When we started looking at how to preach 2 Samuel 14 -24, we saw that there is a lot of narrative with sparse evaluation in terms of either the author’s assessment of things or a direct prophetic word from God. The temptation may be to spend a lot of time trying to second guess who does right and who does wrong. Was David wrong to mourn Absalom or was Joab insensitive? Was Mephibosheth or Ziba telling the truth? I think we can work out those things to some extent from clues but we shouldn’t get bogged down in second guessing the text.
However, though comment and evaluation may seem sparse, it isn’t absent. In particular, I believe that the text is shaped by 2 vital evaluations. First of all, looking forward, we have Nathan’s prophecy in 2 Samuel 12. God tells David what is going to happen and why. Secondly, we have David’s evaluation of events as he responds to his deliverance with a song of praise as Psalm 18 is included at chapter 22.
I want to suggest that this helps us to see something specific that is going on and something that is not going on but that others may be tempted to assume.
What is going on is that God is disciplining David. He has sinned and so consequences follow. Why does Absalom rise up against David? Why does he sleep with the king’s prostitutes? Why do the people acquiesce with Absalom? We can speculate about human motives. However, what we keep coming back to is that the primary reason is that David is being disciplined.
Hebrews 12 reminds us that God is our father and he disciplines those he loves. It is right to evaluate what is happening in our lives in terms of God’s correction and discipline.
What is not going on is that God is not destroying David. God is not leaving David in the hands of his enemies, God is not taking the kingdom away from him. That’s why Psalm 18 is placed towards the end of David’s story. There were some including the Philistines but particularly the allies of Saul’s clan who looked and saw a weakened king and thought God was destroying him and giving them the opportunity to gain the upper hand. David’s Psalm shows us that God was in fact delivering Him.
There will be those around who will see believers being disciplined and think that this is their opportunity. They will use the chance to mock believers and to mock and despise the Gospel we believe in.
Satan tempts us because he thinks he is being given the opportunity to destroy us and to defeat Christ. But he is wrong. God is using our testing for our good.
Now on one level, David provides an example for the justified believer of the Christian life but he also points forward as a type of Christ.
In Christ we see the one who suffered in our place. He bore our punishment not as the guilty one but as innocent. David’s suffering and exile foreshadows that. Just as there were enemies who thought this was their opportunity and who gathered to mock David and hoped to destroy him, so Christ’s enemies came to mock and curse him as he went to Calvary. Satan thought this was his opportunity. The enemies were wrong. Christ defeated the powers of evil at Calvary.
David’s experience here in 2 Samuel will point us forward to the greater King. In him we find hope, security and assurance to face our circumstances.