2 Samuel: Introduction (Part 2) – Staying Clean and Close

Posted: April 30, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

Personal Reflection as We Begin 2 Samuel (Part 2 of 2)
After we spent almost 6 months in the Book of 1 Samuel, we now move on to the second book that bears of that same last judge of Israel. However, make no mistake about it, the second installment of these writings, it is fully about David as he ascends to the throne and the story of his reign. I think that there are two things that I can identify with in the book of 2 Samuel. Those two things are that (1) are you ready for the office you are about to hold and (2) the fact that, though David is a flawed man, God uses our mess to become part of our message. Today, we will focus on the second point, how, though David was a flawed man, God uses our mess to become part of our message.

In the book of 2 Samuel, David becomes king. After years of running for his life, he is now king. All of his life before this, the being a poor shepherd boy, being the youngest and the least by earthly standards among his brothers, being anointed the next king, serving the king, becoming a trusted warrior/leader in the king’s army, running for his life after the king becomes jealous of him, living on the run, living in caves, sleeping with one eye open at all times, and wishing for a simpler time. It all led up to his becoming king. Then, assuming his duties he becomes a wise and efficient and powerful king (expanding the territory of Israel to its largest land area before or since). But as we have seen so many times lately with powerful and influential men of God, David lets the power and notoriety go to his head and he has a moral failure. Not only does he have a moral failure, he compounds it through deceit and even having a hand in murder. Although David later deeply and soulfully repents of his sin, the kingdom is never the same after the Bathsheba incident. David’s sin has it consequences that lead to rebellion and civil war within Israel and one of the principal leaders of the rebellion was his own son. Although David had repented of his sin and had received God’s forgiveness for his errors in moral judgment, sin always has its consequences. David goes down in history as the greatest king of Israel, but he would be the first to tell you that his mistakes in judgment, his allowing pride to enter into his life almost cost him everything and effected his rule of Israel from that point forward. David would be the first to tell you that his mess he made should not be replicated. His mess becomes his message to us.

As we begin 2 Samuel, I see that there are two things that I need to take to heart. First, though I have not been a pastor for life like my colleagues at the church we all serve, there are things that I bring to the table as a second career pastor that they cannot. There are hills and valleys that I have been through that they have not. I have lived life going down the wrong paths for 39 years of my life. There are things that I pursued that are not of God during those years before salvation and even things that the Holy Spirit had to wrestle from my soul in the years since. There are people coming to Calvary whose lives are a wreck and are seeking, hunting, trying to find what’s missing in their lives. I know that feeling. They have made major mistakes and had lapses in moral judgment in their lives. I know that feeling. They have had sins that have haunted them for a long time. I know that feeling. I know what it’s like to go through divorce. I know what it’s like to start over again after one. I know what it’s like to experience the loneliness that comes with it. I know and have been through what a lot of people coming through our doors are going through. There’s a message in my mess that led me to the cross and beyond it. I can empathize as well as sympathize.

Another thing that I see is that after David become king, he let the power and the notoriety of being king go to his head for a time. He began to feel that he could do what he wanted and it would not matter – because he was king. He probably in this period of his life took a line from that Mel Brooks movie, History of The World, “it’s good to be the king!” He lost his moral compass for a time. It almost cost him his throne. It did cost him the greatness of Israel. The kingdom was never the same after that. Fractures began to appear in the solidarity of the Israelite kingdom that would ultimately be its undoing after Solomon’s death. All of that started with David’s lapse in judgment. David’s mess becomes a message to me as a pastor. We must stele ourselves against the darts of temptation that Satan will throw against you when you are a pastor. We must not even get into the same zip code as temptation. We must analyze those places that we are weakest and know them and steer clear of them. We must never let our position as pastors go to our head. As a pastor, you can become a minor celebrity among your flock. You can let that go to your head and pride leads to moral lapses in judgment. You can build a career of many years in ministry that can be destroyed in a momentary lapse in moral judgment or even the appearance of a lapse. We must, as my former senior pastor, Jeff Hickman, always said, “Lord, keep me clean and close.” Let us always remember that we are flawed individuals as pastors and that God called us to what we do – we did not come to where we are because we are something different or higher or better than those we lead. We must remember we are susceptible to temptation like any other man. We must remember that with the position comes no protection against our own pride. Let us stay clean and close to God.

