1 Kings 21-22: Eve the head, Adam the body

1 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.”

3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.


Naboth, the man of ‘fruits’ was given a portion in Jezreel – the place of kings yet also the place where God scatters (likely to be a reference to the destruction of Ahab’s house in 2 Kings 9).  Yet, this very contestation of inheritance is akin to the story of Jacob and Esau – the latter brother who sold his inheritance to Jacob over a simple meal.  Naboth however is no Esau – he is not selling his inheritance in new creation for mammon or the desire of his eye.  “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (v.3) – a basis built upon Numbers 26 and Numbers 36:7-9, that the inheritance of the Israelites are proportionately placed and kept within the tribes without transfer.


What is the value behind such a vineyard?  Quality?  No – it is a mere ‘vegetable garden’, which could have been replaced by a better vineyard (v.2).  Rather, it is simply because it is in a better location, because it is near Ahab’s house.  What nonsense!  Naboth’s adherence to the LORD’s command is exactly the type of faithfulness modeled from his following Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:16; contrary to the sluggard, the vineyard of a man lacking sense, such as Ahab (Proverbs 24:30).  Such is the vineyard, the object of Christian love (Song of Solomon 8:12), modeled after the love the Father has for us through Christ:


Isaiah 5:7: For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the men of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

and he looked for justice,

but behold, bloodshed;

for righteousness,

but behold, an outcry!


We are His vineyard!  We are the apple of His eye!  We are the treasure in the field!  He is the one Who protects, Who seeks, Who provides.


5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?”

6 And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city.

9 And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people.

10 And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them,

12 they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.

13 And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones.

14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”


The events between v. 5-14 are but a repetition of Adam’s fall – Eve directing Adam’s actions, the man listening to the woman (Genesis 3:17) instead of being her head.  Naboth cared deeply for his vineyard, given to him by the LORD and commanded by the LORD to keep as his and his fathers’ inheritance.  Yet, the men, elders and leaders of the city from which Naboth belongs betrays Naboth.  The very people who are likely to know the same Naboth who stood up to king Ahab, and would cling onto his vineyard just as Christ clings to us that nothing shall remove us from His love (Romans 8:38).  They would spit in the face of a faithful man, in the face of the prophets like Elijah and Elisha, and instead listen to the false head, the false king who is not listening to Wisdom but to Folly (Proverbs 9:13).  Not only that, but two worthless men (witnesses) are set opposite the innocent Naboth, just as Christ was judged guilty in comparison to Barabbas (Matthew 27:20) by worthless men.  This flies in the face of the command in Deuteronomy 19:15-21:


15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing,

17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.

18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely,

19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.

21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.


V.13 is direct and blunt.  They did not place the dispute before priests and judges who are in office.  There was no diligent inquiry.  The two worthless men did not receive their due justice.  Instead, Naboth was innocently stoned.  He shall receive his true inheritance, as part of the LORD’s vineyard, in new creation and we will meet with him there, an inheritance which no man can purchase from him.  Yet, Ahab’s kingdom is on this earth and this is all he shall ever receive.  The nation Israel thus listened to a false king, whose headship had been influenced and subsumed heretically under the whore called Folly.  Yet, we are the spiritual Israelites called to listen to the true king, the “Son” of Solomon, who listens to the excellent wife the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 1:10; 31).


15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”

16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

18 “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.

19 And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”


V.17 sees Christ speaking to Elijah – the Word of the LORD Who informed Elijah concerning the murder and false possession of Naboth and his inheritance.  The LORD shall not forsake Deuteronomy 19 – the wrath, which did not fall upon us Christians, still needs to fall upon Someone – that One being Christ Jesus.  Yet no one has paid the penalty for Ahab’s sins – he shall therefore experience the torment of Naboth by having the dogs lick his own blood (v.19, c.f. Romans 7:14).


20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD.

21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.

22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin.

23 And of Jezebel the LORD also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’

24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

25 (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)


The destruction of Ahab’s house does not fall upon him until 2 Kings 9:36-37, a fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy (his own fall fulfilled in 1 Kings 22:38).  In stealing another man’s inheritance, Ahab loses his own.  In conceding Jezebel’s actions and murdering Naboth, a holy saint and Christian in the city of Jezreel, Ahab’s household is itself the subject of God’s holy wrath.  Thus also Adam’s house is destroyed, so that the second Adam may rule – the removal of Satan, the false lord, the false Baal, in place of the true husband and our LORD Jesus Christ.


27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly.

28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”


Christ recognizes Ahab’s repentance before his end – yet, his end is but a proverb (Deuteronomy 28:37) to those who go after idols, stealing the LORD’s choice vineyard, selling himself to sin and listening to his wife instead of protecting and leading her in God’s word.  We are unsure whether Ahab himself has accepted the LORD personally, but the damage to his lineage cannot be undone.  Chapter 22 does not fare well for Ahab’s eventual death either, as he ended his life in sin and in defiance against the true prophets of the LORD.  He has led Israel to sin and only Christ, not Ahab, nor Adam, could redeem it.  The innocent blood of Naboth trickles on until Christ’s blood is itself licked by dogs like us.  Jezebel’s demise, unsurprisingly, is more graphic – the true instigator, the true folly of follies.  She is the temptress, the Babylonian prostitute (Revelation 14:8, 17:5).


1 Kings 22:  Prophets and Kings

1 For three years Syria and Israel continued without war.

2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.

3 And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?”

4 And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

5 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.”

6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?”

8 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”

9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.”

10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them.

11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’”

12 And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”


We see in the final chapter of the first book of Kings what may seem to be a glorious attempt to unite Israel and Judah back into one nation, like the days of Solomon.  Israel and Syria are not in covenant (2 Chronicles 16:7), and instead, Ahab – the ‘king of Israel’ (unnamed until v. 20), decides to pursue the Syrians in the battle against Ramoth-gilead in unity with the king of Judah.  It is undoubtedly the case that the writer wishes to focus on the joint effort of this ‘king of Israel’ and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah.  Yet, as following in his vein of character, Ahab does not inquire the LORD – but Jehoshaphat (the LORD is judge) does (v.5).


It is interesting that these prophets (v.6) have been noticeably inactive up to this stage – to the point of Elijah’s despair (1 Kings 19:18).  Perhaps they are part of the 7,000 who have not yet bowed their knees to Baal?  I think not.  These prophets are flatterers coming in their own name rather than Christ’s Name, their power is in their eloquence and tongue rather than in the Word (1 Thessalonians 2).


