart and wheeled to the city. On the way, the cart hits a bump, and a man named Uzzah grabs the Ark to keep it from falling. He is immediately struck dead. David is so frightened by this display of power that he leaves the Ark where it is, and the place becomes blessed. Eventually, however, he decides to finally bring it all the way to Jerusalem, and he dances rather outrageously to celebrate its arrival. One of his wives chastises him for the display, and in return, she is cursed to have no children.
David, seeing that things are now pretty well settled down, decides to build a temple for God, seeing as how he lives in a big palace and God lives in a little tent. Nathan the prophet originally blesses the endeavor, but later is told by God that God is perfectly happy living in a tent and doesn’t need a big fancy house. Instead, God is going to build David a house, a line of descendants that will never be broken, and that will rule over the Israelites forever. This is the covenant made between God and David.
1. With Saul gone, one would think that David’s problems would get less, not more Yet immediately following Saul’s death is a long and bloody power struggle over who will succeed to the throne. Ishbaal, as Saul’s living son, had the legitimate claim, yet David had been anointed by Samuel to be the next king. Where do you see thi same sort of power struggle today? How is it handled?
2. The Ark of the Covenant doesn’t appear too often in the Bible, but when it does, it is always an object of great power to be feared. Merely touching it when one is not supposed to results in instant death. It is a symbol of God’s power that is to be taken absolutely seriously. What are some of the powerful symbols in our society and culture? How do we react when we perceive that they have been violated?
3. “This is what the LORD says: Do you really intend to build me a house for me to live in? I have not lived in a house from the time I brought the Israelites up from Egypt to the present day. Instead, I was travelling with them and living in a tent. Wherever I moved among all the Israelites, I did not say to any of the leaders whom I appointed to care for my people, Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house made of cedar?'” (2 Samuel 7:5b-7)
This is God’s response when David wants to build a temple. What does this say about God? In what places do you feel and experience God?
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