2 Chronicles 1-3: Solomon the Priest-King

Chapter 1

In Solomon’s first act as king upon his second anointing, he immediately spoke to all Israel – the intimacy of speech being also God’s first act to us, Him speaking to us the Word (John 1), followed immediately by burnt offering, a hopeful sign that Solomon understands his position as sinner before the LORD our Redeemer and Saviour.  Rather than going directly to Jerusalem where the ark was, he understood that his sin needed to be typologically dealt with at the altar first, as a sign to the Israelites and the neighbouring countries.  This contextualises Solomon’s thirst for wisdom in v.7-13, as opposed to the common possessions, wealth, honour or lives of those who hate Solomon.  He would rather bless the kingdom with the Wisdom of God, and in turn be given these things which are inherited by the meek (Matthew 5:5). So also Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52), and it is by this Wisdom (Proverbs 8), the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2), that kings shall truly reign (c.f. v. 13).

Chapter 2

This is followed by Solomon’s humility in understanding that this house, this temple, is but a shadow – “who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him?  Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (v.6).  Indeed, not even highest heaven can contain the Trinity, led alone some earthly temple which unfortunately has become a place of over-emphasis when Christ, and not His shadow, is the focal point.  Hiram, the king of Tyre, is first of many non-Israelites to understand this crucial Christian message.  It is “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made [Solomon] king over them” (v.11).  So also, because the LORD loves us so much that He has given us His only begotten son Jesus Christ to be king over us (John 3:16), secured only through his victory on the cross.  What glory to witness Hiram praising the LORD (v.12), contributing also to the work of the temple by the hand of a man with mixed blood – son of both Dan and Tyre (v.14), followed by a description in v.17 of the resident aliens in Israel.  The LORD surely does not only have eyes for Israel, but also for the glory of the Gentiles.

Chapter 3

The work is done on none other than the place where Isaac was to be sacrificed (Genesis 22) and where the LORD provided a substitutionary ram, until the day the Lamb of God would be provided.  It is here that the Lamb is slain on the cross, and it is also here that the glorious temple is built, where the wrath on David was averted by the Angel of the LORD – Jesus Himself.

The remaining commentary of the work of the Temple can be found in my posts on 1 Kings 6-10.  However, it is again important to note the focus of the narrator here that the priestly nature of Chronicles places the work of the temple at the forefront of Solomon’s ministry and role as priest-king, immediately after his speech with the Israelites and burnt offering at the bronze altar of Gibeon.

2 Chronicles 1-3: Solomon the Priest-King

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

From chapters 4 to 7, the narrator shifts focus from the genealogy of the promised Seed to the House from which the Seed is born.  Note that the sons of Israel are born in the following order:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Dinah
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Yet, in 1 Chronicles 4-7, they are described in the following order:

  • Judah
  • Simeon
  • Reuben
  • Gad
  • Half tribe Manasseh
  • Levi (including Zebulun)
  • Issachar
  • Ben
  • Naphtali
  • Manasseh
  • Ephraim
  • Asher

It is not clear why the order has been switched – although it becomes apparent when we refer to Genesis 48 and 49, where the Spirit of God speaks through Jacob and blesses his sons, prophesying specifically that the Christ shall come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) – hence, 1 Chronicles 4 begins not with Reuben the firstborn, but with Judah, to which we turn to now.

Judah

Genesis 49:8-12 –

8  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9  Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10  The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11  Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

12  His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk.

This is the only tribe whose description includes a detailed story of a man of God.  This is the story of Jabez (Ch 4:8-10), who (compared to the other tribes) proves to walk in the light of Christ; not to mention Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, is also named after a man of Judah (Ch 4:4).  Furthermore, Judah’s reputation exceeds those of the other tribes.  As described under Simeon’s description, the men “did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah”.  Such is the blessing of childbirth through Judah, in ensuring that the Messiah’s light is not extinguished from this anointed bloodline.

Simeon

Genesis 49:5-7 –

5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.

It is interesting that with this tribe in particular, it is noted that they are inferior in number to Judah (Ch 4:27), and that the cities they lived in were theirs, until David reigned (Ch 4:30).  They also rested in the land, which the former inhabitants belonged to Ham (Genesis 9:22) – the father of the Canaanites.  Indeed, they are thus divided and scattered, without the glory bestowed upon Judah.

Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 –

“3  “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4  Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!”

Thus the firstborn of Israel is disgraced; the Son of God could have been born through Reuben, and yet – like the firstborn Adam – it is from another son that the Second Person shall be born from.  Unstable as water, Reuben shall not have pre-eminence – and instead, Judah shall become “strong among his brothers… and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph”.  Of this, Adam Clarke comments:

 

This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: “From Judah the King

Messiah shall proceed.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: “Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph.

And Matthew Henry too also states:

The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling his father’s concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to excel, Gen. xlix. 4. Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency. Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men’s names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben’s seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben’s sin. Yet, though that tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness. Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any one, and therefore they were divided. (1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child’s part (for so Jacob by faith blessed them, Heb. xi. 21; Gen. xlviii. 15, 22), and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But, (2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10. Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time, Messiah the Prince, Mic. v. 2. This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph’s; and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.

