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The Big Book–Cover to Cover: 2 Samuel

The book of 2 Samuel takes place at about the mid-way point in the timeline between Abraham and Jesus Christ.

It’s here that we come to know David, the man after God’s own heart, whose reign is mired by his great failures – and redeemed by God’s great graciousness to him.

In examining David’s kingship it’s important to note: what motivates the king to seek the Lord’s guidance?

Join us as we explore David’s inquiries of the Lord in this important text:

Show Notes:

Here we are in 2 Samuel. Saul is dead. David Laments.

David is anointed king in Judah and ultimately over all of Israel.

His reign is 40.5 years: 7.5 years in Hebron and 33 years in Jerusalem.

The timeline on the bigger picture is almost the halfway-point between Abraham and Jesus.

Ultimately, David’s kingship is mired by his own devastating sins.

Boa and Wilkinson’s Talk Thru the Bible suggests that 2 Samuel can be broken down into three sections:

I. David’s Triumphs (2 Samuel 1-10)

In these early chapters, the tension comes in right at the beginning.

Abner is an enemy and irritation throughout David’s life. He makes one of Saul’s sons king – so we don’t have a divided kingdom yet, technically, but David’s been anointed and has not yet taken ownership of the monarchy.

Abner is one of Saul’s advisers and puts Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth as the king in Israel.

The first ten chapters show the strength of the house of David in contrast to the failures of the house of Saul.

The diplomacy that David uses in his early reign is remarkable.

The success is great, and one of the first things David does in 2 Samuel 4 tells us about David’s respect for Saul as David honors Saul and Jonathan.

2 Samuel 1 echoes with the great cadence: How the mighty have fallen.

II. David’s Transgressions (2 Samuel 11)

Chapter 11 is pivotal, it’s David’s failure. It begins with the adultery with Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah the Hittite, and then the hubris of the king who takes his power too far and it dismantles his kingdom.

David will lose a massive amount of his power, a massive amount of his kingdom, people will die because of it.

III. David’s Troubles (2 Samuel 12-24)

Chapter 12 is one of the most beautiful passages, but it’s also a horrible time.

Nathan is called a prophet of God, which was a job nobody wanted. For the most part, prophets were reluctant. It’s not a popular thing to do.

What God does with Nathan is nothing short of remarkable. Where Nathan confronts David (2 Samuel 12:13-15) – we can only guess, but the tension in that conversation could well have been raised voices.

And when David finally gets the message that God has sent Nathan to tell him these things, this is his response, and Nathan still has to deliver the news that the child of the king will die — and then we see that he goes straight home.

Nathan must have been exhausted. He’d just devastated the kingdom by delivering that news to the king.

Nathan is referenced but doesn’t speak for the rest of the story.

Fascinating aside: the name Jedidiah, which means beloved, refers to Solomon – it’s called a hapax legomena –  meaning it only occurs one time in the scripture. It’s the name God gives to Nathan for Solomon.

It’s a diminutive name that should read, “I love this one.”

Psalm 51 will be penned out of David’s sin with Bathsheba and the consequent stories. If you study Psalm 51, your Bible may have a superscription that states “A psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”

There’s been great debate: are these added by editors, or are superscriptions the word of God?

But when I have a timestamp like this, yahtzee! I know when this took place.

I think God wanted to be sure we didn’t miss that this psalm is connected to David’s sin with Bathsheba.

Psalm 51:2 – have you ever wondered why David could not offer sacrifice?

There was no provision in the law. There was no acceptable sacrifice for these sins, there was only death. But God was gracious.

A theme to look at:

Comparison of the way the two kingdoms, Saul’s and David’s, are depicted.

When reading the Bible we’re looking for repetitions, themes, or ideas – things that pop out at you.

I. The word “Inquired”

The word and phrase “inquired of the Lord” shows up 14 times in 1 and 2 Samuel.

Saul inquired of the Lord two times. David inquired of the Lord seven times.

The motivation of a king when he goes to God to ask a question gives us insight – look at the context, what motivates the king to go to God for help?

More times than not, these inquiries are military.
2 Samuel 2:1, 2 Samuel 5:19, 2 Samuel 5:23

Likely, these inquiries were made with the urim and thummim, which offered “yes” or “no” answers.

