2 Samuel 23-24: Great David’s Greater Son
May 25, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
David’s last words are characteristic of him. They begin, editorially, to describe who he was: raised up by God, anointed, the sweet psalmist of Israel (23:1). Clearly, this last description meant much to David for he begins by telling of the words he was given by God: “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me” (23:2). He tells how a ruler who rules justly by God’s word is one who “dawns on people like the morning light” (23:3-4). Authority itself is not bad. Bad authority is bad; good authority is a blessing from God and sheds light on us like the dawn. On the other hand, “worthless men” are like “thorns that are thrown away” (23:6). David understands the might, love, and holy justice of God. He is a man who lived in the fear of the Lord.
We now hear of David’s “mighty men”—and they are men of valor and of fascinating tales (23:8-39). One of their stories deserves underlining for it epitomizes David at his best. At risk of their lives, the men go to get David water, for they hear he is thirsty. But David will not drink the water; the lives of his men are too precious to be so risked (23:15-17). People will follow that kind of leader—whose heart and intention is for our good.
Now comes the strange epitaph to 1-2 Samuel: the taking of the census (24:1-9). What was so wrong about numbering the people? Joab has it right in his criticism of the king’s action: “May the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3). In other words, God himself has promised that his people will number as the stars in the sky, and so, while certainly it is not wrong to count the people in absolute terms (and the Bible elsewhere does number God’s people; in fact, there is a whole book given over to such enumeration), David is numbering God’s people faithlessly. He is doubting that God will do, or has done, what God says he will do.
David’s heart shines through again. When he realizes what he has done, he quickly repents (24:10). And when a prophet, Gad, comes to him and offers him a choice of consequences, David wisely chooses to throw himself on the mercy of God (24:11-14). And when it is all over, David refuses to get the land without price from which he will offer a sacrifice to God, but determines to pay for it (24:21-25). All through, David’s heart and intention, though very much imperfect, but still sincerely devoted, comes out loud and clear. May we be like that, and let us praise God that our great King is greater still, great David’s greater Son, the Christ called Jesus.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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