Home Articles & Books The Annotated Bible

Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                         THE SECOND BOOK OF SAMUEL

                       The Division of Second Samuel

     The second book of Samuel contains the history of David after Saul's
death, his reign over Judah and over all Israel, as well as the great
events which transpired during his reign. The center of the book is the
record of his fall, the chastisements which he had to pass through as a
result of his sin and his subsequent restoration after the rebellion of his
son Absalom. The last four chapters form an appendix in which various
episodes in David's life are recorded; it tells us of the victories of the
King. Much in this book, even more so than in the previous history, has a
typical meaning, which we shall follow as far as the purpose of our
annotations permits. We make the following division:

     1. David's Lamentation for Saul and Jonathan (1:1-2)
     2. David Anointed King over Judah (2:1-7)
     3. Abner's Revolt and the War which Followed (2:8-32)
     4. Abner's Deeds and End (3:1-39)
     5. The Death of Ish-bosheth (4:1-12)

     1. David Anointed King Over All Israel (5:1-5)
     2. David's Conquest of Zion and Victory Over the Philistines (5:6-25)
     3. The Ark Brought to Zion (6:1-23)
     4. The Lord's Promise to David and the Covenant (7:1-29)
     5. The Extension of His Kingdom (8:1-18)
     6. David and Mephibosheth (9:1-13)
     7. The War with Ammon and Syria (10:1-19)

     1. David's Great Sin (11:1-27)
     2. The Message of God and David's Confession. The Beginning of the
        Chastisements (12:1-31)
     3. Further Chastisement: Amnon, Tamar and Absalom (13:1-39)
     4. David and Absalom (14:1-33)
     5. Absalom's Conspiracy and David's Flight (15:1-37)
     6. The Sorrows and Testings of the King (16:1-23)
     7. Absalom, Ahitophel and Hushai (17:1-29)
     8. The Civil War and Absalom's Death (18:1-33)
     9. The Return of the King (19:1-43)
     10. The Revolt of Sheba (20:1-26)

     1. The Famine and the Wars with the Philistines (21:1-22)
     2. David's Song of Deliverance (22:1-51)
     3. The Last Words of David and the Record of the Mighty Men (23:1-39)
     4. David's Failure: the Altar on the Threshing Floor of Araunah

                         Analysis and Annotations


               1. David's Lamentation for Saul and Jonathan

                                 CHAPTER 1

     1. The Death of Saul and Jonathan announced to David (1:1-10)
     2. David's great Grief (1:11-12)
     3. The Amalekite slain (1:13-16)
     4. David's Lamentation (1:17-27)

     David heard of the death of Saul and Jonathan from the lips of the
Amalekite, who also brought him the crown and the bracelet of the dead
king. The story of this young man has been branded by some as a falsehood,
invented to gain favor from David. It is not necessary to reconcile the
supposed contradiction of the Amalekite's story with the account of Saul's
death in the last chapter of the preceding book, by saying the Amalekite
lied to David. We have explained this in the annotations of chapter 31.
When the Amalekite said to David, "So I stood upon him, and slew him,
because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen," he
referred to the fact that Saul had fallen upon his own sword, in committing
suicide and was in great suffering. And great was David's grief when he
hears the sad news. He and his companions wept and fasted in mourning over
Saul, Jonathan and the people of the Lord. Then he commanded the Amalekite
to be slain because he had smitten the Lord's anointed; thus he honored
Saul in his death, while the Amalekite received the punishment for his
deed. Then David broke out in his great lamentation over Saul and Jonathan.
The eighteenth verse as given in the authorized version is unintelligible.
The Hebrew reads "and he bade them teach the children of Judah the bow;"
the words "the use of" are supplied. Others read instead "the song of the
bow" and claim it has reference to this lamentation, which David taught
Judah. (See verse 22.) The book of Jasher (the upright) is never mentioned
again (Joshua 10:12-14). The lamentation of David is a wonderful outpouring
of soul. First he speaks of the calamity which has come to Israel in the
death of Saul and Jonathan (verses 19-22); then he extols the virtues of
both. What grace this manifests if we consider that Saul had hunted David
and put upon him so many afflictions! He does not refer to it in a single
word. Beautiful beyond description are his loving words on Jonathan.

          I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
          Very pleasant hast thou been unto me.
          Thy love to me was wonderful,
          Passing the love of women.

But there is one whose love is greater than David's love for Jonathan, even
our Lord Jesus Christ.

                     2. David Anointed King over Judah

                               CHAPTER 2:1-7

     1. David's inquiry of the Lord (2:1-3)
     2. Anointed king over Judah (2:4)
     3. His message to the men of Jabesh-gilead (2:5-7)

     The first thing mentioned of David after his lamentation over Saul and
Jonathan is that he inquired of the Lord. He would not do a single step
towards claiming the rights which belonged to him without consulting the
Lord. It shows how David, with all his faults, was in submission to the
Lord. He waits on the Lord ready to follow His guidance and in this David
acknowledged his complete dependence on Him who had chosen him as His King
over His people. In this he is a type also of our Lord Jesus. The answer
came to him at once that he was to go up into the cities of Judah. Then the
men of Judah came and anointed him king over the house of Judah. There is
nothing ostentatious about it nor does he take any steps whatever to extend
his God-given rights beyond the tribe of Judah. His first act as king was
to thank the men of Jabesh-gilead for the kindness they had done in the
burial of Saul. He also exhorted them to be strong and announced his
kingship over Judah.

               3. Abner's Revolt and the War which Followed

                              CHAPTER 2:8-32

     1. Abner makes Ish-bosheth king over Israel (2:8-11)
     2. The defeat of Abner (2:12-17)
     3. Abner and Joab and Joab's victory (2:18-32)

     God's king began his reign in quietness, and opposition and open
revolt followed at once. Abner, who had been the captain of Saul's host,
took a son of Saul by the name of Ish-bosheth and made him king in Gilead.
The original name of this son was "Esh-baal," which means "the fire of
Baal" (1 Chronicles 8:33). "Ish-bosheth" was his other name; it means "man
of shame." He seems to have been a weakling and a tool in Abner's hand.
Ish-bosheth's influence was soon extended over all Israel and the false
King ruled, while David was only acknowledged by the faithful men of Judah.
David's reign over Judah was seven years and six months. Here are faint
hints of what will be repeated in the future history of Israel. Another
Ish-bosheth, a pretender to the throne of Israel, the false king, will be
in the earth. He comes in his own name, with no claim whatever to the
throne. And the true King, like David, will only be acknowledged by a
faithful remnant of his people. The seven years and a half remind us of the
last period of Israel's history when these things come to pass. However,
Ish-bosheth's weakness and especially his end makes a fuller application on
these lines impossible.

     The other prominent person is Joab, the son of Zeruiah, who went out
with the servants of David. (Joab was David's nephew. See 1 Sam. 26:6; 1
Chronicles 2:16.) They met Abner's force about six miles northwest of
Jerusalem by the pool of Gibeon. Then followed at Abner's suggestion a
conflict between twelve young men of Benjamin, the subjects of Ish-bosheth,
and twelve of David's servants. A wicked scene followed. They slaughtered
each other at Helkathhazzurim, "the field of sharp swords," after which
there was a severe battle which ended with the defeat of Abner. All this
shows the sorrowful conditions which existed among Israel, foreshadowing
again the worse conditions throughout this age and especially at the close
of it. Then follows the record of the three sons of Zeruiah, Joab, Abishai
and Asahel. Asahel followed hard after Abner and though repeatedly warned
by Abner, continued in his pursuit till Abner in self-defense slew him. The
battle ended with the loss of nineteen servants of David and Asahel, while
Abner lost 360 men. "Shall the sword devour forever?" was Abner's question.
As long as God's true King does not occupy the throne, ruling in
righteousness and in peace, wars and bloodshed will continue. The sword
cannot be stopped till He reigns. In His coming kingdom nations will learn
war no more and beat their swords into plowshares.

