Sunday, March 16, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "King David"

“King David”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
March 16, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 2:1-5:3

Last week, we ended one sermon series and started another. We finished 1 Samuel which is really just the first part of the big book we call Samuel.  And we started 2 Samuel, and I didn’t even know then what we were going to call this new series.

But I do now. Our series on 2 Samuel will go under the name, “The LORD is My Rock.”

Which is one of David’s favorite things to say. He says it at the end 2 Samuel in chapter 22 as a kind of summary of his life story, and he also says it again and again in the psalms.

So, that’s our title, “The LORD is My Rock.” And I hope that we all grow in our faith and confidence and ability to make that declaration ourselves because we’ve studied 2 Samuel together.

I want us each to be able to say with confidence and joy, “The LORD is My Rock!”

Now, today’s message in this new series is going to be titled, “King David.”

Because that’s what actually finally happens in our story for today.  David is Kinged!

We’ve been chasing after that for a long time, haven’t we?

Our last series was entitled, “A Heart for the Heart of God” which referenced what God thought about David’s heart.

Twenty one sermons on thirty one chapters and David was never made king.

He was anointed by Samuel. He was promised to be king by God Himself.

But he has not yet gotten there until now.

“King David.”

Now, last week, King Saul died and so did 3 of his sons, including David’s friend Jonathan.

So you might be tempted to think that David would automatically become king himself and be accepted as king by all of his fellow countrymen.  Easy peasy!

But if you thought that, you would be wrong.

David was not automatically accepted as king by all of his fellow countrymen. In fact, it was a long, convoluted process with lots of factors, lots of political intrigue, and lots of new important characters involved.

In fact, it’s a little hard to follow who’s who in these 3 chapters!

Who’s on who’s side and when?

I’ll try to make that clear as we go through this. I loved finally sorting it out for myself this week.

And the key is to keep your eye on the prize.

How does the kingdom come?

That’s the key question. How does David actually become King David?

How does the kingdom come?

And, that’s where we will find our applications for today because David’s kingdom was, in many ways, a picture, a pre-figuring picture of King Jesus’ Kingdom. The kingdom of heaven.

And there will be things we see about this kingdom that will find their fulfillment in King Jesus and His Kingdom.

Including how his kingdom came.

And so it applies to us.

Okay? Let’s dive in. Chapter 2, verse 1.

“In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’ he asked. The LORD said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the LORD answered. So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.”

King David!

“[T]he men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed [confirming] David king over the house of Judah.”

That’s exciting!

Notice, that David didn’t assume the throne. He inquired of the LORD if it was time to take up the throne.

Old Saul never did that, and ignored what God said when he did.

This shows again David’s heart for the heart of God.

“What do you want, Lord? Shall I go up?”

“Yes, go up to Hebron.”

David burns all of his bridges with the Philistines and takes up the throne of what?


That’s the sad part about verse 4. It’s just the one tribe, Judah, that has made David king so far.

How does the kingdom come?


David’s kingdom comes small at first.

He tries to grow it by reaching out to the men of Jabesh Gilead. V.5

“When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul [remember that last week?], he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, ‘The LORD bless you for showing this kindness [hesed] to Saul your master by burying him. [Good job!] May the LORD now show you kindness [hesed] and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this.

Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.’”

That’s bold. He’s appealing to Saul’s most loyal subjects and inviting them to follow him.

That’s bold! David knows that he is rightfully anointed king and that he was faithful to Saul, so it just makes sense to him.

We actually don’t know whether the men of Jabesh Gilead came over at that point or not. It doesn’t say.

What it does say is that Abner and Israel didn’t. V.8

“Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. The length of time David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.”

We met this guy Abner back in 1 Samuel chapter 14. He is the cousin of Saul.

And he fancies himself a king-maker.

He makes Saul’s son (the one who didn’t die on Mount Gilboa, Ish-Bosheth “Man of Shame” not the most promising name! He makes Ish-Bosheth) the king over Israel.

So, again, these people have two kings.

One king is king by divine calling.

The other one is named king by his first cousin once removed.

How do you think that’s going to turn out?

What I want to emphasize here is that David’s kingdom comes small at first.

And so does Jesus’s Kingdom.

Jesus said that his kingdom “is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31).

He also said it was “like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Jesus’ kingdom often starts small, but it doesn’t end that way!

And I think that should encourage us when we try something for the LORD and it starts out really small.

We start a prayer initiative, and it seems so paltry.

We reach out to a neighbor, and we say, “I don’t know if that did anything.”

I had a some interactions with some people this week, and I thought, “I wonder if that did any good.” It seemed so small.

Well, that’s the way His kingdom comes. Small at first.

Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

David may not have been king over all Israel, but he was king, finally and actually. That’s something.

God loves to work in small ways that become big.

Do you need to hear that today? I did.

His kingdom often comes small at first.

