Study Notes

2Samuel 1:1-2:32

1:1 David In Ziklag

As we have followed the story unfolding in the book of Samuel (for the two books were originally one), we have seen that David had settled in the Philistines' land, in the city of Tsik-LAG. While he and his men had gone to fight in the war, the Amalekites had raided the town, taking the people and everything of value, and burning the houses.

David rededicated his life to the Lord, killed the Amalekites who had done this, and managed to recover all that had been taken. Everyone headed back to Tsik-LAG, and they have been there for two days.

Meanwhile, the Philistine/Israeli war was fought, with the Philistines decimating the Jews.

1:2 A Man Arrives

On the third day, an man came from the region where the war had been. His clothes were torn and dust was on his head. Now, if your child comes home looking like that, they've probably been in a fight. But in those days, torn clothes and dust on the head was a symbol of sorrow.

Joshua and the elders of Israel did this when the men of Ai killed 36 Israelites (Joshua 7:6). A Benjamite did this when the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines (1Sam 4:12). Job's friends did this when they saw the terrible affliction that had befallen him (Job 2:12).

So it would seem at first that this man was expressing his sorrow over the events of the Philistine/Israeli war.

1:3 Escaped From The Camp

If I was making a movie about this story, I would cast this man as the stereotypical slimy, untrustworthy, two-faced, gold-digger. You see, in a war, there are present more than just the two armies fighting each other. There are opportunists. There are people that see the profitability of war. Taking valuables from the fallen slain. Selling necessary supplies for exorbitant prices. They are no one's allies, a friend only to the highest bidder, changing allegiances with the blink of an eye. Taking from the dead like hyenas and vultures creeping in to get a piece of a dead carcass.

This man explains that he had escaped from the camp of Israel. In other words, when he saw that the Philistines were wiping out the Israelites, he high-tailed it to safety. The dust on his head and torn clothes are merely for show - to let David know that he is "on their side."

1:4-10 The Amalekite's Story

For some reason, this part of Scripture has been seized by people who doubt that the Bible is the Word of God. It is one of those places where people cry out, "contradiction! This is a different account of Saul's death from 1Samuel 31!" But there is no contradiction. First of all, they lack the basic understanding that Samuel was all one book, so it is not like two authors have presented differing stories, proving that the Bible is not inspired by God. It is the same book, merely two paragraphs apart!

Secondly, they are assuming that the Amalekite is telling the truth. Wrong again. You see, we read in 1Samuel 31 that Saul had been hit by the Philistine archers. He realized that, if captured, he would be abused as Samson had been. Thus, he told his armor-bearer to kill him, lest he fall into the hands of his enemy. But the armor-bearer was afraid to do so.

1Sam. 31:4-6 ...So Saul took his sword and fell on it. And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died with his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men on that day together.

The armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, thus Saul died. It is clear that Saul killed himself - he was dead. Yet here comes this Amalekite with a story of how he had killed Saul. And that's just what it was - a story. A lie, a fabrication. He says, "By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa." Yeah, sure - by chance he happened to be in the middle of a huge war. He was looting, taking valuables from the dead Israelites before the Philistines came to strip the slain. He found the best thing possible - the king of Israel dead! What reward there must be for bringing the crown to Saul's enemy and successor, David!

But there is no glory in coming to David, saying, "I was stealing stuff from the dead, when I happened upon the dead king." Instead, he put himself in a higher position - "I just happened by chance to be there."

So you see, there is not even the slightest contradiction here. The Amalekite was hoping to be exalted by David for killing his enemy. He was hoping that by bringing the kingly crown and bracelet to David, acknowledging his rightful rule, he would be richly rewarded. But it was his lie that was his undoing.

Let me assure you: I have studied the Bible word for word for over ten years. And in all those years, I have never found a contradiction, or any evidence to make me question the inspiration of the Bible.

2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

The next time someone says to you, "you can't trust the Bible, it's full of contradictions," ask them to show you one. And if at first it seems difficult, or that they may be right, research it. Buy a handbook of Bible difficulties. There are plenty of resources out there that easily explain the misunderstandings that people read into passages like this.

So there is no contradiction, there is only a lying Amalekite, seeking to be rewarded and exalted by David.

