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An Argument of the Book of Second Samuel

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The Lord’s establishment, upheaval, and continuance of the united kingdom under david is worked out in correspondence with David’s expressions of covenant loyalty and his (and others’) expressions of covenant disloyalty, as well as in accordance with the Lord’s gracious provision

I. The Establishment of David’s Kingdom: Through the downfall of Saul and David’s appropriate response God guarantees and establishes David as the sole ruler over a secure and united Israel 1:1--8:18

A. The Establishment of David as sole ruler (in Judah) through the Downfall of Saul’s Dynasty: Through the downfall of Saul’s dynasty God establishes David in his appropriate response as the sole ruler of Israel 1:1--4:12

1. David’s Appropriate Reaction to Saul’s Death: 1:1-27

a. David Receives News of Saul’s Death: 1:1-16

b. David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan: 1:17-27

2. David’s Cautious Approach to Rulership: 2:1--3:5

a. David Becomes King over Judah: 2:1-7

1) David king in Hebron: 2:1-4a

2) David’s Embassy to Jabesh-gilead: 2:4b-7

b. Encounter with the Saulide Dynasty: 2:8--3:1

1) Preservation of the Saulide Dynasty--Ish-Bosheth: 2:8-11

2) David’s Victory in Civil War with the Saulide Dynasty: 2:12--3:1

c. The Growth of David’s Family: 3:2-5

3. Movement towards Rulership over All Israel by Consent: 3:6--4:12

a. Abner Defects to David: 3:6-21

1) Abner Defects from Ish-Bosheth: 3:6-11

2) Abner Enters into Agreement with David: 3:12-16

3) Abner Wins the Elders of Israel to David: 3:17-21

b. The Death of Abner by Joab: 3:22-39

c. The Murder of Ish-Bosheth--The Downfall of Saul’s House: 4:1-12

B. The Establishment of David as King in all of Israel: David’s Rule is guaranteed and established through his covenant with Israel, the conquest with Israel, military defeat of the surrounding nations and God’s covenant with David 5:1--8:18

1. The Guarantee of David’s Sole Rule: 5:1-16

a. David’s Covenant with Israel: 5:1-5

b. David’s Conquest of a New Capital--Jerusalem: 5:6-12

c. David’s Rule through Progeny: 5:13-16

2. The Establishment of David’s Rule: 5:17--8:18

a. Military Establishment--Double Victory over the Philistines: 5:17-25

b. Religious Establishment through David--Making Jerusalem the City of God through Brining the Ark: 6:1-23

1) Failure of the First Attempt: 6:1-11

2) Success of the Second Attempt: 6:12-23

c. Religious Establishment through God--His Covenantal Establishment of David’s Throne and Kingdom Forever: 7:1-29

1) Not Established through David’s Work for God: 7:1-7

2) Established though God’s Word for David: 7:8-17

3) David’s Greatful Response to God’s Work: 7:18-29

d. Military Establishment: Continued Victory over Surrounding Nations: 8:1-18

1) Philistia: 8:1

2) Moab: 8:2

3) Aram-Zobah: 8:3-4

4) Damascus: 8:5-8

5) Hittites (Hamath): 8:9-12

6) Edom: 8:13-14

7) Organization of Established Rule: 8:15-18

II. The Nature of David’s Rule:2 David’s rule is characterized by loyal love, justice and brave conquest with his enemies 9:1--10:19

A. David Honors a Possible Rival--Loyal Love towards Mephibosheth: David exemplified his covenant loyalty in government by his early dealings with Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth 9:1-13

1. David’s Covenant with Jonathan Honored through Mephibosheth: 9:1-18

2. Preventing Insurrection--Mephibosheth in Jerusalem: 9:9-13

B. David’s Loyal Love and Justice with the Ammonites: When the Ammonites outrageously rejected David’s kindness of sending servants to console Hanun with the death of his father, David sent Israel into battle and defeated the Arameans who were hired by the Ammonites to fight against Israel 10:1-19

