King Saul’s disobedience had led to his rejection by God (1 Samuel 15:22-23). In his place God chose David, the son of Jesse, a descendant of both Rahab and Ruth whom we have recently met in our Bible readings. God chose him because of his godly character. His heart was right in the sight of God and so he is described as being ‘a man after his (God’s) own heart’ (1 Sam. 13:14). Saul continued reigning to complete a period of forty years; David had to wait until Saul was killed in battle before he could take over the kingdom. Saul suffered from periods of illness, probably depression (described as a ‘distressing spirit from God’), and also became extremely jealous of David to the extent of seeking to kill him on a number of occasions.
There is an interesting comparison between the Old Testament Saul’s persecution of David, the future king of Israel, and the New Testament Saul (later called Paul) who was also of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5-6) and who persecuted Jesus, the future king of Israel by persecuting his disciples (Acts 9:1,4-5; John 12:13).
Sunday – 1 Samuel 16
Although David was a handsome young man (v12), God’s choice did not depend on his outward appearance, but on the state of David’s heart (v7). The name David means ‘Beloved’ and God’s love was directed to him because his heart was right in His sight. The important factor was David’s spiritual qualities.
God knows all our thoughts wherever we are. David muses on this aspect of God’s power in Psalm 139:1-12. The Lord Jesus Christ had this same power of knowing peoples thoughts and motives (John 2:24-25). We do well to remember that nothing in our hearts or minds is hidden from God and His Son Jesus (Hebrews 4:13).
We should apply the principle set out in verse 7 as best we can in our choice of husbands and wives, although of course we lack the divine insight of the One who knows all our thoughts and motives. What can be better than lifetime partners who are spiritually minded, and so will help us on our pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God?
David’s duties were to be changed from being a shepherd of sheep (v11) to shepherding the people of Israel (2 Samuel 5:2). Like Moses before him, he would change from the caring of sheep to caring for the spiritual needs of God’s people. In this, David was a type of God’s beloved Son who is the good Shepherd (John 10:14-17; Ezekiel 34:23; 1 Peter 2:25).
Monday – 1 Samuel 17
Saul himself was a very tall man, being head and shoulders taller than any of the people (1 Samuel 9:2). Who better among the Israelites to respond to the challenge of Goliath who was probably almost 10 feet tall? But outward appearances do not count, and Saul did not have the God-fearing faith that David shows in this chapter (verses 32-37). His trust was in the living God and not in the protective armour that Saul offered. People practised in the use of slings were remarkably accurate in their aim (Judges 20:16), but in this case the hand of God was with David to enable him to overcome this Philistine who had defied the God of Israel (v45).
David’s victory over Goliath foreshadowed Christ’s victory over sin. Christ (the seed of the woman) bruised the serpent (a symbol of sin) in the head to destroy it (Gen. 3:15). Goliath was a Philistine and the description ‘Philistine’ has the meaning in Hebrew of ‘wallowing’ or ‘rolling in the dust’, which connects well with the curse on the serpent (Gen 3:14). The mind (head) is the seat of the earthly sinful tendencies in human nature (James 3:15) and in type David slew these by smiting Goliath in the forehead just as Jesus through his sacrificial death on the stake destroyed the power of sin in his flesh (Heb. 2:14). David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem (v54) and this connects with the fact that Jesus was crucified just outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Tuesday – 2 Samuel 1
Saul and three of his sons died in battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:1-6). An inspired obituary summarising Saul’s failures in his kingship is recorded in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14. Three points are mentioned in that passage. Saul failed to keep the commandment regarding the destruction of the Amalekites. He consulted a medium for guidance contrary to the Law and he did not (habitually) seek guidance from the LORD (Yahweh). However, it does not mention his failure in regard to unlawful sacrifice recorded in 1 Samuel 13:8-14, nor the killing of the priests (1 Samuel 22) and his jealous hounding of David and his persistent attempts to kill him.
The death of most of Saul’s sons with their father had brought nearer the fulfilment of God’s promise to David that he would become king of Israel. However, in spite of this and the fact that Saul had made life miserable for David and his men, they mourned the death of Saul and Jonathan in a very genuine manner (verses 11-12). David led his men in a highly poetic lamentation that has no mention of God in it. This is fitting as Saul had shut God out of his life for many years.
David’s tribute to Jonathan as a close friend (v26) is understandable, but that for Saul shows David’s forgiving spirit and would seem to concentrate on the earlier days of Saul’s reign when he had such a promising future. Overall, Saul’s reign had much military success (verses 22-23,25,27, compare 1 Samuel 14:47-48), an increase in economic prosperity (v24) and a political advance in bringing together the tribes into a degree of national unity in preparation for David’s reign.
Wednesday – 2 Samuel 2
The leaders of Judah, David’s own tribe, were the first to anoint him king. He reigned over Judah in Hebron for seven years and six months. For the first two years of that period, Saul’s son Ishbosheth, reigned over the other tribes from Mahanaim, supported by Abner, Saul’s uncle who was also the commander of Saul’s army (verses 8-11; 1 Samuel 14:50).
