2 Samuel 24
How could it possibly be that a census, performed by the king, be something sinful and required a rebuke from God? The answer comes in Joab’s response to David’s command to conduct a census. Joab knows that God provides for all of our needs, including soldiers. Instead of having the Lord supply the needs of his own people's army, David decides that he will supply an army with his own soldiers. He has a severe moment of pride.
The other concern is that this incident is recorded twice, here in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. Samuel says that the LORD incited David, while Chronicles says that Satan incited David. How do we reconcile two different accounts?
We often have a “yin-yang” understanding of God and Satan. They are polarities, or opposites. However, that is not a biblical understanding. God is sovereign, and Satan is created. Satan means “adversary” or “accuser”. While Scriptural details are sparse concerning Satan’s origin, he is by no means an evil version of God. He is no god at all. Satan will not rule in hell. He is under God’s sovereign rule, just like everyone and everything else. So it is best to see that one author emphasizes God as the primary cause and another emphasizes Satan as the secondary cause.
David still has a conscience, a sure sign of the Spirit’s presence. Through the prophet Gad, God speaks to David. Upon being offered three choices for Israel’s punishment (because remember, God is angry against Israel, not just David [24:1]), David chooses to fall into the hands of God instead of men. It may a horror to fall into the hands of God for those who are against him, but for those who love him, it is the safest place to be, despite the circumstances.
But because David also loves the people, he pleads for God to spare them and to strike him. David purchases some land to build an altar where he can sacrifice to God. The man who owns it wants to simply give it to David, but David demands to buy it. Sacrifices are not to be cheap, otherwise, what about it is a sacrifice? David presents us with a strong reminder of what God is due.
1 Kings 1-8
The books of 1-2 Kings were originally one book. Because they simply continue the history of 1-2 Samuel, at one point all four books were titled 1-4 Kings. Jews and early Christians traditionally believed that Jeremiah wrote the books of 1-2 Kings. This is possible since the books end with exile in Jeremiah’s time. There are many near-quotes or allusions to the book of Deuteronomy, which implies that the author, regardless of the name, was interpreting the contemporary experience of God’s people in his own day through the lens of ancient Scripture. This is a wonderful model for the contemporary church.
David is an old man by this time. As is common at the end of a monarch’s life, there are attempts to take the throne. One of David’s many sons, Adonijah, is trying to do just that. David’s closest confidants sided with Adonijah, but the priests did not.
Nathan goes to David to see if he’s missed something. Is Adonijah now king? To get ahead of any more nonsense from Adonijah, David, Bathsheba, and Nathan hurry to anoint Solomon as king. Nathan has been loyal to David from the start, but that did not preclude severe honesty. He called David out in his sin with Bathsheba. But that also means saying many hard things to David, including that one of your sons is against you.
Before Adonijah can gather much steam, Solomon is anointed. In the face of opposition, sometimes the best thing you can do is act quickly. David had already been promised that Solomon would be king, so all he’s doing is being faithful.
As David is about to dye, he calls Solomon to faithfulness to God. This consistently means being faithful to the law. The king is the primary covenant-keeper in Israel. As the king goes, so goes the nation. Rarely does a king fall because of the nation. But how often do we see a nation fall because of its king.
David dies, and Solomon is officially coronated and received as king. Adonijah is still sour from not becoming king. He calls Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and complains about how everyone in Israel wanted him to be king, but Solomon was shoved into it. Whenever anyone says “everyone is saying…”, you know they’re lying. Adonijah had a small following at best. When Adonijah’s friends and guests heard about Solomon becoming king, they showed their true colors. They got afraid of being associated with Adonijah and fled. Opposition is no reason not to act. Unless your closest confidants agree with your opposition, leadership requires grit and thick skin to deal with a variety of opinions.
Solomon famously prayed for wisdom instead of riches. God appears to him in a vision and offers him anything. Opposition, which Solomon has faced from day one, has a way of making you feel insufficient for the task ahead. Solomon knew that kings will be wealthy, but not every king has wisdom. Wisdom is always what sets you apart from the masses. Under Solomon’s reign, Israel has success by every metric. “Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy” (1 Kings 4:20).
The promise to David was his heir would build the temple. Solomon spends some significant time gathering together the greatest craftsmen and the best material in the world. After four years, construction began. Solomon is in the process of turning a relatively small city into a major metropolis. The royal palace that he would build would be close to the temple. In both projects, no expense was spared. Only quality and rare materials were used. Nothing common or cheap was used.