Gad

Genesis 49:19

19  “Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels.

Thus, with Gad, his tribe is compared to the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh – valiant men expert in war (Ch 5:18), crying out to God in battle in defeat of the Hagrites (described to be from the line of Hagar according to Smith’s dictionary – “The same people, as confederate against Israel, are mentioned in (Psalms 83:6) It is generally believed that they were named after Hagar, and that the important town and district of Hejer , on the borders of the Persian Gulf, represent them.”)

Half-tribe of Manasseh

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.””

Indeed, although Manasseh is the elder, he is only blessed secondary to Ephraim’s blessing in Genesis 48 – for Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh.   Perhaps Jacob saw that the half-tribe would break faith with the God of their fathers (v.25) by whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land.  Thus, their genealogy is relegated to a mere description of how them, the Gadites and the Reubenites are exiled by the king of Assyria.  They are described once more in chapter 7:14-19, though nothing remarkable is described.

Levi

Genesis 49:5-7 –

“5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.”

And now we come to the tribe of Levi.  It is interesting that the LORD did not choose Judah, or the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to become the anointed men of priestly work.  Instead, the LORD chose Levi – who wields weapons of violence; who in their anger they killed men (c.f. Moses smiting an Egyptian man, a typical response of a Simeonite / Levite in revenge, Exodus 2:12).  This is the reason why the Levites do not own their portion of land like the other tribes (c.f. Joshua 13:33 – the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance; Ch 6:63, 77 – some land taken from Zebulun which is not otherwise mentioned between chapters 4 and 7).  Though they are scattered (Ch 6:61-65), it is for a different reason – to highlight the mercy and grace of our LORD.  Though Simeon rests in the land of the Canaanites, Levi rests in the arms of the LORD by His election.  These are “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there”.  David, a man of music, would relegate such an important role to the elected priesthood by example (1 Samuel 16:23), which would otherwise remain as wrathful murderers unwilling to receive the grace and mercy of the Father through Christ.

Issachar

Genesis 49:14-15 –

14  “Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

15  He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor.

Just as Issachar is described as a strong donkey, so in chapter 7:1-5 we see that they were all mighty warriors.

Benjamin

Genesis 49:27 –

27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Benjaminites, too, were known to be mighty warriors – the ravenous wolf that they are.

Naphtali

Genesis 49:21

21  “Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns.

It is interesting that save for Judah, Levi, and Ephraim (further described below), the other tribes are known for wars; they are known to be preparing for conflict.  Yet, Judah, Levi and Ephraim are known for peace; for enjoying the true Sabbath that God made for Adam upon the next day of Adam’s birth.  It is not incidental that in New Creation it shall be a feast of peace and our lives of conflict, now, are but temporary.  Naphtali, according to the prophecy, falls somewhat into character as the Chronicler does not provide much detail – neither revealing whether they have fallen into the side of war or peace.

Ephraim

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

This promised and blessed younger son of Joseph bore, among others, Joshua the son of Nun.  It is from this tribe that the typological shepherd, Yeshua, hails (Ch 7:27).  The immediate description of Manasseh prior to Ephraim, closing with the land of the Manassites in v.29 in fact shows the dichotomy between the future of Manasseh compared to Ephraim; Manasseh, which broke faith; Manasseh, which owned Megiddo, the place of Josiah’s death; Ephraim, which bore the typological Messiah of the Hebrews, ushering their new age in Canaan.  Ephraim seen as ushering peace, owning much land; Manasseh seen as rebellious, causing much strife.

Asher

Genesis 49:20 –

“20  “Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies.”

Thus, unsurprisingly, Asher too is described to include mighty warriors and chiefs of the princes (Ch 7:40).

Zebulun and Dan – summary of the tribes in the history of redemption

Yet, what of Zebulun and Dan?  Zebulun’s land is referred to, a portion of which is given to the Levites above.  In Genesis 49:13, they were prophesied to “dwell at the shore of the sea”; to “become a haven for ships”, and their “border shall be at Sidon”.  Zebulun seems to be traditionally shrouded in anonymity compared to the other tribes; but this is positive compared to Dan’s deliberate omission from John’s book of Revelation.  Like Chronicles, the tribe of Joseph appears twice in Revelation (Revelation 7:6, 7:8).  Thus, just as 1 Chronicles 4 opened with the reminder that the Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, the typological Messiah from Ephraim, the gospel mercy of the LORD through Christ showered upon the Levites, the significance of which is not equally borne by the other tribes who shadow under the physical firstborn Reuben – a man of war and rebellion – we end chapter 7 with a reminder that the Anti-Christ is a man from within.  Just as Christ was a man not loved by his own (John 1:10-11), so also the Satan and His children (John 8:44) shall pretend to judge his own people, being a serpent in the way, biting the heel of the horse.  That is why Jacob yearned for the salvation of Christ (Genesis 49:18) – for it is Dan who acts as judge, but the LORD is true judge who shall give life for those in His Son and not death:

Genesis 49: 16-18 –

“16  “Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17  Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

18  I wait for your salvation, O LORD.”

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

2 Kings 23-25: The Exile of Judah, the Beginning of Hope

II Kings 23:

1 Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.