What is strange is the omission of Elijah from this chapter.  Surely if there is one man by whom Ahab could inquire the LORD, it would be Elijah – the ‘enemy’ of Ahab (1 Kings 21:20), who is also hated by Ahab like this Micaiah (Who is like Jehovah?) the son of Imlah (whom God will fill up).  Like Micaiah, Elijah has not prophesied good concerning Ahab.  Yet, what is certain by their common prophecies is that Elijah and Micaiah are indeed of the LORD and filled with His Holy Spirit.  Zedekiah, though named a the ‘righteousness of Jehovah’ is not fitting of his name like Micaiah.  He is the son of a merchant, Chenaanah, and rather than being filled with the Spirit is instead a false prophet filled with gas (v.11-12).


13 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.”

14 But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.”

15 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”

16 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?”

17 And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’”

18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”

19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;

20 and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another.

21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’

22 And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’

23 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.”


Micaiah’s prophecy in v.17 is a fulfillment of the name “Jezreel” – God scatters – during Ahab’s time.  The shepherdless and masterless Israel is a picture of the destruction of the house of Ahab.  Yet, Israel shall be shepherded and mastered by the LORD on His throne, all the hose of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left (v.19).  He is the One who allowed a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets to declare disaster upon themselves (v.21-23).  Micaiah’s prophecy in v.15 is filled with irony, and we can be sure that Micaiah’s intention is for the king to receive his due judgment on the battlefield.  Micaiah simply desires for Ahab to be removed, as the unrighteous king of Israel.  Even Ahab can tell from Micaiah’s tone that he is mocking the false prophets.  Adam Clarke notes Micaiah’s manner of exposing the false prophets’ lies shielded in ambiguity:


“This was a strong irony; as if he had said, All your prophets have predicted success; you wish me to speak as they speak: Go, and prosper; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king. These were the precise words of the false prophets, (see 1Ki 22:6, 12,) and were spoken by Micaiah in such a tone and manner as at once showed to Ahab that he did not believe them; hence the king adjures him, 1Ki 22:16, that he would speak to him nothing but truth; and on this the prophet immediately relates to him the prophetic vision which pointed out the disasters which ensued.


It is worthy of remark that this prophecy of the king’s prophets is couched in the same ambiguous terms by which the false prophets in the heathen world endeavoured to maintain their credit, while they deluded their votaries. The reader will observe that the word it is not in the original: The Lord will deliver IT into the hand of the king; and the words are so artfully constructed that they may be interpreted for or against; so that, be the event whatever it might, the juggling prophet could save his credit by saying he meant what had happened. Thus then the prophecy might have been understood: The Lord will deliver (Ramoth-gilead) into the king’s (Ahab’s) hand; or, The Lord will deliver (Israel) into the king’s hand; i.e., into the hand of the king of Syria. And Micaiah repeats these words of uncertainty in order to ridicule them and expose their fallacy.”


24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?”

25 And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.”

26 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son,

27 and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.”’”

28 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”


As if the Spirit is only for Zedekiah to keep!  As if the Spirit only indwelt in a few Israelites!  No, the Spirit was shared amongst the holy, amongst the righteous, amongst the children of the LORD.  Behold, this truth shall be revealed not on the Pentecost in Acts 2, but on the day the false prophets are shamed (v.25).  This Joash is the son of Ahab, an agent of Ahab’s heresy.


29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.

30 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.”

32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out.

33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.

34 But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”

35 And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot.

36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!”


The irony is drawn out in v.29-36 – for Jehoshaphat is truly the one worthy of wearing this robe, and the king of Israel is but a man in disguise, a man posing as king though bearing no qualities of one.  It is interesting that the king of Syria in v.31 is only pursuing the king of Israel and no other, in fulfillment of Micaiah’s prophecy that Ahab shall be struck down.  In the LORD’s providence (v.34), the king is struck, for God’s wrath perceives through all disguises into men’s sinful hearts (Matthew 9:4; Mark 4:12).


37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria.

38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD that he had spoken.

39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

40 So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.


The king therefore is buried in the same place where his father, Omri, was buried (1 Kings 16:28).  This is the watch-mountain, pride of Omri’s purchase in 1 Kings 16, where Ahab built an altar in worship of Baal.  Instead of being buried in the heart of Israel, in Jerusalem the place of the House of the LORD, Ahab was instead buried next to the altar of heretical worship.  This is highlighted in v.38 – this same pool of Samaria was where the dogs licked up Ahab’s blood, where the prostitutes (like Jezebel) washed themselves in.  It is thus the reign of Ahaziah, who instead of being held by Jehovah, follows in his mother’s footsteps.


41 Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.

42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.

44 Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.


Instead of reveling in the history of Ahaziah, we are brought immediately to focus on the robed king who survived the battle against the Syrians.  He is the son of the physician (Asa), his mother the forsaken (Azubah), the daughter of Shilhi (armed), walking in the way of the true Physician Jesus Christ.  The peace made with the king of Israel (v.44) is a mark rare amongst the other kings of Judah who have fought against the kings of Israel since the times of Solomon.  This is the first hint of a re-unification of Israel as one man (Judges 20:8-11).  Yet, unless the king of Israel and king of Judah both worship the Physician, the holy Son (Psalm 2), it does not look like Israel would be restored.


45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

46 And from the land he exterminated the remnant of the male cult prostitutes who remained in the days of his father Asa.

47 There was no king in Edom; a deputy was king.

48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber.

49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat was not willing.

50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place.


We see more of Jehoshaphat’s reign here – that he is a man under whom deputies were appointed in Edom, that Esau is fulfilling his role as the elder serving the younger Israel (Genesis 25:23).  However, as soon as Jehoram replaced Jehoshaphat, Edom rebels (2 Kings 8:22), marking the allegiance of Edom to Judah as granted by the LORD to the faithful king (which Jehoram was not).  It is interesting that the account in this chapter regarding Jehoshaphat’s refusal to join his servants with Ahaziah’s servant is recorded differently in 2 Chronicles 20:35-37.  It is likely that Jehoshaphat’s refusal to join the servants from Israel and Judah is a result of the pronouncement of judgment upon Jehoshaphat’s initial agreement to join with Ahaziah.  Upon recognizing the LORD’s wrath regarding Ahaziah’s sinful reign, thus Jehoshaphat became unwilling (v.49).  The writer omits this detail, likely because of his agenda to paint Judah as the lineage through whom the Messiah shall come – though the Chronicler focuses on the LORD as the true king sitting on the throne of Israel.


51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel.

52 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

53 He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.


And to what extent shall the nation be unified?  The picture looks grim at the end of the eventful book of Kings where the LORD had been quiet and has spoken more to prophets and through prophets than to the kings directly.  Yet, things are still looking hopeful for the kings of Judah (1 Kings 11:36) in order for the election of the Messiah to be fulfilled.  Though the LORD is angered by Ahab’s household, Jehoshaphat still walked in the LORD’s ways.  The light is still glimmering in Israel, though dim, the light is still shining through the Christian prophets like Nathan, Ahijah, Jehu, Eijah, Elisha, Micaiah – all men of God influencing the kings.  If only Israel could be united by the LORD as the King of kings and not by mere men.

