The Census, and the Pestilence in the Land

2 Sam 24:1-25

As the reign of David draws close to an end, he made another mistake that resulted in a severe pestilence in the land. God was angry when David went ahead to number Israel and Judah. Despite warnings from Joab, David gave the command to number all the people from Dan to Beer-sheba. So, after nine months and twenty days, the census was completed and Joab gave the king the figures – Eight hundred thousand valiant sword-drawing men in Israel, and five hundred thousand in Judah. We should however remember that it is nothing with God to save with few or with many.

It was after the counting that David saw the folly of what he had done. He asked God to forgive him as Gad the prophet had already told him that for his actions one of three punishments must come to pass: seven years of famine in the land, or three months of fleeing from enemies, or thirdly three days of pestilence in the land? David chose the pestilence as he reckoned that it was better to fall into God’s hand than the hands of men, God is merciful, men are not.

So, there was a pestilence from God and about seventy thousand men died. However when the angel was about to destroy Jerusalem, God had mercy and told the angel to stay his hand. This was at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. At Gad’s instruction, David went to raise an altar to the Lord at this threshing floor. Araunah initially wanted to give David the land free, but David would not offered unto God what cost him nothing, so he paid for the land.

So, David built the altar and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings unto the Lord, and then the plague stopped.

God is merciful, despite our mistakes he would not punish forever. Have you sought him and asked for his mercies in your mess? He would lift you up and clean you up.

Some verses to remember

vs 25  And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

 

The Heroics of David’s Mighty Men – The Thirty and the Three.

2 Sam 23:1-38

This chapter starts by portraying David in his last days speaking last words. He was reintroduced as the son of Jesse, who was raised on high and anointed of God, he was the sweet Psalmist of Israel. After a brief song, the chapter gave us an understanding of why David was successful – he had men who surrounded him, in whom courage like his had been instilled. i will make mention of the men and their notable exploits. the passage talked about the thirty, and also about the three mightest men.

  • Adino the Eznite was firt mentioned, He lifted up his spear against eight hundred men and slew them  all at one time.
  • Eleazar the son of Dodo was next, he was one of the three mightest, at a time when Israel gathered against the Philistines and the men of Israel were gone away, Eleazar rose and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand was clave unto his sword. he won victory for Israel that day, and others returned for the spoil.
  • Shammah the son of Agee in similar fashion also stood when others fled, and he defended the piece of ground where the battle held, slaying the Philistines until God wrought a great victory for Israel.
  • Adino, Eleazar and Shammah were the three who broke through the host of the Philistines when David was thirsty wanting water from Jerusalem, while the Philistines had surrounded it. He couldn’t have the drink but poured it out as an offering unto the Lord, as he saw it as the blood of these men who risked their lives.
  • Abishai was also mentioned to be chief among David’s men. He lifted up his spear and slew three hundred men.
  • Benaiah slew two lion-like men, and also slew a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day.

Others were mentioned, totalling thirty seven in all, divided into the three, the thirty, and other notable mentions, including Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. This makes us to put David’s sin in better context as Uriah was one of his mighty men of courage and valour.

Notwithstanding, the main lesson from this passage is the fact that David was able to gather men similar to him, and enlist their loyalty unto death. Any great success will involve committed follower-ship, men we have been able to mould to with the same values we extol. Can you mentor such men?

Some verses to remember

vs 8:  These be the names of the mighty men whom David had

vs 16: And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.

 

The Song of David – A prelude to the 18th Psalm!

2 Sam 22:1-51

If there is anything about troubles and adversities, it is that fact that through them, God gives us a song to sing. David was a witness of the deliverance of the Lord, and we would possibly not have had this beautiful song (and maybe numerous other Psalms) if not for the troubles he passed through and the victories he encountered from the Lord. It fulfils exactly what Paul said, ” Blessed be………..the God of Comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God (2 Cor 1:3-4).

This song is the same as that rewritten in Psalm 18, and it must have meant a lot to David for it to have appeared twice in the bible. The best songs come forth in the darkest hour. What are you going through today? The Lord will soon turn your sorrow into joy, your mourning into dancing and your sighing into song. Keep trusting in him for he never abandons those who trust in him. he will give them a song and they would not be put to shame.