1. Rejection of Loyal Love by the Ammonites: 10:1-5

2. Victory over the Arameans (allies of the Ammonites): 10:6-19

III. David’s Covenant Disobedience:3 After David broke his covenant faithfulness by violating Bathsheba and trying to cover up his actions through the deception and murder of her husband, Uriah, the Lord proclaimed judgment upon David’s household, yet provided grace through the continuance of David’s progeny by Bathsheba and through the final defeat of the Ammonites 11:1--12:31

A. David’s Evil against Bathsheba and Uriah: After David breaks his covenant faithfulness by violating Bathsheba, he attempts to use her husband, Uriah, to cover up his evil only to resort to murder after Uriah shows himself to be a man of covenant loyality to Israel 11:1-27

1. David’s Adultery with Bathsheba: 11:1-5

2. David’s Attempted Cover-up: 11:6-13

3. David’s Murder of Uriah: 11:14-27

B. The Consequences of David’s Covenant Disloyalty: Even through the Lord brought a severe punishment upon David’s household for his sin against Bathsheba, He was also gracious by continuing David’s progeny through Bathsheba and enabling Israel to have final victory over the Ammonites 12:1-31

1. Negative--The Lord’s Severe Punishment: After Nathan exposed David of his evil, he announced that a severe judgment would extend to the realm of his household which judgment began with the death of the child conceived through David’s sin against Bathsheba 12:1-23

a. Nathan’s Exposure of David’s Sin: 12:1-15

b. The Beginning of God’s Judgment with the Death of the Child: 12:15-23

2. Positive--The Lord’s Gracious Restoration: God demonstrated His grace toward David by providing a son through Bathsheba and by enabling Israel to have final victory over the Ammonites 12:24-31

a. The Birth of Solomon/Jedidiah: 12:24-25

b. Final Victory Over the Ammonites:4 12:26-31

IV. The Consequences of David’s Sin--”Chips Off the Old Block”:5 Like ripples in a lake, David’s sin brought about sever consequences as his family repeated his actions and the security of the nation was severely threatened to the point where it barely survived 13:1--20:26

A. Consequence One--Amnon Violates Tamar: David’s adultery is vicariously punished when Amnon rapes his sister Tamar 13:1-19

B. Consequence Two--Absalom Murders Amnon: David’s murder is vicariously punished when Absalom kills his brother Amnon 13:20-38

C. Consequence Three--Absalom Rebels against David and Dies: When Absalom is not dealt with in accordance with his sin by his father David, he rebels against his father causing him to flee Jerusalem amidst mixed loyalty, but is ultimately defeated by David’s army and murdered by David’s commander, Joab, leaving David in grief 13:39--18:33

1. The Seeds of Rebellion: 13:39--14:33

a. Joab Convinces David to Bring Absalom Back: 13:39--14:24

b. David’s Passiveness Incites Rebellion in Absalom: 14:25-33

2. The Harvest of Rebellion: 15:1--18:33

a. The Eve of Revolt: 15:1-12

1) Absalom Turns the People’s Hearts as Judge: 15:1-6

2) Absalom Gathers People around Him at Hebron: 15:7-12

b. The Revolt: 15:13--18:33

1) David’s Flight from Jerusalem: 15:13-18

2) Responses to David’s Flight: 15:19--16:14

a) Ittai’s Loyalty in Flight: 15:19-23

b) A Refusal of the Ark: 15:24-29

c) Hushai’s Loyalty in Jerusalem: 15:30-37

d) Ziba’s Apparent Loyalty:6 16:1-4

e) Shemei’s Curses: 16:5-14

3) Absalom’s Brief & Tragic Reign: 16:15--18:33

a) A Public Display of Usurped Power by Taking David’s Concubines:7 16:15-23

b) Defeat Averted: Hushai’s flattery overturns the defeat of David through Ahithophel’s treasonous counsel 17:1-23

c) Support for David in the Transjordan--Mahanaim: 17:24-29

d) The Defeat of Absalom’s Army in the Forest of Ephraim: 18:1-8

e) The Murder of Absalom by Joab:8 18:9-23

f) David’s Despair Over Absalom’s Death: 18:24-33

D. Consequence Four--A State of Constant Turmoil: The nation entered a state of constant turmoil and rivalry with the northern and southern tribes divided over ownership of the king and even self-rulership 19:1--20:22