2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.

3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

 

The reformation of king Josiah therefore continues – for the first time in many decades is it recorded that a king would make a covenant before the LORD and with all the people joining in the covenant.  This is truly a shadow of the propitiatory penal substitution of Christ, our King who made a covenant with the Father and that we should join in this same covenant (John 17).  For who can love God with all his heart and all his soul except the Son who is at the Father’s bosom, at the Father’s side, before creation (John 1:18)?

 

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.

5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.

6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.

7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.

8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.

9 However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.

10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech.

11 And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

12 And the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down and broke in pieces and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.

13 And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

14 And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men.

15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah.

 

Verses 4 to 15 are beautiful – they are reminiscent of the work of the judges (c.f. Gideon, Judges 6) at a greater scale, the destruction of all idols leaving but the one appointed bronze altar as a reminder that there is but one sacrifice (Ephesians 4:5).  Verses 4-6 and 10 are reminders that Kidron (turbid) valley is the same place where Jesus was betrayed (John 18); and it is in this same place that David mourned (2 Samuel 15:23) as his own kin Absalom betrayed him.  So also here, the Kidron is a place of impurity, bearing witness to the sins of Israel and its idolatries and prostitution.   Indeed, it is not a place of clarity – but it is muddy, turbid, unclear, filled with corruption.

 

Rightly should Josiah go on to defile Topheth (v.10), named as such as it became a place of burning, a drum, in the Valley of the Son of Lamentation (Hinnom), lamenting the death of the sons and daughters offered to Molech.  Thus also the idols of even king Solomon and Jeroboam were destroyed – the abomination of the Sidonians, Moab, and Ammonites (c.f. Deuteronomy 18:9; 20:18).

 

16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.

17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.”

18 And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.

19 And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel.

20 And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

 

The cleansing is thorough – and Josiah thus fulfils the prophecy made in 1 Kings 13:2-3, the prophecy made against the line of Jeroboam which many sinful kings have walked in, implying an end to the evil king’s corruption spreading throughout Israel.  Josiah knows that this man is indeed a man of God, contrary to the recipients of his cleansing in the previous verses – indeed, “Let him be; let no man move his bones”.  His bones shall not be defiled (1 Kings 13:32).  Thus, the bones are preserved, not because cremation is a practice not for Christians; rather, the burning of the human bones on the same altars built by these sinful men is a pronouncement of the LORD’s judgment against them.  These men did not accept the sacrifice of the one lamb, the one LORD, Christ – and instead, they stand outside of htem whereby they too shall receive the wrath of the Father that Christ did on the cross.  Shall we, too, be burned on our own altars for presumptuously relying on more than the cross?  Or shall we look only to the sacrificial scapegoat, the slaughtered Lamb, and remember that He is sufficient in his propitiatory work?  Josiah’s reformation and specific acts are a timely reminder to look only to Christ, our Passover Lamb, and remember that is sufficient in a time of zealous but empty religiosity:

 

 

21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”

22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.

23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.

24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

 

There is indeed no king like Josiah, following after the words of Deuteronomy 18.  As is the fitting description in 2 Chronicles 34:33 – 33  And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.”  The Passover was of such significance to Josiah that “no passover like it has been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet” (c.f. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, especially v. 18).  It is a depressing state of events, where no king has kept such as Passover as was kept by Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:19).

 

ALL his days they did not turn away – what a glorious period, perhaps even greater than the period of Solomon who had ushered in idolatry even during his time.  Yet, the LORD’s wrath is not turned – for Josiah is but a king, and Christ is the true king who shall usher in the end times of reformation and sanctification until His second return.  Josiah’s name is not enough – Christ’s name is the one that the LORD wishes to imprint into Jerusalem, after it is refined through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity:

 

26 Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.

27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

29 In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him, and Pharaoh Neco killed him at Megiddo, as soon as he saw him.

30 And his servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.

 

Although not fully recorded in 2 Kings 23, the death of Josiah is perhaps more fully explained in 2 Chronicles 35:

 

“20  After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah went out to meet him. 21  But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22  Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23  And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24  So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25  Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments. 26  Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his good deeds according to what is written in the Law of the LORD, 27  and his acts, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”

 

We see that Josiah entered into a quarrel that was not against Israel, but against the king of Assyria (also recorded in v.29 of this chapter).  What we see increasingly, however, is the LORD working through these neighbouring nations to bring a (temporary) end to Israel (c.f. 2 Kings 24:3).  It is indeed the LORD’s plan to pit Neco and Assyria against one another, and Josiah’s intervention is arguably part of the LORD’s plan too, in fulfillment of His own prophecy (c.f. 2 Kings 22:20).  His death is neither untimely nor abrupt – it is intentional, for it shows Josiah’s powerlessness as the type of Christ against the LORD’s allowance that chaos and darkness reign before the incarnation of the Light of lights (Genesis 1:2-3).  The senselessness of the death of Josiah is but a firm reminder that even in a holy man like Josiah, in direct contrast to Manasseh, that salvation was never through the kings but through Christ alone, the Passover Lamb Whom Josiah looked forward to.