1:11-12 David Mourns

In our culture, some people eat when they're depressed. Others go shopping for new clothes. Well, in that culture, sorrow was demonstrated by tearing their clothes and refraining from food. David and his men spent the entire day in sorrow over the news.

Now, David mourned Jonathan, who had been closer than a brother. He mourned so many of the men of Israel that had died in the war. But what gets me is that he actually mourned the death of Saul! Although Saul had tried to kill David numerous times, David never became bitter against him. He continued to have love and forgiveness in his heart towards Saul.

I wonder if one of the people that I perceive as an enemy died today, would I mourn their death? My instinct tells me that I would rejoice. "Finally, they will never do another thing to me." "Maybe now their bitter gossip about me will end." But is that the heart of David? Is that the heart of God?

We cannot be reminded enough that God's heart for us is love. Love for those who hate us. Love for those that persecute us. Love for those that curse us. Paul wrote that love...

1Cor. 13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness...

Would we rejoice over the affliction of our enemies today? If so, our hearts are in the wrong place.

Matt. 5:43-46 "You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?"

Followers of Christ are called to be different than the world. But if we love only those that love us, how are we any different from the world? It's time again to examine our hearts and see if there is any bitterness, unforgiveness, or even apathy towards those that are against us. Let us ask ourselves, "Do I love my enemies?"

David truly loved Saul. His heart is inconceivable to us, not understandable by us, apart from us following the command of Christ to love our enemies.

1:13-16 The Amalekite Is Killed

David ordered the death of the Amalekite for killing Saul. A lie that the man intended to be exalted with caused his death. The Scripture says,

Prov. 19:9 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will perish.

Lies are never preferable to the truth, regardless of the circumstance.

1:17-18 The Lament

David had been a writer of songs since his early days as a young shepherd boy. Now, he chants this lamentation, this song of mourning, for Saul and Jonathan, called the song of the bow.

The writer mentions that this song is written in the book of Yaw-SHAWR. What is this book? It appears to have been a historical record of Israel through the songs and poems that were written of events. The account of the sun standing still in Joshua 10 is also noted as being written in the book of Yaw-SHAWR. For whatever reason, this book has not been preserved in history, and is not in existence today.

David wanted Saul to be remembered kindly, instructing that the sons of Judah should learn this song.

1:19-20 Tell It Not In Gath

The song calls Saul and Jonathan the beauty of Israel, the mighty. It instructs the Israelites not to speak of this defeat in Gath or Ash-kel-ONE, two of the five major Philistine cities, because the Philistines would rejoice over hearing of the defeat again.

1:21 Let Not Dew Or Rain Be On You

Saul and his sons had been killed on Mount Gilboa. Therefore, the song sings of how the mountains of Gilboa should mourn as well. This remained in the mind of the Jew throughout Israel's history. Although they planted millions of trees, and the land has flourished, Mount Gilboa remains bare to this day, devoid of trees.

1:22-27 The Might And Bravery Of Saul And Jonathan

This lament sings of the bravery and strength of the royal family. Jonathan didn't run away, and Saul killed his share of the enemy.

Again, in a society permeated with the homosexual agenda, as ours is, verse 26 can sound like there was an unnatural relationship between David and Jonathan. But as we discussed earlier in chapter 20 of 1Samuel, this is a perversion and corruption of the truth.

While women like Me-KAWL claimed to love David, they had betrayed him. But Jonathan had stayed true in his actions toward David, always trustworthy and dependable, never swerving in his devotion to David.

2:1-3 David In Hebron

Now that Saul was dead, David realized that there was no longer a need for living outside of the land of Israel. But this time, he wasn't going to move without seeking the Lord. So he inquired of God, praying, "Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?"

Saints, this is something that we neglect far too often. If we've been walking with the Lord for awhile, we have learned to seek God's help when we don't know which way to turn. But we should also be inquiring about the things that seem obvious. Sure, it was clear that moving to the land of the Philistines was a disaster. Sure, Saul was dead and there was no more reason to avoid the land of Israel. But David prayed anyway. What decisions are you facing in your life? Inquire of the Lord. It's not just in major things, like whether to take a different job, or step out in ministry. It should also be the obvious or insignificant things.

As the men of Dan said,

Judg. 18:5 ..."Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be prosperous."

When David inquired of God, the Lord said yes, and told him to go to Kheb-RONE.

