II Chronicles 5-7
Picture this glorious moment, the moment that the glory of the Lord fills the temple. This was a marvelous sign to the people of Israel, that God is with them. God is with his people. The confidence, the security, the hopefulness, the mercy that this would invoke for Israel is hard to comprehend. Perhaps you’ve heard a joke at a Steelers game about whose side God is on, but imagine if God were really on your side. How might this change your life? How might this change your way of thinking? In II Chronicles 6:18 we hear Solomon say, “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!” Solomon got it, the magnitude of what was happening, but do we understand this today? Do we comprehend that that same glory that dwelt in the temple dwells in the temple of the body of Christ, his church? That same Spirit of fire landed on the disciples in Acts 2, and continues to carry his people throughout the ages. How much more. How much more does God dwell with his people now? How much more ought our union with Jesus affect our lives today? And yet, Solomon knows this people will sin. In chapter 7, we read several intercessions, giving God’s people assurance that if they pray, God will forgive them. There is a verse that is repeated twice in these chapters, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Remaining faithful to God is believing that God is good, and that his steadfast love endures forever. We will be like those who abandon the Lord when we begin to doubt his goodness, his steadfastness. Pestilence, plague, difficulty, and sin will come, but our God will remain forever.
Reflect: Do you believe that you are closer today to the Lord than the Israelites? Do you believe that we have a degree of intimacy with God through Christ that king Solomon couldn’t imagine? If you believe this, how does it change the way you live? How does it change the way you work, love your spouse, or engage in society? Take some time in prayer to both confess your shortcomings and to give thanks that you have a God who is good, whose steadfast love endures forever.
Connect- In Acts 2 we read about another time that God comes to dwell with his people. That day he gave to them his very Spirit, which continues to dwell in his people today. This Holy Spirit ought to guide every aspect of the Christians life.
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
-Rev Joseph Bianco
II Chronicles 1-4
II Chronicles begins in the middle of a story, the story of God’s covenant faithfulness with
David, continuing on with his son Solomon. What is unique about this story is the way we are
introduced to Solomon. God says to Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you.” What a question! It
truly feels like a genie-in-a-bottle moment, but God is no mere giver of wishes; he is after the
heart. We read that God was after Solomon’s heart, and finds that Solomon’s desires for Israel
and God’s desires are one in the same. Therefore, God gives Solomon his desire granting him
great knowledge and wisdom. Solomon then uses this knowledge and wisdom to begin God’s
purposes, namely starting the building process of this great “house.” It’s noteworthy that
Solomon mentions that no house or temple could hold God, that the temple serves as a place to
worship God and to offer sacrifices. As David did, so Solomon continues to build a good
relationship with a neighboring king, Hiram king of Tyre. Hiram was a gentile king who didn’t
know the Lord, yet because of his relationship with Solomon was able to say, “Blessed be the
LORD God of Israel.” Consider this for a moment, that one world power was more positively
disposed to God because of the work of Solomon. Consider how this might influence how others
in Tyre think about God and Israel. Hiram sends great craftsmen to begin the build, and the
construction and consequently explanation of this great temple is laid out before us.
Reflect- There are two main ideas worth reflecting on in these first chapters. First is this: Were
God to ask you the same question he asked Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you.” - what would
you say? A Christian’s life is primarily not about health and wealth, which God makes very clear
in commending Solomon’s answer. A Christian’s life is about whatever God is about, mainly
redemption. How might your answer contrast with Solomon’s? Why is that? Second, God uses
neighboring gentiles in helping to establish the most important religious structure of an ancient
Israel’s life, namely the temple. How might you today be predisposed to look inwardly, isolating
yourself from secular people? What might this Jewish-Gentile collaboration look like today?
Connect- The establishing of the temple is a fulfillment of God’s promise to David in 1
Chronicles 17:12 – In this promise, this covenant, we look to Christ.
I Chronicles 17:12 “He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.”
