2 SAMUEL 19:1 – 21:22 and JOHN 1:1–18
2 Sam 19
Now that the battle with Absalom is over we see Israel beginning to reunite once again under the leadership of David. At this point however David is still in deep mourning over Absalom. This lament seems to be carrying on for some days whereby Joab begins to take issue with David’s actions. There was a victory won against the rebellious Absalom but they were not treating it as such. The people returned to their places in silence or a position of stealth which was unbecoming of victors. Joab even went so far to imply that David would have preferred Absalom to win at the expense of the majority of Israel based on his behaviour.
Joab rightly discerned that the time was at hand for David to show himself to the people otherwise they might seek out another leader that they could rally behind. In verse 8 David arises and sits in the gate before the people. It is here where the previous factions within Israel began to unite. Those who sided with Absalom had to acknowledge that David was the anointed leader of God. We will see a magnanimous approach in David’s approach to the healing and restoration in the land. He seeks out Zadok and Abiathar who were back in Jerusalem and has them approach the elders of Judah as to why they have not yet sought to bring him back to his own house. David was from the tribe of Judah so it should be protocol for them to request his return.
David’s first generous act is to pardon the actions of Amasa, who was Absalom’s captain. He even goes on to say in how he would like to have Amasa in the room of Joab. This is an amazing statement! Amasa, who was leading Absalom’s army against David is being given a promise of a position in his army, at the expense of Joab. It was Joab who led the forces and the assault against Absalom. This speaks to the disgust that David now had for his general. These acts of David restored his popularity and favor amongst the people. They all bowed before him and quickly extended an invitation for him to return, including his servants.
Shimei, who took advantage of David’s vulnerability a bit earlier now seeks to be reconciled to David. Included in this group were Ziba and his sons, who lied to David about Mephibosheth. They all sought to make things right before the king now that he was solidly being re-established to the throne. Once again, that zealous spirit so evident in the sons of Zeruiah comes through as Abishai seeks to put Shimei to death for his attacks on David. One can be grateful that an Abishai or a Joab never came to rule upon the throne. They had a courage and zeal which did serve God’s purposes at times but they could never be in an overall position of leadership. The experiences that David endured help for us to appreciate some of the costs involved in reigning. Mephibosheth then came down to meet David resulting in the truth of Ziba’s previous statements coming to light (2 Sam 16).
There is now a contention among the 10 tribes and that of Judah as to who David should be aligned with. This came about as David crossed back over Jordan to Jerusalem. It is a picture of the divide that will come soon after the death of Solomon.
2 Sam 20
The division seen at the end of the previous chapter is accentuated by a man named Sheba, who was a Benjamite. It is possible that he was aligned to Absalom during his revolt. The strife between tribes of Israel over David seems to be the catalyst for Sheba’s actions. He blows a trumpet and soon thereafter many of Israel followed after him. The men of Judah clave unto David, recognizing that he was God’s anointed king. David was from Judah so it made it easier for them to embrace him. This can be seen as another judgement upon David seeing that the sword was not to depart from his house (2 Sam 12:10). David then provides for the concubines that were aligned to Absalom however he closed them to outside access and never came in unto them as punishment for their actions.
David follows through in his word to Amasa about leading his army against Sheba. He commissions him to assemble the men of Judah and to return within a period of 3 days. Amasa did not return at the time appointed which caused David to send forth Abishai to go after Sheba. It is difficult to determine how committed the men would be to Amasa seeing how he was recently with Absalom. It is also hard to determine how loyal the men might yet be to Joab. This whole account is happening quickly. It is hard imagining such a swift change of command in light of all that has transpired. Amasa gathered the men he assembled near a great stone at Gibeah, probably some sort of predetermined meeting place. Joab allowed a sword to fall out of a loose fitted garment as a means of striking Amasa without suspicion. He delivered a fatal blow to Amasa in a manner that made clear that he (Joab) was to be the man in charge (vs 12-13).
Joab immediately set forth after Sheba with the commitment of the armies behind him. What a bold and brash character Joab is. One can see how the Lord can use such a man however his unbridled ambition will one day lead to his destruction. For now, that zeal will again serve a purpose for the benefit of the kingdom. Joab, Abishai and the men of Israel were quite willing to batter down the walls of the city in their pursuit of Sheba. They would not let anything stand in the way of their objective.
