2 Samuel 2 Part 2–Civil War Stinks!

Now that Saul and Jonathan were gone, there still remained a sharp division between Saul’s people and David’s people.  What started out to be a discussion of an amicable solution, ended in a bloody civil war that cost the lives of over 400 soldiers. While the great majority were of Saul’s house, it was still a sad state of affairs.  Finally, when Joab’s brother was killed, both sides said enough.
 
The anger, the resentment, and the division had not ended–but the futility of killing each other became apparent. Both sides turned and went their separate ways. 
 
In our lives, we are put in positions that cause hurt and bitterness.  In that, if not dealt with reasonably, things can escalate to civil war in families.  Lives are damaged, relationships ended and families destroyed. Sadly, by the time all realize the devastation, it is often too late.  As a church, we have to exercise grace. None of us are perfect and all of us can forgive as we have been forgiven.  If we will, we can avoid life-changing civil wars and relationship killing altercations.  As God showed David, vengeance is God’s, and the Lord will repay evil against His chosen–so let Him!
 
God Bless You 

Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.”

“All right, let them do it,” Joab said.

15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.[a]

17 The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men.

18 The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle. 19 He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. 20 Abner looked behind him and asked, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“It is,” he answered.

21 Then Abner said to him, “Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

22 Again Abner warned Asahel, “Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?”

23 But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.

24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. 25 Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill.

26 Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

27 Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”

28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

2 Samuel 1 Part 2–Is It Worth the Price

In the Bible stories we read as children, we hear of David and Goliath, but, we do not hear much about the long, hard ascension David made to the throne of Israel. From the time he was anointed by Samuel, he endured several attempts on his life, running as a fugitive for years, living with the enemy and in caves. Then when Saul, his enemy finally dies, David pays a nice tribute to the dead king and  Jonathan. In response, he then is thrown into years of civil war with the house of Saul and Saul’s army.  He was made king of Judah, but the rest of Israel still followed the house of Saul.
 
David was clearly following God’s lead. He had done nothing to cause the trial and tribulation he faced–still, he faced years of pain and persecution before finally taking the throne for which God anointed him. 
 
There are sometimes just no good answers to why we encounter trials and tribulation. We know we are in a spiritual battle, but even when we do what is right, sometimes things are tough. In those times it is easy to become discouraged and to wonder why we bother to remain faithful. The truth is that we are called to be God’s chosen, His adopted kids. In that place, we are hated by the world, and the enemy; and will always be a target to minimize or neutralize our impact on others. We must endure the struggles and embrace our calling. If we will, we will have a purposeful and amazing life here and an eternity with God in Heaven.  No matter how difficult the struggle–it is worth it.  Paul said it best in Romans, “ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.
 
God Bless You

In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.

The Lord said, “Go up.”

David asked, “Where shall I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.

So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.

When David was told that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to them to say to them, “The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them.”

War Between the Houses of David and Saul

Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel.

10 Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. 11 The length of time David was king in Hebron over Judah was seven years and six months.

2 Samuel 1 Part 1–David Learns of Saul’s Demise

Truly, the death of Saul was a counter-intuitive event for David and for the Amalekite that brought news of Saul’s death.  There is little doubt that the messenger thought he would be the bearer of great news.  David’s nemesis and chief adversary was now gone and David could gain his throne…Isn’t that good news?  Well for David, his heart was for Israel. As God’s anointed king, David was deeply saddened by the death of another anointed king.  He was also saddened by the death of his friend Jonathan.  Mostly, however, he was saddened that the Amalekite servant was glad to see Israel’s king killed.

It is sad to see things go bad.  Even when we may benefit from another’s loss, our hearts, when focused on the Lord, can never rejoice when others pay a great price for it.  David was not selfish or narcissistic. He truly mourned the death of Saul.  David would now complete the mission, but, truth be told, David would have rather approached the throne as a welcome king, not a conquering one.

We need David’s heart.  We should seek God. He should be our primary concern.  As we do, the Lord deals with the circumstances that intervene. The way he protects and provides may be baffling to us, but as we trust him, the Lord makes clear that He is working His plan in our lives.  We will have to trust God to keep His word.  We can never underestimate God’s power, planning, or timing to address our needs and our lives.  We must seek the Lord with our hearts and trust Him with our lives. If we will do that, God promises to make our paths straight, to restore and heal us, and to add all these other things to our lives–that seems like a fair trade to me!!! (Matt 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

God Bless You

After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. On the third day, a man arrived from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.

“Where have you come from?” David asked him.

He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”

“What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”

“The men fled from the battle,” he replied. “Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’

“He asked me, ‘Who are you?’

“‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.

“Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’

10 “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”

11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I am the son of a foreigner, an Amalekite,” he answered.