- Rev. Joseph Bianco
2 Samuel 22 - 24
The last chapters of the books of Samuel serve as an epilogue to the great saga of David. Not all of the contents in these chapters happen in chronological order with the rest of the book, but they are meant to reiterate the grace found, not in man, but in the everlasting covenant from God (2 Sam. 7). David’s psalm in chapter 22 is the same of another in the psalter (Psalm 18). The last verses reference the Davidic covenant and the last lines of Hannah’s prayer/song (1 Sam. 2:10). This along with the last words recorded of David (23:1-7) highlight the magnificent grace of God that is the refuge and strength for sinners.
The last narrative found in these books foreshadow a key theme to be fully consummated in the prophesied future king. David sins against God again by administering a census, and thus showing his trust in numbers than in the LORD (24:10). As a result, there is judgment upon all of Israel for David’s distrust in the form of a massive epidemic (24:15). As a means for atoning for his sins and lifting this consequence from the people (24:17), David purchases a threshing floor from a Jebusite to build an altar for the LORD. What was primarily used for agricultural means now served metaphorical significance for appeasing judgment (see here for more on biblical uses of a threshing floor). This proves significant for two reasons: 1) The site of this threshing floor would be the very plot of land that Solomon would build the Temple of the LORD (21:18-22:1); and, 2) David’s desire as the federal head of Israel to lift the burden of sin from his people would preview the very same inclination of his future royal offspring. But Jesus was not needing to lift the burden of his sin- he was without sin (2 Cor. 5:21)- but was interceding on our behalf to pay the penalty of our own sin. Unlike with David, we do not receive God’s wrath as a result of his mistakes. Instead, as our new federal head, Jesus now imputes the fullness of his righteousness to us. We see the very in-breaking of the Gospel here in the close of these books.
Reflect & Connect
There was so much that was promising about David to serve as the king of the LORD’s people. But David proved to be a sinner, as did Saul and as would every other king after him. So as a contemporary of this monarchy, it would have been difficult to see hope in the promise of the covenant made with David. Would there really be a king upright and worthy of carrying out God’s will perfectly? We have the blessing of hindsight and standing on this side of salvation to know the answer to that question. Read through the genealogy of the gospel of Matthew that follows this bloodline from Abraham to Jesus. As you do, recall all the narratives that we’ve read through thus far and reflect on God’s grace shown at every turn of this story. In spite of sin, God inclines to show us grace time and time again.
- Rev. Nameun Cho
2 Samuel 16 - 19
It is tempting to read these lengthy chapters as an amalgamation of various and somewhat unrelated episodes during David’s fleeing from Absalom. But the greater underlying purpose for these stories is to show a progression of David’s restoration as king. While it may seem that David’s kingship is in jeopardy, we are assured throughout this narrative that God is in control and working things for David’s good. Throughout the entire account of Absalom’s attempted coup, never once is he labeled or referred to as “the king” (I would argue that Hushai’s proclamation in 16:16 is masking his true allegiance to David). In fact, every time “the king” is mentioned in these chapters, it is in reference to David. As we glance at these various episodes, let’s briefly explore how each serves the purpose of David’s restoration:
God’s forgiveness and restoration of David was a long and harrowing road. Rather than a blanket, “cheap” grace administered, the LORD had David endure through all of these incidents as a way of sanctifying him. David’s sins were callousing the very heart that was after the LORD’s own. There are very real and grave consequences to sin and expelling God from our lives. Rather than banking on the depth of God’s grace to forgive even the most heinous of acts (Rom. 6:1-2), God shows the detrimental repercussions of self-love throughout the entire narrative of David’s second fleeing. As one scholar comments on this narrative, “Sin is never trivial, and grace is never cheap.” What are the patterns of sin in your own life? How do those patterns give way to damaging effects throughout the other parts of your life? Reflect on the grace of Christ that not only covers those sins, but restores us from its depths to wear his righteousness.
