On 2 Samuel 13-15

Absalom, a son of David, had a sister named Tamar, who was loved by Amnon, David’s firstborn son. Amnon was distressed because he couldn’t be with Tamar and so he raped her. Tamar then went and stayed with her brother, Absalom. Absalom hated Amnon for raping his sister, and David was also angry with Amnon, but did nothing against him. Two years after the rape, Absalom had Amnon killed and fled to Geshur for three years. David mourned the death of Amnon, but did not go after Absalom.

Because David had so many wives, the relationship between all these people is confusing. It seems that Absalom and Amnon are half brothers, which would mean that Tamar is the half sister of Amnon. Just as Jacob did nothing on behalf of his raped daughter, Dinah, David did nothing for Tamar. David’s love for his firstborn son is more important than the protection of his daughter. The only comfort from this chapter is that Absalom eventually defends his sister, although I don’t think he should have had servants kill Amnon.

Joab, the son of Zeruiah who killed Abner, sent a wise woman of Tekoa to David, so that she could convince him to let Absalom come back to Jerusalem. David agreed that Absalom could return to Jerusalem, but did not want to see him. After two years, Absalom asked Joab to see David, but Joab ignored him. Finally, Absalom burned Joab’s field in order to get his attention. David agreed to see Absalom and welcomed him.

Joab and Absalom seem like they would be natural allies. Joab killed Abner as revenge for his brother’s death and Absalom killed Amnon as revenge for his sister’s rape. I don’t understand why Joab ignored Absalom, but it seems pretty extreme to burn someone’s field just because they won’t return a call. I think it’s good that David welcomes Absalom back, but it still doesn’t make up for his deafening silence on the rape of Tamar.

Absalom began to greet everyone who came to David for counsel and started stealing the heart of the people. After that, Absalom went away to Hebron to gather an army. David heard the news that Absalom was coming to Jerusalem with an army, and so he fled with everyone except for ten concubines who were left to take care of the palace. David then sent the priests Zadok and Abiathar back to the city with their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, in order to spy on Absalom. He also sent Hushai to spy and to try to contradict the counsel of Ahithophel.

First, David seduces a married woman, then he does nothing to protect or defend his raped daughter, and now he leaves ten concubines to protect his palace although they could be killed by an advancing army. I think it’s blatantly clear that David has no respect for women. Furthermore, I’m not too surprised that Absalom wants to build an army against David, seeing as David did banish him for three years and then refused to see him for an additional two years. I’m struggling to understand what’s so great about David. For every one act of kindness he performs, he ends up doing about twenty things that are wrong or just plain despicable. At the same time, human beings are not perfect. David is bound to make mistakes. I don’t think his mistakes should be ignored, but I should show some mercy. Especially since I expect mercy from the Lord for my sins. If a book is ever written about me, I’m sure people thousands of years from now will think I did some pretty stupid things. As Christ said,  Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). That being said, God doesn’t speak in any of these chapters (2 Samuel 13-15), so it is a purely human account, not a divine one.

These are my thoughts on 2 Samuel 13-15.

On 2 Samuel 8-12

King David had many wars and was victorious. The Lord blessed him in all he did. Later on, David asked for any survivors of Saul’s house. Meribbaal, the son of Jonathan, was still alive. So David sent for Meribbaal and gave all of Saul’s land to Meribbaal and commanded that Meribbaal always ate at his table. Meribbaal stayed in Jerusalem with David and ate with him.

These chapters have a very interesting juxtaposition. In the first, we see David killing thousands in wars. It isn’t clarified whether or not the wars are justified. However, it would seem the Old Testament condones any war against those who are not the “Chosen People”, otherwise known as Israel. The second chapter, however, shows the great kindness that David offers to Meribbaal simply because he is the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul. It is mentioned twice in this chapter that Meribbaal was lame, and I’m not sure how it is relevant. Perhaps this is meant to underline the kindness of David in showing that he helped someone who was unable to return the favor.

