2 Chronicles 13-15: Covenant of Salt

Chapter 13

Here, the rivalry is again described overall as the tension between the house of David and the house of Jeroboam, with the intention of the narrator being very clearly one of “priesthood versus heresy”.  Verses 3-12 is a beautiful proclamation made by Abijah, stating clearly what has been implied in Jeroboam’s removal of the Levitical priests in 2 Chronicles 11 (c.f. v.9-12).  Solomon’s household, as well as Rehoboam’s, were portrayed as the elected household in v.5 – “…the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt“.  This phrase “covenant of salt” is used in two other instances – Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19.  In my commentary of the book of Numbers, the covenant is explained as such:

“Salt is commonly used in two analogies: the covenant between LORD and man; and negative connotations (C.f. Ezekiel 47:11 and Zeph 2:9).  Leviticus 2:13 makes the point that all the grain offerings shall have the covenant of salt.  When placing this covenant alongside Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt, it is simultaneously an imagery of God’s sanctification/separation.  In 2 Kings, the usage of the salt is for purification of the water; in Ezekiel, the imagery of the salt is that of dirt and uncleanness.  The prophecy of Ezekiel 47:8 makes a distinction between fresh and salt water – and no doubt, the salt water being the water of punishment from the deluge from the window above heaven (c.f. Genesis 7 and 2 Peter 3), but the fresh water being the water on earth.


To bring these two imageries together, the feeding on the holy flesh (cow/sheep/goat) and the unmistakable “covenant of salt”, the picture is a two-fold manifestation of Christ’s work on the cross.  Through his blood, we can now feed continuously of the flesh represented by the communion bread as sanctified priests, symbolized by the anointing and separation of the covenant of salt.  It is by this covenant of salt that David and his sons were given the kingship over Israel forever?  Undoubtedly this salt-covenant to David and his sons is a conscious foresight of the Son’s eternal kingdom, an act of purification, just as the salt waters burst through the heavens to purify the world of the wicked creatures.”

This covenant of salt is a synonym to the gospel work completed through David’s lineage and not to Jeroboam’s lineage.  Jeroboam’s failure to see the importance of the Temple, of the Levites, of Jesus’ heritage are all the essence of all heresies – the failure to connect the dots in the Old Testament which all point towards the cross and not to oneself’s creation of truth.  “Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed” (v.12).  Indeed, David, Solomon, Rehoboam and Abijah are not the head of Israel – the LORD God Himself is the Head, and Jeroboam is challenging not Judah, nor Abijah, but the LORD Himself.

This explains Jeroboam’s utter debacle and loss in v.13-20, whereas Abijah grew mighty under the wings of the LORD.

Chapter 14

Again, chapter 14 records another victory achieved solely by relying on the LORD, in fulfillment of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6.  This time, it is not Jeroboam, but the Ethiopians (who have clearly forgotten the blessing of Solomon through their early Queen of Sheba in chapter 9) who challenged Israel with more men than Jeroboam (an army of a million men vs. Jeroboam’s 800,000 men).  Asa’s cry is similar to that of his father’s: “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude.  O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.

Chapter 15

Upon the filling of the Holy Spirit, Azariah the son of Oded reminds king Asa of the “Golden Age” of Israel’s rule under David and Solomon, when the gospel was clearly communicated amongst the Israelites, all of whom were looking forward to the day of the Messiah’s first coming.  Azariah’s comment that “For a long time Israel was without the true God” (v.3) is an observation of Israel losing its way in the period since Rehoboam to Asa, due to the removal of the formal priesthood and compliance with the Mosaic statutes under the divided rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam.  The only comfort of the Israelites was through their oral teaching and remembrance of the LORD’s steadfast love in their times of distress (v.4).  However, Azariah wishes for the Christian walk to be filled with peace (v.5), and not to only call upon the LORD in times of brokenness (v.6).  Asa’s subsequent actions and reforms (v.8-15) are indeed the actions of a righteous Christian king, drawing in more and more of those previous defected (those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon v.9) with his testimony of the LORD.  It is with their collective sacrifice (v.11) and the covenant and oath (v.12-14) that the LORD gave them rest all around (v.15-19) between his tenth year (when he defeated the Ethiopians) and 35th year as king.  The LORD’s steadfast love to the house of David means that Asa’s compliance with the Spirit’s prompting is a key step towards ensuring the survival of Israel until the promise of the Messiah is fulfilled.  Although man has forgotten the law and priesthood, the LORD will never forget.  Although man may even forget the promise of the Messiah as their true hope, the LORD will never stop working to ensure the Messiah will come from the line of David and crush the Satan who leads His sheep astray time and time again.