In the midst of David fleeing from Absalom, God provides a table and feast for David in the wilderness (17:27-29). Consider the added depth this context gives to Psalm 23:5.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
- Rev. Nameun Cho
2 Samuel 13 - 15
While David’s great sin was forgiven and his life spared, we begin to see the repercussions of his actions as prophesied by Nathan. This next chunk of narrative describes how there would be evil raised up against David from within his own house (12:11). And throughout the course of these events, there are very notable parallels with that of David’s sins as well. The assault on Tamar by her half-brother and heir apparent to the throne, Amnon (13:1-19), likens to David’s lust and adultery towards Bathsheba. Absalom plots against Amnon to avenge Tamar for the ways she was disgraced, and eventually murders his half-brother (13:20-33). The layered and premeditated nature of this murder parallels with that of David’s on Uriah. After Absalom flees, Joab seeks to have David pardon his son so that he could return. Joab does this by orchestrating a widow to visit with the king to receive a favorable judgment for her situation- a situation that more played the part of a parable to help reveal David’s true intentions (14:1-20). This parable that convicted David was not unlike the one told by Nathan. Upon his return to Jerusalem, Absalom plots to conspire against David to seek the throne for himself (15:1-12). David is then forced to be on the run again, this time not by Saul, but by his own children.
All in all, the footprints throughout this section of the story that harken back to David’s original iniquities goes to show that sin has very real and immediate consequences. David’s actions had a direct result on his family, so much so that we see them repeating his mistakes. The mentioning of David in the background and not the fore, and indirectly referenced as “the king” rather than by name goes to show his diminished influence towards his children in this part of the story. In many ways, the integrity and commitment to justice David so strongly conveyed in the beginning parts of these books have been compromised. There are many turns in the story during these few chapters that are missing David’s intervention. The author makes it clear of how his sin has changed his resolve as king. So now, the latter part of David’s reign as king is in jeopardy.
Reflect & Connect
Psalm 3 was written during the experience of David fleeing from Absalom. While there may have been a change in David’s own ability to uphold a righteous standard as king, his reflections in this psalm show his continued dependence on God. David’s faith in the LORD and the promises of His covenant underly all of life’s circumstances, even when they are bleak and even oppressive. Read over this psalm in light of the many difficult circumstances we face today. How does the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage you to have faith in the things unseen in the face of such discouraging situations?
1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
- Psalm 3
- Rev. Nameun Cho
2 Samuel 11 - 12
When all was seemingly going well for Israel’s anointed king, we arrive at the point in David’s narrative that seems to define his legacy more than any other episode in his life: his great adultery. The entire account of David’s sin is wrought with irony that explores the depth of human depravity. In a time where David was supposed to be on the battlefield with his men against the Ammonites, he remains behind in Jerusalem (11:1). To this point, the author has built up David’s integrity and honor as requisites to the throne, only to have them crumble at the sight of a bathing woman (11:2). Instead of confessing his sin and owning up to his disgrace, David seeks to cover up his misdeeds. David’s ploys to “legitimatize” Bathsheba’s conception fails because of Uriah’s unwavering morality toward the Jewish conduct during wartime (11:11). David, the anointed shepherd-king of God’s covenant people, was supposed to be demonstrating the very resolve upheld by Uriah, the Hittite and foreign-born, servant mercenary. Unable to break Uriah’s loyalty, David then has him carry the very message sentencing him to his death in battle (11:14-15). Unphased by his adultery-fueled murder, David encourages his army commander, Joab, to not let this matter displease him (11:25). David fails to see the gravity of his own actions and how they were displeasing, not only to Joab, but to the LORD (11:27).
One after the other, David falls down a slippery slope of committing transgression after transgression. Beginning with his coveting, then to adultery, and finally to eventual murder, David’s heinous breaches of God’s law cries for the death sentence to satisfy his bloodguilt. But God intervenes yet again through the prophet Nathan How starkly different would Nathan’s tone have been towards David this time compared to his last prophecy speaking of the everlasting throne. We see irony again as David knows exactly to how respond to the parable of the unjust rich man (12:5-6). David has an immense discernment for justice when it isn’t clouded by his passion. Unlike David’s encounter with Nabal (1 Sam. 25), there was no Abigail-like figure to quelch the temptation of his carnal desires. All of this goes to show the brokenness of mankind rooted in sin. The Israelite cries and demands for a man-king in 1 Sam. 8 prove all the more short-sighted when even David falls short of perfection.
