Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: 2 Samuel

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of 2 Samuel

Gene Exod Levi Numb Deut Josh Judg Ruth 1Sam 2Sam 1Kin 2Kin 1Chr 2Chr Ezra Nehe Esth Job_ Psal Prov Eccl Song Isai Jere Lame Ezek Dani Hose Joel Amos Obad Jona Mica Nahu Haba Zeph Hagg Zech Mala Matt Mark Luke John Acts Roma 1Cor 2Cor Gala Ephe Phil Colo 1The 2The 1Tim 2Tim Titu Phle Hebr Jame 1Pet 2Pet 1Joh 2Joh 3Joh Jude Reve

The Book of 2 Samuel - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places.
2 Samuel 1:19

These are the opening words of the song which David wrote after the death of Saul and Jonathan, and which he commanded to be taught to the people. It is a singularly beautiful song. Its references to Saul and Jonathan are full of stately dignity, and it merges into extreme tenderness when it refers to Jonathan only. As the song proceeds, it unquestionably has to do with Saul and Jonathan personally; but these opening words are capable of an interpretation which would suggest that David was conscious of much more than the merely personal matters. The term, "thy glory," is almost invariably treated as having reference to Saul and Jonathan as constituting the chief glory of Israel. There are senses in which that is so. But it may be that in this very description of them there was a note of spiritual satire. The people had clamoured for a king like the nations. They had obtained such a king, and had gloried in him. This was the result. He, and his son as heir to the throne, were slain upon the high places. Presently the song refers to "the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil." This indeed was the deepest meaning of all that had happened. Jehovah was the true glory of His people Israel. They had turned from Him, and had boasted in Saul and his kingly house. That self-chosen glory was slain. The true glory of the nation, that of their one and only King, was not slain. Whenever the people of God, under that old dispensation or in the new, have made anything their chief glory, other than God Himself, sooner or later the day of disaster has come, the idol has been shattered, and, for the time being, they have been put to shame and confusion among their enemies. It is they who look to Him wh6 are lightened; it is they whose faces are not confounded.

Chapter 2

David inquired of the Lord.
2 Samuel 2:1

David knew that the hour was come for him to enter upon the work to which he had been called of God, that of reigning over the people of God. He knew intimately all the story of Saul, and he knew that in the very fact of a human kingship in any form the people had lost their chief glory. Therefore it was that at the very beginning he recognized the true King Jehovah; and took no step of any kind without inquiring the will of that King. He asked, first, whether he should go into any of the cities of Judah; and when commanded to do so, he asked, which. This was a true beginning, and so long as David continued thus to inquire he made no mistakes. Whatever blunders he made subsequently were due to his acting upon his own initiative. The principle is fundamental and perpetual. The fact that a man is certainly called of God to a definite work, never sets that man free from the necessity of consulting the will of God as to the next move. We are not anointed to serve and then left to find out for ourselves the way of service. God is ever available to those whom He calls to work for Him in any way. Therefore that time is never wasted in which a man stops to pray, to inquire of Jehovah as to His will. That time is worse than wasted in which any man tries to serve God without having first, in the smallest detail, sought from God the making known of His will.

Chapter 3

David waxed stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.
2 Samuel 3:1

How much is involved in this statement! Quite simply, it is a statement that the king chosen and anointed of God, under the guidance of God, moved quietly forward to the full realization of the Divine purpose for him. But the fact that a man, so chosen and anointed, was not able to come at once to the position for which he was elected, reveals the effect produced by past failure. The Kingdom of God had become the kingdom of Saul, and was seething with all the elements of strife and consequent weakness. The spirit of Saul, which was that of antagonism to David, was perpetuated in Abner, who was Saul's cousin and the captain of his host. He was actively opposed to David, and sought to perpetuate the line of Saul in securing the crown to Ishbosheth. Thus the kingdom was not yet David's as to actual possession. It had to be gained, and seven years passed before he was crowned as king of the whole nation. Nevertheless, he gradually gained ground; he "waxed stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker." Two lessons for us emerge from the consideration. The first is that the Divine purpose is always making headway, however much circumstances may seem to give reason for a contrary opinion. The second is that we need the patience which is able to endure, knowing that the way to victory is the way of conflict, and of persistent faith.