 

See Matthew Henry’s commentary on Josiah’s death:

 

“Notwithstanding this he was cut off by a violent death in the midst of his days, and his kingdom was ruined within a few years after. Consequent upon such a reformation as this, one would have expected nothing but the prosperity and glory both of king and kingdom; but, quite contrary, we find both under a cloud… Yet even this destruction was intended to be their effectual reformation; so that we must say, not only that the criminals had filled their measure and were ripe for ruin, but also that the disease had come to a crisis, and was ready for a cure; and this shall be all the fruit, even the taking away of sin. As an evidence of this, even the reforming king is cut off in the midst of his usefulness–in mercy to him, that he might not see the evil which was coming upon his kingdom, but in wrath to his people, for his death was an inlet to their desolations. The king of Egypt waged war, it seems, with the king of Assyria: so the king of Babylon is now called. Josiah’s kingdom lay between them. He therefore thought himself concerned to oppose the king of Egypt, and check the growing, threatening, greatness of his power; for though, at this time, he protested that he had no design against Josiah, yet, if he should prevail to unite the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates, the land of Judah would soon be overflowed between them. Therefore Josiah went against him, and was killed in the first engagement, 29, 30. Here, (1.) We cannot justify Josiah’s conduct. He had no clear call to engage in this war, nor do we find that he asked counsel of God by urim or prophets concerning it. What had he to do to appear and act as a friend and ally to the king of Assyria? Should he help the ungodly and love those that hate the Lord? If the kings of Egypt and Assyria quarrelled, he had reason to think God would bring good out of it to him and his people, by making them instrumental to weaken one another. Some understand the promise made to him that he should come to his grave in peace in a sense in which it was not performed because, by his miscarriage in this matter, he forfeited the benefit of it. God has promised to keep us in all our ways; but, if we go out of our way, we throw ourselves out of his protection. I understand the promise so as that I believe it was fulfilled, for he died in peace with God and his own conscience, and saw not, nor had any immediate prospect of, the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; yet I understand the providence to be a rebuke to him for his rashness… We must adore God’s righteousness in taking away such a jewel from an unthankful people that knew not how to value it. They greatly lamented his death (2 Chron. xxxv. 25), urged to it by Jeremiah, who told them the meaning of it, and what a threatening omen it was; but they had not made a due improvement of the mercies they enjoyed by his life, of which God taught them the worth by the want.”

 

However, this is not a senselessness without hope.  The victory of Christ is assured.  In the words of Dev Menon in his commentary on Revelation: … the armies of the world assemble at the Mount of Megiddo, the very place where Josiah (God supports) was pierced (2 Chronicles 35, Zechariah 12, John 19:37). That is the place of their destruction. The place of the cross.”  In the midst of the battle between Assyria and Egypt, Megiddo is the place of the cross where the restoration of New Jerusalem begins and the refinement of creation leads to the destruction of those standing outside of Christ.  However, for now, not yet.

 

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

32 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

33 And Pharaoh Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and laid on the land a tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

34 And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away, and he came to Egypt and died there.

35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.

 

Thus, Jehoahaz (whom the LORD sustains), the son of Josiah is anointed by the people, although walking in the ways rejected by His father.  He is immediately placed under bonds in Riblah in the land of Hamath and made the land a tributary to Egypt.  Instead, Pharoah Neco takes away the anointed son, and opts for Eliakim (raised up by God) changing his name to Jehoiakim (whom Jehovah sets up / resurrects).  There is, however, a question over why Pharoah Neco would change Eliakim’s name (which already is in reverence to the LORD) except to indicate that the Pharoah indeed believes he is the LORD who set up Eliakim – not the LORD who anointed Jehoahaz and the kings before him.  The Pharoah, in understanding the hope of the Israelites, has thus removed any anointed son of God, any potential Messiah, and instead opted for his own king whom he set up and through whom would do Pharoah Neco’s bidding.  Yet, there will come a day where the true Jehoiakim, whom the Father resurrects, the Anointed Son that will be itself a kingdom of heaven and earth for all other nations to be spiritual tributaries to it (Isaiah 2:2-5).

 

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

37 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

 

II Kings 24:

1 In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him.

2 And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets.

3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done,

4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.

5 Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

7 And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.

 

Israel’s return to slavery in Egypt is a reversal of the events of Exodus – and once again, the nation is enslaved even further into the hands of the Babylonians.  This is because the anointed kings have not walked in the ways of David the type of Christ – shedding innocent blood when they should be relying on the blood of the Lamb.  Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, Jehoiachin, the son of brass (Nehushta c.f. 2 Kings 18:4) continues to reign in evil as the darkest time of Israel ushers near.

 

 

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.

9  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it,

12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign

13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold.