                         4. Abner's Deeds and End

                                 CHAPTER 3

     1. The long war and its results (3:1)
     2. David's family (3:2-5)
     3. Abner's defiant deed (3:6-7)
     4. Abner and Ish-bosheth (3:8-11)
     5. Abner's defection to David (3:12)
     6. David's request (3:13-16)
     7. Abner with David (3:17-22)
     8. Abner's end (3:23-30)
     9. David's lamentation over Abner (3:31-39)

     The first verse speaks of the long war between the house of Saul and
the house of David. And David waxed stronger and stronger. The weakness of
the king in giving way to the flesh is next faithfully recorded; his
self-indulgence in his different marriages. Alas! he began his sowing in
the flesh from which later he was to reap such a sad harvest. Six sons are
mentioned, born to David by his six wives. Three of these sons became a
source of sorrow and grief to him. Ammon's vile deed is found in chapter
13. Absalom was a still greater trial to him, Adonijah became the rival of
Solomon (1 Kings 1:5). In this record of taking these different women as
wives, in this gross indulgence of the flesh, he prepared himself for the
great sin of his life. Disorder and much confusion followed. Abner's deed
in taking Rizpah insulted Saul's house and Ish-bosheth protested and
Abner's fury came upon the weakling whom he had made king. Then suddenly
Abner professed belief in David's God-given kingdom. His arrogant pride is
seen in verse 10; as if it was in his power to set up the throne of David
over all Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba. The poor counterfeit king was
silenced. Then we see Abner entering negotiations with David. Had David
again relapsed that he fell in with Abner? We do not hear a word that he
inquired of the Lord. He makes a condition under which Abner is to see his
face. Michal, Saul's daughter, the first wife he had, who was now the wife
of Phaltiell is to be brought to him. He then received her after his
request to Ish-bosheth, while her husband accompanied her as far as the
border of Judah. The subsequent history, Michal's mockery, shows that it
was a mistake for David to take her back. How different all would have been
if David had inquired of the Lord.

     Abner, the shrewd schemer, was then entertained by David in a great
banquet at which occasion he offered to make David ruler over all Israel.
And David listened and sent him away in peace. But was it God's way and
God's plan to have His anointed made king through such an instrument?
Abner's death frustrating his plans gives the answer. Joab, moved by envy,
jealousy and bitter hatred, slew Abner in the same way as he had slain his
brother Asahel. He died for the blood of Asahel he had shed. An insinuation
is made as if Joab's deed was justified as the avenger. This however could
not be sustained by the law for Abner's death in slaying Asahel was in
self-defence. But David cleared himself from so abominable a deed. "I and
my kingdom are guiltless before the LORD forever from the blood of Abner."
A public mourning is instituted in which Joab is forced to partake and the
king lamented over Abner. "And all the people took notice of it, and it
pleased them, as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people." The
king's wise behaviour had its effect upon the people and thus his kingdom
was strengthened.

                        5. The Death of Ish-bosheth

                                 CHAPTER 4

     1. Ish-bosheth in despair (4:1-3)
     2. Mephibosheth, the lame son (4:4)
     3. The end of Ish-bosheth (4:5-8)
     4. The punishment of the murderers (4:9-12)

     Abner's death meant the speedy end of Ish-bosheth's pretentious reign.
Baanah and Rechab were his captains and became his murderers. While
Ish-bosheth was resting in the heat of the day they sneaked in and murdered
the sleeping son of Saul, then brought the head to David. They claimed to
be instruments of God in the execution of the wicked deed, expecting
approval and a reward from David. But the king received them in a different
way. Here David's trust in Jehovah breaks through the dark clouds and the
King's heart is revealed. "As the LORD liveth, who hath redeemed my soul
out of all adversity." He acknowledges the Lord's gracious help in the past
and his present confidence in Him. His case had rested in Jehovah's hands
and in the ghastly deed of the two captains the King did not see Jehovah's
intervention in his behalf, but he looked upon them as murderers. Swift
judgment was executed upon them. David is now through these circumstances
the sole and undisputed claimant of the throne of Israel and his anointing
as king over all Israel must speedily follow. Through all the sad
occurrences since Abner had made Ish-bosheth king, David had maintained his
integrity. In all the evil deeds, the bloodshed and cold-blooded murders he
had no part. He acted in justice. In this at least he is a type of Him who
will reign over the earth in righteousness.

     We must not overlook verse 4 in which Jonathan's son Mephibosheth is
mentioned for the first time. He was the only representative of Saul's
line, a helpless cripple. His story and David's kindness to him we shall
soon follow.


                  1. David Anointed King over all Israel

                               CHAPTER 5:1-5

     1. David anointed king over all Israel (5:1-3)
     2. Duration of his reign (5:4-5)

     The events of the reign of David over Judah had a beneficial effect
upon all Israel. After Ish-bosheth's death all the tribes of Israel came to
David at Hebron. It is a blessed scene when they appear to anoint him King
over all Israel. 1 Chronicles 12 should here be consulted. In that chapter
the names of those are given who stood by David. In verse 38 we read: "All
these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to
Hebron, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest also of Israel
were of one heart to make David king." The coming of all Israel to Hebron
was one of the most magnificent spectacles in the history of the nation.
One only needs to take a pencil and add the numbers mentioned in 1 Chron.
12:24- 37 to find what a great army had gathered to make David king. There
were 1222 chiefs and 339,600 men. Here we see a united Israel swept by a
tremendous enthusiasm. Now they own him as their own bone and flesh; the
victories of the past are remembered as well as the divine promise that he,
David the Bethlehemite, should be the shepherd of Israel as well as their

     But there is coming for Israel a greater day than the day in Hebron,
when they anointed David king. It foreshadows but faintly the glorious day
when their long rejected King-Messiah, the Son of David, comes again. Then
they will own Him and He will own them. They will also know and remember
all God has done through Him. He will then indeed be the Shepherd and King
of Israel. All this and much more is foreshadowed in David's coronation and
his reign. David is the type of the coming reign of our Lord as "King of
Righteousness" while Solomon and his reign typify Him as "King of Peace."
And David made a covenant with them in Hebron as the Lord Jesus will enter
into covenant with the nation in the day of His return.

     Then the duration of David's reign is given. Seven years and six
months he reigned over Judah and over all Israel and Judah 33 years. The
record here does not speak of the great feast which was made at Hebron. We
find this also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:39-40. It is typical of the
time of joy and rejoicing in Israel and throughout the world, when the true
King has come. Then the great feast of which Isaiah speaks will take place
(Is. 25:6-10).

       2. David's Conquest of Zion and Victory over the Philistines

                              CHAPTER 5:6-25

     1. David's conquest of Zion (5:6-10)
     2. Hiram King of Tyre (5:11-12)
     3. David's additional concubines and wives (5:13-15)
     4. The victory over the Philistines (5:17-25)

     Zion is closely linked with David's anointing as king over all Israel.
Here 1 Chronicles 11 must be read for a more complete account of what took
place. Jerusalem is now to become the capital of the great kingdom. The
oldest name was Salem; the name of Jebus was given to it by the Jebusites
(Judges 19:10). After David's conquest the ancient name was restored and it
became known as Jerusalem ("habitation of peace"). The town had previously
been taken (Judges 1:8) but the stronghold of the upper city, Mount Zion,
remained in the hands of the Jebusites. David took the stronghold. Jebusite
means "the one who treads down." It reminds us of the words of our Lord,
"Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the
Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). Jerusalem and Zion are still trodden
down by the Gentiles. The day is coming when the King will end all this.
Jerusalem is yet to be "the city of the great King." (Ps. 48). Here we have
once more a prophetic foreshadowing of what will take place, only on a
larger scale, when He, who is greater than David, begins His long promised
reign in the midst of His people. After this we shall find much more about
Zion, especially in the prophets and in the psalms. It is the place Jehovah
has chosen (Ps. 132:13-14). To this place, where his throne was, David also
brought the ark. When our Lord establishes His kingdom, Zion will be the
glorious and the beautiful Place. "This is my rest forever; here will I
dwell; I have desired it" (Ps. 132:14). Then He will bless out of Zion (Ps.
128:5); and out of Zion shall go forth the law (Is. 2:3). He will be
enthroned upon the holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6); the rod of His strength
cometh out of Zion (Ps. 110:2); Zion will be the joy of the whole earth (Ps

     Then Hiram, the King of Tyre, is mentioned. He sent messengers to
David, as well as cedar trees, carpenters and masons, and they built David
a house. It must be understood that we have in this and the events which
follow not a strict chronology. The children mentioned here were born at a
later period. All is put in here to show how David grew great and that the
Lord was with him. Hiram, the Gentile king, and the messengers he sent, are
typical of that day, when our Lord reigns in Zion and "the Kings of
Tarshish and the isles shall bring presents"--when all nations shall serve
Him (Ps. 72:10-11).

     The Hebrew names of the eleven sons of David are of deep significance.
It seems the story of the redemption which is in Him, whom David
foreshadows, is made known in these names. Shammuah (heard); Shobab
(returning); Nathan (he is given); Solomon (peace); Ibhar (the Lord
chooses); Elishua (my God is salvation); Nepheg (budding); Japhia
(glorious); Elishama (God heareth); Eliada (whom God knoweth); Eliphalet
(my God is escape). This is a most blessed revelation contained in those
names; and some Christians can say there is no meaning in names! Read them
in their meaning and ponder over each as telling forth the very gospel
story from start to finish.

     Twice David enquired of the Lord concerning the Philistines. Once he
is told to go up and the Lord gave him the victory and he burned the images
of the Philistines. It is another picture of how the coming King will make
an end of idolatry. Again he asked the Lord and was told not to go up. Then
the Lord smote the Philistines Himself. In all David was obedient.

