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DAVID, A GOD-FEARING RULER

2 Samuel 1:1-24:25
Key Verse: 23:3b-4

We reviewed 1 Samuel with the key verse of 2:30b, “Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained.” Eli and Saul were the ones who despised God and so was disdained ending their lives with tragic and dishonourable death. Eli honoured their sons more than God, and Saul was self-seeking, seeking for people’s honour and recognition more than God’s and so was disobedient to God. On the contrary Hannah, Samuel, Jonathan, and David honoured God. Hannah was a woman of prayer and devotion; Samuel, a spiritual father of the nation through teaching the word of God and intercessory prayer, especially by being a shepherd of Saul and David; Jonathan, a man of faith and sacrificial love; and David, a humble trainee of God’s divine discipline shown as a man after God’s own heart.

2 Samuel is all about David and his kingdom. Throughout this book we see that David truly honoured God as God. He established his kingdom following God’s leading, recognized and repented of his sin when he was rebuked and handled the national the national coup in a godly way, expressing his pained heart for his rebellious son, and final restored the kingdom in the honour of God and the hope of the Messiah and his kingdom. In concise, he was a God-fearing ruler. What does this mean for us? We are all Davids in Jesus Christ! Let’s think about David in the whole 2 Samuel.

First, the united powerful kingdom of David (1-10). After the death of Saul an Amalekite came to David, reporting that he had killed Saul known as David’s enemy in the expectation of David’s reward, but David had him killed on the spot. There would be no place for any opportunist in David’s kingdom. And David lamented over the death of Saul and Jonathan, especially expressing his heartfelt love for Jonathan with the words, “I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of woman.”

Afterward he was anointed king over the house of Judah at Hebron. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Judah in Hebron for seven and half years. During this period there was a tragic bloody battle among the brothers of Israel and Judah, and the war between the house of Saul and the house of David continued. This kind of war among God’s chosen nation was not what David wanted. He may have wondered, not knowing what God was doing at that time. But David waited on God. Then God united the kingdom as the house of Saul was getting weaker and weaker with the turnover of Abner, though he was soon killed, and the house of Saul self-demolished. When two other opportunists from the tribe of Benjamin came with the head of Ish-Boseth, son of Saul and king over the house of Saul, certain of David’s reward, David ordered his men to kill them. Again, any opportunists would not be accepted in his kingdom. Afterwards all the elders of Israel came to King David at Hebron and anointed him as king over Israel and he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years in Jerusalem as the king of the united kingdom.

David conquered Jerusalem, whose people thought that even the blind and lame could ward him off, and called it the City of David. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him. But David inquired of the LORD, and following God’s direction he defeated them. Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the same place. David did not depend on the previous victory, but inquired of the LORD again. Then God gave him a different strategy, “Do not to go straight up but circle around behind them and attack them.” David did as the LORD commanded him and he struck down the Philistines.

At the time of victory and power what he wanted to do was to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem from the house of Abinadab. At first he did not know how to bring the ark of God, and Uzzah who was guarding the new cart with the ark of God in it died as he took hold of the ark God, when the oxen stumbled. For the LORD’s anger burned against him because of his irreverent act. David was afraid of the LORD. Then later on he learned how to bring the ark of God and at the second attempt he finally brought the ark of God to Jerusalem. He was so happy as the ark was entering Jerusalem that he danced not caring at all about his dignity. This event showed that David’s heart was drawn to God at the time of power and he was concerned about how to be joyful and happy with God, rather than what people thought of him.

Then, after the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, David thought of building a house of God. But God had in mind to build a house of David, which is related to the kingdom of the Messiah. God accepted his heart and gave David his promise concerning the Messiah through the prophet Nathan: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). At this King David’s heart was so moved that he said, “Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me thus far?...Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD?” (7:18-19) He accepted the great promise of God by faith, saying, “Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing, the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” David became the man with whom God’s messianic promise was made particularly the promise of the eternal king with his messianic kingdom which would endure forever. This Davidic covenant coincided with Arahamic promise to bless all nations on earth through the offspring of Abraham. David’s kingdom would be the shadow of the kingdom of Christ, which would come in the fulfillment of God’s promise given to David. It is notable that God’s promise concerning the Messiah and his kingdom came through the personal relationship between God and a man, David. God is the God of promise. He is a personal God and the God of history.