Chapter 4

As the Lord liveth, Who hath re-deemed my soul out of all adversity.
2 Samuel 4:9

In this chapter we see the weakness of the house of Saul. Abner was dead, slain by Joab; Ishbosheth, in any case a weak man, was robbed of his only strength by this fact, and his hands were weakened. The chronicler here inserted a paragraph to emphasize this picture of weakness, in which he pointed out that the only remaining scion of Saul's house was a cripple, Mephibosheth. Two men, Baanah and Rechab, who had served under Ishbosheth, undoubtedly prompted by the desire to gain favour with David, cruelly murdered their master, and brought his head to him. It was under these circumstances that David made use of these words. In them he revealed his profound sense of the ways of God with him, and that he, having received the kingdom as a gift from God, had so far been led through all the troublous experiences of the years by God. For this reason he would have no part in the activities of subterfuge and injustice in order to secure the realization of those ends appointed by God. This is the true attitude of faith. The Jesuitical doctrine that the end justifies the means, is a doctrine of devils. While it is true that God overrules all the doings of men, and compels them ultimately to serve His high purposes, it is equally true that no servant of His can ever consent to do evil that good may come. It is an arresting truth that our Lord in the days of His earthly life would not accept the testimony of demons, and that He explicitly declared that Satan cannot cast out Satan. It is a truth we do well to remember, and to apply in the smallest particulars of our life and service.

Chapter 5

David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David.
2 Samuel 5:7

This was the first act of David after he was crowned king of the whole nation. Thus Jerusalem became the capital, and the great centre of the religious and national life of the people of God. The stronghold was considered impregnable by those who held it, and up to this time they had been able to resist successfully every attempt to capture it (see Josh. 15:63, and Judges 1:21). So sure were they that it could not be overcome, that in taunt they declared that it was defended by the blind and lame. To the taunt David replied with taunt, as he commanded the assault to be made, and the "blind and lame" to be smitten. The fortress was captured, and David took up his abode therein. What strange vicissitudes the city has passed through in the centuries! To it, in the fullness of time, the true King came. He came to His own, and His own received Him not. Then with tears He pronounced its doom, and until this day it has been trodden under foot of the Gentiles. As we write, it is held by a Gentile Power, on trust for the ancient people of God. What lines its settlement by man's arrangements will take, we cannot tell. The one certainty is that, in His own time, the King will come to His City again, and it will be the earthly centre of His reign. There is a sense in which, though David took it from the Jebusites, it has never yet been possessed as the City of God. There have ever been forces which men could not cast out. The Man of Nazareth will yet actually dispossess these forces and reign there in righteousness.

Chapter 6

He died by the ark of God.
2 Samuel 6:7

The king was mindful of the central truth of that national life over which he was called to reign. The nation was still, in the deepest fact of its being, a Theocracy, and the ark of God was the central symbol of that fact. Believing this, David made arrangements to bring that ark into the capital. In connection with this a startling thing happened. Contrary to the instructions given long before by Moses, the ark was placed upon a cart for conveyance. The oxen drawing it stumbled, and one man, daring to stretch forth his hand in an attempt to steady the sacred symbol, was immediately smitten with death. The effect of this vindication of the will of the Divine Majesty was that David was not only displeased, but wholesomely afraid, so that for the moment he dared not go forward with his purpose, and for three months the ark rested in the house of Obed-edom. Of that fact the chronicler says: "Jehovah blessed Obed-edom and all his house." What an arresting contrast this is! A man daring to lay a hand upon the ark of God contrary to the law of God, was smitten to death; a man reverently receiving it, and living in right relationship with all that it represented, was blessed in himself, and in all his affairs! The ark was the instrument of death or of life, according to the attitude taken up towards it. This is true of every Divine matter. The messengers of the Gospel of Christ are to men either "a savour from death unto death," or "a savour from life unto life" (2 Cor. 2:16). All the "means of grace" bless or curse men, according to whether their attitude toward them be according to the will of God or contrary thereto.

