Monday, April 22, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 21

David rules from Jerusalem - 2 Samuel 5:6-16

Prayer: Lord God, we don't always understand your ways & why you do what you do, but we thank you for your wisdom that always knows what's best for us.  We thank you for the example that you have for us in David, a man that was not perfect, but who you chose to be the king of your people, a man that made mistakes but was a powerful force for your name's sake.  As we learn about David today, how you established his reign in Jerusalem, we won't necessarily understand why Jerusalem was special - but it was your choice.  Lord teach us to trust your choices in our lives as David trusted your choices in his.

Quickly Form Groups:
1.   Briefly have each person share about a choice that you're facing that you'd like God to direct (think single sentence), say a brief (think single sentence) prayer for each. (share, pray, share, pray, ....)

Last time we took a look at the mass of armed forces David had available to him as he was being made King over all Israel.  Now that David has all these forces at his disposal, he's going to move his center of operations to Jerusalem - but first he has to conquer Jerusalem, a city occupied by Jebusites.  Before we take a look at how he accomplishes this, what's so important about Jerusalem?  What is historically significant about this city?

Genesis 14:18-20 - Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, is the King of Salem (Salem is identified as Jerusalem).  Jesus is recorded as being a priest in the "order of Melchizedek.  Apparently Abraham wasn't the only man God had on His side in those days.

Genesis 22:1-3 & 2 Chronicles 3:1- Jerusalem, is located on Mount Moriah, the same mountain where Abraham was instructed to offer Isaac as an offering to God.  The city itself, at the times of David & Abraham, was not on the specific site of the Abraham's sacrifice; however, this specific site was nearby & was later purchased by David, David put an altar there & later the temple was built (and rebuilt) there.

How long had the Jebusites been in Jerusalem?

Joshua 15:63 - since before the conquering of the promised land, with a temporary conquest recorded in Judges 1:8, but they were never completely routed.  This makes me wonder if Melchizedek was a Jebusite, we don't really know.

For some reason this was an important place to God, He picked this place, and it was already significant in the history of Israel.  Not only that, it was located at the border between Judah & Benjamin, though technically in Judah, and was still occupied by foreigners - not good to have foreigners occupying a city in the King's tribal lands, that would make him look weak.  Not only this, Jerusalem was a city that, because of its location & topography was easy to defend, a known-good stronghold fit for a king.

2 Samuel 5 v6-8 & 1 Chronicles 11:4-6:  King David takes his forces to the city of Jerusalem, a city which the tribes of both Judah & Benjamin had failed to subdue previously, and David is determined to conquer it.  It was a fortified city, only about 11 acres in size, estimated to have a population inside the city of only around 3500 people - it was an independent city-state within Israel, but not part of Israel.

The Jebusites thought their city was impregnable, but David had a plan - somehow David knew about the "tsinnor", and that this was the means of getting inside to conquer the city.  The word "tsinnor" is one of those words that we're not 100% certain of it's meaning, and sometimes it gets translated "scaling hooks"... but this seems unlikely.  The same word is also used in Psalm 42:7, and there from the context it appears to mean waterfall.  Some think "tsinnor" means water-shaft (this is the most popular interpretation) but it could also be referencing the cliffs (a waterfall could go over a cliff) that led up to the city's walls (thus the "scaling hooks" translation).  Generally, the word is believed to have had something to do with water, but that is just an educated guess.  Whatever this "tsinnor" was, it was the weakness that Joab took advantage of & went up first, thus earning him the position of the head of the newly combined forces of Israel.

Back to this "water shaft": The city of Jerusalem was on a hill, and as far as we know had no natural water source except the Gihon Spring which was located outside the city at the bottom of the hill.  The inhabitants of the city would have needed a way to access water in order to endure siege - which they had done several times.  Today there still exists a shaft leading to the spring, one that is considered an amazing engineering feat for its time - but this was not in existence yet during the time of David, it was created during the time of Hezekiah (a couple centuries later).  When the shaft of Hezekiah was built it connected up to an older shaft, the date of which is unknown.  It's possible, I'd venture so far as to say it's likely, that this shaft went into the city in David's time, we just don't know for sure.

2 Samuel 5 v9-10 & 1 Chronicles 11:7-9:  These few verses summarize David's overall reign - he built up Jerusalem & the city, and he became quite powerful - though the scripture specifically points out that God was the source of David's power.

2 Samuel 5 v11-12 & 1 Chronicles 14:1-2: How powerful was David?  So powerful that the King of Tyre wanted to curry favor, he sent messengers & carpenters & stonemasons as well as cedar logs - and built David's palace.