1. Joab’s Wise Rebuke of David for the Sake of the Nation: 19:1-8

2. In Perplexity the Tribes Return to David: 19:9-15

3. A Cross-Section of Mixed Responses to David’s Return to Power: 19:16-39

a. Shimei’s Plea for Mercy: 19:16-23

b. Mephibosheth’s Demonstration of Innocence: 19:24-31

c. Barzillai of Mahanaim Honors David: 19:32-40

4. A Dispute between the Tribes over Ownership of their King, David: 19:40-43

5. A Failed Northern Attempt to Secede from the Nation: 20:1-22

a. Sheba ben-Bichri Attacks Discontents in the North: 20:1-3

b. David’s Delay with Sheba Due to Insurrection by Amasa:9 20:4-13

c. Sheba Ben-Bichri’s Head Handed over by the People of Abel: 20:14-22

E. Grace--A Reorganization of the Kingdom without David’s Sons:10 Although the kingdom was severely shaken in the aftermath of David’s sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, it is once again constituted as a kingdom, but without the participation of David’s sons 20:23-26

V. The Operation of Covenant Loyalty--An Appendix:11 Through a literary technique of chiastic structure the writer emphasizes that difficulty fell upon the kingdom from sources outside of David and from David himself, but the lord graciously used David and his men to establish the kingdom and promised its continuance through David’s house forever 21:1--24:25

A. Famine--Divine Judgment from Saul with the Gibionites: When David learned that the famine upon the land was a judgment from God because of Saul’s attempt to destroy the Gibeonites who were in covenant relationship with Israel, David sought out the Gibeonites’ request for atonement and gave them seven of Saul’s sons to hang,12 whereupon, he buried them with the bones of Saul and Jonathan and the Lord ended the famine 21:1-14

B. Defeat of Philistines--David & His Giant-Killers:13 David and his men had victory over the previously undefeated “giants” of Gath from the Philistines 21:15-22

1. David, The Giant Ishbi-benob, and Abishai: 21:15-17

2. Sibbechai and the Giant Saph: 21:18

3. Elhanan (David) and the Giant Goliath:14 21:19

4. Jonathan and the Giant of Six Fingers and Six Toes: 21:20-21

5. Summary: These four were from the family of the giant Gath and were defeated by David and his servants 21:22

C. An Individual Psalm of Praise for Victories over Saul and All Enemies:15 David offers a psalm of thanksgiving for all the deliverance that the Lord has done 22:1-51

1. Setting: 22:1

2. Proclamation: 22:2-4

3. Summary: 22:5-7

4. Remembrance with Saul: 22:8-31

5. Report: 22:32-46

6. Vow: 22:47-50

7. Praise: 22:51

D. (C’) The Last Words of David--Praise for Establishing the Kingdom: David offers praise to the Lord for establishing his house forever and destroying all enemies 23:1-7

E. (B’) Heroes of David Who Defeated the Philistines:16 David extols the loyal bravery of those thirty-seven “mighty men” who defended Israel and her King--David 23:8-39

1. Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite: 23:8

2. Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite: 23:9-10

3. Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite: 23:11-12

4. Three of the Mighty Men: 23:13-17

5. Abishai the brother of Joab: 23:18-19

6. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada: 23:20-23

7. Asahel the brother of Joab: 23:24a

8. Elhanan the son of Dodo: 23:24b

9. Shammah the Harodite: 23:25a

10. Elika the Harodite: 23:15b

11. Helez the Paltite: 23:26a

12. Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: 23:26b

13. Abiezer the Anathothite: 23:27a

14. Mebunnai the Hushathite: 23:27b

15. Zalmon the Ahohite: 23:28a

16. Maharai the Netophathite: 23:28b

17. Heleb the son of Baanah the Netophathite: 23:29a

18. Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin: 23:29b

19. Benaiah a Pirathonite: 23:30a

20. Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash: 23:30b

21. Abi-albon the Arbathite: 23:31a

22. Azmaveth the Barhumite: 23:31b

23. Eliahba the Shaalbonite: 23:32a

24. The sons of Jashen, Jonathan: 23:32b

25. Shammah the Hararite: 23:33a

26. Ahiam the son of Sharar the Ararite: 23:33b

27. Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai the Maacathite: 23:34a

28. Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite: 23:34b

29. Hezro the Carmelite: 23:35a

30. Paarai the Arbite: 23:35b

31. Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah: 23:36a

32. Bani the Gadite: 23:36b

33. Zelek the Ammonite: 23:37a

34. Naharai the Beerothite armor bearers of Joab the son of Zeruiah: 23:37b

35. Ira the Ithrite: 23:38a

36. Gareb the Ithrite: 23:38b

37. Uriah the Hittite: 23:39a

38. Summery: There were thirty-seven17 mighty men in all 23:39b

F. (A’) Plague--Divine Judgment Falls Again on Israel: The Lord Judged Israel with a pestilence killing 70,000 men because David numbered the fighting men of the nation in prideful hubris, but offered grace to David and the nation by spearing Jerusalem and receiving David’s costly burnt and peace offerings 24:1-25

1. The Ordering and Taking of the Census:18 24:1-9

2. Options and Choice of Divine Judgment: 24:10-14

3. Reception of Judgment and Grace:19 24:15-25

1 This outline is adapted through my own study from the analyses of Joyce G. Baldwin, 1 & 2 Samuel: An Introduction & Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 46-47; P. Kyle McCarter Jr. 2 Samuel, The Anchor Bible, xi-xii; and Elliott E. Johnson 2 Samuel: Synopsis and Selected Analysis, Unpublished class notes in 327 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1989; Carlos Osvaldo Pinto, 2 Samuel: Exegetical Outline and Selected Analysis, a paper submitted for the course 372 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, Spring 1989.

2 This unit is a transition by means of contrast to the disobedience which follows in the next unit: loyal love vs. the breaking of loyal love. Honoring the dead changes to killing the honored.

3 In view of the darkness of this section of Scripture it seems appropriate to cites Baldwin's observations here: In what sense, however, was he 'a man after [the Lord's] own heart' (1 Sa. 13:14)? He is depicted in Scripture as entirely human, hampered by weaknesses that were the counterpart of his strengths: in particular he was indulgent towards his sons and, on occasion, towards himself. Unlike Saul, David received rebuke by humbly admitting his faults; when Nathan or Gad delivered a message of judgment, the prophet's condemnation was accepted as the word of God. In other words, the Lord was king; David was merely the Lord's vicegerent, [sic] exercising delegated power. His successors, who for the most part failed to conform to this role, were pointed back to David, for whose sake the dynasty was permitted to continue until the kingdom was swept away by the Babylonians. Even then, hopes were kept alive by the promise of Nathan to David, 'Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever' (2 Sa. 7:16). The New Testament takes up the theme when Jesus is introduced as a descendant of David; indeed the very first verse of Matthew's Gospel makes the point, 'The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David ...' (1 & 2 Samuel, 299).

4 See 10:1-19; 11:1.

5 This is the title of J. P. Fokkelmann, Narrative Art & Poetry in the Books of Samuel. Volumes I: King David, 99.

Johnson writes, A a subtheme, the events also unfold how YHWH eliminated the contenders for the throne who would threaten Solomon (2 Samuel: Synopsis and Selected Analysis, unpublished class notes in 327 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, 3).

In any case these are expressions of talionic justice upon David for his evil.

Baldwin writes, 2 Samuel 11--20 has covered a period of David's reign with he might well have wished to omit from the records. Why did it have to be included?