The whole song below:

2Sa 22:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
2Sa 22:2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
2Sa 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
2Sa 22:4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
2Sa 22:5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
2Sa 22:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
2Sa 22:7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
2Sa 22:8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
2Sa 22:9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
2Sa 22:10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.
2Sa 22:11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
2Sa 22:12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
2Sa 22:13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
2Sa 22:14 The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
2Sa 22:15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.
2Sa 22:16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
2Sa 22:17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
2Sa 22:18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
2Sa 22:19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.
2Sa 22:20 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
2Sa 22:21 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
2Sa 22:22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
2Sa 22:23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.
2Sa 22:24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.
2Sa 22:25 Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.
2Sa 22:26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
2Sa 22:27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
2Sa 22:28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
2Sa 22:29 For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.
2Sa 22:30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
2Sa 22:31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
2Sa 22:32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?
2Sa 22:33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
2Sa 22:34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.
2Sa 22:35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
2Sa 22:36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
2Sa 22:37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
2Sa 22:38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
2Sa 22:39 And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
2Sa 22:40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
2Sa 22:41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.
2Sa 22:42 They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.
2Sa 22:43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.
2Sa 22:44 Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
2Sa 22:45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
2Sa 22:46 Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.
2Sa 22:47 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
2Sa 22:48 It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,
2Sa 22:49 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
2Sa 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
2Sa 22:51 He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

 

Avenging the Gibeonites

 

2 Sam 21:1-22

Troubles in David‘s time were not yet over. The chapter begins by telling us that there was a famine in the land which continued for three years. When David inquired of the Lord he however found that the famine was as a result of Saul’s sin against the Gibeonites in slaying them. We should remember that during Joshua’s time, Israel had already made an agreement not to destroy the Gibeonites, and they were allowed to be servants in the land (Joshua 9:1-27).

So, on inviting the Gibeonites to ask what could be done to atone Saul’s sin and reverse the famine, the Gibeonites demanded for seven men of Saul’s sons to be delivered to them for hanging before the Lord in Gibeah. David spared Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan, but he handed over seven men of Saul’s son to the Gibeonites who hanged them.

However, before God was entreated for the land, something remarkable happened. Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, who was a concubine of Saul is not a very common name in the bible but she did something very commendable. When the seven sons were hanged on the tree, two of which were her own sons, she took a sackcloth and spread it on the rock from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and did not allow neither birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor beasts of the field by night. We can imagine the stench she would have needed to bear with, the coldness of the night, the flies, the dangerous birds and animals, but she stayed there notwithstanding. When David heard of her bravery, he was prompted into action, as he went to collect the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the men of Jabeshgilead who stole them before now, and they also gathered the bones of those hanged before giving proper burial burial to Saul and Jonathan. It was after this that the famine ended – Mizpah definitely played an important, easy-to-overlook role.

The chapter ended as we heard of the exploits of some of David’s men. as David waxed old, he still went to battle, and almost got killed by Ishbibenob the Philistine giant if not for Abishai‘s intervention. Three other giants of the Philistines were also killed by Sibbechai, Elhanan and Jonathan. So, Israel’s victory over the Philistines continued well into David’s old age, as his men took after his bravery in defeating his own first Philistine in Goliath.

Some verses to remember

vs 1:  Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

vs 10: And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

 

Sheba’s Revolt against David

2 Sam 20: 1- 26

The sword would not depart from David, as another trouble came again. This time, it was Sheba son of Bichri, the Benjaminite, who called on the people of Israel to have no part in David and that everyone should return unto his tent. So the people of Israel departed from behind David apart from the men of Judah.

David then had to organize his men through Amasa, whom he gave orders to pursue after Sheba. Amasa however delayed and David had to make use of Abishai, who he told to pursue Sheba less he gets to the fenced cities and fortify himself. However when Abishai and Joab proceeded, Amasa went ahead of them. As fate would however have it, Amasa met his death in the hands of Joab, when his sword drop unknowingly. Joab pretended he wanted to kiss him but smote him in the fifth rib and he died there.

So the people went ahead with Joab in command until they got to Abel of Bethmaachah, where Joab gathered his men to batter the wall of the city and bring it down. A wise old woman however called out to Joab and spoke with him asking him why he wanted to destroy the inheritance of the Lord. Joab said he was only interested in having Sheba who revolted against David. So, the old women promised him the head of Sheba. Using her wisdom and resources the old woman was able to return with the head of Sheba and flung it to Joab, who blew a trumpet and called off his men. So Joab returned to Israel and continued as the captain of David’s army.

