What does it say?
David’s grief for his son turns a moment of victory into one of discouragement (2Sam 19). The people are confused and Joab confronts David. This brings David out of his stupor, but his decisions are faulty, putting Amasa over the military in place of Joab. This, in effect, rewards treason and punishes loyalty. David returns to Jerusalem where he pardons enemies and begins to rebuild his kingdom.
A Benjamite named Sheba rebels against David by wanting to unite the other tribes against Judah (2Sam 20). David orders Amasa to assemble Judah’s men and sends Abishai to pursue Sheba. Meanwhile, Joab intercepts Amasa and murders him in cold blood. Sheba is cornered in the town of Abel where the inhabitants throw Sheba’s head over the wall to end the threat of civil war.
Battles continue for David (2Sam 21) as he learns that three years of famine is judgment for Saul’s treatment of the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites demand the heads of 7 sons of Saul to settle the score. Once again Israel goes to war with the Philistines.
What does it mean?
People read emotions and actions better than words. David’s grief unsettles the nation with tragic consequences. How many of us have ruined what should have been a celebration because of our inability to control our emotions or actions?
Killing breeds more killing and violence. Many people want revenge rather than trusting God to execute his justice. David wanted to build the temple, but God forbid him because he was a “bloody man.” As we have watched David’s life unfold, we can better understand God’s wisdom in not allowing David to build the temple.
David sincerely wanted God’s name glorified among the nations. We see this theme constantly in the Psalms. But there was also this savage part of David that resulted in spending much of his life on the battlefield. David also failed to comprehend many aspects of marriage and parenthood, resulting in violent family drama. Many followers of Jesus today profess to want God’s mission fulfilled to the ends of the earth, yet seem to spend most of life battling culture, politics and other Christians, or simply nourishing the flesh.
How will I respond?
Do I allow my emotions, body language, attitudes and selfishness to control me and confuse others? Do I listen to the people closest to me when they lovingly confront me about the mixed signals I’m sending? Is my life focused on politics and cultural battles rather than God’s global mission? Do I care more about fighting other Christians than proclaiming the Good News of Jesus?