2 Samuel 14: Wisdom, the Intercessor

The previous chapter began the theme of wisdom being ignored in the person of Tamar – and here in chapter 14 we see wisdom once again being ignored in the wise woman of Tekoa, aptly named the pitching of tents.  Yet, what is interesting is that the wise woman posed herself as a parable, like the parable of Nathan, as opposed to being actually a woman in mourning.  What is the effect of speaking in the form of a parable as planned between Joab and the woman, rather than the woman speaking first-hand from her own actual experience?  What is the effect of prophet Nathan rebuking David (2 Samuel 12) as opposed to Joab rebuking David?  The key difference lies in the understanding of Godly wisdom, as opposed to the ‘wisdom’ of Jonadab.

We have already seen wisdom being ignored in (Proverbs 8); and this is the same feminine ‘wisdom’ far different from the Sophia of Sophism.  Rather, this is the excellent wife, the excellent ish-shah of Proverbs 31:10 she is the Spirit of God, the Wisdom as the Third Person of the Trinity who has been denied by David since his fall in 2 Samuel 11 as a reflection of the first Fall in the Garden.  It is by the Spirit Who filled Joseph that he has the wisdom to reign in Egypt (Genesis 41:8, 41:38), the Spirit Who filled the architect of the tabernacle (Exodus 35), the Wisdom Whom Christ had to become and grow in (Luke 2:52; 1 Corinthians 1:30), by Whom kings rule (Proverbs 8:15).  This excellent ish-shah of Proverbs 31 and Proverbs 8 is the Holy Spirit, and it is by Her that the tents of the temple and tabernacle may be pitched forevermore.

It is therefore more potent to see the wise woman of Tekoa speaking the words of wisdom of Joab, who had conquered the city in the immediately preceding chapter instead of David who had become passive and inactive, a mere empty shell of a head, a broken mirror imagery of the Mediator.  In the persons of Nathan; Tamar; and the joint partnership of Joab and the woman of Tekoa, we have a picture of the Spirit represented in all three instances, all analogous and parallel to the Son’s rejection of the Father heavily implied and typified in David’s rejection of God.  In the Trinitarian dynamic, the Son’s rejection of the Father is in conjunction with His rejection of the Spirit on Whom He relies: in His obedient life as son of Joseph and Mary; in His resurrection from death; and in His ascension to the right hand of the Father – all are actions which prompted Christ to rely on the Spirit in order to obey the Father’s will.   Commenting on Isaiah 11v.2, Thomas Goodwin says:

The graces of Christ as man are attributed to the Spirit, as the immediate author of them; for although the Son of God dwelt personally in the human nature, and so advanced that nature above the ordinary rank of creatures, and raised it up to that dignity and worth, yet all his habitual graces which even his soul were full of, were from the Holy Ghost” (Vol. 6, pg.50).

Through Joab and the woman of Tekoa, we therefore see the Father speaking to David as the typological Son, by the ‘wise woman’ the Holy Spirit in the form of a parable (Matthew 11).

The details of the parable are laid out in v.4-11 in which David replies intermittedly, with the parable explained entirely by the woman in v.12-17, then action carried out in v.18-24.  This pattern is similar to Nathan’s discerning words in chapter 11 and Christ’s words in (Matthew 13).  In the fashion of the parable, it is the one who utters the parable (in our case, both Joab and the woman of Tekoa) who bears the greater wisdom, and the interpreter (David) who is the receiver of such wisdom.

Here, we find the woman postulating the scenario where she is a widow and her son has murdered another son and the whole clan has risen against her to give up the only son left of the man’s lineage.  In this story, we find that there are elements which apply both directly and indirectly to the story of Amnon and Absalom.  Firstly, let us distinguish these elements:

(i)                 Widow (meaning there are no more heirs);

(ii)               Two brothers;

(iii)             The brothers quarrelling and one killing the other;

(iv)             “People of the clan” rising to avenge the murdered brother; and

(v)               This ‘rejected’ murderous brother is the ‘remnant on the face of the earth’ of the widow and her now dead husband

It is clear that the two brothers refer to Amnon the murdered and Absalom the murderer; that the widow and her husband supposedly represent David’s lineage and that the “people of the clan” ironically also refer to David.  Yet, this parable is not directly parallel to the story of David and Absalom for two reasons:

(i)                 David is not ‘widowed’.  If anything, even after the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14), it is through Solomon that David’s lineage perpetuates;

(ii)               Absalom does not ‘quarrel’ with Amnon; if anything, Absalom kept his silence in order to pounce on Amnon when the moment is ripe (2 Samuel 13:22)

What is interesting, therefore, is that this parable seems to take inspiration not only from David’s situation but also from the first story of brotherly struggle – the struggle of Cain and Abel; and that from this story stems the story of the fraternal struggles represented in Japheth, Canaan and Shem (Genesis 9:27); Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his eleven other brothers.  In these struggles, it is clear from the wise woman’s parable that though Cain, Canaan, Ishmael, Esau and the other sons of Israel are ‘rejected’ in the avenger’s eyes, the LORD still works salvation for the outcast (v.14).  Though this smells of universalism, this is a far cry from what is expressed in her parable; instead, notice the key word – “he devises “means” so that the banished one will not remain an outcast” (the Hebrew literal meaning is a ‘plan’, a ‘purpose’).  And so, in each story we see the potential redemption of Cain who receives the ‘mark’ (Genesis 4:15); in Canaan who becomes the father of those displaced in the land of Canaan though some enjoin themselves to the Israelites; in Ishmael who becomes the father of twelve princes (Genesis 17:20); in Esau the father of the Edomites, also given an opportunity to unite with the Israelites, and so forth.  Yet, this is but just a means.  The descendants of these ‘remnants’ are by no means the same as the elect Abel, Shem, Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph who stand under Christ.