Chapter 7

What can David say more unto thee? For Thou knowest Thy servant, 0 Lord God.
2 Samuel 7:20

In these words David submitted himself finally to God. His desire to build the house of God was perfectly natural. So much was this the case that it appealed to Nathan, who advised him to do all that was in his heart. It was not, however, in the will of God that he should carry out the work; and consequently the prophet was sent to deliver a message which was neither agreement with David's desire, nor with his own opinion. The story reveals the triumph both of Nathan and David in their ready submission to the declared will of God. The prophet unhesitatingly delivered his message, even though it contradicted his own expressed view. It takes much courage on the part of a prophet to do this kind of thing. David immediately acquiesced in the will of God, and worshipped. The desire in itself was not necessarily wrong. Solomon, when referring to this matter at the Dedication of the Temple, said: "Jehovah said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house for My name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart" (1 Kings 8:18). Yet it was not God's will that he should do it, and his submission to that will was of the essence of wisdom. It is of the utmost importance that we should ever test our desires, even the highest and the holiest of them, by His will. Work, excellent in itself, should never be undertaken, save at the express command of God. The passing of time will always vindicate the wisdom of the Divine will.

Chapter 8

David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.
2 Samuel 8:15

This short chapter constitutes a sort of summary of the way in which the kingdom was developed and consolidated under the reign of David. It first records some of the victories he gained over the enemies of his people, the Philistines, and the Moabites, and then the Syrians. By these victories he strengthened his own position, and that of, his people. It is to be noted that the house of Jehovah was still in his mind for though he knew he would not be permitted to build, he gathered treasure in preparation for the work of his son. The chapter ends with a brief account of certain officers of State, and thus shows how the internal condition of the kingdom was strengthened. The central words of the record are those which we have chosen. They disclose the deepest truth about his reign, as they state the principles of his government. He did not exercise authority in order to secure safety or privilege for himself; he sought the well-being of the people, and served them as he "executed judgment and justice" among them. Thus he fulfilled the true function of the kingly office, for thus he acted as the representative and agent of their one and only King. So long as he thus reigned, he was able to strengthen the nation in all the highest senses. The measure of his ultimate failure as king, was the measure in which he departed from these principles, and exercised authority from selfish motives. This Bible literature and all human experience persistently teach that authority is finally vested in God. In proportion as appointed rulers recognize that, and rule as executing the will of God, they achieve the true ends of their rule. When they forget it, they bring disaster to those under them, and eventually destroy themselves.

Chapter 9

Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?
2 Samuel 9:1

There is an exquisite tenderness about the story of this chapter. David's love for Jonathan was still fresh. One can easily imagine how, in the days of his growing prosperity, the king would often think of the old strenuous times, and of his friend's loyalty to him under circumstances so full of stress and peril. For David, the house of Saul, which had caused him so much suffering, was redeemed by his love for Jonathan; and therefore he instituted inquiry as to whether there were any left of that house, to whom he might show kindness for the sake of his friend. This inquiry resulted in the finding of Mephibosheth, whose lameness was tragic and pathetic, in that it had been caused by a fall on the awful day of Jezreel, when his father and grandfather had fallen together. To him the king restored the lands of Saul, and he set him as an honoured guest at his own table. David's own account of this was that he desired to "show the kindness of God unto 'him." This declaration recalls the words of the covenant made between him and Jonathan long before, in which his friend had charged him to show him "the loving kindness of Jehovah," and also that he should show this same kindness to his house for ever. In this action David is seen as the man after God's own heart, keeping covenant and heaping benefits upon those who might be accounted enemies. The common attitude of human nature would not prompt such action. It was indeed the kindness of God.

Chapter 10

Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the Lord do that which seemeth Him good.
2 Samuel 10:12

This was the language of the highest patriotism. The difficulties had arisen as the result of another action of David which had been prompted by goodwill. He had sent to comfort Hanun, the new king of Ammon, upon the death of his father. The action had been replied to insultingly, with the result that Israel was forced into war with these children of Ammon, and the Syrians. As the battle was prepared for, Joab uttered these words to his brother Abishai. Observe the elements of patriotism as revealed in them. The first matter was personal to those called upon to fight. They were to be of good courage, and to play the men. All the arrangements for the conflict, and its issue, show how these men fulfilled this responsibility. But a deeper note is struck in what follows. They were to do all this for their people and for the cities of their God. There as to be nothing of the passion for personal aggrandisement in what they did. They were to act for the high purposes represented in the people of God, and the cities of God. Personal courage was to be inspired by relative considerations. Then came the deepest note of all. When, in view of the interests of the nation they had done all that was possible, then "Jehovah do what seemeth Him good." Men who thus prepare themselves for high enterprise, and then commit themselves wholly to the will of God are invincible.

