June 29, 2012

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Biblical readings: David becomes king of Israel

John F. FinkNext week, the biblical readings in the Office of Readings include the death of King Saul in the First Book of Samuel and then the first 11 chapters in the Second Book of Samuel.

The Second Book of Samuel should really be called the Book of King David since it is completely devoted to his reign as Israel’s king. Samuel plays no part in the book because he is already dead.

David did not become the king of Israel immediately after Saul’s death. Saul’s son, Ishbaal, succeeded him. Only the tribe of Judah recognized David as its leader.

David became king of the Judahites when he was 30 years old and reigned for 7½ years. He lived in Hebron while his forces battled Ishbaal’s men. David also fathered six sons, with six different women, while in Hebron.

After Ishbaal was murdered while asleep in his bedroom, the elders of Israel asked David to become the king of all Israel. He then captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his capital.

This was a strategic move since Jerusalem was centrally located between the northern and southern tribes. It was to be known as the City of David from then on. He ruled Israel for the next 33 years.

David continued to take wives and concubines. The book gives the names of 11 sons that he fathered while in Jerusalem. If he had any daughters, they are not mentioned.

Once he secured Jerusalem as his capital, David brought the Ark of the Covenant into the city. It had been captured by the Philistines, but returned. It had been kept at the house of a man named Abinadab.

When the Israelites started to move the Ark, one of Abinadab’s sons, Uzzah, touched it to steady it. That made God angry. He killed Uzzah.

That seems pretty harsh, of course, but the point was made that the Ark was holy.

It got David’s attention, and he diverted the Ark to the home of Obededom.

Three months later, hearing that the Lord had blessed Obededom’s family, David tried again, this time successfully.

There was a grand procession and David danced with abandon clothed in a linen apron. This made his wife, Michal, angry at David for exposing himself, but he rejected her criticism.

Chapter 7 is the most important in this book. It is here that the prophet Nathan tells David that God will establish a dynasty for David. This promise will become the basis for messianic expectations by the Jewish people after the destruction of Jerusalem. It is particularly important in the New Testament in its affirmation that Jesus is the Son of David.

The readings in the Office of Readings next week conclude with the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

When Bathsheba became pregnant, David tried to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba so he would think that the baby was his. When that didn’t work, David arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle. David then married Bathsheba.

Oh yes, it reads like a modern novel, and there is still more to come. †

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