Week 21, May 23-27
1 Samuel 29-31
David is hiding out among the Philistines to protect himself again from Saul. The Philistines are about to attack Saul and his troops. But Achish, one of the military leaders, trusts David and his men. However, the commander of the Philistine troop does not. He fearss that David will turn tail and fight against the Philistines instead. David has won the admiration of Achish, but the commander pulls rank.
David gets to flex his kingly muscles. He comes upon the town of Ziklag, but it’s been raided by the Amalekites. Even David’s wives have been taken captive. After seeking the Lord’s confirmation, David and his men pursue the Amalekites. They come across a kindly Egyptian whose master is an Amalekite. We’re not told why, but he’s starving after being in the elements for several days. Because of David’s kindness, he promises to take David to where the Amalekites are. David rescues his wives and saves everyone who the Amalekites had taken. It’s clear that David is not a passive man but one who will take action and do the hard thing. He’s motivated by love for his God and his people.
The final note of 1 Samuel is of Saul’s death. Saul is struck by an archer, but he is not killed. He tries to convince his armor bearer to kill him with his sword, but the armor bear would not. So, we’re told here that Saul killed himself. It’s a total slaughter, and all of his sons are killed, as well.
2 Samuel 1-12
Because they were initially one book, 2 Samuel picks up where 1 Samuel leaves off. David now hears about Saul’s death. How do we reconcile the narrator of 1 Samuel 31 telling us that Saul killed himself and the a random man telling David in 2 Samuel 1 that he killed Saul. Everything this man says reeks of butt-kissing. He’s not telling the truth, and he’s trying to gain favor with David. This liar looted the crown and armlet from Saul and brought them to David, trying to get in good with him. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t work. David has him executed. Contrast that with David himself. Two times that we know of, David spared Saul’s life and refused to kill him. But this son of an Amalekite killed Saul at the first chance he got (or at least said he did).
After David mourns the death of Saul and Jonathan, he is anointed, or coronated, in Judah. But not all is well in the kingdom. The commander of Saul’s army makes one of Saul’s sons who did not fight in his battles the king of Israel (the northern tribes). So after Saul dies, there is a power struggle right away. For seven years, these divisions caused battle after battle. Without recounting these battles individually, suffice it to say that David comes out on top. By chapter 5, David is recognized as the king of Israel, as well. The nation is united again, at least by recognizing who is on the throne.
Under king David, Jerusalem will become the capital city of Israel. It will remain the capital of Judah after the kingdom splits into north and south under king Rehoboam. David, though, brings the ark of the covenant from Baale-judah to Jerusalem. On the road, David and the crew moving the ark were celebrating. The oxen carrying the ark stumbled, making the ark fall. A man named Uzzah tried to catch it, but God struck him down. One great teacher has remarked that Uzzah’s mistake was that he thought his hands were cleaner than the dirt on the ground. Touching the ark was a violation of Numbers 4:15.
Once there is peace in the land, David decides its time to build a proper temple for God. Keep in mind that God has never commanded the building of a temple for himself. God does not tell David that a temple is a bad thing, but instead God does two things: he promises that David’s son will build the temple, and David will have an eternal throne. God does not need anything from anyone; that’s the point of his speech to David. God is the one who took David out of the pasture and his people from Egypt. In case anyone thinks that God is served by human hands, David will simply enjoy his rest as king. Let another build the temple.
David is a military powerhouse in his day. He has victory after victory. But that doesn’t turn him into a heartless killer. For all of Saul’s faults, David does not just say good riddance to his family. One of Saul’s sons, Mephibosheth, is somehow physically disabled. David takes him into the palace and cares for him the rest of his life, keeping his promise to Saul and Jonathan that he would not slaughter their family.
David’s primary character flaw seems to be how he deals with the women in his life. Instead of practicing the same self-control he did when he refused to kill Saul, he gives in to his own temptation. David already has multiple wives, but he needs one more. Instead of going out to another sure military victory, he stays behind in his palace. He sees Bathsheba on the roof, and he sleeps with her and impregnates her. Instead of confessing his sin, he concocts a plan to kill her husband, one of his own soldiers.
David’s plan to have Uriah killed is successful. But God sees it all. He sends the prophet Nathan to rebuke David. After being confronted with the truth, David confesses. At times, we are blind to our sin because it admitting our faults stings. But a simple but firm confrontation brought about repentance and forgiveness. There were consequences, however. The son would die after he was born. In no way should anyone think that if they have had a child die in infancy that it is the result of some unconfessed sin. This was a specific instance in world history.
Once David and Bathsheba heal from that loss, they conceive again. Solomon is the second son born from this marriage.
