David, the Great King of Israel

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of 2 Samuel

www.easyenglish.info

Helen Pocock

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

About the book of 2 Samuel

The book of 2 Samuel records the life of David as king. There are several accounts of events in 2 Samuel that are also in 1 Chronicles. Some of the accounts are very similar. But some of the accounts are different. The authors wrote these accounts for different reasons. The author of 1 and 2 Samuel wrote about the main events in the lives of Samuel, Saul and David. The author wrote this to record the history of the *Israelites at that time. However, the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles wanted to emphasise how God had always helped the *Israelites. In general, this author wrote only about the good things that happened. He wrote his account a long time after the events of 1 and 2 Samuel. He may have used different records. Sometimes the names of people and places are different. Some people had more than one name. Also, the names of places often changed over many years.

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel used to be one book. The writer wrote the book in the *Hebrew language. The name of the book comes from the first important person in 1 Samuel. He was Samuel the *prophet. But Samuel did not write the book. He died before the end of the book.

We do not know who wrote the book. The author lived after King Solomon had died in about 930 BC (930 years Before Christ). After Solomon died, the country of *Israel divided into two countries. These two countries were *Israel and *Judah. The country of *Judah included the *tribes of *Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:1-24). In 1 and 2 Samuel the author often refers to *Judah as a country.

In those days, the kings and leaders employed writers to write accounts of events in their country. The *prophets also wrote accounts of events. 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41; 14:19, 29; 1 Chronicles 27:24; 29:29 all refer to these writers and their books. The writer of 1 and 2 Samuel probably got most of his information from these accounts.

Chapter 1

David hears that Saul is dead

v1 Saul was dead. David had defeated the *Amalekites. Then he returned to Ziklag and he stayed there for two days. v2 On the third day, a young man arrived from Saul’s camp. The man had torn his clothes and he had put dust on his head. This showed that he was very sad. The man came to David. The man lay down with his face on the ground in front of David. He gave David honour.

v3 David said, ‘Where have you come from?’

‘I have escaped from the *Israelite camp’, the man replied.

v4 David said, ‘What happened there? Please tell me.’

The man said, ‘The *Israelite soldiers ran away from the battle. The *Philistines killed many men. Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.’

v5 David asked him, ‘How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?’

v6 The young man replied, ‘I happened to be on the mountain of Gilboa. Saul was there too. He was leaning on his *spear. The *Philistine army, with their *chariots and horses, were getting nearer to Saul. v7 Saul looked behind him and he saw me. He called me. I said, “What can I do to help you?”

v8 Saul said, “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am an *Amalekite.”

v9 Then Saul said to me, “Come here and kill me. I am still alive but I am dying.”

v10 So I went to Saul and I killed him. The *Philistines had nearly killed him. I knew that Saul would die anyway. I took the crown off his head. And I took the royal ring off his arm. I have brought them here to you, my master.’

v11 David tore his clothes to show that he was very sad. The men with him tore their clothes too. v12 They were very sad. They cried and they did not eat until the evening. They were sad because Saul and his son Jonathan were dead. They were sad for the army of the *Lord and for the *Israelites. They were sad because so many people had died that day.

(Verses 4-12 See also 1 Chronicles 10:1-12.)

The story in this chapter continues from the end of 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel chapter 31, you can read how Saul died. In 1 Samuel chapters 29-30, you can read about David and the *Amalekites. David and his army were happy that they had rescued their wives and children. They had defeated the *Amalekites. Then they went back to their home town of Ziklag. But the *Amalekites had burned the town. So, David and his men had to build Ziklag again.

Saul’s camp was about 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Ziklag. The young man would have taken about three days to walk or run that distance. He had torn his clothes and he had put dust on his head. Then everyone could see that he had bad news. (Compare this with 1 Samuel 4:10-13.) The young man lay on the ground in front of David. This act showed that David was an important person. This was how the young man gave honour to David. This still happens in many countries now. (Abigail did this to David in 1 Samuel 25:23.) The man knew that Saul was dead. Perhaps he also realised that David would be the next king. The young man was an *Amalekite. David had just defeated the *Amalekites. But this man was fighting with the *Israelites, not against them. Soldiers sometimes fought with the army of another country. For example, David and his men joined the *Philistines in 1 Samuel chapter 27.

In verses 6-10, the *Amalekite lied about how Saul died. Perhaps the *Amalekite was stealing from the dead soldiers before the *Philistines returned (1 Samuel 31:8). Then he found Saul’s body. In those days, they did not have pictures of people. Most people did not know what Saul looked like. So, he wore a special royal coat to show that he was the king. He also wore a crown on his head and a ring at the top of his arm. (It was probably a gold crown and ring.) So the *Amalekite man knew that he had found King Saul. David saw the crown and royal ring. This proved that both the king and his son Jonathan were dead. If Jonathan was alive, the crown and ring would be his.

David’s men knew that Saul had tried to kill David. But nobody was happy that the first king of *Israel was dead. Jonathan had been David’s special friend. In verse 12, ‘the army of the *Lord’ means the army of *Israel. God had chosen the *Israelites as his special nation (Deuteronomy 7:6). The army of *Israel fought *Israel’s enemies and they protected God’s people. But the *Philistines had defeated the *Israelites that day. They had killed many *Israelite soldiers. The *Israelites felt very sad. They also felt ashamed.

David kills the *Amalekite

v13 David spoke to the young man who had brought him this news. David asked him, ‘Where do you come from?’

He replied, ‘I am the son of a foreigner. I am an *Amalekite.’

v14 David told him, ‘You should not have killed Saul. The *Lord *anointed him as king.’

v15 Then David said to one of his men, ‘Go and kill the *Amalekite.’ So David’s man killed the *Amalekite man. v16 David had spoken to the *Amalekite man before he died. David said, ‘You are responsible for your own death. You said, “I killed the man that the *Lord *anointed.” So you knew that you were guilty.’

The *Amalekite man probably knew that Saul had tried to kill David. So, he thought that David would be pleased that Saul was dead. The young man may have expected David to reward him. Instead, David punished him. David did not like the way that Saul had behaved. But David knew that the *Lord had chosen Saul as king. David gave respect and honour to the *Lord. David also gave great respect and honour to the king that the *Lord had *anointed.

Verse 13 shows that the *Amalekite man lived in *Israel. Therefore, he had to obey the laws of *Israel. The *Amalekite was guilty because he had killed the king of *Israel. David believed what the young man had said. So David told his men to kill the *Amalekite as his punishment. Verse 16 shows that David acted as a judge. He showed that he had the right to order the *Amalekite man’s death. This also showed the *Israelites that David was not Saul’s enemy. David always respected and protected Saul.

v17 David sang this sad song about Saul and his son Jonathan. v18 Later David said that all the people of *Judah should learn this song. The title of this song is ‘The Bow’. They wrote it down in the book of Jashar.

          v19 ‘Israel, your greatest men lie dead on the hills.

                      Great soldiers have died in the battle.

          v20 Do not announce this news in the city called Gath.

                      Do not declare it in the streets of the city called Ashkelon.

          If you do, the *Philistine women will be happy.

                      The daughters of the *Philistines will have great joy.

          v21 I hope that no rain or mist falls on the mountains of Gilboa.

                      And I hope that its fields produce no grain for *offerings.

          They spoiled the *shield of the great man on that mountain.

                      Nobody will rub Saul’s *shield with oil now.

          v22 Jonathan killed many men with his bow and arrows.

                      Saul killed many men with his sword.

          v23 We loved dear Saul and Jonathan when they were alive.

                      They were together when they died.

                                  They seemed faster than great birds.

                                              They seemed stronger than lions.

          v24 Women of *Israel, cry for Saul.

          Saul gave you wonderful clothes

          and gold objects to pin on them.

          v25 Our great soldiers died in the battle.

                      Jonathan is dead on the hills.

          v26 I cry for you, Jonathan, my brother.

          You were very special to me.

          The way that you loved me was wonderful.

                      It was more wonderful than the way that a woman loves.

          v27 Our great soldiers died in the battle.

          Their *weapons have no use now.’

David was a musician. He wrote this poem and he sang it to sad music. This was not David’s private poem. It was a national poem. *Israel’s first king was dead. This was a sad time for the whole nation of *Israel. The future *Israelites often learned about their history through songs like this. (See Deuteronomy 31:19-22; 32:1-43.) The ‘people of *Judah’ means the people from the *tribe of *Judah. Also, *Judah was the name of the southern part of the country of *Israel. The ‘book of Jashar’ is probably a record of *Israel’s national poems and songs (see Joshua 10:13). We do not know why David called this song ‘The Bow’. A soldier uses a bow to shoot arrows a long way. Some *Philistine soldiers had bows and arrows. They nearly killed Saul with their arrows (1 Samuel 21:2-3). Perhaps their arrows killed Jonathan too. So maybe this explains the poem’s title.

The *Israelites spoke and wrote in the *Hebrew language. Their poems are often in picture language. This style helped them to describe their emotions. They often wrote two similar lines of poetry to describe one fact. Sometimes it is difficult to translate Bible poetry into other languages. As you read verses 19-27, remember that it is a poem. Then try to imagine how David and the *Israelites felt.

Verse 19 ‘Your greatest men’ and ‘great soldiers’ both refer to Saul and Jonathan. These words may also refer to the whole army of *Israel. The battle had been on the mountains (hills) of Gilboa. The *Philistines had completely defeated the *Israelites and killed their king. This was a terrible time for the whole nation of *Israel.

Verse 20 Gath and Ashkelon were important *Philistine cities. But this was how David referred to the *Philistine nation in this poem. ‘*Philistine women’ and ‘daughters of the *Philistines’ refer to the *Philistine women of all ages. In those days, only the men fought in the army. The women sang and danced when the army returned from a successful battle. This happened when David defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 18:6-7). In verse 12, David refers to *Israel’s army as ‘the army of the *Lord’. This is because the *Israelites were God’s people. The *Philistines had won the battle against the *Lord’s army. They had killed the king, whom God had *anointed (verse 14). And they had killed the king’s son. Therefore, the *Philistines probably thought that they had defeated *Israel’s God. David did not want the *Philistine people to know this. He did not want *Israel’s enemy to be happy.

Verse 21 The mountains of Gilboa did not have steep slopes. So there were many fields on the mountains. Good crops grew in those fields. But Saul and Jonathan died there. So, David wanted the crops to die too. Both rain and mist watered the crops. The mountains were on the borders between *Israel and the land of the *Philistines. ‘*Offerings’ may refer to what the *Philistines gave to their *idols. They *worshipped Dagon (1 Samuel 5) and other false gods. The Philistines believed that Dagon would give them good crops.

The *Israelites made *shields from leather and wood. They rubbed oil into the leather to make it strong. Then the leather did not break or become hard. Soldiers used *shields to protect themselves from arrows, *spears and stones. The *Philistines may have broken Saul’s *shield. Or it may have had blood and mud on it from the battle. Saul’s *shield had not been able to save his life.

Verse 22 means that Saul and Jonathan were great soldiers. While they were alive, they killed many enemies. David remembers all the times when Saul and Jonathan had great success in their battles.

Verse 23 Jonathan had helped David in the past. But Jonathan remained loyal to King Saul, his father. Jonathan was near to Saul during this battle. They died as they fought together against *Israel’s enemy. David uses picture language to describe Saul and Jonathan. They were great soldiers. They were strong, clever and brave.

Verse 24 David did not want the *Philistine women to be happy about Saul. But David also wanted the *Israelite women to cry. ‘Women of *Israel’ probably refers to the wealthy women who knew Saul. Saul had become rich. He had given presents to these women.

Verse 25 is like verse 19. But in verse 25, David refers only to Jonathan.

Verse 26 shows David’s personal feelings about Jonathan. 1 Samuel 18:1-4 describes when this special friendship started. Jonathan even gave his royal coat to David. Jonathan knew that David would be king instead of him. But Jonathan was never jealous. In this verse, ‘love’ refers to the serious promise that David and Jonathan made to each other with God. (This happened in 1 Samuel 20:12-17; 20:23; 20:42.) David had married Jonathan’s sister Michal (1 Samuel 18:27; 19:9-17). But she had not been as loyal to David as Jonathan had been.

Verse 27 The poem ends with words about defeat. This was a very sad time for *Israel.

Chapter 2

David becomes the king of *Judah

v1 After this, David asked the *Lord, ‘Shall I go to a town in *Judah?’

The *Lord said, ‘Yes.’

David asked, ‘Which town shall I go to?’

The *Lord said, ‘Go to Hebron.’

v2 David had two wives. One wife was Ahinoam who came from the town of Jezreel. His other wife was Abigail. She was the widow of Nabal who came from the town of Carmel. David and his two wives went to Hebron. v3 David’s men and their families went to live in the towns round Hebron. v4 Then the men from *Judah came to Hebron. They *anointed David as king of the *tribe of *Judah.

Some men from the town of Jabesh Gilead buried Saul. The men from *Judah told David about this. v5 David sent a message to the men in Jabesh Gilead. He said, ‘I ask that the *Lord will *bless you. You were kind to Saul, your master, because you buried him. v6 I ask that the *Lord will be kind and loyal to you. And I also will be good to you because of what you have done. v7 Be strong and brave. Saul, your master, is dead. The people from *Judah have *anointed me as their king.’

After Saul’s death, David wanted to leave the *Philistines’ country. David came from the *tribe of *Judah. Many people from *Judah had been loyal to David while Saul had been chasing him. David wanted to return to his own country. But he did not make his own decision. He asked the *Lord. In 1 Samuel 23:9-12, David wanted to know the *Lord’s decision. So David called for Abiathar, the priest, and for the *ephod. David probably called for Abiathar this time too.

The town called Hebron was about 43 kilometres (27 miles) north east of Ziklag. In Genesis chapter 23, Sarah, who was Abraham’s wife, died at Hebron. Abraham bought some land so that he could bury Sarah there. Later, Abraham’s sons buried him there too (Genesis 25:7-10). So, Hebron was an old town. In 1 Samuel chapter 30, David attacked the people called *Amalekites. David defeated them. He took all their animals and other possessions. Then he sent some of these things to the towns where leaders had helped him. Hebron was one of those towns. So, David knew Hebron and it became his home for 7 years and 6 months (verse 11). He moved his family there. He also moved all his men and their families. There were many villages round the town. So there was plenty of room for all David’s men, their families and their animals.

Saul was dead. His son Jonathan was also dead. The *Philistines had defeated the *Israelites. So now the *Israelites had no king. This was a dangerous time for the nation of *Israel. The leaders of the *tribes and towns had to choose a new king. The men from the *tribe of *Judah knew David and his army. David’s army had helped and protected *Judah. David was a good soldier. The men from *Judah trusted him. So they *anointed David as their king. Samuel had *anointed David as king of *Israel many years before (1 Samuel 16:1-13). We do not know whether the people of *Judah knew about this. But they chose the man that God had already chosen. David became king of just one *tribe at this time. He did not become king of the whole of *Israel until chapter 5.

The town called Jabesh Gilead was 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Hebron. It was on the east side of the river Jordan. This town had a strong connection with Saul (1 Samuel chapter 11; 1 Samuel 31:11-13). David was grateful that the men from Jabesh Gilead had buried Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:12-13). This included David’s friend Jonathan. The men from Jabesh had been brave and kind. And they had shown honour to the king. So, David sent them a message. He asked God to *bless them. But in verse 6, David also said that he would be good to them. So perhaps David realised that he would soon be their king. In verse 7, David reminded them that their king was dead. He said that he was now king of *Judah. Perhaps David hoped that the rest of *Israel would choose him as their king too. So, he tried to make friends with as many people as possible.

War between *Israel and *Judah

v8 Abner was the leader of Saul’s army. Abner was the son of Ner. Abner had gone across the river Jordan with Ish-Bosheth, who was Saul’s son. They went to the region called Mahanaim. v9 Abner made Ish-Bosheth king over the regions of Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel. And he made him king of the *tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin and all the land of *Israel.

v10 Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth was 40 years old when he became king of *Israel. He ruled for two years. But the people from the *tribe of *Judah were loyal to David. v11 David lived in Hebron. He ruled the people of *Judah for 7 years and 6 months.

v12 Abner, the son of Ner, left Mahanaim. He went to the town of Gibeon with some of Ish-Bosheth’s servants. v13 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, went to Gibeon with some of David’s servants. They met by the pool at Gibeon. One group sat by one side of the pool. The other group sat by the opposite side of the pool.

v14 Abner said to Joab, ‘Let some of the young men from each side fight each other here.’

Joab said, ‘Yes, let them do that.’

v15 So the young men stood up. Someone chose 12 men from the *tribe of Benjamin to fight for Ish-Bosheth. And they chose 12 of David’s men to fight against them.

v16 Each man seized the head of man opposite to him. And each man pushed his sword into the opposite man. The 24 men fell onto the ground dead at the same time. Ever since that time, people have called that place in Gibeon ‘the field of swords’.

Saul had 4 sons (1 Chronicles 8:33). Three of Saul’s sons died with him in the battle (1 Samuel 31:2). His youngest son was Ish-Bosheth. Abner was Saul’s cousin (1 Samuel 14:50-51). After Saul’s death, Abner and Ish-Bosheth went to Mahanaim (verse 12). This was about 21 kilometres (13 miles) to the south of Jabesh Gilead. When a king died, his son usually became the new king. So, Abner appointed Ish-Bosheth to be the new king. This was against what the *Lord had said in 1 Samuel 15:28. And it was also against what Saul had said in 1 Samuel 24:20-21. The Bible does not say whether the people of *Israel wanted Ish-Bosheth as their king. Abner probably took Ish-Bosheth round *Israel. They may have had many ceremonies to make him king in each region or *tribe. Verses 10-11 suggest that this took about 5 years and 6 months. At last, Abner had made Ish-Bosheth king over all the nation of *Israel, except over the *tribe of *Judah.

The nation of *Israel now had two kings. The captains of each army wanted their king to rule the whole nation. Gibeon was Saul’s home town. It was near to the land of *Judah and about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Hebron. Each captain took a group of soldiers with him to Gibeon. But neither of the kings went. The two captains may have gone there to try to make a settlement without a war. They chose 12 men from each group to have a fight. *Israel had 12 *tribes. So perhaps the 12 men acted on behalf of the whole nation. Then whichever group won the fight, their king would rule all 12 *tribes. This is similar to what happened with David and Goliath in 1 Samuel chapter 17 (see verses 8-9). The plan did not work at Gibeon. All the men died.

Abner kills Asahel

v17 The battle was very fierce that day. David’s men defeated Abner and the men from *Israel.

v18 Joab, Abishai and Asahel were the sons of Zeruiah. They were at the battle that day. Asahel could run as fast as a wild deer (an animal like a small horse). v19 Asahel chased Abner and he watched him all the time. v20 Abner looked behind him and said, ‘Are you Asahel?’

Asahel answered, ‘Yes I am.’

v21 Then Abner said to Asahel, ‘Go away! Fight one of the young men who are near you. Then you can kill him and take his *weapons.’ But Asahel would not stop chasing Abner.

v22 Abner warned Asahel again. Abner said, ‘Stop chasing me. I do not want to kill you. If I kill you, it would be hard for me to meet your brother Joab again.’

v23 But Asahel refused to stop chasing Abner. So Abner pushed the back end of his *spear into Asahel’s stomach. The *spear went into him and it came out of his back. Asahel died immediately. Everyone stopped when they came to Asahel’s body.

v24 But Joab and Abishai continued to chase Abner. They came to the hill called Ammah as the sun set. This hill was near Giah, which was along the road to the desert called Gibeon. v25 The men from the *tribe of Benjamin came to Abner. They stood together as a group at the top of the hill.

v26 Abner shouted to Joab, ‘We do not need to continue to fight. In the end, we will be sad and we will hate each other. Quickly tell your men to stop chasing their *Israelite brothers.’

v27 Then Joab said, ‘We would have continued if you had not spoken. God knows that we would have chased you all until the morning.’

v28 So Joab blew his *trumpet. All his men stopped chasing the men from *Israel. They did not continue to fight them.

v29 Abner and his men marched all night long. They went along the valley of the river Jordan. They crossed the river. Then they marched all the morning until they arrived back in Mahanaim.

v30 Joab and his men also returned. Joab gathered his men. He discovered that Asahel and 19 of David’s men were missing. v31 But David’s men had killed 360 of Abner’s men who came from the *tribe of Benjamin. v32 David’s men took the body of Asahel to the town of Bethlehem. They buried Asahel in his father’s grave. Then Joab and his men marched all night long. They returned to Hebron. The sun was rising as they arrived there.

In verse 18, Zeruiah was David’s sister (1 Chronicles 2:12-16). Joab, Abishai and Asahel were David’s nephews. They became the leaders of David’s army.

Abner had tried to avoid a battle. But when the 24 men were dead, all the other soldiers started to fight. Asahel wanted to kill Abner and to finish the battle. Asahel chased Abner and would not stop. Abner tried to persuade Asahel to fight someone else. Abner did not want to kill Asahel. Abner knew that this would cause trouble between himself and Joab. But Abner had to protect himself. In verse 23, Abner did not turn round and fight Asahel. Instead, Abner stopped. Asahel was running so fast that he could not stop. He ran straight into the blunt end of Abner’s *spear and he died. The men from *Judah stopped when they saw the body of their brave soldier Asahel. However, Asahel’s two brothers continued to chase Abner. They wanted to kill Abner because he had killed their brother. (They succeeded in 3:26-30.)

In verse 26, Abner tried again to stop the men who were fighting. He knew that they were all *Israelites. They were not enemies. But if they kept fighting each other, they would become enemies. People sometimes fight against other people who live in the same nation. This often causes the nation to divide. Abner wanted to avoid this in *Israel. Joab realised that this was a good decision. So he blew a *trumpet. That told everybody to stop fighting. A *trumpet is a musical instrument. A person blows into it and it makes a loud sound. The leaders in an army blew a *trumpet to start or to stop a battle. Everyone in the battle can hear the sound of the *trumpet.

Abner and Joab, each with their own army, returned to their own homes. David’s men had been more successful in this battle. In those days, it was the custom to bury dead people in their home town. Each family had an area of land where they could bury their relatives next to each other. Bethlehem was about half way between Gibeon and Hebron.

Chapter 3

v1 So Saul’s family opposed David. Their armies continued to fight for a long time. David’s side became more powerful. But the people who supported Saul’s family became weaker and weaker.

Joab and Abner stopped the battle in 2:26-27 but the war continued. The *tribe of *Judah was smaller than the rest of *Israel. But God had *anointed David as the next king of *Israel. So, God gave David and his army success.

David’s sons

v2-5 David had 6 sons while he was in Hebron.

His oldest son was Amnon. Ahinoam was his mother. She came from the town of Jezreel.

His second son was Kileab. Abigail was his mother. She was the widow of Nabal who came from Carmel.

His third son was Absalom. His mother was Maacah. She was the daughter of Talmai. He was the king of the town of Geshur.

His fourth son was Adonijah. His mother was Haggith.

His fifth son was Shephatiah. His mother was Abital.

His sixth son was Ithream. His mother was Eglah, David’s wife.

These sons were all born to David in Hebron.

(Verses 3-5 See also 1 Chronicles 3:1-4.)

David went to Hebron with two wives (2:2). While he was there, he married 4 more wives. Later, when he moved to Jerusalem, he had more wives and children (5:13-16). At that time, some men had more than one wife. This showed that they were important men. Kings often had many wives. This was the custom in many nations round *Israel. Genesis 2 shows that God wants a man to have only one wife. But the *Israelites probably copied the other nations.

The most important son in an *Israelite family was the oldest son. The oldest son of the king usually became the next king. Verses 2-5 name the first son of each of David’s 6 wives. 1 Chronicles 3:1-3 repeats these verses. But it says that the name of David’s second son was Daniel. David’s wives may have had other sons and daughters during this time. For example, 2 Samuel 13:1 says that Tamar was the sister of Absalom. But we do not know when she was born. The Bible does not mention Kileab (or Daniel), Shephatiah or Ithream again. They may have died when they were young. In 2 Samuel 13:23-29, Absalom killed Amnon. In 2 Samuel 18:1-17, Joab and his men killed Absalom. In 1 Kings 1:1 to 2:25, Adonijah tried to become king when King David was an old man. Later King Solomon killed Adonijah.

Abner joins David’s men

v6 The war continued between Saul’s army and David’s army. During this time, Abner became a more powerful leader in Saul’s army. v7 Saul used to have a *concubine whose name was Rizpah. She was the daughter of Aiah. One day Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, ‘Why did you have sex with my father’s *concubine?’

v8 Abner was very angry. He said, ‘You really think that I am worth nothing. I am not on Judah’s side. I have been loyal to Saul and to his family and his friends. I have not handed you over to David. But now you accuse me of a wrong act with this woman. v9 Now I will go and join David’s men. I will help David to do what God has promised him. I deserve a punishment from God if I do not do this. v10 I will make David the king over *Israel and *Judah. He will rule the whole country. He will rule from Dan to Beersheba.’

v11 Ish-Bosheth did not dare to speak. He was afraid of Abner.

v12 Then Abner sent some of his men to David with a message. Abner said, ‘You know who deserves this country. Make an agreement with me. Then I will help you to unite the nation of *Israel.’

v13 David said, ‘Good. I will make an agreement with you. But you must bring Saul’s daughter Michal with you when you come to meet me. If you do not do this, I will not meet with you.’ v14 Then David sent some of his men to Ish-Bosheth with a message. David said to him, ‘Give me my wife Michal. I killed 100 *Philistines so that I could marry her.’

v15 So Ish-Bosheth took Michal away from her husband. His name was Paltiel. He was the son of Laish. v16 But Paltiel followed Michal to the town of Bahurim. He cried all the way. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go home.’ So, Paltiel returned to his home.

Saul had a *concubine called Rizpah. (A *concubine was like a wife, but the man did not marry her. She did not have as many rights as a wife had.) This argument about Rizpah would end Ish-Bosheth’s rule.

Ish-Bosheth was the king of the northern part of *Israel. Abner led his army. But Abner had more power than Ish-Bosheth. When Saul died, his *concubine Rizpah probably lived with Ish-Bosheth’s family. In verse 7, Ish-Bosheth accused Abner of a wrong act of sex with Rizpah. This act suggested that Abner wanted to take Saul’s place as king. Ish-Bosheth was probably worried that Abner had become so powerful. The Bible does not say whether Ish-Bosheth’s words were true. Abner had been loyal to Saul and had served him for many years. In the *Hebrew language, verse 8 says ‘Am I a dog’s head on *Judah’s side?’ A dog’s head had no value. And *Judah was *Israel’s enemy. Abner was very angry when Ish-Bosheth accused him. Abner thought that Ish-Bosheth had insulted him.

Abner knew that David would be king of *Israel as well as king of *Judah. Abner saw that God was giving David success. Abner did not want David to defeat him. So, he decided to join David’s men. In verse 10, Abner said, ‘I will make David the king.’ Abner believed that he had enough power to do this. He could persuade *Israel’s people to make David king. Abner probably hoped that David would reward him with more power. The Bible often uses the phrase ‘from Dan to Beersheba’. It is a way to describe the whole country of the *Israelites. Dan was a town at the northern end of *Israel. Beersheba was a town at the southern end of *Israel, in the area of *Judah.

In verse 11, Ish-Bosheth knew that he was weak. Without Abner, Ish-Bosheth could not be successful. Abner controlled him. Ish-Bosheth did not have enough power to oppose Abner.

Abner wanted to make an agreement with David. So, Abner sent some of his men to speak to David first. Abner had fought against David’s men in the past. So, Abner wanted to be sure that it was safe. David believed that Abner could help him to unite the nation. David was willing to make an agreement with Abner. But an ‘agreement’ means a ‘serious loyal promise’. Abner was Saul’s cousin (1 Samuel 14:50). Saul had tried to kill David several times (1 Samuel chapters 19, 23-24, 26). David wanted to be sure that he could trust Abner. Also, David wanted to know how much power Abner really had in *Israel.

You can read about David’s wife Michal in 1 Samuel chapter 18 and 25:44. David had earned the right to marry Michal. But Saul took her away her from him. This was not right. Saul had made David feel ashamed. So, David wanted his wife back. Also, there were political reasons why David wanted her back. Michal was King Saul’s daughter. If she returned to David, this would unite the families of Saul and David. Therefore, the people who had been loyal to Saul could now be loyal to David. They would not think that they had left Saul. The Bible does not say whether Michal still loved David (1 Samuel 18:28). Paltiel and Michal had no choice. They had to obey the king.

v17 Then Abner went to the leaders of *Israel. He said to them, ‘For a long time, you have wanted David to be your king. v18 Now you have the chance. The *Lord made a promise to David. The *Lord said, “David is my servant. I have chosen David to save my people, *Israel. I will rescue *Israel from the *Philistines and from all their enemies.” ’

v19 Abner also said this to the people from the *tribe of Benjamin. Then Abner went to Hebron. He told David what the people from Benjamin and from *Israel wanted to do. v20 Abner took 20 men with him when he went to Hebron. David prepared a big meal for them. v21 Abner said to David, ‘You are my master and king. I will go out and bring all the *Israelites to you. They will make an agreement with you. Then you will rule over all of *Israel. This is what you have desired.’ So, David sent Abner away in safety.