                        3. The Ark Brought to Zion

                                 CHAPTER 6

     1. The ark fetched by David (6:1-5)
     2. Uzzah: his error and death (6:6-9)
     3. The ark in the house of Obed-edom (6:10-11)
     4. The ark brought into David's city (6:12-19)
     5. Michal's mockery of David (6:20-23)

     It is of importance to read 1 Chronicles 13 for a better understanding
of how the ark was brought from Kirjathjearim to David's city. The book of
Chronicles contains these larger records because in that book these events
are described in their theocratic character, while in Samuel the outward
aspect of David's kingdom is followed. David issued the call that the
people with the priests and the Levites should gather to bring again the
ark of God (1 Chron. 12:2-3). However we do not read anything more about
the Levites, who alone were commissioned to carry the ark. It is evident
that David neglected to follow the divine instructions given in the law
concerning the handling of the ark. (See Numbers 4.) This neglect may be
traced to the fact that David did not inquire of the Lord. The way they
transported the ark was the way of the Philistines (1 Sam. 6:7). When Uzzah
put forth his hand to steady the ark, he was smitten for his error and
died. God had spoken to His people and taught them the lesson that the ways
of the Philistines and disobedience to His Word in holy things demands His
judgment. How many in the past and more so today act like Uzzah when in
service for God they employ the methods of the world and disregard entirely
His Word. Godly fear and faithful submission to the Word of God are
essentials in true service for God. Service without these is often a snare
and results in dishonour.

     Then the progress of the ark was arrested, because David filled with
fear would not remove it to his city. The ark found a resting place for
three months in the house of Obed-edom (servant of Edom); he was a Levite
and therefore authorized to care for the ark (1 Chron. 26:1-5). Blessing
rested upon his house. The judgment of Uzzah and the blessing of Obed-edom
had a great effect upon David. "So David went and brought up the ark of God
from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness." This is
all we find in our chapter. But how did he bring the ark up? 1 Chronicles
15 gives the answer. "Then David said, none ought to carry the ark of God
but the Levites; for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and
to minister unto Him for ever." The sons of Kohath, Merari, Gershom, etc.,
are given there. All is now done in accordance with the Word of God and
blessing follows. And David filled with divine joy danced, girded with a
linen ephod, before the Lord. After the ark had been set in its proper
place in the tabernacle which David had pitched and the burnt offerings and
peace offerings had been brought, he blessed the people in the name of the
Lord. In his dancing the king had taken a place amidst the people. And
Michal, who is called here not the wife of the king, but "the daughter of
Saul," despised David. She looked upon David's holy joy as an indecent
humiliation, while the king declared he would even be more vile than thus
and base in his own sight. What a contrast with the pride of Saul which is
now manifested in his daughter Michal. And what happened when the ark had
been put into the tabernacle? 1 Chronicles 16:4-36 tells us how David
appointed Levites to minister and then he delivered into the hands of Asaph
and his brethren a great Psalm of praise. And that sublime utterance looks
forward to a far more glorious day, when the Lord dwells in Zion in the
midst of an obedient people. Then the heavens will be glad and the earth
rejoice and among all the nations it will be said "Jehovah reigneth"; and
even nature will sing in the presence of the Lord (1 Chron. 16:31-36).

              4. The Lord's Promise to David and the Covenant

                                 CHAPTER 7

     1. David's desire (7:1-3)
     2. Nathan receives the message for David (7:4-17)
     3. David in the presence of Jehovah (7:18-29)

     We reach now a climax. The Lord speaks and reveals His great purposes
He had in His eternal councils for David, the king after His own heart. We
behold the king in peace sitting in his own house; he had rest from all his
enemies. In pious meditation the heart of the king had but one great
thought, one great ambition. The prophet Nathan is in his presence and to
him he speaks. "See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God
dwelleth within curtains." And Nathan told him to do all that was in his
heart. But he had spoken without divine authority. God knew all David
planned and what was in his heart. While His prophet encouraged David to
carry out his wishes, God meant otherwise.

     That night Nathan received an important message. The Lord told Nathan
that David thought of building Him a house, but that the Lord would build
David a house. Then He promises him a son. "He shall build an house for my
name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever." Solomon is
first in view, but he is only a type of Him, who said while on earth "a
greater than Solomon is here." In Christ alone this great covenant-promise
is to be fulfilled. Chastening for his offspring is announced, but a
disannulment of the covenant is impossible, for God's gifts and calling are
without repentance. "But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took
it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom
shall be established forever before thee, thy throne shall be established
forever." More than that, this great covenant was confirmed by the oath of
Jehovah. "Once I have sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David.
His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me" (Ps.
89:35-36). And when He was about to come, the Son of David according to the
flesh, but also David's Lord, He who spoke these words to Nathan, it was
divinely announced "the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His
father David. And He shall reign forever and of His kingdom there shall be
no end" (Luke 1:32-33). That throne and that kingdom He has not yet
received. He fills the Father's throne in the highest heaven, but all
heaven and earth wait for the appointed time when He will come again to
claim His crown-rights and receive the world-wide kingdom, which David in
inspired songs of praise so often beheld (Ps. 72).

     "And this prophecy refers neither only to Solomon nor only to Christ;
nor has it a twofold application, but it is a covenant-promise which,
extending along the whole line, culminates in the Son of David, and in all
its fulness applies only to Him. These three things did God join in it, of
which one necessarily implies the other, alike in the promise and in the
fulfilment: a unique relationship, a unique kingdom, and a unique
fellowship and service resulting from both. The unique relationship was
that of Father and Son, which in all its fulness only came true in Christ
(Heb. 1:5). The unique kingdom was that of Christ, which would have no end
(Luke 1:32, 33; John 3:35). And the unique sequence of it was that brought
about through the temple of His body (John 2:19), which will appear in its
full proportions when the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven (Rev.

     "Such was the glorious hope opening up wider and wider, till at its
termination David could see 'afar off' the dawn of the bright morning of
eternal glory; such was the destiny and the mission which, in His infinite
goodness, God assigned to His chosen servant. Much there was still in him
that was weak, faltering, and even sinful; nor was he, whose was the
inheritance of such promises, even to build an earthly temple. Many were
his failings and sins, and those of his successors; and heavy rods and sore
stripes were to fall upon them. But that promise never failed." (A.
Edersheim, Bible History)

     And to this we add, nor will the promise ever fail in the future. Even
now all is preparing for Him who alone is the Hope of the world. "Thy
Kingdom come" is still the prayer, nor will it ever come till the King's
coronation day arrives. And Nathan delivered faithfully the great covenant
message. David's response is beautiful, yea it measures up to the fullness
of grace the gracious Lord had bestowed upon him. He does not seek the
fellowship of Nathan to talk over this unspeakably Wonderful promise. He
sat before the Lord. All the thoughts in him, planning to work and to build
the Lord a house, were forever hushed. He is in His presence as a
worshipper, pouring out his grateful heart. Jehovah's grace has touched the
innermost cords of his soul; they give forth their sweet vibrations, which
ascend in a holy melody to the courts above. He is humbled, bowed in the
dust. "Who am I, Lord God? and what is my house that thou hast brought me
hitherto?"--He believes all he has heard; he trusts in every word. His
prayer is "do as thou hast said." What an hour it was when the king with
the message of grace and mercy was in the presence of the Lord! May we who
are the Recipients of even greater grace in our Lord Jesus Christ respond
to that grace as David did.

                      5. The Extension of His Kingdom

                                 CHAPTER 8

     1. The Philistines and Moab smitten (8:1-2)
     2. Hadadezer overthrown (8:3-8)
     3. Further conquests and triumphs (8:9-14)
     4. David's reign and his associates (8:15-18)

     Great conquests and victories follow. David arose from the presence of
the Lord to go forth to conquer. With such a message he had heard, assuring
him of the Lord's presence and power, of the success of his kingdom, he
began to extend his kingdom over the different nations which surrounded the
land. The Lord was with him and preserved him withersoever he went. The
history of these wars for the enlargement of the kingdom of David we shall
have occasion to follow a little closer in our annotations of the first
book of Chronicles. The extension of the kingdom of our Lord when He comes
and begins His kingly work among the nations, to rule them with a rod of
iron, is foreshadowed in these events.

     When we read in verse 15 of David's reign executing judgment and
justice we have another faint picture of the rule of the coming King. The
leading officers of the kingdom are mentioned. Joab was the general over
his army; Jehosaphat the recorder. Zadok and Ahimelech were the priests;
Seraiah the scribe. Benaiah had charge of the Cherethites and Pelethites;
these two names mean "executioners and runners, while David's sons were
also ruling with him. Order prevailed in all things. When that true kingdom
will be established on earth there will also be those who rule under the
King, who have charge over five or ten cities (Luke 19:17- 18). David's
sons who ruled with him may represent typically believers who are sons of
God in Christ and fellow heirs with Him.