The feast of booths is when the people constructed booths, or tents, on their property. They would live in those tents as a reminder of the time spend in the wilderness. They would also gather together for celebrations and meals. His disciples want him to show off his power to the people. Jesus says that he is not going, but then he does end up going. What’s going on here?
It’s a translation issue. John 7:8 has the Greek present tense, which can also be translated as “I am not now going up to the feast.” Many of the oldest copies of this section of John that he have do include “not yet” instead of just “not”. Either way, it’s not a contradiction.
When Jesus arrives, he begins to teach in the temple. As was common, there are those who think he’s wonderful and those who think he’s possessed by a demon. The theme of two radically different responses to Jesus runs throughout John’s gospel. Jesus responds to this crowd by a call to judge with right judgment. In context, Jesus is telling the people to return to Scripture; that is how you will judge with right judgment.
The crowds are aware that the religious leaders want Jesus dead. Because the leaders are refusing to act, the people are somewhat turning against the leaders. Do they think he’s the Christ? They must, if they’re afraid of him. The leaders are trying to arrest Jesus even this early in his ministry, but they are too worried about what the people might do in response. So Jesus continues to teach in the temple. At the end of the feast of booths, Jesus promises to the people that God will one day send the Spirit among them, showing how Isaiah 58:11 will be fulfilled, which says, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
There is the interesting note in some translations that the earliest manuscripts do not have the last verse of chapter 7 or the first 11 verses of chapter 8. A brief history helps us see why that is. There are two primary traditions of the work of those who copied the Bible: Byzantine and Alexandrian (there are more than these, but all the rest add up to small percentages of these two). We have far more copies of the Byzantine text-type, but the Alexandrian text-type is older by about a hundred years. And even when it comes to fragments of books of the Bible that date back even closer to the originals, they are overwhelmingly Alexandrian.
The Byzantine text-type was used to create what is called the Textus Receptus, a Greek manuscript of the whole Bible made from combining some of the best copies of the Byzantine text-type. The King James Bible is translated directly from the Textus Receptus, as are some of the revisions of the KJV. The KJV is a solid translation, worthy of the honor it’s been given.
Many of the modern-day translations have opted to use the Alexandrian text-type because they are nearer in time to the original manuscripts. These text-types do not include John 7:53-8:11, but the Byzantine text-types do. But most translations these-a-days include this section, even if it’s separated somehow, because it’s so well-known. But in all likelihood, it’s not original.
The “I am” statements of Jesus continues. Jesus is “the light of the world.” Here, Jesus clearly ties himself to the work he shares with the Father. Both he and the Father testify to who he is. The Pharisees reject the Father because they reject the Son, and vice versa. The Jews will realize when they crucify the Son of Man that he is truly who he has said he is.
In this whole section, the Jews are boasting in their Jewish-ness. But Jesus corrects them and says that if they truly were Jews, those who are Abraham’s offspring, they would see Jesus for who he is: the seed of Abraham. He existed before Abraham ever did, but he is the promised seed of Abraham. Being born to an Israelite does not make you a Jew inwardly. They are not God’s children; they are children of the devil. Why is this? Because Jesus will be killed by the Jews, and the devil is himself a murderer. Essentially, we are like our parents.
Many Jews had a particular understanding of suffering as a consequence of sin. It’s not totally unfounded, because they themselves had experienced exile and captivity because of their own faithlessness. But nowhere in Scripture is there an argument to be made that anyone would be born blind, or suffer any physical or mental disability, because of the sins of his or her parents.
Jesus heals such a man, and the Jews have a difficult time understanding exactly what took place. The Pharisees believe Jesus is a wretched sinner, but the man who has been healed believes Jesus to be a prophet. But the Jews (meaning religious leaders like the Pharisees) had a hold on the people. When the man’s parents are questioned, they ride the fence like professionals. The Pharisees need to justify eventually arresting Jesus, so they try to fill the man’s mouth with their words. They mock this man, claiming that he has nothing that he could teach them.
Jesus uses this situation to teach about spiritual sight. He again approaches this now-healed man and asks if he believes in the Son of Man (apparently if he believes that the Son of Man is truly mentioned in the book of Daniel and is still yet to come). When he replies in the affirmative, Jesus declares clearly that he is the Son of Man, which causes the man to worship Jesus. Because the Pharisees claim to have spiritual sight yet reject Jesus, they are guilty of condemning the Son of Man to death. Only through spiritual eyes, only through the heart of stone turned heart of flesh, do we see Jesus for who he truly is.
Psalm 101: God preserves those who live with integrity before him.
Psalm 102: The great and mighty God hears the prayers of his people.
Psalm 103: God’s love for those who love lasts forever.
Psalm 104: God providentially controls every part of creation.
Psalm 105: God’s people must teach the next generation of his goodness.
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