Verse 17 is the first time that Abner went to the leaders of *Israel. Many of the leaders had stayed with Saul but they wanted to be with David. Now they had the chance to unite all the *Israelites. Abner told these leaders what God had promised to David. Abner must have heard that Samuel had *anointed David. This would show that David would be king. God had promised the same thing to Saul in 1 Samuel 9:16. But Saul had failed. So, God chose David to replace Saul.

Saul belonged to the *tribe of Benjamin. The people from this *tribe had always been loyal to Saul. They were probably also loyal to his son Ish-Bosheth. The land of Benjamin was to the north of *Judah. It was between *Judah and the rest of *Israel. So, Abner had to persuade the people of Benjamin to join King David. Abner made a special visit to them. He spoke to the people, not just to the leaders. Abner’s visit was successful. (Many years later, David’s son Solomon became king after him. When Solomon died, the country of *Israel divided into two countries again. Each country had its own king. *Israel was the name of northern country. *Judah was the name of the southern country. The *tribe of Benjamin was the only *tribe that joined *Judah. See 1 Chronicles 11:1-12; 1 Kings 12:1-24.)

Abner went to David with the good news. Abner took 20 men with him when he first went to meet David. The 20 men were probably soldiers who protected Abner. In those days, people often ate together after they had made an agreement. This showed that they trusted each other. The *Israelites knew then that David and Abner were not still enemies. They had become friends. So Abner knew that he could travel in safety.

Joab murders Abner

v22 Then Joab and David’s soldiers returned from a battle. They had taken many things from their enemy. David had sent Abner away in safety. So, Abner was not with David at Hebron. v23 Joab and his men arrived at Hebron. The people said to him, ‘Abner, the son of Ner, came to David. The king sent Abner away in safety.’

v24 Joab went to King David and Joab said, ‘Your actions were foolish. Abner came to you and now he has gone. You should not have allowed him to leave. v25 You know what Abner, the son of Ner, is like. He came to cheat you. He wanted to discover what you are doing. He wanted to know the places where you go.’

v26 Joab left David. Then Joab sent some men with a message to Abner. They brought him back from the well at Sirah. David did not know about this.

v27 Abner arrived at Hebron. Joab took Abner aside, next to the gate. Joab pretended that he wanted to talk with Abner in private. But Joab pushed his *spear into Abner’s stomach and he died. Abner had killed Joab’s brother Asahel. So, Joab killed Abner to punish him.

v28 Later, David heard what had happened. He said, ‘I, and my *kingdom, are innocent. The *Lord knows this always. We did not kill Abner. v29 Joab and his family are guilty. They deserve punishment. I hope that members of Joab’s family will always suffer in these ways:

·    Some people will have sore parts in their body that will not heal.

·    Some people will have skin diseases.

·    Some people will have to lean on a stick when they walk.

·    Some people will die in a war.

·    Some people will not have enough food to eat.’

v30 (Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)

Verse 22 does not tell us about the battle. Joab (and the soldiers who were with him) may have been fighting against Saul’s men (verse 1). Or Joab and his soldiers may have been fighting against another country. But whoever it was, the battle was successful. When Joab returned to Hebron, he heard about David and Abner. Joab was angry because Abner was his enemy. Abner had killed Joab’s brother. Also, Abner was a very powerful leader. Joab did not want Abner to take his job as the leader of David’s army. Joab did not trust Abner. So, Joab decided to kill him. Verse 30 says that Abishai was part of this plan too.

Abner had not travelled very far. Sirah was less than 4 kilometres (about 2 to 3 miles) from Hebron. Abner had felt safe when he left Hebron. He trusted Joab. It seems that Abner returned to Hebron without his men (verse 26). So, it was easy for Joab to kill Abner. In Numbers 35:16-33 the law describes the punishment for a person who murders somebody. Family honour was important to the relatives of the dead person. But Abner had not murdered Asahel. Abner had killed him in a battle (3:17-23). To kill in war is not the same as murder. In fact, several times Abner had warned Asahel not to chase him. Abner did not want to kill him. Abner was defending his own life when he killed Asahel. But Joab hated Abner. So, Joab murdered Abner.

This was a very bad situation for David. It could have ruined the agreement that he and Abner had just made. Some leaders in *Israel may have suspected that David and Joab had planned this together. So, David acted immediately. In verse 28, he said very clearly that he was innocent. David’s ‘*kingdom’ included his family as well as the people of *Judah. Joab (and Abishai) murdered Abner. Joab was guilty. David should have killed Joab as his punishment. However, in verse 39, David said that Joab and his brother were too powerful. Also, Joab was David’s nephew (2:18). And he was a good leader. Perhaps that was why David did not kill Joab. Instead, David wanted God to punish Joab’s family. This was very serious. People who had sore parts in their body or skin diseases could not go into the *house of the *Lord (Leviticus chapters 14 and 15). Illness, war and lack of food would cause great troubles for Joab’s family.

v31 Then David spoke to Joab and all the people who were with him. David said, ‘Tear your clothes. Wear poor, rough clothes. Cry and walk in front of the body of Abner in the procession at his funeral.’ King David walked behind the body of Abner. v32 So they buried Abner in Hebron. David and all the people cried at Abner’s grave.

v33-34 Then the king sang a very sad song for Abner.

          ‘Abner should not have died as a fool dies.

          They did not tie his hands together.

                      They did not put chains round his feet.

          He died because wicked men murdered him.’

And all the people cried again.

v35 David had not eaten anything on the day of the funeral. Then everyone tried to persuade David to eat some bread. But he had made a serious promise to God. David said, ‘I deserve a punishment from God if I eat bread or anything else before nightfall.’

v36 All the people saw what the king was doing. They agreed with what he was doing. In fact, they agreed with everything that the king did. v37 That day David’s people and all the people of *Israel knew that David was innocent. He was not responsible for Abner’s death.

v38 Then King David said to his men. He said ‘Know this! A really great leader died today in *Israel. v39 I am the *anointed king but I am weak. I cannot control these sons of Zeruiah. I want the *Lord to punish these wicked men for their wicked act.’

David wanted to show that he was innocent. He wanted all the *Israelites to see how sad he was. Verse 31 describes the usual behaviour of sad people in Israel. (Compare this with Genesis 37:34 and 1 Samuel 4:10-12.) Joab, and the people who were with him, had to wear these clothes. They had to lead the procession during the funeral. They had to look humble and give honour to Abner. Then everyone would see that David did not approve of Joab’s act. At a funeral, the dead person’s family usually walked right behind the body. David walked behind Abner’s body. This showed that he was the saddest person in the procession. And this was how he gave honour to Abner.

Israel is a hot country. People there usually bury dead people on the day that they die. Abner’s family came from the *tribe of Benjamin. It would take too long to send Abner’s body to his home town. In fact, his family probably had not even heard about his death.

David wrote many poems. We can read many of his poems in the book of Psalms. David wrote a special poem for Abner. The word ‘fool’ means someone who does not behave the right way. Abner was innocent. But he died like a guilty man. David refers to ‘wicked men’ in his poem. But he does not mention Joab (or Abishai’s) name.

After a funeral, everyone had a meal together. But David would not eat anything during the daytime. Again, this proved that he was very sad. David had respected Abner as a great man. David was genuine about how sad he felt. But he also wanted the people to notice it. Verses 36-37 show the people’s reaction. They believed that David was innocent. The time of crisis passed. All *Israelites supported David. But in verse 39, David knew that he did not have complete power. The ‘sons of Zeruiah’ refer to Joab and Abishai. They had great power. They had opposed David’s plans with Abner. And they dealt with the situation in their own way. David could not control them. So, David trusted God to be their judge.

Chapter 4

The murder of Ish-Bosheth

v1 Ish-Bosheth was the son of Saul. He heard that Abner had died in Hebron. So, Ish-Bosheth became afraid. And all the people of *Israel were also worried. v2 Ish-Bosheth had two leaders in his army. The name of one man was Baanah, and the name of the other man was Recab. The name of their father was Rimmon. He came from the town of Beeroth. He was from the *tribe of Benjamin. (The town of Beeroth belonged to the *tribe of Benjamin. v3 The people from Beeroth had escaped to the town of Gittaim. They still live there as foreigners.)

Everything changed in *Israel when Abner died. He had been very powerful. He had been able to control the country. But Ish-Bosheth was too weak to rule the country alone. At times like that, often other leaders fight to become the ruler. That could have caused a war that would have destroyed the whole country. Abner’s plan to unite *Israel and *Judah would have failed. Everyone in *Israel was worried about the future. But, two of Ish-Bosheth’s captains changed the situation. The information in verses 2 and 3 was probably important to the *Israelites when the writer wrote this account.

v4 (Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son. His name was Mephibosheth. He was *lame. He was five years old when Saul and Jonathan died in the battle at Jezreel. A servant girl looked after Mephibosheth when he was young. The servant girl heard the news about the battle. She picked up the boy and she ran for safety. She was in such a hurry to leave that he fell. His injury was severe, so he could not walk.)

This verse is not about Ish-Bosheth, but it contains some important information. King Saul had four sons and one grandson. (In 1 Chronicles 8:33-34 the name of Ish-Bosheth is ‘Esh-Baal’. And the name for Mephibosheth is ‘Merib-Baal’.) Three of Saul’s sons died with him in the battle against the *Philistines (1 Samuel 31:8). Ish-Bosheth escaped, so he became king. We believe that he did not have any sons to become king after him. So, Jonathan’s son should have become king after Ish-Bosheth. But Mephibosheth could not walk. He could not fight wars. Therefore, he could not be the king. He would not affect the plans for *Israel. So, nobody bothered to kill him. He was about 13 years old in this chapter. The story of Mephibosheth continues in chapter 9.

v5 One day Recab and Baanah (the sons of Rimmon who came from Beeroth) went to Ish-Bosheth’s house. They arrived about midday. Ish-Bosheth was having a rest. v6-7 Recab and Baanah went into the centre of the house. They pretended that they were getting some wheat. Ish-Bosheth was lying on his bed in his bedroom. The two men pushed a *spear into Ish-Bosheth’s stomach and killed him. Then they cut off his head. They took his head with them and they escaped from the house. They travelled along the valley of the river Jordan that night. v8 They arrived at Hebron and they took the head of Ish-Bosheth to David. They said to David, ‘Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul. And Saul was your enemy because he tried to kill you. Today the *Lord has punished Saul and his family for what they did to you.’

v9 David spoke to Recab and his brother Baanah (the sons of Rimmon who came from Beeroth). David said, ‘I shall tell you the truth. I certainly know that the *Lord lives. He has rescued me from all my troubles. v10 Now a man once thought that he was bringing me good news. He said, “Saul is dead.” So, I seized him and I killed him in Ziklag. That was how I rewarded him for his news. v11 But this is worse. You are wicked men. You killed an innocent man while he was asleep on his bed. Now I will punish you because you are guilty. You must die.’

v12 So David gave a command to his men and they killed Recab and Baanah. Then David’s men cut off the hands and feet from the bodies of Recab and Baanah. The men hung the bodies next to the pool in Hebron. But they took Ish-Bosheth’s head and they buried it in Abner’s grave in Hebron.

In those days, people usually gave the oldest son’s name first (as in verse 2). But from verse 5, Recab’s name is first. This probably means that he was the leader in this event. Recab and Baanah were captains in Ish-Bosheth’s army. He trusted them. They could visit the king at his house. Perhaps they went there often to get food for their soldiers. The king may have had soldiers who guarded his house. But these soldiers would not suspect Recab and Baanah. *Israel is a hot country. People often got up early and they worked while it was cooler. Then they rested when it became hot in the middle of the day. Recab and Baanah killed Ish-Bosheth when he could not defend himself. They murdered him in the same way that Joab murdered Abner. They cut off his head as the evidence of their act. Also, this was like a prize for them (see 1 Samuel 17:51-58 and 31:8-9). They travelled at night so that they would not meet other people. (Most people only travelled in the daytime because it was safer.)

We do not why Recab and Baanah were not loyal to Ish-Bosheth. They probably knew that he was too weak to remain as the king. Perhaps they wanted David to approve of them as leaders. This act would show that they were loyal to David. They even said that this was the *Lord’s work. But they did not trust the *Lord. Instead, they wanted to punish Saul’s family. Recab and Baanah knew what Saul had done to David. They had probably gone with Saul when he chased David. But they did not know that David respected Saul. Saul had been God’s *anointed king. Perhaps Recab and Baanah did not know about the punishment for the man who killed Saul (1:5-16). Certainly, they did not realise that David would punish them in the same way.

David was a soldier. But a fair soldier did not kill innocent people. David did not need anyone to punish his enemies. He trusted God in every situation. David was very angry at Recab and Baanah. He punished them by the law of the *Lord (Exodus 21:12 and Leviticus 24:17). David’s men hung up the two bodies without their hands and feet. This showed everyone that they had punished the two men. But they buried Ish-Bosheth’s head with proper honour. Ish-Bosheth had depended on Abner while he was alive. Then, when they died, their bodies shared the same grave.

Chapter 5

This chapter records three very important things that David did:

(1)        He united the nation of *Israel.

(2)       He made the city of Jerusalem his capital. (This city is still the most important city for the *Jewish people now, almost 3000 years later.)

(3)        He defeated the *Philistines. They were never a big problem again for the *Israelites.

The author of this book recorded these events. But he did not tell us when they happened.

(Verses 1-10 See also 1 Chronicles 11:1-9.

Verses 11-16 See also 1 Chronicles 3:5-9 and 4:1-7.

Verses 17-25 See also 1 Chronicles 14:8-17.)

David becomes the king of *Israel

v1 All the *tribes of *Israel came to David while he was at Hebron. They said, ‘We are all members of your family. v2 In the past, Saul was king. But you led the *Israelites in their battles. The *Lord said to you, “You will be like a *shepherd for my people, the *Israelites. You will become their leader.” ’

v3 So all the leaders in *Israel came to King David at Hebron. In that town, David made an agreement with them in front of the *Lord. And they *anointed David as the king over all *Israel.

v4 David was 30 years old when he became the king. He ruled the *Israelites for 40 years. v5 While he lived in Hebron, he ruled over the *tribe of *Judah for 7 years and 6 months. When he lived in Jerusalem, he ruled over all the *tribes in *Israel and *Judah for 33 years.

In chapter 3, Abner had intended to make David the king over all *Israel. Now Abner and King Ish-Bosheth were dead. The leaders from the 10 northern *tribes had to choose a new king. David did not go and make himself their king. Instead, they came to David. In Deuteronomy 17:15, God gave two commands about *Israelite kings;

·    The king must be a ‘brother *Israelite’. In other words, he must belong to the families of the *Israelites.

·    The king must be the person that the *Lord chooses.

All the *Israelites belonged to the same family although they were in different *tribes. They all came from the family of Jacob (Genesis chapter 35). So the northern *tribes emphasised this family unity. The *Israelites also knew that David was a great military leader. God had given David success in every battle that he fought. David had even had more success than King Saul had. Also, the *Israelites knew that God had chosen David as their king. The people knew God’s promise about David. The Bible does not record God’s words in verse 2 anywhere else. But God had told Samuel to *anoint David. This meant that he would become king one day (1 Samuel 16:1).

In verse 2, a ‘leader’ is a prince or a king. He rules a *tribe or a nation. The word also refers to the captain of an army. In this verse, God called the *Israelites ‘my people’. The *Israelites did not belong to David. They belonged to God. So David had to look after the *Israelites in the proper way.

The word ‘*shepherd’ describes how the ruler should do his work. David had been a *shepherd when he was young (1 Samuel 16:11 and 17:14-15). A *shepherd looks after sheep. He leads them. And he feeds and protects them. Genesis 49:50 calls God a *shepherd. In John 10 Jesus taught about *shepherds. He said, ‘I am the good *shepherd.’ David wrote the famous Psalm 23. He described God as the *shepherd. David knew how God had been like a *shepherd to him. So, David understood how to look after God’s people. He did not become an unkind or cruel king.

Samuel had *anointed David as king in 1 Samuel 16:6-13. In 2 Samuel 2:4 the men of *Judah *anointed David as king of the *tribe of *Judah. At last, all *Israel *anointed David as their king. David had waited many years for this to happen. But David did not try to make it happen. He trusted God when the situation with Saul was very difficult. In the end, God worked everything out. In 1 Samuel 10:25, Samuel had explained to the people about the duties of the *Israelites and their king. In verse 3, David and the *Israelites made an agreement. This was probably like the agreement that Saul made in order to become king. ‘In front of the *Lord’ probably means that the priest led this event at a special holy place.

David defeats the people in Jerusalem and he goes to live there

v6 David and his men marched to the city called Jerusalem and they attacked it. The people called Jebusites lived in Jerusalem. They said to David, ‘You will never get into this city. Even the *lame and blind people will be able to stop you.’ The Jebusites thought that David would not be able to enter the city. v7 However, David attacked and defeated the *stronghold called Zion. He called it the city of David. v8 That day, David said, ‘If you want to defeat the Jebusites you will have to go through the water tunnel (underground passage). You will reach the people who call themselves “*lame and blind” people. They are David’s enemies.’ This is why people say, ‘The “blind and the *lame people” will not enter the palace.’ v9 So David went to live in the *stronghold. He called it the city of David. He built the city round the *stronghold. He started at the place where they had made the land level. v10 David continued to become more powerful because God supported him. And God is the most powerful ruler.

v11 Hiram was the king of the town called Tyre. He sent some men with a message for David. He sent wood from trees called cedars. He also sent workmen. Some of the men worked with wood. Other men worked with stone. They built a palace for David. v12 Then David was sure that the *Lord had made him king over *Israel. And David was sure that the *Lord loved the people of *Israel. This is why the *Lord had made David’s *kingdom great.

v13 David left Hebron and he lived in Jerusalem. He had more *concubines and he married more wives. So, he also had more sons and daughters. v14-16 These are the names of the children that David had in Jerusalem:

·    Shammua

·    Shobab

·    Nathan

·    Solomon

·    Ibhar

·    Elishua

·    Nepheg

·    Japhia

·    Elishama

·    Eliada

·    Eliphelet.

The people called Jebusites lived in the country called Canaan (Israel) before God gave it to the *Israelites (Genesis 10:15-19; 15:18-21). Jerusalem was an ancient city in their country. They called it Jebus (Judges 19:10). It was in the land that God gave to the *tribe of Benjamin. The men from *Judah and Benjamin had tried to take control of Jerusalem in the past (Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:8, 21). But they could not defeat the Jebusite people. They would not leave their city. So the Jebusites and *Israelites lived together in the country.

David wanted a new capital city. Jerusalem was better than Hebron. But the Jebusites believed that the *Israelites could never take control of the city. The city was on the top of a steep hill. The name of the hill was Zion. The city had a wall round it. The Jebusites felt safe in their city. They could throw stones down onto anyone who attacked them. They thought that even very weak people could defend the city. But David was the first person to defeat the Jebusites in Jerusalem. He called this city by his own name, ‘the city of David’. Verse 8 might show that David did not kill the Jebusites (see also 2 Samuel 24:18-25). He may have let them live under his control. He referred to them as ‘the blind and *lame people’. And they could not go into the palace that Hiram built for David in verse 11.

When David lived in Jerusalem, David made the city bigger. The *Jewish people still live in Jerusalem today. They believe that it is a very special place. They still call it the ‘city of David’. They also call it the ‘city of Zion’. It is now a very large city. People have tried to discover more about the old city of Zion. They found an underground passage that went down through the rock to a stream. The people called Jebusites used this passage to get water when people attacked them. This is the ‘water tunnel’ in verse 8. David may have discovered this stream and well many years before. He knew that it was the only way to get into the city.

Verse 11 probably happened many years after David became king. King Hiram lived outside of *Israel. He saw that David had become a powerful king. Hiram respected King David. He wanted to build David a palace. Tyre was an important port for trade. Many workmen lived there. There were not many men in *Israel who could build houses from wood and stone. Hiram got wood from cedar trees. That wood was very strong. It lasted for a long time. David probably sent grain and food as a gift to King Hiram.

Verses 10 and 12 say that David became powerful. He felt like a proper king as soon as he had a palace to live in. His *kingdom became great. But David did not become proud. He knew that the *Lord God had given him everything. And the *Lord did this because of the *Israelites. The *Lord loved the people that he had chosen (Deuteronomy 7:6-11).

In Deuteronomy 17:17, God says that a king should not have many wives. But David did not follow this law. Instead, he behaved like the kings in the countries round *Israel. Later in 2 Samuel, we see that there was a lot of trouble between David’s sons. There are other lists of David’s sons in 1 Chronicles 3:5-9 and 14:4-7. The lists are not quite the same. Some sons may have died when they were young. And some may have had different names. There is no list of David’s daughters. Solomon became the king after David. Luke 3:31 says that Nathan was a previous relative of Jesus. The Bible does not mention any of David’s other sons that are in verses 14-16 again.

David defeats the *Philistines twice

v17 The *Philistines heard that the *Israelites had *anointed David as the king over *Israel. So the whole *Philistine army went to find him. When David heard about this, he went down to the *stronghold. v18 The *Philistines army arrived at the valley called Rephaim and they camped all along it. v19 So David asked the *Lord, ‘Shall I attack the *Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’

The *Lord answered, ‘Go and attack them. I will certainly hand them over to you.’

v20 So David went to Baal Perazim and he defeated the *Philistines. David said, ‘The *Lord has burst through my enemies like a flood of water.’ So, David named that place ‘Baal Perazim’. v21 The *Philistines left their *idols behind at Baal Perazim. So David and his men took the *idols away.

v22 Again the *Philistines came and camped in the valley of Rephaim. v23 So David asked the *Lord again what he should do. The *Lord said, ‘Do not attack the *Philistines from the front. Go round behind them. Attack them in front of the trees that are called balsam trees. v24 You will hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the trees. Then you must quickly go and attack. I will be marching ahead of you and I will defeat the *Philistine army.’ v25 So David obeyed the *Lord. And David killed the *Philistines all along the way from Gibeon (or Geba) to Gezer.

The *Philistines had not attacked David when he was the king of *Judah. But when he became the king of all *Israel he was more powerful. So the whole *Philistine army went to find him. This probably happened before David attacked Jerusalem. But David heard that the *Philistines were coming to attack him. The ‘*stronghold’ in verse 7 was probably one of the places where David used to hide from Saul in southern *Judah. Rephaim was south west of Jerusalem. The Bible does not tell us many details about these two battles. But it tells us one important thing. David first asked the *Lord what he should do. David did not fight until the *Lord answered him. David probably went to Abiathar, or another priest. The priest used the *ephod to find the *Lord’s answer (see 1 Samuel 23:9-12). This contrasts with Saul in 1 Samuel, especially in chapter 28.

David defeated the *Philistines in the first battle. However, he knew that the *Lord had really defeated them. So, David gave that place a new name. This gave honour to the *Lord because of his action in the battle. ‘Baal Perazim’ means the ‘*Lord burst through’. The *Philistines believed that their gods lived in the *idols. The account in 1 Chronicles 14:12 says that David burned the *idols. So the *Lord defeated the *Philistines and their false gods.

The *Philistines went to attack David again. And David asked the *Lord again what he should do. The *Lord gave David a different plan. He attacked the *Philistines from behind. They did not expect David to attack them in that way. (Balsam is a type of small tree.) In 1 Samuel 8:19-20 the *Israelites had asked for a king. They wanted the king to lead their army into battle. But, in verse 24, the *Lord said, ‘I will be marching ahead of you.’ The *Lord led David and his army into the battle. David did not attack until he heard the sound of the *Lord in the trees. Again, David and his army fought, but the *Lord defeated the *Philistines.

After these battles, the *Philistines were never a big problem for the *Israelites. The *Philistines still attacked some of the cities in *Israel. But they knew that they could never defeat the whole nation. The nation of *Israel was safer with David as king. David obeyed the *Lord.

Chapter 6

David brings the *ark of God to Jerusalem

v1 David again gathered all the men that he chose from *Israel. There were 30 000 men. v2 Then David and all his men went to the town called Baalah in *Judah. They went to bring back the *ark of God. The *ark has the name of the most powerful *Lord. The *Lord is present between the cherubim (*angels) on the top of the *ark. v3 They brought the *ark of God out from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. They put the *ark on a new cart. Abinadab had two sons. Their names were Uzzah and Ahio. They were leading the new cart. v4 So they brought the cart with the *ark of the *Lord on it from Abinadab’s house. Ahio walked in front of the cart. v5 David and all the people of *Israel were very excited in front of the *Lord. They sang and they played musical instruments. These instruments were called lyres, harps, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.

v6 They came to the place where Nacon used to prepare his grain. The *oxen were pulling the cart, but they nearly tripped over. When the *oxen nearly fell, Uzzah held the *ark. He did not want the *ark to fall off the cart. v7 God was very angry with Uzzah because he had done the wrong thing. God killed Uzzah. Uzzah died next to the *ark of God. v8 Then David was angry because the *Lord had punished Uzzah. So, they called that place Perez Uzzah.

v9 David was now afraid of the *Lord. David said, ‘I do not know how the *ark of the *Lord can come to me now.’ v10 David would not take the *ark of the *Lord into the city of David. Instead, David took it into the house of Obed Edom. (Obed Edom came from the city called Gath.) v11 The *ark was there for three months. The *Lord *blessed Obed Edom and all his family.

(Verses 1-11 See also 1 Chronicles 13:1-14.)

The account of this event in 1 Chronicles 13 says that David gathered men from his army. Then he gathered men from all the *tribes of *Israel. He also asked the priests and *Levites to go with him. This was an important event for the *Israelites. David was king of the whole nation. Jerusalem (the city of David) was the new capital city. David had a palace to live in. David now wanted the *ark of the *Lord to be in *Israel’s capital city. This meant that the *Lord would be present in the city. Also, it would show that the *Lord was the real king of *Israel. The *Israelites would give *sacrifices and *worship the *Lord there.

God is too great to live in any building that men may build (Acts 7:48-50). But he was present at the *ark of the *Lord. In the *Old Testament, God spoke to the priest from a place above the *ark (Exodus 25:22). In verse 2, the word ‘present’ can mean ‘sit’. This means that the *ark was like a throne (a king’s seat) for the *Lord. So, wherever the *ark went, the *Lord was present there in a special way. ‘The *ark has the name of the most powerful *Lord.’ This means that the *ark belonged to the *Lord. It was holy because it belonged to the *Lord.

In Joshua 15:9, Baalah is a different name for the town called Kiriath Jearim. The *ark had been there since 1 Samuel 7:1. King Saul had no interest in the *ark. He did not *worship the *Lord as David did. The *Israelites moved the *ark on a new cart. *Oxen pulled the cart. This is what the *Philistines did in 1 Samuel 6:7-15. But this is against the *Lord’s commands in Exodus 25:10-16 and Numbers 4:5-6,15. God had told the *Levites to put two long poles into rings in the ark. Then they carried the ark by these poles. They could not touch the ark because it was very holy. Abinadab’s family had looked after the *ark for many years. In verse 3, ‘sons’ can mean grandsons. They led the *ark on its journey to Jerusalem. The *Israelites knew that this was a special event. They had a very happy time. Lyres and harps are instruments with strings. Tambourines and rattles make a noise when you shake them. Cymbals are flat pieces of metal that you hit together. This was a very noisy procession.

Farmers had to separate the grains of wheat from the stems and the leaves. They shook the wheat into the air in order to do this. Then the wind blew the light pieces away. Each farmer did it at a particular place where the ground was flat. So, everyone knew where Uzzah died. Perhaps the ground was not in fact level there. Uzzah wanted to protect the *ark so he held it. But the *ark was holy. Uzzah had not given honour to God. So, God punished Uzzah. (God had warned about this in Numbers 4:15.) ‘Perez Uzzah’ means ‘the angry reaction against Uzzah’. Abinadab’s family should have known how to move the *ark. They should have moved it God’s way, not their own way. The happy day became a sad day for all the *Israelites.

David thought that he was doing the right thing. He wanted to give honour to the *Lord. He wanted all the *Israelites to *worship the *Lord again. But the *Lord had stopped the procession. David was angry. Then David realised how holy God was. So he became afraid of the *Lord. He did not want the *Lord to punish any more people. David did not know whether the *ark would ever go to Jerusalem. Obed Edom was probably a *Levite (1 Chronicles 26:1-8). David would not have given the *ark to an ordinary *Israelite. The *Levites knew how to look after the *ark in the proper way. Gath was probably a town in *Israel, not the *Philistine town.

v12 Now the people told David, ‘The *Lord has *blessed Obed Edom, his family and everything that belongs to them. It is because the *ark of God is there.’ So David fetched the *ark of God from Obed Edom’s house. David took it to the city of David with great joy. v13 The men who carried the *ark walked 6 steps. Then David *sacrificed a bull (male cow) and a fat young cow. v14 David was wearing a *linen *ephod. He danced with all his energy in front of the *Lord. v15 David and all the people of *Israel brought the *ark of the *Lord to the city of David. They shouted with joy and they blew *trumpets.