2 Chronicles 13-15: Covenant of Salt

1 Kings 9: the House of the LORD (pt. 4)

1(A) As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD(B) and the king’s house and(C) all that Solomon desired to build, 2(D) the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

It is beautiful to see that the LORD’s two appearances to Solomon act as divine bookends to Solomon’s actions in between, marked with the very Wisdom which (and Whom!) Solomon received (back in 1 Kings 3:5; c.f. book of Proverbs, esp. Proverbs 8) and his fulfillment of the work which David had planned.  This Christophany undoubtedly confirms that Solomon now meets the visible LORD as confirmation of his status as typological anointed king of Israel who shall build the shadow of the everlasting throne, the shadow of the everlasting house.  Yet, more importantly, these Christophany-bookends highlights the typology of Solomon acting as the Christ who received the overflowing Spirit the Wisdom without measure (c.f. Augustine and Calvin’s commentary on John 3:34), as the Christ whose clean hands (1 Chronicles 22:8; Psalm 24:4) shall build the Father’s House; whose high-priestly prayer shall mediate on behalf of the spiritual Israelites who pray to the true Temple, Christ Himself (John 2:14-21).

3And the LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built,(E) by putting my name there forever.(F) My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 4And as for you, if you will(G) walk before me,(H) as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, 5(I) then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

Many may read the LORD’s blessing as one built on the condition of works-salvation – but look at how the LORD describes David’s life in v.4, the murderer and adulterer, whose shame and sin caused the death of thousands and tens of thousands until Christ stayed his hand at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24). Rather, this is a man with integrity of heart and uprightness, who has done according to all that the LORD had commanded?

Much like James’ mandate in his letter (James 2:14, 3:13) and similarly Paul’s focus on good works in Ephesians (Ephesians 2:10) and Romans 6:15-23, here we find that the LORD does not seem to describe works in the way other religions put it.  The 613 commandments, in which we find the famous 10 Words, in which we find all of their distillation is to the two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) ultimately stemming from the faith we have in Christ our object of faith whose intra-Trinitarian love overflows through us (1 John 4:7-21).  That is the faith which David walked in; that is the type of good works he did; that is the way of life he lived.  It is in that Christ-centered faith that Solomon is asked to walk in, that will establish David and Solomon’s royal throne over Israel forever, despite David and Solomon’s unfaithfulness as we have seen and shall later see.  Yet, the removal of the throne of Israel as a result of the Assyrian / Babylonian exile is not because they failed their covenant of works; rather, it is because Anointed Son – the Messiah and Lamb to come – no longer became the object of faith of the Israelite kings.

And even without having to go through various Scriptures to reach this point, v.3 by itself already speaks into the role of the House.  It is consecrated, and it is by the LORD’s name that people shall direct their prayer and plea.  It is not as if the faith of Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob have been dispensed with in favour of the Israelites’ worship through the House (Genesis 4:26; Exodus 6:3 NIV translation); rather, the Name of the One who saves has always been the object of faith from the creation of the world, underlining the typology of the Israelite nation and tradition.  The House by itself means nothing; the Name means everything (Exodus 23:21; Acts 3:16) for it is by His Name that his eyes and heart shall be there at all time.  Such intimacy none can declare and none can experience, except through Jesus Christ at the bosom & right hand of the Father (Exodus 15:6; John 1:18; Hebrews 10:12).

6(J) But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7(K) then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them,(L) and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight,(M) and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8And this house will become a heap of ruins.[a] Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say,(N) ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9Then they will say, ‘Because(O) they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.'”

Thus, following in the vein of the flow of what the LORD has been driving at since v.3, He firmly declares that David’s walk is in the one God, following the substance of the first commandment (check) (v.6).  This is indeed true of Israel who later turned to worship other Baalim (Hosea 2:13, which literally means lord / husband), other “husbands” and as a result the physical House of the LORD is no longer the mediating object for the Israelites today (despite efforts to return to the “Holy Land” to rebuild the temple a third time).  Yet, is it not true that the true new creation temple spoken of in Ezekiel and in Revelation (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 21) can only be secured by the LORD Himself, the Son of the Father whose name is in the House and the only one who shall have unwavering faith in the Father thus ensuring that Israel shall no longer be cut off (Romans 11:17-24), the new Jerusalem forever consecrated and Israel thus becoming a blessing among all peoples (Isaiah 2:3). Only Christ can effectuate such a reversal, yet the human kings are but shadows, especially so when they no longer return to Christ their Saviour as they continue to live lives of wickedness turning away from the one LORD (2 Kings 17:11).