Therefore, what the wise woman of Tekoa speaks of here is the redemption not of Abel, Shem, Isaac or the like; instead, she is speaking of the redemption of the one who is guilty; the redemption of the murderer; the redemption of the one truly rejected – the redemption of Saul, rather than the redemption of David.  And it is in His means that all are given an opportunity to repent and follow the LORD in the manner of the elect.  It is in His means that Cain could walk the walk of Abel; it is in His means that Canaan can partake in Shem’s blessings; it is in His means that the eleven brothers are to benefit from Joseph’s mediation (c.f. Exodus 1:8) – the reject receiving the benefit of the elect:

But to say this is to say all that we need to say about the general question of the divine will and intention for the rejected, the non-elect.  The answer can only be as follows.  He wills that he too should hear the Gospel, and with it the promise of his election.  He wills, then, that this Gospel should be proclaimed to him.  He wills that he should appropriate and live by the hope which is given him in the Gospel.  He wills that the rejected should believe, and that as a believer he should become a rejected man elected.  The rejected as such has no independent existence in the presence of God.  He is not determined by God merely to be rejected.  He is determined to hear and say that he is a rejected man elected.  This is what the elect of the New Testament are – rejected men elected in and from their rejection, men in whom Judas lived, but was also slain, as in the case of Paul.  They are rejected who as such are summoned to faith.  They are rejected who on the basis of the election of Jesus Christ, and looking to the fact that He delivered Himself up for them, believe in their election”. – Karl Barth on Election in his “Church Dogmatics”

It is in the context of this story that David is particularly moved – for the question of ‘heritage’ looms over David’s head especially since chapter 7 when the LORD said that He would bring up the Man from David’s line Who will uphold God’s temple eternally (2 Samuel 7).  This is why the image of the ‘widow’ is used – not so much that David is not a widow (nor Adam who bore another son after both Abel and Cain are removed from his presence, one through death and another through banishment), but that Absalom just as much as any other son is the potential ‘one’ to uphold God’s eternal temple.  The simple parable of a widow and two sons emphasises to us the story of election and rejection; it removes the complications of typology and shadow and magnifies the central aspect of the Bible – either we follow the line of Abraham in Christ alone, upon Whom our heritage is eternally preserved; or we follow the line of Satan and remain rejected though there is always a ‘means’ of being enjoined to the olive tree (Romans 11).  This message is made potent not only in the dichotomy of the elect and reject, but also that the elect is represented by David’s line – who is described by the woman as like the Angel of the LORD (v.17) discerning good and evil, having wisdom like the Angel of the LORD (v.20) to know “all things that are on the earth” in contrast to Adam’s failed discernment of good and evil.  This not only emphasises that David’s election is like the Angel of the LORD; that his goodness and righteousness is Christocentrically founded, and that he even bears the Angel’s wisdom and omniscience to know that it was Joab who truly spoke, and not the wise woman herself.

Yet, before we move onto David’s decree of Absalom’s ‘restoration’ from v.21 onwards, it is important to see that David is not only the type of Christ here in the parable, the type of the ‘elected’ mirrored against the banished one.  Rather, David represented both the lineage of the widow as the lineage of Abraham in Christ, as well as representing the “people of the clan” who wished to keep the banished one in a state of rejection permanently.  This is in line with what we see in David in the recent chapters – rather than a pure typological Son of God, we see a struggle in the person of David where he is both a shadow of the Son of God, like the Angel of the LORD, and he is the one who is an adulterer (2 Samuel 11:4), a murderer (2 Samuel 11:15) and a liar (2 Samuel 11:25), committing crimes in a shorter time-span of far greater gravity than what Saul or other ‘rejected’ men like Cain and Ishmael have recorded to have done:

It is David’s unexpected and startling and visible transformation into such a bull-king, corresponding to the ideal of the nation and wreaking havoc in the same nation, which is his contempt for the LORD, and his guilt in this respect means inevitably that at once and in a single action he commits the thing which God has forbidden – adultery, robbery, murder and deceit.  What would be natural for those bull-kings is absolutely unnatural for him.  For he is not at all a king of this kind.  He is king by the grace of God, and not by that of men.  The LORD is with him.  It is for him to witness to God’s kingdom, and from his throne to defend God’s throne.  He is the very one who cannot pretend to any ‘right of kings’… He can only say: ‘I have sinned against the LORD… For every step that he took along the road described in 2 Samuel 11 was an absolutely impossible step, deserving of death.  There can be no doubt that what Saul had once done along the same lines is far exceeded by what David has done here…

… And yet it is as this man that he is the king by God’s grace – as the man who in this sinfulness is utterly dependent upon the mercy and forgiveness of God, who is enabled to stand only because God stands and supports him, who has nothing to offer God except his need.  The fact that he is a man like this is not, of course, a confirmation of David’s election or kingship or office as a witness to the kingdom of God.  Saul is a man like this, too.  But it is confirmed by the fact that God does not allow His concern with him, a man like this, to waver because he is like this, but rather He intensifies His concern with him as a man like this… The faithfulness in which God glorifies Himself in David’s kingship remains, and for this reason and to this extent the election of David remains.  This is why David is always the figure of light in contrast to Saul in spite of the fact that he is a man like this…” – Karl Barth on Election in his “Church Dogmatics”

Where Saul offered the unholy sacrifice (1 Samuel 13), where Ishmael’s mother jeered at Sarai (Genesis 16:4), where Esau sold his birthright (Genesis 25:32), we have David laying with Uriah’s wife, scheming with Joab against the lawful husband and eventually having him murdered and covering it up with lies.

In actuality, through observing this struggle in David we see an even grander picture of Christ specifically when he was nailed on the cross.  David, though persecuted like Christ in his early youth (1 Samuel 17 onwards) was persecuted though he was innocent before men.  Yet, David here is in the parable the “people of the clan”, the “avenger of blood” though he is actually guilty before God and men, a faint vision of Christ as the guilty one removed from His Father’s presence on the cross!  So, in Christ, we see His election in His humiliation from the throne; we see His rejection in His death as a man who was emptied of His righteousness to bear mankind’s sins (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21); and in being rejected, He brought all those who are also condemned and rejected back into election by His very resurrection and ascension.  That is the means by which salvation is achieved.  By the election of Christ to be rejected; by the rejection of Christ so we may be elected.

And so, in the midst of this seemingly difficult word-play we find David restoring Absalom – but this restoration is not immediate.  Note David’s specific words in v.24 – “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence”.  Indeed, David has offered the means by which Absalom is no longer to remain in banishment – the “means” is by the very action of taking Absalom from Geshur (the bridge) to Jerusalem, the city of peace.  It is by taking this man into the ‘confines’ of the House of God, that he may witness the sacraments of God through Israel and the tabernacle as opposed to remain in banishment where the Word of God is not heard nor relished.  Yet, only within the proximity of the church is Absalom to come to faith, by hearing – and that is when Absalom can come into the presence of the king, when Absalom responds positively to the means of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.  Therefore, Absalom living apart in his own house and not coming into the king’s presence should not bear any inherent negative connotation; yet Absalom failing to respond to the king’s means of grace displays to us the picture of a banished man whose heart wishes to remain banished, remain at the walled valley and bridge – Geshur – as opposed to have his heart circumcised in the manner of peace through Christ.