                         6. David and Mephibosheth

                                 CHAPTER 9

     1. Mephibosheth brought to David (9:1-6)
     2. Grace and mercy shown to him (9:7-13)

     The story of Mephibosheth is the first thing mentioned after the
government of David had been fully established. Typically it reveals the
gospel in a beautiful way, and dispensationally the kindness of God which
will be manifested in the coming kingdom. Mephibosheth is a type of the
sinner and the condition which he is in. He was helpless, being lame of
both feet. How he became lame is found in chapter 4:4. He fell and became
lame, a helpless cripple. It reminds us of the fall of man and the helpless
condition into which sin has put man. Therefore he could not come to David.
He had to be carried into the king's presence. The sinner cannot come of
himself to the Saviour; He has to seek him out. And David wanted to show
him "the kindness of God" for Jonathan's sake. "Thus the kindness and love
of God our Saviour toward man hath appeared" (Titus 3:4). God for Christ's
sake shows His great kindness to sinful man. Mephibosheth means "shame out
of the mouth"; when he hears from David's lips what kindness was prepared
for him he confessed with his mouth his own shame and nothingness. "What is
thy servant that thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am?" And what
words of grace came from David's lips! Surely the kindness of God is here
fully made known. He is lifted from his low place of shame to take a place
at the King's table "as one of the King's sons." It is the kindness of God
as made known in the gospel of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. He takes us
out of our shame and makes us one of His sons. "So Mephibosheth dwelt in
Jerusalem; for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on
both feet." When the kingdom has come the King will show such grace and
kindness to the poor and needy (Isaiah 11:1-5; Ps. 72:1-4).

                   7. The War with Ammon and the Syrians

                                CHAPTER 10

     1. David and Hanun (10:1-5)
     2. Ammon and the Syrians smitten (10:6-19)

     The chapter with the war against Ammon and the Syrians is the prelude
to the great sin of David. While Joab is carrying on the siege of Rabbah,
the last city of the Ammonites, David, no doubt flushed with the great
victory and prosperity, remained in his house and committed his awful sin.
The war with Ammon originated through the insults which Hanun the King of
Ammon had heaped upon David's ambassadors. David wanted to show kindness
also to Hanun as his father Nahash had shown kindness to David. We have no
record of this kindness. In this endeavour David did certainly not follow
the right course, for Ammon was an enemy, and while Nahash showed some
kindness to David during his exile, he also had reproached Israel and was
ready to thrust out the right eyes of the men of Jabesh-gilead (1 Sam.
11:1-3). Hanun's deed in treating David's peaceful messengers in so
shameful a way showed that he was a wicked man like his father and not
worthy of David's kindness. Had he inquired of the Lord the messengers
would have been spared these indignities. Ammon then formed an alliance
with the Syrians, but Joab smote them. The greatest victory is recorded in
verses 15-19. The king appeared himself to lead his hosts against the
mighty foe and their overthrow followed. It foreshadows the day of final
victory over the rebellious nations, led by the beast (Rev. 19:19-20) when
the true King comes to fight against those nations.


                           1. David's Great Sin

                                CHAPTER 11

     1. David's great sin (11:1-5)
     2. David sends for Uriah (11:6-13)
     3. The murder of Uriah (11:14-25)
     4. David makes Bath-sheba his wife (11:26-27)

     We see the king once more in his house. He sent Joab, his servants and
all Israel to battle again against Ammon. Was it not his business as king
to go forth with Israel as he had done before? Instead he remains in ease
and comfort at home. Evidently he rested all day on his couch, during the
heat of the day, and when the cool evening came he walked upon the roof of
his house. He had been in self-indulgence and was self-satisfied with his
great achievements. The spirit which characterized later Nebuchadnezzar
when he walked in his palace (Dan 4:4) puffed up with pride, which preceded
his great humiliation, was no doubt David's spirit also. Had he remained in
the presence of the Lord, humble and depending on Him, as we saw him after
the Lord had spoken through Nathan (7:18) this awful sin would not have
happened. How often it has been repeated in the experiences of God's
people! Nor did this great sin like a mighty giant ensnare him suddenly.
The way for it had been prepared. He had given way to the flesh before in
taking wives and concubines. We read nothing of self-restraint or
self-judgment in his life up to his fall. And had he not disobeyed the law
in multiplying wives unto himself? It is written: "Neither shall he
multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away" (Deut. 17:17). Had
he really walked constantly in the presence of the Lord he would have
heeded the warning of His law. What warning there is for all believers! The
flesh is the same today as it ever was; it does not change. We are told "to
make no provision for the flesh" (Rom. 13:14). Paraphrased this means, do
not nourish the flesh by the indulgence of it; flee fleshly, youthful
lusts. And now the culmination is reached. "I made a covenant with mine
eyes; How then should I look upon a maid;" thus spake job (job 31:1). David
knew no such covenant. He looks where he should not have looked and sin
soon follows. It is a solemn illustration of James 1:14-15. "But every man
is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when
lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished,
bringeth forth death." The king of all Israel had become another Achan. "I
saw--I coveted--I took" (Joshua 7:20.)

     "It need scarcely be pointed out, how this truthful account of the
sins of Biblical heroes evinces the authenticity and credibility of the
Scriptural narratives. Far different are the legendary accounts which seek
to palliate the sins of Biblical personages, or even to deny their guilt.
Thus the Talmud denies the adultery of David on the ground that every
warrior had, before going to the field, to give his wife a divorce, so that
Bathsheba was free. We should, however, add, that this view was
controverted" (A. Edersheim.)

     And sin follows sin. The offspring of sin is sin. What cunningness and
deception followed. But honest Uriah frustrates his wicked plan. Did not
David's conscience smart under it? No doubt it was deadened. Then he
becomes actually the murderer of Uriah the Hittite. When the news of the
death of Uriah is announced to David, hypocrisy is crowned in the words of
the King, "Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one
as another." And here we read still the dreadful record, the sin of David
and how God dealt with it.

     "David, too, has faced that ever since, and faces it still: he will
face it ever. It is put away, that sin, yet it remains, and will remain,
type of all sins of his people, and of God's dealing with them: out of the
holy light of eternity they will never pass,--out of our memories never!
Here is man, here is his condemnation,--redeemed, saved, justified man!
Thyself, reader; myself Cease ye from man forever!--from ourselves, sinner
or saint! Turn we to God forever, and let us ascribe greatness and
salvation to Him alone.

     "This is what an unexercised conscience can bring a David to. This is
what lack of self-judgment, with temptation and opportunity, may make a
saint! Shall we not cry afresh, with David himself, 'Search me, O God, and
know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting'?" (Numerical Bible)

     And seven days later the equally guilty woman becomes David's wife.
And she became the mother of Solomon. We find her mentioned in the
genealogy of Matthew 1. Surely grace and mercy covered their sin. Yet what
a trail of sorrow, misery and unrest follows, We shall find in chapters
which follow the awful results. Incest, fratricide, rebellion, civil war
and the king a fugitive! What a man soweth that he will also reap.

               2. The Message of God and David's Confession
                  and the Beginning of the Chastisement

                                CHAPTER 12

     1. The Lord's message through Nathan (12:1-4)
     2. David's anger (12:5-6)
     3. Thou art the man! (12:7-9)
     4. The chastisement (12:10-12)
     5. David's confession (12:13)
     6. The death of the child announced (12:14)
     7. The death of the child and David's grief (12:15-23)
     8. Solomon born (12:24-25)
     9. Rabbah taken (12:26-31)

     The Lord was displeased with what David had done. Nathan comes with
his message in the form of a parable. His outburst of anger and
condemnation of the injustice done to the poor man shows that he did not
think of his own case. Yet sorrow and unrest were his portion; he tried to
cover up his sin and as a result was in the deepest agony. Psalms like the
sixth, the thirty-eighth, the thirty-second and others tell us of the deep
soul exercise through which he passed. Then Nathan pointed at him with his
soul piercing, "Thou art the man!" First the prophet tells him all the Lord
had done for him; he reminds him of all God's kindness. What had David
done? He had despised the Lord's commandment; had killed Uriah the Hittite
with the sword and taken his wife. Then the chastisement is announced. He
had slain Uriah with the sword of the children of Ammon--the sword should
now never depart from his house. He had taken Uriah's wife--others should
take his wives. He had done it secretly--but, said Jehovah, I will do this
thing before all Israel, and before the sun. We shall find the sentence
executed in chapters 13:28-39; 16:21-22; 18:14.