The most notable part of the passage was the wisdom with which the old woman was able to avert more trouble in the land. God wants us to dwell in peace, and this woman used her wisdom in the right way to prevent death of the innocents. David escaped trouble again, but what lies ahead?

Some verses to remember

vs 1-2: And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel. So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.

vs 22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.

 

David Returns to Jerusalem

2 Sam 19:1-43

The war was over, but one man remained sad and sorrowful. David remained inconsolable by the death of his son Absalom, and his sorrow started to affect the remainder of the people until Joab stepped in. Joab confronted the king and made him understand that his actions undermined the contribution of his men and servants who had all laid down their life for him at battle. Which would he prefer, for them all to die and Absalom being alive? He then told David to address all the people and speak comfortably with them.

David stood up eventually and went to the gate, and from there he took charge back of his kingdom which had been in disarray, with the king fleeing, and Absalom dead. So he sent men and arranged for his return back to Jerusalem. David went back to Jerusalem, and was met by men who welcomed him back, including Ziba, Shimei and Mephibosheth. It was surprising that despite what Shimei did when David left the kingdom, he came back with his men to apologize, and David forgave him, telling Abishai not to smite him. David also sought and received the explanation for Mephibosheth’s faulure to follow him out of Jerusalem when he departed.

David’s return however also brought strife between the men of Judah and the men of Israel, as the Israelites wondered how Judah ‘stole’ the king away from them. The men of Judah claimed in return that they were closer kinsmen to David and had every right to claim ten parts in David.

Have we seen the last of David’s struggles as he entered his twilight years? Having escaped Absalom’s troubles, what lies ahead of him? We shall wait and see.

Some verses to remember

vs 5-6: And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.

vs 8: Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent.

 

The Death of Absalom

2 Sam 18:1-33

Finally, today we came to the battle between neighbours, as David‘s men fought with Absalom‘s. David was already old at this time and his men would not allow him to go to battle, they reckoned that David alone was worth ten thousand men. So David organized the army, putting captains over thousands and hundred men before dividing the groups into three parts. He then put Joab, Abishai and Ittai in charge of the three parts, with stern warnings that for his sake they should deal gently with the young man Absalom.

So, David’s men went against the Israelites, and the people of Israel were slain by David’s servants, up to twenty thousand of them. Absalom tried to ride off on his mule, but his long hair was caught in the thick boughs of a great oak, as his mule ran off with him hanging in the air. One of the men saw this and told Joab, and despite David’s plea, Joab saw to it that Absalom was smitten and slain. Thus an end was brought to Absalom, and his rebellion. Joab sent men to David to deliver the news to him, and here we saw how truly David so loved Absalom, for despite his actions, david wished he were dead in place of his son. As the chapter ends, we see the king mourn the death of his son.

Though God was punishing David for his sins, he did not allow the enemy to prevail over him. Absalom was judged, he was not even able to stand David’s men as much as he thought, he was no match for a man after God’s heart. When we trust God, we can pass through whatever comes our way with hope. He will not allow the enemy or circumstances to overcome us. He will not lay on us much more than we can bear, an in every trial and trouble, he will also provide a way out.

Some verses to remember

vs 5: And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.

vs 7:  Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.

vs 33:  And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

 

The Counsel of Ahithophel Overturned

2 Samuel 17:1-29

As we’ve already been told how wise Ahithophel was, and how his counsels were like an oracle directly from God, we would expect that when given, any man in his right senses would follow after them without questioning. Today however, we saw God worked in a miraculous way to overturn and make foolish Ahithophel’s advice, in answer to David‘s prayer.

Ahithophel advised that he should be allowed to pick twelve thousand men and pursue after David in the night, catching him unaware while weary and weak, causing panic in his camp, and eventually allowing him the opportunity to smite the king. Despite the plot pleasing Absalom and all the people, for one reason or the other, Absalom still went ahead to ask Hushai, the spy planted by David,  what he also thought of Ahithophel’s advice. Hushai stated confidently that Ahitophel’s counsel was not good this time around, and he made a case that David himself was a man of war and strategy with very strong and valiant men, and that a defeat of Absalom’s men by such a very organized unit would throw confusion and fear into his whole camp. He then gave a different advice that would take some time to implement, buying David time in the process, as it would require gathering men from the whole of Israel to face David’s army.