God had instructed David to move to Hebron (verses 1-2). This was the city associated with the promises of God. It was also the burying place of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, waiting in the sleep of death for the fulfilment of those promises. David waited there until soon after the murder of Ishbosheth, two years later (chapter 4), for the fulfilment of God’s promise to him that he would be king over all Israel (chapter 5). That period was one of civil war in which David’s side grew stronger and stronger while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker (2 Samuel 3:1).
Thursday – 2 Samuel 5
Eventually David was anointed king over all Israel (v3), but he could not make Jerusalem his capital city until about five years later when he had captured it from the Jebusites who were its original Canaanite inhabitants (verses 6-9). Prior to its capture, Jerusalem was called Jebus (1 Chronicles 11:4), a name meaning ‘trodden down’. Jesus makes a play on this name when referring to Jerusalem in his Mount Olivet prophecy (Luke 21:24). In contrast, the name ‘Jerusalem’ means ‘Foundation of peace’. Other names for Jerusalem are ‘Zion’ and ‘the city of David’ (v7). Jerusalem is the same city as Salem where Melchizedek was king priest in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14:18 see step 3 week 4).
All kings of Israel were anointed with oil to denote their consecration to the office of ruling Israel on God’s behalf. The title ‘The Messiah’, which is applied to Jesus Christ, means ‘The anointed one’. Read Psalm 2 which is prophetic of the future work of Jesus in establishing God’s kingdom on earth and note the use of the description ‘his (God’s) anointed’ in verse 2.
The sons of David are listed in verse 14. The line of the kings of Judah descended from David through Solomon. Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, was descended from this line of kings (Matthew 1:6-16). The genealogy of Mary, the mother of Jesus, passes through Nathan, another son of David (Luke 3:31).
Friday – 2 Samuel 7
King David was prevented from building a temple to God because he had been a man of war and had shed much blood. Instead it was God’s purpose that David’s son, Solomon, who was ‘a man of rest’, should build the temple. This promise was made to David before Solomon’s birth (1 Chronicles 22:8-10). The name Solomon means ‘Peaceable’ and his reign was one of peace for the people of Israel. Solomon as a man of peace foreshadowed the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who will bring peace to this earth when he establishes God’s kingdom (Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 72:7).
God made promises to David that link directly with His promises to Abraham (see step 3 week 4). Although there is an initial reference to Solomon in these promises (verses 12-13), the major fulfilment is when David’s greater Son, Jesus, will reign in Jerusalem forever (Luke 1:31-33) and build God’s house (Zechariah 6:12-13). Jesus will not only build a literal temple at Jerusalem, but most importantly he is also building a spiritual temple consisting of believers (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Jesus is the Son of God (v14) and this verse is quoted of Jesus in Hebrews 1:5 (compare Psalm 89:26-27 & Luke 1:35).
The phrase ‘before you (thee)’ in verse 16 is the correct reading of the original Hebrew text and means ‘in your presence’, showing that the promise refers to an everlasting kingdom where David himself will be present following his resurrection from the dead. David looked forward to this future time when God’s promises would be fulfilled in the coming of a just and righteous king, describing that event as ‘all my salvation and all my desire’ (2 Samuel 23:5 AV).
Psalm 89:19-37 contains a delightful meditation on God’s promises to David. Since the later verses of this Psalm show that it was written after the death of Solomon when the kingdom of Israel went through difficult times in the days of Rehoboam (Psalm 89:38-45), we know that the Psalmist was associating the promises with the coming of the Messiah and future everlasting glory for the nation of Israel.
Saturday – 2 Samuel 24
We are not informed why God was again angry with Israel (v1). An earlier occasion was when there was a period of famine (see chapter 21). One suggestion for this occasion has been that it was because the population supported Absalom in his rebellion against David (see chapter 15). The fact that God incited (moved) David against Israel needs to be understood in the light of other Scriptures concerning God. From our very limited human perspective we can never fully understand God’s ways. The apostle Paul reminds us that they are past finding out (Romans 11:33). Additionally, God never tempts anyone to do wrong and any wrongdoing is entirely the responsibility of the one who sins (James 1:13-15). Verse 1 should be understood in the sense that God manipulated the everyday events of David’s life so that his own natural inclinations moved him to order this census.
Taking a census was not forbidden under the Mosaic law, so probably the sin of David (v10) in calling for a census lay in two areas; (a) human pride associated with knowing the available military strength and taxation potential in his now numerous and prosperous nation, (b) failure to collect the redemption tax laid down by the law whenever any numbering of the people took place (Exodus 30:11-16).
David’s conscience pricked him after Joab returned with an incomplete census total (compare 1 Chronicles 21:6), and he confessed that he had sinned in this matter and was willing to accept punishment (verses 10-14).
The destroying angel stopped at Jerusalem when God hearkened to David’s plea (verses16-17). The place chosen by God for an altar where David should offer sacrifices (verses18, 25) later became the site where the temple was built by Solomon (see 1 Chronicles 22:1 & 2 Chronicles 3:1).