 

Thus, the work of Josiah is undone (2 Kings 22-23), the treasures of the house of the LORD removed and cut in pieces (c.f. Deuteronomy 28:49; 2 Kings 20:17).  Note in particular the LORD’s usage of Nebuchadnezzar in relation to Israel as observed by Adam Clarke:

 

“It has been remarked that Nebuchadnezzar spoiled the temple three times.-1. He took away the greater part of those treasures when he took

Jerusalem under Jehoiakim: and the vessels that he took then he placed in the temple of his god, Da 1:2. And these were the vessels which Belshazzar profaned, Da 5:2; and which Cyrus restored to Ezra, when he went up to Jerusalem, Ezr 1:2.  It was at this time that he took Daniel and his companions. 2. He took the remaining part of those vessels, and broke them or cut them in pieces, when he came the second tine against Jerusalem under Jeconiah; as is mentioned here, 2Ki 24:13. 3. He pillaged the temple, took away all the brass, the brazen pillars, brazen vessels, and vessels of gold and silver, which he found there when he besieged Jerusalem under Zedekiah, 2Ki 25:13-17.”

 

 

14 He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land.

15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

16 And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war.

17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

19 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

20 For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.

 

And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

 

In similar manner to the replacement of Jehoahaz, so also Jehoiachin is replaced by another – Mattaniah (gift of Jehovah), whose name is changed to Zedekiah (justice of Jehovah) – ironically so, as this justice is believed by the king of Babylon to be brought by the king who sees himself as Jehovah.  What arrogance of Pharoah Neco and the king of Babylon, seeing themselves as the LORD who sets up and the LORD who imparts justice!  They will be recipients of such justice when they look upon the victory of the cross at Megiddo, at the place where Josiah was pierced, and regret that they made a mockery of the visible LORD who is resurrected by the LORD of the third heaven.

 

II Kings 25:

1 And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it.

2 So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

3 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.

4 Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah.

5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him.

6 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him.

7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.

 

Yet, this justice of Jehovah is destroyed – a fulfillment of the wrath of God against Israel, the temporary serving of justice upon the appointed nation.  In a time of no food, in the worst time of Israel, the king of Judah was judged – for what reason?  Because the kings of Israel did not follow Christ.  What irony that the men of Israel went in the direction of the Arabah (burnt up) and Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of fertility (Riblah).  The LORD thus passed the just judgment upon Zedekiah as the representative of Israel, through Babylon – the utmost shame of being sentenced by a godless and arrogant nation.   Not only the destruction of the king, but also the destruction of the house of the LORD (1 Kings 6) – the house in which the true king shall reign forever.  Yet, let us remember – “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)  Indeed – the house of the LORD is not this pitiful temple (which is but a shadow, a temporary rendition of the heavenly home) but the new dwelling place that the LORD is preparing for us (John 14:2-3).

 

8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.

9 And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.

10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile.

12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.

13 And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the bronze to Babylon.

14 And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service,

15 the fire pans also and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver.

16 As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight.

17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a capital of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits. A latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were all around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with the latticework.

18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold,

19 and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city, and the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city.

20 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.

21 And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.

 

Note the brief description of the items in the house of the LORD – the gold, the silver, the bronze – the pillars of the House (Jachin and Boaz, He shall establish and alacrity respectively), and the chief priest Seraiah (prince of the LORD) and Zephaniah (hidden by Jehovah) – all struck down and put to death at the land of fertility (Riblah).  The irony.  Thus, Judah was taken into exile – the hope of the LORD, the offspring of Adam (Genesis 3:15), the gospel at an end.

 

Yet, that is not true – for the LORD’s kingdom shall be established; no matter how dark the chaos, the light shall reign – the light shall defeat darkness without contention.  Although neither Zedekiah nor the house stand in the face of such oppression, let us remember the hope that the LORD has given to David:

 

2 Samuel 7:11-16 – “And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

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,

15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.

16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

 

He is not Solomon – He is the Christ, who shall build a house for His Father, preparing rooms for His co-heirs, establishing the throne of the Father’s kingdom forever.  Christ is His Son, disciplined by the rod of men on the cross when he bore our sins – the piercing being the stripes of the sons of men, but His Father’s love never departing the Messiah.  Thus, and only on that day, shall the kingdom of Christ reign forever – his throne established forever.  The grand plan of the Messiah shall come to fruition.

 

22 And over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor.

23 Now when all the captains and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite.

24 And Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.”

25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck down Gedaliah and put him to death along with the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah.

26 Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

 

In the seventh month, the month of Tishri (the same month as the Day of Atonement; c.f. Leviticus 23:27), the month of beginnings, Ishmael of the royal family came with ten men and struck down the governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, at Mizpah (the watch-tower).  This is a time of waiting, a time when the people – both small and great – scattered to Egypt for they were afraid of the Babylonians / Chaldeans.

 

Now, we turn to the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah (decades since 2 Kings 24).  The time skip is between v.26 to v.27, for the narrator wants us to be reminded of the hope of 2 Samuel 7 – that, in the twelfth month, before Nisan – the month of the Passover, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar (Evil-merodach, the fool of death) freed Jehoiachin.  Instead of Zedekiah, the narrator chose to look at the grace bestowed upon Jehoiachin, whom Jehovah has appointed, as this king of Judah is freed from the pit and was given a seat above the seats of the kings in Babylon.  Jehoiachin is thus no longer a prisoner, but walks with his head higher than the kings.