Then in chapter 8 there is the record of David’s victorious military campaign, defeating the Philistines to the west, the Moabites to the east, Aramean kingdom of Damascus and the kingdom of Zobah to the north, and the Edomite to the south. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went. And David dedicated to the LORD the articles of silver and gold and bronze from all the nations he had subdued, which could be an indicator that his heart was not corrupted by material gain. And at the height of his power he reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. In particular, he took care of one needy helpless person, Mephibosheth son of Jonathan who was crippled in both legs, by restoring to him all the land that belonged to his grandfather Saul and having him eat at the king’s table always. This is a picture of God’s unconditional love for undeserving sinners through his Son Jesus Christ.

In this way God established David’s kingdom firmly, when his heart was right with God in his humbleness and obedience to the LORD.

Second, David’s sin and declination of the kingdom (11-19:8). How powerful and glorious David’s kingdom was! His power and fame spread to the neighbouring countries. They were seized with fear and the kingdom was firm and secure. David loved God wholeheartedly and he was a shepherd king for his people. All the people in his kingdom were happy under his ruling. Then something terrible happened. It was not an invasion from other nations. It was not a rebellion from his people. It was something from inside of the king David himself. In a moment he sinned against God. In the spring, at the time when kings went off to war, one evening he got up from his bed and walked about on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. She was beautiful. He found out who she was. She was the wife of his loyal soldier. Yet, he was overcome by his desire and committed adultery instantly. He thought it would be finished with just one time of enjoyment. But the matter was complicated when she became pregnant. He tried to hide the sin by calling her husband from the battle and making him sleep with his wife. However, this plan did not work because of the man’s unusual loyalty. Then the only way to hide his sin was to have the husband killed in a battle. His sin became much heavier with murder on top of adultery. He never expected that his life would go that way. He could deceive others, but not himself. He could hide his sin before all people, but not before God.

Then God sent the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan pointed out his sin and rebuked the king courageously. At this David admitted his sin and repented before God. That was a major difference between Saul and David. Saul did not repent at the rebuke of such a great servant as Samuel, but David repented at the rebuke of Nathan. When he confessed and repented of his sin, God forgave him and his relationship with God was restored.

However, the consequences of sin remained there bringing tragic events in his family and kingdom. One of his sons raped his half-sister, a daughter of the king. Then another son killed the son and fled. Surprisingly it seemed that his sons exactly imitated him in sinning. In the course of time his banished son was brought to Jerusalem after three years. But the king did not see the son, unsure of the son’s repentance. Then two years later the son somehow managed the situation, and the father David let the son come to see him, and the king kissed the son. It was like accepting the son who had no clear evidence of repentance. This could be any human father’s weakness.

This brought an unspeakable tragedy to the nation. The son named Absalom stole the hearts of people in his restored prince position and gathered his people to rebel against his father King David. This was a totally unexpected revolt to David. In that situation, instead of fighting with his son’s rebel group, David fled with his officials to avoid a bloodshed internal war in Jerusalem. He became a fugitive again, this time as a king. The whole countryside wept. When his life became uncertain in the eyes of men, he had to experience various kinds of people. Some were piercing his heart like thorns even cursed him severely, but others showed their true friendship. But regardless, David’s heart was consistent with God. He even tried to hear God’s voice in the words of one’s curse to him, saying, “If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’.” And the fact that there were his true friends at the time of adversity showed that he won the hearts of some, though not all. He was sure that if God was pleased with him, God would let him return to the palace, and if not, he was also ready to bear any situation. All these unexpected and unbearable life situations did not make him biter at all. We should watch out whether any kind of bitterness arises in our hearts. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that…no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” There was no bitterness at all in David’s heart in any life situations. Rather through them his faith grew more and more when he kept a right relationship with God.

David really hoped that the rebellion would end with as little blood as possible, especially with his son Absalom remaining alive. But he had to hear the heart-breaking news of his son’s death. At this he was shaken and wept aloud calling his son’s name endlessly (18:33), although humanly speaking the son was an undeserving and worthless wicked son. David even wished he had died in the place of the son. Some misunderstood and criticized David for such an act of grief over his son’s death, not celebrating the victory of his men over the rebellious party of the nation. But this event showed that David was a father before being a king. This did not mean that he was a family-centred person, but rather he was a man of heart, not just a man of position. David’s deeply broken and grieving heart for his son Absalom at his death revealed God’s broken heart for perishing souls through his Son Jesus Christ.