(Verses 12-19 See also 1 Chronicles 15:25-16:3.)

For three months the *Lord *blessed everything that Obed Edom had. David realised that the *ark itself was not the problem. The *Lord had only been angry because Uzzah had done something wrong. He had touched the ark. But then, the *Lord *blessed everyone who gave him honour. The problem was that David’s men had carried the *ark in the wrong way. They had not obeyed the *Lord. This time they carried it as the *Lord had said. And they *sacrificed to the *Lord. David was king of all the priests in *Israel. It seems that David behaved like a priest that day. He took off his royal coat to show that he was humble. And he wore a *linen *ephod. (Only the priests wore an *ephod.) In the book of Psalms, the writers often said ‘shout with joy to the *Lord’. The *Israelites were often very noisy when they *worshipped. A *trumpet is an instrument that you blow into. The priests often used a *trumpet as they *worshipped the *Lord (1 Chronicles 16:6). Everyone was excited and happy. And David was probably happier than everyone else.

Many Psalms refer to this event. For example, Psalm 24; Psalm 68:16-17, 24-27, 29, 35; Psalm 132:6-9; Psalm 47:5.

v16 As the *ark of the *Lord entered the city of David, Saul’s daughter Michal watched from her window. She saw King David. He was jumping and dancing in front of the *Lord. Then Michal felt very surprised. His actions disgusted her.

v17 David had put up a tent for the *ark of the *Lord. The *Israelites put the *ark in its place inside the tent. David *sacrificed *burnt offerings and friendship *offerings to the *Lord. v18 David finished *sacrificing *burnt offerings and friendship *offerings. Then he *blessed the people in the name of the most powerful *Lord. v19 Then he gave a gift to every *Israelite man and woman. He gave them a loaf of bread, and a round pack of dates and a round pack of raisins. (Dates and raisins are dried fruit.) After this, all the people went to their homes.

v20 David returned to his home so that he could *bless the people in his family. Saul’s daughter Michal came to meet him. She said, ‘Today you did not behave with honour as the king of *Israel should. You took off your royal coat. Even the female slaves of your servants saw you do this. And you were not ashamed.’

v21 David said to Michal, ‘I did this in front of the *Lord. The *Lord chose me as the ruler over his people of *Israel. He chose me rather than your father or anyone from Saul’s family. Therefore I will be full of joy in front of the *Lord. v22 I will be even less ashamed. And I will be more humble. But those female slave girls that you mentioned will give me honour.’

v23 Saul’s daughter Michal never had any children.

David had prepared a special tent for the *ark. This may have been like the tent that Moses made (Exodus 25-27). David gave two types of *offerings to the *Lord. The people did not have to give these *offerings. Instead the people gave these *offerings because they wanted to. However, they had to give the *offering the proper way. Leviticus chapters 1-7 describes 5 different types of *offerings that the *Israelites gave to the *Lord.

At the end of this event, David *blessed the people. ‘*Bless’ means to ask the *Lord to give people good things. The *Lord is most powerful. He gives everything that is good. Then David gave everyone a present. Everyone had enough food to eat as they went home. Dates and raisins are dried fruits (see also 1 Samuel 25:18 and 30:12). David led the *Israelites as their king. But he also led them when they *worshipped. David loved and served the *Lord. David wanted all the *Israelites to love and serve the *Lord too.

Michal was David’s wife. But this chapter always refers to her as ‘Saul’s daughter’. Michal was like her father Saul. Saul did not care about the *ark. He had not *worshipped the *Lord like David did. Saul became proud and he did not obey the *Lord. Saul cared what people thought about him. (You can read about Saul in 1 Samuel from chapter 9. Chapter 15 shows Saul’s attitude to the *Lord and other people.)

Michal had stayed in the palace. She watched the *ark of the *Lord come into the city. Michal knew that David was a brave soldier. He had become the king of the whole nation of *Israel. But she thought that this day he behaved like a foolish man. Michal saw what David did. But she did not understand how much David loved the *Lord. She did not care that David wanted to give honour to the *Lord.

In verse 20, David went to *bless his family. This included all his servants and slaves. Michal told David that his actions disgusted her. She did not respect David when she spoke to him. But David was confident. The *Lord had chosen him, not Saul’s family. Michal probably thought that David insulted her by his actions. David wanted God to have more honour and *glory. So, David was content to be more humble. Michal did not give David honour as the king. But David knew that even slaves would still give him honour as the king.

Michal did not have any children (verse 23). This suggests that she and David did not continue to live together as husband and wife. Therefore, Saul’s family could not continue through Michal. But David had other wives. And these wives gave honour to David, because David became a father by them. We do not know what happened to Michal. Probably she just lived in her own house like a widow, until she died.

1 Samuel 18:20-27 says that Michal had loved David. And David risked his life to marry her. But it seems that their marriage ended in this chapter. The Bible does not tell us anything else about Michal after this event.

Chapter 7

God makes a promise to David

v1 King David was living in his palace now. The *Lord had given him peace from his enemies. v2 One day, David said to Nathan, the *prophet, ‘I am living in a palace. And my palace has the best wood, from trees called cedars. But the *ark of God is still in a tent.’

v3 Nathan replied to the king, ‘You should do whatever you have decided to do. The *Lord is with you.’

v4 That night the *Lord spoke to Nathan. The *Lord said, v5 ‘Go to David and say, “The *Lord has sent this message to you.” He says “You must not build a house for me. You are not the right man. v6 I rescued the *Israelites from the country called Egypt. I never had a house from that time until now. I moved from one place to another. A tent has always been my home. v7 So I moved with the *Israelites. And I told the rulers of the *Israelites to be like a *shepherd to the people. I never told them to build me a house or *temple from the wood of cedar trees.”

v8 Nathan, you must give this message to my servant David. “The *Lord is the leader of armies of *angels. And this is what the *Lord says: You were just a young *shepherd who looked after the sheep. But I chose you to lead my people *Israel. v9 I have been with you everywhere that you have gone. I defeated all your enemies. Now I will make you as famous as any of the great people in the world. v10 I have provided a place for my people *Israel to live. They will live in this country and they will be safe. They will have permanent homes here. Wicked people will not continue to cause trouble for my people. They had trouble in the past v11 even when I chose judges (leaders) for my people *Israel. Now I will keep you safe from all your enemies. I, the *Lord, am speaking to you. I will make a house for you. (In other words, I will establish your royal family.)

v12 One day you will die. But I will make one of your own sons the king. I will establish his *kingdom. v13 It is he who will build a house for me. And I will make sure that his *kingdom lasts always. v14 I will be like a father to him. He will be like my son. If he *sins, I will punish him. But I will use other people to give him the punishment. v15 I stopped loving Saul. And I removed him before you became king. But I will never stop loving your son. v16 Your family and your *kingdom will continue always. Someone from your family will always be king.” ’

v17 Nathan told David everything that the *Lord said.

(Verses 1-29 See also 1 Chronicles 17.)

The events of this chapter may have happened a long time after David became king. But the subject follows on from chapter 6 about the *ark of the *Lord.

The writer uses the *Hebrew word for ‘house’ in this chapter. This word has three different meanings. It refers to a building where people live. It also refers to a person’s family, in the present time and in the future. And it is another word for the *temple.

In verse 1, David lived in his house (palace). In verse 2 and 4 he wanted to build a house (*temple) for the *Lord. But in verses 11 and 16 the *Lord said that he would establish David’s house (royal family) to last always. David wanted to give honour to the *Lord. Instead, the *Lord gave honour, which would last always, to David and his family.

There was peace in *Israel. In Deuteronomy 12:10-14, the *Lord said that this would happen one day. The *Lord made David a successful soldier. David fought many battles and he defeated *Israel’s enemies. However, verse 9 says that the *Lord really defeated the enemies. The *Lord provided the land for the *Israelites (verse 10). He had promised this land to Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 15:18-19. The *Lord *kept his promise. There were no wars, so David was not very busy. He wanted to give more honour to the *Lord. David knew that he had an impressive palace. He thought that a tent was not good enough for the *ark of God. He wanted to build a great *temple. Then they would call this *temple ‘the house where God lives’. First, David asked Nathan the *prophet. The *Lord spoke to the *prophets and he gave them messages for people. David’s plan seemed good to Nathan but it was not the *Lord’s plan.

That night, the *Lord gave Nathan a message for David. The *Lord had not asked David to build him a *temple. God called it a ‘house’. In verse 11, he uses the word ‘house’ again. He was referring to the children that David would have. The *Lord wanted David to think about the *Lord’s actions. And the *Lord did not want David to think about what he, David, would do. Also, it was not the right time. And David was the wrong person. The writer of 1 Chronicles 22:8-10 tells us the reason. David was a soldier. He had fought many battles and he had killed many people. However, his son Solomon would be a peaceful king. He would not kill people. Therefore, the *Lord would let him build the *temple. You can read about this in 2 Chronicles chapters 2 to 7.

The *Lord reminded David about all that he had done for David. He was the king of *Israel only because the *Lord had chosen him. David was the *Lord’s servant. But the *Lord promised that someone from David’s family would always be king. David’s family continued to rule two *Israelite *tribes for more than 400 years. The *Lord’s promise in verse 16 referred to more than just human kings. It referred to Jesus Christ. He came from the family of King David (Luke 3:31). People called Jesus the ‘son of David’ (Matthew 21:9). And 1 Timothy 6:14-15 says that Jesus is ‘the king of all kings’. This shows that the *Lord *kept his promise to David.

Many years later, the *Israelites and their kings *sinned. They did not obey the *Lord so they were not safe in their country (verse 10). The *Lord punished them (2 Kings chapter 25). The *Lord had warned the *Israelites about this in Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

The *Lord promised always to love David’s son (verse 15). This was a special promise. The *Lord wanted them to have personal relationship like a father and son (verse 14). ‘Son’ refers to Solomon. But it also refers to the other kings who came from his family. So all kings of Israel were sons of God because they were special to God. God wanted to act through them. And God would always love the king (verse 15). A long time later, Jesus was born from David’s family. He was the Son of God in a special way. This contrasts with King Saul. He did not love the *Lord so the *Lord removed him. Nobody in Saul’s family ever became king after he died. Sadly, Solomon did not follow the *Lord as David did (1 Kings 11:4). But the *Lord continued to love Solomon. The *Lord *kept his promise.

Nathan was a good *prophet. He listened to the *Lord and then he told David everything.

David prays to the *Lord

v18 Then David went in and he sat in front of the *Lord. David said, ‘You are God, and you are my master. I am not important. My family is not important. I do not know why you have done this for me.

v19 But now you have done even more, my master and my God. You have told me, your servant, about the future of my family. You do not usually do this for people, my master and my God. v20 I do not know what to say to you, my master and my God. You know all about me. I am just your servant. v21 You decided to do these things. And you said that you would do them. You have done this wonderful thing. And you have told me, your servant.

v22 You are so great, *Lord God. We ourselves have discovered that nobody is like you. There is no other God. v23 There is no other nation like your people *Israel. You, God, rescued them. You chose them as your own people. People abroad know about you because of your people. You did great and wonderful things. Your people were slaves in Egypt so you rescued them. You forced nations and their gods out of the way of your people. v24 You have made the people of *Israel to be your own people always. And you, *Lord, became their God.

v25 Now, our *Lord and God, do what you have promised to me, your servant, and to my family. *Keep your promise always. v26 Then people will always give you honour. People will say, “The *Lord, who is the leader of armies of *angels, is God over *Israel.” The family of David, your servant, will continue to be kings. v27 You are our *Lord. You are the leader of armies of *angels. And you are God over *Israel. You have shown this to me, your servant. You said that you would make my family great. I am your servant. I have been brave enough to pray this to you. v28 My master and my God, you really are God. Everything that you say is true. You have made this promise to me, your servant. v29 I ask you to *bless the family of me, your servant. I pray that my family will always be your servants. You, my master and my God, promised this. You will always *bless the family of your servant.’

Verse 18 means that David sat in front of the *ark of the *Lord. It was probably in a tent. The *ark of the *Lord had a curtain round it (Exodus 40:1-2). Nobody could see it because it was holy. The *Lord used to speak as if he were above the *ark.

David heard what the *Lord had promised. But he did not become proud. Instead, he went to pray to the *Lord. David was a humble man. He referred often to the greatness of God. And he referred often to himself as the *Lord’s servant.

In verses 18-21, David did not know what to say to the *Lord. He could hardly believe what the *Lord had promised. The *Lord knew everything. And he even told David what would happen in the future. This was very unusual. David was very grateful to the *Lord. David knew that he did not deserve anything.

In verses 22-24, David praised the *Lord for all that the *Lord had done for *Israel in the past. David knew that *Israel was the *Lord’s special nation. David knew how wonderful and powerful the *Lord was. Even other nations knew about the *Lord’s great acts.

In verses 25-29, David became confident. David asked the *Lord to *keep his promise. And he knew that the *Lord would do this. David wanted the *Lord to have honour. David was not selfish. He did not want honour for himself or his family. Instead, he wanted everyone to see how great the *Lord is. David knew that he was the *Lord’s servant. And he wanted his family to serve the *Lord always.

David did not build a *temple for the *Lord. He accepted the *Lord’s decision and he obeyed him. However, 1 Chronicles 28:11-19 says that the *Lord gave David the plans for the *temple. We do not know when this happened. But it shows that the *Lord trusted David. David had a lot of knowledge but Solomon did not. Solomon was still young, so David helped him with all the preparations. David provided many materials and skilled men. He also explained to Solomon all the details in the plans of the *temple (1 Chronicles chapters 22, 28 and 29). David always wanted to obey and to *worship the *Lord. And David always wanted to give honour to the *Lord. So David tried to make sure that Solomon built the *temple in the right way. You can read how Solomon built the temple in 1 Kings chapter 6.

Chapter 8

David wins many wars

v1 Some time later, David fought the *Philistines. He defeated them and he controlled their chief city. v2 Then David defeated the people from Moab. He made the prisoners lie down on the ground. Then he measured them with a line. David’s army killed the prisoners who were lying by the first and second lines. But they allowed the prisoners who were lying by the third line to live. After that, the people of Moab had to serve David. They paid taxes to him.

v3 Hadadezer was the son of Rehob, the king of Zobah. Hadadezer had gone to the river Euphrates. He wanted to rule over the territory round the river again. But David defeated him. v4 David took 1000 of Hadadezer’s *chariots. He took as prisoners 7000 men who rode in the *chariots. David also took 20 000 other soldiers as prisoners. He kept 100 of their horses. Then David’s soldiers cut the back of the ankles of all the other horses.

v5 The *Aramean men from the area of Damascus went to help Hadadezer. David’s army killed 22 000 *Arameans. v6 Then David set up military camps in the *Aramean *kingdom of Damascus. The *Arameans had to serve David. They had to pay him taxes. The *Lord gave David success wherever he went. v7 David took the gold *shields from Hadadezer’s officers. He brought the *shields to Jerusalem. v8 Hadadezer also ruled the towns of Tebah and Berothai. King David took a lot of *bronze from these towns.

v9 King Toi came from the town of Hamath. He heard that David had defeated the army of Hadadezer. v10 King Toi sent his son Joram to King David. He praised David for his success. King Toi (also called Tou) and Hadadezer were enemies. They had fought many battles. Joram gave many gold, silver and *bronze objects to David. v11 David gave these things to the *Lord. David had already given much gold and silver to the *Lord. These valuable things came from the nations that David defeated. v12 These nations were Edom and Moab, the *Ammonites, the *Philistines and Amalek. David had also taken many objects from Hadadezer. (He was the son of Rehob, the king of Zobah.) And David gave these objects to the *Lord.

v13 David went to the Valley of Salt. There, his army defeated 18 000 men from Edom. David’s success there became well-known. v14 He set up military camps in every part of the country of Edom. David ruled everyone who lived in Edom. The *Lord made David successful wherever he went.

(Verses 1-18 See 1 Chronicles 18.)

This account continues from the end of chapter 5. It describes how the *Lord made *Israel a peaceful country (7:1). The *Philistine’s country was on the west side of *Israel. Edom and Amalek were in the south. Ammon and Moab were in the east. Zobah and the *Arameans were in the north. David and his soldiers fought many battles. But verses 6 and 14 show that the *Lord made them successful. This chapter does not give a complete list of the battles. There are several other accounts of battles in the rest of 2 Samuel.

The *Philistines had attacked *Israel for several centuries. They wanted to own *Israel’s land. But David defeated them and ruled them. The account of the battle in verse 1 is in chapter 5:17-25. The *Philistines did not attack *Israel again.

We do not know why David fought against Moab. David’s father was Jesse. Jesse’s grandmother was Ruth. She came from Moab (Ruth 4:13-17). Also, in 1 Samuel 22:1-4, David wanted his parents to stay somewhere safe. So, he sent them to stay with the king of Moab. David’s actions in verse 2 seem very severe. However, kings usually killed all their prisoners. But David allowed some prisoners from Moab to live.

Originally, God did not want the *Israelites to fight the people from Moab (Deuteronomy 2:9). But the leaders of Moab wanted God to oppose the *Israelites. So the leaders of Moab paid a *prophet, called Balaam, to speak against the *Israelites. But Balaam had to *bless the *Israelites, because God had already *blessed them. And Balaam said that, in the future, a ruler from *Israel would overcome Moab (Numbers 24:17). Many centuries later, David did this.

In those days, kings often used *chariots when they fought a battle. Horses pulled the *chariots. Skilled soldiers rode in the *chariots with their *weapons. These soldiers could travel much faster than ordinary soldiers could. David did not kill the horses. Instead, he made sure that they would never be able to go into a battle again. The horse’s legs would heal. But they would never be able to run properly again.

David fought against Hadadezer in the extreme north. He also went to the Valley of Salt in the extreme south. When David defeated a country, he took its precious metal objects. He gave them to the *Lord (verse 11). David did this to thank the *Lord for the battles that David had won. Later, the priests kept these objects in the *temple (2 Kings 11:10). King Toi sent presents to King David. He wanted to show David that he was David’s friend, not his enemy. Solomon used a lot of *bronze when he made objects for the *temple (1 Chronicles 18:8).

Every country that David defeated had to pay taxes to him. This showed that David ruled them. Also, it made the countries poor. Then they could not afford to buy new *weapons. But it made *Israel rich. David set up many military camps. The soldiers made sure that the countries obeyed David. They probably collected the taxes too.

David ruled over all the territory that the *Lord had promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18-19, over 1000 years before. (See also Deuteronomy 11:23-25 and Joshua 1:1-6.)

David’s officers

v15 David ruled over all the country of *Israel. He did what was fair and right for all his people. v16 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was captain of the army. Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahilud, was responsible for the official records. v17 Zadok, the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech, the son of Abiathar, were priests. Seraiah wrote the records. v18 Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, ruled over the men called Kerethites and Pelethites. David’s sons were chief rulers.

David was a good king. He cared about the people that he ruled. He knew that they were God’s people. The *Lord is good and fair (Deuteronomy 32:4). David knew that the *Lord wanted David to be good and fair. God *blesses people who behave in this way (Psalm 37:25-29). Samuel had been the judge in *Israel until he died. He used to go and visit different towns (1 Samuel 7:15-16). David began a central legal system. He became the judge. People who needed a judge used to visit him in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:2).

David organised his government. Joab was the son of David’s sister (1 Chronicles 2:16). Seraiah wrote the official records. Jehoshaphat kept the records safe. He also informed and advised the king about the records. And he told the people about the king’s commands. There were two chief priests. Ahimelech had escaped from Saul and went to David in 1 Samuel 22:20. Later, Zadok was the only priest in Jerusalem. For centuries afterwards, all the priests came from Zadok’s family.

Benaiah was a brave soldier (23:20-23). The men called Kerethites and Pelethites probably came from the *Philistine’s country. They were David’s loyal guards (15:13-18). David’s sons helped him to rule the country.

This list of officers ends this section of 2 Samuel.

Chapter 9

David and Mephibosheth

v1 One day David asked, ‘Is anyone from Saul’s family still alive? If so, I want to be kind to that person because of the promise that I made to Jonathan.’

v2 Now Saul’s family had a servant called Ziba. David’s officials called Ziba to go to David. Then King David asked him, ‘Are you Ziba?’

Ziba replied, ‘Yes, I am your servant.’

v3 David said, ‘Is there anyone still alive in Saul’s family? I want to show him God’s kindness.’

Ziba replied, ‘Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He cannot walk because of an injury to his feet.’

v4 ‘Where is he?’ the king asked.

Ziba answered, ‘He is in the town called Lo Debar. He lives at the house of Makir, the son of Ammiel.’ v5 So David sent men to fetch him from Makir’s house.

Jonathan was the son of King Saul. David and Jonathan had been very good friends (1 Samuel 18:1-4). Jonathan knew that David would become the next king. So, Jonathan asked David always to show love for Jonathan’s family. In 1 Samuel 20:12-17 and 20:42, David made a special promise to Jonathan and to the *Lord. Then, after David became king, he remembered this promise.

Ziba had been a servant in Saul’s palace. We do not know how important Ziba was then. But he had become an important man since Saul had died. Ziba now had 20 servants of his own (verse 10). Ziba said to David, ‘I am your servant.’ Ziba did not mean that he was actually David’s servant. It was the custom for people to speak to a king this way. It showed honour to the king as the most important person. It also meant that the person was loyal to his king. Ziba knew all about Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan. Ziba probably knew that David and Jonathan had been friends. 2 Samuel 4:4 describes what happened to Mephibosheth. He had fallen and hurt his feet. Probably the bones broke and did not mend properly. He had to live with someone who could help him. Lo Debar was on the east side of the river Jordan.

Mephibosheth was 5 years old when Saul and Jonathan died. Now Mephibosheth had a young son (verse 12). David had taken many years to do what he promised to Jonathan. Maybe David had been too busy while he was fighting his enemies. But David wanted to *keep his promise.

v6 Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of Saul. When Mephibosheth came to David, he lay down with his face on the ground. Mephibosheth did this to show honour to David.

David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’

Mephibosheth said, ‘I am your servant.’

v7 David said, ‘Do not be afraid. I will be kind to you because Jonathan was your father. I will give back to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul. And you will always eat your meals at my table.’

v8 Mephibosheth lay down again to give honour to David. Mephibosheth said, ‘The king should not think about me. I am hardly better than a dead dog.’

v9 The king called for Ziba, Saul’s servant. The king said, ‘I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. v10 You and your sons and your servants must farm the land for Mephibosheth. You must gather the crops in order to provide for him. However, Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will always eat his meals at my table.’ (Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants.)

v11 Ziba answered, ‘I am your servant. I will do everything that you, the king, have ordered.’ So, Mephibosheth ate all his meals at the king’s table. He was like one of the king’s sons.

v12 Mephibosheth had a young son called Mica. All the people in Ziba’s family were servants of Mephibosheth. v13 Mephibosheth had two bad feet and he could not walk. He lived in Jerusalem and he ate his meals with the king.

Mephibosheth was probably afraid when he went to David. A king from a different family often killed all the family of the previous king. Mephibosheth lay on the floor to show David great honour. Mephibosheth could not walk so he did not have a normal life. Life is often very difficult for people with physical problems. A dead dog (verse 8) has no value or use. Mephibosheth was the grandson of a king. But he thought that he had no value. Mephibosheth could hardly believe that David would be so kind to him. David was kind because of Jonathan.

When David became king, he had probably gained all Saul’s land. But David returned it to Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth would not be able to farm it himself. Ziba had been Saul’s servant. David said that Ziba, his sons and his servants would all become Mephibosheth’s servants. Ziba obeyed David and served his new master. Then David gave Mephibosheth greater honour. In future, he would eat all his meals with David in his palace. The food from Mephibosheth’s land would feed all the servants. So, Mephibosheth moved from Lo Debar to Jerusalem. He lived as part of David’s family.

In 1 Chronicles 8:33-40, the writer calls Mephibosheth ‘Merib-Baal’. They probably changed his name to Mephibosheth. At first people used the name Baal to mean God. (The word ‘baal’ means ‘master’.) But then Baal became the name for the god of another country. So, they changed names with ‘baal’ to ‘bosheth’, which means ‘ashamed’. The passage in 1 Chronicles also records Mica’s sons and their families.

Chapter 10

David defeats the *Ammonites

v1 Some time later, Nahash, the king of the *Ammonites, died. His son Hanun became king. v2 David thought, ‘I will be kind to Hanun because his father Nahash was kind to me.’ So, David sent some of his servants to Hanun. David wanted to show sympathy to Hanun after his father’s death.

David’s men came to the country called Ammon. v3 The leaders in Ammon said to the king, ‘Do not imagine that David really feels sympathy for you. He does not really want to give honour to your father. No! David has sent his servants to explore our city. They will see everything. Then David’s army will be able to overcome us.’

v4 So Hanun took David’s servants. He shaved off half of each man’s beard. He cut off their clothes level with their bottoms. Then Hanun sent them away. They were ashamed.

v5 David heard what had happened. He sent a message to the men because they were so ashamed. David said, ‘Stay in the town of Jericho until your beards have grown again. Then come home.’

(Verses 1-19 See also 1 Chronicles 19:1-19.)

The country of Ammon was on the east side of *Israel, across the river Jordan. King Saul had fought against King Nahash and the *Ammonites in 1 Samuel chapter 11. But David had peace with them. 2 Samuel 8:12 says that David defeated Ammon. This account may describe how it happened. The word ‘kind’ is the same word that described David’s kindness to Mephibosheth. Perhaps David made a promise to Nahash to be kind to him.

A new king often rules a country in a different way. So David wanted to show that he still had a peace agreement with the *Ammonites. The capital city of Ammon was probably Rabbah (11:1). It was about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Jerusalem. The *Ammonite leaders knew that *Israel was a powerful country. They were afraid of David. They did not trust him. If a king defeated the capital city of a country, he could rule the whole country. Hanun insulted David’s servants and he made them look foolish. By this act, Hanun insulted King David too. David cared about his servants. They went home when they did not still feel ashamed. It seems that all *Israelite men had beards at that time. So, David’s servants did not want just to shave their beards off completely.

v6 The *Ammonites realised that they had greatly offended David. So they hired 20 000 *Aramean soldiers. The soldiers came from Beth Rehob and Zobah. They also hired 1000 men from the king of Maacah. And 12 000 men came from Tob.

v7 David heard about this. So he sent Joab and the whole *Israelite army to fight them. v8 The *Ammonites came out. They prepared to fight at the entrance of their city. The *Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah formed another army in the open country.

v9 Joab saw that his enemies were in front of him and behind him. So he chose some of the best *Israelite soldiers to fight with him against the *Arameans. v10 Joab made his brother Abishai the leader of the rest of the army. They fought against the *Ammonites.

v11 Joab said, ‘If the *Arameans are too strong for me, then you must come to help me. But if the *Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come to help you. v12 Be strong. Fight bravely to save our people and the cities of God. The *Lord will do what is right.’

Hanun was a new king. Maybe he did not realise that his action would offend David. Or perhaps he wanted to start a war with David. Ammon was a small country. It could not fight *Israel by itself. So, Hanun had to get soldiers from other countries. A huge army went to fight the *Israelites. In those days, kings often had to hire soldiers from other countries to help them in a war.

Joab was the captain of the *Israelite army (8:16). He knew that this would not be an easy battle. He prepared his plans carefully. However, he knew that the *Lord would help the *Israelites (verse 12). Joab wanted to protect the *Israelites. He also wanted to save the whole country that God had given to them.

v13 When Joab and his soldiers went to attack the *Arameans, they ran away. v14 The *Ammonites saw that the *Arameans were running away. So the *Ammonites ran away from Abishai. They went back into their city. After the battle had finished, Joab returned to Jerusalem.

v15 The *Arameans realised that the *Israelites had defeated them. So the *Arameans gathered together again. v16 Some *Aramean soldiers were on the east side of the river Euphrates. King Hadadezer sent a message to them. They came to the city of Helam. Their leader was Shobach. He was the leader of Hadadezer’s army.

v17 When David heard about this, he gathered all the *Israelites together. They crossed over the river Jordan and they went to Helam. The *Arameans prepared for battle. Then they attacked David and his army.

v18 But the *Arameans ran away from the *Israelites. David’s army killed 700 men who drove *chariots. His army killed 40 000 men who rode horses. And David’s men also killed Shobach, who was the leader of the *Aramean army.

v19 Hadadezer had controlled the kings of several countries. These kings saw that the *Israelites had defeated the *Arameans. The kings wanted peace with the *Israelites. So they agreed to serve the *Israelites. And the *Arameans were afraid to help the *Ammonites again.