 

27 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison.

28 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon.

29 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table,

30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.

 

Yet, what led us to this place?  What led us to Evil-merodach’s change of heart from Nebuchadnezzar?  This is a story left for the next books, revealing much more of God’s plan of redemption through Christ, the restoration of His house (2 Chronicles 36:22-23), and the ushering of His Son’s incarnation.

2 Kings 23-25: The Exile of Judah, the Beginning of Hope

Married

Hi all – apologies for my hiatus from writing (consistently) for so long.  I am now happily married 🙂 In keeping up with this blog/commentary, hopefully what Christ teaches me through the mysterious and spiritual Book of Life – the Word of God – will only serve to enrich our oneness as man and wife.

Ephesians 5:22-33, the Great Gospel, is what marriage is all about.  How about time we learned about the first marriage before Adam and EveChrist and His Bride?

 

Married

2 Samuel 23: The Three and the Church

From David’s prophetic song of Christ in 2 Samuel 22, we move to David’s last words, which once again can point only away from himself. V.5 in particular – “he has made with me an everlasting covenant”: is this covenant broken when the house of David has been scattered and dispersed?  No – we are indeed grafted in the house of David by Christ Himself.  For David’s last words, by the Spirit of the LORD, proclaims the Son of God as the Man who secures one’s eternality in the everlasting House of Israel.  To His children, He is the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth (v.4) – yet to those standing outside of Christ, these worthless men are subject of a consuming fire (v.7 – Genesis 19:24; Daniel 3:27; compare Genesis 2:5 and Genesis 7:4).

2Sa 23:1-39  Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:  (2)  “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.  (3)  The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,  (4)  he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.  (5)  “For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?  (6)  But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand;  (7)  but the man who touches them arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they are utterly consumed with fire.”

What is interesting to note is that honorific verses following David’s praise of the LORD is key to understanding David’s theology when he describes the good works of the saints; the righteousness of the saints; the cleanness of the saints.  The praise song of David in the previous chapter recognizes that it is the LORD who rebukes the waters; it is the LORD who forgives men of sins; it is the LORD who lights the dark path which David would have otherwise trodden.  Similarly, it is the LORD who has made with David an everlasting covenant – ordered in all things and secure (v.5).  Such assurance of faith is not the same as one who is relying on his “clean” hands for salvation; rather, it is salvation which came first, then came these mighty men.

Note in particular verses 3 and 4 which is currently translated in the ESV as:

3The God of Israel has spoken;

the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
4he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

Adam Clarke notes that v.3 should be far more theocentric – “He that ruleth over men must be just” (מושל באדם צדיק  moshel baadam tsaddik), or “He that ruleth in man is the just one”; or, “The just one is the ruler among men”.  It is clear that from Clarke’s rendition of the Hebrew, we cannot escape that this “ruler” is not speaking of any men; it isn’t speaking as if David should aspire to be the alpha and omega of the meaning behind this “ruler”.  Rather, this ruler is the just one.  Clarke goes on to say regarding the latter half of v.3, “It is by God’s fear that Jesus Christ rules the hearts of all his followers; and he who has not the fear of God before his eyes, can never be a Christian”, explicitly referring to this “ruler” whom David refers to as Christ Jesus.  If so, the verses following make more sense – this Ruler, the Light of the world, shall be “like the morning light” (c.f. Genesis 1, “Let there be light” – light is not created on day 1, but is the first Word proclaimed by the Father).  Clarke also continues in the same vein of thinking: “As the Messiah seems to be the whole subject of these last words of David, he is probably the person intended. One of Dr. Kennicott’s MSS. Supplies the word יהוה  Yehovah; and he therefore translates, As the light of the morning ariseth Jehovah… He shall be the Sun of righteousness, bringing salvation in his rays, and shining – illuminating the children of men, with increasing splendor, as long as the sun and moon endure.”

Yet, it is important to recognize that not all of these mighty men were cut from the same cloth as we turn back to them from v.8 onwards.  We begin with the three:

(8)  These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.  (9)  And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew.  (10)  He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the LORD brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.  (11)  And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines.  (12)  But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory.  (13)  And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.  (14)  David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem.  (15)  And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!”  (16)  Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD  (17)  and said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

Note how David, upon the willing sacrifice of these three loyal men (c.f. event of v.13 was recorded in 2 Samuel 5:17), poured out what David had considered to be their blood (v.17) to the LORD (v.16) – and such is the definitive picture of the Christ, poured out and anointed (the Hebrew for “poured” in v.16 is nasak, נָסַךְ, which could mean both “poured out” and used in the context of the anointing of a king) before the LORD to fulfill that true thirst of David (Matthew 26:28; John 4:10-11; Revelation 7:17), the water which came from the house of bread the birthplace of the incarnate Son of God.  These three are akin to the missional Trinity, working as one family of different roles and Persons to fulfil the salvific work glorified through the Son; the wise Tehchemonite, the aided Eleazar, son of love and rest, and Shammah born of desolation, inflicting judgment and wrath.  Is this not the united truth of the Triune Elohim, the wisdom of the Spirit leading us to the beloved and aided Son of the love and Sabbath rest to come from the Father who inflicts both his overflowing love and wrath through His God-man Elect One.