The king of the Ammonites died and David sent messengers to the king’s son, Hanun, to console him. However, Hanun’s princes convinced him the messengers were spies and so the messengers had their beards shaved and pants cut and were sent away. This angered David, so the Ammonites formed an army with the Arameans. When David heard of this, he too formed an army. The Arameans were defeated and no longer aided the Ammonites. During the time that there was more war, David saw Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite. He fell for her beauty, sent for her, and impregnated her. When he found out she was pregnant, David arranged for her husband to be killed in battle. After Bathsheba’s husband was killed, she mourned him, then went to David’s house, became his wife, and birthed a son. The Lord was angry with David.

There’s a lot packed in these two chapters. Once again David goes off to war, but this time it seems to be more of a defense. The messengers who had their beards shaved weren’t allowed back into  Jerusalem until their beards had grown back. This is a great example of victim-blaming. The messengers were the ones victimized and yet they are the ones punished because not having their beards is a disgrace. Then there’s the whole thing with Bathsheba. I’m confused as to which part made God angry. Was it that David slept with a married woman, that he got her pregnant, or that he had her husband killed so he could take her as *another* wife? It seems for every good thing David does he does about twenty bad things, yet can usually find favor in the eyes of the Lord. At least this time God is finally angry with him.

Nathan told David a parable of a rich man who took a poor man’s only ewe. David found the rich man to be guilty and deserving of death, and Nathan explained that the rich man was David and the poor man Uriah the Hittite, husband of Bathsheba. Nathan told David he had committed a great sin against the Lord by having Uriah killed and taking Uriah’s wife as his own. As punishment, the Lord killed the child that Bathsheba gave birth to. David went to Bathsheba to console her, and they had another child, Solomon. The Lord loved Solomon and sent Nathan to name him Jedidiah. After that, David fought against the Ammonites and won. The people were deported and worked as slaves and he pillaged their goods. Then, the army and David returned to Jerusalem.

It seems the Lord was angry with David for the whole situation. It makes me wonder if there would have been any punishment if David hadn’t killed Uriah. It doesn’t seem entirely fair that the child was killed for the sins of David and Bathsheba. However, it could be argued that the death of your child is a greater punishment than your own. I’m not a parent yet, but I’m sure that would be pretty devastating. Regardless, David goes back to being favored by the Lord and he is victorious against the Ammonites. I also don’t get how it’s okay to pillage and enslave people, but, once again, the Ammonites weren’t the “Chosen Ones”. It makes me even more thankful that Jesus came for us all and not just a handful.

These are my thoughts on 2 Samuel 8-12.

On 2 Samuel 4-7

When Ishbaal (or Ish-bosheth), the son of Saul, heard that Abner had been killed, he mourned him. Then, two mean, Baanah and Rechab, went and killed Ishbaal and brought his head to David expecting David’s happiness since Saul and all his posterity had been killed. However, just as David was angry at the man who claimed to have killed Saul, he was also angry at Baanah and Rechab and had them killed. He then buried Ishbaal’s head with Abner.

Depending on the translation of the Bible, there seems to be discrepancies in names and events. According to the “New American Bible”, Saul’s son is called Ishbaal. However, the “English Standard Version” calls him Ish-bosheth. Furthermore, the wording between these two texts differ slightly concerning who buried Ishbaal’s head and how he was killed. Although the differences are minor, it leads me to wonder what else has been lost, changed, or misinterpreted in translation.

The people of Israel came to David and anointed him King of Israel. David then captured Zion from the Jebusites, which became the City of David. He also said that the blind and the lame were not to enter the palace since they fought against him. While in Jerusalem, David took more wives and concubines and had more children, including Solomon. When the Philistines heard that David was king of Israel, they went to attack him. However, the Lord was with David, and so David defeated the Philistines each time they attacked.

There’s a lot going on in this chapter. It seems unreasonable to put a blanket ban on people who are blind and lame based on the fact that the blind and lame Jebusites were David’s enemies. However, it could be that the ban is just on the blind and lame Jebusites, although that is not made clear. Once again David makes a mockery of modern-day marriage ideals. The idea that marriage is a union between “one” man and “one” woman is obviously not an Old Testament idea. Also, we see that the Lord is protecting his chosen ones at the cost of the Philistines.