10(P) At the end of(Q) twenty years, in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD and the king’s house, 11and Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, they did not please him. 13Therefore he said, “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” So they are called the land of(R) Cabul to this day. 14Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents[b] of gold.

It is often at this point in the narrative that we come to a strange interaction.  After building the two houses, Solomon of all gifts decides to give Hiram king of Tyre twenty cities in the land of Galilee.  Why Galilee?  This land has not been often mentioned in Scripture prior to 1 Kings 9 – what possible symbolism, wealth or blessing can Solomon give to Hiram in these twenty cities of Galilee?  Apparently none – observe Hiram’s reaction in v.13: “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?”, and thus labeled as the land of Cabul (meaning “worthless” or of small stature).

Yet, there is no reason to immediately jump to the conclusion that Hiram and Solomon were on terrible terms thereafter; after all, Hiram still called Solomon “brother”, a king of what would have been a pagan nation would not embrace Solomon as such (not to mention that in v.27-28 of this same chapter, Hiram still sends with Solomon’s fleet several servants and seamen to accompany Solomon in his quest for precious minerals and gold from Ophir) – the king who sent to the king 120 talents of gold (v.14), a sign of blessing and respect mirrored by the Queen of Sheba in the following chapter.  Indeed, Hiram’s reaction is not necessarily one of contempt; rather, it is one of surprise – what indeed will come out of these twenty insignificant cities?  Note John Calvin’s commentary on this Galilee, or otherwise known as “Galilee of the Gentiles” in Isaiah 9:1 –

By the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. He calls it the way of the sea, because Galilee was adjoining to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and on one side it was bounded by the course of the Jordan. It is called Galilee of the Gentiles, not only because it was contiguous to Tyre and Sidon, but because it contained a great multitude of Gentiles, who were mingled with the Jews; for from the time that Solomon granted this country to King Hiram, (1 Kings 9:11,) it could never be subdued in such a manner as not to have some part of it possessed by the Gentiles…”

It is indeed remarkable that Solomon decides to gift these cities of the Galilee of the Gentiles to Hiram – it is a prophetic of this unison between Solomon the King of Israel and Hiram the King of Tyre; Solomon the representative of the church of Christ, and Hiram he who represents the head of those who shall enjoin Solomon’s kingdom from outsiders to that of God’s family.  However, Solomon’s rejection here is a sign that the time has not yet come – for it is not until Acts 1:11 that the men of Galilee look up to Christ, not until such cities are restored under the banner of Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:2) that the healing of the Gentiles cannot come through Hiram, but must come through Solomon who shall be over Hiram.  And only Solomon, the builder of the two great houses, can build these Gentile houses from Cabul to Galilee, from nothing to becoming a circuit whereby the Christ’s activities are most prevalent throughout the period of His incarnation.  Matthew Henry similarly does not see this as necessarily denoting Hiram’s distaste towards Solomon, but rather that of God’s providence of the rebuilding of Cabul not by Hiram but by Solomon:

It should seem, these were not allotted to any of the tribes of Israel (for the border of Asher came up to them, Josh. xix. 27, which intimates that it did not include them), but continued in the hands of the natives till Solomon made himself master of them, and then made a present of them to Hiram. It becomes those that are great and good to be generous. Hiram came to see these cities, and did not like them (v. 12): They pleased him not. He called the country the land of Cabul, a Phoenician word (says Josephus) which signifies displeasing, v. 13. He therefore returned them to Solomon (as we find, 2 Chron. viii. 2), who repaired them, and then caused the children of Israel to inhabit them, which intimates that before they did not; but, when Solomon received back what he had given, no doubt he honourably gave Hiram an equivalent in something else. But what shall we think of this? Did Solomon act meanly in giving Hiram what was not worth his acceptance? Or was Hiram humoursome and hard to please? I am willing to believe it was neither the one nor the other. The country was truly valuable, and so were the cities in it, but not agreeable to Hiram’s genius. The Tyrians were merchants, trading men, that lived in fine houses, and became rich by navigation, but knew not how to value a country that was fit for corn and pasture (that was business that lay out of their way); and therefore Hiram desired Solomon to take them again, he knew not what to do with them, and, if he would please to gratify him, let it be in his own element, by becoming his partner in trade, as we find he did, v. 27. Hiram, who was used to the clean streets of Tyre, could by no means agree with the miry lanes in the land of Cabul, whereas the best lands have commonly the worst roads through them. See how the providence of God suits both the accommodation of this earth to the various dispositions of men and the dispositions of men to the various accommodations of the earth, and all for the good of mankind in general. Some take delight in husbandry, and wonder what pleasure sailors can take on a rough sea; others take as much delight in navigation, and wonder what pleasure husbandmen can take in a dirty country, like the land of Cabul. It is so in many other instances, in which we may observe the wisdom of him whose all souls are and all lands.

