KINGS OF PAGAN ISRAEL: I
The impression of the writes of the Kings that Israel was a law-abiding “Monotheistic society” is simply not tenable. At best, men like Saul, David, and Solomon, were semi-monotheists. A pure and genuine “Monotheist” does not only believe in one supreme God, but he also lives by God’s Laws. Like the pagans, David did some good, but the bad outweighed the good. He wrote spiritually moving Psalms, but David’s moral life, and his decisions brought him many heartaches and much sorrow. No one kept all the articles of the “Covenant,” not even David. It is inconceivable that the following words did come from David’s mouth:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments! I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed be thou, O LORD; teach me thy statutes! With my lips I declare all the ordinances of thy mouth. In the way of thy testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on thy precepts, and fix my eyes on thy ways. I will delight in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word (Psalm 119:9-16)
DAVID WAS GENEROUS WITH JONATHAN’S SON
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David; and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “Your servant is he.” And the king said, “Is there not still some one of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. And David said, “Me-phibo-sheth!” And he answered, “Behold, your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear; for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father; and you shall eat at my table always.” And he did obeisance, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”
Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s sons. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him, and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s sons may have bread to eat; but Mephibosheth your master’s son shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who dwelt in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem; for he ate always at the king’s table. No he was lame in both his feet (II Samuel 9:1-13).
DAVID COMMITTED ADULTERY AND EVEN MURDER
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. Bud David remained at Jerusalem.
It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am with child.”
So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people fared, and how the war prospered. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” Then David sad to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day, and the nest. And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw the back from him, that he may be struck down and die.” And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite was slain also. Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting; and he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the kin, then if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone upon him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”
So the messenger went, and came and told David, “The men gained an advantage over us, and came out against us in the field; but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate, then the archers at your servants from the wall; some of the king’s servants are dead; and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” David said to the messenger, “thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter trouble you for the sword devours now one and now another; strengthen your attack upon the city, and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she made lamentation for her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD (II Samuel 11:1-27).
NATHAN DEMANDED THAT DAVID BE PUNISHED
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lab, and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserved to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man. Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul; and I gave you your master’s house, and our master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house.
And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him, and sent a message by Nathan the prophet; so he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.
Now Joab fought against Rabbah of Ammonites, and took the royal city. And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the city of waters. Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; lest I take the city, and it be called by my name.” So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. And he took the crown of their king from his head; the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city, a very great amount. And he brought forth the people who were in it, and set them to labor with saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them toil at the brickkilns; and thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem (II Samuel 12:1-31).
INCEST IN DAVID’S FAMILY
Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar; and after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything with her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shime-ah, David’s brother, and Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me.” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it from her hand.’” So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Pray let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight that I may eat from her hand.”
Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. And she took dough, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Send out every one from me.” So every one went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this wanton folly. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the wanton fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her, and lay with her.
Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred; so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone.” But she said to him, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other which you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for thus were the virgin daughters of the king clad of old. So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent the longsleeved robe which she wore; and she laid her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.
And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? No hold your peace, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar dwelt, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar (II Samuel 13:1-22).
REVENGE IN THE FAMILY
After two full years Absalom had sheep-shearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. And Absalom came to the king, and said, “Behold, your servant has sheep-shearers; pray let the king and his servants go with your servant.” But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. Then Absalom said, “If not, pray let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. For nor; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.
While they were on the way, tidings came to David, “Absalom has slain all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left.” Then the king arose, and rent his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants who were standing by rent their garments. But Jonadab the son of Shime-ah, David’s brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king’s sons, for Amnon alone is dead, for by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore let not my lord the king so take it to heart as to suppose that all the king’s sons are dead; for Amnon alone is dead.”
But Absalom fled. And the young man who kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, many people were coming from the Horonaim road by the side of the mountain. And Jonadab said to the king, “Behold, the king’s sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king’s sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept; and the king also and all his servants wept bitterly.
But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go forth to Absalom; for he was comforted about Amnon, seeing he was dead (II Samuel 13:23-39).
ABSALOM CALLED HOME FROM EXILE
Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart went out to Absalom. And Joab sent to Tekoa, and fetched from there a wise woman, and said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning garments; do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead; and go to the king, and speak thus to him.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.
When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, “Help, O king.” And the king said to her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. And your handmaid had two sons, and they quarreled with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole family has risen against your handmaid, and they say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, that we may kill him for he life of his brother whom he slew’; and so they would destroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal which is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant upon the face of the earth.”
Then the woman said, “Pray let your handmaid speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” And the woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. We must all die, we are like water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; but God will not take away the life of him who devises means not to keep his banished one an outcast. Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid; and your handmaid thought, ‘I will speak to the ing; it may be that that king will perform the request of his servant. For the king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the heritage of God.’ And your handmaid thought, “The word of my lord the king will set me at rest’; for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern good and evil. The LORD your God be with you!”
Then the king answered the woman, “Do not hide from me anything I ask you.” And the woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered and said, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has said. It was your servant Joab who bade me; it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your handmaid. In order to change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the anger of God to know all thing that are on the earth.”
Then the king said to Joab, “Behold now, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom.” And Joab fell on his face to the ground, and did obeisance, and blessed the king; and Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant.” So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. And the king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom dwelt apart in his own house, and did not come into the king’s presence.
Now in all Israel there was not one so much to be praised for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight. There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar, she was a beautiful woman.
So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king; but Joab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Joab would not come. Then he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose and went to Absalom at his house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent word to you, ‘Come here, that I may sent you to the king, to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king; and if there is guilt in me, let him kill me.’” Then Joab went to the king, and told him; and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Absalom (II Samuel 14:1-31).