The *Israelites won the first part of the battle easily. The enemy ran away from them. Then the *Arameans decided to fight the *Israelites again. David led the *Israelites that time. But the *Arameans ran away again. David killed many *Arameans. He even killed the leader of their army. David ruled over the *Arameans. In the past, many kings from smaller countries had served the *Arameans. In other words, these countries paid taxes to the *Arameans. And these kings had to send soldiers to help the *Arameans in their battles. Verse 8 records some of the countries. Those kings made their own peace agreements with David.

David now controlled all the nations on the east and north sides of *Israel. This means that he controlled all their roads too. People travelled along these roads to trade in many countries. The trade routes were very important roads. So, David became even more powerful.

Chapter 11

David and Bathsheba

v1 The next spring came. Kings usually went to fight wars during springtime. David sent Joab out with David’s officers and the *Israelite army. They defeated the *Ammonites and surrounded the city called Rabbah. But David stayed in Jerusalem.

(Verse 1 See also 1 Chronicles 20:1.)

Kings preferred not to fight wars in the winter. It was wet and often cold. The roads and the land became muddy. The soldiers could not move from one area to another. People would not be able to supply the soldiers with food and the other things that they needed. In chapter 10, the *Israelites had already fought the *Ammonites. David wanted to defeat them completely and take their capital city (see the notes on 10:3). Sometimes David led the army himself (10:17). At other times, he sent Joab out to lead the army (10:7). In this battle, David had sent Joab.

v2 One evening, David got up from his bed. He walked round on the roof of his palace. While he was on the roof, he saw a woman. This woman was having a bath. She was very beautiful. v3 David sent a servant to find out who she was. The servant said, ‘The woman is called Bathsheba. She is the daughter of Eliam, and the wife of Uriah (who belongs to the people called Hittites).’ v4 David sent his servants to get Bathsheba. She went to David. David had sex with her. (She had finished bleeding that month. She had just made herself *pure again.) Then she returned to her home. v5 Later, the woman discovered that she was expecting a baby. She sent a message to David and said, ‘I am expecting a baby.’

Israel is a hot country after the winter. People used to get up early in the morning to do their work. They stopped in the afternoon when it became too hot. Then they went to bed. They slept until it was cooler. David’s palace had a flat roof. In the evening, it was cooler on the roof than inside the palace. There were many houses in Jerusalem. Some of them had a private garden. There would be a wall round the garden. Bathsheba probably had a bath in her private garden. People would not be able to see her. But David saw her because he was up high on his roof. He saw that she was beautiful. He had a strong desire for her.

Uriah came from the *Hittite nation. This nation had become very strong and it had defeated many other nations. The Hittites ruled many nations on the east side of *Israel for over 400 years. Then in the end, other nations defeated the *Hittite nation. This happened about 200 years before David became king. But *Hittite people still lived in many different countries. Uriah lived in Jerusalem. He was one of David’s best soldiers (23:39).

A married person should not have sex with someone who is not their own husband or wife. God says this in the 10 commandments (laws) in Exodus 20:14. The Bible calls it ‘adultery’. David knew God’s laws but he did not obey this law. David saw Bathsheba but he should not have watched her. He had a wrong desire for her. Jesus said that such behaviour is adultery too (Matthew 5:27-28). Bathsheba’s father and husband were both in David’s group of 30 brave men (23:34; 23:39). David discovered that Bathsheba was married. He should have left her alone. Instead, he used his power as king to get her. David *sinned. Bathsheba could not obey both God and David. Perhaps she was afraid to refuse the king’s command. Verse 4 suggests that Bathsheba went to David only once.

A young woman bleeds each month when she is not expecting a baby. The *Jewish law says that a woman is not ‘clean’ (or ‘*pure’) when she bleeds. This does not mean that she is physically dirty. But she cannot go to religious events (in other words, the ceremonies of the *Jewish religion). She has to make herself *pure when she stops bleeding (Leviticus 15:19-24; 15:28-30). Bathsheba was not expecting a baby before David had sex with her. Verse 4 proves this. Uriah was fighting in the war. He was not at his home. Therefore, Bathsheba was expecting David’s baby.

v6 David then sent a message to Joab: ‘Send Uriah the *Hittite to me.’ So, Joab sent Uriah to David. v7 Uriah went to David. And David asked him if Joab and the soldiers were well. David also asked him about the war. v8 Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go home and wash your feet.’ So, Uriah left the palace. The king sent him a gift. v9 But Uriah did not go home. Instead, he slept by the door of the palace with the king’s servants. v10 The servants told David that Uriah did not go home. David said to Uriah, ‘You have had a long journey. Why did you not go home?’

v11 Uriah said, ‘The *ark of the *Lord and the men from *Israel and *Judah are staying in tents. My master Joab and the king’s officers are camping in the open country. It is not right for me to go home. I cannot eat and drink at home. I cannot have sex with my wife. I promise that I would never do that.’

v12 So David said to Uriah, ‘Stay here for one more day. Tomorrow I will send you back to the battle.’ So, Uriah stayed in Jerusalem until the next day. v13 Then David invited Uriah to eat and drink with him. And David made Uriah drink too much wine. That evening Uriah slept on his bed next to the king’s servants. Uriah still did not go home.

v14 In the morning, David wrote a letter to Joab. And Uriah delivered the letter to Joab. v15 David wrote, ‘Put Uriah at the front of the battle where the men fight very fiercely. Leave him there on his own. Then he will die in the battle.’ v16 Joab watched the city. He saw where the fierce soldiers were fighting. So, he put Uriah there. v17 The soldiers came out of the city and they fought against Joab. They killed some of David’s soldiers. Uriah the *Hittite also died.

*Adultery is a serious *sin. In the *Old Testament, God said that the guilty man and woman should die (Leviticus 20:10). So, David had a problem. Bathsheba’s baby did not belong to Uriah. David wanted Uriah to go home to his wife. Later, everyone would believe that Bathsheba was expecting her husband’s baby. David pretended that he wanted to hear about the war and the soldiers. In verse 8, David’s gift showed that he was pleased with Uriah. ‘Wash your feet’ probably meant ‘have a rest and enjoy yourself at home’. But Uriah would not go home. He was not an *Israelite but he was loyal to the *Lord. Deuteronomy 23:9-11 may show that men should not have sex during a war. (See also 1 Samuel 21:4-5.) Uriah obeyed this rule even when he was away from the battle. Uriah had a duty to the other soldiers. He was not selfish. He would not enjoy himself while the other men were in the war. He had a good character and high moral standards. He was an honest man. Uriah’s good behaviour is very different from David’s bad behaviour.

David realised that Uriah would not change his decision. So, David used his power in the wrong way again. Usually it is an honour to eat and drink with the king. But David did not care about Uriah. David just wanted Uriah to go home and have sex with his wife. This would have solved David’s problem. People often cannot control their behaviour when they drink too much alcohol. But Uriah still would not go home.

The next day, David did a very wicked thing. Uriah was an innocent man. But David decided that Uriah had to die. This was murder. Uriah did not know what David wrote to Joab. But Uriah had to carry the letter that led to his own death. Joab did not know the facts. But he had to obey David. Uriah died in the battle. And other soldiers died too.

v18 Joab sent David a report of the battle. Joab told the man who took the message. ‘Give this account of the battle to the king. When you finish, v19 the king may become angry. He may say, “Why did you go so near to the city to fight? You know that the enemies would shoot arrows at you from the city wall. v20 Do you remember who killed Abimelech, the son of Jerub-Besheth? v21 There was a woman on the city wall at Thebez. She had a large stone that she used to make flour from grain. She threw the stone on Abimelech and he died. So why did you get so close to the wall?” If the king asks you this then say to him, “Your servant Uriah the *Hittite is also dead.” ’

v22 So the man went to David with the message. He told David everything that Joab had told him to say. v23 ‘Our enemies were winning the battle. They came out from the city and they fought us in the fields. But we fought them back to the gate of their city. v24 There were men with arrows on the wall. They shot their arrows and some of the king’s soldiers died. Uriah the *Hittite also died.’

v25 David spoke to the man who brought the message. He said, ‘Tell Joab, “Do not be sad about this. All kinds of people die in a battle. Go and make a stronger attack on the city. Go and defeat it.” Say this to encourage Joab.’

v26 The wife of Uriah the *Hittite heard that her husband was dead. She cried and she was very sad. v27 At the end of this time, David brought her to his house. She became David’s wife. Then she had a son. But God was not pleased with the thing that David had done.

David was a good soldier. He did not want his soldiers to die in a battle. David would not be pleased that several *Israelites died. Joab knew that. But Uriah could not die alone. People would suspect that something was wrong. David and Joab both knew that it was dangerous to fight near a city wall. They had probably spoken about Abimelech and the way that he died. (This story is in Judges 9:50-57.) So, Joab knew that David would not like Joab’s action. But Joab made sure that the enemy killed Uriah. Joab spoke his report, he did not write it. David heard about Uriah. So, David was not angry with Joab. David said that he expected people to die in battles. But he also expected Joab to defeat the city next time.

Bathsheba was very sad that her husband had died. When she finished crying, David sent for her. He married her. Later she had a son. Most people would think that everything was in order. Only a few of David’s servants knew what had happened. But they were loyal to their king.

David should have had a guilty conscience. He pretended that nothing was wrong. David could lie to other people. They would believe his lies. But God knew the truth. David had *sinned in many ways. God did not punish David immediately. But God did not forget David’s *sins.

Chapter 12

Nathan’s message to David

v1 The *Lord sent Nathan to David. Nathan went to David and he said, ‘Two men lived in a city. One man was rich. The other man was poor. v2 The rich man had many sheep and cows. v3 But the poor man had only one young sheep, which was female. He had bought it and he looked after it. The little sheep grew up with the man and his children. It ate the same food as the man. It drank from his cup. It even went to sleep while the man held it. The little sheep was like a daughter to the man.

v4 One day, a traveller came to visit the rich man. The rich man wanted to prepare a meal for his guest. But the rich man did not want to kill one of his own sheep or cows. Instead, he took the poor man’s little female sheep. He cooked it as a meal for his guest.’

v5 David was very angry with the rich man. David said to Nathan, ‘The *Lord will punish that rich man. The man who did this evil thing deserves to die. v6 He had no pity when he did this. So he must hand over 4 sheep to the poor man.’

Nathan was a *prophet (verse 25). The *Lord spoke to the *prophets. Then they gave the *Lord’s message to other people. Nathan had to give a serious message to King David. First, Nathan told David a story. In the *New Testament, Jesus told many stories. The Bible calls them ‘parables’. David did not know that this was only a story. In the *Old Testament, the kings were judges too (8:15). They had to punish guilty people. So, David thought that Nathan was describing a real situation. David acted as a judge.

The man in Nathan’s story was unfair, selfish and unkind. He also used his power in the wrong way. The rich man did not care about the poor man. The rich man’s behaviour made David very angry. He decided to punish the rich man severely. In God’s law, a man had to hand over 4 sheep for every sheep that he stole (Exodus 22:1). The rich man had no pity. David thought that this *sin was very great. So, David said that the rich man deserved to die. David did not know that he was really the guilty man. It is easy to make such decisions about someone else. However, often people do not see their own *sin or they hide it. David did not realise that his own behaviour was even worse than the behaviour of the man in the story.

v7 Then Nathan said to David, ‘You have behaved like that rich man! The *Lord, the God of *Israel, says, “I *anointed you as king over *Israel. I rescued you from Saul. v8 I gave you Saul’s *kingdom and his wives. I made you the king of *Israel and *Judah. If that had not been enough for you, I would have given you even more. v9 But you did this evil thing. So, you acted as if God’s law has no value. You killed Uriah the *Hittite by the sword of the *Ammonites. Then you took his wife for yourself. v10 Therefore, in the future, your family will always fight. There will be constant wars. This is because you did not respect me. And so you took the wife of Uriah the *Hittite for yourself.

v11 I will make people in your family cause you trouble. You will see when I take your wives away from you. I will give them to one of your relatives. He will have sex with them in public. v12 You did it in secret. But he will do this so that all the *Israelites will see.” ’

v13 Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have *sinned against the *Lord.’

Nathan answered, ‘The *Lord has taken away your *sin. You will not die. v14 But your actions have caused the *Lord’s enemies to speak evil words against the *Lord. Therefore, your son will die.’

v15 Then Nathan went home.

‘You have behaved like that rich man’. Nathan’s words probably surprised David. Nathan brought the *Lord’s judgement to David. Nathan’s story was not quite the same as the events in David’s life. But it included the same principles. David was a rich man. He had everything that he needed. God had given it all to him. David already had several wives. (God wanted men to have only one wife. But at that time, it was common for kings to have many wives. It showed that the king was powerful.) Uriah was a poor man. He had one wife whom he loved. But David took Uriah’s wife and he murdered Uriah. David had no pity. He had behaved exactly like the rich man in the story. In verse 9, the *Lord said that David had killed Uriah. The *Ammonites had actually killed him. But David was responsible for his death. ‘By the sword’ refers to a battle. David had sent Uriah to die in the battle (11:14-15).

David could hide his actions from other people. But the *Lord had seen everything. Verses 9 and 10 show David’s biggest *sin. He had not obeyed or respected God’s law or God himself. People watch their leaders and often copy them. So this *sin would affect all the *Israelites. It would also affect the *Lord’s enemies (verse 14). Therefore, the *Lord had to punish David. In Numbers 20:1-13 the *Lord had to punish the great leader Moses. These punishments seem severe. But the *Lord wants everyone to know that he is holy. All leaders teach by their behaviour. In the *New Testament, James says that the *Lord will be stricter with teachers than with other people (James 3:1).

King Saul did not obey the *Lord’s commands. The *Lord punished him. He said that Saul would not be the king any more (1 Samuel 13:13-14 and 15:23). But the *Lord had promised that he would not do that to David (7:13-16). God’s punishment matched David’s *sin. There would be wars and trouble in his family. He would also lose his wives (16:21-22). David *sinned in secret but his punishment would be in public. You can read about David’s troubles in the rest of 2 Samuel.

David admitted that he had *sinned. He was humble. He knew that he deserved to die. But he still loved the *Lord. Contrast this with Saul in 1 Samuel chapters 13 and 15. Saul made excuses. He did not want to confess that he was wrong. Romans 6:23 says that the result of *sin is death. David was sincere and the *Lord forgave him. David did not die, but his child died.

Please read Psalm 51 now. David wrote it after Nathan visited him. This psalm shows how David felt. He was very sorry that he *sinned against the *Lord. David wanted to live a good life in the future. The Bible calls this ‘repentance’. Psalm 32 may also refer to this event.

The child’s death

The *Lord acted against David’s child, whose mother was Uriah’s wife. So, the child became ill. v16 David prayed to God about the child. David would not eat anything. He stayed inside. He would lie on the floor all night. v17 The older servants in his house went to him. They tried to get him up from the ground. But David refused to get up. And he would not eat any food with them.

v18 On the seventh day, the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that his child had died. The servants thought, ‘We spoke to David while the child was still alive. But he would not listen to us. We are afraid to tell David that his child is dead. He may do something very bad.’

v19 David noticed that his servants were whispering to each other. He realised that the child was dead. So, David asked them, ‘Is the child dead?’

They answered, ‘Yes, the child is dead.’

v20 Then David got up from the ground. He washed himself and he rubbed himself with oils. He put on clean clothes. Then he went to *worship in the *house of the *Lord. After this, he went home and he asked for something to eat. His servants gave him some food and he ate it.

v21 His servants said, ‘We do not understand why you are behaving like this. When the child was still alive, you refused to eat. You cried. The child has died now. But you get up and eat.’

v22 David said, ‘When the child was still alive, I refused to eat. I cried. I thought that the *Lord might be kind to me. He might let the child live. v23 Now the child is dead. There is no reason for me to refuse food. I cannot make the child alive again. One day I will go to him. But he will not return to me.’

We do not know how old David’s child was. The child was probably still a baby. But the child became very ill. The *Lord said that the child would die. But David knew that the *Lord is kind. David hoped that the *Lord would cure him. So, David prayed for 7 days and nights. He would not listen to anyone. He cried. He would not eat or get up from the floor. Kings did not usually behave like that. Children often died when they were young. David had many wives and other children. This was not David’s only son. But David was very sad. So, the servants were afraid to tell David when his son died. The servants may even have thought that David would kill himself.

When a person died, his or her family cried. They did not eat. They wore old clothes and they did not wash. Often they put dust or ashes on their heads to show how sad they were (Genesis 37:34; Jeremiah 6:26). But David did the opposite. He behaved like this when his son was still alive. But he stopped as soon as his son died. In hot countries, people rub their skin with oil. It helps them to feel cooler. It also makes them smell pleasant. The *ark of the *Lord was still in a tent or temporary building. They called this tent ‘the *house of the *Lord’. The *Lord was present at the *ark. As soon as David was clean, he went to *worship the *Lord. Afterwards, David went home and he had a meal. The *Lord was more important to David than food was. Food would make his body strong. Only the *Lord could make his spirit strong again.

David’s servants did not understand him. So, he had to explain his behaviour. ‘One day I will go to him’ means that David would die too. In the *Old Testament, people did not know much about what happened after death. But they knew that dead people did not live again in this world. David accepted the *Lord’s judgement. So, David lived his normal life again.

The birth of Solomon

v24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He slept with her and he had sex with her. Then she had another baby. David called him Solomon. The *Lord loved Solomon. v25 The *Lord sent a message by Nathan the *prophet to call the baby Jedidiah. This was because the *Lord loved the baby.

Bathsheba would have been very sad that her baby died. But David comforted her.

David could have sex with Bathsheba because she was now his wife. God was kind to them and they had another son. The name ‘Solomon’ comes from the *Hebrew word for ‘peace’. In 1 Chronicles 22:6-10 we read something else. God had told David that Solomon would become king of *Israel after him. The *Lord would give *Israel peace instead of war. And Solomon would build a *temple for the *Lord. The name ‘Jedidiah’ means ‘the *Lord loves him’. This time, Nathan brought a good message to David from the *Lord.

David defeats Rabbah

v26 Meanwhile, Joab fought against the *Ammonite city of Rabbah. He defeated this royal city. v27 Joab sent a message to David. The message said, ‘I have fought against Rabbah. I have taken its water supply. v28 Now gather the rest of the army. Surround the city with your soldiers and defeat it. If I defeat it myself, they will call it my city.’

v29 So David gathered his army and he went to Rabbah. He fought against the city and he defeated it. v30 David took the crown off the king’s head and the *Israelites put it on David’s head. The gold crown weighed about 30 kilos (about 70 pounds). It had precious stones like diamonds in it too. David took many valuable things from the city. v31 He also took all the people out of the city. He made them work hard with saws, iron picks (a type of tool) and axes. He forced them to make bricks. David did the same to all the other *Ammonite towns. Then David and his whole army returned to Jerusalem.

(Verses 29-31 See also 1 Chronicles 20:2-3.)

It was difficult to defeat a royal city like Rabbah. *Ammonite soldiers would have defended it. Rabbah was close to the river Jabbok. The lower part of the city probably went right down to the river. The people in the city got their water from this river. So, soldiers guarded the river. Whoever controlled the city’s water supply controlled the whole city. Joab defeated the *Ammonites at the river but he did not attack the city. Joab was very loyal to David. He wanted David to defeat the city. Then David would have the honour.

The *Ammonite king had a very big and very valuable crown. This crown showed that he was a great king. When David defeated the city, he took the crown. It was too heavy to wear for very long. However, it showed that the *Ammonite king had handed over his power to David. When a king won a battle, he also took all his enemies’ valuable things. David did not kill the *Ammonites. Instead, he forced them to work for him. As soon as David had defeated Rabbah, he could rule over all the *Ammonites. The tools in verse 31 show that they cut the bricks from large pieces of rock. (They did not make them from mud.) David’s army had attacked many towns. So, his workmen probably used the bricks to mend the towns. And they may have also built new towns. But David continued to live in Jerusalem. He ruled his large *kingdom from his capital city.

Chapter 13

Amnon and Tamar

v1 David had a son called Absalom and another son called Amnon. Absalom had a beautiful sister called Tamar. Amnon loved Tamar. v2 But Amnon loved her so much that he became ill. Tamar was a young unmarried girl. So, Amnon could not do anything to her. v3 But Amnon had a friend called Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very clever man. v4 He said to Amnon, ‘You are the king’s son. Why do you look so sad every morning? Tell me what is wrong.’

Amnon said to him, ‘I love Tamar. She is the sister of my brother Absalom.’

v5 Jonadab said, ‘Go to bed and pretend to be ill. Then your father will come to visit you. Say to him, “Please ask my sister Tamar to come and give me some food. I would like to watch her while she makes it. Then she can feed me.” ’

v6 So Amnon went to bed. He pretended that he was ill. The king came to visit him. Amnon said, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and make some bread for me. I would like to watch her make it. Then she can feed me.’

v7 So David sent a message to Tamar in the palace. He said, ‘Go to your brother Amnon’s house. Make him some food.’ v8 So Tamar went to Amnon’s house. Amnon was lying down. Tamar mixed together some flour and water. Amnon watched her as she made the bread. Then she cooked it. v9 She served it on a pan in front of Amnon. But he refused to eat it.

Amnon said, ‘Everyone must leave the room.’ So, everyone left him.

The bad things that Nathan *prophesied about David’s family in 12:10 start to happen in this chapter. David’s *sins were wrong sex and murder. He also used his power in the wrong way. In this chapter, his two oldest sons *sin in the same way.

David had 6 sons when he lived in Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2-5). Amnon was his first son. Kileab was his second son. Absalom was his third son. The Bible does not tell us anything else about Kileab. So, he had probably died by this time. When a king died, his oldest son became the new king. Therefore, Amnon should become the king after David.

In those days, David’s family probably all lived in his palace. David was preparing Amnon to become the next king. The men and the women lived separately. David had several wives. So, his daughters probably lived with their own mothers. His daughters wore special coats. This showed that they were unmarried girls. In this society, women were much less important than men. Men often controlled the women. Women had to obey the men.

Amnon thought that Tamar was very beautiful. He really wanted just to have sex with her. So, in verse 1, ‘loved’ does not mean true, good love. Amnon had seen Tamar, but he could not meet her. He could not tell her that he wanted her. He could not touch her. The king protected his daughters so that they remained *pure. Amnon was selfish. Perhaps he had always received everything that he wanted in the past. But this time he could not have what he wanted. His strong feelings made him feel ill. He looked miserable.

In 1 Samuel 16:9, Shimeah was called Shammah. Jonadab was clever but not good. He knew how to get Tamar for Amnon. So, Amnon did what Jonadab said. Jonadab knew that David cared about his sons. He knew that David would visit Amnon. If someone was ill, that person would eat special food. Amnon wanted this food. Usually an unmarried woman would never go into a man’s house. David thought that Amnon was ill and weak. So, David sent Tamar to Amnon. Tamar obeyed her father. She prepared the food for her brother. (Tamar and Amnon had the same father but they had different mothers. So, we say that Amnon was Tamar’s ‘half brother’.) David had watched beautiful Bathsheba in 11:2. Amnon watched beautiful Tamar.

Everyone thought that Amnon was ill. So, they did not want to upset him. He did not want to eat when his servants were there. So, he sent everyone out of the room. They had to obey the king’s son. We do not know if anyone suspected Amnon’s behaviour. They probably thought that he was just in a strange mood.

v10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food to my bedroom. Serve it to me yourself.’ So, Tamar took the bread that she had made. She brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. v11 As she gave the bread to Amnon, he seized her. He said, ‘My sister, come into my bed with me.’

v12 Tamar said, ‘No, my brother. Do not *rape me. Nobody in *Israel should do this. It is such a terrible thing. v13 Think about me. I will always feel ashamed. And you will be like a wicked fool in *Israel. Please talk to the king. I am sure that he will let you marry me.’ v14 But Amnon refused to listen to Tamar. He was stronger than she was. So he *raped her.

v15 Then Amnon deeply hated her. In fact, he hated Tamar more strongly than he had loved her before. He said to her, ‘Get up. Go away.’

v16 Tamar said, ‘No. You have already done something wicked to me. But it is worse to send me away.’ But he refused to listen to her. v17 He called his servant in and said, ‘Take this woman out of here. Lock the door when she has gone.’ v18 So Amnon’s servant took her out of the room. He locked the door when she had gone. Tamar was wearing a special coat with long sleeves. The king’s daughters wore this type of coat while they were still young unmarried girls. v19 Tamar put ash on her head. She tore her special coat. She put her hands on her head. Then she cried loudly as she went away.

v20 Her brother Absalom said to her, ‘Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be quiet now, my sister. Do not allow this matter to upset you. He is your brother.’ So, Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house. She was deeply sad and lonely.

v21 King David heard what had happened. He was very angry. v22 Absalom did not say anything, good or bad, to Amnon. But Absalom hated his brother Amnon because Amnon had *raped Absalom’s sister, Tamar.

Tamar had cooked the food. But Amnon’s servant had probably taken it to Amnon. At first he would not eat. But when everyone else had gone, Tamar had to take the food to Amnon. Tamar thought that Amnon was ill and weak. But he was strong and he desired her. Amnon called Tamar ‘my sister’ (verse 11). However, God’s law says that a brother and sister should not have sex together (Leviticus 18:9). Tamar was shocked and she quickly said ‘no’. She called him ‘my brother’. She tried to persuade him to stop. She was desperate. In verses 12-13, she tried to persuade Amnon to stop. She gave Amnon three reasons why he should not touch her:

·    The *Israelites all knew that this act was wrong. A man should never *rape a woman. A brother and sister should never have sex together. And unmarried people should not have sex.

·    Tamar would feel ashamed for all her life.

·    Nobody would continue to respect Amnon. He was a prince. But people would call him a wicked fool.

Sex is right only when a man and woman are married to each other. God hates all types of wrong sex (Leviticus chapter 18). Tamar thought that David would let Amnon marry her. She did not want to marry Amnon. But she did not want to have sex with any man whom she had not married. So, this idea seemed better to her, in her desperate state. (Before God had told the *Israelites not to marry brothers and sisters, men would sometimes marry their sisters. For example, Abraham and Sarah had the same father but different mothers, Genesis 20:11-12.) Tamar could not persuade Amnon. He was much stronger than Tamar was. She could not escape. ‘*Rape’ means to force someone to have sex.

Verse 15 does not say why Amnon’s feelings changed. But it proves that he had not really loved her. He may have felt very guilty or ashamed. He suddenly ordered Tamar to go. He did not continue to call her ‘my sister’. In verse 17, he referred to her as ‘this woman’. Tamar refused to go. She thought that Amnon should look after her. She probably felt ashamed because of what Amnon had done to her. Every man wanted to marry a woman who had not had sex with a man. Tamar knew that no man would want her now. Amnon did not care. His servant forced her to leave the room. He locked the door. Amnon would not marry Tamar. She could not go back even to speak to Amnon. In Exodus 22:16-17, God’s law says that a man who has sex with a woman should marry her. But it also says that her family can refuse to allow the marriage.

Tamar’s coat was special. Women only wore such coats if they were still available to marry a man. But she tore her coat in order to ruin it. Amnon had ruined her future. She would never be able to get married. She put ash on her head as a sign that she was very unhappy. Tamar cried because she had great pain in her spirit.

Absalom realised what Amnon had done to Tamar. Absalom comforted Tamar. He looked after her and he protected her in his home. ‘He is your brother’ means that this was a problem in the family. Absalom did not want people to lose respect for him. He said, ‘Be quiet now’. So Absalom was thinking that he would deal with it later. He did not act immediately. In fact, he waited two years (verse 23). During this time, Absalom saw how sad his sister was. He probably hated Amnon more each day. He refused to speak to Amnon.

Verse 21 says that David was also very angry. But it does not say that David punished his son Amnon. David had *sinned with Bathsheba. He had not controlled his emotions. David may have still felt guilty. Amnon *sinned in the same way with Tamar. Perhaps David loved Amnon and did not want to punish him. David expected Amnon to become king after him. Perhaps this is why David did not punish Amnon. In 1 Samuel 2:12-25 and 8:1-5, Eli and Samuel, the priests, had wicked sons. The fathers did not teach their sons to behave the right way. Also, they did not punish or control their sons when they *sinned. God wants fathers to teach his laws to their children (Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Ephesians 6:4). A father should punish his children if they do evil things (Proverbs 23:13-14). It seems that David had not done this. So, David had trouble with several of his sons.

Absalom kills Amnon

v23 Two years afterwards, Absalom asked some men to come to Baal Hazor, near Ephraim. They came to cut the wool off his sheep. Absalom invited all King David’s sons to come too. v24 Absalom went to the king and said, ‘I am your servant. Some of my men are coming to cut the wool off my sheep. Please will the king and his servants come with us.’ v25 The king said, ‘No, my son, we will not all go. It would be too much work for you.’ Absalom tried to persuade the king. However, the king refused to go. But the king *blessed Absalom.

v26 Then Absalom said, ‘If you do not come, please let my brother Amnon come instead.’

