Through the Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 1-6

This Week’s Readings

Monday, May 21: 1 Samuel 25-31
Tuesday, May 22: 2 Samuel 1-6
Wednesday, May 23: 2 Samuel 7-10
Thursday, May 24: 2 Samuel 11-15
Friday, May 25: 2 Samuel 16-20

Monday, May 28, we’ll finish the last four chapters of 2 Samuel and finish the week with some Psalms and Proverbs. That will cause some change to the overall year’s plan. Sorry about that. I miscounted the number of chapters in 1 Samuel when I did the original plan. I made the changes on the year plan page, and I filled it out into August.

The overall year’s plan is here.

2 Samuel 2

Gibeon was 8 miles northwest of Jerusalem. The battle between Abner’s forces and Joab’s was fought there.

Afterward, Abner headed east to Mahanaim, which was not just across the Jordan, but over 40 miles on the other side of the Jordan. Joab headed south to Hebron, where David was reigning as king over Judah.

The Arabah, which Abner crossed, is most often a reference to the entire Jordan valley, though it’s also sometimes specifically the area immediately south of the Dead Sea, which was called the Sea of Arabah. Abner must have crossed north of the Dead Sea, though, or the trip to Mahanaim would have been over 100 miles.

2 Samuel 3

Abner, general of Ish-bosheth’s forces, switches to David’s side, but Joab doesn’t trust him and kills him.

Zeruiah, the mother of Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, was David’s sister (1 Chr. 2:15-16). Thus, Joab was David’s nephew.

The start of this chapter shows David picking up a third wife (v. 5). He also sends for Michal, Saul’s daughter again, making four wives. Eventually, he would have 19 wives and concubines, which is nothing like Solomon’s thousand (1 Kings 11:3), but does serve to help explain how David got himself into trouble with Bathsheba (which we’ll come to soon).

Deuteronomy 17:17 warns that when Israel gets a king, that king must not "multiply wives to himself" (KJV). The Bathsheba incident was a terrible problem for David, but Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, suffered a worse fate, being turned to idol worship by his many wives (1 Kings 11:4).

Nobody, not even kings of Israel, gets away with living in the indulgence of their flesh. Evil is its own punishment, even in this life, and after that there will be a judgment by the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Samuel 4

Beeroth can be found on this map just under the large "Benjamin." This puts it about 20 miles north of Jerusalem.

The original inhabitants of Beeroth fled to Gittaim. The probably location of Gittaim is between lower and upper Beth-horon, about 10 miles west of Beeroth. Now the Benjamites lived in Beeroth, and the Beerothites were living as protected foreigners in Gittaim.

2 Samuel 5

When David captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites, he says that his soul hates the blind and the lame. This does not mean that David hated the downtrodden. In chapter 9, we will read that Jonathon’s lame son, Mephibosheth, will eat at David’s table all his life. David is simply referring to the fact that the Jebusites said he would be repulsed by the blind and lame, and the reference to the blind and lame that his soul hates is a reference to the Jebusites he was attacking, not to the actual blind and lame.

The two battles with the Philistines took place in the valley of the Rephaim (valley of the giants), which is just northwest of Jerusalem. When David struck them from Geba to Gezer, this was an area of about 20 miles stretching from east to west.

Verse 21 tells us that David and his men "carried away" the Philistine idols. This doesn’t mean they kept them. 1 Chronicles 14:12 tells us that they burned them.

I should point out already that many of the stories in Samuel and Kings are retold in Chronicles. This is because Samuel and Kings are the histories of all of Israel, the northern and southern kingdom alike. (Israel is going to split under David’s grandson, Rehoboam.) Chronicles is the history of just the southern kingdom, Judah, which includes the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as well as a lot of the Levites.

The northern kingdom, known as Israel or sometimes Ephraim, was captured by the Assyrians. Many Israelites were taken to Assyria, and many Assyrians were left in Israel. The Assyrian/Israelite descendants became the despised Samaritans of Jesus’ day. The captured Israelites were never heard from again, and they are often referred to as "the ten lost tribes."

Judah, the southern kingdom, was captured by Babylon over a century later, and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C. The captives of Judah, however, returned 70 years later after a decree from Cyrus, king of the Persians who conquered Babylon, gave them their city back.

2 Samuel 6

Here is where we find out that David is unfamiliar with the Law of Moses, though later he would not be. He tries to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, but Uzzah is killed by God in the process, and David doesn’t know why.

When David returns to get the ark, there are "bearers" carrying it. We have to assume that David had found out from the Law that the Levites were supposed to be carrying the ark, not a cart pulled by animals.

On the other hand, all these sacrifices violated the Law of Moses. Sacrifices were only to be offered at the altar of God, in front of the tabernacle, and by the priests, not by a king from the tribe of Judah. Nonetheless, God holds David guiltless for this and many other sacrifices that were not done according to the Law, just as he held Samuel guiltless for the same thing.

As a note, the Hebrew word we translate "ark" just means a box like a money chest or hope chest. It is a different Hebrew word than the ark Noah built. Since the basket in which Moses was placed on the Nile river is called by the same Hebrew word as Noah’s ark, the Hebrew word there, introduced from some foreign language, must mean a floating vessel, large or small. The ark of the covenant, however, was a box or chest.
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