Finally, the ark of the covenant is placed in the temple. The ark is God’s special presence among his people. By placing the ark in the temple, the people know that God is among them and is in his holy house. It is the final act of building the temple. God has entered.
Solomon then dedicates the temple through prayer. He reminds the people of God’s faithfulness to them throughout their short time as a nation. During the dedication, Solomon repeatedly calls the people to faithfulness. But even in their times of faithlessness, God will call them back to himself as an act of mercy. Now all of the sacrificial system has been centrally located. No more will people sacrifice in the high places. The temple will be the center of all Israelite religious life. One of the great sins of future kings will be their unwillingness to take down the various sacrificial sites throughout the land. God has ordained his own means of worshiping him, and any addition, even those well-intentioned, have no place.
Jesus is the vine.
The world hates Jesus and his disciples.
Jesus will send the Spirit.
Sorrow turned to joy.
Jesus has overcome the world.
Jesus prays the high priestly prayer.
Jesus calling himself the vine is the last of the seven “I am” statements throughout John. The idea in this statement is that life is found in relationship to Jesus. Some who follow Jesus only do so for a time and fall away. This not a loss of salvation, but it is in keeping with the other words of Jesus, such as the various kinds of soils. Some participate for a time but eventually abandon Jesus. Those who do not persevere were never truly participating in the first place (1 John 2:19). Perseverance is the surest external marker of a true believer. This is what is meant by Jesus calling his disciples to “abide” in him.
Jesus transitions masterfully from a command to abide in him (to persevere) to a command to love one another. The two are not disconnected. Those who abide in him are not servants but are as close as friends. And a true friend lays his life down for another. That is how we love like Jesus.
In contrast, the world will hate his disciples. For many, persecution will hinder perseverance. But we are assured that the world only hates us because they hate our Lord. And the believer should not fear; we do not persevere in our own power. The helper, the Spirit of truth, will come to continually bear witness to the truth to us.
The church will receive the Spirit at Pentecost. Surely the Spirit is not necessary because Jesus can only be in one place at one time; he promises the same disciples that he will be with them until the end of the age. Both the Father and the Son send the Spirit (15:26). There is no reason to fear some mystery in the faith. After all, our God is trinitarian; each of the three persons has a role to play in our redemption. The Father ordains salvation. The Son purchases salvation. The Spirit’s role is to comfort and convict (16:8-11).
And because we have the Spirit, our sorrow will not stay sorrow. It will become joy! They will be scattered because of persecution. When a baby is born, the labor pains are a memory. Perhaps a vivid memory, but nevertheless, the joy of childbirth overtakes the memory of such pain. In the same way, when all things reach their consummation in Christ, all previous sorrow will be overtaken by the joy of eternal life.
Perhaps Jesus’s most famous prayer is his high priestly prayer of John 17. This is the final act before his arrest. Immediately after comforting his disciples with the fact of his overcoming the world, he begins to pray. He prays on behalf of his disciples, asking God to give them eternal life. The Father will receive the Son after all that is necessary for salvation has been accomplished, and for that, Jesus has great joy.
Jesus has shown God’s people exactly who the Father is. And it becomes clear that not all humans are to be considered God’s people. Jesus explicitly says that he is not praying on behalf of everyone but only those “whom you have given me” (17:9). In our salvation, Christ is most glorified. Jesus Christ guards, like a shepherd, those whom the Father has entrusted to him. Even Judas, the son of destruction, was lost according to the Scriptures, according to the foreknowledge and plan of God.
The Christian life is one of great joy. In seeing the glory of Christ, the sinner is made new. Man’s greatest need is not social, emotional, or physical. It is spiritual. That is not to become fatalistic, as if we should not care about the social, emotional, or physical well-being of individual believers. But we do them even greater harm when we place their spiritual state anywhere else but first.
It is only through the words of Christ that all people learn the truth of their spiritual state. Only in Scripture do we learn that we are enemies, or at enmity, with God. But while we were yet sinners, God sent his Son to receive his wrath instead of his people.
Jesus not only prays for his current disciples but for those yet to come, as well. That’s you and me! Jesus prays for unity among God’s people across space and time. Unity is found in a shared love of God and obedience to his word. If those things are sacrificed in the name of unity, call it whatever you want, but it’s not unity.
Psalm 111: Everything God has done is awe-inspiring.
Psalm: 112: Those God has made righteous will withstand whatever comes their way.
Psalm 113: God is to praised at all times for all things.
Psalm 114: The earth trembles before God, and we are wise to do the same.
Psalm 115: Idols are useless, but the Lord cares for his people.