What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, January 6, 2020):
• 2 Samuel 14-21
• Esther 8-10 ~ Job 1-4
• Proverbs 20-26
Notes on 2 Samuel
David’s trials continue while he himself makes his own case worse (chapter 14). He is extremely conflicted over his son Absalom, and this internal struggle will lead to some needless pain and even death.
Joab, the impetuous and rash commander of his army, tries to intervene by recruiting a wise woman to use a fake story to bring David around to his senses regarding his son. The woman is taking a huge gamble with her life, as did Nathan when he confronted the king over Bathsheba.
But underneath it all, David still does have a good heart and is able to receive her message.
In chapter 15, Absalom attempts to take advantage of his father’s undying love for him and stages a coup. David flees for his life.
Things continue to unravel for the king in chapter 16 as the servant Zeba tries to convince him that his master Mephibosheth has turned on him. An unknown man named Shimei curses David. Absalom sleeps with all of his father’s concubines in order to humiliate him, at the advice of his counselor Ahithophel.
However, Ahithophel’s military advice is contradicted by David’s friend Hushai the Arkite. Hushai is actually working undercover for David in order to frustrate Ahithophel’s advice. This one swings David’s way as Absalom casts his lot with Hushai’s advice. Ahithophel becomes so distraught over this rejection that he kills himself.
But Hushai’s advice (intentionally) sets Absalom up for defeat that will also lead to his death.
By chapter 18, we see that David has completely lost his edge. Instead of leading his army to war—as in the situation with Bathsheba— he remains behind (18.4).
Though David has specifically told his troops to “be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake”, Joab nonetheless finds Absalom stuck in a tree and kills him.
David will become inconsolable over this loss.
Joab is infuriated that David is grieving so heavily for his son that he ignores his own troops who have won a battle that day. After Joab communicates his frustration to the king, David rouses himself and addresses the troops. He also intends to replace Joab. He has had enough (9. 13).
Mephibosheth shows up and accuses Zeba of lying about him. He is restored, but David divides his land between the two of them.
A rebellion is firing up in chapter 20. Amasa, who replaced Joab, is supposed to be leading the effort to quell this. For some reason he is delayed, so Joab becomes involved again. He takes this opportunity to murder Amasa. David will decide to have Joab put to death, but he will leave this for his son Solomon to do later. The rebellion is put down quickly.
We find a very interesting account in chapter 21. The Gibeonites have been waiting to be avenged of something that Saul had done many years later. Apparently, God agreed with them, and there was therefore a famine for three successive years (21.1). This was atoned for by putting the death more people in Saul’s family (21.9, 14b).
Notes on Esther
The last three chapters of this book are anti-climactic. Hamon has been executed. However, the king’s edict allowing everyone to attack the Jews could not be rescinded… that old “law of the Medes and the Persians” thing. So instead of cancelling the law, the Jews were given permission by the king to fight back. There must have a lot of them, because they were able to win this battle and kill many of their enemies. All of these people on both sides were subjects of the king, engaged in a civil war that he was directly responsible for.
Esther asked for Haman’s ten sons to be impaled, even though they had already been killed. That sounds like kind of a nasty request, but it was carried out.
Esther’s uncle Mordecai was promoted to second in rank under king Xerxes.
Notes on Job
This is such a fascinating book because of the different major pieces in this book that are completely unique from one another.
The first two chapters show us major activity going on in the heavens and how they affected things on the Earth. Satan gets not one, but two opportunities to take a shot at Job when the first one does not give him the results he was looking for.
Then we launch into the soliloquies by the four main actors, Job and his three friends. Job opens in chapter three, cursing the day he was born. He does not accuse God of wrongdoing, but at the same time he despairs of the very life he was given and wishes that he were never born.
His friend Eliphaz goes next, giving the first reply to Job’s complaint. He is just certain that Job must have done something wrong to explain his present condition. “Consider now who being innocent as ever perished?” (4.7). He seems to have taken some advice from a demon apparition that he had encountered (4.12–21). The words he heard may seem to appeal to the moral sensibilities of the human, but they are spoken from a demonic source.
Notes on Proverbs
The one-liners continue in chapters 20-25. Here are a few that stand out to me:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord (21.31).
A good name is more desirable than great riches to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (22.1).
A new section is introduced in 22.17, “Thirty sayings of the wise.” The NIV actually identifies and numbers all of these. They continue through 24.22.
A new section is introduced the beginning of 25, generically called “More proverbs of Solomon.”
A literary change occurs in chapter 26. Small groups of verses begin to form short, connected verses into mini-narratives. For example, the first eleven verses refer to actions of fools. But all these are actually leading up to verse 12 where we read “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”
Other short sections follow. The sluggard (in 13-16) and other types of unethical and unwise behavior are addressed in this chapter.