1 Kings 21-22: Eve the head, Adam the body

1 Kings 2: Peace established

1(A) When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2(B) “I am about to go the way of all the earth.(C) Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses,(D) that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4that the LORD may(E) establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying,(F) ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way,(G) to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul,(H) you shall not lack[a] a man on the throne of Israel.’

We must not underplay the significance of the handover from David to Solomon, for it is in these very chapters that we see the handover of the typological government of David to the Christocracy of New Creation.  Note the language which opens this chapter in v.2-4, and its parallel to Joshua’s language to Israel upon the conquering of the lands of Canaan (Joshua 22).  These shadows time and time again remind us that the time of the law, as is often associated to Moses (v.3, Luke 2:22, 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 13:39, 15:5), is underlined by the gospel truth of salvation by Christ in the name of Joshua / Yeshua (from Hoshea, salvation, to Joshua / Yeshua, Jehovah is salvation – Numbers 13:16) – and finally passed on from the shadow to the nation Israel.  This is just as we are brought to see that the transition from Moses to Joshua is that of the church under the Israelite law to the church with the gospel boldly proclaimed, and from Joshua to the Israelites as that of David passing the baton to Solomon who represents the new kingdom under an age of rest (Joshua 21:43-45).

The reality of the situation is that v.4 seems conditional – but note the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7 (the promise-centric nature of chapter 7, under the refrain “I will”, is repeated 9 times in v.9-27), not to mention the eventual demise of Israel as a nation scattered in Assyria and Babylon, and how Christ remained on the throne of Israel despite the royal lineage being effectively marred by four hundred years of silence (Amos 8:11). For this verse, though concerning the king, applies not solely in relation to the king but to the nation; and thus the line of David is not defined by the “visible kings” in the royal lineage, but in the remnant (Romans 9:27, 11:5) and engrafted branches to the vine, to the Christ.

5“Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah(I) did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel,(J) Abner the son of Ner,(K) and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging[b] in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war[c] on the belt around his[d] waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6Act therefore(L) according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7But deal loyally with the sons of(M) Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be(N) among those who eat at your table,(O) for with such loyalty[e] they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8And there is also with you(P) Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day(Q) when I went to Mahanaim.(R) But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9Now therefore do not hold him guiltless,(S) for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall(T) bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”

It is therefore important, in reading David’s final words to Solomon, to understand what is meant in the context of David’s messianic interpretation of the throne.  David knew that the house of the LORD could not be built by David’s bloody hands (1 Chronicles 22:8); he also knew that Solomon is not necessarily the Anointed One promised in 2 Samuel 7 (1 Chronicles 22 shows that Solomon will be able to establish the shadow of what is spoken of in 2 Samuel 7); but in handing over the kingdom to Solomon (from David the beloved to Solomon the peaceful) we can now see that the old age of corruption within the church is weeded out in the new age of the golden new creation under the new headship of David’s son (Revelation 21 – streets of gold; Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17 – gathering of the wheat, and burning of the chaff).  That is why Joab and Shimei were not dealt with in David’s lifetime – since David was (eventually) made aware of their treachery as noted in these verses.  This weeding out specifies this son of Zeruiah who murdered the commander of both Israel and Judah, and Shimei this son of Benjamin from Bahurim who cursed David for his worthlessness (2 Samuel 16:5-8).  Note how Matthew Henry views the curse on the sinner spanning ages if undealt with: “His crime is remembered: He cursed me with a grievous curse; the more grievous because he insulted him when he was in misery and poured vinegar into his wounds. The Jews say that one thing which made this a grievous curse was that, besides all that is mentioned (2 Sam. xvi.), Shimei upbraided him with his descent from Ruth the Moabitess… His pardon is not forgotten. David owned he had sworn to him that he would not himself put him to death, because he seasonably submitted, and cried Peccavi—I have sinned, and he was not willing, especially at that juncture, to use the sword of public justice for the avenging of wrongs done to himself. But… His case, as it now stands, is left with Solomon, as one that knew what was fit to be done and would do as he found occasion. David intimates to him that his pardon was not designed to be perpetual, but only a reprieve for David’s life: “Hold him not guiltless; do not think him any true friend to thee or thy government, nor fit to be trusted. He has no less malice than he had then, though he has more sense to conceal it. He is still a debtor to the public justice for what he did then; and, though I promised him that I would not put him to death, I never promised that my successor should not. His turbulent spirit will soon give thee an occasion, which thou shouldst not fail to take, for the bringing of his hoary head to the grave with blood.” This proceeded not from personal revenge, but a prudent zeal for the honour of the government and the covenant God had made with his family, the contempt of which ought not to go unpunished. Even a hoary head, if a guilty and forfeited head, ought not to be any man’s protection from justice. The sinner, being a hundred years old, shall be accursed, Isa. lxv. 20.”

However, there is difference between the death of Shimei and the death of Joab; the former’s outright cursing at David’s house compared to Saul’s house is of no fake religiosity like that of Joab:

“I have two lessons I am anxious to teach at this time. The first is derived from the fact that Joab found no benefit of sanctuary even though he laid hold of the horns of the altar of God’s house, from which I gather this lesson—that outward ordinances will avail nothing. Before the living God, who is greater and wiser than Solomn, it will be of no avail to any man to lay hold upon the horns of the altar. But, secondly, there is an altar—a spiritual altar—whereof if a man do but lay hold upon the horns, and say, “Nay; but I will die here,” he shall never die; but he shall be safe against the sword of justice for ever; for the Lord has appointed an altar in the person of his own dear Son, Jesus Christ, where there shall be shelter for the very vilest of sinners if they do but come and lay hold thereon.” – Charles Spurgeon on 1 Kings 2

It is therefore a symbolic cleansing done by Solomon, that he should start his reign by first ensuring that there is no corrupted remnant left from the previous kingdom.  David did not actively cleanse, but Solomon the new king as the typological second coming of Christ represents the new creation kingdom, ridding Joab the murderer of Israel and Judah; the removal of Benjamin (Genesis 49:27; 1 Samuel 9), the old leaven under Saul’s kingdom typological of the visible but unbelieving church, both removals sandwiching the blessing to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite (2 Samuel 19 – Barzillai who had possibly died of old age).  What irony that men of righteousness are asleep in Christ and men of Satan have yet to have their gray heads brought down with blood to Sheol (v.9; Jeremiah 12:1).

10(U) Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in(V) the city of David. 11And the time that David reigned over Israel was(W) forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12(X) So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

And so, David “was buried in the city of David, not in the burying place of his father, as Saul was, but in his own city, which he was the founder of. There were set the thrones, and there the tombs, of the house of David. Now David, after he had served his own generation, by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption, Acts xiii. 36, and see Acts ii. 29. His epitaph may be taken from 2 Sam. xxiii. 1. Here lies David the son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, adding his own words (Ps. xvi. 9), My flesh also shall rest in hope.” – Matthew Henry

Indeed, David’s flesh now lies corrupted – but his flesh shall rest in hope that the one whose flesh is not corrupted shall stand between the race of Adam as the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).

13Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said,(Y) “Do you come peacefully?” He said, “Peacefully.” 14Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Speak.” 15He said, “You know that(Z) the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s,(AA) for it was his from the LORD. 16And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Speak.” 17And he said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me(AB) Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” 18Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”

From David’s command in the previous verse, now note how Adonijah rises up to unite Joab and Abiathar in their implied rebellion against Solomon (v.22).  It is interesting how David has foreseen Joab and Shimei’s resistance, but the matters of Abiathar and Adonijah relate specifically to the usurping of Solomon and not David’s throne.  It is now clear that Adonijah’s actions by the end of chapter 1 are empty – and his word in v.13 to Bathsheba is also empty.  What a deceitful tongue, that he should claim that “the kingdom was mine”; that “all Israel fully expected [him] to reign” (v.15), only to concede that Solomon is the rightful king because of the LORD’s appointment.  Two points here – the kingdom was never Adonijah’s, for David was still called the king when Adonijah made public his self-enthronement (1 Kings 1:9-10); secondly, only Abiathar, Joab, and some of his men (1 Kings 1:24-27) expected Adonijah to reign.  The trumpet blast and rejoicing of the appointment of Solomon as king seems to be a thing neglected in Adonijah’s twisting of the historical facts.  Like the serpent, what right therefore does he have to make requests which cannot be refused (v.16)?  What right therefore does he demand from Solomon (v.17) anything at all when he is under the very grace and mercy of the LORD by his apparently penitent actions by holding the horns of the altar (1 Kings 1:49-53)?  He has no such right!  Therefore, how preposterous that he should ask for the most beautiful woman who had been obedient to David, serving David, acting as David’s female companion though David did not know her (1 Kings 1:4), but that Abishag should symbolically overtake Solomon by uniting with the woman specifically appointed to serve David?

19So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king’s mother,(AC) and she sat on his right. 20Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21She said, “Let(AD) Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” 22King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask(AE) Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also,(AF) for he is my older brother, and on his side(AG) are Abiathar[f] the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” 23Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying,(AH) “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! 24Now therefore(AI) as the LORD lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house,(AJ) as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” 25So King Solomon sent(AK) Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.

It is significant to see that this request came from Bathsheba, who seems unaware of Adonijah’s pretenses, just as Eve was unaware of the serpent’s twisting of God’s word and history.  Yet, unlike Adam who had stood by and let the serpent speak, Solomon immediately responds in his role as the appointed king and as “a wise man” (v.9) and discerns clearly the motivations of Adonijah.  Unlike Adam who had caused the kingdom of the garden of Eden and the rest of creation to fall (Genesis 1:28-30), Solomon stood firm and followed the principle of David’s final words in leading a truly new creation kingdom, ruling by wisdom (c.f. 1 Kings 3).  It is thus fitting that the new commander Benaiah, one of the thirty of David in 2 Samuel 23, shall take the reins in establishing (v.24 – Hebrew for “setting up, preparing”) the kingdom of Solomon.

It is on this catalyst that Solomon immediately acts – and the remaining verses of this chapter are a testament of the work which David did not do but which Solomon has now been appointed to execute:

“Tamar’s father.  Israel’s king.  What would he do to protect his beautiful princess?  Verse 20:

When King David heard all this, he was furious.

Good.  He ought to have been.  But verse 20 should not stop there.  We should read about David’s righteous anger leading to action.  Here is the king.  Here is her dad.  He ought to have gone to his daughter and spoken words of comfort.  He ought to have done all he could to restore her dignity and her reputation.  He ought to have brought Amnon to account.  Tamar was right, such things should not happen in Israel.  So what is the king going to do about this?  David does nothing.  And the kingdom spirals down into greater and greater chaos.  Because David does nothing, Absalom takes matters into his own hands.  He kills the heir to the throne and then, as Absalom goes on the run he becomes a contender for the crown.  If David had only acted here in chapter 13, then the turbulence and blood-shed of the next 5 chapters would not have happened.  But David, the Almighty King, simply wrings his hands.  His daughter and his kingdom needed him to act but he does nothing.” – Glen Scrivener on 2 Samuel 13

Though David had neglected Tamar despite his fury, what of the death of Asahel by Abner; death of Abner by Joab and Abishai, and the death of Amasa (2 Samuel 2:23; 3:30; 20:10-12) – under David’s very nose are these corruptions occurring but under Solomon’s kingdom does true peace and safety reign.

First, the removal of the house of Eli as prophesied in 1 Samuel 3:10-14:

26And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to(AL) Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death,(AM) because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father,(AN) and because you shared in all my father’s affliction.” 27(AO) So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, thus fulfilling(AP) the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.

Though Abiathar’s life is spared, the house of Eli is now replaced by Zadok (v.35) though the true priesthood still remains with the house of Melchizedek as Zadok is but a shadow of that priestly lineage.

Then comes the removal of Joab in v.28-35, the murderer of the commanders of Israel and Judah , Abner and Amasa, respectively.  Note in particular v.30-33:

30So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.'” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” 31The king replied to him,(AT) “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him,(AU) and thus take away from me and from my father’s house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32The LORD will(AV) bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men(AW) more righteous and better than himself,(AX) Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and(AY) Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33(AZ) So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the LORD forevermore.””

It appears that David would otherwise have been held accountable for Joab’s sin, being the king of the nation he is vicariously liable for Joab’s treachery.  Is this not the Hebraic understanding of the king’s propitiation of God’s wrath on his people by standing as the responsible head and mediator of his people (corporate sin in Leviticus 4:13-21; Judges 9)?  Yet, Solomon establishes that David and himself did not approve of such heresy within the Israelite church, and that the LORD himself will be the true Person separating the wheat from the chaff, symbolically resolved in the very tent of God (Exodus 29:37 – whatever touches the altar shall become holy; yet the irony falls on Joab’s guilty status) as Joab, like Adonijah, hid in their overt religiosity and cultural identity as God’s people – but failed to be known and to know God Himself.  Where Joab’s blood shall go down with him to Sheol, so also our Christ stands on our behalf as the true offering at the altar when He was subject to the Father’s wrath because of his vicarious embodiment of our sins as the true King of Israel.  Joab shall not benefit from this propitiation of the Father’s wrath found in the Christ, the same demise of those who stand in the church and hold on to the altar and sacraments but do not stand under the true object of faith which these shadows point towards.

And so, the removal of Abiathar and Joab (father of abundance and Jehovah is his father), two Israelites who are so aptly named and poised to be great Christian saints reminds us of the hollow meaning of such names when they are instead replaced by the righteous Zadok and Benaiah (righteous and built up by Jehovah) respectively:

35(BA) The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put(BB) Zadok the priest(BC) in the place of Abiathar.

