Tuesday 05 July 2016

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

"Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them; and all the men who were with him did the same. 12They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword." (vv. 11-12)

2 Samuel 1:1-16 Tuesday 5 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm 114


The book 2 Samuel not surprisingly comes immediately after 1Samuel. The events carry on without even the writer seeming to drawbreath. In fact the two books were originally one - they weredivided by the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament)and were only divided in the Hebrew Bible in the 15thcentury.

The books of Samuel are named after the person God uses toestablish kingship in Israel. Saul was the first king, who wasanointed by the prophet Samuel. At the end of 1 Samuel we read ofthe death of Saul at the battle at Mount Gilboa. According to 1Samuel 31, Saul took his own life, falling on his own sword (1Samuel 31:4), as he knew he had been fatally wounded and knewthat his three sons were already dead (1Samuel 31:2-3).

But reading today's passage we discover that there is acontradiction. 1 Samuel says Saul killed himself; but the reportthat David receives says that the messenger who brought news ofSaul's death said that he killed him (verse 10). Who is telling thetruth?

Some commentators suggest that the messenger was lying in orderthat he might be rewarded by David, even though the news wastragic. But the text gives no indication of this. In fact, it isthe opposite as the messenger himself is killed.

The presentation of the crown and the band (verse 10) isevidence that that Saul is dead, as the messenger could not haveretrieved them otherwise, rather than an indication that Davidshould become king (even though he does).

Notice David's reaction to the news. He and all his men tookhold of their clothes and tore them. Here is a very vivid andphysical expression of grief. No words are needed. This physicalexpression is intensified by their weeping and fasting untilnightfall. It is only then that the writer records David speakingagain.

To Ponder

  • The end of 1 Samuel contradicts the start of 2 Samuel. How doyou react and respond when the Bible contradicts itself? How do youview the Bible and its relationship to truth?
  • David and his followers give a very physical expression togrief and tragedy. You can sometimes see similar expressions ofgrief in news reports from the Middle East? How comfortable do youfeel about seeing this? How would you feel being some expressive insorrow? Would it help to display your feelings and help you in yourgrief? Why?
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