(18)  Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against three hundred men and killed them and won a name beside the three.  (19)  He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.  (20)  And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.  (21)  And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  (22)  These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men.  (23)  He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.  (24)  Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,  (25)  Shammah of Harod, Elika of Harod,  (26)  Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa,  (27)  Abiezer of Anathoth, Mebunnai the Hushathite,  (28)  Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah,  (29)  Heleb the son of Baanah of Netophah, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin,  (30)  Benaiah of Pirathon, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,  (31)  Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Bahurim,  (32)  Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,  (33)  Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,  (34)  Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam the son of Ahithophel of Gilo,  (35)  Hezro of Carmel, Paarai the Arbite,  (36)  Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,  (37)  Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah,  (38)  Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite,  (39)  Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all.

And it is from v.18 to 39 that we see the church formation – from David the pastor, to the three elders / deacons (Numbers 11; Titus 1; 1 Timothy 3), to the church.  Here we see the hierarchy of the early ancient church which had begun in Moses’ time, which truly stems from the Trinitarian creator Elohim who had commanded Adam to populate the earth with His children (though it seems the mandate came after the fall in His promise of the Son as Messiah – Genesis 3:15-16), rather than children of darkness.  It is in the names of these 37 (including David), that we are brought to recognize the might of these heroes of David’s league – from Abishai (father of gift) who as chief of the thirty won his name in walking victoriously before the three hundred men, to Benaiah, the man whom Yahweh has built up and struck down the heroes of Moab ( ית תרין רברבי מואב  yath terein rabrebey Moab, “The two princes of Moab.” – according to Adam Clarke’s translation) (v.18-20); he who also struck down a lion and approached the man of appearance, the powerful seemingly supernatural (as the Hebrew would describe it) man of Egypt with his seemingly feeble staff, only to turn on the enemy with his own weapon (Habbakuk 3:14).

And these are but the great deeds (c.f. v.20) of two of the thirty, let alone the God-made (Asahel) to He has saved (Helez); from milk and full richness / fatness (Heleb) to whom God is salvation (Eliphelet); but also from my God rejects (Elika) to shady (Zalmon); from desolation and astonishment (Shammah) to scabby (Gareb).  We do not merely have men of renown, but also men of disrepute; men of Israel, but also men who have newly joined Israel (e.g. Ittai); and in this thirty we see the great mixed multitude of the church brought out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38), of the prophecy fulfilled (Genesis 9) and the Gentiles and Israelites fulfilling the commission of the Trinity in the same tent (Isaiah 54:2).  Note especially Matthew Henry’s words in closing of this chapter:

“The surnames here given them are taken, as it should seem, from the places of their birth or habitation, as many surnames with us originally were. From all parts of the nation, the most wise and valiant were picked up to serve the king. Several of those who are named we find captains of the twelve courses which David appointed, one for each month in the year, 1 Chr. 27. Those that did worthily were preferred according to their merits. One of them was the son of Ahithophel (2Sa_23:34), the son famous in the camp as the father at the council-board. But to find Uriah the Hittite bringing up the rear of these worthies, as it revives the remembrance of David’s sin, so it aggravates it, that a man who deserved so well of his king and country should be so ill treated. Joab is not mentioned among all these, either, (1.) to be mentioned; the first, of the first three sat chief among the captains, but Joab was over them as general. Or, (2.) Because he was so bad that he did not deserve to be mentioned; for though he was confessedly a great soldier, and one that had so much religion in him as to dedicate of his spoils to the house of God (1Ch_26:28), yet he lost as much honour by slaying two of David’s friends as ever he got by slaying his enemies.

Christ, the Son of David, has his worthies too, who like David’s, are influenced by his example, fight his battles against the spiritual enemies of his kingdom, and in his strength are more than conquerors. Christ’s apostles were his immediate attendants, did and suffered great things for him, and at length came to reign with him. They are mentioned with honour in the New Testament, as these in the Old, especially, Rev_21:14. Nay, all the good soldiers of Jesus Christ have their names better preserved than even these worthies have; for they are written in heaven. This honour have all his saints.”

It is also important for us not to forget the refrain in v.19 and v.23 – “but he did not attain to the three”.  There is something special about the three which is fundamentally different from the thirty.  Though they had enjoyed the equal fellowship of David the King, they were not of a compromised quality like the son of Zeruiah – let alone that Joab has not even been mentioned amongst these great men (1 Kings 2:5); but the key difference lies in them pouring out their life for David as if pouring out their blood before the LORD.  In the three, we see a picture of the Trinity working through the Son in achieving that great picture of redemption in the pouring out of the water.  This is not a duty which the sons of Zeruiah can do.

Finally, what a sting it is that Uriah should be mentioned at the end of the thirty, as if to highlight once again that David is but one of these men and not the true centre of the three, nor the true king of the great thirty or of the chosen nation Israel.  He is no different and is redeemed from his humble youth and anointed king despite being the grand schemer, murderer and adulterer who had been promised to be given an eternal kingdom through his offspring (2 Samuel 7), just as Adam had (Genesis 3:15) the moment he subverted Christ’s headship and replaced it with the serpent’s.