14 David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”

15 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

I Samuel 31–A Sad End To a Sad Story

The reign of King Saul ended very unceremoniously.  He was soundly defeated by the Philistines–the enemy that he defeated when he started his time as Israel’s king.  He took his own life–he knew there was no good way for the battle to end and killed himself.  He lost his sons–they were all killed in battle as well. So the kingdom now lay in ruins and the royal family decimated.  But, the good news was that this was not the end.  It was only the end of the beginning.  Now that Saul was gone, David could become the king of Israel and lead them back to becoming God’s people and kingdom.
 
We must live our lives trusting and following God. When we try to live independent of God, our lives become chaotic and hopeless.  It is difficult enough to do life when we trust and follow God, but apart from him–well, we can do nothing that is either substantial or that will last. Jesus said it best in Matthew 6, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33. If we will trust and follow God–we will have a meaningful life; apart from Him, however, we will have a sad end to a sad story.
 
God Bless You

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcisedfellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

I Samuel 30 Part 1–God Is Always Where to Turn!

David was released by the Philistine king and sent home. He no longer was put in a position to fight Israel.  So when he came to his city, He was met with the tragedy. of finding that the Amalekites raided the city, burned it and stole all of David and His men’s families and possessions. It was clearly adding Insult to injury.  David’s men had been extremely loyal in their following of the king, but to have their families taken while they were at a battle from which they were sent away; well that was too much. As they gathered they began to talk of stoning David–after all he got them and their families in this mess.  
 
David did what only David knew to do, He sought the Lord.  He had the priest come and David went straight to God.  He asked the right questions–Can we overtake these heathen? God gave him the best answer that only God could–Yes, son, you will overtake them and you will rescue all that you have lost.  David’s kingdom and life were based upon his trust in God. God delivered him from so many near-death experiences, that David lost count. So once again he proceeded to the throne of God for direction and direction he did receive.
 
We have to return to God in our difficult days.  No matter the stress, no matter the cause God is still the solution to our life issues.  If we will seek him first; If we will follow him daily, then He will lead us through our trials and restore what our enemies try to take.  It is never easy. but God is always faithful.  Sometimes the hardest thing we face is the reality that it is time to approach God and seek His leadership. The great news is that God ALWAYS welcomes our inquiries.  He is never too busy to listen and move in our lives.  Thanks, Lord for always being available and hearing our prayers!
 
God Bless You

David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

I Samuel 29–God Sends David Home

 God was kind to David.  He was at a critical point in his conflict with Saul.  He had been living with the Philistines for more than a year. Saul and his armies were going to battle with the Philistines. The Philistine king Acksish Loved David and marched he and his band right with his personal troops toward the battle.  David was now in the unique position of being the anointed King of Israel marching into battle against Israel.  What a horrible position to be in.  God then used the Philistine officers to spare David.  They told the king to send David and his men home–they were to great a risk.  So the king sent them away from the battle with Israel.  The king blessed David and David’s men as they went home.  
 
Sometimes we are placed into impossible positions. It seems hopeless and overwhelming. But, just then, God steps in and does something so amazing and so unexpected that it becomes clear that He was the author and executor of the miracle.  When God intercedes, it is a great reminder that the Lord alone can change the world and men’s hearts.  That is why we can never trusting in God’s leadership. We must seek Him, bring our needs before Him and follow His leadership through our daily life.  When we do, He does the best things to prepare us.  David was able to leave that day and not battle his people–Thank You, Lord, for interceding at just the right time.
 
God Bless You

The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”

Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”

But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”

“But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.”

11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

I Samuel 28–Saul Seeks a Medium

There is really no worse place to be than to be the king of God’s chosen nation, but also to be an enemy of God! That was the world where King Saul found himself.  He had continually disobeyed God and sought to make a name for himself.  God was not amused.  So God stripped Saul of His spirit and leadership and anointed David to be king.  Saul became more and more obsessed with killing David and with running things his way. Then, the day arrived when Saul was at the end of himself. He knew his kingdom was in danger. He had no direction from God and he really felt alone. So Saul sought out a medium to call Samuel, his last friend from God, up from the grave.  In short, Saul sought to find God by his own means–Samuel appeared and told Saul the truth. He was done! He and his Sons would die at the hands of the Philistines and David would take the kingdom.
 
When one strays so far from God that he can no longer hear his voice, the truth of God is rarely a comfort. Saul, hoped somehow that Samuel could give him a happy message–so such message would come. In short, the only answer is to repent and return to God. In our lives, Christ died for our sin. His atonement gives us the opportunity to repent and return even after we have sinned against God.  If we will repent and return–God will never leave nor will he forsake us. We still have to face the consequence of our choices, but we do so with God at our side and confident that he will love and protect us through the difficult times.  Saul needed to repent to God and return to God’s authority.  He should have turned the Kingdome to David and followed quietly. He refused and fought God–now he had to face the consequence of that choice.  Thank You, Lord, that we can repent and return to you and you will not leave or forsake us.
 
God Bless You

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure[a] coming up out of the earth.”

14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has tornthe kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”