Finally, to fulfil David’s final words, Shimei is dealt with in the remaining verses 36-46 under the renewed government established by Solomon by the priesthood of Zadok and the army of Benaiah:

36Then the king sent and summoned(BD) Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. 37For on the day you go out and cross(BE) the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die.(BF) Your blood shall be on your own head.” 38And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.

Note the refrain: “Your blood shall be on your own head” (v.37), the subject earlier touched upon with regards to Joab’s blood being on his own head as well (1 Kings 2:9).  Like Adonijah, Abiathar and Joab, Shimei is subject to their own actions and their own sins causing their own demise.  Either the blood is on the head of David or Solomon, the chapter being rich of imagery of such propitiation of the Father’s wrath should a king stand as the mediator; or the blood is on the head of those who stand not under David nor Solomon.  Yet, in Shimei’s loose oath (v.42-43), we see a man who does not take the LORD’s commandment with seriousness; made an oath to keep Solomon at bay rather than realize the implications of such covenant made (2 Samuel 21:7).  Solomon’s reason therefore of removing Shimei is the same reason which David explained to Solomon – that this cursing towards David in 2 Samuel is but one of the several symptoms of Shimei’s hard heart, similarly portrayed here in his failure to keep this oath and indirectly cursing God’s commandment.  Like the LORD who commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of good and evil lest mankind dies, so also Shimei in his old adamic flesh and spirit ignores this command, though it is acknowledged that Solomon’s command is good (v.38).  It is thus fitting that should Shimei re-enact David’s expulsion from Israel that he himself is pronouncing his self-expulsion (2 Samuel 15:23), not to mention that the brook Kidron represents death, decay and rejection (1 Kings 15:13, 23:12; 1 Chronicles 15:16, 29:16, 30:14; Jeremiah 31:40)

So, the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon finally (v.46), this word “established” repeated throughout this chapter, reminding us of these bloody acts as preparation, as part of the erecting and fitting of Solomon’s kingdom of Salem (peace – Genesis 14:18; Psalms 76:2; Hebrews 7:1-2).

1 Kings 2: Peace established

2 Samuel 20: The wise woman and the son of Zeruiah

In the midst of David’s mercy towards his enemies in chapter 19, we are immediately met with a Benjaminite who has led Israel astray.  Chapter 19 ended with a quarrel, where Judah welcomed David first without Israel’s participation, and immediately in chapter 20 we see the lofty Israelites jumping onto the bandwagon of Sheba soon after Absalom’s death.   

Yet, the narration of chapter 20 does not introduce us to David’s reaction to Sheba’s rebellion.  Rather, we are told that David put his ten concubines under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them, living as if in widowhood to the day of their death (v.3).  This picture is in response to 2 Samuel 16:22 – perhaps implying that the concubines no longer belonged just to David as they were soiled by Absalom and became tools in shaming David’s kingship.  Like a widow without children and without further inheritance as none of them had David or anyone else as their husband, so also are those (Proverbs 17:6) who align themselves to Satan as their true baal, as their true lord and husband – for by him, no childbirth may result (contrary to the blessing of those who are born under righteous parents – Proverbs 20:7).  For what goodness can come out of any other seed than the Seed of the Father?  What children can come from the flesh and not by the Spirit? (c.f. Genesis 16:4).     

Upon seeing this clear-cut imagery of David and Absalom’s households, we are then brought to see Amasa, temporarily made commander of the army, lead the pursuit against Sheba’s rebellion.  Yet, the son of Zeruiah is instead appointed due to Amasa’s delay after three days (v.4-5) though eventually he managed to catch up with them (v.7-8).  However, soon we perceive that he is but among the list of those wrongfully murdered by Joab.  Uriah.  Abner.  Absalom.  Amasa.  These are but a number of the men whom Joab treacherously killed – though seemingly by the direction of David, Joab’s vengeful streak has been becoming more and more apparent throughout the past 19 chapters of 2 Samuel.  The irony of his deceit is displayed in v.8, revealed for all to see – and yet Amasa is blind to Joab’s murderous inclination.   

What, therefore, is the significance of Amasa’s death in chapter 20 by Joab the murderous man, who (like in chapter 18) became the responsible army commander to achieving victory for Israel (by executing Absalom) and achieving victory against Sheba’s rebellion (v.22)?  Is it not just an extension of Joab trying to hide the blood and flesh of the satan which runs through him?   

Note carefully v.11-13: whoever favors Joab… let him follow Joab.  David is placed in second place; not only that, but the LORD is entirely absent.  The men only stopped to look at poor Amasa – the man who was the object of David’s affection (2 Samuel 19:13).  This same man, the commander of David’s army, is now lying on the ground wallowing in his blood and entrails on the ground.  Who stopped to bury this man?  “And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped.  And when the man saw that all (my emphasis) the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him” (v.12).  All the men stopped to see this injustice being done (though the narrative is silent on the judgment of this scenario) and yet all they did was watch.  Is this not the sin of Adam, that he did not prevent the serpent from continually deceiving Eve?  Is this not the sin of the neighbour (Deuteronomy 22:8)?  Yet, the innocent blood of Abel (Matthew 23:35; Hebrews 12:24) cries out and no one rushes to save Amasa.  Instead, he is lamely covered by a garment (Isaiah 26:21 and Jeremiah 9:1; contrast to Ezekiel 16:8), when he should be covered by the garment of righteousness (Isaiah 61) and the corner of His glorious robe (Ezekiel 16) – but all the men return to mindlessly following Joab (v.13) and not the LORD – desensitized to the madness of this son of Zeruiah. 

As if the poor attempt at concealing the innocence behind the deaths of Uriah, Abner, Absalom and Amasa were not enough – the Hebrew language is itself a witness against Joab’s treachery.  He arrives at Abel of Beth-maacah.  Abel, though not identical in vowels to the name of Adam’s second son, uses the same Hebrew root characters; and Maacah is the name of Absalom’s mother.  Yet, Joab’s connection to these two is that Abel is the first man to die since the foundation of the world, murdered innocently by his brother – just as Joab has murdered David’s flesh Amasa (2 Samuel 19:13) and Absalom mercilessly.  Furthermore, the second connection is revealed by the wise woman’s query: 

2Sa 20:19  I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?” 

Indeed, why will Joab swallow up the heritage of the LORD?  Joab’s denial in v.20 is now especially profound given Amasa’s painful and unwarranted death earlier in the chapter.  More ironically, Joab has already swallowed up the heritage of the LORD – of his lord David, by murdering Absalom, the son of this mother Maacah which bears the same name as the city.  Maacah, the mother of Absalom is a true mother in Israel, though spiritually Beth-maacah may be the birthplace of spiritual sons of God – the Hebrew word-play surely brings out the guilt of Joab in the emblematic stories of Abel and Absalom as Maacah’s son.  Notice how the chapter ends in an anti-climax – does Joab win the battle?  Is he the one to defeat Sheba in a long-drawn heroic and dramatic battle? 