The king said, ‘Why should Amnon go with you?’ v27 But Absalom kept on asking the king. Then King David let Amnon go with all the king’s other sons.

v28 Then Absalom said to his servants, ‘Watch Amnon. See when he has drunk too much wine. I shall say to you, “Kill Amnon!” Then you must kill him. I have ordered you to do it, so do not be afraid. Be strong and brave.’ v29 So Absalom’s servants killed Amnon because Absalom had ordered them to. Then all the king’s sons left. They got onto their mules (a mule is an animal like a *donkey) and they escaped.

v30 While the king’s sons were on their way home, David received a message. It said, ‘Absalom has killed all the king’s sons. None of them are still alive.’ v31 The king stood up. He tore his clothes. Then he lay down on the ground. All the king’s servants had torn their clothes too. They stood near the king.

v32 But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, ‘No, they did not kill all the king’s sons. Only Amnon is dead. Amnon *raped Tamar, Absalom’s sister. Ever since that day, Absalom planned to do this. v33 My master and king, do not believe the news that all your sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.’

v34 Meanwhile, Absalom had run away.

There was a guard on the wall of Jerusalem. He saw a crowd of people who were coming down the hill. They were on the road on the west side of the city. The guard went to the king. The guard said, ‘I see a crowd of people. They are coming along the road from Horonaim. They are on the side of the hill.’

v35 Jonadab said to the king, ‘I was right. The king’s sons are coming.’

v36 The king’s sons arrived at the moment when Jonadab finished speaking. They were crying very loudly. The king and all his servants cried very loudly too.

v37 Absalom ran away. He went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud. Ammihud was the king of Geshur. But King David was very sad about his son every day.

v38 Absalom ran away to Geshur. He stayed there for three years. v39 David recovered after Amnon’s death. Then David wanted to go to Absalom again.

At last, Absalom made his plans to deal with Amnon. Baal Hazor was about 24 kilometres (15 miles) north of Jerusalem. People had a party when they cut the wool off their sheep (1 Samuel 25:4). So, Absalom invited his family. He probably knew that King David would not go. When a king went somewhere, he took all his servants with him. Kings had many servants. Absalom would have to provide huge meals that were suitable for a king. Also, they would have all needed somewhere to sleep. In verse 25, the king’s *blessing meant that he approved of Absalom.

Absalom asked that Amnon should go instead of the king. Absalom called Amnon ‘my brother’. Absalom wanted to show their family unity. Perhaps David suspected that Absalom was not sincere. The two brothers had not spoken to each other for two years. But perhaps David thought that Absalom had forgiven Amnon. David sent all his other sons too. He may have thought that Amnon would be safer with them.

Amnon was the oldest prince in David’s family. Amnon was a special guest at Absalom’s party. So, Absalom should have given honour to such an important guest. But he hated Amnon. In verse 28, Absalom had to persuade his servants to kill Amnon. Verse 29 shows that they did not want to do such a terrible act. However, they obeyed their master.

A mule is an animal like a small horse or *donkey. It is strong like a horse. But it can walk safely on rough ground like a *donkey. Mules were royal animals at that time. The king’s other sons thought that they might die too. So, they escaped quickly. There must have been great shock and fear. People often get the facts wrong when there is such confusion. David tore his clothes to show how sad he was. (Tamar had done this in 13:19.) David also lay on the ground when his baby son was dying (12:16). But Jonadab knew the true facts. He had helped Amnon get Tamar. And he knew how Absalom had hated Amnon since that day. When the king’s other sons arrived everyone cried loudly for Amnon. King David continued to be sad for a long time. Verse 37 says ‘his son’. We think that this refers to Amnon. But David was probably sad about Absalom too.

Absalom had to run away after he had killed Amnon. He went about 140 kilometres (90 miles) north, to his grandfather Talmai (3:3). King David did not want to punish Absalom. But Absalom could never become king if he did not return to *Israel. At the end of three years, David had recovered from Amnon’s death. Verse 39 tells us that David wanted to go to Absalom. But David did not go. Probably David thought that Absalom deserved punishment.

Chapter 14

Joab plans to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem

v1 Joab, the son of Zeruiah, knew that King David was constantly thinking about Absalom. v2 So Joab sent for a wise woman from the town called Tekoa. Joab said to her, ‘Pretend that someone has died. And pretend that you are very sad about this. Wear the clothes that you wear at a funeral. Do not put oil on your face to make it look pretty. Behave like a woman who has been sad for a long time. v3 Then go to King David and speak these words.’ Then Joab told her what to say.

v4 The woman from Tekoa went to the king. She gave him honour. She bent down and she put her face on the ground. She said, ‘My king, please help me.’

v5 The king said to her, ‘What is the matter?’

She said, ‘I am a widow. My husband is dead. v6 I, your servant, had two sons. They were fighting in a field. Nobody was there to stop them. One son hit the other son and killed him. v7 Now my whole family is against me. They say, “Bring the son to us who killed his brother. We will kill hi m because he murdered his brother. Then neither son will be able to receive what belonged to their father.” He is like the last piece of coal in my fire. He is all that I have left. If they kill him, my husband’s family and name will disappear.’

v8 The king said to the woman, ‘Go home. I will deal with the problem for you.’

v9 But the woman from Tekoa said to the king, ‘My master and my king, I and my father’s family are guilty. The king and his royal family are not guilty.’

v10 The king said, ‘If anyone says anything bad to you then bring that man to me. He will not bother you again.’

v11 She said to the king, ‘Please make this promise to the *Lord your God. A relative of mine should kill the man who murdered my son. But I do not want my relative to kill anyone else. Do not let my relative kill my son.’

David said, ‘I promise this to the *Lord and to you. Nobody will hurt your son. I will not allow anyone to cause him any trouble.’

Absalom was now the oldest prince. He deserved to become the king when David died. But this would have caused political trouble if Absalom continued to live in a foreign country. Joab was the leader of the army. So, he knew that this situation was dangerous. If David did nothing, the nation could suffer. David should either punish Absalom or forgive him. Joab wanted David to think about the situation in a new way. This time Joab invented a story. This was how Nathan spoke to David about Bathsheba in chapter 12. God told Nathan to speak to David. But Joab’s story was not from God. It was Joab’s own plan. And Joab’s plan did not save the nation from trouble. In fact, Absalom’s return caused great trouble for *Israel.

Tekoa was about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from David’s home town of Bethlehem. Amos the *prophet also came from Tekoa (Amos 1:1). Joab told the woman how to behave. He told her what to say. But she needed to be wise. She had to reply to whatever David said. Her story was different from David’s situation. But her story would affect his emotions because his son had died too. So, he would understand how she felt.

In those days, the king was a judge. There were local judges. But people could go to the king if they had a difficult problem. If someone murdered a person, the murderer had to die (Exodus 21:12-14). In Numbers 35:16-21, the law said that the closest relative of the dead man should kill the murderer. When a woman became a widow, her sons looked after her. A widow owned nothing. Her sons owned what had belonged to her husband. Only sons and grandsons had their father’s family name. All *Israelite families wanted sons so that their family name did not end (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). If a widow had no sons, she had nothing. And nobody would look after her. She said, ‘He is like the last piece of coal in my fire.’ In other words, she only had one son who was still alive. Without this son, the family would end.

In the story (verses 5-7), the family could punish the son. But the widow wanted her son to live. She said that this would be better for the whole family. David agreed. He thought that her story was true. He did not realise his situation with Absalom was similar to the woman’s story. It was right to punish a murderer. But Joab wanted David to consider the effect on the whole family. In verses 9-11, the woman did not think that David had protected her enough. She appealed to him twice. Then David made a serious promise to her and to the *Lord. He would protect the life of her son.

v12 Then the woman said, ‘I am your servant. Please let me say something else to you.’

David said, ‘You may speak.’

v13 The woman said, ‘Your plans cause God’s people to suffer. You made this promise to me, but you yourself are guilty. You have not allowed your own son to return home. v14 One day we will all die. We are like water that spills on the ground. Nobody can gather it up again. However, God does not take away people’s lives. Sometimes people separate themselves from God. But God’s plan is always to bring people back to himself. v15 My master and king, I have come to speak to you. The people have made me afraid. I am your servant. I thought, “I will speak to the king. Perhaps he will do what I ask. v16 My son and I belong to God’s people because God has given us this right. But someone wants to destroy us. Perhaps the king will save us from this person.” v17 Now I, your servant, say, “Your reply has comforted me. My master the king is like an *angel of God. He knows the difference between good things and evil things. I pray that the *Lord your God will be with you.” ’

v18 Then the king said to the woman, ‘I am going to ask you a question. Please tell the true answer.’

The woman said, ‘My master and king. Please ask your question.’

v19 The king said, ‘Did Joab tell you to do this?’

The woman answered, ‘My master and king, I cannot deny what you have said. What you say is true. Yes, your servant Joab told me to do this. He told me what to say. v20 Your servant Joab did this so that you would see the situation in a different way. My master, you are as wise as an *angel of God. You know everything that happens in the country.’

v21 The king said to Joab, ‘I agree. I will do it. Go and bring back the young man Absalom.’

v22 Joab bent down so that his face touched the ground. He gave honour to King David and *blessed him. Joab said, ‘My master and king. I am your servant. Today I know that you are pleased with me. You have done what I have asked.’

v23 Then Joab went to the country of Geshur. He brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. v24 But the king said, ‘Absalom must go to his own house. He cannot come to see me.’ So, Absalom went to his own house. He did not visit the king.

Suddenly the woman accused David. He cared about her son. But, she said, David was unkind to Absalom. She spoke about God’s kindness too. In verse 14, when someone spills water on the ground, nobody can use that water. This may refer to the way that David was wasting Absalom’s life. Or it may refer to the murderer. If somebody killed him, nobody would be able to change it back. Colossians 1:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 show that God wants to unite people with himself and with other people. In the *New Testament, God does this by Jesus. God has great *mercy. The woman emphasised God’s *mercy. But she forgot that God is also fair. Sometimes God does take away people’s lives (for example Numbers 16:1-35; Acts 5:1-11). The woman said that ‘God’s plan is always to bring people back to himself’. This is correct. But the woman did not explain the whole truth. God does not forgive everyone. He only forgives people who confess their evil deeds to him. If people do not turn from their *sin, then God will not forgive them.

In verses 15-17, the woman continued with her story. Then she praised the king. She even said that he was like an *angel (also in verse 20). If the *Lord God was with David, then David would make the right decision.

David realised that Joab had arranged this. Perhaps Joab was already at the palace (verse 21). He was extremely pleased that Absalom could return to Jerusalem. So, Joab went to Geshur himself to get Absalom.

David could not punish Absalom because of his promise in verse 11. He did not punish Absalom for his *sin. But David still refused to see Absalom. This meant that David had not forgiven him. David did not want Absalom in Jerusalem. David let Absalom return only because of Joab. David did not behave in a wise way. That caused trouble for him in the future.

David and Absalom meet again

v25 Nobody in *Israel was as handsome as Absalom. Everyone praised him because he was so handsome. He had nothing wrong with him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. v26 Absalom used to cut his hair when it became too heavy. He weighed it by the royal standard. It weighed about two and a half kilos (about five and a half pounds).

v27 Absalom had three sons and a daughter. His daughter’s name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.

v28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years. But he did not see the king. v29 Then Absalom asked to see Joab. He wanted to send Joab to the king. But Joab would not come. So, Absalom asked to see Joab again. And Joab refused again. v30 Then Absalom said to his servants, ‘Look, Joab’s field is next to my field. He is growing barley (a type of grain) in his field. Go and burn the field.’ So, Absalom’s servants burned Joab’s field.

v31 Then Joab went to Absalom’s house. Joab said, ‘Why did your servants burn my field?’

v32 Absalom said to Joab, ‘I sent a message to you. I said, “Come here. I want to send you to the king. I want you to ask him why he has brought me from Geshur. It would be better for me if I was still there.” Now I want to go and see the king. If I have *sinned then let the king kill me!’

v33 So Joab went to the king and told him. The king sent for Absalom. Absalom went in. He bent down in front of the king and put his face on the ground. The king kissed Absalom.

Absalom was handsome. He was young. He was also popular. People like handsome men (1 Samuel 16:7). He was proud of his long hair. (This hair caused his death in 18:1-17.) The royal standard was very accurate. It shows that Absalom’s hair was thick and healthy. Absalom had three sons. (But 18:18 shows that they all died when they were young.) His daughter had the same name as his sister.

Absalom was the oldest prince but David would not let him live in the royal palace. He could not do the work of a prince. David would not prepare Absalom to become the next king. David let him return to Jerusalem. But he would not see Absalom. Absalom lived in this difficult situation for two years. Absalom had lived in the country of Geshur with the king’s son. He probably had a good life there. He became very angry in Jerusalem. He disliked his father’s behaviour. But he could not go to his father. Joab had brought Absalom back. But Joab would not speak to Absalom. So, Absalom was also angry with Joab. When Absalom’s servants burned Joab’s field, Joab had to talk to Absalom.

In verse 32, Absalom thought that he had not *sinned. David had not punished Amnon. So Absalom punished Amnon because he *sinned against Tamar. Absalom was confident that he had done the right thing. He believed that he was not a murderer. Therefore, Absalom thought that he had no *sin. Joab had to deal with the situation between David and Absalom. At last, Absalom saw the king. He gave honour to the king in the usual way. But David had delayed the meeting for too long. Verse 33 describes an official meeting, not a family meeting. Genesis 45:1-15 describes how Joseph and his brothers were united. They cried and talked together. They hugged and kissed each other. Joseph forgave his brothers. King David kissed Absalom. But it does not say that Absalom kissed David. They did not forgive. There was no real unity. And soon Absalom would start to plot against David.

Chapter 15

Absalom makes a secret plan against King David

v1 After this, Absalom got a *chariot and some horses. He also got 50 men who ran ahead of him. v2 Absalom used to get up early. He stood by the road that went to the gate of the city. If a person had a problem, that person sometimes went to the king. The king would be the judge. When someone went past Absalom he would say to them, ‘Which town do you come from?’ The man would answer, ‘Your servant is from one of the *tribes of *Israel.’ v3 Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Your situation is right. But the king does not have an assistant who can listen to you.’ v4 Then Absalom would say, ‘I wish that someone would appoint me as the judge of this nation. Then everyone who has problems could come to me. I would make sure that each person gets a fair judgement.’

v5 People went to bend down in front of Absalom, in order to show him honour. But Absalom reached out his hand to each person and held him. Then Absalom kissed the person.

v6 Absalom did this to all the *Israelites who came to the king for a decision. It was as if Absalom stole the people of *Israel. They loved him and they became loyal to him.

v7 After 4 years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Please let me go to Hebron. I want to do what I promised to the *Lord. v8 I made a promise while I was living in Geshur in the country of Aram. I said, “If the *Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, then I will *worship the *Lord in Hebron.” ’

v9 The king said, ‘Go and have peace.’ So, Absalom went to Hebron.

v10 Then Absalom secretly sent men to all the *tribes of *Israel with a message. The men said, ‘When you hear the *trumpets you must say, “Absalom is the king in Hebron.” ’

v11 Then Absalom invited 200 men from Jerusalem and they went with him. But they were innocent. They did not know what he was going to do. v12 Absalom gave *sacrifices. He also sent for Ahithophel from Giloh. He came from his own town, called Giloh. Ahithophel used to give wise advice to King David. More and more people joined Absalom’s group. His plot was getting stronger.

Absalom was probably about 30 years old. He wanted to be king instead of David. David had been a very good king. The *Israelites were loyal to him. So Absalom had to work out a plan that would make the *Israelites loyal to him instead.

First, he wanted to look important (verse 1). Absalom was a handsome young man (14:25). Absalom would have stood in the *chariot. The horses pulled it. They did not run fast. The 50 men who ran ahead were probably guards. Absalom did all this for a show. He was behaving like a king (1 Samuel 8:11). That would have impressed the people who saw his splendid display.

Second, he wanted to help people more than the king did (verses 2-4). The king was a judge. He helped people if their local leader could not help them. Early every morning, Absalom talked to people who were going to Jerusalem. He suggested that the king was too busy to help them. And Absalom said that the king did not have other judges to help him. We do not know whether this was true. But the people believed it. Absalom always said that the person’s situation was right. That made the person happy. Then he thought that Absalom would be a good judge. Absalom did not really care about the people. He just wanted to become king.

Third, he behaved like a king (verse 5). People gave honour to Absalom. Then he kissed them. This showed that he accepted them. He showed that he was available for anyone.

It took Absalom only 4 years to make the people loyal to him. It was as if he ‘stole’ them from his father. The *Israelites may have become unhappy with King David. Perhaps they knew about his bad behaviour. David, and the 200 men who went with Absalom, did not suspect his plan. The *ark of the *Lord was in Jerusalem. But David did not ask Absalom why he needed to *worship the *Lord in Hebron. Absalom was born in Hebron (3:2-3). David had become king of *Israel while he was in Hebron (5:1-3). David *blessed Absalom. David’s last words to Absalom were about peace. But Absalom went to start a war against David.

Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather (11:3 and 23:34). Perhaps he did not like what David had done to Bathsheba. Or perhaps there were other reasons why he supported Absalom. Giloh was near to Hebron. Absalom gave his *sacrifices. But he cared more about the power that he would get.

David escapes from Jerusalem

v13 A man came and he gave David a message. ‘All the *Israelites have become loyal to Absalom’, he said.

v14 Then David spoke to all the officials who were with him in Jerusalem. ‘We must run away from Absalom. We must leave quickly so that we escape from him. Otherwise, he will catch us and he will destroy our city. And he will kill the people in Jerusalem.’

v15 The king’s officials answered, ‘We are your servants. You are our master and king. We will do whatever you tell us.’

v16 So the king, his family and his officials all set out. The king left 10 *concubines in the palace to look after it. v17 So the king set out. All the people were following him. They stopped after they had gone a short distance. v18 Then all the king’s officials walked past David. All the men called Kerethites and Pelethites walked past him. Then the 600 men from Gath walked past. These men from Gath had been with David when he returned from Gath.

v19 Then the king said to Ittai, who came from Gath, ‘You do not need to come with us. Go back and stay with King Absalom. You come from a foreign country. You do not live in your own country. v20 It seems as if you only arrived yesterday. But today you wander round with me. I do not want to make you wander. I do not even know where I am going. Go back. Take the other men from your country with you. I pray that God will be kind to you. And I pray that he will make you safe.’

v21 But Ittai said to the king, ‘I make this promise to the *Lord who lives. You are my master and king. I am your servant. I may live or I may die. But I will go wherever you go.’

v22 David said to Ittai, ‘Go ahead and walk.’ So, Ittai from Gath walked past. All his men and their families were with him. v23 They all walked through the country. Everyone cried loudly as David and his men walked by. King David also crossed over the Kidron Valley. Then they all walked towards the desert.

In verses 13-39, the writer constantly referred to David as the king. Absalom wanted to become king. But nobody had *anointed him as the king. So really, David was still the king.

One loyal man came to David with the bad news. David realised that Absalom wanted to take the royal city and the *kingdom of *Israel. If David stayed in the city to fight, many people would die. So David left and the people were safe. David had many *concubines. He left 10 of them behind. They had to look after everything in his palace. David’s officials all remained loyal to him. David left the city first. Everyone else followed him. Then he stopped to see who was loyal to him. David’s officials, the men called Kerethites and the men called Pelethites are in the list in 8:15-18. And you can read about David’s 600 men in 1 Samuel 23:13; 27:2; 30:9.

Ittai was a *Philistine man. He had just joined David and his men. In verse 20, ‘yesterday’ means in recent times. David called Absalom the king. And David expected to wander in the country. He had already done this when he had to run away from King Saul (1 Samuel chapters 20-30). David wanted to be fair to Ittai and his men. They could live safely with Absalom. They could be loyal to him. But Ittai was completely loyal to David. He made a serious promise to the *Lord. Ittai would even die for David. This contrasts with David’s own son. Absalom was against David and stole his *kingdom. But a foreign soldier was completely loyal to David. David must have been happy that some people were still loyal to him.

David’s servants and officers took their families with them. Everyone was very unhappy as David’s group left Jerusalem. The people in the city were still loyal to David. The Kidron valley was on the east side of Jerusalem. And the desert was beyond the valley.

v24 Zadok was there too with all the *Levites. The *Levites were carrying the *ark of the promise of God. They put down the *ark of God. Abiathar gave *sacrifices until all the people had left Jerusalem.

v25 Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Take the *ark of God back into Jerusalem. If the *Lord is pleased with me, he will bring me back. He will let me see the *ark and the tent of the *Lord again. v26 If the *Lord is not pleased with me then I am ready. He can do what he wants with me.’

v27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, ‘You are a seer (a *prophet). Go back to the city and have peace. Go with your son Ahimaaz and with Jonathan, the son of Abiathar. You and Abiathar should take your two sons with you. v28 I will wait in the desert where people cross the shallow river. I will wait there until I hear news from you.’ v29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the *ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they stayed there.

The priests and *Levites were also still loyal to King David. They had brought the *ark so that they could give *sacrifices. David knew that the *ark of God would not give him success (1 Samuel chapter 4). Instead, David trusted the *Lord to do the right thing. David wrote Psalm 3 at this time. He knew that the *Lord would save him. David wanted Zadok to return to Jerusalem. He could watch (or see) what happened. Then David knew that he would have loyal men in the city. They could bring him all the news.

v30 David went up to the hill called the *Mount of *Olives. He was crying. He covered his head but his feet were bare. All the people who went with him covered their heads too. They were crying as they went. v31 Someone told David, ‘Ahithophel is with Absalom. He is among the group of men who made secret plans against you.’ So David prayed, ‘*Lord, please ruin Ahithophel’s advice. Make his words seem foolish.’

v32 David reached the top of the mountain where people *worshipped God. Hushai the *Arkite met him there. Hushai had torn his coat and put dust on his head. v33 David said to him, ‘You will give me more responsibilities if you come with me. v34 But you can help me if you return to Jerusalem. You can make Ahithophel’s advice worth nothing. Say to Absalom, “My king, I am your servant. In the past, I was your father’s servant. But I will be your servant now.” v35 Abiathar and Zadok the priests will be there with you. Tell them everything that you hear in the royal palace. v36 Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, and Jonathan, the son of Abiathar, are there too. Send the two sons to me. Then they will tell me anything that you have heard.’

v37 So David’s friend Hushai arrived at Jerusalem at the same time as Absalom.

The *Mount of *Olives is quite near to Jerusalem. David could stand on the top of the hill and look down over the city. He and the people dressed like very sad people. This was their custom. They cried. They did not know what would happen to them. David did not know whether he would ever return to Jerusalem. In the *New Testament, Jesus often went to the *Mount of *Olives. He taught there in Mark 13:3. He rode to Jerusalem from there on a *donkey. And all the people gave him a grand welcome (Luke 19:28-38). He prayed in the garden there before he died (Luke 22:39). Jesus was on the *Mount of *Olives when he went up to heaven (Acts 1:11-12).

Ahithophel and Hushai had both been David’s officers. They had given him wise advice. Now Ahithophel was not loyal to David but Hushai was still loyal. David sent Hushai back to Jerusalem. Absalom would believe that Hushai was not loyal to David. So, Hushai would be able to help David secretly. And Hushai could ruin Ahithophel’s advice. He could give Absalom bad advice. This was the best way that he could help David.

‘*Arkite’ refers to the family or place that Hushai came from. He was probably not an *Israelite.

Chapter 16

David and Ziba

v1 David had just passed the top of the hill. Ziba, who was Mephibosheth’s servant, met David. Ziba had a row of *donkeys. There were saddles on the *donkeys. The *donkeys carried 200 loaves of bread and 100 round packs of raisins (a type of dried fruit). They also had 100 packs of figs (fruit) and a leather bag full of wine.

v2 The king said to Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these here?’

Ziba answered, ‘Your family can ride on the *donkeys. The men can eat the bread and the fruit. People may become tired in the desert. So they can drink the wine and feel better.’

v3 Then the king asked, ‘Where is Mephibosheth, the grandson of your master Saul?’

Ziba said, ‘He is staying in Jerusalem. He thinks, “Today the *Israelites will return my grandfather’s *kingdom to me.” ’

v4 Then the king said to Ziba, ‘I now give to you everything that belonged to Mephibosheth.’

Ziba said, ‘I am your servant. I hope that I will always please you, my master and king.’

At the beginning of 1 Samuel, you can read about how David became king. At first, he was the king over only the south of *Israel. Most people in the north of *Israel were still loyal to Saul’s family. Then they became loyal to David. But Absalom had become the king. David did not know whether Saul’s family would remain loyal to him. Chapter 9 tells the account of David and Mephibosheth.

Ziba looked after all Mephibosheth’s land (9:7-10). Ziba brought David a generous gift. The food was suitable for people who were travelling. But David suspected Ziba’s intention. David probably did not know whom he could trust at this time. Ziba said that Mephibosheth wanted to become king. David believed Ziba. David had given all Saul’s land to Mephibosheth in 9:7. Now David gave it to Ziba instead as a reward. But in 19:24-30, Mephibosheth said that he had always been loyal to David. And Mephibosheth said that Ziba had lied. Mephibosheth had never tried to become the king in the past. So, Ziba’s story was probably not true.

David and Shimei

v5 King David approached the village called Bahurim. A man from Saul’s family came out from the village. His name was Shimei, the son of Gera. He was insulting David as he came out. v6 Then Shimei threw stones at David and at all his officials. But all the soldiers and all David’s strong men gathered round David.

v7 Shimei insulted David as he said, ‘Go away. Go away. You are a murderer and a wicked man! v8 The *Lord is punishing you because you killed so many people in Saul’s family. You became the king instead of Saul. Now the *Lord has given your *kingdom to your son Absalom. This has ruined you. You are a murderer.’

v9 Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, spoke to the king. Abishai said, ‘This man is as bad as a dead dog. He should not insult my master the king. Let me go over there and cut his head off.’

v10 But the king said, ‘Sons of Zeruiah, this is not your affair. He may be insulting me because the *Lord told him to. If so, nobody should ask him why he does it.’

v11 Then David said to Abishai and to all his officials, ‘My own son is trying to kill me. This man comes from the *tribe of Benjamin. He has even more reasons to kill me. Leave him alone. Let him insult me because the *Lord has told him to. v12 Perhaps the *Lord will see that I am very unhappy. He may give me something good today instead of these insults.’

v13 So David and his men continued along the road. But Shimei went along the hill opposite David. Shimei continued to insult David. Shimei also continued to throw stones and earth at him. v14 At last, the king and everyone with him arrived (at the river Jordan). They were very tired. So, they stopped there and they had a rest.

Bahurim was east of the *Mount of *Olives. Shimei was a close relative of Saul. Shimei did not like David. So, Shimei insulted David and swore at him. Shimei accused David of wicked things that were not true. David had always tried to be kind to Saul and his family. Verse 8 may refer to the event in chapter 2. David’s men, but not David, had killed men from Saul’s family. Shimei also tried to hurt David. Shimei was angry because David had become the king instead of Saul and his family. Shimei said that the *Lord was punishing David. God’s law said that people should not insult their leader (Exodus 22:28). David’s soldiers protected him from this attack. Shimei was a coward. He only insulted David because David was running away from Absalom.

Abishai was Joab’s brother. Abishai was angry with Shimei. Abishai wanted to act immediately. (He had behaved like that in 1 Samuel 26:8.) He insulted Shimei when he called him a ‘dead dog’. That meant that he had no value. But David trusted the *Lord. David knew that he had murdered Uriah. So David thought that perhaps the *Lord was speaking by Shimei. However, David hoped that the *Lord would be kind to him. All this trouble made David and the people tired. They probably arrived at the place that David mentioned in 15:28. The river Jordan was about 32 kilometres (20 miles) east of Jerusalem.

Ahithophel advises Absalom

v15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the men of *Israel had gone to Jerusalem. Ahithophel was with them. v16 Now Hushai the *Arkite was David’s friend. Hushai went to Absalom and said, ‘I hope that the king will live for a long time. I hope that the king will live for a long time.’

v17 Absalom said, ‘Why are you not being loyal to your friend? Why did you not go with him?’

v18 Hushai said to Absalom, ‘I will stay with the man whom the *Lord has chosen. These people and all the people of *Israel have chosen him. v19 In the past I served your father. So now, I should serve his son. I will serve you in the same way that I served your father.’

v20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘I want your advice. Tell us what we should do.’

v21 Ahithophel said, ‘Your father left behind some of his *concubines. They are looking after his palace. Go and have sex with them. Then all the people of *Israel will know that your father is your enemy. And all the people will support you more.’

v22 So they put up a tent for Absalom on the roof of the palace. Everyone could see it. Then Absalom went and had sex with his father’s *concubines.

v23 In those days, people thought that Ahithophel was very wise. In fact, his advice seemed like the wisdom that a person receives from God. Absalom trusted Ahithophel’s advice as David had done.