This is why Absalom’s appearance is the subject of v.25-27 which is an unnatural narration to come after v.24.  Instead of expecting the prodigal son running into the arms of the father, we see an immediately vain description of how handsome Absalom looked; how “without blemish” he seemed (v.26); and how heavy his hair weighed (2 Samuel 18:9).  It would even seem that he is proud for avenging his sister (v.27), the very reason why he was banished in the first place.  This is immediately placed next to his violent act of demanding David’s presence (v.28-32), a faint predicament of what sort of charming man Absalom is to become.  It is therefore, in the face of such means by which Absalom could have truly been restored to the throne that Absalom spits in the face of such means and would rather snatch it by force and surprise, just as he had done so with Joab’s field; just as he had done so in his vengeance on Amnon.

2 Samuel 14: Wisdom, the Intercessor

2 Samuel 13: The Zealous Church and the False Head

The theme of chaos and reversal does not cease in chapter 12 – and the reality of this theme is broken loose as we see significant consequence of David’s adultery; where he forced himself upon a married woman in chapter 11, the parallel occurs in chapter 13 where his son, a single man and potential heir to the throne forces himself upon a virgin.  The irony should not be lost on those hearing this passage that the Father’s sin is re-committed by Amnon – just to show the fullness what it means when the covenantal relationship between the Father and the Son; and between the Son and the church, is not displayed.

The theme of covenant-breaking is carried forward even in the names and gender roles themselves.  Ammon, he who is “faithful”, is instead anything but.  This incestuous relationship would not have a future (Leviticus 18) – and yet, just as there is no future for Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, just as Ammon the ‘faithful’ would instead pursue a relationship outside of God’s ordination, we have the crafty man Jonadab.  It would be a mistake to assume that this ‘craftiness’ is the same craftiness, or cunningness,  of the serpent in Genesis 3 – yet that is exactly the purpose of this chapter – to present the absolute reversal and irony of God’s goodness.  It is the faithful Ammon, led by crafty (or more literally, wise, rather than cunning) Jonadab that the impossible is committed.  That instead of Ammon loving his sister, to serve his sister, he would instead wish to do anything to her.  The verb connotes an action towards an inanimate object, or an action which is not filled with service, nor love:

Amnon.  The heir to the throne of Israel.  He is the firstborn son of David about whom there must have been high hopes.  His name means faithful.  Here is a faithful ruler.  And he is a lover, v1.  In fact he is literally love-sick for Tamar.  Amnon is depressed, he’s losing weight, (v4) he’s become haggard with desire for Tamar.

But look at what lies behind these feelings.  See the last half of v2.  It does not  read: “It seemed impossible for Amnon to do anything for her.”  That would be love.  Love in the Bible means service, it means sacrifice – putting yourself out for the other.  But Amnon’s love was a love that wanted to do something ‘to’ Tamar.” – Glen Scrivener in his sermon on 2 Samuel 13

And so, just like the scheming of chapter 11, we see the elaborate plan in the raping of Tamar.

What ensues is a picture which is shocking – a picture which displays the true suffering of this world.  Where is God in all this suffering?  Where is God when Tamar is literally torn apart in her flesh by her very own brother?  This picture is not pretty – and look at v.7-10: a picture of true service, a picture of a wife, a picture of a woman, a picture of a weaker vessel, a picture of the willing worshipper.  Yet, this is the picture of those who are serving a beast; this is the picture of those zealous and religious people of this world, taking dought, kneading it, making and baking cakes before the sight of the man.  Yet, does she know what her brother is about to do?  No – she serves him out of love; yet he returns her love with hatred (v.15).

Note that Tamar pleads with Ammon attempting to arouse his sense of sin in his heart – by calling him her brother; by saying that nothing like this has been done in Israel before; by calling him an ‘outrageous fool’ (v.11-13).  And when none of this worked, she desperately asked Ammon to speak with the king (v.13), just before Ammon had failed to listen – a blind, deaf and heartless man – and therefore raped Tamar in spite of her service for him, in spite of her pleadings and truly wise reasoning.  In the entire chapter, she has been the voice of Spiritual reason – and yet she is silenced.  The church is silenced; the church’s service is ignored.  This is not love – this is hatred.

This is why we immediately see the picture of the ravaged virgin; the picture which God had from the foundation of creation had prevented from happening by the sacrifice of the lamb (Revelation 13:8).  In this picture of Tamar’s suffering, sin has become very real.  Yet, is this not the picture of the church, her robe torn apart, and her innocence ravaged from the inside out that she should have ashes on her head instead of the Logos, the arche, the true head of creation as her Head?  And this is the picture of those who have been ravaged by Ammon; this is the picture of the false gods raping their worshippers despite these obedient servants’ zeal.  This is the picture of the reversal of redemption – and this is the reality of Satan’s work in a man’s heart.  Rape.

In the midst of such raping; in the midst of such suffering, we should not forget that without the cross, such chaos and reversal of redemption would result in a purely nihilistic world.  Yet, what the Spirit tells us here in chapter 13 is that the cross of Christ has even removed the shame of being violated. That the cross of Christ has removed the shame of being raped; instead, Jesus took on the sexual intrusion.  Where Tamar walked around in teary shame in the streets of the city (v.18-19), instead we have Christ being removed from His Father’s bosom on the cross (Matthew 27:46).  Instead, we have Christ our Mediator, our Head, being bruised by the serpent.  Christ was even raped on our behalf, so we would escape this shame.

Chapter 13, however, is a picture of what happens when the Wisdom of God is silenced:

Pro 1:20-33  Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;  (21)  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:  (22)  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?  (23)  If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.  (24)  Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,  (25)  because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,  (26)  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you,  (27)  when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  (28)  Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.  (29)  Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,  (30)  would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof,  (31)  therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.  (32)  For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;  (33)  but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

So Tamar cries aloud in the streets and no-one hears, just as the Spirit of God cried aloud in the streets to enjoin people to the harmony under Christ the Head.  Her robe of different colours is instead torn; her robe of righteousness trampled upon.  And so, we see David angry; but he does nothing.  Absalom is angry, but he silenced Tamar.  Ammon was lustful, and he was indifferent to Tamar’s call.  Jonadab relied on his own wisdom, but he did not rely on the Wisdom of God, the Holy Spirit.  We are thus left with a picture of Tamar, ravaged and living in desolation.  There is no happy ending for her until the embraces of new creation when all chaos and reversal is turned back on its Head.