Historians note that during the time of David's reign the Hittites & Egypt, though still around, had faced significant losses of power.  The Philistines were driven into a small portion of their previous lands.  And the King of Tyre wanted to make an alliance.  Under David's rule many of Israel's old enemies were subdued: Moab, Ammon, Edom.  David expanded the boundaries of Israel from about 6,000 to 60,000 square miles.  Commercial highways were developed and wealth poured into Israel from throughout the known world.  Israel was the leading power in the Near Eastern world, and David the mightiest monarch of his day.  David operated not only as a King, but as a Judge and as the leader of his armed forces.

2 Samuel 5 v13-16 & 1 Chronicles 14:3-7: How powerful was David?  Perhaps a bit too powerful, because we see that he continues to acquire wives & he is growing what will end up being a huge dysfunctional family - but we'll get to that better a bit later in the narrative of David's life.

David was God's choice as king, and God was going to make sure his reign was powerful.  Even though he wasn't perfect & made some big mistakes, David was going to do much that was good for Israel both economically and spiritually.

Closing Prayer:  God we thank you that you don't pick perfect people to do your work; otherwise, none of us would ever be chosen to do your work.  We thank you that as we do your will in our lives that the power to work for you comes from you, we don't have to worry about what skills we do/don't have - you will teach us & provide for what we need.

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.   David faced the temptations that came from wealth and power.  If you suddenly had more wealth & power than you ever thought possible, what practical steps could you take to keep you from temptation?  Try to come up with several ideas within your group.

As Individuals:
3.   The Jebusites resided within God's promised land for a long time without being removed, sometimes in our lives we can allow things to reside even though we belong to God - we have a "fortified area" where we keep things that God wants to remove.  Take some time individually to reflect and pray - is there a "Jebusite fortress" in your life?  Ask God to conquer this stronghold.  If you're willing to share have the group, or another class member, pray for this as well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 20

David rules all Israel - 2 Samuel 5:1-10

Prayer: Lord, we're finally to the passage where David becomes King of all Israel.  It seems like its taken us a long time to get here, and yet the amount of time David had to wait to see this day was much longer.  Lord as we live our lives in our fast-paced electronic society help us to appreciate the long-term plans that you have in place for us individually and for this world as a whole; teach us not to expect instant gratification or resolution, and to appreciate things that take time.

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  Briefly have each person share about 1 person who is special because they are supportive and loyal (think single sentence), say a brief (think single sentence) prayer for each. (share, pray, share, pray, ....)

Last time we studied about a couple murders that happened as peace was being brokered between Judah (David) and the remainder of Israel.  David took these matters in hand and dealt with them, keeping this newly formed peace from being destroyed.  Finally after many years that have passed we're going to see him become king, not just of Judah but of all Israel.

2 Samuel 5 v1-3 & 1 Chronicles 11:1-3: These passages are almost identical, did you notice what was added in Chronicles?  Why was it added?
Chronicles adds that David's kingship had been promised by the Lord through Samuel, Chronicles is concerned about the Spiritual leadership of Israel & thus includes this additional information.

The representatives of the various tribes within Israel have gathered at Hebron where David is currently reigning as king over Judah with the intent of making him king over all of Israel.  Let's take a look at what they say:
  • They point out that they are, in fact, all part of one (very large) family.
  • They acknowledge that David had been a great military leader for Israel.
  • They recall that God had said David would be the shepherd (leader) of Israel.

When all the elders of Israel had gathered David made a compact with them "before the Lord" - a pledge before God to act in good faith as their King.  They in turn had David anointed as King.  If you remember back in 1 Samuel 16:13 Samuel, acting as God's representative, had anointed David & the Holy Spirit had come upon David.  In 2 Samuel 2:4 the people of Judah had shown their acceptance of David as King by anointing him, and now here the remainder of Israel is expressing their allegiance to David by anointing him.  David didn't need these last two anointings to be King of Israel, the anointing from God was sufficient, but the people needed to perform these subsequent anointings to show that they were in agreement with God on His choice for King.

2 Samuel 5:4-5: David was 30 when he became King over Judah, and sometime in the next 7 1/2 years, probably toward the end of that time, he became King over all Israel.   Remember that this 7 1/2 years overlaps with the reign of Ish-Bosheth, includes the time when Abner was seeking to broker peace, and includes the episodes recorded regarding the murders of both of these men.

We're going to take a bit of a side-trip now, to look at some passages from 1 Chronicles 11 & 12 - these passages speak about David's fighting men (11) and the fighting men of the rest of Israel (12), and will give us an idea of the personalities involved & the size of the forces of Israel.

