- The Explore the Bible lesson for July 29 focuses on 2 Samuel 19:1-15.
If you were deposed of your way of life, sent packing to a place of exile, shamed publicly and pursued by your own child, how would you be feeling right now? A question we all would like to consider at this point in David’s story is this: Could it get any worse?
Absalom, who was advised to attack his father, probably would have received all bets on a victory. However, that is not how it would play out. Rather, we see David’s troops defeating Absalom’s large army, sending Absalom into a precarious situation (see 2 Samuel 18:9-15).
Things got worse as David’s hope for Absalom to be dealt with gently was ignored, leaving him to mourn the death of his son, who also was his enemy in this story. “The king was shaken” (2 Samuel 18:33a), and he was a father first in that he mourned rather than celebrated his deliverance as Israel’s king. How do you think you would respond in this situation?
Mourning (2 Samuel 19:1-4)
Let us be frank: If a leader acts or reacts in one way, his or her people will act or react similarly. Surely this must have been confusing for David’s men who had risked their lives and came out victorious only to see their leader wailing profusely. The men who were celebrating literally “turned” into mourners.
For a moment, put aside that we knew of David’s fatherly pain. How would we respond if our leader was wailing instead of celebrating? Would this make us want to continue following our leader? David’s emotions, while understandable and even acceptable to us, were wreaking havoc on the sentiments of his people. This was not a good thing for a king who needed to regain favor.
Keep in mind all that caused David’s mourning was “inescapable and just” discipline that brought “great sorrow in its wake” (Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., 1 & 2 Samuel, 272), as we recall the prophet Nathan’s words in chapter 12. So in spite of this, David’s mourning could not replace the battle cries of victory, which is why Joab, his commanding officer, took action.
Confrontation (2 Samuel 19:5-8)
With our Western eyes and emotions, we are more likely to side with David in his pain. We also are likely to condemn Joab for going what we might think of as a step too far by killing Absalom. (Keep in mind, David did not know this yet). This confrontation is not easy for us to read and completely grasp.
Nevertheless, Joab had David’s power (which gave him power) in mind. He wanted David to rule instead of Absalom, which is why he took such courage to confront his deposed king. It is interesting how David took his advice and was sure to go and stand before his soldiers, heeding the risk of mutiny.
Meditate on this phrase: “You love those who hate you and hate those who love you” (2 Samuel 19:6a). How was this a problem for Joab? How is this statement something that is good for us to consider today? In our post-Jesus context, we see this phrase as obedience to Jesus’s words; however, in David’s context, it showed he needed to get his priorities in order.
Restoration (2 Samuel 19:9-15)
While David is restored to his kingship, we see a great deal of division and discrepancy among his people. At first, we do not see a unified desire to bring David back, until we see Judah was won over “as though they were one man” (2 Samuel 19:14a). David would become king again; however, it would not be as it once was.
While reading the remainder of chapter 19 would be a challenge for the class, as teacher or facilitator, be sure to read through the discussions and dialogues, taking note of any significant characters and words. You will see this restoration was both costly and worthwhile.
Why do we see such difficulty with this restoration? The split within David’s household caused a split in Israel. This was a precursor of Jesus’s words in Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” This is true whether the division is among a righteous or unrighteous people.
The theme of “regaining confidence” is quite clear in this text today. David needed to regain confidence, his soldiers needed to have confidence nurtured by their leader, and Israel needed to become a confident nation whose confidence was in God as their supreme leader. Yet, none of these needs seem to be fully realized.
If there is a cry for anything in this passage, it is a cry for renewal. Israel needed to be “new” again. David needed a “new” life that would refresh his judgment filled life. His family needed renewal after their internally dramatic episodes left them with death and destruction.
Perhaps this could be our confidence as we all cry out for renewal in our lives and situations: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). May God’s hope lift us all from our own tragic circumstances. His hope will not fail us.
Heath A. Kirkwood is lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lorena.