What we are reading this week (beginning Friday, January 13, 2023):
• 2 Samuel 21- 24 ~ 1 Kings 1-3
• Job 5-11
• Proverbs 28-31 ~ 1 Chronicles 1-3
We will end 2 Samuel this week and move right into 1 Kings. But 1 Kings is the next historical chapter, and simply continues the narrative of the history of the nation of Israel.
We will also jump from Proverbs back over to 1 Chronicles. This is a little more disjointed. 1 and 2 Chronicles are history books that will cover the same territory as 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. The first nine of its chapters, however, are genealogies and can be tough reading.
Stay with it here and don’t fall behind. And look for things you can learn from these extensive lists—there are some interesting random details and short narratives tucked in between the lists. And there are important things to learn from the lists themselves.
Notes on 2 Samuel
This first account at the beginning of chapter 21 is rather disconcerting to me. These five young men put to death were actually nephews of David, since he had married one of Saul’s daughters. The issue of implied blood atonement via humans is disturbing, especially as this particular event apparently has God’s approval.
David, always the poet/minstrel, writes an exquisite song of praise in chapter 22.
As he approaches the end of his life, in chapter 23, he is speaking to the Lord, and affirming that his spiritual house is in order (23.5). We learn here about this amazing contingent of mighty men that surrounded him. He was a great leader, and great leaders attract great people. However, the very last name on the list is Uriah the Hittite. How sad.
David commits another big sin in chapter 24 by counting the fighting men. God had told him not to do this so he would not lean on his numbers, but continue to lean on his faith in God alone.
The bad man Joab, his commander, actually steps up and warns David not to do this (24.3), but his advice was vetoed by the king. However, David always remained teachable, and once again gives us a great example on how to respond to the Lord after having sinned. God had given him three choices, and he chose the best: to defer to the Lord. “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands” (24.14).
Later, David builds an altar. Araunah, the owner of the property, wants to give the land to him for free, but David says words that we all should embrace: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (24.24).
Notes on 1 Kings
David’s story continues into 1 Kings.
With Dad on his deathbed, there is a squabble for the upcoming crown vacancy between some of the sons. David’s son Adonijah thinks he can prevail and mounts a campaign. Joab offers him his support. But Nathan the prophet enlists the help of Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon (the rightful heir to the throne), and David takes care of business. Solomon is quickly crowned.
Adonijah is afraid, but appears to comply with this turn of events.
David formally commissions his son Solomon in chapter two, and charges him to take care of some leftover business: to deal harshly with Joab; and with Shimei, the man who harassed David and his men needlessly after they were forced out of town by Absalom.
In short order, Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei are all put to death by the new king.
Solomon has his famous dream in chapter three, where the Lord asks him for whatever he would like. He already had wisdom, but he asked humbly for a discerning heart to lead God’s people (3.9). It is granted to him, and is immediately put to use as he rules famously regarding “dividing” the baby.
Notes on Job
Job’s “friends” come in hot and heavy. There will be three accusations by each of the friends, in order; followed by a response from Job to each. Some of them say some things that make sense (but be very careful how you quote any of them).
After rambling on for forty-seven verses in chapters four and five, Eliphaz gives the advice that makes all of us nauseous when others say it to us: “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself”(5.27).
Job’s first response to his friend is then found in chapter six. He summarizes Eliphaz’ lack of apathy in 6.21: “Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid.” Job’s response continues through chapter seven.
Bildad gives his first critique in chapter eight. Bildad is trying to defend God’s justice (8.3). Keep in mind that he will later be rebuked for not understanding God’s ways at all.
Job responds in chapter nine. He is greatly discouraged, losing hope, and becoming cynical of God and his ways: “Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing. He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason” (9.16-17).
“If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together” (9.33), hinting of the Messiah probably without knowing it.
He continues to view God as his enemy: “Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked?” (10.3). His hope for the afterlife is not much better. See 10.20-22.
Zophar, contestant number three, brings the first of his accusations in 11.5-6. His arrogance is unmatched by the others: “Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.”
Notes on Proverbs
The proverbs had moved back to the one-liners in chapter 27-29. Someone named Agur chimes in in chapter 30. His style is completely unlike anything else we have come across in Proverbs thus far.
I particularly like 30.7-9:
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.”
Then King Lemuel, whoever he is, writes in chapter 31. This unique book closes with an epilogue describing “the wife of noble character.”
Notes on 1 Chronicles
The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are some tough sledding: it’s just genealogies. But read through them, anyway. In the first few chapters, you will see a lot of familiar characters. Use the time to try to build up your understanding of the relationships of the key players as best you can.
The first chapter deals with the very ancient world—Noah and his sons, through the time of Abraham and his family.
The beginning of chapter two will trace the lineage down to David’s family. And then in chapter three we see a long list of his children by his many wives. Makes you wonder why he chased after Bathsheba, as well. Of course, God asked him the same question.
The end of chapter three is a long list of his descendants who became the kings of Judah. And the line even continues on far beyond the exile. This list can be compared with Jesus’ lineage in Matthew chapter one.