Now, here’s where it starts to get complicated, so I’m going to give you the big point up front so that you can keep your eyes on the ball.

How Does the Kingdom Come?


And by that, I mean not by human ingenuity, intrigue, political wrangling, or treachery.

We’ll see a lot of that in these next few stories. God, of course, works His plan even through all of those things, but they in themeslves are not the way to get God’s kingdom to come.

Now, there are two main characters here that are the generals of the two kings’ armies.

Abner is Ish-Bosheth’s general and Joab (who is David’s nephew) is David’s general.

And here they enter into a blood feud. Verse 12.

“Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. [He’s on the move. He’s on the attack.] Joab son of Zeruiah and David's men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side. [A stand off.]

Then Abner said to Joab, ‘Let's have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.’ ‘All right, let them do it,’ Joab said. [Representative fighting. Kind of like David and Goliath.]

So they stood up and were counted off–twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David.

Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent's side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.”

You can see how this is. Blood everywhere. Israelites fighting Israelites.

Who won?

Nobody one. 24 young men are dead. More to come.  V.17

“The battle that day was very fierce, [it didn’t end with the 24. It started with them.] and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's men.

The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. [David’s nephews. Zeruiah was David’s sister.] Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle.

He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. [Asahel figures that if he can take out the general, he’ll win the army.]

Abner looked behind him and asked, ‘Is that you, Asahel?’ ‘It is,’ he answered. Then Abner said to him, ‘Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.’ But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

[I think Abner’s trying to get it to become a fair fight. Asahel may be fast, but Abner is better armed and more dangerous. And Abner doesn’t want to kill Asahel because he doesn’t want to get into a personal family feud with Joab or David for that matter.]

Again Abner warned Asahel, ‘Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?’  But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel's stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.”

I get the idea that Abner wasn’t trying to kill him, but it Asahel basically ran into it.

And now the blood feud begins.

[By the way, this is not the way the kingdom comes.] V.24

“But Joab and Abishai [brothers] pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill. [High ground. Tactical advantage.]

Abner called out to Joab, ‘Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their brothers?’

Joab answered, ‘As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued the pursuit of their brothers until morning.’

So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the whole Bithron and came to Mahanaim. Then Joab returned from pursuing Abner and assembled all his men. [And counted heads.] Besides Asahel, nineteen of David's men were found missing. But David's men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. [Decisive victory there.] They took Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.”

It’s not over though. Chapter 3.

“The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. [That’s important. The kingdom is coming, just slowly and piece by piece.]

Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream the son of David's wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.”

Busy guy!

I think the point of this genealogy here is to show how ascendent David is.

He multiplies heirs. His dynasty grows. His alliances grow, with other nations.

Now, that’s not to say that this was a wise strategy, making multiple marriages.

Every time in the Bible there is more than one wife, there is major strife. It may have been permissible, but it was not the ideal started in the Garden of Eden.

I don’t think we’re supposed to be proud of David’s marriages, but we are supposed to see how powerful he’s becoming.

And someone else is becoming powerful, too. And it’s not Ish-Bosheth. V.6

“During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. [He’s the power behind the throne. But the diminishing power on the throne feels threatened, so he broadcasts a sex scandal. V.7]

Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, ‘Why did you sleep with my father's concubine?’

[You’re making a play for the throne, aren’t you?]

Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said and he answered, ‘Am I a dog's head–on Judah's side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven't handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman!

May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the LORD promised him on oath and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David's throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.’

Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.”

Oops. That didn’t work.

Now, I think that Abner is an opportunist. He isn’t looking out for David or for the LORD’s promise.

He’s looking out for Abner.

And he uses this as an excuse to defect to the other side. Maybe he can become a powerful general there.

Maybe he can bring the two kingdoms together under David and become the power behind that throne!

[By the way, this is not the way the kingdom comes.] v.12

“Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, ‘Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.’ [Alright. We can talk.]

 ‘Good,’ said David. ‘I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.’

[Why would he want Michal?

Maybe for a son. If he and Michal had a baby, the baby would be Saul’s grandson and that could unite the kingdom.

Because David was still legally Michal’s husband. V.14]

Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, ‘Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.’ [And Ish doesn’t seem able to say no to anybody.]

So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her [supposed] husband Paltiel son of Laish. Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go back home!’ So he went back.

Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, ‘For some time you have wanted to make David your king.

Now do it! For the LORD promised David, 'By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'’

[Abner knows the prophecies. He’s been fighting them up till now, but now he’s preaching them, because it fits his desires.]

Abner also spoke to the Benjamites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin wanted to do.”

Here comes the deal. There’s a big deal in the works.

But there’s just a little problem. And it’s name is Joab. V.20

“When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a compact with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

[Safe conduct. The deal is on.]

Just then David's men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.

When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.

So Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone!

You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.’

Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it.

Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.”