The account now goes back to Absalom. Absalom arrived in Jerusalem with Ahithophel. Ahithophel used to advise David. But now he was loyal to Absalom. However, Hushai was still David’s friend. Hushai pretended that he was loyal to Absalom. In verse 16, Hushai referred to ‘the king’, but he did not say ‘King Absalom’. Hushai said that he would serve the king that the *Lord chose. Absalom believed that he was the king. But Absalom did not realise that Hushai’s answers really referred to King David. ‘*Arkite’ refers to the family that Hushai belonged to. He was probably not an *Israelite.

God’s law said that a man should not have sex with his father’s wives or *concubines (Leviticus 18:7-8). In those days, a new king usually took the previous king’s wives and *concubines as his own (2 Samuel 12:8). This showed that the new king had all the royal power. This would also ruin the relationship between David and Absalom. So, Absalom did what Ahithophel said. In 12:11-12, Nathan had spoken God’s words to David. Here, the things that God had told Nathan actually happened.

Chapter 17

Ahithophel and Hushai advise Absalom

v1 Then Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Let me choose 12 000 men. I will go and chase David tonight. v2 I will attack him when he is tired and weak. I will frighten him. All the people who are with him will run away. I will kill only the king. v3 Then I will bring all his people back to you. When David is dead, everyone will return to you. Everyone will be safe.’ v4 Absalom and all the leaders in *Israel thought that this was good advice.

v5 Then Absalom said, ‘Bring Hushai the *Arkite to me. I want to know what he thinks about this.’ v6 When Hushai arrived, Absalom spoke to him. Absalom said, ‘Ahithophel has given us this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, tell us what to do.’

v7 Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘This time, Ahithophel has not given good advice to you. v8 You know that your father and his men are strong men. They are fierce, like a mother bear when someone steals her baby bears. Also, your father is a skilled soldier. He will not stay with his soldiers at night. v9 He has probably already hidden in a cave or some other place. David will attack your soldiers first. Then everyone will hear about it. They will say, “Many of Absalom’s men are now dead.” v10 Your bravest soldiers are as brave as lions. But even those soldiers will become afraid. All the *Israelites know that your father is a strong man. And they know that his soldiers are brave men.

v11 This is what I suggest. Gather all the *Israelites from the whole nation. They should even come from the area called Dan in the north, and from Beersheba in the south. You will have a huge army that is too big to count, like the bits of sand by the sea. You yourself should lead them into the battle. v12 We will go and find David. Then we will attack him. We can descend on him like rain that falls on the ground. We will kill him and all his men. v13 If he escapes to a city, then all the *Israelites will bring ropes (very thick strings) to that city. And we can pull the city down into the valley. Not one stone will remain.’

v14 Absalom and all the *Israelites said, ‘Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s advice.’ The *Lord had decided to destroy Ahithophel’s good advice. The *Lord was going to ruin Absalom.

Ahithophel advised Absalom again. He had a plan that would quickly make Absalom the king. David was running away. He was not happy. He only had a few loyal men with him. He thought that all the *Israelites were against him. Ahithophel knew that they could easily attack David. Then, they could kill David. Everything would happen quickly. David would not have time to prepare for a battle. Then David’s men would return to Jerusalem and serve the new king. In verse 1, 12 000 probably meant groups of men, from each *Israelite *tribe. This would show a united *Israel. Verse 14 says that this was good advice. But the *Lord was controlling the situation.

Absalom wanted to be certain that this plan would work. So, he got Hushai’s opinion. Hushai wanted to protect David. So, he had to give Absalom a better plan. But that plan had to give David more time to escape. Everyone knew about David’s skill as a soldier. He was brave. He had fought a giant man called Goliath. He fought lions and bears (1 Samuel chapter 17). David and his soldiers had also fought all *Israel’s enemies and defeated them (2 Samuel chapter 8). And Absalom would not want David to defeat his soldiers. That would have frightened the rest of Absalom’s soldiers.

At the end of 1 Samuel, David managed to escape from King Saul many times. In verse 13, Hushai even suggested that David might escape from Absalom and his army. Hushai said that Absalom needed all the *Israelites to fight with him. This would be a huge army with Absalom as their leader. Absalom was a proud man (14:25). He could imagine himself as the leader of this great *Israelite army. In verses 12 and 13, Hushai described how this army would have complete success against David. Hushai used words that helped Absalom to imagine the situation.

Absalom probably wanted the *Israelites to see that he was a great leader and soldier. But Absalom did not realise that the *Lord was against him. Absalom liked Hushai’s grand plan much more than he liked Ahithophel’s advice. But Hushai’s plan would take more time. This meant that Hushai could send news to David in order to warn him.

Hushai sends a message to David

v15 Hushai spoke to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. He told them what Ahithophel had advised Absalom. Then Hushai told them what he had advised Absalom.

v16 Hushai said, ‘Send a message to David immediately. Tell him, “Tonight, do not stay in the desert where people cross the shallow river. You must go across the river. If you do not, you and all your army will die.” ’

v17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. They did not want anyone to see them go into that town. So, a servant girl went out from the town and she gave them messages. Then Jonathan and Ahimaaz went to tell King David. v18 But a young man saw them. He went and told Absalom. So, Jonathan and Ahimaaz left quickly. They went to a man’s house in the town of Bahurim. He had a well in his garden. Jonathan and Ahimaaz climbed down into the well. v19 The man’s wife put a sheet over the top of the well. And she put grain all over it. Nobody knew anything about it.

v20 Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house. They said, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’

The woman said, ‘They went across the stream.’ Absalom’s men searched for Ahimaaz and Jonathan, but they did not find them. Then Absalom’s men returned to Jerusalem.

v21 When Absalom’s men had gone, Ahimaaz and Jonathan climbed out of the well. They went to give the message to David. They said, ‘Hurry. Cross over the river. Ahithophel has given this advice against you.’ v22 So David and all his people crossed the river Jordan. By dawn, everyone had crossed the Jordan.

v23 Ahithophel saw that the *Israelites did not follow his advice. So he put a saddle on his *donkey. He went to his house in his home town. He dealt with all his family affairs. Then he hanged himself and he died. They buried him next to his father’s grave.

David had to act quickly. He had to get far away from Absalom. En Rogel was only about one and a half kilometres (about 1 mile) south of Jerusalem. A servant girl would often go out to collect water so nobody would suspect her. But someone saw Jonathan and Ahimaaz and suspected them. They went to a village on the east side of the *Mount of *Olives. They probably knew a family there that were loyal to David. A woman hid them and she sent Absalom’s men away. They believed her because everything looked normal. The men who were looking for Jonathan and Ahimaaz did not know about the well in the garden. They only saw the sheet with wheat on it. When it was safe, the two men went to David. They warned him. David and his men quickly crossed the Jordan.

It was too late for Ahithophel’s plan to work. Absalom did not want Ahithophel’s advice. If David returned as king, he would probably kill Ahithophel. Ahithophel felt hopeless. He had no future. So, he went home and he killed himself.

v24 David went to the town called Mahanaim. And Absalom and all the *Israelites crossed over the river Jordan. v25 Now Absalom had made Amasa the leader of the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, who came from Ishmael’s family. Jether had married Abigail. She was the daughter of Nahash and the sister of Zeruiah. Zeruiah was the mother of Joab. v26 Absalom and all the *Israelites camped in the land of Gilead.

v27 When David came to the town called Mahanaim, Shobi, Makir and Barzillai were there. Shobi was the son of Nahash, who came from the *Ammonite town called Rabbah. Makir was the son of Ammiel, who came from Lo Debar. Barzillai came from Rogelim in the area called Gilead. v28 They brought beds, bowls and pots to David. They also brought wheat, barley (like wheat), flour and some grain that they had cooked. And they brought beans, small peas (types of vegetables) and v29 honey. They also brought some sheep, sheep’s milk and cheese that they had made from cows’ milk. They brought all this for David and his men. The three men thought, ‘The people are in the desert. They will be hungry and tired. They will also need to drink.’

The town of Mahanaim had strong walls round it. It was about 11 kilometres (7 miles) east of the river Jordan. Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul, had become king there (2:8-10). Shobi, Makir and Barzillai were David’s friends. Shobi’s father, Nahash, had been king of the country of Ammon. Mephibosheth had lived with Makir before he lived with David in Jerusalem (9:4-5). Barzillai was a rich old man. He was loyal to David (19:31-32). These three men gave David practical help. They brought many different types of food for David and his men. The men cooked the food in the pots. They ate the food out of the bowls. Then they had somewhere comfortable where they could sleep. After this, David’s men were strong and they were ready to fight again.

Meanwhile, Absalom gathered the *Israelite army. This would have taken several days. Joab used to lead the army but he was with David (18:2). So, Absalom had to find a new leader. He chose Amasa, who was a relative of Joab and David. Absalom and his army camped in the land near Mahanaim.

Chapter 18

David’s men defeat and kill Absalom

v1 David counted the soldiers who were with him. He appointed men to command groups of 1000 soldiers. He also appointed other men to command groups of 100 soldiers. v2 David sent his soldiers out in three groups. Joab commanded a third of them. Joab’s brother Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, commanded a third of them. And Ittai from Gath commanded a third of them. The king said to the soldiers, ‘I will go with you myself.’

v3 But they said to David, ‘You must not come with us. If we have to run away in the battle, Absalom’s men will not care. They will not care even if half of us die. But you are worth 10 000 of us. It will be better for you to stay in the city. You can help us from the city.’

v4 The king answered, ‘I will do whatever seems best to you.’

So, the king stood next to the gate of the city. The soldiers marched out in groups of 100 men and groups of 1000 men. v5 The king ordered Joab, Abishai and Ittai, ‘Be gentle with the young man Absalom. I care about him.’ All the soldiers heard David’s orders about Absalom, which David gave to each leader.

v6 David’s army went out into the open country to fight the army of *Israel. They fought in the forest of Ephraim. v7 And David’s army defeated the army of *Israel. 20 000 men died that day. v8 The battle spread over a large area. More people died in the forest than in the battle.

More men had probably joined David’s army. He organised them so that they were ready for the battle with Absalom. David’s army was much smaller than Absalom’s army. But David’s men were good soldiers. And they had three strong leaders. David wanted to lead his army himself. But his men did not want to risk David’s life. Two men, David and Absalom, were claiming to be king of *Israel. But only one man could be king. David’s army could defeat Absalom’s army in this battle. But, if David died, then Absalom would be the king. So, David had to stay in the city, where he was safe.

The gate of the city was an important place. David watched his army go to the battle. And he waited there until he heard news from the battle. Absalom had taken the *kingdom of *Israel from David. So, Absalom was David’s enemy. But Absalom was also David’s son. David wanted his army to win the battle. But he did not want them to hurt his son. Everyone heard what David said about this.

David’s small army defeated Absalom’s huge army. But many men died. In those days, there was a forest on the east side of the River Jordan. It was easy to fight in a clear area. But it was difficult to fight in a forest. Trees grow close together in a forest. So, it is usually quite dark. Also, there are very few clear paths. Nobody could take food or drink to the soldiers in the forest. They would have lost their way. Some men may have fallen down holes in the ground. And wild animals may have attacked other men. Each soldier had to fight on his own or in a small group. They could not protect each other. Absalom had more men, but David’s men were more skilled in those surroundings.

v9 Then Absalom suddenly met some of David’s soldiers. Absalom was riding his royal *mule. The *mule went under the thick branches of a large oak (a type of tree). The branches went into Absalom’s hair and they stayed there. His *mule ran away. So Absalom was hanging in the air.

v10 One of the men saw this. So he said to Joab, ‘I have just seen Absalom. He was hanging in an oak tree.’

v11 Joab said to the man, ‘If you saw him, you should have killed him. I would then have given you 10 pieces of silver and a special belt.’

v12 But the man replied, ‘I would not hurt the king’s son even if you gave me 1000 pieces of silver. I heard the king give this command to you, Abishai and Ittai, “Protect the young man Absalom. I care about him.” v13 If I had killed Absalom, I would not have obeyed the king. The king would have discovered who did it. And you would not have protected me.’

v14 Joab said, ‘I will not waste any more time with you.’ Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. So Joab took three *spears and pushed them into Absalom’s heart. v15 The 10 young men who helped Joab stood round Absalom. And they killed him.

v16 Then Joab blew a *trumpet. David’s soldiers stopped chasing the *Israelites because Joab had stopped them. v17 Then Joab’s men took Absalom’s body. They threw him into a large hole in the ground. So, they buried him in the forest. Then they put a large pile of rocks over him. Meanwhile the *Israelites ran away to their homes.

v18 While Absalom was alive, he had put up a large column in the King’s valley. He had no sons. So, he thought that nobody would remember his name. Instead, he put his own name on the column. People still call it ‘Absalom’s column’ today.

Absalom should have walked in the forest. It was too difficult to ride a *mule among the trees. But he was proud that he was the king. So he rode on his royal *mule (see 13:29). Then he saw David’s men. Absalom probably tried to escape from them. He did not notice the thick branches near to him. Suddenly he crashed into them. The branches went into his long hair (see 14:26). Absalom could not free himself from the tree. The man who saw Absalom would not kill him. This man obeyed King David. He thought that this was more important than a reward. Ten pieces of silver was about one year’s wages. And the special belt meant that he would be a more important soldier. But the man also knew that he could not trust Joab.

Joab was angry and not patient. He had brought Absalom back to David (chapter 14). David did not punish Absalom for his wrong behaviour. But David did not let Absalom live like the most important prince. Joab guessed that David would not be happy with Absalom after this battle. This could have caused more trouble in *Israel in the future. Many people would still be loyal to Absalom. *Israel could have only one king. So, Joab decided to kill Absalom because he was not the real king. Joab had 10 young men with him. They carried his *weapons and armour (special clothes that protected him). They helped Joab to kill Absalom. Then they buried his body. *Israel is a hot country, so people there bury dead bodies quickly. Absalom did not have a special grave. And they could not bury him in the graves that belonged to his family.

A male sheep grows horns (hard things with a point) on its head. People made *trumpets from these. They blew into the *trumpet and it made a loud noise. In a battle, this meant that the battle had finished. Joab commanded the whole army. The other *Israelites knew that David’s men had defeated them. Absalom was dead. Nobody else needed to die.

*Israelite men wanted sons because their sons kept the family name. Absalom had three sons (14:27). But we suppose that they died earlier. Absalom was proud and he wanted people to remember him. He was not a king. But he put his name in the King’s valley. In verse 18, ‘today’ means while the writer of the book was alive. That was at least 50 years after Absalom’s death. (In fact, there is still such a column near Jerusalem. But its design does not seem ancient enough to be Absalom’s column. So perhaps someone rebuilt it later.)

v19 Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, said, ‘Let me run to King David with the good news. I will tell him that the *Lord has saved him from his enemies.’

v20 But Joab said to Ahimaaz, ‘No. You cannot take that news to David today. You may take that news to David another day. You cannot do that today because the king’s son is dead.’

v21 Then Joab spoke to a foreign man from Cush. Joab said, ‘Go! Tell the king what you have seen.’ The man from Cush bent down to show honour to Joab. Then the man ran off.

v22 Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, said to Joab again, ‘Whatever happens, let me run behind the man from Cush.’

But Joab replied, ‘Young man, you should not want to run. You have no news. You will not get any reward.’

v23 Ahimaaz said, ‘Whatever happens, I want to go.’

So Joab said to Ahimaaz, ‘Run!’ And Ahimaaz ran along the Jordan valley. He passed the man from Cush.

Ahimaaz knew that the *Lord had saved David. Ahimaaz thought that David would be happy about this. But Joab knew David very well. He knew that David cared more about his son than about the battle. Joab also knew that David might become angry. (Compare this with the news about Saul’s death in 1:1-16.) So, Joab sent a foreign man. Joab did not want anyone from *Israel to die if the king was angry. But perhaps Joab cared less about foreigners. Cush is in the south of the country of Egypt. However, in 15:27-28 and 15:35-36, David had asked Ahimaaz (and Jonathan) to take news to him. Ahimaaz thought that this was still his duty. Ahimaaz was probably an important man in the army. He was also the son of the Zadok the priest. Joab did not want David to kill Ahimaaz. But Ahimaaz insisted that he wanted to go to David too. He may have taken a different route from the man from Cush. Or he may have just run faster.

David hears that Absalom is dead

v24 David was waiting in Mahanaim. He was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the city. The guard went up to the top of the city wall. He stood on the roof that was over the gates. The guard looked out. He saw a man who was running alone. v25 The guard called out. He told the king what he had seen.

The king said, ‘If the man is alone he must have good news.’ The man came nearer and nearer to the city. v26 Then the guard saw another man who was running. The guard called to the man who guarded the gate. The guard said, ‘I can see another man who is running alone.’

The king said, ‘He must be bringing good news too.’

v27 The guard said, ‘The first man runs like Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok.’

The king said, ‘He is a good man. He is bringing good news.’

v28 Ahimaaz called out to the king, ‘I have good news.’ He bent down in front of the king so that his face touched the ground.

He said to the king, ‘Praise the *Lord your God. He defeated those men who opposed my master the king.’

v29 The king said, ‘Is the young man Absalom safe?’

Ahimaaz answered, ‘Everything was confused when Joab sent me, your servant. I did not know what was happening.’

v30 The king said, ‘Stand over there and wait.’ So, Ahimaaz stood aside and waited.

v31 Then the man from Cush arrived. He said, ‘My master and king, hear the good news. Today the *Lord has defeated the men who opposed you.’

v32 The king said, ‘Is the young man Absalom safe?’

The man from Cush replied, ‘I want your enemies, and everyone who comes to hurt you, to be like that young man.’

v33 The king shook. He went to the room that was over the gate. He cried. As he went there, he said, ‘My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish that I had died instead of you. Absalom, my son, my son!’

David was worried about his son Absalom. David could not rest in the city. Instead, he waited and watched by the gates. The guard could see further because he was high up. He saw one runner, and then he saw the second runner. David really wanted good news. Ahimaaz was a good man. David thought that he would bring good news. Ahimaaz was wise. First, he praised the *Lord. Then he said that the *Lord defeated David’s enemies. But David’s first question was about Absalom. Ahimaaz knew that answer but he would not tell David. Ahimaaz let the man from Cush give David that sad news. Again, David’s first question was about Absalom. The man from Cush did not actually say that Absalom was dead. But David knew what he meant.

Verse 33 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. David loved his son. David was very sad. His deep emotions even made him shake. But David also felt guilty. He had *sinned. Absalom’s death was part of the *Lord’s punishment (12:10). So, David believed that he deserved to die instead of Absalom. Three of David’s sons were now dead because of his *sin (Bathsheba’s son in 12:14-20, Amnon in 13:28-29 and Absalom in 18:15).

Chapter 19

Joab speaks to David and David returns to Jerusalem

v1 Someone told Joab, ‘The king is crying. He is very sad about Absalom.’ v2 David’s army had won the battle that day. But then they heard that David was very sad about his son. So, it became a sad day for the army too. v3 The men returned to the city quietly that day. They behaved like men who had run away from a battle. They were as quiet as men who felt ashamed. v4 The king covered his face. He cried loudly, ‘My son Absalom. Absalom, my son, my son.’

v5 Then Joab went into the king’s house. Joab said to the king, ‘Today you have made your men feel ashamed. Those men have saved your life. They have saved the lives of your sons and daughters. They have saved the lives of your wives and *concubines. v6 You love the people who hate you. And you hate the people who love you. You have clearly shown that your officers and their men have no value to you. You do not care whether we die. You would be happy if Absalom was alive today instead of us. v7 You should go out and encourage your men. Otherwise, not one man will remain loyal to you tonight. The *Lord knows that this is a serious matter. This will be the worst thing that has ever happened in your life.’

v8 So the king got up and he sat by the gate. Someone told the men, ‘The king is sitting by the gate.’ So, they all went to see him.

During this time, the *Israelites had run away to their homes. v9 The people in all the *tribes of *Israel were arguing with each other. They said, ‘The king saved us from all our enemies. He saved us from the *Philistines. But now he has left the country because of Absalom. v10 We *anointed Absalom to rule us. But he has died in the battle. Our leaders should bring David back to be the king.’

v11 King David was in his house. He had heard what the *Israelites were saying. So, he sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. ‘Tell the leaders of *Judah, “You should not be the last *tribe to bring the king back to his palace. v12 You are my closest relatives. You are my family. So you should not be the last people to bring back the king.” v13 Also, say to Amasa, “You are part of my own family. I will appoint you to be the leader of my army instead of Joab. God knows that I have made this promise to you.” ’

v14 So David persuaded the men of *Judah. They all became loyal to him again. They sent a message to the king, ‘You and all your men should return.’ v15 So David started to return. He reached the river Jordan. All the people of *Judah went to Gilgal. They went to meet David and to bring him across the Jordan.

David’s soldiers had won the battle. They had saved David and his family. They had also saved his *kingdom. But David cared only about his son. Absalom had hated David, but David still loved him. David covered his face so that he could not see anyone else. He cried loudly so that he could not hear anyone else. David should have met his soldiers as they returned from the battle. They had been brave and loyal. They were happy because they had won the battle. David should have praised them. But when they saw David’s reaction, they felt guilty about Absalom. And they felt as if they were worth nothing to David.

Joab was angry with the king. Joab spoke very strongly to him. He showed that the king had insulted his men. Joab even told the king what to do. Joab knew that the soldiers were ready to leave David before that night. David was very sad about his son. But David was still the king. He had to do what was right for everyone in the country. And he had to act quickly before the situation got worse.

Absalom had divided the country. When people in a country fight each other, it causes a lot of trouble. This still happens in many countries today. David had to unite all the *Israelite *tribes. This difficult job would take a long time. Perhaps he never really managed to unite them. When King David died, his son Solomon became the king. When Solomon died, the *Israelites divided into two countries, *Israel and *Judah (1 Kings 12). They never became a united country again.

Absalom’s soldiers (called the *Israelites) had gone to their homes. Now, David came from the *tribe of *Judah. So first, he decided to send a message to the people of Judah. He wanted them to show that they were loyal to him. David’s message in verse 11 united the men of *Judah. But it did not help to unite *Judah with the other *tribes of *Israel. Amasa had been the leader of Absalom’s army (17:25). He was David’s cousin. David was not happy with Joab. So, David made Amasa the leader of his army instead of Joab. Absalom’s men would have been happy about this. So, David travelled from Mahanaim to the river Jordan. It was an honour to help the king and to welcome him back to his country. Only the people of *Judah went to meet him. This caused a problem later (verses 41-43).

David and Shimei

v16 Now Shimei was the son of Gera. He came from the *tribe of Benjamin. He lived in Bahurim. He hurried with the men of *Judah to meet King David. v17 Shimei had 1000 men with him who came from the *tribe of Benjamin. Ziba was also with him. Ziba was the chief servant from Saul’s family. Ziba’s 15 sons and 20 servants were also with him. They rushed to the river Jordan to meet the king. v18 They crossed the river where it was shallow. They helped the king and all his family to cross over the river. And they did whatever the king wanted.

When Shimei, the son of Gera, crossed the Jordan, he laid on the ground in front of the king. v19 Shimei said to the king, ‘My master, please forgive me. I did a terrible thing on the day that my master the king left Jerusalem. Do not remember what I did. I hope that the king will forget about it. v20 I am your servant. I know that I have *sinned. But today I am the first person from the entire family of Joseph to meet my master the king.’

v21 Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, said, ‘Shimei should die because he insulted the king. The *Lord *anointed David as king.’

v22 David replied, ‘Sons of Zeruiah, you have nothing in common with me. You are speaking as if you are my enemies. Nobody in *Israel will die today. Today I know that I am the king over *Israel.’ v23 So the king made a serious promise to Shimei. The king said to him, ‘You shall not die.’

Shimei had insulted David and his men when they left Jerusalem (16:5-14). Shimei was afraid that David would punish him. So Shimei was eager to meet the king and to confess his *sin. Shimei lay on the ground to show that he was humble (verse 18). This action also gave honour to David. In verse 20, Shimei suggested that the rest of the *Israelites would follow him. The ‘family of Joseph’ refers to the *tribes in the north of *Israel. Shimei had arrived with many men. They all obeyed the king and they helped him and his family. They wanted to show how loyal they were.

Abishai was not happy. He told the king what he should do. Abishai was Joab’s brother. Both these men had told David what he should do. But David suddenly showed his authority as the king. He decided that he himself would not punish Shimei. But David did not forget what Shimei had done. Shimei was still guilty. Just before David died, David told Solomon to kill Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9).

David is kind to Mephibosheth

v24 Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went to meet the king. After the king left, Mephibosheth had not looked after his feet. Nor had he cut his beard or washed his clothes. He did not take care of himself again until the king returned safely. v25 Mephibosheth came from Jerusalem to meet the king. The king said to him, ‘Mephibosheth, why did you not go with me?’

v26 Mephibosheth answered, ‘My master and king. You know that I cannot walk. I told my servant, “Put a saddle on my *donkey. I will ride on it so that I can go with the king.” But my servant was not loyal to me. v27 He lied to you about me. My master and king, you are like an *angel of God. Do what you think is right. v28 You should have killed all my grandfather’s family. Instead, you gave me honour. You let me eat my meals at your table. So I cannot ask the king for anything else.’

v29 The king said, ‘Do not say anything else. You and Ziba will share the land between you.’

v30 Mephibosheth said to the king, ‘Let Ziba take all the land. I am happy now because you, my master the king, have arrived safely home.’

David had been kind to Mephibosheth (chapter 9). But Mephibosheth did not leave Jerusalem when David escaped from Absalom. Now David wanted to know why. Ziba, who was Mephibosheth’s servant, had helped David. Ziba provided food for David and his men (16:1-4). Ziba told David that Mephibosheth was not loyal to him.

Verse 24 describes the customs of a man who was very sad. Other people would have noticed Mephibosheth’s behaviour. So, Mephibosheth told David his account of the events. David did not know who was telling the truth. He had given Mephibosheth’s land to Ziba. Now David divided the land between the two men. But Mephibosheth did not care about the land. He only cared that David was safe. Mephibosheth trusted David completely (verse 27). David had given great honour to Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth always gave honour to David, as Mephibosheth called David ‘my master the king’.

David is kind to Barzillai

v31 Now Barzillai lived in the land of Gilead. He came from the town of Rogelim. He crossed the Jordan with the king. v32 Barzillai was a very old man. He was 80 years old. Barzillai was a very wealthy man. He had provided food for the king when he stayed in Mahanaim. v33 The king said to Barzillai, ‘Come and stay with me in Jerusalem. I will look after you.’

v34 But Barzillai answered the king, ‘I will not live for very long. There is no reason why I should go to Jerusalem with the king. v35 I am 80 years old now. I cannot distinguish between good and bad things. I cannot appreciate good food and drink. I cannot hear the men and women singers. I will be a nuisance to my master the king. v36 I, your servant, will cross over the Jordan with the king. And I will go just a little way with you. But I do not deserve such a great reward. v37 Let me return so that I can die in my home town. I want to be near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him go with my master the king. Do for him whatever you desire.’

v38 The king said, ‘Kimham shall go with me. I will deal with him as you desire. And I will do anything for you that would please you.’

v39 So all the people crossed the river Jordan. The king crossed the river too. The king kissed Barzillai and *blessed him. Then Barzillai returned to his home.

Barzillai was loyal to the king. He was old. But he managed to travel to the river Jordan. He had great wealth. He had provided all that the king and his men needed at Mahanaim (17:27-29). David was grateful. He wanted to give Barzillai a reward. Barzillai had looked after David. David now wanted to look after Barzillai. But Barzillai explained that he would not be able to enjoy that good life. Maybe he needed someone to look after him all the time. This would give David extra work. Instead, Barzillai wanted to die in his home town. So, David allowed Barzillai to go home. Kimham was probably Barzillai’s son. He was young enough to enjoy the benefits at the king’s palace.

Judah and *Israel argue about the king

v40 The king went on to Gilgal. Kimham went with him. All the people of *Judah and half the people of *Israel went with him. v41 Soon, the men of *Israel went to the king and they said, ‘The men of *Judah are like brothers to us. But they took you away from us. They brought you and your family across the Jordan (river) with all your men.’

v42 All the men of *Judah answered the men of *Israel. The men of *Judah said, ‘We did this because the king is our close relative. So, you should not be angry about this matter. We have not eaten any of the king’s food. We have not taken anything for ourselves.’

v43 Then the men of *Israel answered the men of *Judah, ‘We have ten *tribes in *Israel. Therefore, we have more right to the king than you have. You are talking as if we have no value. We wanted to bring back the king before you did.’

But the men of *Judah were even more fierce when they replied to the men of *Israel.