Just as the words of those surrounding Tamar were words of folly, so Absalom falls into a similar category.  “Strike Amnon”, “Do not fear; have I not commanded you?  Be courageous and valiant”.  What irony!  Absalom is assuming a position of courage and valour, and yet he would rather his servants do the execution of Amnon; rather than protect his sister and provide her with love as a true brother would, he merely housed her.  Absalom is not the antithesis of Amnon; Absalom is of the same breed as Amnon – where Absalom positively offended Tamar, Absalom negatively was indifferent to Tamar.  Instead, he was bloodthirsty – and spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad (v.22), to await the day of revenge rather than provide justice by the Word (Romans 12:20).  Absalom, just as he would do so in chapter 14 onwards, would assume the position of God and enact revenge as if he was the Judge, to assume the position of the throne when David was still king.  All the king’s sons arose – and what did they do?  They fled.  As if to lessen the guilt of Absalom, Jonadab’s words of ‘wisdom’ are but a re-interpretation of the event.  “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king’s son, for Amnon alone is dead… determined [by Absalom] from the day he violated his sister Tamar”.  As if this redeems the situation!  Instead, the first report is accurate: for Absalom’s threat is not merely to Amnon alone – but his sword shall be the dividing factor of David’s kingdom until chapter 18.  His threat is aimed at David’s throne – and that is why David is in fact intricately involved in chapter 13 though he is barely mentioned.

This is because of Nathan’s prophecy in chapter 12:10.  This prophecy states that all that is to happen after David’s adultery is directly a result of David’s sin.  Amnon’s death; Absalom’s rebellion; the silencing and raping of Tamar – all stemming from David’s moment of pleasure and moment of stepping out of covenantal relationship with Christ.  Yet, this is but a shadow of the true picture of what it would be like if Christ stepped outside of His Trinitarian relationship.  Rape.  Silence.  Revenge.  Death.  Injustice.  The tearing of the kingdom of God.  This is the implication if the Son was forever removed from the Father; and yet, in the Son’s resurrection, in the Return of the Son on the Day of Resurrection, the suffering shall be ended by the One who already suffered and removed the sting of death, removed the sting of being raped, and replaced on our head the glory of the Father so that we would not have to cover our head in shame (v.19; c.f. 1 Corinthians 11).

2 Samuel 13: The Zealous Church and the False Head

2 Samuel 12: David as the two doves

Just as the truth of the fall and the history of mankind are recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis, the story of David’s fall is emblematic of the same truth in the form of actual adultery as well as spiritual adultery.  Chapter 11 saw the opening scene of David’s ‘first’ recorded sin in his biography, and chapter 12 continues in the same vein as we see the effect of sin not just in any man, but in the head of the anointed nation just as Adam was head of the race of man.  It is by looking at Adam and David that we learn to understand sin in light of Christ’s obedience to His Father, and the implications when the head has succumbed to the body, a reversal of the mystery of man and wife in Ephesians 5:22-33.

So Nathan is sent by the LORD to share the parable of the rich man who had very many flocks and herds, but would rather sacrifice a poor man’s ewe to provide for the travelling man, for the guest (v.1-4).  The message here is not simply that of exploiting the poor man’s lamb; it is both the exploitation of the poor man’s only possession, as well as the fact that they are both from the same certain city (v.1).  To the Israelite’s theocratic thinking (c.f. refuge cities in Numbers 35, jubilee in Leviticus 25), it is an offence to civilian equity to even see the rich man steal from the poor man, let alone the fact that this rich man and the poor man are one before the LORD (Galatians 3:28).  It is not as if the rich man is the lord of the poor man; it is not as if the rich man is even the king of the rich man.  The crux of the message therefore lies in the overlaying of these nuances.

What surprise it is for us to see that David would justify himself as the judge of the entire situation!  Was he not the poor man once, who was persecuted throughout a portion of his life (1 Samuel 20)?  What irony that he still speaks on behalf of the poor man when he has in fact switched places and has become the rich man who has committed theft and murder of the poor man’s daughter (v.3)!

And who is the poor man instead?  Uriah, the obedient servant who is poor in comparison to the rich king David.  Look at the LORD’s proclamation of David’s wealth provided by the LORD in v.7-9 – David was delivered consistently; he was anointed as king over Israel; he was given Saul’s house, given Saul’s wives, given the house of Israel and Judah – as if this were insufficient, the LORD continues, “I would add to you as much more”! (v.8) Do these words not echo the same words spoken to man (Matthew 6:30), to Adam?  Adam was given the kingdom of heaven and earth to rule over it!  He was made in the image of God!  He was taken from the dust outside of the Garden (Genesis 2:7) and was gracefully given all the riches of the house of Eden, all the trees, all the fruit, all kingship over the creatures and even his counter-part, the wo-man.  What would drive him to desire the one thing, the fruit of the tree of good and evil?

Yet, this is the mystery of sin – the shock and awe of understanding that sin is not something natural to us.  It should not be natural to us – because we are given all these riches, the entire kingdom of God for us to inherit.  This is the important paradigm shift we need to receive, that the world is not our oyster, because it pales so significantly to the riches provided through Christ Jesus.  Do you feel the temptation to undress a woman adulterously in your mind?  Do you feel the tug of materialistic pleasures when you walk by High Street?  Do you feel the desire to speak half-truths so to present the gospel in a ‘likeable’ and ‘acceptable’, or perhaps even ‘sensible and reasonable’ manner?  Then you have stolen the ewe from the poor man.  You are the man! (v.7) – You are Adam, who would exchange the poverty of this world for the riches which you already have.  You would rather take a poor man’s possession rather than recognise the new creation which we inherit.  What of the loyal wife, the church?  What of the golden streets of new Jerusalem?  What of the unadulterated, unsaturated purity of the gospel which is beyond sensibility, beyond mere acceptance of the world’s standards but by far the most outrageous truth this world can ever truly be shocked and awed by?  All wasted on a poor man’s ewe.

This is why the LORD reacts so angrily to David’s sin, because of the Christological implications behind the two-fold subtlety of the parable.  It is but a micro-perspective of the macro and grander cosmic temptation of Satan to the Christ (Matthew 4).  As if Satan could offer Christ anything!  Would Christ exchange the relationship between Himself and His Father for another man’s daughter, another man’s family?  Would the Triune God exchange the glory and wealth of the Triune community to thieve another relationship?

On another Christological level, the poor man’s treatment of the lamb must not be ignored for that is another important detail to the LORD’s parable through Nathan.  This poor man’s treated the lamb as everything which he had, feeding it well and loving it well (v.3), that this lamb is to even lie in the man’s bosom.  Such beautiful love is this, that we see the Father’s love for the Son portrayed (John 1:18) in this parental relationship, the Father’s love for the Lamb.

So the Christological message of the parable is twofold – the exchange of the wealth of the Triune relationship for the false kingdom of Satan which, compared to the riches of Adam, is but a poor man’s possession.  Secondly, that this raping of the poor man’s relationship with his daughter is a raping of the Father’s relationship with the Son.  Therefore, the primary thrust of the parable is supported by these two Christological meanings, that David should choose to leave the bosom of the Father to steal Bathsheba from Uriah, and that in doing so he has by equivalence destroyed the relationship between the Father and the Son portrayed between poor man and the ewe.