The adultery committed with Bathsheba doesn’t define David by the depth of his sin, but by the grace that was shown to him in spite of it. After Nathan utters the words “You are the man!” (12:7), David’s heart is cut to conviction and repentance (Psalm 51). Without any qualification or explanation, we simply read “’The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die…’” Not only does God spare David’s life, but the grace found in the promise of the everlasting throne still remains. The offspring of David to continue the legacy of this prophecy, Solomon, comes from none other than Bathsheba. The sole reason that there is access to fellowship with God from the depths of evil is simply because God allows for it.
Following David’s pardon, we read of his reflections on the forgiveness of his sins in Psalm 32.
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
- Rev. Nameun Cho
2 Samuel 6 - 7
David further demonstrates that the kingship of Israel is more than a matter of earthly rule, but of a spiritual one primarily. In chapter 6, we are reminded of the immense holiness attributed to the presence of God. Even the very well-intentioned act of preventing the Ark of the Covenant from falling and touching it resulted in death for Uzzah (6:7). Misinterpreting David’s genuine worship to the Lord as lewd, deplorable acts instead resulted in barrenness for Michal (6:23). All of this was in efforts to return the Ark to Jerusalem, thereby acknowledging the importance of the presence of God when leading His covenant people. Unlike other earthly kingdoms, holiness comes with the territory as a requirement for this kingdom.
In what starts off as an admirable sentiment by David to build the LORD a house, what results is one of the most important covenants that ratifies the history and path to man’s salvation. Instead of building God an earthly house, the LORD promises to build a house for David that will rule the kingdom forever. A descendent of David would always be sitting on the throne regardless of the time period. Here we see God’s grace furthered to the people of Israel by prophesying not only everlasting blessing as with the Abrahamic covenant, but an everlasting monarchy. While it may have been both exhilarating and elusive for David to consider the practical implications of this, we as readers on this side of history know exactly what this covenant implies and who it ultimately speaks of. Who better to be king for all eternity than God himself? It is because of this very promise that both the gospels of Matthew and Luke begin their accounts with a genealogy of Jesus that links his ancestry to David. The author reinforces the reality that the dominion over God’s people is about more than merely order and earthly standards. To be a righteous king was a spiritual matter that required him to be set apart, and this covenant guarantees just that.
David’s response to God’s covenant is one of great thanksgiving and humility. As you read over his prayer in vv. 18-29, call to mind the many displays of God’s power and faithfulness in your own life. How have we seen God’s promises fulfilled as a result of His grace conveyed to us through these covenants? What do we have to be thankful for by seeing Jesus sit on the throne of grace?
1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah
5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
and awesome above all who are around him?
8 O Lord God of hosts,
who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
with your faithfulness all around you?
- Psalm 89:1-8
- Rev. Nameun Cho
2 Samuel 3 - 5
The beginning of chapter 3 aptly summarizes this section in the narrative by saying “David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker” (3:1). Having established his reign over Judah in the capital city of Hebron, we begin to see David’s kingship and influence extend up towards the northern kingdom (“the house of Saul”). The two greatest threats to David in northern Israel would have been Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, and the general of Saul’s army, Abner. Both of these figures are killed in these chapters, further neutralizing any threat to David’s claim to the throne. However, the author emphasizes David’s innocence in both of these deaths as they were not lives that he had wished to claim. While it made secular sense to rid yourself of threats, David valued the lives of both Abner and Ish-bosheth and disregarded any accepted monarchical custom to kill them. To the one who murdered Abner- David’s own general, Joab- David curses him and his household (3:29). And to the assassins of Ish-bosheth, much like the lying Amalekite messenger in chapter 1, David repays them with what was expected to be a reward with their own execution instead (4:9-12). David’s integrity and honor are maintained as he takes the throne to unite all of Israel. Even after he is anointed king of both the northern and southern kingdoms, we see David’s inclination to depend on the Lord become habit (5:19,23).
Much has happened from the time of David’s private anointing as a young boy (1 Sam. 16:12-13) to now this public anointing as king over all Israel. This long-awaited realization through many trials and tribulations served the purpose of preparing David for his role as king. But as he takes this mantle, a core part of David’s identity as king harkens back to a role he served as a young boy those many years ago at the private ceremony with Samuel: a shepherd. The Lord anoints David as king and commissions him to be a “shepherd of my people” (5:2). Rather than rule with an authoritarian fist, he is instead encouraged to liken the image of a tender caretaker.