That is what I think about today as we start 2 Samuel. How our mess can become part of our message and the warnings of David’s mess. To set the stage for our walk for the next few months through 2 Samuel, here, just in case you missed it yesterday, is some background information on the book we are about to embark on our journey through.

Overview of 2 Samuel (as provided by reformedanswers.org)
To explain that David’s dynasty remained Israel’s hope for the future in spite of the curses that David and his house had brought on the nation

930-538 B.C.

Key Truths:
• God wanted his people to have the king he would choose.
• God carefully prepared the way for the king of his choice.
• God chose the house of David as the royal family forever.
• Despite the weakness of David’s Kingdom, the hope for God’s people still remained in his family.

The books of Samuel were originally one work that was later divided into two. This book offers no clear guidance on the question of authorship. It seems likely that the attachment of Samuel’s name simply reflects the role he played in the early chapters of the book. Samuel is described as an old man in 1 Samuel 8:1 and as dead in 1 Samuel 25:1, which would have been long before many of the events of 1 and 2 Samuel took place. However, 1 Chronicles 29:29 attaches the names of Samuel and his prophetic successors Nathan and Gad to certain written sources, some of which may well have been incorporated into this written history of Israel as it took shape.

Time and Place of Writing:
The book of Samuel offers several clues as to its date of final composition. The writer relied on a number of prophetic and royal sources for his history, but the earliest likely date for the book is indicated by the fact that it looks back on “the last words of David” (2 Sam. 23:1); i.e., David’s final official words before his death. Also, 1 Samuel 27:6 remarks that Ziklag remained under the control of “the kings of Judah,” which probably acknowledges the division of Judah and Israel in 930 B.C. If so, the book could not have been written until after the division of the nation that resulted from the failures of David and his house. If Samuel was written at this time, the book affirmed hope in David’s line despite the troubles of the divided monarchy.

The latest likely date for final composition is the return from exile in 538 B.C. The writer of Chronicles used Samuel as one of his most important sources (see “Introduction to 1 Chronicles: Author”). Moreover, the book of Kings appears to pick up the history of Israel’s throne where Samuel left off (see 2 Sam. 23:1-7; 1 Kings 1:1), and 1 Kings 2:27 refers to the fulfillment of 1 Samuel 2:27-36. Therefore, Samuel was probably written before Kings, which is dated between 561 and 538 B.C. (see “Introduction to 1 Kings: Time and Place of Writing”). If Samuel was written at this time, the book declared hope in David’s line despite the exile, which largely resulted from the disobedience of David’s royal sons.

It is impossible to arrive at firm dates for many of the events that are described in 1 and 2 Samuel. There is broad consensus that David had consolidated his rule over the tribes shortly before 1000 B.C. (Judah c. 1010 B.C. and Israel c. 1003 B.C.). David’s lifetime extended from c. 1040 to c. 970 B.C.

Purpose and Distinctives:
With Saul dead (1 Sam. 31:1-13), the way was open for David to take the throne without lifting his hand against the Lord’s anointed. 2 Samuel 2:1-5:5 records the steps by which David became king, first over Judah and then over all Israel. Although his ascendancy over the former proceeded smoothly, blood was spilled before the way was clear for him to become king over the latter. The narratives are careful to make the point, however, that David was as innocent in relation to the deaths of Abner, Saul’s former general, and Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s surviving son, as he was in relation to the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.