15And this is the account of(S) the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the LORD and his own house and(T) the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and(U) Hazor and(V) Megiddo and Gezer 16(Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and had killed(W) the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as dowry to(X) his daughter, Solomon’s wife; 17so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) and(Y) Lower Beth-horon 18and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah,[c] 19and all the store cities that Solomon had, and(Z) the cities for his chariots, and the cities for(AA) his horsemen, and whatever Solomon(AB) desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. 20All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the people of Israel— 21(AC) their descendants who were left after them in the land,(AD) whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction[d](AE) these Solomon drafted to be(AF) slaves, and so they are to this day. 22But(AG) of the people of Israel Solomon made no slaves. They were the soldiers, they were his officials, his commanders, his captains, his chariot commanders and his horsemen.

And so this naturally flows into v.15-22, that of Hiram’s rejection of these cities of Galilee and his continual material and manpower provision to Solomon as a sign of the Christ taking back what Satan had only temporarily held; the illusion of Satan’s power which is above all subdued by the Christ – for indeed, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).  Who indeed is the meek except for Christ Himself, for He shall inherit not only Israel but also Cabul and the men of Cabul which is where we should belong?  See here in these verses a fulfillment of that prophecy in Genesis 15:16 that Canaan shall no longer belong to such Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites; instead, the times of the exodus are long past and the Israelites are now the nation of blessing.  And like the house of the LORD which was contributed largely by the two Hirams, so also these landmark locations (Millo, Hazor, Megiddo; Gezer (symbolically restored by Pharaoh even though it was initially won by Joshua for the tribe of Ephraim: “This city Joshua had taken from the Canaanites, Josh. x. 33; xii. 12, and it was divided by lot to the tribe of Ephraim, and was intended to be one of the Levitical cities; but it appears that the Canaanites had retaken it, and kept possession till the days of Solomon, when his father-in-law, Pharaoh king of Egypt, retook it, and gave it to Solomon in dowry with his daughter.” – Adam Clarke; Lower Beth-horon; Baalath; Tamar) were built by the hands of Gentiles but in the direction of the typological son of God.  Such is the contribution of the wealth of Satan that we are the ones who inherit just as Abraham inherited the Abimelech’s wealth (Genesis 20:14-18), just as the wealth of the Philistinian camp is for us to plunder for it is no longer in the hands of the enemy but won for us by the true king David (1 Samuel 17:53).  Note Matthew Henry’s observance of Solomon’s employing of these non-Israelites:

Solomon employed those who remained of the conquered and devoted nations in all the slavish work, v. 20, 21. We may suppose that they renounced their idolatry and submitted to Solomon’s government, so that he could not, in honour, utterly destroy them, and they were so poor that he could not levy money on them; therefore he served himself of their labour. Herein he observed God’s law (Lev. xxv. 44, Thy bondmen shall be of the heathen), and fulfilled Noah’s curse upon Canaan, A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren, Gen. ix. 25. 2. He employed Israelites in the more creditable services (v. 22, 23): Of them he made no bondmen, for they were God’s freemen, but he made them soldiers and courtiers, and gave them offices, as he saw them qualified, among his chariots and horsemen, appointing some to support the service of the inferior labourers. Thus he preserved the dignity and liberty of Israel and honoured their relation to God as a kingdom of priests.

23These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work:(AH) 550(AI) who had charge of the people who carried on the work.

24But(AJ) Pharaoh’s daughter went up from the city of David to(AK) her own house that Solomon had built for her.(AL) Then he built(AM) the Millo.

25Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the LORD, making offerings with it[e] before the LORD. So he finished the house.

26King Solomon built a fleet of ships at(AN) Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27And Hiram sent(AO) with the fleet his servants, seamen who were familiar with the sea, together with the servants of Solomon. 28And they went to(AP) Ophir and brought from there gold, 420 talents, and they brought it to King Solomon.

This chapter therefore ends on two high notes – the tri-annual offering of burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built to the LORD (the new altar in the temple courtyard) in the three landmark celebrations of the feast of Passover, of Pentecost, and of Tabernacles (c.f. Exodus 23); and the obtaining of the gold from Ophir by Hiram’s servants and seamen with Solomon’s fleet from the base of the wood of man (Ezion-geber), near the shore of the Red Sea.  These are stark with symbolism, indicating the victory of Christ on the wood, bringing upon the golden blessing as shadowed by the parting of the Red Sea in the joining of the church of spiritual Israelites of both those born in Israel & born-again in Israel.

