Old Testament Tales: David, the later years

1. What is the story of Amnon and Tamar?
2. Why did Absalom run away?
3. Why did David run away?
4. How did Saul’s supporters respond to David’s losing Jerusalem?
5. What is the connection between Ahithophel and Hushai?
6. How did David reunite the kingdom?
7. What happened to Sheba son of Bichri?
8. How did David appease the Gibeonites?
9. What happened when David tried to count the Israelites?
10. How did Solomon inherit the throne?

David’s relationship with Bathsheba leads to unfortunate consequences. Nathan the prophet tells him (2 Sam 12) God’s will allow some very visible betrayals, the first of which is when David’s son Amnon rapes another son’s sister, Tamar. Absalom arranges to kill Amnon (2 Sam 13), and David gets word that all his sons are dead—the usual exaggeration of the grape-vine. In the end, all return, except Amnon who’s dead and Absalom who runs away. David mourns Absalom and his captain Joab arranges a reunion (2 Sam 14), but the rift remains. Absalom begins to usurp his father’s power (2 Sam 15), eventually having himself declared king, at which point David flees Jerusalem rather than fight his son, taking wives and concubines and his personal army, including all the mercenaries. The priests volunteer to bring the Ark of the Covenant to David, but he sends them back, convinced that if God wants him to return to Jerusalem he will return, and otherwise, the Ark should stay with God’s people.

Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors, supports Absalom, but Hushai works with Zadok and Abiathar the priests as David’s spy. Saul’s descendants throw stones at David’s army as they march past (2 Sam 17), but David refuses to punish them since his own son is effectively also throwing stones. David’s armies conquers his son’s and Absalom is killed (2 Sam 18). David’s mourning dismays his captain when they should be celebrating victory (2 Sam 19). David marches back to Jerusalem, refusing to listen to advisors who want to destroy those cities that didn’t support him, and his kindness reunites the land. Absalom’s captain Amasa is killed by David’s captain Joab, and Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite who tries to continue opposing David, is beheaded by the people in a city where he takes refuge.

David’s story ends with an explanation of what happened to the rest of Saul’s male descendants, probably recounting events from earlier in David’s reign (2 Sam 21). During a famine which God tells David is due to Saul’s breaking a treaty with the Gibeonites (Josh 9; we’re not told how or when he broke the treaty) David offers compensation and the Gibeonites demand seven (a number symbolic of perfect planning) deaths from male descendants of Saul. Mephibosheth is spared of course. The mother of one of the sons protects the bodies (left hanging after death) until burial, and David, in admiration for her devotion, recovers the bones of Saul and Jonathan (likewise left by the Philistines) and buries them. The story continues with more details of giants involved in the earlier war against the Philistines. The first of David’s psalms is recorded from the end of battle (2 Sam 22), followed by David’s last words—another psalm (2 Sam 23). It’s likely that the books of Samuel (two books because it’s too long to fit on one scroll) were compiled from various contemporary sources, and these parts were “left over” at the end. (The military and cultural accuracy of the details makes it clear the sources were written very close to the events.) Finally we read how David took a census of the people of Israel, taking pride in how numerous they were (2 Sam 24, 1 Chron 21. God requiring the census is probably like God hardening David’s heart.) In punishment David has to choose between famine, flight or pestilence.

David’s death isn’t recorded till Kings (or Chronicles), where various machinations take place after Adonijah declares himself king, but Solomon finally becomes gains the throne. David’s songs tell the story of David’s reign through his prayers and are included with others in the book of Psalms.


Toyin O. said…
Very informative and insightful, thanks for sharing:)

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