Chapter 11

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
2 Samuel 11:27

The chronicler inserted this statement at the close of his account of the sad fall of David. The fact that he did so is arresting. It would seem to be so self-evident as to leave no room for stating it. It always seems to me that the statement is really rather a prelude to the next chapter with its account of the Divine forgiveness, than a close to the story of the wrong-doing. It was necessary thus emphatically to place on record the Divine displeasure. In the light of that statement we consider the tragic story. In doing so we notice the downward steps following in rapid succession. First, "David tarried at Jerusalem." It was the time of war, and the true place of the king was with his army. Instead of going with them he had remained behind, and so in the place of temptation. This is not to say that conditions of peace are more perilous than those of war, but rather that any place, other than that to which duty calls, is one of danger. From this, events moved rapidly, but surely downward. In briefest quotations we may indicate that movement "He saw"; "he sent and inquired"; "he took." The king had fallen from the level of purity to that of moral defilement. And then, because one sin ever leads on to another, he fell lower yet, and was guilty of base injustice to Uriah, Even more fittingly in his own case than in that of Saul and Jonathan might his words concerning their death have now been employed: "How are the mighty fallen!"

Chapter 12

I have sinned against the Lord.
2 Samuel 12:13

Evidently a year passed before Nathan was sent by God to David, for Bathsheba's child was born ere he came. We can imagine what that year had been to David, and that the message from God through His servant must have come as a relief to the troubled man. It was at this juncture that the best in David was apparent. He at once confessed. "I have sinned," and his whole bearing under the chastisement which fell upon him reveals him as a man who in the deepest facts of his life was true to God. Dr. Margoliouth, in his book, "Lines of Defence of the Biblical Revelation," argues with convincing clearness that in all this David was preeminently revealed as a man after God's own heart. Other men who had been guilty of such failure might have defended their actions, might have slain the prophet. Not so with this man. He knew God, and he knew the wrong of his action, and he confessed his sin. If we read Psa. 32 and 51, which are connected by common consent with these experiences, we shall know how deep was this sense of sin. The readiness of God to pardon, is radiantly set forth in the story, in that directly David said, "I have sinned," the prophet replied. "Jehovah also bath put away thy sin." Note the "also." A man puts away his own sin when in sincerity he confesses it. That makes it possible for God also to put it away. The Divine putting away of sin is always made possible potentially by the Divine atonement; but it can only become possible in the experience of the sinner, when the sinner confesses, and so judges and puts it away from himself.

Chapter 13

And David mourned for his son every day. He was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.
2 Samuel 13:37 and 39

What tragedy there is in these two sentences. They are concerned with two sons of David. Amnon was his first-born. He had fallen into sin after the pattern of his father's. Absalom had secured the murder of his brother, and as a result was a fugitive. Thus in his family life David was reaping something of the harvest of those lower things of his own nature which had led him into sin. When the sin of Amnon had been made known to him, we are told he was wroth, but we are not told that he took any disciplinary action. How could he? Surely he had rendered his own arm nerveless by the sin of the past. A very solemn consideration arises out of all this. It is, that sin may be forgiven most surely, so as to restore to the sinner the possibility of the sense of reconciliation with God; but its results, on the level of human relationship and experience in this life, run on. To the end of our earthly life we shall find how true it is that "God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." And is not this also a proof of the beneficent character of the government of God? If, in a world like this, forgiveness meant that men were released from all the results of sins committed in the past, even that blessing would become the occasion of yet more disastrous consequences.

Chapter 14

God ... deviseth means, that he that is banished be not an outcast from Him.
2 Samuel 14:14

This was the supreme argument employed by the wise woman of Tekoah, as, at the instigation of Joab, she sought to persuade David to recall Absalom. The story in itself is a somewhat perplexing one. Opinions widely differ as to why Joab thus set himself to bring back Absalom. These, however, need not concern us now. It is of great interest to observe that this woman knew God, and here uttered one of the most beautiful things, and the most true, ever said about Him. This is the whole of redemption revealed in a sentence. Man is banished from God by his own sin, and that most righteously; and, in the interest of the perfect order of all things, is necessarily banished. Nevertheless he, the banished one, is not abandoned by God. His love is unchanged toward the sinning man, even though His wrath is kindled against his sin. This is the love that will not let us go. But how can the banished one be saved from being an outcast? The answer is that "God ... deviseth means." In all the fullness of human history we learn how much that statement is worth. Literally the statement is that God "thinketh thoughts." These must be thoughts of holiness; and they are thoughts of love. Then they are thoughts in which both these combine, and discover a way of rescue, of recall, of restoration for banished souls. The thoughts of God then become thoughts of self-emptying, of sacrifice, and of taking all the responsibility for the wrong of the banished one. Thus guilt is cancelled, and the way of return is made possible. It is a glorious word, this; and introduces us to the unfathomable mystery of the love of God, which in its working can never be interpreted; but in which the soul finds its healing and its perfect rest.

