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March 15, 2023 - 2 Samuel 1-3

Another perplexing story: the young man who reported to David that he had killed Saul. The report seems to be that almost of a mercy killing. Saul was in terrible anguish, he could not live, and he himself asked the guy to put him out of his misery. David’s response: “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?” (1:14) And then, David had the guy killed, saying to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the Lord’s anointed’” (1:16). This man failed to see what David had known, as time after time he refused to strike against Saul; that is, he failed to see the sanctity of the person of the king. Even though ultimately shown to be unworthy, Saul was God’s anointed ruler and was to be respected as such.

Civil war between the northern tribes (Ish-bosheth) and Judah (David). And yet another odd story. Abner, the northern general, and Joab, David's general, take seats on opposite sides of the pool of Gibeon (2:13) and appear, quite calmly, to agree to put on a competition between their troops. Twelve men from each side battle and kill each other while the generals look on. And then, the summary statement: “And the battle was very fierce that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David” (2:17). There is something larger, here, than the mere battle between combatants: “David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker” (3:1). God was establishing the Davidic dynasty, and no historical persons or forces would frustrate that purpose. Even Abner, in his confrontation with Ish-bosheth, recognized what was going on: “God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah” (3:9,10). The storyline proceeding from Genesis 3:15 continues.

Jesus, the very thought of thee

with sweetness fills the breast;

but sweeter far thy face to see,

and in thy presence rest.

Jesus, our only joy be thou,

as thou our prize wilt be;

Jesus, be thou our glory now,

and through eternity. --Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century)

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