Gilgal was about 6 kilometres (4 miles) west of the Jordan and about 26 kilometres (16 miles) north east of Jerusalem. David had crossed the river. The men of *Judah had given honour to the king as he crossed the Jordan. David came from the *tribe of *Judah in the south of the country. He preferred the people of *Judah. They were his relatives. But the men of *Israel were not happy about that. They said that it was not fair. They had ten *tribes in the north of the country. There were many more people in *Israel than in *Judah. Also *Israel wanted David to be the king of the whole country. *Judah agreed later. This argument divided the nation again.

Chapter 20

Sheba opposes David

v1 Sheba, the son of Bicri, happened to be there. He came from the *tribe of Benjamin. He was a wicked man. He blew a *trumpet and he shouted,

‘We will not join with David.

We do not want to associate with the son of Jesse!

People of *Israel, prepare to fight!’

v2 So all the *Israelites left David. They followed Sheba, the son of Bicri. But the men of *Judah stayed with the king as he travelled from the river Jordan to Jerusalem.

v3 David returned to his palace in Jerusalem. He had left 10 *concubines there to look after his palace. He put them in a house and someone guarded them. He provided all that they needed. But David did not have sex with them. They lived there like widows until they died.

Sheba was probably a relative of King Saul. Sheba was wicked and he caused trouble. He opposed David and he did not want him to rule the *Israelites. Sheba tried to lead *Israel after Absalom’s death. And he tried to divide *Israel and *Judah again. But this did not last for very long. He blew a *trumpet to gather the *Israelites to himself. The *Israelite soldiers left David and they followed Sheba. But they did not go to fight David immediately. However, the men of *Judah remained loyal to David. They returned to Jerusalem with David and his family.

In 16:22, Absalom wanted to show that he was the king instead of David. So Absalom had sex with David’s *concubines. This evil act ruined the women and it made them feel ashamed. So, they did not serve David in his palace any more. And in that society, they could not marry other men. (Compare this with Tamar in chapter 13.) David looked after the *concubines and he protected them. But they could not be free. They could not join in with the activities at the palace. Instead, they stayed in private. And they behaved like widows. They were probably very sad that they could not continue to live with King David.

v4 Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Tell the men of *Judah to come to me in three days. You must be here too.’ v5 Amasa went to call the men of *Judah. But he took longer than the king had said.

v6 David said to Abishai, ‘Sheba, the son the Bicri, will cause us more trouble than Absalom did. Take my soldiers and chase him. Otherwise, he might find strong cities and escape from us.’

v7 So Abishai led all Joab’s men, the men from Kereth and Peleth, and all the brave soldiers. They left Jerusalem to chase Sheba, the son of Bicri.

v8 They arrived at the large rock in Gibeon. Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his army uniform. He had a belt round the middle of his body. On his belt, he had a sword that was in its case. As he walked forwards, the sword fell out of its case.

v9 Joab said to Amasa, ‘Hello my brother, are you well?’ Then Joab held Amasa’s beard with his right hand. Joab pretended that he was going to kiss Amasa. v10 Amasa was not watching the sword in Joab’s hand. Joab pushed the sword into Amasa’s stomach. The inside of Amasa’s body fell out onto the ground. Joab did not have to push his sword into Amasa again because Amasa was already dead.

Then Joab and his brother Abishai chased Sheba, the son of Bicri.

v11 One of Joab’s men stood next to Amasa and he said, ‘Whoever is for Joab and David should follow Joab.’ v12 Amasa was in the middle of the road. He had blood all over him. The man saw that everyone stopped there. So, he pulled Amasa off the road and he pulled him into a field. Then he threw a coat over Amasa’s body. v13 As soon as the man removed Amasa’s body from the road, all the soldiers followed Joab. They were chasing Sheba, the son of Bicri.

Amasa was the new leader of David’s army. This would please the people of Israel who had followed Absalom. Perhaps David had chosen him instead of Joab because Joab had not obeyed David. He had killed Absalom. But Amasa took too long to gather the men of *Judah. Perhaps he was not a strong leader. Perhaps he could not command the men as Joab had done. David was worried about Sheba. So, David did not wait for the whole army. Instead, he sent his loyal men ahead to chase Sheba. This time David chose Abishai as the leader. Abishai even led Joab’s men.

Amasa was one of Joab’s relatives. But Joab was jealous of him as the leader of the army. Amasa was returning to Jerusalem. Joab pretended to greet him in the usual way. When Joab’s sword fell out of its case, Joab picked it up. Amasa did not suspect anything so he greeted Joab. But Joab killed Amasa. We do not know whether Joab had planned this. Or perhaps he just took the opportunity as it happened. Joab was an expert with a sword. He killed Amasa quickly. Joab and Amasa were cousins. King David was their uncle (1 Chronicles 2:16-17). So Nathan’s *prophecy in 12:10 happened again.

Joab then became the leader of the army again. But the men stopped and looked at Amasa’s body. But Joab did not bury it or show any honour. Then, a man removed the body so that the soldiers would not notice it. This shows Joab’s rather cruel character. He was a very strong man. He did not seem to care much about anyone else. And he did not want anyone to rule him.

v14 Sheba went through all the *tribes of *Israel. He went to the city called Abel Beth Maacah. All the people in the Beri (or Bicri) family followed him. v15 When Joab’s soldiers arrived they surrounded the city. They put earth up against the walls of the city. Then they tried to break down the walls. v16 Then a wise woman called from the city, ‘Listen to me. Tell Joab to come over here so that I can talk to him.’

v17 So Joab went to her. The woman asked, ‘Are you Joab?’

‘I am’, he replied.

She said, ‘I am your servant. Listen carefully to what I say.’

Joab said, ‘I am listening.’

v18 She said, ‘A long time ago people said, “Go to Abel and get advice.” That would solve their problem. v19 We love peace and we are loyal people of *Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is like a mother in *Israel. Why do you want to destroy something that belongs to the *Lord?’

v20 Joab replied, ‘No, I really do not want to ruin or to destroy your city. v21 That is not my plan. But there is a man called Sheba. He is the son of Bicri. He comes from the mountains in the region of Ephraim. He now opposes King David. If you hand over Sheba to me, I will leave your city.’

The woman replied, ‘We agree. We will throw his head over the wall to you.’

v22 The woman went to the people of the city and she told them her wise advice. They cut off the head of Sheba, the son of Bicri. They threw it to Joab. So Joab blew a *trumpet. All Joab’s men left the city and they returned to their own homes. Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

The city called Abel Beth Maacah was over 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Jerusalem. It was near the city called Dan, which was at the north end of the country called *Israel. So Sheba had to go through the land of the other *tribes to get to Abel. However, the only *Israelites who supported him were his own family. In those days, people usually built their cities on a hill or on an area of higher ground. Then they built a wall of stones round it with one gate at the entrance. The people could defend these cities quite easily. They could throw stones down onto the people who tried to attack them. Sometimes the enemy just surrounded the city. They waited until the people inside ran out of food and water. At other times, the enemy acted quickly. The soldiers made a slope out of earth. Then they could go right up to the walls and attack the city more easily. Joab probably chose this way to show his power.

Abel was a famous city. It had many good qualities (verses 18-19). ‘A mother in *Israel’ means that it was important. And there were many smaller cities and towns round it. It was in the land that God had given to the *Israelites. In chapter 14, Joab had sent a wise woman to David. This made David change his decision. Here a wise woman spoke to Joab and her words changed his decision. Joab said that he only wanted Sheba. Joab and his army had to punish Sheba because Sheba was not loyal to David. Joab did not want to destroy the loyal city of Abel. Joab knew that the woman had given him wise advice. When Sheba was dead, Joab blew his *trumpet. This meant that the battle had finished. The men stopped attacking the city and they went home. This account shows that some women had great power in *Israel at that time.

David’s officers

v23 Joab was the leader of the whole army of *Israel. Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, was the leader of the men from Kereth and Peleth. v24 Adoniram controlled all the men who had to work for the king. Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahilud, was responsible for the records. v25 Sheva wrote the records. Zadok and Abiathar were priests. v26 Ira, who came from the family of Jair, was David’s priest.

This list of David’s officers ends this section of 2 Samuel. There is a similar list at the end of chapter 8.

The list in chapter 8 starts with David as the ruler of all *Israel. In this chapter (20), Joab’s name is first. Joab was leader of the army again. This may show that David had become weaker. And it may show that Joab had become more powerful. Today, in many countries of the world, the leader of the army is very powerful. Sometimes he is more powerful than the president or the king. Joab had saved David’s *kingdom. Joab was a confident man. He commanded the army and he was successful. But David was not happy about Joab. Joab kept murdering people but David could not punish him. David needed Joab. But David could not control him. Just before David died, he told his son Solomon to deal with Joab.

In verse 25, Sheva may be a different name for Seraiah in 8:17. In 1 Chronicles 18:16, Seraiah is called ‘Shavsha’.

In verse 24 there was a new government department. The king forced people to work for him. Samuel had warned the *Israelites about this in 1 Samuel chapter 8. However, God had made a law that the *Israelites should not be slaves to each other (Leviticus 25:39-42). Later, David’s son Solomon built the *temple. He forced the *Israelites to work for him (1 Kings 5:13-18). This caused trouble after Solomon died. As a result, *Israel and *Judah divided permanently.

David still had sons but they were not on this new list. But David had his own priest.

The story of David continues in 1 Kings 1:1.

The last 4 chapters of 2 Samuel contain extra information about David. We do not know why the writer did not include this in the main account in chapters 1-20. The events in chapters 21-24 are not in the order in which they happened. In *Old Testament days, the recorder (verses 24-25) kept accurate records of events. But the *Old Testament is more than just a history book. It is also about God and how he dealt with his people.

Chapter 21

The *Gibeonites punish Saul’s family

v1 For three years while David was king, the people did not have enough to eat. So David prayed to the *Lord. The *Lord said, ‘This has happened because Saul and his family are murderers. They killed the *Gibeonites.’ v2 (The *Gibeonites were not *Israelites. The *Gibeonites were a small group that remained from the people called Amorites. The *Israelites had promised to protect them but Saul tried to destroy them. Saul had been too eager to help the people of *Israel and *Judah.) So, the king called the *Gibeonites together and he spoke to them. v3 He asked, ‘What can I do for you? I want to make matters right. Then you can *bless the *Lord’s people.’

v4 The *Gibeonites answered, ‘We do not want Saul and his family to pay us with silver and gold. And we do not want to kill anyone in *Israel.’

So David asked, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

v5 They said to David, ‘Saul plotted against us. He tried to destroy all our people in the country of *Israel. v6 So hand over to us 7 men from his family. We will kill them. Then we will hang up their bodies in front of the *Lord in Gibeah. Gibeah was Saul’s town and the *Lord chose Saul as king.’

So King David said, ‘I will hand them over to you.’

When the *Israelites obeyed the *Lord, he *blessed them. When they did not obey the *Lord, he did not *bless them (Leviticus 26). Sometimes the crops failed for one year. But after three years, David knew that something was wrong. The *Lord probably spoke to David by a *prophet or a priest. This was the *Lord’s punishment. Joshua chapter 9 records the story about the *Gibeonites. Joshua promised that they could live safely in *Israel. But King Saul had not *kept that promise. The Bible does not record what Saul had done. But the *Lord knew about Saul’s cruel actions. The people called Amorites lived in Canaan (Joshua 12:1-3). This was the name of the country of *Israel before the *Israelites arrived. Gibeon was near Saul’s city, called Gibeah.

Leviticus 24:17-22 says that a murderer should die. In those days, people thought that a person’s family was responsible for the *sin of that person. (Compare this with Numbers 14:18 and Jeremiah 31:29-30.) If the family did not punish the guilty person, someone could punish the family. This still happens in some societies today. The *Gibeonites could not punish Saul because he was dead. They did not want Saul’s family to pay them money. And the *Gibeonites did not want to kill anyone in *Israel except Saul’s family. But the *Gibeonites wanted to kill 7 of Saul’s sons or grandsons. This meant that they wanted to punish Saul’s family completely. (For the *Israelites, the number 7 meant that something was complete. For example, 7 days make one complete week.) David agreed with the punishment that the *Gibeonites asked for.

The *Lord used this situation to protect David from Saul’s family. David did not want to attack Saul’s family. So the *Lord arranged for the *Gibeonites to carry out this punishment. Otherwise, Saul’s family would oppose David. And they might try to plot a revolution.

v7 Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and the grandson of Saul. But Jonathan and David had made a serious promise to the *Lord. So, King David did not hand over Mephibosheth to the *Gibeonites. v8 David took Armoni and Mephibosheth who were the sons of King Saul and Rizpah. Rizpah was the daughter of Aiah. David also took the 5 sons of Saul’s daughter Merab. Their father was Adriel, the son of Barzillai from Meholah. v9 David gave them to the *Gibeonites. They killed the men and they hung their bodies on a hill in front of the *Lord. The 7 men died together. The *Gibeonites killed them during the beginning of the harvest. This was the start of the harvest of barley (a type of grain).

v10 Rizpah, who was the daughter of Aiah, took a rough cloth. This showed that she was very sad. She put it on a rock for herself. She stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until it rained on the bodies. During the day, she did not allow the birds to touch the bodies. And she did not allow the animals to touch them during the night. v11 Aiah’s daughter Rizpah was Saul’s *concubine. David heard what she had done. v12 So David took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the men of Jabesh Gilead. (The men had taken them in secret from the square in the town of Beth Shan. The *Philistines had hung the bodies there after they killed Saul. Saul died on the mountain called Gilboa.) v13 David brought the bones of Saul and Jonathan (Saul’s son) from there. And David’s men also gathered the bones of the 7 men from Saul’s family.

v14 David’s men went to Zela in the region of Benjamin. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan in the grave of Kish, Saul’s father. They did everything that King David told them to do. After that, God answered the prayers for their country.

David had promised to be kind to Saul’s son Jonathan and his family (1 Samuel 20:12-17). Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s only son. David *kept his promise (chapter 9).

Rizpah was Saul’s *concubine (3:7). Their son Mephibosheth (verse 8) was the uncle of Jonathan’s son who had the same name. Merab had married Adriel instead of David in 1 Samuel 18:19. Adriel’s father Barzillai was not the same man who helped David in 19:31-39.

The *Gibeonites put the men’s bodies on a hill. This showed the *Lord and the *Israelites that the punishment was complete. So the *Lord could *bless the *Israelites again. The crops had failed because there had been no rain. The *Israelites had no crops to harvest. So, verse 9 refers to the time in the year when this event usually happened. This was during the month of April. Rizpah was very sad. She protected her son’s bodies until it rained. The rain showed that the *Lord was *blessing the land again.

Some *Israelites thought that David hated King Saul’s family. Shimei accused David of this in 16:5-8. But this story shows that the *Gibeonites, not David, killed Saul’s sons and grandsons. David always gave honour to Saul and his family. But perhaps David felt guilty that he had not given enough honour to Saul and Jonathan’s bodies. Verse 12 refers to the account in 1 Samuel 31:8-13. So, David took the bones of Saul, Jonathan and the 7 members of his family. David buried them properly in the grave of Saul’s father. The *Israelites had done everything that was fair and right. So, God sent the rain.

The most important lesson to learn from this story is that the *Lord cares about our promises. The *Lord always *keeps his promises. He is not happy when we, or our nation, do not *keep our promises. So if we have many troubles we should always ask the *Lord about them.

Wars with the *Philistines

v15 Again there was a war between the *Philistines and *Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the *Philistines. But David became very tired. v16 Ishbi-Benob was one of the sons of Rapha. He had a *spear with a sharp *bronze point at the end. It weighed about three and a half kilos (about 7 and a half pounds). He also had a new sword. He said that he would kill David. v17 But Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, rescued David. Abishai attacked the *Philistine and he killed him. Then David’s men made a promise and said, ‘You will never go to a battle with us again. Nobody will put out the light of *Israel.’

v18 Later, there was another battle with the *Philistines at Gob. Sibbecai, who came from Hushah, killed Saph, one of the sons of Rapha.

v19 There was another battle with the *Philistines at Gob. Elhanan was son of Jaare-Oregim who came from Bethlehem. Elhanan killed Goliath who came from Gath. The wooden handle of his *spear was as thick as the pole that a weaver (man who makes cloth) uses.

v20 There was another battle in Gath. There was a huge man. He had 6 fingers on each hand and he had 6 toes on each foot. That was a total of 24 fingers and toes. He also came from the family of Rapha. v21 He insulted *Israel. So, Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, killed him.

v22 These 4 men came from the family of Rapha in Gath. David and his men killed them.

(Verses 15-22 See also 1 Chronicles 20:4-8.)

These verses are like a brief official list. It refers to 4 *Philistine battles. The family of Rapha were giant men. They were famous because they were so big and strong. But 4 brave *Israelite men killed 4 of the giant *Philistine men.

The battle in verses 15-17 was David’s last battle as the leader of the army. Verse 15 suggests that he was older and weaker by this time. Ishbi-Benob’s *spear was only half the size of Goliath’s *spear (1 Samuel 17:7). But David nearly died in the battle and this worried David’s army. They called David the light (or lamp) of *Israel (verse 17). To ‘put out the light’ meant to kill him. David was the most important person in *Israel. He was the king that the *Lord had chosen. The nation depended on him. So, the men wanted to protect David.

In verse 19, Goliath may be a family name. But 1 Chronicles 20:5 says that Elhanan killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath. Some Bible teachers think that verse 19 may refer to David and Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17). David’s brother Shimeah is called Shammah in 1 Samuel 16:9.

Chapter 22

David praises the *Lord

v1 The *Lord had saved David from Saul and all his other enemies. So David sang this song to the *Lord. v2 David said,

          ‘The *Lord gives me security.

                      So, he is like my rock and my strong place.

          He saves me.

          v3 My God is like a rock to me.

          I can run to him and be safe.

          He is like my *shield. He keeps me safe and he makes me strong.

                      He is like my *stronghold and my place of safety.

          The *Lord saves me from cruel men.

          v4 I must praise the *Lord.

          I call to the *Lord and he saves me from my enemies.

King David was a musician (1 Samuel 16:17-23). He also wrote many poems. David wrote at least 73 of the psalms (poems) in the book of Psalms in the *Old Testament. Psalm 18 is the same as the poem in this chapter, although some of the words are slightly different. The psalms were the *Israelites’ official songs. So, they may have changed David’s poem so that it was easier to sing. But they did not change its meaning.

The *Lord had done many things for David. So, David wrote this poem to thank him. But David probably wrote it before he *sinned against Uriah. David thought about all the battles he had fought. David was a good soldier. But without God’s help, David would have died in the battles. David trusted God and David completely depended on him.

In this poem, David used picture language. David could not see God. But he compared God to something that he could see. David also described in a dramatic way what he felt. *Hebrew poetry repeats many words. And it often has two similar sentences that describe the same thing in slightly different ways. This helped the reader to understand more. This poem is similar in some places to Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel chapter 2. She also said that God was like her ‘rock’. In the *Jewish Bible (the *Old Testament), 1 and 2 Samuel was one complete book. Hannah’s poem was at the beginning of the book. David’s poem was at the end. Between them was the account of *Israel’s first two kings. Both poems centre on the *Lord. They describe how great he is. This showed the *Israelites that the *Lord was the centre of their history.

Verses 2-3 David described why he praised the *Lord. The *Lord had saved David and the *Lord protected him. David had to hide from King Saul many times. David had to hide from his other enemies too. David hid behind large rocks. He hid in caves in the hills. He hid inside towns that had strong walls round them. He hid in buildings. He was safe in those places. However, David knew that his real security was with the *Lord. God protected David as he hid. And David imagined that God was like those safe places.

Verse 4 David praised the *Lord because the *Lord deserved it. David could not save himself. But the *Lord had saved David in the past. And the *Lord continued to save David.

          v5 Death seemed to be like waves that surrounded me.

                      Wicked men seemed like a flood that came over me.

                                  They made me afraid.

          v6 It was as if Sheol (or the grave) was all round me.

                      Death tried to get me.

          v7 In my trouble I called to the *Lord.

                      Yes, I shouted to my God.

          From his *temple, he heard my voice.

                      He listened to me when I called for help.

          v8 It was as if the earth shook. The earth seemed to tremble.

                      The foundation of heaven seemed to shake.

                                  They were shaking because God was angry.

          v9 Smoke came out of his nose.

                      Fire came out of his mouth,

                                  and this fire made coals burn.

          v10 God opened the heavens and he came down.

          Dark clouds were under his feet.

          v11 He rode and flew on a cherub (type of *angel who had wings).

                      He flew quickly on the wings of the wind.

          v12 He covered himself with darkness,

                      and he covered himself with the dark rain clouds in the sky.

          v13 It was very bright in front of him,

          and lightning flashed from him.

          v14 In heaven, the *Lord made a loud noise like a storm,

                      the Most High God gave a great shout.

          v15 He sent out his arrows and he scattered his enemies.

                      His lightning confused them.

          v16 The *Lord spoke powerfully,

          and he blew wind from his nose.

          Then the bottom of the sea appeared,

                      and people saw the foundations of the earth.

          v17 He reached down from heaven and he rescued me.

                      It was as if he pulled me out of the deep water.

          v18 He saved me from my powerful enemy.

          He saved me from the people who hated me.

          They were too strong for me.

          v19 They attacked me when I was in trouble.

          But the *Lord supported me.

          v20 He took me to a safe place.

          He rescued me because he was pleased with me.

Verses 5-6 David felt desperate when his enemies attacked him. He thought that he was going to die. They believed that dead people go to a place called Sheol. Sometimes we call it the grave or death. (The word Sheol does not always mean the same as hell. Hell is the place of punishment. But Sheol is a simpler word. The *Israelites said that a dead person ‘went to Sheol’.)

Verse 7 So David called to the *Lord and the *Lord heard him. The ‘temple’ refers to heaven where God lives (Psalm 11:4).

Verses 8-16 are very dramatic. David described how great and powerful the *Lord is.

Verse 8 The *Lord was angry with David’s enemies. The *Lord’s power shook everything.

Verse 9 Fire often refers to God’s judgement (for example Malachi chapter 4).

Verses 10-12 David imagined that the *Lord left heaven and came to the earth. Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 describe the cherubim. They are special *angels that live with God in heaven. They have wings and they can fly. Other nations *worshipped a false god called Baal. They called Baal ‘the god who rides on the clouds’. But the *Lord was more powerful than Baal. The *Lord usually hid himself so that nobody could see his *glory.

Verses 13 and 15 People at that time believed that lightning showed God’s power. It showed that he was working. The lightning seemed to come from God. And it looked like arrows.

Verse 14 The Bible often describes God’s voice as like thunder (a loud noise during a storm). For example, Job 40:9 and Psalm 77:18. The ‘Most High’ is another name for God.

Verse 16 The *Lord had enough power even to remove the sea. Compare this with Exodus chapter 14.

Fire, wind and storms are very powerful. They frighten people because people cannot control them. In Exodus chapter 19, the *Lord had appeared to Moses with smoke and clouds, fire and lightning. There was a loud noise like a storm and the ground shook. In 1 Samuel 7:10, the *Lord sent a storm against the *Philistines. The *Lord may have sent storms during David’s battles. The *Lord frightened David’s enemies.

In verses 17-20, David described how the *Lord saved him. During the battle, David felt like a man who was drowning in a river. David imagined that God was like a man with a very strong arm. It was as if God leaned out of heaven. Then God seemed to pick up David. David’s enemies were too strong. But the *Lord rescued David and he put him somewhere safe.

          v21 I do the things that God wants. So the *Lord rewarded me.

                      I refuse to do evil things. So he *blesses me.

          v22 I have followed the directions of the *Lord,

                      I have not been wicked. I have not turned away from God.

          v23 I remember all his laws.

                      I have not turned away from his commands.

          v24 I am innocent towards God.

                      I made sure that I did not do anything evil.

          v25 I do the things that God wants. So the *Lord rewarded me.

          He knows that I refuse to do evil things.

          v26 God, you are loyal to people who are loyal.

          You are good to people who are good.

          v27 You show your perfect nature to people who are *pure.

          But you oppose wicked people.

          v28 You save humble people.

          But when you see proud people, you make them humble.

          v29 *Lord, you are like a lamp to me.

                      It is as if you shine your light into my darkness.

          v30 With you, I can defeat an army.

                      With my God, I can jump over a wall.

In this section, David described two reasons why the *Lord had saved him.

Verses 21-25 David always tried to be loyal to God. David did the things that God wanted him to do. David even did such things if he might suffer as a result. Saul chased David and then he tried to kill David. This happened several times. But David never hurt or insulted Saul. David was not perfect. He made many mistakes. His errors were sometimes very serious. But David confessed his evil deeds to God. He still tried to be loyal to God. And he tried to obey the law and to trust God. We may think that David sounded proud. But in Leviticus chapter 26 God promised to *bless the people who obeyed him. God said that they would defeat their enemies. God had rewarded David. And David was confident that God rewarded him because of his right attitudes. (Many people think that David wrote this section before he *sinned against Uriah. They may be correct. But after David *sinned, he confessed his evil deed to God. You can read his prayer in Psalm 51. David asked God to forgive him. And afterwards, David continued to do the things that God wanted him to do.)

Verses 26-30 The *Lord is fair. He deals with people in the right way. In verse 27, ‘*pure’ means perfect, like something that is clean. In verse 27, ‘you oppose wicked people’ also has another meaning: ‘God shows that wicked people are foolish’.

David knew that the glory (greatness) of the *Lord is like a bright light. ‘Darkness’ often refers to times of trouble. People cannot see where to go in the dark. But the *Lord showed David what to do in every difficult situation. David was very confident when the *Lord was with him. Nothing seemed too difficult for David to do.

          v31 God’s way is perfect.

          You can trust all his promises.

          He is like a *shield for everyone that trusts him.

          v32 There is no God except the *Lord.

                      There is no rock (security) except our God.

          v33 God gives me strength.

          He makes my way perfect.

          v34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer (animal like a goat).

                      He helps me to stand on the mountains.

          v35 He trains me for the battle,

          so that I can use a *bronze bow.

          v36 God, you protect me and you save me.

          You reach down to me and you make me great.

          v37 You have made a wide path for me to walk on.

          My feet will not slip.

          v38 I chased my enemies and I overcame them.

                      I did not stop until I had overcome them all.

          v39 I completely overcame them

          and they could not rise.

          They fell beneath my feet.

          v40 You made me strong for the battle.

          You made my enemies bend in front of me.

                      v41 You made my enemies turn round and run away.

          I destroyed all who hated me.

          v42 They called for help, but nobody came to save them.

                      They called to the *Lord, but he did not answer.

          v43 I totally overcame them.

                      They were like dust that I had beaten.

                      They were like mud that I had walked on.

          v44 You saved me when my people attacked me.

          You protected me as the leader of nations.

          People whom I do not know now serve me.

                      v45 Foreign people obey me.

                      As soon as they hear me, they obey me.

          v46 They all become afraid.

                      They tremble when they come out of their safe places.

Verses 31-32 David described how wonderful God is. There is nobody else like him. He is the only real God. Then David described how this wonderful God helped him to win his battles.

Verses 33-37 David described how God prepared him for the battles.

Verse 33 God’s way is perfect. (In other words, everything that God does is perfect.) And God is strong. So, God could make David’s way perfect and make him strong.

Verse 34 A deer is an animal that lives in the mountains. It has special feet so that it can climb up and down the mountains. Its feet do not slip on the rocks. It can even run and jump across the rocks. A mountain is a difficult place. God helped David so that David did not fail during his difficult times. This may refer to the times when Saul chased David. David had to escape and to live in the mountains.

Verse 35 Bows were usually wooden. *Bronze is a strong metal. So the *Lord made David strong and made him an expert.

Verse 36 David had been just an ordinary man. He was not great because of what he had done. David imagined again that the *Lord reached down from heaven. The *Lord made David a great king and army leader.

Verse 37 This is similar to the idea in verse 34 that David would not fail.

Verses 38-46 describe how God helped David during the battles.

Verses 38-39 David defeated all his enemies and he became their ruler. The word ‘overcame’ does not mean that he killed them all. In Joshua 10:16-25, the *Israelites defeated their enemies because they defeated their kings. The army leaders put their feet on the necks of the kings. This action showed that the *Israelites ruled their enemies. And their enemies could not continue to be proud.

Verses 40-41 David went out to fight the battles. But David was not proud about his own skill. He knew that the *Lord made him successful. David’s enemies had to bend in front of David. This showed that they gave him honour.

Verses 42-43 Nobody would help David’s enemy. The *Lord would not even answer them. Again, David said that these enemies were under his feet. Mud and dust have no value. And David’s enemies were ashamed.

Verses 44-46 Everyone heard about David and what God did for the *Israelites. God had made David a successful king. No nation could defeat him. Foreign nations became afraid because God had made David so powerful. So, many nations served David and they did not fight him.

          v47 The *Lord lives! I will praise God, and I will call him ‘my Rock’ (my security).