David and thirty thousand men went to get the ark of God. During transportation, Ussah touched the ark to balance it as it was falling off an ox. God struck him dead for touching the ark and so David became angry at the Lord and did not bring the ark into the City of David. However, when David saw that the ark of God was bringing blessings, he brought the ark to his home and blessed Israel. As he entered the city, David was dancing for the Lord and Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, became angry with him because he was exposing himself to slave girls. Michal chastised David for doing this, but David did not care. It was then said that Michal died childless. After that, David spoke to Nathan, a prophet, and said he wanted to build a house for the Lord. However, the Lord visited Nathan and told him of the blessings He would give David’s offspring and said He did not need a house. Nathan then reported his vision to David. So David went to the Lord to give him thanks and praise.

It’s nice to see that David is morally outraged by God striking down a man who was innocently trying to protect the ark. However, David’s righteous indignation for another doesn’t seem to surpass his desire for blessings. I don’t completely understand why Michal is angry with David. It could be that she thinks as a king he should not stoop to a common level. I find it odd that the chapter ends with the fact that Michal died childless. Perhaps this is meant as God’s punishment for her chastisement of David. This is the first time Nathan the prophet is mentioned and I’m curious about his background. David also has a son named Nathan, but it is not the same person.

These are my thoughts on 2 Samuel 4-7.

On 2 Samuel 1-3

After the death of Saul and his sons, one of the Amalekites went to David to tell him that Saul and Jonathan were dead. The Amalekite claimed it was he who killed Saul since Saul was suffering from a wound. Since the Amalekite claimed credit for the death of Saul, David had him struck down and killed. David then created a lament for Saul and Jonathan, whose love was greater for David than that of a woman.

This chapter shows the Old Testament practice of “an eye for an eye” and also reinforces David’s love for Jonathan. Although the Amalekite didn’t actually kill Saul, he took credit for it and was killed. I find it interesting that David mourns Saul’s death, even though Saul constantly tried to have him killed. However, the mourning for Jonathan is not a surprise.

After David mourned Saul and Jonathan and they were buried, David was anointed king over the house of Judah in Hebron. Then, Abner, the son of the captain of Saul’s army, took Ishbaal, who was another son of Saul, and made him king. There was tension between the servants of David and the servants of Ishbaal, and Abner killed the brother of Joab, a servant of David. Abner called for a truce with Joab, and Joab retreated back to Hebron.

I find it confusing that Saul has another son. At the end of 1 Samuel, it appears that Saul is killed with all of his sons, which would allow an easy succession for David to the throne. However, since Saul has another son, this causes issues for David and leads to a lot of strife between his followers and the followers of Ishbaal.

There was a long war between the two factions, David’s followers grew stronger, and David had six sons while in Hebron, to six different women. Eventually, Ishbaal and Abner had a falling out and Abner went to David to make a covenant with him. Abner said he would bring all of Israel over to David. David agreed to the covenant if Abner would return to him with Michal, his wife and Saul’s daughter. Abner agreed and when he left, Joab saw him. Joab was angry that David had been speaking with Abner, who had killed his brother, and sent for Abner to return. When Abner returned, Joab killed him. David was angry and cursed Joab for taking revenge. David then mourned for Abner.

This chapter is shocking in the number of sons David has with different women, who may or may not be his wives. The most comical aspect is that he still wants his wife Michal. Time and again the Old Testament shows that modern expectations of what marriage should and shouldn’t be are hardly in the Bible. At what point did polygamy become outside of “traditional” marriage? The majority of protagonists from the Old Testament had more than one wife. If modern marriage was really based on the Bible, then women would be property to be paid for, men would be able to have as many wives as they wanted, and women would have no say in who they married. Personally, I think it’s great that we’ve redefined marriage from the time of the Old Testament.

These are my thoughts on 2 Samuel 1-3.