     Then the King's heart broke. "I have sinned against the LORD." It was
at that time that, his soul filled with deepest sorrow, and yet illumined
with the light from above, he uttered that wonderful penitential Psalm, the
fifty-first. "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in
Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear
when Thou judgest." All the inward corruption now is revealed to him, as
many a saint after him has found out by bitter experience that in our flesh
there dwelleth no good thing. "Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin
did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 51:5). And when he prayed "take not Thy
Holy Spirit from me"--he must have had a vision of Saul, the mad King, when
the Spirit had left him and an evil one possessed his heart. But David knew
God and God knew David. He is in the light and uncovers all in His
presence. Then Nathan announced the divine mercy, "the LORD hath also taken
away thy sin." And Nathan added "because by this deed thou hast given great
occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is
born unto thee shall surely die." That was the bitterness of it. Up to the
present time infidels and rejectors of the Word of God point to David's sin
and blaspheme, though the very things they sneer at are the things which
they practice. The child died and David's grief was great. All his fasting
and night long prayer did not change the divine sentence. But he also knew
the comfort of hope and expresses it beautifully. "I shall go to him, but
he shall not return unto me."

     And has it no meaning that Solomon's birth is recorded immediately
after these sad and solemn incidents? Solomon means "peaceful." Peace had
come to his heart; the divine favour was restored unto him, yet the
chastisement grievous and sore would follow him in the future. And then the
Lord named also Solomon. He called him "Jedediah." This means "beloved of
Jehovah." He is the blessed type of God's own Son. For us He is "peace"--He
who hath made peace and our sin is covered by His precious blood. To God He
is "the Beloved." The record of the fall of Rabbah closes this chapter.
What is recorded in verse 31 was cruel and barbarous. (However, there is a
doubt about the translation. It has been rendered in the following way:
"And he set them to saws and iron picks and iron axes and made them labor
at the brick kiln.") Ammon did horrible things to the women of Israel. (See
Amos 1:13.) A fearful retribution came upon them. How often it has been
repeated in history, even down to the 20th century with all its boasted
civilization, now collapsed in the greatest and most awful war the world
has ever witnessed. And thus it will continue to the end, till the true
King comes.

            3. Further Chastisement: Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom

                                CHAPTER 13

     1. Amnon's wicked desire (13:1-5)
     2. The incest (13:6-14)
     3. His hatred (13:15-18)
     4. Amnon murdered (13:19-36)
     5. Absalom's flight (13:37-39)

     "Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house."
This was Jehovah's sentence and it is now carried out. The evil which he
had nourished in his heart, the passion which he had fed now breaks out in
his own family. His oldest sons and Tamar, a daughter of David, half sister
to Amnon, are the chief actors in the first tragedy. Amnon means
"faithful." Thus he should have been, but he is the very opposite. Brought
up in the midst of scenes of license, as it must have been in David's
harem, the lust of the flesh gets the upper hand and the awful deed, a
positive transgression of the law (Lev. 20:17) is committed. The deed had
been precipitated by a satanic adviser, Jonadab, a subtle man, and when it
was done violent hate gave way to the violent passion of Amnon. Unhappy
Tamar, outraged, insulted and hated, appears with her virgin-princess gown
torn, ashes on her head, her hand on top of her head (the oriental way of
expressing a heavy burden) and crying, and her brother Absalom discovers
the reason of her sorrow. He then hated his brother Amnon. David heard of
it also and was very wroth, but he made no attempt to deal with his son. We
do not read a word that he even rebuked him. "The gloss of the Septuagint
is likely to be correct, that David left unpunished the incest of Amnon
with Tamar, although committed under peculiarly aggravating circumstances,
on account of his partiality to him as being his first born son. This
indulgence on the part of his father may also account for the daring
recklessness which marked Amnon's crime. But a doting father, smitten with
moral weakness, might find in the remembrance of his own past sin an excuse
for delay, if not a barrier to action; for it is difficult to wield a heavy
sword with a maimed arm" (History of Judah and Israel).

     After two years the reckoning day comes. Absalom (the father of peace)
becomes the murderer of his brother. It was an awful deed. In the midst of
merrymaking, Amnon filled with wine, with no chance to repent, is cruelly
slain. The sword is unsheathed and fell upon David's house. The harvest is
on. What a man soweth that he will reap-murder for murder. It was an awful
blow to David, for Amnon, his beloved first-born, the son of Ahinoam, was
dead. Exaggerated tidings reach the court of David. "Absalom hath slain all
the King's sons and there is not one of them left." And wicked Jonadab, the
instigator of Amnon's crime, appears again and acts as comforter of the
king. Jonadab is one of the most abominable characters in Bible history. We
do not read of him again. Absalom, the fratricide, fled to Talmai, his
maternal grandfather. He remained there three years; so this chapter covers
a period of five years. Alas! who was responsible for it all? The scenes of
lust and murder, outrage and bloodshed, revolt and rebellion, sorrow upon
sorrow, grief upon grief, start with David's great sin. Pardoned he was,
restored in every sense of the word, yet God maintains His holiness and
chastised His servant.

                           4. David and Absalom

                                CHAPTER 14

     1. Joab's scheme (14:1-3)
     2. The woman of Tekoah before the king (14:4-20)
     3. Joab brings Absalom to Jerusalem (14:21-24)
     4. Absalom's beauty (14:25-27)
     5. Absalom sees his father (14:28-33)

     In all these records of those sad events we hear not a word that David
inquired of the Lord. Joab now appears upon the scene again and that for
evil, though he did not mean to do evil to the king. He concocts a scheme
by which Absalom is to be brought back into the favor of the king. This he
must have tried many times before, for verses 19 and 22 indicate this. It
seems almost as if Joab imitated Nathan, when he came with his message to
David. But God had not sent him and David's conscience was not touched. The
wisdom he used was not the wisdom from above, but the wisdom of a cunning
man. The whole story was deception and "the wise woman" of Tekoah lent
herself as a willing instrument. And David finds out that it is all a plot
and, blinded by a mere love for Absalom, without thinking of the claims of
God in this case, he becomes a willing victim to the scheme of Joab. And so
Absalom was brought back. The King commands, "Let him turn to his own
house, and let him not see my face." It was an evil hour when it happened.
Absalom's rebellion and the king's exile were the fruit of the unscrupulous
plot of Joab.

     Absalom's physical beauty was great with magnificent hair. (The
statement that his hair weighed 200 shekels is undoubtedly the error of a
scribe who copied the manuscript. The Hebrew letters which stand for 20 and
for 200 are similar. It should no doubt be 20 shekels.) He was thus fitted
to do the work of winning the people to himself and became the leader of a
rebellion. The deed he had done in avenging the crime against his sister
was most likely looked upon by the mass of the people as a noble and heroic
deed. That behind the beautiful exterior there was a proud, violent and
evil spirit may be seen in his deed, when after Joab's refusal to come to
him, he set the barley field of Joab on fire. Then a reconciliation between
David and Absalom followed: "Once more we notice here the consequences of
David's fatal weakness, as manifested in his irresolution and half
measures. Morally paralysed, so to speak, in consequence of his own guilt,
his position sensibly and increasingly weakened in popular estimation, that
series of disasters, which had formed the burden of God's predicted
judgments, now followed in the natural sequence of events. If ever before
his return from Geshur Absalom had been a kind of popular hero, his
presence in Jerusalem for two years in semi-banishment must have increased
the general sympathy."

                5. Absalom's Conspiracy and David's Flight

                                CHAPTER 15

     1. Absalom steals the hearts of the men of Israel (15:1-6)
     2. His conspiracy (15:7-12)
     3. The flight of the king (15:13-37)

     The beautiful prince gradually prepared for the great conspiracy of
which we read now and which made of his own father the Lord's anointed, an
exile. Chariots and horses with fifty men to run before him won no doubt
the admiration of the people. His evident interest in their welfare,
kissing those who sought his presence and advice, endeared him still more
to the men of Israel. To this must be added his open words, which must have
quickly circulated among the people, "Oh, that I were made judge in the
land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I
would do him justice."

     This continued for about four years. ("Forty" is incorrect. Ancient
versions have "four years" which we take is the correct number. Others have
suggested that the 40 years should be reckoned from David's anointing (1
Sam. 16:13). This, however, is unlikely.) During this time he stole the
hearts of the men of Israel. All is now ripe for the great rebellion. He
lies to his father about an alleged vow he had made at Geshur. The
unsuspecting King said, "Go in peace." So he arose and went to Hebron. The
signal is given at which all the tribes of Israel were to say, "Absalom
reigneth in Hebron." Then he sent for David's counsellor, Ahitophel. He was
away from Jerusalem at Giloh, a short distance from Hebron, which would
seem that he also was in league with Absalom. Ahitophel (the brother of
folly) was the grandfather of Bath-sheba. As his name so was his deed in
joining the revolution, through which he may have thought of avenging the
shame which had been put upon his family by David's sin.

