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II Samuel 17

1. Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight.

Once Absalom has carried out his adultery with his father’s wives, he goes to Ahithophel for more advice. Ahithophel is ready with the next part of his plan. He wants to elect twelve thousand men and go into action with them, leading them in pursuit after David this very night. This is no doubt the next part of his plan to get personal vengeance against David for what he did to his granddaughter Bathsheba and her husband. He wants to be the one to hunt him down and destroy him himself. Read the rest of this entry »


II Samuel 16

1. When David was a little past the top of the mountain, there was Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth, who met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred summer fruits, and a skin of wine.

David apparently has finished worshiping God at the hill top, and now he has barely passed over the top when he is met by Ziba. Remember, we first read of this Ziba back in II Samuel 9. Ziba was formerly Saul’s servant, and was the one David called when he wanted to know if there were any of Saul’s household left to whom he could show the kindness of God for the sake of Jonathan, his old friend. Ziba had revealed to him that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth still lived, though he was lame in his feet. David then called Mephibosheth, who it seems was certain that David intended to kill him, as so many kings of the day did to anyone who was related to a former dynasty. Yet David had done great kindness to Mephibosheth instead. He gave him back all the former property of Saul, made Ziba his servant, as he had been Saul’s servant, and made him to eat food at his table (that is, at his government’s expense) for the rest of his life. Some time has passed since this event, and Mephibosheth is now about thirty-one years old. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 15 Part 3

23. And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over. The king himself also crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness.

The people weep with a loud voice as they pass over. The Hebrew reads that all the land wept, but this is the Hebrew figure of speech Metonymy, wherein one word is put for another, obviously-connected word. It was the people who were weeping, but the figure is that the land wept. They passed over Kidron, the boundary of Jerusalem, and none knew if they would ever be able to return.

Once the people have passed over, David too passes over the Brook Kidron. “Kidron” means “Dark,” referring perhaps to the fact that its waters were foamy and so one could not see into them. This is the first mention of this brook in Scripture. The Brook Kidron is also mentioned in Kings, Chronicles, and Jeremiah. It seems to have been a boundary east of Jerusalem. Once they have crossed this brook, all the people head down the road to the wilderness and exile. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 15 Part 2

16. Then the king went out with all his household after him. But the king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house.

David goes out of his palace, and all his household joins him. Yet he does leave behind ten women who were concubines. Their task is to maintain the house while he is gone.

This brings up the topic of concubinage, a sad reality in ancient times. We do not have such women today, so we need to be informed as to what exactly they were. A concubine was, in a manner of speaking, a wife, and yet she did not have the privileges of a wife. She was a woman of lower class than her husband, often a slave or household servant. She was “married” after a fashion to the master of the house, and was expected to remain loyal to him. Taking any other man would be adultery, and she could be punished for it just as a wife would have been. Yet at the same time, she was not promoted to the status of a full wife, nor was she raised above her inferior class. She was and remained a female employee or servant of the master. The only difference was that the master also had the right to couple with her. One of her duties was to produce children for the master. Yet those children would be lower class children as well, and would remain lower class and servants, unlike the children of a full wife who would have the full privileges of sons and daughters. Thus a concubine could be looked at as a female employee with sexual privileges. The master could sleep with her as he wished, the master could have children with her, but she could not claim the privileges of a wife or expect to be promoted above the status of a servant. This was the lot of a concubine. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 15

1. After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.

Now it comes to pass that Absalom starts to work to increase his own respect and popularity. Today it might be said that he worked to brand his name as a great name in Israel. He provides himself with chariots and horses. This was not really allowed for God’s kings to do, as Deuteronomy 17:15-16 tells us.

15. you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’

Yet this is the first move that Absalom makes to try to take the throne away from his father. Thus we see that from the very start, Absalom’s rebellion is not just against his father, but also against God. Moreover he hires fifty men to run before him as he drives his chariot. These would be to clear the way, something very necessary for a chariot driver in a day when most people walked, so the roadways would be clogged with foot traffic. Yet such runners were also a mark of a great man, so Absalom is out to make himself appear royal. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 14 Continued

21. And the king said to Joab, “All right, I have granted this thing. Go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom.”