No – instead, we are left with a loquacious wise women, who in her wisdom (first stated in v.16 and repeated in v.22) cut off the head of Sheba.  Joab and his men did not walk in wisdom; yet the woman, in her wisdom, accomplished a clean cut victory in the battle without so much as Joab’s assistance.  His works could not save him; his hands are covered with the blood of the innocent; his military achievements fall drastically short in the face of the shame of this wise woman whose wisdom triumphs Joab’s physical might.  While the people worked together (v.22) in the meadow of the house of Maacah (Abel of Beth-maacah) to destroy this rebellious son of the Benjaminites, Joab’s trumpet call only led to the disperse of people rather than uniting them to worship before the LORD and before David (v.22). 

2 Samuel 20: The wise woman and the son of Zeruiah

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 7: The law for Adam

This chapter then brings us, after the joyous return of the ark of the covenant, to the LORD’s explanation of all these things.  In the words of God we hear that what we have witnessed thus far from the building of the tabernacle onwards to be everything but shadows (v.6), for the tabernacle is but a temporary dwelling place.  The true ‘house’ to be built could not possibly be one built by human hands (v.7).  v.12-13 immediately tells us who this person is.  “He shall come from your body” (v.12), “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever”, (v.14) “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son… when he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, (v.15) but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul… (v.16) Your throne shall be established forever.”

Although it is true that Solomon is the one who builds the temple of God (see 1 Chronicles), it is important that we note the internal contradiction of the LORD’s words if He was to elect Solomon over David.  The LORD’s fundamental reason for not dwelling in a house is because it is built not by judges, not even by the first anointed king of Israel, but by The Appointed One.  It is easy to then assume that this ‘offspring’ is the immediate son of David.  Yet, v.12 is to precede v.16 – this ‘man’s’ kingdom must be established forever before David’s throne can inherit that same blessing.  Solomon may accord blessing to David’s name as his son, but Solomon’s kingdom – like any human’s – was of a limited capacity.  With these internal issues regarding v.6-16, it would be difficult to suggest that this prophetic utterance is primarily about Solomon, when it is more suitably applicable to Jesus our Christ.  Adam Clarke in particular looks at the Hebrew of v.14 which may otherwise be misleading in understanding the Christological focus of this chapter:

“…the Hebrew words do not properly signify what they are now made to speak. It is certain that the principal word, בהעותו  behaavotho, is not the active infinitive of kal, which would be בעותו, but העות from עיה is in niphal, as הגלות from גלה. It is also certain that a verb, which in the active voice signifies to commit iniquity, may, in the passive signify to suffer for iniquity; and hence it is that nouns from such verbs sometimes signify iniquity, sometimes punishment. See Lowth’s Isaiah, p, 187, with many other authorities which shall be produced hereafter. The way being thus made clear, we are now prepared for abolishing our translation, if he commit iniquity; and also for adopting the true one, even in his suffering for iniquity. The Messiah, who is thus the person possibly here spoken of, will be made still more manifest from the whole verse thus translated: I will be his father, and he shall be my son: Even in His Suffering for Iniquity, I shall chasten him with the rod of men, (with the rod due to men), and with the stripes (due to) the children of Adam. And this construction is well supported by Isa_53:4, Isa_53:5 : He hath carried Our Sorrows, (i.e., the sorrows due to us, and which we must otherwise have suffered), he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. See note, p. 479, in Hallet, on Heb_11:26. Thus, then, God declares himself the Father of the Son here meant; (see also Heb_1:5); and promises that, even amidst the sufferings of this Son, (as they would be for the sins of others, not for his own), his mercy should still attend him: nor should his favor be ever removed from this king, as it had been from Saul. And thus (as it follows) thine house (O David) and thy kingdom shall, in Messiah, be established for ever before Me: (before God): thy throne shall be established for ever. Thus the angel, delivering his message to the virgin mother, Luk_1:32, Luk_1:33, speaks as if he was quoting from this very prophecy: The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob For Ever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end. In 2Sa_7:16, לפניך  lephaneycha, is rendered as לפני  lephanai, on the authority of three Hebrew MSS., with the Greek and Syriac versions; and, indeed, nothing could be established for ever in the presence of David, but in the presence of God only.”

What amazement!  The Son is here clearly preached, to exist (as opposed to the emphasis on the future tense in this verse) in relationship with his Father (v.14).  “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” should instead be likely to be read as “I exist (hayah היה) to him as a father, and he exists to me as a son”.  So I continue in a similar vein to Adam Clarke’s observations:
Having thus shown that the words fairly admit here the promise made to David, that from his seed should arise Messiah, the everlasting King; it may be necessary to add that, if the Messiah be the person here meant, as suffering innocently for the sins of others, Solomon cannot be; nor can this be a prophecy admitting such double sense, or be applied properly to two such opposite characters. Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Himself, or of Some Other man? This was a question properly put by the Ethiopian treasurer, (Act_8:34), who never dreamed that such a description as he was reading could relate to different persons; and Philip shows him that the person was Jesus only. So here it may be asked, Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Solomon, or of Christ? It must be answered, Of Christ: one reason is, because the description does not agree to Solomon; and therefore Solomon being necessarily excluded in a single sense, must also be excluded in a double. Lastly, if it would be universally held absurd to consider the promise of Messiah made to Abraham as relating to any other person besides Messiah; why is there not an equal absurdity in giving a double sense to the promise of Messiah thus made to David?

This message about the prophecy of the Son of God as opposed to the mere son of David, Solomon, is further consolidated in David’s response.  Not to only highlight the fact that Israel is such a special nation (v.23) as to be redeemed in the Elect One, there is an indication that Israel is the only nation which the LORD has redeemed for Himself (v.23-24) – a strong reason why Paul uses continually the imagery of Israel as the universal and global church in the spiritual sense, that even Gentiles can be called as children of Abraham and partake in the same olive tree which naturally bears the branches of physically born Israelites (Romans 9-11).  David here, therefore, understands that it is not purely his own house that is being blessed.  He understands that the importance of his own righteousness and salvation could only be established by the foundation of “his” eternal household.  “And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken” (v.25).  Thus, this promise of the Appointed One, the words about the eternal household, about servanthood – none of these are to do with David.  None of these are to do with Solomon.  They are to do with the Christ in whom David places his trust.  The Hebrew of v.19 shows that the LORD is not interested in establishing a kingdom, as if He has not shown enough of that through the temporary nature of the types of Christ, be that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, the judges, David, or even Solomon.  The progressive revelation is that these men, though exalted by God, was never meant to be the heads of the kingdoms – rather, as v.19 shows – “You have spoken also of your servant’s [Jesus’] house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind“.