Chapter 15

And David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up.
2 Samuel 15:30

These were days of poignant sorrow to David. He had brought Absalom back, but had not given him full pardon, and had not allowed him to see his face for two years. Then he had readmitted him to favour, without any sign of repentance on the part of Absalom. Now at last open rebellion had broken out, and David for the moment was exiled from his city, and from his home. It is indeed a tragic picture, this, of David, Yet in it all, his greatness is manifested. Stanley says of this day in the life of the king that "There is none ... that combines so many of David's characteristics - his patience, his high-spirited religion, his generosity, his calculation; we miss/ only his courage. Was it crushed for the moment by the weight of mental grief, or of bitter remorse?" In the light of all the facts it is almost certain that the tears David shed as he climbed Olivet, were rather those of humiliation and penitence, than those of self-centred regret. For Absalom there was no excuse, but David carried in his own heart ceaselessly the sense of his own past sin. To know more of what was passing in the mind of David in those days, some of the Psalms he then wrote may be consulted. Those which are by common consent connected with the period, are 3, 4, 26, 27, 28, 62, 63. They all breathe the spirit of perfect trust in God, and unbroken confidence in ultimate deliverance, even though they reveal the sense of his suffering. The soul-experience revealed is that which Fred. W. H. Myers expressed in his St. Paul:-

Chapter 16

Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord bath bidden him.
2 Samuel 16:11

Sorrows multiplied upon the head of David during these dark days. Ziba added to David's grief by traducing Mephibosheth, and suggesting that his kindness was ill-requited. It was all the more wicked in that it was untrue. Shimei struck at the king when he was in the dust. When Abishai would have taken speedy vengeance on him, David forbade him, and in these words showed how he was even then placing higher interpretations upon life than would have been possible to any man who was not, in the deepest of his life, in spite of all failure, a man after God's own heart. The action of Shimei was sinful, but David recognized the very hand of God in what he did, so far as his own soul was concerned. He received the cursing of this man as part of the discipline through which his God was bringing him. He expected that good would come out of it, as his next words reveal: "It may be that Jehovah will look on the wrong done unto me, and that Jehovah will requite me good for his cursing of me this day." This is a radiant, illustration of the deep and inward peace given to any man who is living in fellowship with God in motive and desire. Such a man will receive all the sorrows which come to him as within the will of God for him, and therefore as intended ultimately to bring him good and not evil. This sense of Divine overruling will cleanse the spirit of all desire for revenge. He will pass on his way while curses and stones are showered upon him, realizing that they also are compelled under God, to minister to his perfecting, and the full realization of God's purposes for him.

Chapter 17

The Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithopel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom.
2 Samuel 17:14

These words stand out revealingly at the centre of a story of strange and complex intrigue. Absalom is seen listening to two counsellors. One the one hand, Ahithophel gave him the counsel which would undoubtedly have led to the success of his rebellion, at any rate for the moment. David had not yet had time to gather about him any large body of men. Let a company be set to capture him, and that immediately. Hushai, on the other hand, gave him counsel which appealed to his vanity. It would have been a far more spectacular thing to lead a great army in person, and gain a great victory. His vanity ensured his ruin. Thus amid the complexities of human cleverness, the will of God is seen moving inexorably forward to the accomplishment of His high purposes. The pressure of the Divine power compelled the true inwardness of the thought and vanity of Absalom to act in accordance with itself, and so to bring about his utter defeat. This is one of the great principles of life which every page of the Bible emphasizes and illustrates. Men cannot escape God. They go their own way, but that way never sets them free from the authority and invincible power of God. The very fact that they are compelled by God to carry out their own way, is the assurance of their ultimate discomfiture and defeat. Man's way for himself, as apart from God, is ever the wrong way, and cannot lead to success.