It is here where we see the intervention of a very wise woman. She may have been a leader in this city and she appealed to Joab to halt their assault. She petitioned to be heard from Joab himself. This was wisdom in seeing that her appeal went right to the leader. This city named Abel, had a reputation for being one that was sought out for matters of controversy. This woman refers to this reputation in verse 18. She appeals to Joab as to why would you go about to destroy a city? She made clear that she and her people were peaceable people.
Joab made clear that he was only after Sheba due to what he did in lifting up his hand against David. All he asked for was this man to be given to them. She obliged and followed through after exercising wisdom amongst her people (vs 22). She had his head cut off and cast over the wall to Joab which ended the matter. Joab once again was the man over all the host of Israel. We also see that Zadok and Abiathar functioned together as the attending priests. David was the anointed king over Israel but we see several vulnerabilities and seeming errors of judgement; things that would not have happened if he had not sinned. Still, David is a man of extraordinary heart in his ability to continue forward in his reign. His heart is opening up fresh truth for us in seeing the extent of a loving merciful God in lieu of grievous sins. At the same time we see the severe consequences of sin, especially when committed by a leader of stature. I doubt that there would be any other candidate who could have sinned as David did and yet endure such consequences. He had the heart that enabled him to experience God’s forgiveness as well as the ability to walk out the fruits of repentance. We must not assume that we can sin in like manner and be like a David. Yes, he was forgiven but he paid a very high price. We are indebted to him in learning the precious gems of having truth realized in the inward parts (Psa 51:6). The blessing of knowing that God will not turn away from a person who is truly broken and contrite of heart or the blessing of knowing the fear of the Lord that prompts the cry, “Lord, take not you Holy Spirit from me”. David is a truly remarkable man.
2 Sam 21
We see an issue coming to the surface that took place during the reign of Joshua. The Gibeonites feared the advance of Israel under Joshua so they feigned themselves as other men proposing an alliance to be made which Joshua accepted. The result was that the Gibeonites would be immune from the advances of Israel. Joshua was not discerning in this matter and they had to involve themselves in any matter concerning the Gibeonites (Jos 9).
Apparently Saul went to war against the Gibeonites sometime during his reign which is not disclosed in scripture. Some speculate that it could have been when he slaughtered Ahimelech and the priests at Nob. This was when Saul seemed to be at his pinnacle of rage while pursuing David. This is a warning to us about making alliances of any kind. An agreement that Joshua made hundreds of years before still has repercussions. It was deceitful on the part of the Gibeonites but God held firm to the alliance that Joshua made.
David came before the Lord via the priests to enquire as to why there were three consecutive years of famine. There are times when we need to seek the Lord as to whether there is a particular reason why certain judgements prevail. David must have been very surprised to know of this being the reason. It was important that he did so that the root of the issue could be addressed. This is a key when seeking deliverance in the life of a person. The key may reside in something totally unknown. Once David heard of the reason he immediately sought out the leaders of the Gibeonites to find out what would be required to atone for Saul’s bloody assault. They asked for 7 of his sons to be given as the price. David complied but did not give up Mephibosheth due to his oath given to Jonathan (vs 7).
David went to Jabesh-Gilead to gather the bones of Saul and Jonathan and brought them to the land of Benjamin. The Lord was appeased for the land after these acts were completed resulting in fruitful harvests. The sins of the land can have a direct bearing on famine or other related judgements. Once they are discovered, acknowledged and atoned for the Lord can again bestow blessing. David is beginning to come to the close of his years and it is essential that things are put in order, even matters that date back generations.