We are not told whether or not the king had Joab called before him, or whether Joab was already present when the woman came. We must always remember that when we read of someone having an audience before the king, we are not at all to think of just two people alone in a room. David is in his governmental center, and such conversations took place while David was holding court. Many, many people would have been attending on him. He was not having a private conversation with this woman, nor would he be likely to have such a conversation with anyone but a wife of his, and even then most of his conversations with his wives were probably in the company of others. So it could be that Joab was right there watching this conversation as a member of his court, though his own part in what was going on was hidden up to this point. Of course, it could also be that the king had Joab called before him to give him this answer. We cannot tell for sure. Certainly Joab was waiting to see what would happen as a result of this interview between his agent and the king, whether he was there present or not. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 14

1. So Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was concerned about Absalom.

Now when this occurs it is noticed by Joab, who was the son of Zeruiah the king’s sister. Joab, as we know, was the king’s nephew and army commander, having obtained that position through his popularity and bravery more than by the desire of David. Joab realizes that the king misses Absalom, and that his heart is turned toward him and he desires to see him once again.

Notice that he is called “the king” in this chapter, never David. Obviously this is a significant thing that we should take note of. When this happens, we are to consider the position itself, and not so much the man holding it. David as a man may have had his own desires in the matter, but David as king should act in ways that are best for his nation. Here David is spoken of exclusively as king, and not as the man David. We will see how David the king treats his exiled son. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 13 Continued

20. And Absalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this thing to heart.” So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.

Her full brother Absalom finds out what happened. We do not read that Tamar told him, though she might have done so. No doubt the gossip has gone around, as Amnon so carelessly allowed it to do. Yet however he learned of it, Absalom now knows, and he speaks to his sister, letting her know that he has heard what Amnon her brother has done. Yet his words of “comfort” are hardly helpful. He merely urges her to keep this thing quiet. It is just your brother, he argues; you should not think it is a big deal. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 13

1. After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.

Now the trouble God promised as David’s punishment starts. We will see from where this trouble comes, and it will be even as the LORD said: trouble will come on David out of his own household. When we think of it, this only makes sense. When power and thrones are part of the picture, jealousy and murder and other terrible crimes often follow. All one has to do is look at the history of any longstanding dynasty and one will see that this is so. Moreover, David had made this even more likely in his household by basically having rival families. Since he had multiple wives, he therefore was the father of multiple families: one family with one wife being related to but not the same as another family by another wife. Full siblings can have difficulty enough with each other in a royal court, but with half siblings and rival mothers, things can only get worse. David was setting up his family for chaos by the unwise practice of taking so many wives, completely contrary to the LORD’s command to kings. Read the rest of this entry »

II Samuel 12 Continued

14. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”

Though the LORD has taken away David’s sin, this does not mean that there will not be consequences. Moreover, these consequences must come because David by this deed has given great occasion to the enemies of Yahweh to blaspheme. That is what the current, Hebrew text reads. Yet this is one of the places where the Sopherim, the self-proclaimed “wise ones,” decided to edit Scripture and changed the text from what it originally read. What Nathan actually told David is that he had greatly blasphemed Yahweh. He had indeed caused Yahweh’s enemies to blaspheme, it is true, for David had been identified with Yahweh as His anointed king and therefore as His representative on earth. Anything he did that was amiss, and particularly something as awful and foul as this, would cause these enemies to speak against Yahweh. Yet it is also true that Yahweh was in relationship with David, and David’s every action reflected his attitude towards the One Who had stooped to work with him and love him as Yahweh had done. For him to shove Yahweh behind his back, to spit on His laws and mock His justice, was not just for David to cause others to blaspheme, but also for him to blaspheme Yahweh himself. Read the rest of this entry »