1 Kings 9: the House of the LORD (pt. 4)

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 14: Wisdom, the Intercessor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(ii)               Two brothers;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 14: Wisdom, the Intercessor

2 Samuel 13: The Zealous Church and the False Head

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 13: The Zealous Church and the False Head

2 Samuel 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 19: Israel, rejected and elected

So the persecution of Christ begins to be fully drawn in chapter 19 of 1 Samuel.  The typology of Christ’s reproach is fully realized in these few chapters as we come to understand David’s character and in turn understand why our LORD had evaded the enemy and the crowd so often (Matthew 12:14-16, 14:13; John 6:15) – because the time is not yet right for David to be crowned as king, while Saul was still king.  It is not until the opportune moment that Christ is crowned with thorns as the true king of Israel that Satan’s head is simultaneously bruised; so here we see the raving Satan attacking Christ just as the Jews and the Gentiles had done:  “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.  For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel.  You saw it, and rejoiced.  Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” (v.4-5).  What beautiful words of an advocate, of a preacher, of a witness!  So often we are the ones who crucified the Christ while we were still sinners (Romans 5:10), and these are the words of accusation against us.  We are the ones who deserve to be crucified!

So Saul carelessly swore – “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death” – and the irony of the truth in those words; to put David to death is to put the typological LORD to death – and thus, Saul’s words ring true.  If the LORD has died, so also David; but because the LORD is living, that is why Saul’s plans to evict David from his presence ever more backfires as Saul is slowly evicting himself from the LORD’s presence.  The consistency of David’s service to the LORD which benefits Saul leads to the return of the harmful spirit.  David had killed the Philistine, and Saul had once rejoiced in this salvific victory won on behalf of Israel and Saul had not eyed David with jealousy.  Yet, the seed of sin is planted in Saul’s heart; and though Michal had aided David in his escape, the imagery of her bedding the idol is to mark her lack of love for the One in whom David’s faith lies.  It is hinted in her false words – would David threaten her with death (v.17 c.f. 2 Samuel 6:16)?

Thus in the midst of David’s escape, he does not find refuge in his father (though Saul had restrained him from doing so throughout David’s service – 1 Samuel 18:2) – rather, he finds his refuge in the prophet knowing that Samuel is the one who anointed David as true king of Israel.  It is here that three times the messengers of Saul were sent; three times they prophesied.  Even Saul was counted among those who were raptured by the rushing of the Spirit – acknowledging that they were persecuting the Son of God (1 Peter 3:18-20).  This is a direct contrast to Saul’s self-reliance, whereas David looked to the greater intercessor Samuel, the first type of Christ introduced in this book.  The Spirit had created a buffer, just as He did when He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites but the waters of punishment came crashing down over the pursuers; so here, we see the history re-enacted, the evil and jealous messengers and Saul pursuing the church of Christ, with Samuel as the Messenger of God.

Yet, this is the picture of our Saviour in this world; and so also, a picture of what we are to be until new creation. (Matthew 5:5 – always on the run, but only because He was!)  And so the final picture is that of the truth revealed to Saul as he lies prostrate, naked, and his embarrassment entirely revealed.  Similarly, heavens shall reveal the iniquity of this world, entirely resurrecting all and proclaiming to all the victory of Christ (c.f. book of Revelations; Job 20:27; Psalm 98:2; Isaiah 40:5; Hosea 7:1; 1 Corinthians 14:22; 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 19:10), though not all still stand under the banner of Christ accepting Him as His Mediator.  Their nakedness is revealed and this is the great question for the nation Israel:  Is Saul also among the prophets?  Such is the question we ask of physical Israel, though we know that the true king is David.  Israel was never replaced; she was always called to be the elect of God (Isaiah 41), and yet being ‘elected’ is not the same as living according to that calling.  Such Spirit-led nakedness is recorded throughout Scripture (Genesis 2:25; Exodus 28:41; Job 26:5-6; Isaiah 47:3; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 3:18, 16:15), both a nakedness which is shameful for unbelievers and a nakedness which leads to unity in the tearing of the tabernacle curtain (John 17).  In the words of Matthew Henry, “he is rejected of God, actuated by an evil spirit, and yet among the prophets”.  Is this not the same story of Israel, the physical nation rejected and the spiritual Israel elected and that Saul, possessed by an evil spirit, is still under the grace of the Spirit and himself here represents the contradiction of the rejected and elected nation?

1 Samuel 19: Israel, rejected and elected