When we think of David, he took care of one needy person at the peak of his kingdom. And at the time of sinning his sin did not take him away from God. Rather in his sin he came to know God’s grace of forgiveness of sin through repentance and could be deepened in his relationship with God. His faith grew mature through all the difficulties in life to the point of showing his beautiful heart for his worthless son, which was God’s heart.

Third, the restoration of the kingdom (19:9-24:25). When David’s relationship with God was restored, his kingdom was also restored. As he was returning to palace, he accepted all people even the one who cursed him severely as long as they wanted to support him in the kingdom. He also tried to compensate those who showed him genuine love and kindness at the time of his adversity. Indeed God was pleased with him and let him return to the palace. He became the king of Israel again.

Then there are 4 chapters of epilogue, 21-24. When there was a three year famine, David resolved it in God’s way, finding the cause through his prayer and obeying God’s word. David was once in a danger to be killed in a battle with the Philistines. Then one of David’s men rescued him and they said, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.” David was the lamp of Israel, for through him the people could know what was right and wrong and could see the way to go in darkness. He was the lamp of Israel, for he was the hope of Israel through God’s covenant promise given to him and through his life of faith.

There was David’s song of praise, in which he described the LORD God as “my Rock”, “my fortress”, “my deliver”, “my shield”, “the horn of my salvation”, “my stronghold”, “my refuge”, and “my Saviour.” He confessed that when he depended on the Rock and called out to the LORD his God in a distress, the LORD rescued him from his powerful enemy, from his foes, who were too strong for him.

As his last words David said, “When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” Surely, when he looked back his life, the most important thing was righteousness and the fear of God. God is righteous and he is the one whom all are to fear. David said in his song of praise, “The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness…The LORD rewarded me according to according to my righteousness.” As we studied, David was an obvious sinner. But he was clothed with God’s righteousness when he repented of his sin and lived by faith. As for him his right relationship with God mattered always. When he was clothed with God’s righteousness and so was right with God, he could rule in righteousness. And as a king he had nothing to fear. He feared no one. But he recognized God who was far above him. He feared God and lived under his rule. When he had the fear of God in the right relationship with God, he could deal with the opportunists very clearly. When he had the fear of God, he sought peaceful unification trying to embrace the commander of Saul’s house, Abner. When he had the fear of God, he could inquire of the Lord. And he could call out to God in distress. When he had the fear of God, he could defeat the enemies of God’s chosen people completely. When he had the fear of God, he could bring the ark of God back to Jerusalem. When he had the fear of God, he could think of building the house of God. When he had the fear of God, he did what was just and right for his people. When he had the fear of God, he could repent of his sin at the rebuke of a prophet, although he was king. When he had the fear of God, he did not fight a physical battle but a spiritual battle at the time of his son’s nation-wide rebellion. When he had the fear of God in the right relationship with God, truly loyal friends gathered around him, until they were thirty-seven of David’s mighty men who built the kingdom of David, even risking their lives for him. In this way David ruled in righteousness and in the fear of God. So David was a God-fearing ruler, a shepherd king.

Then he confessed, “When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” His light and brightness and his newness and freshness came from God every day.

It is notable that in the last chapter of 2 Samuel are recorded David’s sin of pride to count his fighting men and his repentance in his being conscience-stricken, and God’s punishment upon the people and a plague of God’s punishment being stopped at the sacrifice of David offered on the altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. On this site the temple of Israel would be built for the sacrifice of numerous animals for the sins of the Israelites, and the Son of God would be crucified and offered as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Thus the Son of God would be the Saviour and Shepherd king over his people through his death and resurrection. 2 Samuel looks forward to this true King. Through faith in him we are saved from our sins and made righteous, and each raised as a royal priest, a shepherd ruler for his people. Praise God. When we read 1 and 2 Samuel, David is the object of God’s special love and blessing. Now in Christ Jesus God sees each of us as a David, a ruler and a shepherd king. It is the restoration of man’s position in Christ Jesus as a ruler and steward of the world (Ge 1:28). That’s why Jesus gave us the great commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt 28:29) In his marvelous grace of God may we always seek right relationship with God in Christ Jesus and live in the fear of God and each one be a God-fearing ruler like David in our time.

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