David knows that this fulfillment will not be immediate; but not only that, this is instruction for the race of adam, for mankind – it is a blessing which has been explicitly voiced in Genesis 3:15 – a blessing for Adam and all those who are born after him, and in the words of Adam Clarke thus we see that David’s conscious faith as a Christ-follower shines as an example to all the Israelites who oftentimes had faith in David rather than His Christ:
“From David’s address to God, after receiving the message by Nathan, it is plain that David understood the Son promised to be The Messiah: in whom his house was to be established for ever. But the words which seem most expressive of this are in this verse now rendered very unintelligibly: And is this the manner of man? Whereas the words וזאת תורת האדם  vezoth torath haadam literally signify, and this is (or must be) the law of the man, or of the Adam; i.e., this promise must relate to the law or ordinance made by God to Adam, concerning the seed of the woman; the man, or the second Adam; as the Messiah is expressly called by St. Paul, 1Co_15:45, 1Co_15:47. This meaning will be yet more evident from the parallel place, 1Ch_17:17, where the words of David are now miserably rendered thus: And thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree; whereas the words וראיתני כתור האדם המעלה  ureithani kethor haadam hammaalah literally signify, and thou hast regarded me according to the order of the Adam that Is Future, or The Man that Is from Above: (for the word המעלה  hammaalah very remarkably signifies hereafter as to time, and from above as to place): and thus St. Paul, including both senses – The Second Man Is the Lord from Heaven – and Adam is the figure of him that was to come, or the future, Rom_5:14. – See the Preface of the late learned Mr. Peters on Job, referred to and confirmed as to this interesting point in a note subjoined to my Sermon on A Virgin Shall Conceive, etc., P. 46-52, 8 vo. 1765. A part of that note here follows: ‘The speech of David (2Sa_7:18-29) is such as one might naturally expect from a person overwhelmed with the greatness of the promised blessing: for it is abrupt, full of wonder, and fraught with repetitions. And now what can David say unto thee? What, indeed! For thou, Lord God knowest thy servant – thou knowest the hearts of all men, and seest how full my own heart is. For thy word’s sake – for the sake of former prophecies, and according to thine own heart – from the mere motive of thy wisdom and goodness, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. I now perceive the reason of those miraculous providences which have attended me from my youth up; taken from following the sheep, and conducted through all difficulties to be ruler of thy people; and shall I distrust the promise now made me? Thy words be true. If the preceding remarks on this whole passage be just and well grounded, then may we see clearly the chief foundation of what St. Peter tells us (Act_2:30) concerning David: that being a prophet, and Knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, etc.’” – Adam Clarke

2 Samuel 7: The law for Adam

1 Samuel 15: The repenting LORD

The genealogy at the end of chapter 14 ushers in the defining identity of Saul as the rebellious first king of Israel, and that the second king of Israel shall redeem the nation unto the LORD – just as we have sinned through the first Adam and have become righteous through the second Adam.  The election of David over Saul is exactly that of the Father’s will, for it is His will to elect Jacob over Esau, as it is ultimately portraying the greater significance that Christ has always been the only true Mediator between man and God.  Adam, Saul and Esau – none of them ever bore their titles truly as privileged firstborn – for they are replaced by the spiritual firstborn children of the LORD represented by the true firstborn Jesus Christ.  And so, “The LORD sent [Samuel] to anoint [Saul] king over the people Israel” (v.1), just as Adam was given the LORD’s breath of life but was a mere shadow of the One who was filled with the Spirit without measure.  The true anointing will be on David, the far better type of Christ than Saul whose anointing was filled with omens that he would lead the Israelites astray.

And like the first man of Eden, so Saul decided to choose what is good and evil in his own eyes – a consequence of our first ancestor eating from that forbidden fruit of the tree.  Did God’s words fall on deaf ears (v.3)?  Why are the Kenites, the apparent allies of Amalek, given reprieve?  Though they looked upon Israel with favour, is their allegiance to the Amalekites entirely overlooked?  Is it for Saul to decide what is worthless and despised by sight but fail to see that the best of the sheep, oxen, calves and lambs, under the headship of Agag, are all spiritually adulterous and unclean in the LORD’s spiritual sight?

Like Eve who saw the goodness of consuming the forbidden fruit and shared it with Adam, so also Saul committed the grave sin of walking by sight by not by faith of what these ‘good’ but forbidden things represented.  They belonged to Agag, just as the fruit belonged not to the tree of life but otherwise.  And though the serpent is spared in the garden by the first adam, yet the serpent is destroyed by Christ as typified in Samuel by His work on the cross.  Where the king who aimed to overtop (“Agag”) was returned to his rightful role of mere tool of God, his self-exaltation is immediately humbled by Christ’s exaltation.  There can be no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), and the servants indeed merely emulated what their head had done – to pounce on the spoils like a ravenous wolf (v.19, c.f. chapter 14:32). The people took the spoils (v.21)?  Another adamic retort, only to shamefully concede and reveal that it is Saul who had listened to the people (v.24), just as Adam had listened to Eve.  Does the head of a church ever submit to the church?  That would be a false gospel (Ephesians 5:22-33):  and so the kingdom is torn from Saul, just as the tearing of the curtain of the Holy Place and Holiest of Holies signified the fulfilment of the law, the end of Saul’s kingdom of Pharisaic obedience – and the beginning of David’s, of the typological second Adam’s, kingdom of Christian faith.  It is indeed better to obey, than to sacrifice (v.22); so it is indeed better to look to Sabbath rest (v.34 – Ramah, the peaceful hometown of Samuel), than to pursue one’s identity in the glories of battles and wars (v.52, v.34 – Gibeah, the hills which bury the memories of tension between Israel and the neighbouring nations).

Thus, the reproach of Egypt is rolled off of Israel, symbolised in the punishment given to Agag in Gilgal (v.33, c.f. Joshua 5:9).  Yet, what of the LORD repenting of his decision to appoint Saul?  Samuel is quick to assume that the LORD is not a man – and yet the Spirited writing of this chapter lead us to conclude that we are indeed made in His Son’s image, that He would grieve and repent of adam’s death, though it would grieve Him far more to subject His son to such divine wrath on our behalf.  The humanity of our LORD is emphasised so much in the final verse of chapter 15:   “And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”  Our LORD is indeed with us – the truth of Immanuel, God with us, is truly expressed here.  The LORD is weeping with Samuel – he has regretted that man was made, echoing the repentance in Genesis 6:6 (the same Hebrew word used: nacham נחם).  And so we should remember to grieve for Adam as the LORD had also; yet, the greater tragedy is not found in the fall of Saul, but in the symbolized fall of mankind.  Though Saul admits of his sins, it was truly the men who had appointed this wretched king – and it pained the LORD to allow them to anoint this false king.  It pained the LORD to see Adam choose himself as king when there is already a walking Mediator between the Father and him (Genesis 3:8).  Yet this regret is more founded upon the emotion of pity; the emotion of sighing – for we know that the LORD had long prophesied the fall of Saul (chapter 8), and thus this regretting has nothing to do with a change of mind.  In spite of this, it does not lessen the weight of sin and the weight of seeing one’s child fall however much one perceives it.  Such is the LORD Who is with us.