As God would have it, Hushai’s advice seemed more logical to the whole lot than Ahitophel’s, but it was God at work to judge Absalom for his sins. Hushai was able to send messengers to David to tell him of all the plans in advance. Ahitophel went home that day a defeated man. For the first time, his counsel had been looked down upon. We learnt he put his house in order and hanged himself .

No matter the plan, no matter the plot, if it is not of God, it could be overturned. God causes the wisdom of the wise to look like foolishness, the strength of the strong to become weakness. Pray to him and he would fight your battle for you even when you are not there, He is the one who could overturn the counsel of those in authority – Trust Him.

Some verses to remember

vs 14: And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.

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David’s exile from Jerusalem

2 Sam 16:1-23

As we saw from yesterday, David and the people with him, having left Jerusalem. continued to run away from Absalom. Loyalties are further tested today as we saw Ziba- Mephiboseth’s servant coming to the aid of David, with provisions for him and his men. Mephiboseth however saw David’s exile as an opportunity for him to be made king in Jerusalem, being a descendant of Saul. This was despite all the kindness that David showed him in allowing him to dine at the king’s table all the days of his life.

One notable event on the way out of Jerusalem was the one that involved Shimei, another man from the family of Saul. As the king and his people went on their way, he followed after David, cursing him and throwing stones at him. Abishai one of David’s soldiers wanted to go cut off Shimei’s head for his actions, but David told him not to; saying that maybe the Lord would see what Shimei was doing and have mercy on him. And so, David continued on his exile from Jerusalem.

Back in Jerusalem, Absalom and his people arrived to take over the kingdom. Hushai also came as instructed by David, and pretended to be on Absalom’s side. Absalom then asked Ahithophel and Hushai what would be the next thing to do? Ahithophel as we learnt was a very great and wise counsellor, his advise were like oracles directly from God. He told Absalom to publicly sleep with the concubines left behind by David in order to show how much he would be abhorred by his father, and so strengthen his men. Hardly did they all know that god had already spoken through Nathan the prophet that this act would be one of David’s punishment for sleeping with Bathsheba.

So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the palace; and he went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel as Nathan had prophesied. What will happen next after these? Absalom would want to ensure he pursues after his father and possibly have him captured or killed. How would David be delivered? We;ll wait and see as we continue with the study.

Some verses to remember

vs 11-12: And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.

vs 22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

vs 23  And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

 

Absalom’s Conspiracy

2 Sam 15:1-37

Just when it seemed as though everything had calmed down, the past forgotten, sins forgiven, reconciliation complete, today we saw that Absalom had other plans in mind, plans to topple his father, David, from the throne. As we would later see, David was still suffering the consequences of his disobedience to God in the issue of Bathsheba the wife of Uriah.

Absalom cunningly won over the hearts of the men of Israel unto himself by showing himself to be affable, loveable, willing to come to their help, nice and humble. He also took to himself chariots and horses with fifty men to run before him in order to gain more recognition and popularity. Some of the people even followed Absalom unaware of his ulterior motives. At the designated time, as part of the final stages of his plan, he took permission from David to go to Hebron to fulfil a vow he had made to God. It was while in Hebron that he gave order to his appointed men that they should announce in Jerusalem that Absalom reign in Hebron.

David did not need to be told the implication of such an announcement, he knew what Absalom was capable of. He knew how for two years he hatched the plan to avenge Tamar of Amnon‘s sin, the same son had taken forty years to device a plan to usurp his own rulership in a conspiracy of the highest order. So, David had to depart Jerusalem with his people, he knew if they tarried they would not escape being killed by Absalom, and might also put the whole city in jeopardy. Thus began the exile of David from his own throne and city.

Absalom was able to enlist the support of Ahithophel, one of the most respected advisers of David. When David heard this, he needed to pray that God would turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. It was a time when loyalty is being tested, and David was fortunate to have men at his own beckon too. Notable was Hushai who initially wanted to follow David, but whom David was able to persuade to feign allegiance to Absalom, and serve as an informant on what goes on back in Absalom’s camp, and possible help in defeating the counsel of Ahithophel.

So, the struggle starts and will continue as Absalom returns to Jerusalem to reign. How would David be delivered from his current trouble, one coming from his own closes neighbour, his own son? We will wait and see as we continue in the study in the following days.

Some verses to remember

vs 6: And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgement: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

vs 10:  But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.

vs 31:  And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.

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