From the historian's point of view, 2 Samuel 1--10 contains more material relevant to his purpose. Yet 2 Samuel 11--20 proceeds with slow and deliberate pace, punctuated with direct speech; the carefully constructed narrative gives prominence to David's grave offence and all that followed from it. Affairs of state are shown to be closely bound up with personal relationships; sinful liaisons have repercussions that rebound far beyond the private lives of the individuals concerned. At the same time David, though forgiven by God, found himself handicapped by his own past and unable to discipline others; moreover, his own children never came to terms with what their father had done.

In other words, the narrator has invited the reader to pay particular attention to the social and psychological aftermath of adultery, as well as to the obvious fulfilment [sic] of God's judgment as pronounced by the prophet Nathan (2 Sa. 12:10-12). Though David's kingdom was retained intact, David lost the control he had earlier had over men and affairs. The implications for people in positions of leadership are likely to be especially significant, and yet they are important for all, for 'as in artistic masterpiece of universal and transtemporal value', the figure of David makes contact still with the reader. The highest qualities of David '(as shown or as violated by him) ... are the same as those of our own human existence. This narrative art has a didactic quality about it...IT transmits profound wisdom ...' [Fokkelman, 424]. To concentrate on the historical aspect of David's reign, therefore, and to stop there, is to miss the point of the book. What we are meant to find is guidance to live by, a clue to the deceptions that distort our understanding of what is beneficial and what ought to have been done. in other words, these chapters, like many more, are meant to be 'a lamp to my feet and a light to my path' (Ps. 119:105) (1 & 2 Samuel, 281-82).

6 See the counter part of this account in 19:24-31 where Mephibosheth shows his innocence. Ziba is using this opportunity to exalt himself at the expense of his master. This is abusive to David and Mephibosheth. Of the three characters Mephibosheth will show himself to be the most righteous in the end.

This unit also transitions into the most negative response to David's flight--that of Shimei. First a close descendant of Saul, Mephibosheth, is supposedly hoping for the reestablishment of the Saulide dynasty. Next a more distant descendant of Saul, Shimei, curses David.

7 This act of hubris fulfills Nathan's prophetic threat in 12:12.

8 This was against the king's orders (18:5, 12).

9 Baldwin writes, At this point, the reactions of David are omitted, but on his death-bed they were made clear to Solomon, who was warned, 'do not let his grey head go down to Sheol in peace' (1 Ki. 2:6). Though Sheba's rebellion had been quelled, and David could only be thankful that this second attempt to strike at his throne had been overcome, he was saddled with a general who persisted in killing men whom the king had put in authority, and taking over the command of the army. The problem was that Joab was capable and confident, and came home victorious, but from the point of view of the king, he was a murderer whom he could not bring to justice. Joab had killed Abner (2 Sa. 3:27), Absalom (2 Sa. 18:14), and now Amasa (2 Sa 20:10). David can hardly have welcomed him with open arms, and yet he had saved the kingdom (1 & 2 Samuel: An Introduction & Commentary, 281).

10 Baldwin writes, A list of officers of the crown, similar to that in 2 Samuel 8:15-18, but relevant to the later period, brings the section to an end. The differences between the two lists are worth noting: i. the omission of David's name in connection with the administration of the law may be significant (cf. 2 Sa. 15:3-4); ii. a new development is a department of forced labour, ominous in view of the trouble to which it was to lead (1 Ki. 11:28; 12:12-16); iii. David's sons are no longer said to be priests, understandably so, in view of their activities, as recorded in the intervening narratives; Abiathar would appear to be the son of Ahimelech, named after his grand-father. But the first in the list was Joab, in command of all the army of Israel, a towering figure, whose ability and strength seemed not to diminish with the passing of years (1 & 2 Samuel, 281).

