Monday 27 May 2019

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

Now these are the last words of David… (v. 1)

2 Samuel 23:1-5 Monday 27 May 2019

Psalm: Psalm 15


In yesterday’s notes,  we reflected on Jesus’ ‘farewell discourse’ in light of the Old Testament tradition of speeches made by great leaders immediately prior to their death, including David in 1 Chronicles 28-29. But here we are in 2 Samuel, listening to the “last words of David". Why does the Bible contain two separate accounts of David’s final words – when so many other stories go untold? And why do the two accounts differ?

2 Samuel 21-24 are often referred to as ‘appendices’ to the books of Samuel, carrying stories, songs and reflections on the life of David. They are unafraid to dwell on David’s human weaknesses, as well as his greatness as king. Chapters 13-20 carry tragic tales of rape, murder and rebellion, after which David is so consumed with grief that he neglects his responsibilities as king until forced to resume his duties by his general, Joab. After 2 Samuel comes 1 Kings, in which David, old and unable to get warm, is struggling from his deathbed to maintain control of the kingdom and his succession. Later generations, it seems, were uncomfortable with this unflattering portrait of David’s vulnerability and fallibility, and so created a far more impressive version of David’s farewell speech – as found in 1 Chronicles 28-29.

Richard Burridge tells the story of four different images of Churchill hanging on the walls of Chartwell, showing him at a conference, at a family tea, in military uniform and on holiday. These four portraits cannot be harmonised into a single snapshot, but all reveal something true about their subject. Both accounts of his ‘last words’ have truths to reveal about David – the shepherd boy with a slingshot, the adulterous murderer, and the great king.

Today’s passage is one of two songs that cast David as the prototype of God’s righteous king (see also 2 Samuel 22:1-51). Together with Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2, these songs ‘bookend’ 1 and 2 Samuel, and suggest that the Spirit of God is at work in the events and people the books describe (even, perhaps, in their flaws) to raise up the poor and oppressed and to bring down the powerful and proud.


To Ponder:

  • Can you think of other stories in the Bible that are told twice – and in different ways? What is the value of having both?
  • Sometimes, our society is unsure what to do with the accomplishments of famous artists, musicians etc if it is discovered that they have hurt and abused other people. How do you feel we should treat King David, given his flaws?
Previous Page Sunday 26 May 2019
Next Page Tuesday 28 May 2019