1 Samuel 15: The repenting LORD

1 Samuel 13: Saul the first adam

The basic thrust of the message of the Bible is one – either we trust in Christ’s works, or we trust in ours.  Creation, by which the Word of God is first preached (Psalm 19) and by the Word that it was given life, gives us its first testimony of this interceding Word between the Father and adam.  Yet, the story of adam, of man, embodied and manifested in the one head Adam, is that of rebellion against God in the form of righteousness gained by works.  In the form of security gained by one’s own hands.  The message seems just too simple – yet it is entirely universal and deeply ingrained in our depravity.  Where Jesus fellowshipped with us (Genesis 3:8) in the garden which we did not contribute to create (c.f. Genesis 2:15 – we were placed there after being created from the dust beyond the garden), we find instead man time and time again building the towers of Babylon; golden calves; delighting in burnt offerings where the law points not to Christ but to oneself.  (c.f. Romans 3:31)  It is by faith that the law is fulfilled – as the law points to necessary faith in Christ.  To obey the law without faith is to deny the purpose of the law as inherently Christological and not a Christless anthropology.

By heeding Samuel’s advice (1 Samuel 10:8), it would appear that this is a common practice of Saul’s to wait seven days – the time appointed by Samuel.  It is therefore on the eighth day that Samuel is to perform this peace and burnt offering before Saul – for what purpose except to preach that Christ is to rise on the eighth day of the week, the third day after Friday and one day after the Passover which is on the seventh day of the week?  It is to point to that Sacrificial Lamb Who leads us to victory.  Even when all men are trembling, when they head to the direction away from the heart of the Promised Land to the rocky regions of Gilead; even when they hide in holes, rocks, tombs and cisterns; they are desperately seeking solace but to no avail.  They are running away from the Philistines who are hidden (Michmash) in the ease of the house of nothingness – of the house of idols (Bethaven).  What irony that this consolidated group of enemies was once conquered by Israel through Yeshua (Joshua 11:4-9), and yet Saul could not similarly succeed for Israel.  What irony that Israel, the descendants of the great Abraham through whom the LORD promised his children to be as many as “sand on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17) is now threatened by a rampant murderous nation which is joined to destroy God’s people.

Their only hope then, truly, is in Saul – the king whom they have appointed as a symbolic displacement of the Father’s, His Anointed’s, and the Spirit’s roles as their joint Saviour.  If the nation, and Saul, fears the LORD and serves Him and obeys His voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, it will be well (chapter 12:14).

Yet, Saul utterly fails them.  Saul, like Adam, being the head of the church, is a poor representative.  By the sin of one man did the entire nation fall; by the sin of one man did entire mankind fall (Romans 5:19).  Samuel asks him, “What have you done?” (v.11) – and like Adam who blamed God for the woman whom God gave to Adam, so Saul blames it on Samuel.  Yet, although Saul was still at Gilgal (v.7) – it did not mean that he was any more faithful than those who were hiding in the tombs typifying the death they are to receive.  Rather, his acts truly expressed the heart of the nation – a godless nation trying to be priesthood.  Adam, eating the fruit and having his eyes opened and trying to be the Priest of the Garden but forgetting that Jesus is the true life-sustainer and gardener (John 20:15), and that he is but a steward.

The words of Samuel are profound:  “You have done foolishly.  You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you.  For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not continue.  The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD had commanded you” (v.13-14).  Whether we see Saul as the manifestation of the physical church Israel, or even more so as the old adam through whom we are all cursed with death, these words ring true as if words spoken directly to the first man in the edenic garden.  If Adam had kept God’s commandment to refrain from eating of the tree of good and evil, then his kingdom would have continued.  But would it really?  Scores of theologians have questioned whether Adam would have lived forever had he not eaten of that fruit; others have wondered if Adam was under the covenant of works or covenant of faith.  However, there is one firm reality – that he was made in the image of God, and the true image of God before creation has always been God the Son (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; Romans 8:29).  If there is one image to conform, it is not simply that of Adam pre-fall, but that of Christ.  God had chosen Christ to be the head of all creation before Adam (Genesis 1:1 c.f. Hebrew be-resh-it – in the Head, arche, in the LORD – Jesus Christ); God had chosen Christ to be the mediator of all creation before Adam (Isaiah 42:1); God the Father already had a Father-Son dynamic with Christ before Adam, making Adam technically his second son.  Put simply, Adam, Saul, David – none of them were ever truly men after God’s heart; none of them were the prototypical image of God, or even king.  Only Christ was sought out; only Christ had the Father’s heart; only Christ was commanded and that He obeyed His Father before Genesis 1.  Christ was never a plan B.

This is why ever since chapter 8 is the omen that neither Saul, nor David, are the true men after God’s heart.  Indeed, David does bear that title – a man after God’s heart – but he is not the man after God’s heart.  David has not yet been sought out at this stage – and even more so, has not yet been commanded to be prince over his people (v.14).  David is not even in the frame of the story in 1 Samuel 13!  Samuel is instead speaking of Jesus – because He is the subject of the righteous deeds in chapter 12, and that He is the only one who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18 – KJV translation) and thus truly knows his Father’s heart to obey His will and to be the archetypal prince of his people – spiritual Israel.  Thus, Adam, Saul, David, even you – are made in the image of the Father, made to be like Christ.  Yet, it is in David that this typology is seen at its height, for he conforms himself in Spirit to Christ that the whole of Israel is also typologically exalted to display temporarily what a new creation kingdom would look like.  It is important to remember however that no matter how successful Israel, David, or Solomon became, these are all but shadows – because the true temple has always been residing in heaven (c.f. Numbers 8:4; Hebrews 8:5), and through Israel are these eternal truths expressed most clearly in the form of understandable shadows.  Israel should have never trusted in their kings, nor judges – but in the One who brought them out of Egypt.

And so this chapter ends on a bittersweet note – we have Jonathan, the great friend of David, alongside his father.  Both of them are the only men of Israel, only six hundred of whom have survived (or have stayed with Saul) from the previous onslaught and now they are clearly surrounded with enemies (v.16-18).  What they need is a good spiritual Head to lead them through these trials, and yet the chapter ends with setting itself for a possible massacre for the Israelites: the large numbers of men with their superior weaponry against a tired and disobedient king.  It would seem that Jonathan is the only one who will conquer by faith that God is the one who is victorious on our behalf.

1 Samuel 13: Saul the first adam