     When David hears the news he said to his servants who were with him in
Jerusalem, "Arise and let us flee." Fear now takes hold on him. He feared
for himself and for his city. Yet he passed through the deepest
soul-exercise and clung to the Lord in all the chastisement which followed,
stroke after stroke, upon him. The third Psalm gives the culmination of
this. It bears the inscription, "A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom
his son." In spite of his fears he trusted the Lord. "But Thou, Oh LORD,
art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter up of mine head" (Ps. 3:3). It
is claimed that Psalm 49 also refers to this period of his life. If that is
correct then David was sick at the time of Absalom's rebellion. Verse 9 in
that Psalm would have a meaning in connection with Ahitophel, the traitor.
John 13:18 makes it clear that Judas Iscariot is predicted; but Ahitophel
is a type of Judas, like him he was a suicide. Another Psalm which was
probably written during the rebellion of Absalom and which speaks of
Ahitophel's treachery is Psalm 55. The king and his household left the city
and all the people after him. All the Cherethites and Pelethites
(executioners and runners) and six hundred which came after him from Gath
accompanied the King. And not all was bitterness. Ittai (with Jehovah) the
Gittite, and his devotion to the King, must have greatly comforted David's
heart. He was a stranger and an exile, who had come but yesterday to David.
He told him to return to abide with the king (that is, Absalom). Beautiful
is his answer, which strongly reminds us of the blessed words of Ruth, the
Moabitess (Ruth 1:16). What noble purpose he expresses! He wants to be with
the king in life or in death. Grace has linked us even closer with our
Lord. Ittai in his devotion and attachment to the king is a blessed type of
those who are true to the Lord in the days of His rejection.

     And there was much weeping as David passed over Kidron. Our Lord
passed over that brook also to enter the garden (John 18:1) where He
offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears. The ark
had been carried along, but now the king directed Zadok to carry it back to
the city. "if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me
again, and show me both it and his habitation." Beautiful it is to see that
in all his great sorrow, conscious that it was the hand of the Lord which
chastised him, in all his affliction he does not forget the Lord. He trusts
in His mercy. Deep submission breathes in these words.

     What a sight the weeping king, barefooted, his head covered, ascending
Olivet! A type of Him who also ascended Olivet and wept (Luke 19:41). Then
Hushai (hasty) met David. Alas! for the evidence of unbelief in the king,
in planning to have Hushai return to the city and feign friendship for
Absalom so as to defeat the counsel of Ahitophel.

                  6. The Sorrows and Testings of the King

                                CHAPTER 16

     1. Lying Ziba (16:1-4)
     2. Shimei curses and stones David (16:5-14)
     3. Absalom enters Jerusalem (16:15-19)
     4. Ahitophel's wicked counsel (16:20-23)

     Ziba in great craftiness meets the exiled king with provisions and
acts as the false accuser of Mephibosheth. And David hastily puts all that
belongs to Mephibosheth into his hands. Strange that David could believe in
the falsehood of Ziba. How could one who was a helpless cripple aspire to
possess a kingdom? Mephibosheth had been deceived (19:26) by Ziba and David
readily believed the lying story.

     Shimei (my fame) appeared, cursing David, stoning him and his
servants. His accusation that he was responsible for "all the blood of the
house of Saul" was unfounded and unjust. He was not responsible for the
death of Saul and Jonathan, and equally guiltless of the death of Abner and
Ish-bosheth. And yet David saw something else in the curses of Shimei and
in calling him a bloody man. The blood of Uriah which he had shed must have
suddenly come to his mind. And when Abishai offers to kill Shimei, David
rebuked him. (See Luke 9:52-56.) "Let him curse, because the LORD hath said
to him, Curse David"--"Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath
bidden him." He realizes Shimei is but an instrument in the Lord's hands;
He had permitted it and David acknowledges thus that he had deserved the
curses. "It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the
LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day." His eyes now look to
the Lord whose chastening hand rested so heavily upon him.

     Absalom is now in Jerusalem and Hushai succeeds in his commission
given to him by David. He deceives Absalom. Whom did Hushai mean, when he
said, "Whom the LORD and this people, and all the men of Israel choose, his
will I be, and with him will I be"? They can only be applied to David; most
likely in his heart he meant David. But it was flattery which wicked
Absalom gladly accepted. Absalom followed the vile counsel of Ahitophel and
committed the unnatural crime to show to all Israel that the breach between
him and his father David was beyond remedy. God's predicted judgment upon
David had come literally true. (See chapter 12:11-12.) The world will yet
find out that God's judgments, though long delayed, will find ultimately
their literal fulfilment.

                     7. Absalom, Ahitophel, and Hushai

                                CHAPTER 17

     1. The counsel of Ahitophel and Hushai (17:1-14)
     2. The counsel made known to David (17:15-22)
     3. Ahitophel commits suicide (17:23)
     4. Absalom pitched in Gilead (17:24-26)
     5. The kindness of Shobi, Machir and Barzillai (17:27-29)

     Ahitophel's counsel was aimed at the person of David only. He wanted
to have him killed and thus by the death of the one man bring all Israel
back. But Ahitophel had not reckoned with David's Lord, who loved him and
in all the chastisement through which he had to pass, was still his Lord
and his Keeper. It was not Hushai who defeated the counsel of Ahitophel,
but the Lord. "For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of
Ahitophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom."
Hushai was evidently not present when Ahitophel spoke. When he came to
Absalom and he asked his opinion he gave a different advice which Absalom
and all the men of Israel adopted. The Lord gave the counsel through Hushai
and then made Absalom and his men to follow the advice of Hushai. Hushai
then communicated with Zadok and Abiathar as David had advised him. We do
not follow the interesting story in its details. David heard of the counsel
and the uncertainty of Absalom's movement and passed over Jordan into
safety. Thus through Hushai's conspiracy, acting as a spy for David, the
king had been saved. But would he have been lost if Hushai had not been
acting the spy? The Lord would not have forsaken the king and though He
used Hushai's counsel yet David was the loser after all. He lost the
opportunity of seeing the Lord's power and intervention in his behalf. And
how much we also lose by want of faith in Him, with whom nothing is too

     Ahitophel seeing his counsel defeated and unable to slay the king set
his house in order and committed suicide. As stated before he is a type of
Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of our Lord, as Ahitophel was the betrayer of
David. Like Ahitophel Judas hanged himself (Matt. 27:5).

                   8. The Civil War and Absalom's Death

                                CHAPTER 18

     1. The battle in the forest of Ephraim (18:1-8)
     2. The death of Absalom (18:9-18)
     3. The tidings of his death and David's grief (18:19-33)

     And now everything is ready for the battle and the victory. The army
of David consisted of three divisions, Joab, Abishai and the faithful Ittai
had the command. David was ready to go forth with his warriors, but the
people refused to let him go. What a testimony they gave concerning him!
"Thou art worth ten thousand of us. But of Him, who according to the flesh
is the Son of David, we say, "He alone is worthy." The king then stood by
the gate of Mahanaim to see the departure of his troops. As his generals
Joab, Abishai and Ittai left him he gave them the message, "Deal gently
with the young man, even with Absalom." The battle took place in a wild
jungle forest, most likely with many steep rocks and gulches. Absalom lost
20,000 men "and the forest (on account of rocks and gulches) devoured more
people that day than the sword devoured."

     Absalom fled, but his flight was arrested when his head caught in the
bough of an oak, as Josephus states, entangled by his hair. "And he was
taken up between the heaven and the earth and the mule that was under him
went away." The first one who saw him would not smite him, not for a
thousand shekels of silver, for he had heard the king's request. Then Joab,
unscrupulous Joab, whose scheme had brought Absalom back into the presence
of the king, took three darts (literally "staves") and thrust them through
the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive. Most likely the unfortunate
rebel son was unconscious through the impact with the tree. The armour
bearers made a complete end of him. Joab's deed was unjustifiable in view
of the king's command to deal gently with Absalom. Absalom's body was cast
into a pit and covered with a very great heap of stones, a criminal's
monument. He had looked for a more honorable death, for he had reared a
pillar in his lifetime, which he called after his own name, "for he said, I
have no son to keep my name in remembrance." Those who claim that the books
of Samuel are a patchwork of a number of writers who made use of different
sources, refer us to chapter 14:27 and point out the discrepancy. But why
should there be? Absalom may have put up this monument before he had any
sons, or he may have lost his two sons.