With David king over a united Israel, 2 Samuel 5-10 summarize the transactions, both political and theological, by which David’s throne was established. 2 Samuel 5-6 recount David’s acquisition of a capital city, his resounding defeat of the Philistines (Israel’s archenemy from whom Saul had failed to deliver the people) and his transference of the ark of God to his newly established capital. 2 Samuel 7 records the very significant Davidic promise (or “dynastic oracle”) in which the Lord, after refusing David’s offer to build the Temple (“house” in Hebrew), promises to build David a dynasty (also “house” in Hebrew) that will endure forever. This promise to David marks the continuation and specification of the divine promise of blessing made to the patriarchs and is a major new development in the Messianic hope that finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ (see note on 2 Sam. 7:4-17). 2 Samuel 8-10 summarize some of David’s principal achievements; e.g., his victories and his covenant faithfulness to Jonathan in showing kindness to Mephibosheth.

The Davidic promise of 2 Samuel 7 establishes, beyond all doubt, that the purposes of God for the house of David are sure. This in no way implies, however, that David or his descendants would not forfeit some of the temporal benefits of their privileged position if they were to fall into sin. 2 Samuel 11-20 depict the domestic and political chaos that followed in the wake of David’s sins of adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11:1-27). When confronted by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-31, David’s repentance was genuine and God’s forgiveness immediate, but sin still had its consequences. With his ability to exercise proper authority impaired (perhaps by a sense of guilt), David witnessed his own sins replicated in the lives of his sons (see note on 2 Sam. 13:21). Not until he had experienced two rebellions, the first by Absalom and the second by Sheba, son of Bicri, did David’s reign regain a measure of equilibrium.

2 Samuel 21-24, which together form a kind of epilogue, provide thematic closure for the book of Samuel. These chapters recount a collection of events that took place at different points in David’s life. At the heart of these chapters are two Davidic poems celebrating the two fundamental reasons for David’s blessedness: The Lord: (1) was his deliverer and (2) had made an “everlasting covenant” with him (2 Sam. 23:5). Framing this central core are two lists of Davidic champions, the human agents of David’s success. Finally, bracketing both the poems and the lists are two accounts of how David’s intercession relieved Israel from divine judgment for Saul’s sin and for his own sin. These chapters left the original readers with clear pictures of the hope they could have in the house of David despite the troubles that David and his sons had brought upon God’s people.

Christ in 1 & 2 Samuel:
Christ stands in contrast to the many examples of the sinful leaders of Israel who appear in the book. More than this, however, Jesus is the heir of David’s throne, and David’s career set in motion and anticipated the person and work of Christ. Both David and Jesus had prophetic sanction, David by Samuel (1 Sam. 3:20; 16:13) and Jesus by John the Baptist (Matt. 14:5; John 1:29-31; 5:31-35). The Spirit of the Lord came upon both (1 Sam. 16:13; Mark 1:9-11), and both did mighty works (1 Sam. 17:1-58; Matt 11:4-5), were involved in holy war (1 Sam. 17:1-58; Col. 1:20), and were rejected by jealous kings (1 Sam. 18:9; Matt 2:16) and warned to flee for their lives (1 Sam. 20:1-42; Matt. 2:13-15). Rejected by their own people without just cause (1 Sam. 23:12; John 19:15), both learned in exile to depend on God. Both interceded on behalf of God’s people (2 Sam. 21, 24; John 17), and both were highly exalted by God (2 Sam. 23:1-8; Isa. 52:13; Phil. 2:9). In these and many other ways, David’s life foreshadowed the accomplishments of Christ, his son.

Let us look at 2 Samuel as comfort and warning at the same time. It is comfort in that 2 Samuel shows us that David was not superhuman. He was just like you and me. His story is one of sin, repentance and redemption. The mess that David made becomes part of his message. Just like you and me, our mess can become a powerful message to others about the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. It is also a warning to us to recognize those times when we are most susceptible to falling into sin and steer clear of them. We must not put ourselves into positions where we will fall prey to our sin weaknesses. We must stay in God’s Word daily. We must pray daily. We must have accountability from other Christian friends. We can throw away a whole lifetime of work for the Lord in one moment of moral failure. In that, we can take away that we must stay clean and close to God.

Amen and Amen.

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