David and Israel have to contend with another 4 battles against the Philistines, all of them being with giants. They could have been descendants of the Anakims who remained in this area while Joshua was leading Israel throughout Canaan (Jos 11:22). David is becoming feebler and it is a concern of the men of Israel seeing that he was targeted and that his being captured or killed would put their nation in great peril. David came to prominence when he slew Goliath of Gath after his first anointing. Now as he is coming to the close of his life the same family of giants is contending against him. The enemy is looking for every means to extinguish him but David is preserved. When David sinned against God a hedge of protection was lifted which allowed the enemy access to David in varied ways. This breech has caused him no shortage of sorrow and problems. David ruled with peace and authority upon the throne upon Mt. Zion before his sin with Bathsheba. The kingdom was at Rest. In the progression of the feasts of Israel we note that Atonement comes before Tabernacles (Lev 23:26-44). The feast of Atonement addresses sin issues. Once sin is atoned for there is then the Feast of Tabernacles. One of the names of the Feast of Tabernacles is that of Rest. In order for there to be the Rest of God sin must be atoned for. God is looking to restore the land again under David after his sin. The process of restoration however is a heavy price that had to be paid. All of these battles are allowing Israel once again to come into a position of Rest after coming out of Rest due to David’s sin. In other words, we can assume that there would not have been the magnitude of battles and judgements if David would not have sinned. Though we highlight the fruit and consequence of David’s transgressions there is no denying the greatness of the man. There is no other person who could have endured the process of being restored as David did; this was due to the heart he had for God. The Lord was able to work with a tender and contrite heart to both restore David and Israel.
We will see John’s gospel as being unique from the others. The primary reason is that it was written nearly 50 years after Mathew, Luke and Mark. John was in his mid to upper 80’s in age so he had the advantage of years in which to pen his writings. All of his writings came forth from his later years (123 John, The Gospel of John and Revelation). Let’s say you are now at the age of 65. As you reflect on life when you were 25 you will see that your view today would be quite different. You have the advantage of about 40 years that gives a perspective to your story that you could not have appreciated when you were that age. This is why John’s gospel distinguishes itself from Mathew, Luke and Mark. We will see that John has an authority that comes from a Father figure. We will see this in greater measure when we look at 1 John.
John begins His writing by going right to the beginning. This is a common phrase with John as seen in 1 John 2:13-14. He mentions that Father’s in the church are those who know Him who is from the beginning. When you study the writings of John you cannot help but appreciate the Book of Genesis. True Fathers and Mothers are those who know the God from the beginning. If one can grasp the foundations of what is seen in Genesis one can then have a good understanding of the whole of God’s Word. Everything is rooted in Genesis; all doctrines and virtually anything you see taking place in life today. Understanding Genesis gives a person insight and understanding for what is happening today. John introduces the Lord by linking Him to the beginning, to the Word. It was the Word who created all things. He is the Word. All things emanate from Him. Can you see how John’s introduction of the Lord stands out from the others? He once lived alongside the Living Word and has had 50 some years to reflect upon His majesty and greatness. John then gives an introduction to John the Baptist (vs 6-9). He speaks of him as a light who bore witness to the true light. Notice the wonder of verse 10.
Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Jesus, the creator of the world, lived in the world He created as the Son of man and was yet rejected by the people of the world He created. In spite of this He was still willing to enter this world as an innocent baby born in a manger. Think of the contrast! Here you have the creator of the world veiling Himself as a baby in a manger as He entered into the world. He came to His own people, a people who looked for Him, had the writings of prophets of old and yet would not receive Him, even to this day. We do see that there were those who did receive Him and as a result had power to become the sons of God (vs 12). There is a verse that blends the Old and New Testaments together.
Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Israel was not able to keep the Old Testament Law. When Jesus became man He demonstrated the ability to not only keep the Law but to be able to fulfill it. In fact, he was able to take the standard of the Law to a higher level (Math 5:17-48). Jesus was able to live as a man, free from sin so that we too can do the same. We have the ability to have the fulfillment of the Law expressed through our lives. How is this achieved? It is by grace; a power that can be appropriated through our lives due to what Jesus has accomplished through the cross.
In embracing Truth we are embracing the Lord, since He is Truth (Joh 14:6). He gives grace, the enabling power of God that gives us the ability to do what we cannot do on our own. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Truth. Jesus makes abundantly clear that He did not do away with the Law that Moses gave upon Mt. Sinai. He fulfilled it and He shows the way in which we can do the same. It is by grace and truth. Jesus had the help of the Holy Spirit and that same Holy Spirit is available to us today. We can do what Jesus did as we yield to Him and allow the Holy Spirit, (yes that same Holy Spirit that enabled Christ to go to the Cross (Heb 9:14) that same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead) to work mightily in our lives (Rom 8:11).