1 Chronicles 11:10-11a: David's forces were called his "mighty men", it's interesting that they're not called the "army of", but keep in mind that for most of their time of existence they didn't have a country.  So instead of being known as the "army of country X" they were known as the "mighty men of David".  These men were an important part of David's life, they lived and traveled with him for many years, they were completely devoted to him through all their travels and would continue their devotion as he becomes King of all Israel.

As we go through the rest of this passage in 1 Chronicles 11, you'll meet some of these men, some of whom are known as "the three", and some as "the thirty" - these are special members of David's elite forces.  We're not clear from this passage who all these men were, but we'll be seeing David's Mighty Men again later in 2 Samuel... at this point we're just getting a "taste" of them.

v11b-14: Jashobeam was the chief of the officers, or chief of "the thirty", so he's a man of high rank in David's forces - and his ability to kill 300 men single-handedly in battle is impressive.  Eleazar, we're informed, is one of "the three", this passage indicates that God worked through Eleazar to bring a victory in a battle against the Philistines.

v15-19: This is a little historical side-note showing the devotion of David's men to their leader, they would risk life and limb to please him.  These are "the three" but they are unnamed here, and their loyalty to David appears boundless.  I don't know about you but my initial reaction to this is that these guys had to feel insulted that they went to all this trouble for him & he goes & pours the water out on the ground.  But in all honesty he was being loving toward them, giving them an object lesson so that they wouldn't risk their lives unnecessarily on his behalf, instead he pointed them to God - to have their best efforts put to seeing God's will be done rather than man's will.  Some commentators indicate that they believe that David treated the water as a drink offering to God, considering himself unworthy of accepting the water for himself.

v20-21: Here we meet Abishai again, and this time we're told that he's also the commander over "the three".  Abishai is famous in his own right, and this account adds to what we've read previously to indicate that he also single-handedly killed 300 men.  Its interesting that he was honored by making him the commander over "the three", yet he is not "included" - there was something very special about these three men.

v22-25: Benaiah is a tough guy, amongst this list he's called out as performing "great exploits", and we're given some examples here.  He's defeated some of the strongest men of Moab, went into a pit and killed a lion, and defeated a giant from Egypt - this guy wasn't a giant like Goliath (9') but at 7 1/2' he's huge compared to the average guy of that day who would have been around 5' tall.  We're told he was held in greater honor than any of the thirty, and its possible he was one of the thirty (this is unclear), but he is not one of "the three".

I had a friend & co-worker once that was 7'2", I went to a shopping mall with him one time & you wouldn't believe the looks & comments he got.  We hear of these heights and don't think a lot about it because we hear about basketball players & the like, but let me tell you that 7'2" is huge.  If you want to think of things proportionately, the average man of David's day would have been 2/3 the height of this Egyptian... guys who are 6' today might think about standing next to a guy that is 9' tall.

The rest of chapter 11 I'll leave you to peruse on your own, it's a list of the names of some of those who were considered to be David's "mighty men".  If you like this  sort of thing I'll also encourage you to read 12:1-22 on your own, as it talks about several others who joined David's forces prior to him becoming King over Judah.

1 Chronicles 12:23-37: The forces of Judah already under David are listed first, and numbered at around 6800 men.  A conservative estimate of the total number of  forces, some of whom had joined David previously, all of whom came to pledge loyalty to David, would be around 350,000 men.  This is significant, this is a sizable army and represented a strong support for David as king of all Israel.

David had to wait a long time for this, 13 years from the initial promise to his kingship of Judah, and as much as another 7 1/2 years until becoming king of all Israel... that's as much as a 20 year wait for someone who at this point in the narrative would be around 37 years old.

I don't know about you, but I struggle with patience - it's always been a problem area for me.  I was working on something in the studio this week, a new piece that I had already decided I'd name "Grace" after Grace Kelly (Princess Grace)... it was 99% done when unfortunately something went wrong & I got very upset - crying out to God to help me "fix it quickly" since it had taken several hours to make.  I tried the tricks I knew to try to fix it quickly, they didn't work, and I was devastated... but God used that to teach me some spiritual lessons, and that piece has now come to represent God's Grace to me.  Have I learned to be more patient?... I don't think so, but God definitely showed me how I had let some things get out of perspective - Thanks God, I needed that! 

Closing Prayer:  Lord it is beautiful to see your promises fulfilled, and we know that you fulfill your promises in your time.  Thank you for the example of David, of how he endured through trials & waited a long time in order to see your promises fulfilled in his life.  Help us Lord as we go through trials and periods of waiting to do so faithfully, trusting that your will & your ways are always best.

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  Share about something precious you've had to wait for, how did waiting help you appreciate it more?
3.  If someone were to sum you up in their list of "mighty friends", what would you want to be remembered for?