11 Baldwin writes, A further selection of literature representing different periods of David's life brings our book to a conclusion. The six episodes here form a concentric pattern (A, B, C, C', B', A') with poems written by the king at the centre, on either side an account of great warriors who served the king, and at the beginning and end natural disasters which struck during David's reign. In a skilful way, these chapters summarize what has gone before, yet without mere repetition. At a deeper level, they present Israel's greatest king as a man who both inherited problems from his predecessors and created them himself (A, A'); who fought and achieved his victories with the help of many others who are celebrated here (B, B'), and whose joy and strength was his God, whom he praised with total abandon because everything he was and everything he achieved was to be attributed to the faithful Lord God of Israel (C, C') (1 & 2 Samuel, 282-83).

12 Baldwin writes, The seriousness with which the Gibeonites regarded the breaking of an oath is indicated by their reply. Money would not provide compensation, but only the giving of life for life. The answer of the Gibeonites illustrates the meaning of the Hebrew, kipper, 'make expiation', in a secular context as opposed to its use in sacrificial ritual. Saul had committed the wrong, and, since Saul was dead, seven of Saul's family should be handed over so that we may hang them up before the Lord. Justice was seen, not in any abstract way, but as the requirement of the Lord, whose land they inhabited, 'and no expiation can be made for the land ... except by the blood of him who shed it' (Nu. 35:33). The shedding of blood will bring about reconciliation between the Gibeonites and Israel, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord (1 & 2 Samuel, 284).

13 Baldwin writes, This section puts a little more detail into the account of David's wars against the Philistines, described in the important summaries of 2 Samuel 5:17-25 and 8:1. Four incidents are recordedhere, of which all except the first appear again, with differences of detail, in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. It seems likely that a roll of honour was kept, in which outstanding acts of bravery, some of which are quoted here, were written and handed down to posterity. The concise style of writing is appropriate for an official honours list (1 & 2 Samuel, 285).

14 Baldwin writes, This verse is a difficult one because, on the face of it, David is denied the honour of killing Goliath. 1 Chronicles 20:5 reads, 'Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite.' But since 'Lahmi' is part of the Hebrew word 'Bethlehemite', this is likely to be a very early attempt to deal with the problem. The Chronicles verse does, however, suggest that Jaareoregim should be translated 'Jair the weaver' (cf. NIV mg.). The same word occurs at the end of the verse translated weaver's beam. Who then is this Elhanan? The most likely suggestion is that it is David under another name, his family's name for him as opposed to his throne name; in that case Jair must be the equivalent of Jesse (1 & 2 Samuel, 286).

D. F. Payne also does not believe that 1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 21:19 contradict one another in view of the textual problems which are present (The Elhanan Problem, in New Bible Commentary, edited by D. Guthrie, and J. A. Motyer et al. (Leichester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970).

15 See also Psalm 18.

16 Baldwin writes, It was fitting that the names of those who distinguished themselves in defence of Israel and of King David should be recorded in the account of his reign. The king would never have achieved so much without his loyal and valiant heroes. The corresponding passage in Chronicles (1 Ch. 11: 10-47) sometimes elucidates the Samuel text (1 & 2 Samuel, 292).

17 Thirty-six names are mentioned in verses 8-39. Perhaps Joab was the thirty-seventh.

18 Baldwin writes, Again refers back to 2 Samuel 21:1-14, with which it has similarities (cf. 2 Sa. 21:14) with 2 Sa. 24:25). The parallel account in 1 Chronicles 21 shows how theological thought had developed over the years, and attributed to 'Satan' or 'an adversary' what was earlier attributed to the Lord. Perhaps Paul had the two accounts in mind in 2 Corinthians 12:7; the 'messenger of Satan' words by divine permission (1 & 2 Samuel, 194).

Continuing she says, Accepting that David lapsed here and acknowledged his fault, we return to verse 1 and ask what the narrator was wanting his readers to grasp from his thought-provoking way of introducing the incident. Was he not drawing attention to the mysterious way in which God's plan for human history takes in even the lapses of God's servants? (Ibid., 195).

19 Baldwin writes, The population had been depleted by seventy thousand, but the whole country had been given a salutary reminder of spiritual realities: true prosperity was to be found in dependence upon their faithful covenant Lord, and on him alone (1 & 2 Samuel, 298).

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

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