This prophecy from Micah speaks of a ruler to be born from Bethlehem that would also lead in all majesty of the LORD, but he would do so by shepherding. This is the passage cited in the gospel of Matthew during the Wise Men’s visit to the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:6). In what ways does Christ’s identity as a shepherd-king encourage you today? How does our perspective of his dominion over us change when it is viewed through the lens of a shepherd tending to his beloved sheep?
2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace.
- Micah 5:2-5
- Rev. Nameun Cho
1 Samuel 31 - 2 Samuel 2
For having suffered so much at the hands of Saul, many would have expected David to convey joy or, at the very least, relief upon hearing of Saul’s death. But we know from his mourning and his dealing with the Amalekite messenger that this was not the case. As would any secular bystander, the messenger expects the news of the incumbent king’s death to be welcomed by David. The Amalekite even implicates himself to having ended Saul’s life directly (even though the readers clearly know that he fell on his own sword) in hopes to receive a reward for his actions. But David’s heart grieves for Saul’s death and again values the life of the Lord’s anointed. What he thought would lead to great gain, the messenger’s selfish lies lead to his own execution.
David’s homage to Saul and Jonathan in his lament is a beautiful expression of his creative gifts and camaraderie with the deceased. Rather than dwell on the wrongdoing of Saul to seek his life, David chooses to publicly commemorate him in an honorable light. And David’s affections for Jonathan were no surprise. His lament portrays the delicate balance Jonathan was able to achieve between his familial loyalty and kindred friendship. There are very few instances in history where such words could be expressed about whom the rest of the world would consider your enemies. Following his lament and a long and treacherous road to fulfill God’s promise, Saul’s reign officially comes to an end and David’s reign begins.
As David begins to make his strategic advances as the new king, his first recorded order of business is to inquire of the LORD (2:1). This is a significant thing to note because it shows an area of humility in David’s leadership that Saul severely lacked. While it may have made all logical and military sense to move into Hebron- the holy burial site of Israel’s patriarchs- David confirms this with a blessing from the Lord. Already we see a dependence on God and acknowledgement of the LORD as true king over Israel that proves His anointing of David was justified. Let this type of humility guide us in our own need for God’s guidance in our lives.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
- Rev. Nameun Cho
1 Samuel 24 - 26
During the course of David fleeing from Saul and for his life, you can imagine the angst he would have felt in knowing he was always in danger. So when an opportunity presents itself to oust Saul, you can further empathize with David’s temptation to finally free himself from this dread. However, not only once, but twice David spares Saul’s life when he was clearly handed the chances to kill Saul (Ch. 24 & 26). Sandwiched in between these two opportunities is another display of David’s mercy towards Nabal, at the behest of his wife Abigail. In all three of these instances, David displays mercy towards those who rightfully deserved judgment and wrath. He is able to value Saul’s life- despite that fact that Saul had been on a murderous rampage for his own- on the account that he still considered Saul to be “the Lord’s anointed” (24:6,10; 26:9,11). Unlike Saul, David is able to prioritize the sanctity of life and God’s anointed over and above his own interests. In seeing what also happened to Nabal, David learns that justice does not always need to be carried out by his own hands. David’s continuous propensity to be merciful in these three accounts further prepare him for the throne. This would be David and Saul’s last direct interaction before Saul’s ultimate demise.
Reflect & Connect
Throughout the narrative in 1 Samuel 24, there is a recurring imagery of “cutting off.” David cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe as a visible sign of his mercy (24:11). Then, Saul requests that David would not cut off or kill his offspring once David took the throne- a customary practice that would take place in the changing of hands of authority. Much of this imagery may also draw from those who are cut off from the covenant community without the sign of circumcision (Gen. 14:17). To be cut off was a significant consequence in the Israelite context. Reflect on the passage below from Ephesians, and meditate on the immensity of God’s grace through Jesus that prevented us from being cut off from God. How has God shown us mercy despite our sin? Consider the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice for us that we might go from being aliens to family members.
- Rev. Nameun Cho
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.