Chapter 18

Would God I had died for thee, O Absolom, my son, my son
2 Samuel 18:33

Following the advice of Hushai, Absalom delayed until he had gathered together a great army. That strategically was his undoing. It gave David time also to gather an army and set them in orderly array. The forces met and fought in the forest of Ephraim. Absalom was slain by Joab, in whose heart there was no pity for him. That his action was warranted from the standpoint of national safety, there can be no doubt. In this hour David's cup of sorrow was filled to the full. Everything in the story leads up to, and culminates in, this wail of anguish over his dead boy. It is very brief, but it thrills with agony. Five times he repeated the words, "my son." This surely had a deeper note in it than that of the merely half-conscious repetition of words occasioned by personal grief. The father recognized how much he was responsible for his son. It is as though he had said: He is indeed my son, his weaknesses are my weaknesses, his passions are my passions, his sins are my sins. Out of all that sense there came the deepest cry of all "Would I had died for thee!" Here surely David reached the profoundest moment of his suffering. May none of us ever experimentally enter into its awful consciousness! In order that we may not, we need to ponder all the story carefully, and learn the solemn lessons it teaches of parental responsibility.

Chapter 19

Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come in peace unto his own house.
2 Samuel 19:30

This was the language of a glad heart. Mephibosheth had known the kindness of God through David in the days when he had been found and brought to the king's house and table. How he had suffered during the sad days of the king's absence from his own city! That suffering had been all the more acute because by treachery he had been prevented from accompanying his benefactor into exile, and had been slandered by Ziba. Now the trouble was over, the rebellion was at an end, the king was brought back to his own house. This was joy enough for the crippled son of Jonathan. In view of this, let; his enemy have all the material things. This is a suggestive story in its revelation of the selflessness of true loyalty. For his own enrichment this man cared nothing at all. It was everything to him that his king should come into the possession of his kingdom in peace. How the incident talks to us! We have been given a place in the House of our King, and at His table, in infinite grace. Is our loyalty to Him as disinterested as that of Mephibosheth for David? Is it more to us that He should have His rightful place, than that we should have even the things which are our rightful possessions because they are the King's gifts to us? It is to be feared that too often we are more concerned about our rights than about His. It is a great and glorious thing when our loyalty and love make us far more concerned about the victories of our Lord, than about our own unquestioned rights. Yet that should be the normal attitude of all who sit at the King's Table.

Chapter 20

We have no portion in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man co his tents, O Israel.
2 Samuel 20:1

This was the cry raised by an evil man who sought to divide the kingdom and to create a position for himself. It was extremely clever, in that it was of the nature of a protest against a certainly unjustifiable action on the part of the men of Judah. The roots of the trouble are found in the preceding chapter. The tribes of Israel had been the first to propose the restoration of the king after the defeat of Absalom (r9. s, zo). The men of Judah had not invited them to take part in the great gathering at Gilgal. This had raised their anger. Occasion invariably finds a man for evil, as well as for good. This chapter opens with the words: "And there happened to be there a base fellow." He it was, who sought personal aggrandisement, and made this hour of tension his occasion. The movement was quickly defeated, as Joab, with relentless anger, quelled the insurrection. The story should teach us that popular and plausible catchwords ought to be received and acted upon with great caution. There may often be an element of truth in complaints which are made; but when they are made, careful attention should be paid to the character of the men who voice them. Too often evil men are thus allowed to make a just cause the occasion of seeking, not its rectification, but the bringing about of some evil design subversive of all that is highest in the interests of the people who complain. That Judah blunders, is no reason why the kingdom should be disrupted. Injustice is never corrected by a yet deeper wrong.