Before David led Israel into battle, he inquires of the Lord and is given great success.

We don’t want to oversimplify the years of battle or David’s success or the complexity of his kingdom, but the tragic failure of David’s reign seems linked to David not going into Battle – and more than that, simply making the wrong inquiry of the Lord:

2 Samuel 11:1-3

David had inquired about the war, now he inquires about a woman. He had no business doing this.

We know how the story goes. Next, David inquires of the Lord on behalf of their child (2 Samuel 12:16)

We go from inquiring about battle, to inquiring about a woman, to inquiring about a boy who is going to die.

Finally: 2 Samuel 16:23

We cannot miss the digression from inquiring of God to inquiring of man.

A sidebar: 
Absalom was a favored son of David, but he conspires to take his father’s kingdom and we find Ahithophel at his side.

Why would David’s long-time war counselor leave his king to help Absalom overthrow the dynasty? Consider the advice Ahithophel gives Absalom regarding David’s wives on the rooftop of the palace (2 Samuel 16:21-22)

This is twisted talionic (an eye for an eye, etc.) justice. Absalom is going to overthrow the kingdom and they have Plan A established, but Ahithophel says, “how about Plan B? You’re going to take your father’s wives and concubines who he left behind. Take them on the roof of his house…

Who is on whose roof doing what?

David’s on his roof inquiring about a woman called Bathsheba and he took her for himself. Ahithophel’s counsel to Absalom is that he take his father’s wives on the same rooftop in order to make himself odious.

Why? Ahithophel is Bathsheba’s grandfather.

David, the king, took his granddaughter and had an affair with her, brought her into his kingdom, and murdered Ahithophel’s grandson-in-law.

Inquire of the Lord

What do you ask God for?

One of the reasons we have tried to get the Handbook to Prayer into your hands is because it’s scripture organized in a paint-by-numbers approach to prayer.

The way you and I learn to pray is to read the prayers in scripture. Scripture is full of prayer, petition, lament, praise, confession, and that’s how we learn to pray.

People who have endured and learned through trial and trouble have learned to lean on God, and it shows in their prayer.

For me, prayer boils down to one thing: independence, or dependence.

As long as I’m self-dependent, I’m not God-dependent. God’s given us a mind, and prayer is a relationship.

Be encouraged. Here were two kings who inquired of God for good things and bad things. What are you inquiring of the Lord for?

I like to ask God to do things that I know cannot ever come about apart from his intervention.

The Eternal Messianic Throne

I think this is the key to this book moreso than David’s failures with Bathsheba and Uriah.

The transition to this chapter is incredible. The ark has finally been returned to Jerusalem in perhaps David’s most astonishing accomplishment. There’s celebration. Imagine a full ancient orchestra with thousands of musicians and people celebrating the Ark of God coming back.

David’s wife, Michal, despises David’s dancing, and God sends a clear message of disapproval for her reaction to the king.

So now David says, we’ve been hauling around this tabernacle – but we need a temple! He’s going to build a building for God.

2 Samuel 7:1-8

There was no greater graduation than God pulling David from “following sheep” (what are you walking in if you’re following behind sheep?) to leading all of Israel.

2 Samuel 7:9-13

It’s as if God steps in and says, “Thanks, David, but you wont build me a temple. You’ll build a dynasty with me.”

His son, Solomon, will be the one to build the temple – but God is establishing a dynasty through David.

2 Samuel 7:14-16

This is the Davidic Covenant and establishes a direct line to Christ, the Eternal King.

God is saying, “I’m going to set up a dynasty with you that’s going to be more important than the temple complex your son will build later.”

It’s the everlasting covenant through the lineage of David that one will come who will be called Jesus Christ, Messiah, King of the Jews, the One for whom we wait.

We’re at the midpoint from Abraham to Christ, and God makes this covenant with his servant.

There’s nothing new under the sun. You and I don’t invent new sins. We are who we are and we need help, and there is no provision that is going to give us forgiveness for our sins apart from Jesus Christ.

David learned early in his life: if there were an offering he could bring for his sin, he would have, but he couldn’t bring anything to offer God.

We trust in Jesus Christ to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

You can’t be good enough to get to God. God was good enough to get to you, because He loves you.

Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.

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