On 1 Samuel 26-31

Once again, Saul pursued David and David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but didn’t since Saul was the anointed king. Saul again recognized his sin and asked David to return, but Saul and David went their separate ways. After that, David went to live with Achish, a Philistine, so Saul would no longer pursue him. David asked Achish for his own land and Achish gave David Ziklag, which came to belong to the kings of Judah. David then attacked many Philistine towns and killed every man and woman. When Achish asked where David had attacked, David said he had attacked towns of Israel.

As the saying goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. That seems to be what Saul is doing in continuing to go after David. Of course Saul won’t be able to catch David since the Holy Spirit is with him. The fact that David continually spares Saul shows he is righteous, but then he does things that aren’t righteous at all. In the last reading, David showed arrogance and nearly killed a man for not giving him what he wanted. In Chapter 27, David murders Philistine men and women and lies about it. This highlights a major issue with the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were “The Chosen Ones”, which meant anyone who wasn’t an Israelite (i.e. a Philistine) didn’t have the same right to life. However, in the New Testament, Jesus comes to save all men and women, not just the Jews.

The Philistines gathered forces to fight Saul and Israel, and David was told to be Achish’s bodyguard. When Saul asked the Lord for advice and had no response, he went to a medium. The medium raised the spirit of Samuel, and Samuel told Saul that he and sons would be joining him the next day and that the army of Israel would fail to the Philistines. After that, the Philistines recognized David and forbade that David fight with them. Achish tried to defend David, but the Philistines insisted David return to his home and not go to battle.

I find it interesting that even though mediums and necromancers are expressly forbidden in Mosaic Law, the medium is able to raise Samuel to speak to Saul. This last chapter shows how good David was at being deceitful, since Achish adamantly defends him and claims he has no fault.

When David and his army returned, they found that all the wives, sons and daughters of Ziklag had been captured and Ziklag had been burned by the Amalekites. David inquired of the Lord what to do next, and the Lord said to pursue the Amalekites. David led his army to pursue and they found an Egyptian servant who was left behind. The servant took them to the Amalekites. Then David and his army destroyed all the Amalekites, except for two hundred who fled, and recovered all the people and spoils that had been taken. After that, the Philistines destroyed Saul’s army and killed all three of Saul’s sons, Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchi-shua. Then Saul was wounded and fell on his sword to avoid capture.

When David pursues the Amalekites, two hundred of his men stay behind due to exhaustion. Some of the men who went with David wanted to deny the two hundred who stayed any spoils from the battle, but David insists on sharing with all. This is a great precedent that David establishes. In the final chapter, it’s very upsetting to me that Jonathan dies. He has shown so much loyalty to David, but it seems there can’t be any chance of the crown going to one of Saul’s sons.

These are my thoughts on 1 Samuel 26-31. And this is the last entry for the book of 1 Samuel.

On 1 Samuel 23-25

David went to save the town of Keilah, which was under attack by the Philistines. Saul heard of this and gathered an army to attack Keilah in order to capture David. David was warned of Saul’s coming, so he escaped with his men. Then, Jonathan went to David and made a covenant with him that he would be David’s second in command when David became king. Saul continued to search for David, but when he was closing in on David, the Philistines attacked the land, so Saul had to retreat to fight the Philistines. After that, Saul again searched after David. David had the chance to kill Saul in a cave, but only cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. When Saul left the cave, David spoke to Saul and showed the piece of robe to prove that he spared Saul’s life. Saul recognizes that David was righteous and a rightful king and departed from David. However, David returned to his stronghold with his men.

In these chapters, Saul continues to hunt David, but is repeatedly unsuccessful. David shows his greatness in sparing the life of Saul. David respects Saul’s position as king even though he knows that he is the next king chosen by God. At the end, it seems that David still doesn’t trust Saul even though Saul recognizes he is the rightful king. This is understandable since Saul previously swore not to harm David, but pursued him anyway.