If not for these implications, then the LORD’s infliction of death upon David’s first son would not make sense.  For David to remove the daughter from the poor man’s embrace as equivalent to the Son leaving the Father eternally, the implication is simply death (Colossians 1:17).  If the Son were not to intercede on our behalf, if the Son were to walk His own path and become His own God just as Satan (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28) and Adam (Genesis 3:22) had done, then not only will we never resurrect.  We will simply return to the very chaos which David has unfolded (a return to the chaos of the abyss in Genesis 1, c.f. Jeremiah 4:23) – the implosion of the ordered universe upheld by the Logos into disordered fragments of watery nothingness.  Instead of peace, the sword shall come (v.9-10).

It is therefore important to see what unfolds from v.10-22.  The narrator opts to call Bathsheba Uriah’s wife, even though at the end of chapter 11 David had already taken Bathsheba to be his wife, thus emphasising the message of adultery and the broken intra-Trinitarian relationship implied by David’s selfish actions.  The death of the child on the seventh day, the day indicative of God’s rest (v.18) is again a mock-ironic message for David as he had fasted before the LORD for the first six days.  Even in this follow up to the LORD’s curse on David in v.11-14, the theme of reversal continues: the exchange of light for darkness, of kingdom of righteousness for the kingdom of poverty, of the ordered Triune relationship torn apart to be subsumed by chaos and darkness.  In this reversal, we also see David’s fasting and then David’s feasting, a reverse of Christ’s disciples’ feasting followed by fasting (Matthew 9:15).  In this reversal, we also see David’s son’s death on the seventh day symbolic of the final Sabbath rest; whereas, we are to anticipate the Son’s return on this important seventh day.  This is why David ceased to fast after his son’s death: for David will go to his son but his son will not return to him; whereas the disciples in the New Testament would fast after Christ’s departure for we shall not go to the Son, as He will return to us.

Thus, it is only after such a chaotic beginning of David’s first murder and adultery all within chapter 11 do we begin to say a ray of hope – found in Jedidiah (the only time referred to in Scripture as the beloved one akin to Christ: Matthew 3:17), found in Solomon, he who shall bring peace.  Only upon the death of David’s son conceived and marred with sin, will Solomon be born; where David’s first son by the adulterous Bathsheba dies, David’s second son by Bathsheba is glorified.  David’s first son followed the route of the first Adam, the first man’s story entirely typified by chapters 11 and 12; and the second Adam’s story is to be shadowed by Solomon, the type of He who was spoken of in 2 Samuel 7.

In the death of David’s first son and in the birth of his second son, the pattern of David causing death and the LORD bringing life; of David causing chaos and the LORD bringing order; of David’s first son born out of an act of adultery and the birth of Solomon through loyal wedlock, a parallel can also be found in Leviticus 14 (c.f. one bird sacrificed as the other bird is freed; in Christ we see both the sacrificed and the freed bird; in Christ we see the rejected and elected LORD):

“At any rate as they are systematised in Leviticus 14 and 16 it is obvious that the following form is common to both.  Two creatures which are exactly alike in species and value are dealt with in completely different ways.  The selection of the one for this and of the other for that treatment, seems to be a matter for the priest in Leviticus 14:15f, while lots are cast in Leviticus 16:8.  In both cases it is obvious that the selection is inscrutable, and that it is really made by God Himself.  It is also obvious with what special purpose and meaning these two acts accompany the history of Israel, and to which special moment of this history they refer as sign and testimony of the divine intention.  We obviously face the special aspect of this history according to which it is the history of the divisive divine election of this and of that man.  What these choices mean, or what it is to which the whole history of Israel points as a history of such choices, is attested by these particular rites, the witness being given a fixed and permanent form by the detailed legal regulations.

The actual treatment of the two creatures makes this even clearer.  Both Leviticus 14 and 16 say that one creature is to be used, and that the other is not to be used – or only used to the extent that it is, so to speak, solemnly and necessarily not used.  One creature is slain, that is, and the other is allowed to go free.  It is too soon to ask what is really meant by using and not using, by slaying and releasing.  It is also too soon to ask who is meant by the creature which suffers the first fate, and who by that which suffers the second.  But if we study the transaction as such in its general nature, we can hardly fail to recall the Genesis stories of Abel and Cain, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel and so on.  The ceremonies are obviously a comment on the history of Israel as a history of the differing choices, and its character as witness is fixed in the legal instruction which relate to these actions…

… It is this redemptive endurance of death as such, ordained and accomplished by God in His love for him, which is brought before his eyes in the slaughtering of the different animals on the Day of Atonement, and therefore in the slaying of the first goat, and then in the blood-sprinkling of the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle, in the sanctification of the sanctuary by the slaying of the first goat, by the total outpouring of its life as accomplished in the shedding of its blood.  Man is chosen for the Lord, and not for Azazel, not for the wilderness…

The fact that man is of himself unfitted for the service of God, and his blood valueless, is revealed in the treatment of the second animal.  His life cannot make good that which is evil by any judgment which follows him, or even by his death.  IT is not, indeed, a joyful release into freedom which is the lot of this man, but a flight into the realm of Azazel, the demon of the wilderness; his surrender to an utterly distressful non-existence, to a life which is as such no life…

Yet we must observe that the second goat is also ‘placed before the Lord’, that the treatment meted out to him and the tragic record of his unusability also form an integral part of the sign and testimony set up on the Day of Atonement.  Cain is just as indispensable as Abel, and Ishmael as Isaac.  For the grace which makes an elect man of the first can be seen only from the second, because the first, the elect, must see in the second, the non-elect, as in a mirror, that from which he was taken, and who and what the God is who was delivered from it.  It is only as one who properly belongs to that place that God has transferred him from it.  Because election is grace, the unused belonged to the used, the sacrificed goat to the goat driven into the wilderness, the non-elect to the elect…

…The ceremony described in Leviticus 14 obviously runs in exactly the opposite direction… The treatment of the first bird speaks of this necessary presupposition of his purification.  The bird is slain, its blood is shed and then made ready for what follows, as in the case of the first goat in Leviticus 16.  But this time everything really depends on what follows… The healed leper is sprinkled seven times with this blood, while simultaneously the second bird is allowed to fly away ‘into the open field’… to freedom… The purpose, and the only purpose, in the death of the one bird, the separation and reservation of the one man, is that the other may live.  But how comforting it is for all who are separated and reserved that, according to Leviticus 14, it is to the second bird, which has no part in the accomplishment of the decisive action, and which is unusable in the sense of Leviticus 16, that the benefit of the sacrifice of the first and usable bird accrues.  That which was done to the first turns to the advantage of the second… The recipient of the fruit of election is obviously for the non-elect.  How can we fail to see that Cain and Ishmael and Esau are now given yet another right than that which is remotely visible in Leviticus 16?  They are witnesses to the resurrection reflected in Leviticus 14.  The promise addressed to the men on the right hand is manifestly fulfilled in those on the left.” – Karl Barth on the doctrine of election in “Church Dogmatics”

Yet, in spite of the birth of Solomon, this is but a faint shadow of the future glory to come through David’s son and remnant of his house furthermore prophecied in the immediate placement of Solomon’s birth to David being crowned with the golden crown of the Ammonite king (v.30), a picture of the subversion of Satan’s ‘kingdom’ and the reality of it inevitably being subsumed under the headship of Christ even in the midst of David’s sin.  The victory is immanent – even in the sin of David, for it will come through Solomon.