The Apostle John also has key insights into the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit that we will see throughout his gospel. John had perspective that the other gospel writers could not have had simply by years of his experience. May his length of years provide us encouragement and strength as we go through His account of the Lord’s ministry.
In verses 19-28 we have the account of John the Baptist. He was prophesied of 700 years earlier by Isaiah as a voice in the wilderness who would go forth to prepare the way of the Lord. His ministry was powerful and one that brought great conviction to the people. Many began to question as to whether he was indeed the Christ or Elijah or some other prophet. He then reaffirmed his calling as that voice of the one who would prepare the way of the Lord (vs 23). He constantly pointed towards the one to come. He was clear in his calling and role. He also stated that he baptized in water but the one to come would baptize in fire in the Holy Ghost (Mat 3:11).
The day comes when the transition of leadership takes place. John sees the one of whom he had been speaking of coming towards him at the river Jordan. How does he introduce Jesus? Remember, He is the one that everyone has been looking for, the one whom the prophets have been foretelling of. John introduces Jesus by proclaiming “Behold, the Lamb of God…” Is this the best introduction John could do for the Son of God? Behold the lamb? The next day he again sees Jesus and says “Behold the lamb of God”. Jesus was introduced as a lamb but the people were looking for a king. It is interesting when you do a study in the Book of Revelation. You will find the term lamb mentioned 29 times in 27 different verses. The key in coming into the place of truly reigning in God is to first become acquainted with the Lamb. It was the Passover Lamb that broke the power of Egypt resulting in the release of the captives. It is the death of the Passover Lamb that broke the power over sin (Exo 12:13). Do we acquaint the nature of the lamb with power? Have you ever thought of the verse where Jesus says I send you forth as lambs before wolves (Luk 10:3)?
We often visualize the slaughtering of lambs in the midst of ravenous wolves. This is true but I feel the Lord was presenting another key to His disciples as he was sending them forth. It is the nature of the lamb that will serve as a key weapon in bringing down the demonic strongholds. The Word of the Lord came to Isaiah and said “Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land…” (Isa 16:1). The nature of the lamb is a priestly one and we must come to know this quality of the Lord. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord for the Lamb of God. We have the mandate as lambs to prepare the way of the Lord for his 2nd coming when He shall return as a conquering king. The John the Baptist call is applicable for us in today’s church. There are many similarities but I feel we as a church must come to know the Lamb of God so as to prepare the way for the King of Kings.
After John declared Jesus as the Lamb of God the 2nd time (vs 36) the disciples began to gather around Jesus. The Lord invited them to follow Him and several did so. They recognized something in Jesus that prompted them to let go of their known livelihoods to come follow after Him. This is a reflection of the Galilean mind-set which had a capacity to adjust and change. These are the type of men that Jesus looked to have gathered around him. He would challenge their thinking and bring them into experiences that would enlarge their abilities. The next 3 ½ years is all the time that Jesus will have upon the earth as the Son of man and He knew the manner of men that would be needed so as to absorb His message, His ministry and way of life. It will be upon these men and the early church where the foundation of the New Covenant would be established.
The work before us today is a massive one and we have a huge trust and responsibility in being part of the church of the last days. The Lord is searching out for men and women of like calibre. The time is short, the need is immense. Let us see chapter one of John in a modern day context. We are called to be the John the Baptists, the voices crying out in this vast wilderness of the world to prepare the way for the conquering King of Kings. He already came as a Lamb and died as the Passover Lamb. He set the example for us in showing us how we are to live in our day. We are called to be Lambs sent forth to the rulers of the world. This is true power and the only means in which demonic powers are broken. The Lamb broke the power of Egypt; Christ as the Passover Lamb broke the power over sin at the cross and it is the Lamb like nature of the last day church, being sent forth as Lambs before wolves that will put Satan under its feet while preparing the way for the King of Kings. John 1, in my mind is easily adaptable to the day and hour in which we are living.