     And then comes the record of how the tidings were carried to David.
The watchman announces that he recognizeth in the swift runner Ahimaaz the
son of Zadok. "And the King said, He is a good man, and cometh with good
tidings." All is well--is his message, while the anxious father-heart but
paying little attention to the victory won, inquired for the young man
Absalom. Cushi the second runner makes his appearance and he carries the
tidings of Absalom's death, which he transmits to David in a tender and
cautious manner. And then that grief. How pathetic! The weeping King,
crying out over and over again: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!
Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

     "The conduct of David in reference to his profligate son, is certainly
extraordinary, but is not occasioned by weakness of character, which would
be inconsistent with the judicial severity with which he banished him from
his presence during five years. The shameful and sinful conduct of Absalom
may be viewed in two aspects: it exhibits, on the one hand, the operation
of the curse which David's sin brought upon his house (2 Sam. 12:10), and
the influence of the iniquity of the fathers, which is visited upon the
children (Exod. 20:5); it exhibits, on the other hand, Absalom's own
degeneracy and profligacy, which fit him to be the bearer of the
family-curse. It was not in the latter, but in the former aspect, that
David regarded the conduct of Absalom, for his own guilt is so grievous in
his eyes, that, in comparison with it, he deems Absalom's wickedness to be
inconsiderable. Hence arises the deep and boundless compassion with which
he surveys his reprobate son. David's treatment of Shimei may be regarded
in the same light; his consciousness of his own great guilt causes him to
overlook the guilt of that criminal." (J.H. Kurtz, Sacred History.)

                         9. The Return of the King

                                CHAPTER 19

     1. The continued grief of the king (19:1-8)
     2. The return of the king (19:9-16)
     3. Mercy shown to Shimei (19:17-23)
     4. Mephibosheth's joy (19:24-30)
     5. Barzillai and Chimham (19:31-40)
     6. Strife between Judah and Israel (19:41-43)

     What grief must have been David's that "the victory of that day was
turned into mourning"? And the people went about on tip-toe, like people
ashamed after defeat. A great stillness pervaded everything, only broken by
the loud and wailing voice of David: "O, my son Absalom, O, Absalom my son,
my son!" All mourned with him. But what a man must this David have been to
endear himself to his men, that his personal grief became so completely

     Then Joab acted. He speaks as a wise statesman. It was a bold rebuke,
but well deserved, for David's continued mourning was more than weakness;
it was selfishness. That he greatly resented the words of condemnation of
Joab may be learned from the fact that immediately after he appointed Amasa
as commander in chief of his army instead of Joab. The word was also spoken
to bring the king back to Jerusalem from exile and he returned.

     Once more Shimei appears upon the scene; he brings with him a thousand
men of Benjamin and Ziba also. Shimei fell down before the King and
implored his forgiveness. Though Abishai suggested his death, the mercy
Shimei craved was readily granted and the King sware unto him. But the
mercy shown was at the expense of righteousness. The ultimate fate of
Shimei we shall find recorded in 1 Kings 2.

     Mephibosheth appears next with undressed feet, untrimmed hair and
unwashed clothes; he had been thus since the flight of the King. Ziba's
deception practised on the King is now discovered. But David's conduct
towards lame Mephibosheth cannot be justified. The impatience David showed
when Mephibosheth speaks is proof that he felt guilty at the rash word he
spoke to Ziba. Then he tells Mephibosheth that he and Ziba should divide
the land. This was injustice. The deception of Ziba had deserved
punishment. Beautiful is Mephibosheth's answer. It shows a love and
devotion which is almost unsurpassed in the Bible. "Yea, let him take all,
forasmuch as my lord the King is come again in peace to his own house." It
was a sweet echo of Jonathan's love for David. It hardly needs to be
pointed out that in all this David still acts as a natural man and not as
guided by Jehovah and His Spirit. His object was to make himself still more
attractive with the people and conciliate the different factions. If he had
acted in faith, remembering that the Lord had called him into the kingdom
and that He was able to keep him, he would not have tried to gain his end
by such means. The bright picture in this chapter is aged and unselfish
Barzillai. And the strife between Judah and Israel on account of the King
is the first indication of the great division and the internal strifes,
which many years later broke out among the people. Thus failure is seen on
all sides.

                          10. The Revolt of Sheba

                                CHAPTER 20

     1. Sheba's revolt (20:1-2)
     2. The ten concubines shut up (20:3)
     3. Amasa's failure (20:4-6)
     4. Joab and the death of Amasa (20:7-13)
     5. Joab, the wise woman and the death of Sheba (20:14-22)
     6. David's officials (20:23-26)

     The final revolt in David's reign was headed by a wicked man, whose
name was Sheba. Israel sided with him, probably as the result of the
dissension recorded at the close of the previous chapter. Judah remained
loyal to David. The act of David in shutting up unto the day of their death
the ten concubines to live in widowhood was necessitated on account of what
had taken place (16:21). Amasa being now the leader of the hosts of David
(19:13) is called to subdue the revolt; but he proves a failure and could
not mobilize the army. Abishai is commissioned then and with him is also
Joab. All the mighty men, including the executioners and runners
(Cherethites and Pelethites) pursued after Sheba. Then Amasa appeared on
the scene. Joab was girded around his loins with a sword which was in the
scabbard and the sword fell out. Joab picked up the sword but Amasa did not
see the sword in his hand. Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right
hand, while he held the sword in his left. Then he smote Amasa deliberately
so that he died. He might have lied himself out of the accusation that he
murdered Amasa by saying he fell into the sword and that it was an
accident. But 1 Kings 2:32 gives the reckoning with unscrupulous Joab for
the innocent blood he had shed. Jealousy had led Joab to murder Amasa. And
Sheba was killed in Abel, the city in which he sought shelter. On the
advice of the woman mentioned in the story, he was beheaded. The revolt


             1. The Famines and the Wars with the Philistines

                                CHAPTER 21

     1. The Famine and the Gibeonites (21:1-14)
     2. The Wars with the Philistines (21:15-22)

     The fourth section of the second book of Samuel is an appendix to the
history of David. When the great famine happened in the days of David we do
not know. After the famine had returned year after year, for three years,
David inquired of the Lord. Why did he not inquire in the first year? It is
an evidence of the low spiritual state which prevailed at that time. The
answer which David received revealed the cause of the judgment which rested
upon the land. It was Saul and the blood-guilt in having slain the
Gibeonites. The story of the Gibeonites is recorded in Joshua 9. They got
in among Israel through deception and Joshua had made peace and a league
with them. Though they belonged to the nations doomed to death they were
permitted to live and became the hewers of wood and the drawers of water
(josh. 9:26-27). Jehovah's name and an oath assured them of their safety.
Saul had violated this covenant and slain some of them. This wrong is now
to be righted--David did not inquire again of the Lord what he should do
but consulted the Gibeonites instead. And the Gibeonites demand not silver
nor gold of Saul and of his house, "neither for us shalt thou kill any man
in Israel." After that they asked that seven men of his sons be delivered
unto them and they would hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah. And again in
haste the king promised to do so. Their demand, though piously worded, was
not according to the law of God. Children were not to be put to death for
the sins of their fathers (Deut. 24:16). Saul was the guilty one and he had
died. How atonement for the broken covenant and the blood guilt was to be
made remained for the Lord to say. David, not asking direction from Him,
but turning to the Gibeonites, had failed again. And still the Gibeonites
in their awful demand shared the bloodthirsty cruel character of the
Canaanites. David carried out the awful request. He spared Mephibosheth.
Two sons of Rizpah, a concubine of Saul, and five sons of Merab (Michal in
the Authorized Version is incorrect), Saul's eldest daughter, are the
victims. They were hanged by the Gibeonites and then left hanging. Sad it
is to think that the horrible deed might have been averted if but David had
again turned to the Lord and inquired of Him. And another law is broken,
when these bodies were kept hanging for months. "And if a man have
committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him
on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou
shalt in any wise bury him that day." Surely the Lord could not sanction
the deed so opposite to His own law. One of the most terrible scenes
recorded in the Bible follows. Rizpah, the concubine of Saul, watched by
her dead from April till fall, when it began to rain again. Six months she
abode there, the only resting place the coarse sackcloth, above her the
putrefying corpses of the seven men, including her two sons. While the hot
oriental summer lasted she kept her awful watch and chased away by day the
screeching birds of prey, while her nights were disturbed by the hungry
howls of wolves and jackals. Could there be a more pathetic picture! And
she gained something by it. When David hears of it he is stirred to action.
The bones of Saul and Jonathan and the seven men who had been hanged were
buried. And after that God was entreated for the land. It seems then that
David turned to God and He was favorable to the land.

     In the record of the battles with the Philistines four giants are
mentioned. They represent the power of darkness, which the people of God
must overcome. (For a full typical application we refer the reader to the
Numerical Bible.)