However, this is but just a shadow.  In Joab’s taking of the city and attempting to name it after his own name as opposed to David initiating the victory (v.26-31), we continue to see the king of Israel becoming more and more passive, from the restoration of his daughter Tamar, the delayed restoration of his son Absalom, to the eventual restoration of the kingdom Israel, all woven into the tragic latter years of David’s life.  The coming chapters are therefore a continuation of the significant implications if the Son of God, King of Israel, were to really submit to sexual adultery rather than pure loyalty to his one wife and church by His obedient life to his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection and ascension.   Yet, by God’s grace in His will of Jesus Christ, even if David were to be become the figure of the slain goat and dove just like David’s first son, there will always be the typology of the free dove found in Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, even in David’s contrast to Saul, and now Solomon’s contrast to David.  Therefore, in Solomon we soon find the shadow of the Son who is to build the eternal temple, who will give freedom and riches to all nations, in direct contrast to the proverb which David has become from 2 Samuel 11 onwards. 

2 Samuel 12: David as the two doves

2 Samuel 11: Original Sin

The change of pace comes in chapter 11 of the second book of Samuel.  This is indicated by the fresh narration – “in the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel… But David remained at Jerusalem”.  Unlike the preceding verses where we saw the enemies of God flee before the Anointed King, we begin to see implications of David’s typology no longer as that of Christ, the prophesied Son of the Father in 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2.  Instead, this is the chapter where we see David’s kingdom being torn apart for the very reason that David is still a son of Adam, at best a shadow representation of Jesus, the son of God.  The beginning of this chapter saw David’s participation not in warfare, but in sin, thus displaying a mark of his failure to lead the spiritual battle against neighbouring nations.  The end of this chapter saw the LORD’s displeasure (v.27).  It is here, that we see the fallout of God’s chosen man as akin to the chosen man in the first garden, Adam:

“He took her unlawfully.  He deceived Uriah and when the deception didn’t work, he killed him.  Desire, deception, unlawful taking and death.  And from this event in 2 Samuel 11, chaos broke out.  David’s kingdom, from this point on, becomes not the mirror of Christ’s Kingdom which it was meant to be.  Instead it becomes a broken mirror, reflecting not Christ’s Kingdom but the wicked kingdoms of this world.  The chapter in front of us is part of that fall-out.”  – Glen Scrivener’s sermon on 2 Samuel 13

Is this pattern not the same as that committed by Adam?  For Jesus in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 7:20-23) described the chaos of this world as being spun out by our lust and murder (c.f. James 4).  And so, we begin to see the layers of shadows and types folding over one another, that even the great king David bears the mark of original sin – the mark of the race of adam which can only be cured and restored by the one who takes on the flesh of adam though descends from the line of Melchizedek (Psalm 110).  If 2 Samuel 7 displayed the very first promise made between the Father and the Son (John 17:24) before creation, then 2 Samuel 8-10 is equally prophetic in displaying the essence of Christ as mediator and the inevitable victory over those who fall away from God.  This therefore takes us to 2 Samuel 11 as a reflection of this ‘broken mirror’ of Christ, this broken mirror being a remnant shard of the fall in Genesis 3.  Could not David’s very actions, lust and murder, bear the same symbolic weight (though not identical) as that of Adam in the garden?

Here is a man who played with his temptation (v.2-4), though it was clear that she had been unclean – and the entire chapter reeks of hypocrisy and reversal: where the king should be fighting, he instead wanders with wandering eyes; where the woman should have been purifying, she is readily invited to bed with the king in an act of uncleanness.  In a matter of a short two verses, the kingdom of Israel has been severely compromised – only to lead to the deaths and rebellion of David’s sons (in chapters 13-18 of 2 Samuel) – it was merely a moment of weakness where he fell for another man’s wife.  Bathsheba, though she has clearly sinned and contributed to the fall of the kingdom, is not the centre of focus here.  Just as Eve was the one who had first tasted of the forbidden fruit, Adam, like David, had the final say as the head of man’s kingdom.  Yet, like Adam, David fell for what was good in man’s sight (Genesis 3:6) – and so the first unnamed son was literally conceived in sin just as Abel and Cain both were products of a fallen race.  To have us remember the prophecy in chapter 7 concerning David’s son, and then to read about the conception of David’s new offspring in chapter 11 is a stark reminder that God’s true Son will not come by the way of man but by His own appointed manner; by a virgin to be engaged in royal wedlock than an act of adultery (Isaiah 7:14).

Just as the focus had been on David’s ‘first’ sin as a reflection of Adam’s first sin, so we see the consequences of the first sin unraveling.  Where in Genesis 3 we see the LORD pronouncing the result of Adam’s fall, from 2 Samuel 11 onwards we see the curse of Genesis 3:14-19 played out in the narrative.

Therefore, what we saw of the surrounding nations in chapter 10 is entirely mirrored by David.  These nations conspired and fought against God, even to hire the Syrians for an expensive price (1 Chronicles 19:6) than to provide a peace offering to Yahweh through David and the Levitical priests. This scheming and conspiring are epitomes of the unbelievers in Psalm 2, against the true Son of God; and yet David himself is the one attacking the true Son of God, conspiring with Joab the man (2 Samuel 3:29) to murder the innocent.

In the midst of this conspiring between David and Joab, look at Uriah’s (Yahweh is my flame) contrast with David, the latter remaining at Jerusalem during a time of battle and the former ever wary (V.11; 1 Peter 5:8).  The latter staying sober while the king is encouraging him to be drunk (v.13; Jeremiah 13:12-13).  And so David would join and bloody his hand with Joab, when in 2 Samuel 3 he had condemned his accomplice for executing Abner like a guilty man (2 Samuel 3:33).  What we see here is David’s hypocrisy – he, too, has dealt in a similar manner to Uriah the Hittite, that he should die like the pagan Ahimelech, son of Jerubbesheth (Judges 9).