2:4-7 David King Of Judah

When the people of Judah heard that David was living in Kheb-RONE, they came and anointed him king over Judah.

Now, the Scripture does not mention this directly, but I believe that part of their good feelings towards David were a result of his generosity back in 1Samuel 30. Remember that after he had recovered the spoils of Tsik-LAG from the Amalekites, there was wealth from other towns, including several in Judah (1Sam 30:14). We read that,

1Sam. 30:26 ...when David came to Ziklag, he sent {some} of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, "Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD"

It is true what the proverb says,

Prov. 18:16 A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.

David had been talked about in Israel like an enemy. He'd been gone for quite awhile. But actions speak louder than words. David's integrity, as well as his gift, spoke louder than the negative talk. At least in Judah.

The Men Of Jabesh-gilead

Remember that in 1Samuel 31, we were told that Saul's body had been taken to the Philistine city of Beth-shan, where they fastened it to the wall of the square. It was the men of Yaw-BASHE Ghil-AWD that took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall and gave them proper funerals.

David sends word of thanks and blessing for their actions, telling them that he, as the new king, will show goodness to them.

2:8-11 Ish-boseth King Of Israel

Remember Abner, the son of Ner, was Saul's cousin, and commander of Saul's army. He continued to fight the Philistines for five and a half years, finally crowning Saul's last remaining living son Eesh-BO-sheth as king and successor to Saul, ruling from Makh-an-AH-yim.

Eesh-BO-sheth's reign is not much to talk about. He was called Eesh-BO-sheth, which means, "Man of Shame." This wasn't much worse, though, than his given name, which was Esh-BAH-al, meaning "a man of Baal."

So we have the kingdom divided - David ruling over Judah, and Eesh-BO-sheth ruling over the rest of Israel.

2:12-13 Abner And Joab

Abner and some of Eesh-BO-sheth's men meet up with Yo-AWB and some of David's men at the pool of Ghib-OHN. Previously we have only heard of Yo-AWB the son of Tser-oo-YAW as Ab-ee-SHAH-ee's brother. Ab-ee-SHAH-ee was the guy who snuck into Saul's camp with David back in chapter 26 and said, "David, here's Saul asleep! Let me kill him!" But now Yo-AWB begins to be a major player in the book of Samuel from this point on. Both Abner and Yo-AWB are the commanders of the Eesh-BO-sheth's and David's armies, respectively.

2:14-17 The Battle

Abner challenges Yo-AWB to send twelve of David's men to fight twelve of Eesh-BO-sheth's men. David's men were victorious, having become mighty men and well-trained in the wilderness. Apparently, they all used the same move simultaneously on their opponents, so that all twelve of Eesh-BO-sheth's men fell down together.

The place becomes known as Khel-KATH Hats-tsoo-REEM, which means, "Field of Blades." The rest of the men began to battle, with David's men emerging victorious.

2:18-23 Asahel Pursues Abner

The only one of Eesh-BO-sheth's men that lived was Abner himself, and he took off running.

Yo-AWB's brothers were also there, the sons of Tser-oo-YAW, Ab-ee-SHAH-ee and As-aw-ALE. As-aw-ALE was an incredibly fast runner, and chased Abner.

As they ran, Abner tried to convince As-aw-ALE to stop the chase and instead take the plunder from those that had already died. Abner could easily overpower As-aw-ALE, but did not want to kill him.

When As-aw-ALE refused give up the pursuit, Abner stopped and used the butt-end of the spear he was carrying to stop As-aw-ALE. He had been running so fast that he was impaled and died instantly.

2:24-32 Joab And Abishai Pursue Abner

Not being as fast, but just as determined, As-aw-ALE's brothers, Yo-AWB and Ab-ee-SHAH-ee, were also chasing Abner. At sunset, they came to the hill of Am-MAW in front of GHEE-akh, where Abner had met up with a bunch of Benjamites.

Abner had no desire to kill them. He said, "tell your people to give up this pursuit. We are all brothers." But Yo-AWB pointed out that if Abner had not suggested that the young men fight in the first place, everyone would have gone home alive in the morning.

As it was, 20 of David's men were dead, along with 360 of Eesh-BO-sheth's men. Yo-AWB led his men away back to Kheb-RONE. This led to a long period of war between the two armies, as we will read about in our next study.

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