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.