Therefore, the chaos which David has woven has begun to spin out of control.  This is the same chaotic darkness (Jeremiah 46:7; 51:55-64) spoken of in Genesis 1, the waters of chaos on day two of creation which was not good .  In the midst of this chaos, we see a glimpse of the gospel but it is not found in the person of David – it is found in Uriah, who was the lamb led to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).  Uriah’s innocent death is like that of Abel’s innocent death, his blood (Luke 11:48-52) crying from the earth.  Where our Christ died without lifting a finger (Hebrews 13:20; James 3:17; 2 Peter 1:2), the chaos of sin under the headship of Adam instead of Christ has led to the proverb “Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one and now another” (Matthew 26:52).  What happened to the David who mourned so much for Abner ?  Who mourned even the death of Saul who had been persecuting him (2 Samuel 3:31)?  Instead, like the Roman soldiers (Luke 23:36) who trampled on Christ, so David trampled on him who obeyed this king of Israel.  Even the swiftness of the mourning (v.26-27) reeks of pretence (Isaiah 58).

2 Samuel 11: Original Sin

2 Samuel 10: Nahash and Jonathan

It would seem out of place to turn back to David’s military victories after a reprieve from that line of narration in chapter 9 by David’s mercy on Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake, yet the purpose of chapter 10 is not merely to line out David’s victories in the same way as it was laid out in chapter 8.  Rather, its focus is on the comparison between Jonathan as mediator for Mephibosheth as a type of Christ’s mediation, and then Nahash’s (the serpent) mediation on behalf of Hanun.

At the outset, it is clear that the background is extremely similar – the house of Saul seen conflicting with the house of David is exalted in the form of Mephibosheth sitting at the king’s table.  Now begs the question: will the house of Nahash, the house of the Ammonites, also be exalted to fellowship with Israel’s king?  V.2 of chapter 10 echoes v.2 of chapter 9 – the call of the Father upon the Gentiles after the call of the Father upon the Israelites – “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me”.  First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).

Yet, unlike the response within Israel where Mephibosheth humbly called himself a dead dog, what is Hanun’s response?  V.3-5 shows that not only is Hanun a lord who is surrounded by princes, a large contrast to Mephibosheth’s dire state of lameness (especially compared to Ziba’s household of wealth), but that he would be so arrogant and heed the advice of evil men (Psalm 1:1, 2:2) and mock David’s servants (v.4).

As akin to chapter 8v.5, the Ammonites and the Syrians rise up against Israel despite their previous defeat (c.f. Hosea 8:9-11) and it is clear that the initiation of the offense is from the side of the Ammonites, with the Israelites drawing up in self-defence by the ordering in v.6-8.  Not to mention that unlike the movement of our Trinitarian God Who moves as one united family on a mission of redemption, the hired Syrians are scattered and ‘by themselves in the open country’ – a mark of the sinful man in the wilderness (Micah 4:10).  Note the contrast between the wicked council of the Ammonites and the Syrians compared with Joab and Abishai’s unity – the former being united for the purpose of money and the latter united under the banner of the LORD– Joab is truly his brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9)(v.11-12).  The mutual aid is the true spirit of the Triune family.

Yet what is so laughable is that the Ammonites and Syrians completely fled (c.f. Revelation 6:16) before Abishai and Joab – as if either the Ammonites or Syrians were too much for them to handle (v.11), instead at the very sight of these two Christian brothers they fled and only then did they gather together (v.15), along with the support of Hadadezer’s Syrian army beyond the Euphrates.  Upon the defeat of Shobach (expansion) at Helam (fortress), the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head, we are brought to re-experience the death of the mediator of the Philistinian army in 1 Samuel 17.  So, the death of Shobach and the death of the seed of Nahash the serpent bring us to see the death of the expansion of the Satan’s kingdom; the fear of the Syrians to save the Ammonites (v.19 – c.f. 2 Chronicles 24:24) anymore is the beginning of the fall of the wicked counsel (Psalm 1:1, 2:2).

This is the image of the failure to heed the call of the Father.  Though Nahash may have dealt loyally with David just as Jonathan had done so, this blessing could have been imputed to the house of the Ammonites.  Yet, the end of chapter 10 spelled out a disastrous future, and the story of Nahash is used as a narrative for the macro understanding of Nahash as the false mediator and Jonathan as the true mediator; though Hadadezer and his subjects made peace with Israel and became subject to them (v.19), this type of submission is far from the type of exaltation which Mephibosheth received – and thus this contrast of the lame man fellowshipping with David is more poignant in the face of the proud and resourceful Ammonite and Syrian kings.  Hanun as the seed and result of the line of Nahash is directly contrasted to Mephibosheth, the direct seed of Jonathan.  As such, though we are all predestined to be in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1), for those who reject the call of the Father to follow His Son, they have ignored the call and the mediation is thus not received.  Thus, instead of the mediation of Triune love depicted in chapter 9, they receive the mediation of the Father’s wrath as a mirror to the measuring line – that either the line measures the bounds of new Jerusalem, or it is a line which measures the extent of the LORD’s wrath upon the rebellious nations (2 Kings 21:13).  Glen on “God without a Mediator” blog post –

In terms of Scripture – 2 Thes 1:9 “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (KJV)  There’s a translation issue about the preposition (‘apo’).  Should it be translated ‘from’ or ‘away from’?  I favour ‘from’ – ie implying that Christ is present in judgement.  This goes with Revelation 14:10 where the damned are tormented in the presence of the Lamb.  See also Rev 1:18 where Jesus is presented as the Jailor of death and hades, and Rev 6:16-17 where it’s the wrath of the Father together with the Lamb.  Jesus expressly says in John 5:22 that the Father has entrusted all judgement to Him.

What does this mean?  It means that hell is being in the presence of God who continues to mediate His judgement through the Son.  There is no such thing as ‘God without a mediator’.”

2 Samuel 10: Nahash and Jonathan

2 Samuel 9: The call of the Father

The story of the restoration of Mephibosheth is the fulfilment of the covenant which David had made with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3).  This is a reflection of the covenant made between God and us through Jesus Christ before creation (John 17:24).  Mephibosheth had been mentioned in (2 Samuel 4:4) and in that chapter alone we would have surmised that the house of Saul has been entirely cut off.  Yet this is far from true – in the same way that we are lame in our feet (v.13; c.f. Genesis 3) because of the fall, that our movement is stunted (Romans 10:15), yet it is purely by the grace of David’s call that we are given an opportunity to respond and to eat at the king’s table in Jerusalem (v.13).