2 Samuel 23: The Three and the Church

2 Samuel 21: Saul’s house of peace

Chapter 20 ends on a very similar narrative structure compared to chapter 8 – an end of a period of David’s life and a summation of whom is in charge of what ministry.  The remaining chapters of 2 Samuel therefore are overarching conclusions to a grand coverage of David’s magnificent typological life of Christ throughout these two books.   

Like the end of Genesis where a famine brought Abram to Egypt (Genesis 12:10); Isaac went to the Philistines (Genesis 26:1); Israel to Egypt (Genesis 42:5); from Bethlehem in Judah to Moab (Rush 1:1); and now in the time of David.  Famine is a time when the children of God are banished from home and are brought to an alien land where they are refined by fire and recognize it is the LORD who provides (Psalm 33:19; 37:19) – the greatest famine of which being the famine of the Word of God Himself (Amos 8:11).   

Yet, this three year famine is caused by the breaking of peace between the Israelites and Amorites (v.2 – the Gibeonites are from the remnant of the Amorites).  What is interesting is that throughout the Pentateuch, the Amorites were always enemies of God (as the descendants of Canaan – Genesis 10:16; the promise of the Israelites entering the land of the Gentiles – Exodus 3:8, 23:23; the eventual dispossession of the Amorites – Numbers 32:39; Joshua 24:18; Judges 11:23).  However, the oddity here is that there is an unwritten and unrecorded peace between Israel and the Amorites (perhaps the same peace as mentioned in 1 Samuel 7:14), this oath (v.2 – Israel taking an oathשׁבע) broken by Saul (the implications of breaking oaths c.f. Numbers 30:2; 1 Samuel 14:24).  

It is interesting how David is trying to make atonement between Saul’s household and Gibeon – Israel as a corporate body of Saul when he was king of Israel, experiencing the famine as a result of Saul’s sin.  Yet Israel is now ousted from the grasp of Saul and David stands between the Israelites and Gibeonites.  What does David do?  Will he give up the seven sons of the house of Saul to mediate between Israel and Gibeon (v.6)? 

Instead, the wrath of the LORD was mediated through David’s giving up of the seven sons, excluding Mephibosheth.  Mephibosheth stood under the oath of David; David effectively, like Christ, propitiated the wrath which was meant to be experienced by Mephiboseth.  Mephibosheth should have been hanged.  However, it is the other seven sons of Saul’s household who are hanged, the seven perishing together: “They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest” (v.9).  Such is the effect of Christ’s death on the cross, these iniquitous seven sons of Saul’s household representing the iniquitous Son of God on the cross; their deaths ending the famine upon the beginning of barley harvest, just as the Feast of Harvest occurred between the Passover and the Feast of Ingathering  (Exodus 23:16; Matthew 13:39), for it is only now that the famine is over – and that the Holy Word of the Father can be received and that the harvest begins until the Ingathering at the Day of Resurrection. 

The chapter however does not end here.  Where in the story of the mediation between the Gibeonites and the Israelites completely hinged upon David’s decision to propitiate God’s wrath by the sevenfold son-sacrifice (akin to the sacrifice of the sevenfold lambs in Job 42:8), in the story of the Philistines’ return we see David’s followers walking with David in his footsteps.  Where David had fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17), now four giants (going by the names of Ishbi-benob; Saph; Goliath; and the six-fingered giant – all are defeated by the hands of Abishai, Sibbecai, Elhanan, and Jonathan.  Is this not the picture of the book of Acts in our current age of the harvest prior to the Ingathering, the miracles of toppling giants by standing by the true Rock?  Such is the implication of Christ’s victory, that the harvest is plentiful and workers are capable of wrecking such havoc against the champions of the world of spiritual Gentiles.   

Yet, this picture of peace, achieved as a causal effect of Christ’s gospel work, is coupled with the solemn but noble picture of Rizpah who had clearly understood the work of mediation and propitiation.  We do not spit on our sacrifice with contempt – but rather, we love the Christ who died in our place.  So Rizpah ensured that neither birds nor beasts would come upon the corpses day or night, that prompted David to retrieve Saul and Jonathan’s bones from the clutches of the enemies and restore them deep in the soil of the father’s clan (c.f. 1 Samuel 31; Saul from the clan of Benjamin and anointed as king in 1 Samuel 9:1).  Such is the love of Rizpah that David, our Christ, shall go to all lengths to retrieve the one sheep (Matthew 18:12)!  Just as the true peace was achieved in the defeat of the four giants of Philistine, so also the famine only responded to the plea for the end of the famine upon the final restoration of Saul’s household in bringing the bones back to the heart of Canaan from the filthy hands of the Ashtaroth worshippers and thus redeeming the house of Saul by David’s covenant with Jonathan and providing the true beth-shan (house of peace / ease; c.f. Isaiah 2:2-4).

2 Samuel 21: Saul’s house of peace

2 Samuel 11: Original Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 11: Original Sin