          Praise God, the Rock, who saves me.

          v48 He is the God who fights for me.

                      He gives me power over the nations.

          v49 He frees me from my enemies.

                      God, you give me success against my enemies.

                      You rescue me from cruel men.

          v50 So I will thank you, *Lord, among the nations.

          And I will sing and praise your name.

          v51 You, *Lord, save your king and you make him win.

          You are kind to the king that you *anointed,

          to David and his family always.’

As David finished this poem, he praised God again. God is alive and real. God made David the king of *Israel. And God helped David. God saved David and he made him successful. David was very grateful to God. David wrote the words in verse 50 about 3000 years ago. But he did not realise what would happen in the future. Chapter 8 gives a list of many nations that David defeated. He praised the *Lord among those nations. But something even greater has happened. Paul, the apostle (leader), mentioned David’s words in Romans 15:9. Paul refers to the ‘Gentiles’ (anyone who is not a *Jew) who will praise God. Men and women have translated the Bible into many different languages. Therefore, people in all nations of the world now praise the *Lord as they read David’s poem!

In verse 51, ‘the king that you *anointed’ refers to David. But it also can mean Jesus Christ. The name ‘Christ’ means ‘the *anointed man’. In the *New Testament, the writers often called Jesus the ‘son of David’ (for example, Matthew 1:1 and Mark 12:35). Jesus came from David’s family (Luke 3:23-31). Jesus was born about 1000 years after King David died. Jesus died but he became alive again. Now he lives always. So, these promises were about Jesus as well as David.

Chapter 23

David’s last words

v1 These are the last words of David.

          David was the son of Jesse.

          David was the man whom God made great.

          David was the person whom the God of Jacob *anointed.

          David was the lovely singer of *Israel.

          David said,

          v2 ‘The Spirit of the *Lord spoke by me.

                      I spoke his word.

          v3 The God of *Israel spoke.

                      He is *Israel’s Rock (*Israel’s security).

          He said to me,

          “A ruler must rule men in the right way.

          As he rules, he must respect God.

          v4 That person is like the light that shines at dawn.

                      The light shines when there are no clouds.

                      Or the light shines after the rain.

                                  It makes the new grass grow from the earth.”

          v5 God has established my family.

          He made a promise to me that he will always *keep.

          God has arranged this promise so that it is certain.

          So, God will save me and he will keep me safe.

          He will give me everything that I desire.

          v6 But wicked men are like bushes with many sharp points.

                      People do not gather such bushes by hand.

          v7 Nobody touches the bushes.

                      Instead, people use an iron or wooden tool.

                                  And they burn the bushes where they lie on the ground.’

In this poem, David did not describe the great things that he had done. But he described what God had done for him.

Verse 1 David wrote this poem when he was old. It was his last official statement to the *Israelites. David had been a good king. And David gave the honour for his success to God. David wanted people in the future to know that. When he was young, he was an ordinary person. But God established him as the most important person in *Israel. God made David the king.

Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. God changed Jacob’s name to ‘Israel’ (Genesis 32:24-28). So ‘God of Jacob’ refers to God as God of all the *Israelites.

David was a musician and he wrote many poems. He sang the songs to *worship the *Lord. You can read some of his songs and poems in the Book of Psalms.

Verse 2 David wrote as a *prophet. So, he did not merely describe his own ideas. Instead, he heard what the *Lord said. Then David spoke the *Lord’s words.

Verse 3 Again David referred to the *Lord as a rock. In other words, God provides security in our lives. God is fair (Jeremiah 9:24). So, God wants leaders and kings to rule in the right way. They should care about the people. And they should always be fair. That would show that they respect God.

Verse 4 David described a good ruler. He said that a good ruler is like bright sunlight. Everyone benefits when a country has a good ruler. And people benefit from the sunlight. People enjoy a sunny morning. The sunshine that comes after rain makes plants grow. So, people have a good life and they have enough food because of the sunshine. And when a country has a good ruler, people enjoy their lives in that country. God *blesses that country. David had been a good king because he obeyed God.

Verse 5 In chapter 7, Nathan the *prophet told David what God had promised to him. God had already made David a great king. And God saved David from all his enemies. So, David knew that he could trust God’s promises. David’s sons caused trouble for David, but God loved Solomon (12:24-25). Solomon became the king after David (1 Kings chapter 1).

Verses 6-7 contrast wicked men with good rulers in verse 4. So, this probably refers to wicked rulers rather than wicked people in general. The sharp bushes covered the ground so that other plants could not grow. When a farmer cleared his ground, these bushes could hurt him. So, he had to burn them in order to remove them. The bushes were no use and they were dangerous. Wicked men always cause trouble for people and for countries because they oppose God. The fire refers to God’s judgement. God *blesses people who obey him. But he will punish people who oppose him.

David’s brave men

v8 These are the names of David’s brave men:

Josheb-Basshebeth belonged to the people called Tahkemonites. He was the leader of the three bravest men. He took his *spear and he killed 800 men in one battle.

v9 The next brave man was Eleazar, the son of Dodai. He belonged to the people called Ahohites. He was one of the three bravest soldiers. He was with David when they insulted the *Philistines. The *Philistines had gathered for a battle. The other *Israelites had gone away. v10 But Eleazar remained there. He alone continued to fight and to kill the *Philistines. His hand became so stiff that he could not take his hand off his sword. The *Lord brought about a great success that day. The *Israelite army returned later but there was nobody for them to fight. So they simply took away the possessions from the dead *Philistines.

v11 The third brave man was Shammah, the son of Agee. He belonged to the people called Hararites. The *Philistine army gathered in a field of lentils (type of vegetable). The *Israelites ran away from the *Philistines. v12 But Shammah stood in the middle of the field. He defended it and he killed the *Philistines. The *Lord gave great success that day.

v13 During the harvest time, three of the 30 brave men went down to David. He was in the cave at Adullam. The *Philistines had camped in the valley called Rephaim. v14 At that time, David was in the *stronghold and a group of *Philistines were at Bethlehem. v15 David really wanted a drink of water. He said, ‘There is a well near the gate at Bethlehem. I wish that someone would get me some water from that well.’ v16 So the three brave men forced their way through the *Philistine camp. They took water from the well. (This well was near the gate that led into Bethlehem.) They brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out in front of the *Lord. v17 David said, ‘*Lord, I could never drink this. It would be like drinking the blood of the men who risked their lives.’ So, David would not drink it.

These were the deeds of the three brave men.

(Verses 8-39 See also 1 Chronicles 11:10-41.)

David achieved a lot because he had many brave soldiers. They helped him. The account in 1 Chronicles gives some extra information. Some of the names are different. People and towns may have had more than one name at that time.

The three bravest men were a famous group. The Bible does not record these three brave men anywhere else. Verses 8-12 record one event for each man. This was probably the most important event in each man’s life. However, the men did not fight just with their own power. The writer shows that the *Lord gave them success.

We do not know whether the three bravest men were part of the group of 30. In verse 13, the three men were probably not the special group of three men.

This event probably happened during the time of the account in 5:17-25. The *Philistines had attacked the southern part of *Judah. But the *Lord gave David success and he defeated the *Philistines. David had hidden in the cave at Adullam when Saul chased him (1 Samuel chapter 22). So, David knew where to hide from his enemies. David came from the town of Bethlehem. The valley of Rephaim was near to Bethlehem. Some of the *Philistines soldiers had attacked the town and they were living there. David needed a drink. He knew that there was good cold water in Bethlehem. He probably wished that he was at home in Bethlehem. He wanted peace and not war. Three of David’s men were very brave and loyal. They were also unselfish. We can see that they loved David. They even risked their own lives to get some water for David. They had to walk about 19 kilometres (12 miles) from Adullam to Bethlehem. Then they had to fight the *Philistines. David realised how brave and loyal the men were. David was humble. He could not be selfish and drink the water. He cared about his men too much. So David gave this water to the *Lord as he poured it onto the ground. This water seemed too precious for David to drink it. Only the *Lord deserved something that was so valuable.

v18 Abishai was the brother of Joab and a son of Zeruiah. Abishai was the leader of the three bravest men. Abishai fought 300 men whom he killed. So, he became as famous as the three bravest men. v19 And he had more honour than they did. He became their leader although he was not one of the three bravest men.

v20 Benaiah was a strong man who came from Kabzeel. He was the son of Jehoiada. Benaiah did many brave acts. He killed two strong men who came from Moab. Also, he went down into a deep hole in the ground when it had been snowing. He killed the lion that was in the hole. v21 Also, he killed a very large Egyptian man (a man who came from Egypt). The Egyptian man had a *spear in his hand. But Benaiah fought him with a heavy stick. He seized the Egyptian man’s *spear and he killed him with that *spear. v22 These were the brave deeds of Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada. Benaiah was as famous as the three bravest men were. v23 He had more honour than the thirty (30) brave men. But he did not become one of the three bravest men. David made him the leader of the guards who protected him.

This chapter does not include Joab in the lists of brave soldiers. This was because Joab was already the leader of the whole *Israelite army.

Verses 18-23 show why Abishai and Benaiah were not part of the special group. Abishai had led the army for a short time but he was not as important as Joab. But Abishai had more honour than the other men did. David rewarded Benaiah and he made him a leader of the men from Kereth and Peleth (8:18). (In 1 Samuel 22:14, David had been the leader of the guards who protected King Saul.)

v24 The other members of ‘The Thirty (30)’ were

Asahel, the brother of Joab;

Elhanan, the son of Dodo who came from Bethlehem;

v25 Shammah who came from Harod;

Elika who came from Harod;

v26 Helez, who belonged to the people called Paltites;

Ira, the son of Ikkesh who came from Tekoa;

v27 Abiezer who came from Anathoth;

Mebunnai who came from Hushah;

v28 Zalmon, who belonged to the people called Ahohites;

Maharai who came from Netophah;

v29 Heled, the son of Baanah who came from Netophah;

Ithai, the son of Ribai, who came from Gibeah in the land of Benjamin;

v30 Benaiah who came from Pirathon;

Hiddai who came from the valleys called Gaash;

v31 Abi-Albon, who belonged to the people called Arbathites;

Azmaveth who came from Bahurim;

v32 Eliahba who came from Shaalbon;

the sons of Jashen;

Jonathan v33 the son of Shammah who belonged to the people called Hararites;

Ahiam, the son of Sharar who belonged to the people called Hararites;

v34 Eliphelet, the son of Ahasbai who came from Maacah;

Eliam, the son of Ahithophel who came from Giloh;

v35 Hezro who came from Carmel;

Paarai who came from Arab;

v36 Igal, the son of Nathan who came from Zobah;

Bani who came from Gad’s family;

v37 Zelek who came from Ammon;

Naharai, who came from Beeroth. He carried the *weapons and clothes for Joab, the son of Zeruiah;

v38 Ira, who belonged to the people called Ithrites;

Gareb, who belonged to the people called Ithrites

v39 and Uriah, who belonged to the people called Hittites.

There were 37 members of this group.

The writer calls these men ‘The Thirty (30)’, but there were 37 soldiers. There were probably 30 men in the group. Perhaps if one man died, they chose another man. Or perhaps the name of the group did not mean that there were only 30 members.

Abner killed Joab’s brother Asahel, who is in verse 24 (2:18-23). David killed Uriah who was Bathsheba’s husband. Uriah is in verse 39. Eliam is in verse 34. Eliam was probably Bathsheba’s father (11:3). Eliam was also the son of Ahithophel. Ahithophel had advised David but then he followed Absalom (15:12).

Many of these men came from the area of *Judah where David lived. Some came from Saul’s land of Benjamin. But some of them were foreigners. They came from the countries where David had fought his enemies (for example Ammon in verse 37). They became loyal to David after he had defeated their countries. But every man on this list was a famous brave soldier. They served King David. And David gave them honour.

Chapter 24

David counts the *Israelites

v1 Again the *Lord was angry with *Israel. He made David cause trouble for the *Israelites. He said to David, ‘Go and count the people of *Israel and *Judah.’

v2 So King David spoke to Joab who was the leader of his army. David said, ‘Go through all the *tribes of *Israel. Travel from Dan to Beersheba and count all the people. Then I will know how many people there are.’

v3 But Joab replied to the king, ‘The *Lord your God can give you 100 times more people. And I hope that you, my master the king, will see it happen. You should not want to do such a thing.’

v4 However, the king made Joab and the leaders of the army obey the king’s command. So they left the king and they went to count the *Israelites.

v5 Joab and the other leaders crossed the river Jordan and they went to Aroer. They camped in the valley on the south side of the city. They went through the area called Gad and they continued to Jazer. v6 They went to the area called Gilead and to the region called Tahtim Hodshi. Then they went to Dan Jaan and round to the city called Sidon. v7 They went to the city called Tyre, which had strong walls. Then they went to all the towns of the people called Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went to the town called Beersheba in the south of *Judah. v8 It took them 9 months and 20 days to go through all the country. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

v9 Joab gave the list of people to the king. In *Israel there were 800 000 men who could fight. In *Judah there were 500 000 men who could fight.

(Verses 1-25 See also 1 Chronicles 21:1-26.)

We do not know when the events of this chapter happened. But it was probably some time after Absalom’s death. We also read about these events in 1 Chronicles 21:1-26. But the two accounts are slightly different. The writers probably just emphasised different parts of the story. (This also happens in the *New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.)

Verse 1 does not say why the *Lord was angry with *Israel. Usually he was angry when the people did not obey him. The *Lord wanted to punish them. In Chronicles, it says that Satan (God’s chief enemy) made David count the people. James 1:13 says that God does not tempt people to do something wrong. But Job chapter 1 shows that God sometimes lets Satan tempt (test) people. So, God may allow something but Satan actually does it. This could explain the two different accounts of this story.

It does not seem wrong for a king to count his people. It may seem sensible for him to know the number of his soldiers. But *Israel was not an ordinary country. The army did not win because it was big. God was the real king of the country. God helped the *Israelite army to defeat its enemies. David should have trusted the *Lord to give him success in his battles. It is a *sin to be proud. And it is a *sin to trust yourself more than you trust the *Lord. Perhaps David was becoming proud about his success. Perhaps the devil tempted him to trust his army more and to trust the *Lord less.

Joab tried to advise the king. Joab was a cruel man (1 Kings 2:5-6) and his advice was not always good. But Joab was right this time. David should have trusted God. God would give David the soldiers that he needed. But David refused to follow Joab’s advice. Joab did not always obey David. But David won the argument that time.

‘From Dan to Beersheba’ is a common phrase. Dan was at the north end of the country called *Israel. Beersheba was at the south end. So, that phrase just refers to the whole country. Joab and his men went to all the *tribes of *Israel except Levi and Benjamin (1 Chronicles 21:6). Sidon, Tyre, and the people called Hivites and Canaanites were not part of *Israel. But David had defeated them. So they had to provide soldiers for the *Israelite army.

It took a long time to record all the people. It was a major task. Verse 9 shows that *Israel was a divided country. *Judah refers to the south of the country and *Israel refers to the north of the country. A ‘thousand’ is the *Hebrew name for a large group of soldiers. It does not mean exactly 1000 people. So we do not know the accurate number of men in the *Israelite army. The numbers are different in 1 Chronicles chapter 21. Perhaps the writers counted the groups in different ways.

v10 David felt very guilty after he had counted the people. So David said to the *Lord, ‘I have done something terrible. It is a great *sin. *Lord, I am your servant. Please forgive me. I have been very foolish.’

v11 Before David got up the next morning, the *Lord had spoken to Gad. Gad was a *prophet and he was David’s seer (*prophet). v12 The *Lord said to Gad, ‘Go and say to David, “This is what the *Lord says: I give you three choices. Choose one of them and I will do it to you.” ’

v13 So Gad went to David and said, ‘Should your crops fail for three years so that you are hungry? Or should your enemies come and chase you for three months? Or should there be three days when the people in your country suffer from a serious disease? Think about this and decide. Then I will tell the *Lord, who sent me.’

v14 David said to Gad, ‘I am in a desperate situation. I want the *Lord to punish us because he is very kind. I do not want other people to punish me.’

v15 So the *Lord sent a serious disease to the people in *Israel. It began that morning. It lasted until the end of the time that God chose. And 70 000 people from Dan to Beersheba died. v16 The *angel stretched out his arm towards Jerusalem. He was going to destroy it. But the *Lord was very sorry about the terrible troubles. He said to the *angel, ‘That is enough. Put your arm down.’ The *angel was by a place that belonged to Araunah. (Araunah belonged to the people called Jebusites.) At that place, Araunah used to beat his corn to get out the grains.

v17 David saw the *angel who had killed the people. David said to the *Lord, ‘I am the person who has *sinned. I did the wrong thing. These people are like innocent sheep. They have not done anything wrong. Please punish me and my family.’

David knew that he had *sinned. He did not need a *prophet to tell him that time. (Compare this with 12:1-13.) A *prophet hears what God says. A *prophet sometimes has dreams or visions (dreams when he is awake). So the Bible sometimes calls a *prophet ‘a seer’. He sees special things that God shows only to him. Gad the *prophet had helped David before he became king (1 Samuel 22:5). David asked the *Lord to forgive him. But the *Lord still punished *Israel (verse 1). David had to choose the punishment. Whatever David chose, many people in *Israel would die. Many of the people that Joab had counted would die. The people would die slowly if they did not have enough food. They would die quickly with a bad disease. David did not want his enemies to punish him. They hated him and they would not be kind. They might ruin the whole country. But David knew that the *Lord was kind. He trusted the *Lord but he did not trust other people.

God sent an *angel to kill the people. The *angel brought the serious disease to people in all parts of the country. Jerusalem was the capital city of *Israel. King David lived there with his family and his servants. The *Lord was very sad that he had to punish the *Israelites. He decided to be kind to the people in Jerusalem. So, even during the punishment, the *Lord was kind, as David said in verse 14. Araunah’s land was outside the walls of the city. The old name for Jerusalem was Jebus. Araunah owned land there before David made it his capital city. David could see Araunah’s land. David could also see the *angel with a sword in his hand (1 Chronicles 21:16). David was probably very afraid. He knew that he had *sinned. So, he was very humble. David used to look after sheep when he was young. The *Lord had told David to be like a *shepherd to the *Israelites (5:2; 7:7). David thought that the people were innocent. He did not know that the *Lord had been angry with them. David wanted the *Lord to punish him and his family. David did not want the *Lord to punish the people.

At last, in verse 17, David was really humble. Before this, in verses 10 and 14, his conscience felt bad. But it seems that he was still not humble enough to ask God to save his people. (Compare this with Abraham in Genesis 18:20-32 and Moses in Exodus 32:30-32.) Instead, David agreed to the punishment. But then David saw the punishment. And he saw the *angel. David knew that he could not save his people. Only the *Lord could stop the punishment. And David then realised that a big army could not protect *Israel. Only the *Lord could protect *Israel.

David builds an *altar to the *Lord

v18 That day, Gad came to David and said, ‘Go up to the place where Araunah beats his corn. (Araunah belonged to the people called Jebusites.) Build an *altar to the *Lord on that place.’ v19 So David went to do what the *Lord had told him by Gad. v20 Araunah looked. He saw the king and his servants who were coming towards him. Araunah went out. He bent down in front of the king in order to show honour to the king. Araunah bent down until his face touched the ground. v21 He said, ‘Why has my master the king come to me, his servant?’

David said, ‘I have come to buy the land where you beat your corn. I will build an *altar to the *Lord. Then this bad disease will stop.’

v22 Araunah said to David, ‘My master and king. You may take anything that you want for a *sacrifice. Here are the *oxen for the *burnt offering. Here are the boards and wooden collars that you can burn as wood. v23 My king, I give everything to you.’ Araunah also said, ‘I pray that the *Lord your God will accept you.’

v24 But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I must pay you for all this. I will not give the *Lord my God *burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’

So, David bought the place where Araunah beat his corn. And David bought the *oxen. He paid 50 pieces of silver (which weighed about half a kilo or one and a quarter pounds). v25 David built an *altar to the *Lord there. David *sacrificed *burnt offerings and friendship *offerings. Then the *Lord answered what David had prayed for the country. And the bad disease in *Israel stopped.

People used to beat their corn on a high piece of land because of the strong winds. A farmer harvested his corn. He put the corn stems on the ground in the special place. He put a wooden collar on his *oxen. Then he made the *oxen pull a very heavy board across the corn. This separated the grains of corn from the stems. The farmer then threw the stems up into the air. The wind blew away the stems and the dust. The heavy grains fell onto the ground. Then the farmer collected them together.

David had to build an *altar and to give *sacrifices to the *Lord. Araunah gave honour to David. He wanted to give everything to David. Araunah referred to ‘the *Lord your God’. He did not *worship the God of *Israel. But Araunah was afraid of the bad disease too. He wanted David’s *sacrifice to be successful.

David would not accept Araunah’s land and animals as a free gift. David paid for all of it. We can see again that David’s attitudes had changed. He was not still the proud king who wanted to count his army. Instead, he was humble enough to want to give a large gift to the *Lord. In the Chronicles account, David paid a lot more money. He probably paid the price for all of Araunah’s land. In verse 24, David bought just the small piece of land and the animals. He wanted to make his *sacrifices quickly so that the disease would stop. The *sacrifices were like those in 6:17-18 (see the notes on those verses). The place was called *Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). Many centuries earlier, Abraham had gone to *sacrifice Isaac on *Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-18).

Later, Solomon built the *temple on this piece of land. In chapter 7, the *Lord told David that he would not allow David to build the *temple. But the *Lord did allow David to prepare for the construction of the *temple. And the *Lord even allowed David to buy the land. David chose Araunah’s land. This was the same place where David saw the *angel. It was the place where the *Lord stopped the punishment. Here, the *Lord saved Jerusalem. So here was the right place for the *Israelites to make their *sacrifices to the *Lord. They would pray here, and the *Lord would forgive them. So the *Lord would show his kindness to them in this place.

In 1 Chronicles 21:26-27, the *Lord spoke to the *angel after David had given *sacrifices to the *Lord. The *Lord forgave David’s *sin and *Israel’s *sin. The *Lord did not continue to punish them. The last verse in this book shows that the *Lord cares about his people. And the *Lord answers prayer.

The story of David ends in 1 Kings 2:11 after he made his son Solomon the king. But the *Lord continued to *bless David’s family. Luke chapter 3 shows that Jesus Christ came from the family of David.

 

Word List

adultery ~ when a married person has sex with someone who is not their own husband or wife.

altar ~ a table, (usually stone) where the priests burned animals and gave other gifts as a *sacrifice to God or to an *idol.

Amalekite ~ a person who came from the family of Amalek. Amalek was the grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:12, 16). The Amalekites lived in the land between southern *Israel and the country of Egypt. They were one of *Israel’s enemies.

Ammonite ~ a person who came from the family of Ammon, who was the grandson of Lot (Genesis 19:36-38). The country of Ammon was on the east side of *Israel.

angel ~ a servant of God who brings messages from heaven; angels love God and they help God’s people. Sometimes the Bible also speaks about evil angels, who serve the devil.

anoint ~ to put oil on someone’s head. This shows that God has chosen the person for a special task.

Aramean ~ the Arameans were people who lived in the country north of *Israel.

ark of the *Lord or ark of God or ark ~ the Bible also calls it the ark of the Covenant (or agreement). It was a wooden box with gold all over the outside and inside. It had two gold cherubim (*angels) on the top (see Exodus 25:10-22). The *Israelites kept the ark in the *house of the *Lord and only the priest could see it. Sometimes God appeared above the ark and then he spoke to the priest.

Arkite ~ Arkite refers to the family or place that Hushai came from.

bless ~ to say or do good things to a person; to call something holy; to ask God for good things to happen; to guard and keep from evil things.

bronze ~ a type of brown metal. Bronze is not as strong as iron.

burnt offering ~ an animal that the priests killed and burned; this is how they gave an animal to God; an *Israelite’s gift to God.

chariot ~ a kind of cart that soldiers used in a battle. Soldiers stood in it and horses pulled it.

concubine ~ a woman who was like a wife, but the man did not marry her. She did not have as many rights as a wife.

donkey ~ an animal like a small horse. Donkeys can carry heavy loads on their backs. People also ride on donkeys.

ephod ~ a special coat that the main priest wore when he served God (Exodus chapter 28). Other priests wore a plain *linen ephod.

Gibeonites ~ a small group that remained from the people called Amorites. The Gibeonites made a peace agreement with the *Israelites.

glory ~ everything that makes God beautiful and great; the power and great importance of God; like a great king; like a bright light from God or Jesus.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Israelites spoke.

Hittite ~ from a nation of people who came from a man called Heth. They were not *Israelites.

house of the *Lord ~ a special place where the *Israelites *worshipped God. The *ark of the *Lord was there.

idol ~ an object that people *worship instead of the real God. People make idols from wood, stone or metal. An idol was usually an image of a person, animal or object. Idols are false gods.

Israel ~ the name of all the people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the group of people that God chose; the name of the country that God gave to these people; the name of the north part of the land of Israel.

Israelite ~ the people from the nation of *Israel; the people who speak the *Hebrew language; a *Jewish person.

Jew ~ see *Israelite.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew (*Israelite) or anything that belongs to a *Jew.

Judah ~ one of the *tribes of *Israel; the name of the south part of the land of *Israel.

keep ~ to do the things that you promised to do.

kingdom ~ the people and country that a king rules.

lame ~ cannot walk easily or cannot walk at all.

Levite ~ a person from the *tribe of Levi. They worked in the *house of the *Lord and they helped the priests.

linen ~ a type of material that is like cotton. Linen is a very good quality material.

Lord ~ a name for God. The original language of the *Old Testament is called Hebrew. In the Hebrew language, there are two words that we translate as ‘Lord’. The Hebrew word ‘ADONAI’ means that God rules. God is our master. He has authority and he is the ruler of everything. The Hebrew word ‘YHWH’ means that God never changes. God is always God.

mercy ~ God’s love and goodness.

mount ~ a short word for mountain; small mountain.

mule ~ an animal like a small horse.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus. It contains 27 books about the life of Jesus and the Christian message.

offering ~ a gift for God from the priest and people.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before Jesus was born.

olive ~ a tree with small fruits that the people used to make oil. They burned the oil to give them light. They used it in other ways too.

ox, oxen ~ a strong farm animal. Oxen is the plural. An ox looks like a cow, but an ox can pull a plough.

Philistine ~ the *Israelites’ main enemies at that time. They lived on the west side of the country of *Israel.

prophecy ~ a message from God.

prophesy ~ to speak on God’s behalf; to tell God’s message to other people.

prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words and tells God’s messages to other people; a person whom God sends to speak for him. Sometimes they speak about things that will happen in the future.

pure ~ fit to take part in *worship or society.

rape ~ when a man forces a woman to have sex with him.

sacrifice ~ to give something to God, usually an animal, grain or wine. Sometimes this was to thank God for something. Sometimes it was to ask God to forgive *sins when the priest killed an animal. This sacrifice was a special animal that the priests killed. Then the priests burned it on the *altar.

shepherd ~ a person who looks after sheep.

shield ~ something that a soldier holds in front of his body to protect him in a battle. People made shields from metal, wood or from hard leather with a wooden edge.

sin ~ when people do things against God or other people; when people do not obey the commands of God; the things that people do that are wrong or evil.

spear ~ a long, thin pole with a sharp metal point at one end. It was like a large arrow. Soldiers threw it in battles.

stronghold ~ a safe place to hide; somewhere that an enemy could not attack very easily. It may refer to a cave in the hills, or to a city with strong walls round it.

temple ~ the building that Solomon built in the city of Jerusalem. The *Israelites went to this temple to *worship the real God.

tribe ~ a family that began with only one man; a large group of people from the same family. The first *Israelites were the 12 sons of Jacob. The family of each son became a tribe.

trumpet ~ an instrument to make music or to sound an alarm.

weapon ~ weapons are arms; objects that people use in a battle to hurt or kill their enemies. These include bows and arrows, swords, *spears and even stones.

worship ~ to thank God and give him honour; to praise, thank and respect God. Often, people pray and sing as they worship God. Sometimes people worship *idols instead of the real God.

 

Book List

The Bible Knowledge Commentary 21st century edition ~ IVP

The New Bible Commentary ~ IVP

Joyce Baldwin ~ 1 and 2 Samuel ~ Tyndale *New Testament Commentaries

Mary J. Evans ~ 1 and 2 Samuel ~ New International Biblical Commentary

The New Bible Dictionary ~ IVP

W. E. Vine ~ Expository Dictionary of *New Testament Words

Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon

Gesenius ~ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the *Old Testament ~ Baker

New Bible Atlas ~ IVP

Various versions of the Bible

Collins Cobuild English Dictionary

 

For the computer:

Logos Bible Software 2.1

Zondervan Reference Software ~ New International Dictionary of *Old Testament Theology and Exegesis

Zondervan Reference Software ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

 

© 2006, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

March 2006

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.info