Samuel died and was buried in his house. All of Israel mourned. Then, David sent men to Nabal, a wealthy Calebite, in order to get food for a feast. David’s men had protected Nabal’s shepherds, so David felt entitled to some of the food. Nabal refused the men and David decided to destroy Nabal and his family. Abigail, Nabal’s wife, heard of the messengers from David and sent David a feast of food for him and his men. She also went to personally apologize for her husband’s foolishness and spare David from having a bloodguilt on his hands. Abigail told her husband what had happened, and within ten days, Nabal was dead. After David heard news of Nabal’s death, David sent for Abigail to become his wife, and she did. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel as his wife. His wife Michal had been given to Palti by Saul.

This chapter shows a bit of arrogance on the part of David. He seems quite upset that Nabal doesn’t know who he is. A mixture of this and having an evil repayment for the good he did is what leads David to want to kill Nabal. Luckily, Abigail saves the day, and as a reward she becomes a widow. Since women relied on men for income and well-being, David kindly takes her as a wife. It seems that she has a choice, which is thus far rare in the Old Testament for women. That being said, she doesn’t have too much of a choice since the alternative would be being impoverished and possibly starving to death. I find it interesting that David has a second wife as well, Ahinoam, who is first mentioned at the end of this chapter in one sentence. We also find out the fate of Michal, who loved David very much. She has been given by her father to another man, most likely after she helped David flee. So, there is obviously not a lot of choice for women, since they were still only seen as property.

These are my thoughts on 1 Samuel 23-25.

On 1 Samuel 18-22

Once David had finished speaking with Saul, Jonathan loved David as himself, and Saul set David in charge of the army. On their return home, the women came out singing of the men Saul had struck down and the greater number of men David had struck down, which angered Saul and made him suspicious of David. So Saul removed David from his presence, but the people loved David. Saul offered David his eldest daughter, Merab, but David felt too humble to become the son-in-law of the king and Merab was given to Adriel the Meholathite. Then Saul learned that his daughter Michal loved David, and Saul thought Michal would be a snare to David. Originally, David refused because he didn’t have money to give for a bride, but Saul insisted David could pay with the foreskins of Philistines. So David killed Philistines for the bride-price. This made Saul even angrier toward David.

This chapter foreshadows that Jonathan will give his right of inheritance to David and begins to describe the negative relationship between Saul and David. Saul is threatened by David’s military success and the fact that so many people admire David. Additionally, Saul is upset that Michal truly loves David, as this means she can’t be used to trap David.

Saul told Jonathan and his servants to kill David, but Jonathan warned David and spoke to Saul on David’s behalf. Then, Saul swore that David should not be put to death. After that, a harmful spirit came upon Saul and he tried to kill David. David fled and Saul sent messengers to kill David. Michal helped David escape, and David went to Samuel. Saul sent messengers there to kill David, but they were overcome by the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. This happened twice more and then Saul went himself. He too was overcome by the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. Afterward, David went to Jonathan and sought his help, explaining that Saul wanted to kill David. At first, Jonathan didn’t believe that Saul wanted to kill David, so they arranged an agreement to discover Saul’s intentions. Jonathan was able to discover that Saul did want to kill David, so Jonathan sent David away.

The relationship between David and Jonathan is very interesting, and some could even view it as homoerotic. The language used to describe Jonathan’s love for David is quite strong and could explain why he later gives up his inheritance. There is a lot that people do in the name of love.

David fled and stopped in Nob and asked the priest Ahimelech for bread. David said he was on official business and Ahimelech gave him holy bread. Then David fled to Gath and was brought before the king Achish. The Philistines recognized him, so he feigned madness and the king sent him away. He then went to the cave of Adullam, where many people gathered to him. Then David went into the forest of Hereth. After that, Saul discovered that David had been in Nob with Ahimelech. Saul sent for Ahimelech and inquired why he helped David against Saul. Ahimelech explained that he was not aware that David was working against Saul, but Saul didn’t believe Ahimelech and had him and the entire city of Nob killed. However, Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, was able to escape and went to David. David said he would protect Abiathar.

It’s upsetting that David lies to Ahimelech about his intentions, since this ends up causing the death of Ahimelech and the whole city of Nob. However, it shows proof that even God’s chosen one wasn’t perfect. A redeeming factor is that David promises to protect Abiathar from danger.

These are my thoughts on 1 Samuel 18-22.