So the crux of this chapter lies not primarily in the happy reunion of the House of Saul and the House of David; rather, the primary focus should be the first verse: “Is there anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  It is here that the role of David switches to that of the Father in heaven, and Jonathan being the type of Christ – for it is Jonathan, and not David, who initiated the covenant of love (1 Samuel 18:3).  It is Jonathan’s love with David, this brotherly love, that plays a twofold witness of that of John the Baptist paving the path for the Messiah (Luke 3), and that of Jesus and the Father in each others’ arms.  Is this not the same call which the Father makes to the entire world?  “Is there anyone left in the fallen house, the house which was once filled with glory but have been left to its godless devices?  Is there anyone left that I may show him kindness for my son Jesus Christ’s sake?” (Romans 10:8)

The establishment of Mephibosheth’s blessing is therefore entirely vicarious; his salvation is imputed; and his ascension to the king’s table is entirely a reason extra nos.  It is also important for us not to overlook how the narrator of 2 Samuel chose to end this chapter with an emphasis on his physical disability.  Mephibosheth is nothing like the glory of Saul’s household (1 Samuel 31:2 – all of Saul’s sons at war) and is instead the true rendition of the value of Saul’s work.  Saul is the alpha-male, he is the man chosen by men (1 Samuel 12:13); yet before David, what is left of Saul’s line is Mephibosheth – resident of the house of Machir (sold) the son of Ammiel (my kinsman is God) at Lo-debar (pastureless)(v.5).  Even Mephibosheth is less wealthy than Saul’s servant Ziba (statue) whose wealth is deliberately described as far more luxurious (v.10-11) in comparison to the remnant of Saul’s offspring, as summarised by Mephibosheth in three words – “a dead dog” (v.8).  Yet, this is the remnant of Jonathan’s house, this lame man sold in the embrace of God’s kinsman, yet unlike Ziba – is not surrounded with servants and pastures of his own.

Yet, is it not the dead dog who shall inherit Ziba’s service, who shall never go hungry again and so much so that he should fellowship with the king himself?  (Matthew 15:27)  Is this not the true picture of the gospel, that we are all Mephibosheths and that the Father will arrange, on our Christ’s behalf, for us to dine with him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12) where we have absolutely nothing to offer except our stench, our lameness, our weakness?  And this is the true gospel – that the Son has exchanged his righteousness for our sinfulness, he who had no sin to be filled with the sin of mankind (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Now, we are lame in both of our feet – but our true Jonathan has already entered into a loving covenant on our behalf.  Will we respond to the call of the Father – “is there still anyone left of the house of Adam, that I may show him kindness for Jesus’ sake” (v.2, my rendition)?

2 Samuel 9: The call of the Father

2 Samuel 8: Firstfruit of Victory

After the important prophecy about the Messiah in chapter 7, what follows after is understandably prophetic in its own sense as well.  The Israelites reading 2 Samuel after their expulsion to Assyria and Babylon will undoubtedly refer to the promises made to David concerning the everlasting kingdom of his offspring, and with bittersweet flavour will they turn to chapter 8, seeing the victories achieved by King David as firstfruit of what their Messiah Son of God would do on Israel’s behalf.  What judge, and what man has single-handedly, under his headship, led the defeat of several of the enemies of God’s people within one chapter besides a taster by Abraham (Genesis 14)?  The systematic dispatching of the Philistines (v.1) from whom David received Metheg-ammah, a ‘bit of the metropolis’, a bit of the city dedicated to new creation; the Moabites (v.2) by whom he follows the tradition of the measuring line, this line being a type of Christ deciding who is to dwell in the city of Jerusalem and who is beyond the “one full line” (v.2) and put to death (c.f. 2 Kings 21:10-15; Jeremiah 31:38-40; Lamentations 2:8; Ezekiel 47:1-6; Amos 7:17; Zechariah 1-2) with the remaining Moabites being received into the nation Israel; the defeat of the Hadad-worshipper Hadadezer (c.f. Genesis 36:35) so that David may prevent his restoration at the river Euphrates so commonly associated to destruction, this river of Babylon (by its other name, Perat in Genesis 2:14; c.f. 2 Kings 23:29; Jeremiah 2:18, 51:63; Revelations 9:14, 16:12) being the associated source of evil as opposed to the rivers of life; and with what great judgment David enacted (v.4) that even the supporting pagan nations are similarly destroyed – the people and its resources (v.5-6).

And so this is the effect of the new king, that he shall inherit the gold, silver and bronze (taken even from the secure hands of Betah and the mighty ‘god’ Hadad in the cities of Hadadezer v.8) on our behalf from surrounding nations (Matthew 5:5) – the amazing defeat of Edom (Genesis 36), Moab (Genesis 19:37), Ammonites (Genesis 19:38), Philistines (Genesis 10:14), Amalek (Genesis 36:12-16), Hadadezer – all symbolic enemies of God throughout the previous books of the Old Testament, all from the root of the sinful line of Adam, either removed from power or restored under the headship of the Israelite King (c.f. Moab and Edom restored as servants of Israel v.2 and v.14) not because of David’s innate strength, but because of what the LORD had promised to effect through David (v.14) as a foreshadow of his Offspring.  The witnessing of this priesthood of all nations (Exodus 19:6) is not merely in the form of war, but also in the form of diplomacy, that Toi king of Hamath shall acknowledge his subservience to King David (v.10-11) by paying tribute indirectly provided to the LORD.  It is in Toi that we see ourselves typified: in the wandering Toi once king of our own fortresses (Hamath) we have been attacked by the pagan nation of Hadadezer and true victory is achieved on our behalf through King David, our tribute, sacrificial response and offering provided through David (v.11) by the hands of Joram (“Jehovah is exalted“), so that the household of Toi and his aptly named son would both be grateful worshippers of Yahweh through David their mediator.

As the Israelites read this, their anticipation should be ever more expectant of an even greater king who will not only provide gold, silver and bronze before the LORD and subdue surrounding nations under the one true God – the king on the throne of the everlasting kingdom is to do even greater things than what is listed out in this chapter!

Yet, the key thing about David’s victories is not the gold, silver or bronze; it is not even about the mere subduing of nations, taking away of their idols, or making them Israel’s servants.  It is primarily about worship; about purifying the land; about new creation in replacement of old creation – new wine and new wineskin (Matthew 9:17).  What better way than to begin with the list of David’s list of officials, all men whose honour comes from the Lord God?  Joab (Jehovah is father); Jehoshaphat (Jehovah judged); Zadok (righteous); Ahimelech (brother of the king); Seraiah (Jehovah is ruler); Benaiah (Jehovah has built); and finally David’s sons, the centre of all attention in lieu of chapter 7, were priests, a foreshadowing of the kingly-priest Messiah.

2 Samuel 8: Firstfruit of Victory