Tuesday, 22 April 2014

(113) April 23: 2 Samuel 4-6 & Luke 18:18-43

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note how David’s kingdom is consolidated.

To ponder:
Abner was clearly the force in Saul’s house. Now dead, Ish-Bosheth and “all Israel” are fearful. Mephibosheth (4v4) is mentioned because he will feature soon, but the focus is on Ish-Bosheth’s two raiding band leaders who kill him and bring his head to David. Again, David shows himself unwilling to ascend the throne by evil means and so acts justly, by killing the murderers as the law required – although his gruesome means of warning others was his own idea (4v12).
            “All Israel” then come to David, affirming now they are his “flesh and blood,” and acknowledging his previous leadership and divine appointment as “shepherd of my people Israel.” Knowing all this makes their previous reluctance all the more serious. David then enters a “compact” with the elders “before the LORD,” probably outlining the nature of their allegiance and his rule. The elders then formally anoint him king, and we read of the fullness of his reign. There is a call here to all humanity to covenant with Christ the “good shepherd, confident that his rule is just and gentle, and that he forever lives as king.
            David immediately gains his capital – Jerusalem, renamed the “city of David,” which he builds up. Previously this had been impregnable, leading the inhabitants to taunt David that even the “bind and lame can ward you off.” It is therefore a sign that God is with David that he takes it, and it is for this same reason that we read he becomes increasingly powerful. His developing greatness is seen in the king of Tyre giving gifts for him to build his palace with. And David’s response (5v12) suggests he understands God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendents a great nation is being fulfilled. The kingdom established through Judah is receiving the “obedience of the nations” (Gen 49v10). This looks to the nations bringing their wealth into the church as their citizens give their allegiance to Christ (Is 60), and ultimately to their “glory” coming into the new Jerusalem (Rev 21v26).
            5v13-16 also imply David’s developing greatness. However, there is concern in the detail too, as God warned in the law that Israel’s king should neither accumulate “large amounts of silver and gold” nor take many wives, as they could lead him astray (Deut 17v17).
            David is nevertheless the supreme commander, not entering the fray without “enquiring of the LORD,” and so with God’s instructions defeats the notorious Philistines, who abandon their idols because the LORD breaks out against them. This displays God’s supremacy over whatever gods nations claim give them power.
            The icing on this cake is the ark, the throne of Israel’s invisible God and symbol of his presence and authority. However, although David and Israel celebrate its coming towards Jerusalem, they don’t follow God’s instructions on moving it. His requirement that Levites carry it on poles had not simply been about respect for him, but protecting the people against his holiness. So when the oxen stumble and Uzzah touches the ark to steady it, he is immediately struck down by God’s anger at sin. This should shock as it did then, breeding the same fear of God in us that it did in David. This fear led him to keep the ark elsewhere for a time, where its keeper’s household was “blessed.” Only when David heard this, did he determine to bring it to Jerusalem! But this time he did it correctly (6v13), with numerous sacrifices (6v14-19). The event reminds us that acceptance by God does not mean we can be flippant with his instructions or his holiness.
            Michal’s disgust at David dancing before the LORD portrays the attitude that prioritizes reputation before others over sincere devotion to God, and the implication is that she may have been barren from that point because of it. David’s response, portrays the Christ-like readiness to honour God no matter how humiliating, and how this often commends him to those society may despise.

Praying it home:
Thank God for establishing Christ the “good shepherd” as our king. Pray that you would be generous in giving your material possessions to the upbuilding of the church.

Thinking further: David as Priest and King
This is a notable element in David’s action. He wears an ephod, makes offerings, and has the ark put in a tabernacle he establishes. He can fulfil this priestly role because he is king over a priestly nation. Indeed, Psalm 110 shows he explicitly saw himself like Melchizedek (Gen 14v18-20) who was priest of God Most High and also King of Salem (Jerusalem), and who gave bread and wine to Abraham before blessing him, and blessing God for conquering his enemies. David’s actions in 2 Samuel 5-6 are remarkably similar and suggest he sees his coronation as the fulfilment of God’s covenant with Abraham, and himself as the one to whom Abraham’s descendents must give their allegiance as Abraham did to Melchizedek. It all patterns the coming of Christ who would not just rule over God’s people but offer himself as a sacrifice to bring peace with God, conquering sin, death and the devil, and bringing blessing to God’s people in fulfilment of this same covenant. It is here we see why the roles of priest and king need combining in the one person. It is through Jesus’ priestly work that he fulfils the kingly role of delivering God’s people.

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