                      2. David's Song of Deliverance

                                CHAPTER 22

     1. The praise of Jehovah (22:1-4)
     2. The sorrows of the past (22:5-7)
     3. God's presence and intervention (22:8-20)
     4. Reward and approval (22:21-28)
     5. The judgment of the enemies (22:29-43)
     6. The exaltation above the adversaries (22:44-49)
     7. The praise of Jehovah (22:50-51)

     It would take many pages to give an exposition of this great song
which in the Book of Psalms, with a few changes, is known as Psalm 18. He
uttered these words through the Spirit of the Lord. "The Spirit of the LORD
spake by me and His word was in my tongue" (23:2). It is therefore a great
prophetic utterance. The song takes us beyond David and his experience. His
sufferings and deliverances are indicated, but they are but prophetic of
Him, whose sufferings and whose victory are foreshadowed in David's life
and experience. The great deliverance psalm includes therefore
prophetically the story of David's greater Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In
verses 5-7 we have David's suffering when an exile, persecuted by Saul;
prophetically the suffering of Christ, who was compassed by the waves of
death and who was plunged beneath these dark waves and saved out of death.
Verses 8-20 describe the intervention. Nothing in the life of David could
be made to fit this; but being a prophetic utterance there is no difficulty
to trace here the resurrection of Christ, who was brought forth into a
large place (verse 20). "He delivered me, for He delighted in Me" can only
be truthfully applied to Christ. And all looks forward to a still greater
intervention and manifestation of God. Verses 21-28 equally can only be
true of our Lord. "For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not
wickedly departed from my God." It is impossible to say that David spoke of
himself. The history we have traced gives a far different story. But every
word is true if we think of David's Son, our Lord. And the judgment and
exaltation described in the closing stanzas of this song will be realized
in Him into whose hands the Father has committed all judgment. He will be
"the head of the nations" and a people will serve Him (verses 44-45). That
David had before his heart the great covenant-promise (chapter 7) and that
his vision was enlarged so that he beheld "His Anointed" and His coming
manifestation and kingdom becomes sufficiently clear in the last two verses
of the song.

        3. The Last Words of David and the Record of the Mighty Men

                                CHAPTER 23

     1. His last words (23:1-7)
     2. The names and records of David's mighty men (23:8-39)

     In his last words an even greater and clearer vision is given to King
David. "If Psalm 18 was a grand Hallelujah, with which David quitted the
scene of life, these 'his last words' are the divine attestation of all
that he had sung and prophesied in the Psalms concerning the spiritual
import of the kingdom which he was to found in accordance with the divine
message that Nathan had been commissioned to bring to him. Hence these
'last words' must be regarded as an inspired prophetic utterance by David,
before his death, about the King and kingdom of God in their full and real
meaning" (History of Judah and Israel). And this King is Christ and the
kingdom that which will be set up with the second coming of Christ. As the
translation in the authorized version is weak we give here a corrected

     David the son of Jesse saith,
     And the man who was raised on high saith,
     The anointed of the God of Jacob,
     And the sweet Psalmist in Israel:
     The Spirit of the Lord spake by me,
     And His word was on my tongue.
     The God of Israel said,
     The Rock of Israel spake to me:
     A righteous ruler over men.
     A Ruler in the fear of God,
     Like the light of the morning when the sun riseth,
     A morning without clouds;
     When the tender grass cometh forth out of the earth,
     Through the clear shining after the rain.
     But my house is not so with God.
     Yet He has made me an everlasting covenant
     Ordered in all and sure;
     For this is all my salvation--all my delight,
     Although He maketh it not to grow.
     But the wicked shall be all of them as thorns thrust away,
     For they cannot be taken with the hand;
     And the man that toucheth them,
     Must have iron and the staff of a spear
     And they shall be utterly burned with fire in their dwelling.

     Little comment is needed; just a little help to open up the words of
the dying King. The righteous ruler over men, a ruler in the fear of God is
our Lord. Thus He will yet rule over the earth in righteousness. And when
He comes to rule, there cometh the morning without clouds when the earth
will be refreshed, through the clear shining, the brightness of His glory,
after the rain; after judgment is passed. Then David confesseth that his
house is not so with God. His hope, his salvation, all his delight is in
the covenant made with him; it centers in the fulfilment of the Davidic
covenant. And the wicked will suffer the fire of His wrath.

     In blessed keeping with this last great prophetic utterance of the
King are the records and the names of the mighty men of David. They were
the men who loved David, stood by him, showed their loyalty and devotion to
the King. And others are given, of whom we read no definite deeds. The last
name is Uriah the Hittite. The spiritual meaning is not hard to find.
Before the judgment seat of Christ all will be made manifest. When He comes
to be the righteous Ruler, to usher in the morning without clouds, those
will be remembered who were loyal and devoted to Him in His rejection. No
name and no deed, even the smallest, will then be forgotten. What an
incentive this should be, especially in the solemn days in which we live,
when we see the day approaching, to serve Him and be as devoted to our
absent, but coming Lord, as David's mighty men were to him. In our
annotation on 1 Chronicles where we find these records also we hope to
point out some of the details of the deeds of David's mighty men (1
Chronicles 11).

      4. David's Failure: the Altar on the Threshing Floor of Araunah

                                CHAPTER 24

     1. The numbering of the people (24:1-9)
     2. The sin acknowledged and Gad's message (24:10-14)
     3. The pestilence (24:15-17)
     4. The altar on the threshing floor of Araunah (24:18-25)

     The final chapter of the books of Samuel is of much interest and
importance. "And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel,
and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah." In 1
Chronicles 21:1 we read "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked
David to number Israel." This has often been pointed out as a discrepancy
and contradiction. Criticism has explained it in the following way: "Of
surpassing interest for the study of the progressiveness of revelation in
the Old Testament period is the form which the chronicler has given to this
verse. To his more developed religious sense the idea was abhorrent that
God could be subject to moods, and incite men to a course of action for
which He afterwards calls them to account. Accordingly he writes: 'And
Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.'" There is
no contradiction here nor do the two accounts need an explanation as the
above. Israel had committed some sin which brought upon them the
displeasure of Jehovah. Satan the accuser was then permitted to influence
David. The statement, "He (God) moved David," also means in Hebrew, "He
suffered him to be moved." He permitted Satan to do his work. In 1 Tim. 3:6
we read that pride is the condemnation (or as it is literally "the crime")
of the devil. And Satan the accuser moves David with national pride to
number the people. It is significant that preceding this record are the
names and achievements of the mighty men of David. No doubt his heart
swelled with much elation over his victories and great achievements. While
David's eyes were blinded by Satan, Joab saw the danger. In 1 Chron. 21:3
we read that he said to David: "The LORD make His people an hundred times
so many more as they be; but, my lord the King, are they not all my lord's
servants? Why doth my lord require this thing? Why will he be a cause of
guilt to Israel?" The King's word prevailed and reluctantly Joab and the
captains went forth to carry out the King's command. It was altogether a
military census. But the census was not completed (1 Chronicles 27:24).

     David's heart then smote him and we see him coming to the Lord and
confessing his sin. "I have sinned greatly in that I have done; and now I
beseech thee, LORD, take away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done
very foolishly." It was a true confession he made that night. Then the Lord
sent the answer through the prophet Gad. The Lord leaves the choice to
David. Either three years of famine, three months of flight or three days
of pestilence. (This is according to 1 Chron. 21:12; 2 Sam. 24:13 records
seven years, which must be the error of some copyist.) And here the man of
faith asserts himself "Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD; for His
mercies are great, and let me not fall into the hand of man." And the Lord
did not disappoint His servant's faith in His mercy. When the angel
stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it the Lord said, It is
enough; stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord, the same who
appeared to the patriarchs, to Moses, Joshua and others, was by the
threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Once more David's voice is heard
in confession. "I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep,
what have they done? Let Thy hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against
my father's house." He was willing to be the one sufferer for his people;
in this he is a type again of our Lord, the sinbearer. He is commanded to
rear an altar upon the threshing floor of Araunah. "It was a fitting spot
for mercy upon Israel, this place where of old faithful Abraham had been
ready to offer his only son unto God; fitting also as still outside the
city; but chiefly in order that the pardoning and sparing mercy now shown,
might indicate the site where, on the great altar of burnt-offering,
abundant mercy in pardon and acceptance would in the future be dispensed to
Israel" (A. Edersheim). It was the place upon which the temple was built (1
Chron. 21:28-22:1). And Araunah the Jebusite offered willingly the
threshing floor and the sacrificial animals. But David would not consent.
"Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which
doth cost me nothing." For fifty shekels of silver he bought the oxen and
the threshing floor. Then the burnt offerings and peace offerings ascended
unto Jehovah as a sweet savour. And Jehovah answered by fire (1 Chron.
21:26). And David before that altar, who buys and offers, thus meeting the
claim of God, is a type of our Lord who bought us with the great price and
offered Himself And even so as this book closes with the Lord being
merciful to His land and people, the plague stayed, so will Israel in the
future receive and enjoy His mercy. It will be the result of the one

Return to Top