That’s treachery.  He had safe conduct from the king. He was in Hebron which was even a city of refuge.

But Joab was livid and vengeful.

And this puts the kingdom deal at risk, too, doesn’t it?

The northern kingdom will assume that David is behind this and back out of the deal to make him king.

But David is wise, and shows himself kingly. V.28

“Later, when David heard about this, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house! May Joab's house never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.’ (Joab and his brother Abishai [we find out here] murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)

Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, ‘Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.’ [You must.] King David himself walked behind the bier. [Chief mourner.]

They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner's tomb. [He’s been on the other side until now!] All the people wept also. The king sang this lament for Abner: ‘Should Abner have died as the lawless die? Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered. You fell as one falls before wicked men.’ And all the people wept over him again. Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!’

All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.

[That’s not how the kingdom will come! Murder is not the answer. That’s not how a man after God’s own heart does things!

Now, one day not too long from now we’ll see a day when David does do just that.

But that was not right. And it was not the way that the kingdom was to come. V.38]

Then the king said to his men, ‘Do you not realize that a prince and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!’”

Apparently, David didn’t think that he had enough power to execute his generals, but he did discipline them strongly, curse them, put them in their place, and ask God to bring them to justice.  In time, we’ll see how that turns out.

So, David is on the rise. Ish-Bosheth is going down. And here’s how. Chapter 4.

“When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. [What’s going to happen next?]

Now Saul's son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands. One was named Baanah and the other Recab; they were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite from the tribe of Benjamin-- Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have lived there as aliens to this day.”

Okay, these two guys.  Baanah and Recab.

But first, is Ish-Bosheth the last heir of Saul?  No, there is one more. V.4

“(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth.)”

That’s a little bit of foreshadowing of a great story yet to come.

And it also shows how weak Saul’s family has become. V.5

“Now Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah slipped away. [Brave guys who kill a sleeping man!] They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah.

They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, ‘Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to take your life. This day the LORD has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.’

[How do you think David is going to react?]

David answered Recab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of all trouble, when a man told me, 'Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news!

How much more–when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed–should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!’

So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner's tomb at Hebron.”

Guys, that’s not how the kingdom comes!

That’s not how the kingdom should come!

Machiavellian schemes?


“Not by might, nor by power, but my Spirit says the Lord.”

That’s not how the kingdom comes.

Not Abner’s way.
Not Joab’s way.
Not Baanah and Recab’s way.

That’s not a heart for the heart of God!

How might we apply this to our lives today?

I mean, I doubt that any of us here are planning to murder anybody to bring in the kingdom. I hope not!

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place" (John 18:36).

He told Peter to put away His sword and then healed that chopped off ear.

His kingdom doesn’t come through our human power plays.

The crusades in the middle ages were not the way to bring the kingdom of God to the world.

And it’s true of politics today.

Sometimes we erroneously think that if we could just elect the right people, the right godly people[!], then God’s kingdom would come right here.

Now, I’m not saying that we should try to elect godly leaders, but that’s not the way the kingdom comes.

Not where we should put our trust.

Whatever ways we try to pull a power play and use human ingenuity and fleshly wisdom to bring in the kingdom, we are short-circuiting the kingdom!

Pastors, like myself, can be tempted to manipulate people to accomplish our goals–even good goals, kingdom goals!

But we must use kingdom means to achieve kingdom goals.

Verse 9 is really key.  David says, “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of all trouble.”

The LORD has saved me. He’s delivered me.

I’ve got to do things HIS WAY.

Are you doing things His way?

That’s why David cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies up on the billboards.

It was to say, “That’s not how we’re going to do things in this kingdom!”

Injustice will not reign!

We’re going to do things the LORD’s way.

He’s saved us, so we’ll let Him call the shots.

How does the kingdom come?

Not by (human) might or political power.



Chapter 5.

“All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'’ When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.”

The important thing to see is v.2 where the people of Israel admit that they have been wrong and proclaim that God has promised David the kingdom.

“And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”

That’s how the kingdom comes.

It comes by the sure and certain promise of God.

King David!

And how much more is this true of King Jesus?

Psalm 110.

“The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” (v.1)

The LORD has promised that King Jesus will reign forever and ever.

And LORD always keeps His promises.

It may not seem like it yet.

The kingdom starts out small at first.

And it doesn’t come through our human machinations.  Our efforts.

But it’s coming. Oh, it’s coming.

You can be sure of that.

And the key is to be on the right side of that kingdom.

To trust in that King and believe that He won the Kingdom by His own blood.

And that He has been raised to indestructible victorious life.

And to lay down our arms and embrace Him as Lord.

As our Lord.

The kingdom comes by the sure and certain promises of God.

The great and precious promises of God.

Believe them. Trust them. Put your confidence in this King.

Sing with the seventh angel of Revelation 11, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

He is Lord.

Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David