Chapter 21

David waxed faint.
2 Samuel 21:15

In these closing chapters of this book several matters are dealt with, not in chronological order or relation, but as illustrating the times which have been under consideration. In these final records we have further revelations of the direct government of God; two psalms of David, which constitute an unveiling of his character; and some accounts of the deeds of his mighty men. That from which these words are taken unquestionably happened toward the end of his reign. Evidently at this time he was reigning over all Israel again. Fresh trouble arose from their old enemies the Philistines, and David went down to fight against them. He was no longer physically the man he had been, and in the process of the fray, his physical strength gave way, and had it not been for the timely aid of Abishai, he would have been slain. This manifestation of weakness drew forth an expression of love from his people, who declared that he should no more go out to battle with them, lest he "quench the lamp of Israel." Thus at last all the strongest servants of the Lord come to the days of failure in physical strength. They can no longer endure the campaign - the old energy is no more. Happy indeed are such when the consecration of strength, in the days of its fullness, has made such a place for them in the hearts of the people of God, that their hove thus gathers around them in thoughtfulness and care. Let those who after long service find themselves waning in strength, be content to abide with the people of God, still shining for them as a lamp, and thus enabling them to carry on the same Divine enterprises. Such action in the last days of life is also great and high service.

Chapter 22

The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my Deliverer, even mine.
2 Samuel 22:2

In this chapter and the next, we have two psalms of David, fittingly included in his life-story, for in them the true character of the man is strikingly revealed. In the first of these we find the deepest things. It is so fine a song that it may be well to note its main divisions with their varying notes. (1) Jehovah is declared to be the Source of all strength (verses 2-4). (2) All deliverances are attributed directly to Him (5-16). (3) Such deliverances are wrought upon the condition of right conduct on the part of His people (17-25). (4) The central principle of life is declared: God is to man what man is to God (26-28). (5) The psalm then becomes personal testimony to the truth of the things sung (29-46). (6) All ends with a doxology, setting forth the praise of Jehovah (47-51). Such convictions as these - of the absolute sovereignty of Jehovah, of His omnipotent power to deliver, of the necessity for obedience to His law, and of assurance that in the case of such obedience He ever acts for His people - constituted the underlying strength of David's character. In the opening sentence, which we have emphasized, the sense of truth is reinforced by the final words, "even mine." By them the singer revealed the fact that all he celebrated in song was more than theory, it was experience. He had found Jehovah to be at once Rock, that is foundation; Fortress, that is the place of refuge founded on the rock; and Deliverer, that is the One Who guarded the refuge.

Chapter 23

An everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.
2 Samuel 23:5

According to the chronicler, in these words we have the last which the king uttered - that is to say it was undoubtedly the last psalm which he wrote. It is a wonderful song, in that it breathes the consciousness of his own failure and yet sets forth with confidence the Divine faithfulness. In verses 1-4, he declares in most exquisite language the true ideal of the kingship. In verse 5, he recognizes that he has not realized the ideal, but declares that nevertheless God is faithful to His covenant. In verses 6 and 7, in words which must have been to him full of fire, he announces what the fate of the wicked must surely be. There is no doubt that when the man of faith reaches the bound of life where burdens are laid down, and looks back over the way he has come, he realizes that the covenant of God with him has not only been kept, but that it has been "ordered in all things and sure." In the Divine dealing with us, there is no mistake, no lapse. Nothing has been permitted which has not been made to serve the highest purpose. This is so even of our failures, if, like David, in true penitence we have forsaken them and confessed them. It is certainly so of all our sorrows and trials. Believing that our song at the end will celebrate this truth, happy are we in the measure in which we live in such confidence that it is so even now. As one day, reviewing the whole of the way, we expect to sing: "Right was the pathway leading to this," let us today sing: "Right is the pathway leading to that!" Thus we antedate heaven's joy, and strengthen earth's pilgrimage.

Chapter 24

Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
2 Samuel 24:14

The Book of Samuel closes with one other story, revealing the direct government of the people by God, in that he visited king and nation with punishment for the numbering of the people. That the act was wrong, is evident from David's consciousness that it was so. It is also evident that this numbering had resulted from a wrong motive, and this Joab knew, as his words show: "Now Jehovah thy God add unto the people, how many soever they may be, an hundredfold, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it; but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?" A spirit of vainglory in numbers had taken possession of king and people, and there was a tendency to trust in these numbers, to the forgetfulness of God. It is a very persistent peril. The choice of David, as to punishment reveals his deep sense both of the righteousness and tenderness of Jehovah. He willed that the stroke which was to fall should come directly from the Divine hand, rather than through any intermediary. And how right he was! In the chastisements of God there is no trace of personal vindictiveness. They are all remedial in their purpose, and also beneficent in their execution. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel, sometimes in their leniency, and sometimes in their brutality. The punishments of God are ever merciful, sometimes in their severity and always in their perfect justice.