In 1 Samuel (which we studied in the spring), we saw the people’s king, Saul, and his perpetual struggle between confidence and fear, being what God called him to be and doing what he wanted to do. 2 Samuel contrasts Saul with David, God’s chosen king. Everything looked great at the beginning, but then things turned sour and the repercussions continued. Here in this final section, chapters 22–24, we find an odd little endcap to the life of David. It includes a psalm (that one of last night’s ladies called “delusional”), a census, an attack of pestilence, and a final altar and offering.
Was David delusional?
Most of chapter 22 is a song written by David. You can find it again in Psalm 18. In it David proclaims his perfection and blamelessness while exalting his righteousness and resulting blessings from God. Um … did he completely forget about sleeping with another man’s wife? Then murdering the man? Then trying to cover it up? Then ignoring the rape of his daughter by his son? Then allowing one son to murder another without consequences? Then … Oh, just let me stop there. The question is: how can one make these claims after so many public mistakes?
1. He was old and delusional and remembered only God’s grace and not his own iniquities.
2. This chapter is chronologically misplaced.
It is not unusual for parts of Scripture to be chronologically scrambled. In no way am I asserting that we should take any part of the Bible out of context, but sometimes the stories are provided out of order or in overlapping succession. The story of creation is a perfect example. As are the Gospels. It is very possible that the writers of Samuel saw this poem or song by David and felt it was worthy of inclusion, but simply didn’t know where to put it. So they dropped here at the end. That’s fine. Regardless of when David wrote it or how you or I may have reorganized the structure of the narrative, this is a very interesting insight into David’s heart and God’s persistence in delivering those whom He will save and preserve.
In addition to discussing whether or not David suffered delusion, we talked a lot about offerings last night. The text told of David’s census and how it displeased God. It then detailed the deal God offered and the choice that David made. When God stopped the angel over the field and David decides to build an alter, the owner of the field tries to give his king the field for free. David responds:
“I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” – 2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV)
In Romans 12 we are told what our offering to God should be.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV1984)
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (MSG)
Clearly we’re not going to literally burn our bodies on altars. The point is not about the offerings, but about their value. Are our sacrifices to God too easy? Too cheap?
David knew that he owed God something. We all owe God something. Thanks to grace, that debt will not be counted against us. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans, we need not present payment for our sins, but rather present our lives lived in righteousness.
So the question remains: what are you offering God and what is it really worth? What has it cost you?
Big Word will continue in January!
Our next study will pick up right where this narrative ends: 1 Kings. I hope you’ll join us! Our first session will be on January 9th. If you’ve not joined our studies in the past, this is the perfect time to start. You can sign up to receive homework, meeting notices and reminders all direct to your inbox. Simply insert you address in the box below.
If you’ve missed any of the assignments, discussions or past studies, you can find it all on the Big Word Bible Studies page.
Again, I am SO GLAD you took this journey through the Old Testament with us. I hope you’ll continue in 2013.
Your Turn: What did you enjoy most about this study? What do you think we missed? What book of the Bible would you like to study in the future?