THE PEOPLE NEED A KING
2 Samuel 1:1–2:7
Key Verse: 2:4a
“Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.”
Today is August 29. Tomorrow a new semester begins. Tomorrow your summer vacation officially comes to an end. With school comes new classes, new things to learn. For us, we’re starting the new semester with a new book, too, 2 Samuel. Being a kind professor, let me review what happened in 1 Samuel.
Birth of Samuel to Hannah, Eli and his wicked sons, Lord calls Samuel, Ark taken, Ark returned, Samuel defeats Philistines, Israel asks for a king, Samuel anoints Saul, Saul rescues Jabesh, Samuel’s speech, Saul’s sin, Jonathan attacks Philistines, Lord rejects Saul as king, Samuel anoints David, David and Goliath, Saul’s jealousy of David (attempt to kill #1), Saul’s order to kill David (attempt to kill #2), David and Jonathan, David as Forrest Gump (he was running!), David runs to the Philistines, People come to David, Saul kills priests, David spares Saul #1, David and Abigail, David spares Saul #2, Saul and the witch, David sent home by Philistines, David destroys Amalekites, Saul and Jonathan killed.
The theme of 1 Samuel I believe was God’s kingship over Israel and God’s desire to establish a king after his own heart for his people. In 2 Samuel, we will see what that king is supposed to look like in the form of King David.
I. Saul is dead (1:1-16)
When a young man with torn clothes and dust on his head arrives at David’s camp, what news does he bring? Read verse 4. “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.” He said, “The men fled from the battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”
Of course David wants to know how it happened. So he asks in verse 5, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” Chapter 31 of 1 Samuel tells us that Saul was wounded by Philistine archers. When his armor bearer wouldn’t kill him, Saul fell on his own sword and died. But the young Amalekite tells David a different story.
I just happened to be on Mount Gilboa. The KJV version says “I happened by chance” to be on the mountain. Saul was wounded leaning on his spear. Apparently there was no one else around. He asked me who I was. I told him I was an Amalekite. Saul said of course you are. Please kill me. And then? Read verse 10. “So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
Now there are some troubling facts in this young Amalekite’s story. First, what was he doing on Mount Gilboa? Was he there taking a walk? Or more likely was he scavenging for valuables among the dead soldiers? Second, why would Saul ever ask an Amalekite to kill him? The reason he asks his armor bearer to kill him in 1 Samuel is so that his enemies could not claim that they had killed Saul. The Amalekites were enemies of Israel, too. Third, he wasn’t part of the army. So he wasn’t fighting. Why are his clothes torn and his head covered in dust?
This guy saw an opportunity. And so he made up this story. He came to David thinking that Saul and David are enemies. When I tell David that I killed Saul, he’s going to reward me. How do David and his men react to the news? Read verses 11-12. “Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” Can you imagine this guy’s surprise? He thought he was going to get a pat on the back. Honor and riches from David and his men. Instead, they tear their clothes. There is mourning, and weeping, and fasting.
What’s even worse is that this man’s lie had even more serious consequences? Read verses 14-16. David asked him, “Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?” Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the LORD's anointed.’“
This young Amalekite was blinded by his desire to gain wealth and maybe honor. He thought it would just require a little lie. It seems like a small price to pay for the possibility of a nice reward from David. But the price he ultimately paid was with his life. This Amalekite didn’t know the God of Israel. He was guided by the principle of me. If it’s good for me, then do it. We can learn a lot from this young Amalekite.
If he had known God, he would have known how serious his sin was. Sin is a very serious matter to God. Even if in his own mind he thought it wasn’t a big deal. There are many young Amalekites arriving on campus this week. Students who don’t know God and don’t know how serious sin is. They think it’s ok to do whatever pleases them. “What’s the big deal?” seems to be the motto.
When it comes to cheating in college, studies suggest 2/3 of college students admit to cheating at least once in their college career. What’s scary is that most say, “What’s the big deal?” One student interviewed by ABCNews was caught cheating. If she's caught again, she'll be expelled, but Jennifer doesn't see why it's such a big deal. “I see it as basically survival and what you need to do to get by,” she said. She said taking someone else's work and pretending it's yours is acceptable “if it's the same thing that you wanted to say.” I can see the Amalekite now. He was going to die anyway. What’s the big deal? Might as well get something out of it.
I remember when my youngest brother used to say this all the time to my mom. What’s the big deal? You’re overreacting. It seems like David overreacted to this Amalekite, too. But when it comes to sin, there is no overreaction. What happened to the Amalekite is a vivid illustration of the seriousness of sin. And because it’s so serious, people urgently need to hear the message of Jesus who frees us from sin and guilt. This leads us to part 2.
II. The people need a king (1:17-2:7)
Read verses 17-18. David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar). Do you ever wonder how David really felt about Saul? Deep down. When he was alone with his wife and sharing what was really in his heart. I always thought David deep down hated Saul. And I thought that because if I were David, that’s how I would have felt. Yes, David spared Saul’s life. Yes, David said all the right things about trusting God for judgment between them. But deep down I thought that it was impossible for David to truly care about Saul. Some may even say that David was being fake. And then you read verses 19-27.
David’s words reveal a real sadness in his heart about the death of Saul and Jonathan. A true lament over “how the mighty have fallen.” His words also reveal that he really was a man after God’s own heart. He loved God. And he loved God’s people. And even though Saul pursued him, he never stopped seeing Saul as the leader of God’s people. I see Saul’s death as the death of David’s enemy. David saw it as the death of a family member. Not just any family member. The patriarch of the family. David mourned for himself, for his men, and for the entire house of Israel. There was nothing fake about David’s devotion to god, to Saul, and to his country.
I think it’s virtually impossible to fake loving God and giving your heart to God. Because true love for God will reveal itself in the way we love those around us. And not just my daughter or my son. They’re easy to love. But those who are hard to love. The ones who do us harm or at least do us no good. That’s when you know someone has real love for God. A lot of you of course are familiar with my dad. He’s the pastor and in public he has a kind word for everybody. He’s a Bible teacher and really enjoys discipling the members of the various teams. Even though he’s old enough to be their grandfather and it means Bible study nearly every night of the week. You ever wonder how he really feels about you when he’s in the privacy of his home? The truth is he really loves God and he really loves his church. He doesn’t come home and tell me how miserable the Mustard Seed team is. He doesn’t harbor bitterness or ill feelings toward anybody. The way he is in public is the way he is in private. You can’t fake that. It has to come from knowing and loving God.
Our ministry really challenges you personally to examine your heart and your love for God. Because our whole ministry is based on God’s great commission which basically says to love strangers. To give strangers the word of God. And then to pray for them, sacrifice for them, and spend time with them that they might grow into a disciple of Jesus. It means walking on campus and risking rejection or insult, and still praying for that person anyway. The only way this is impossible if we know God and we know God’s heart.
I know how I don’t have that capacity to love others like my dad does right now. I also know that it’s extremely hard for some of us to love strangers. To love them enough to overcome fear and invite them to Bible study. But it’s a new semester. And with new semesters come new prayer topics. Let’s pray to truly love others. To do that I realize I have to truly love God, love his word, spend time with him in prayer. Then and only then can I know his heart like David did, and only then can he change my heart to be like his.
Read verse 2:1-2. 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 recognized that the people needed a king. He knew he was going to be king because Samuel had anointed him years ago when he was still a young boy. But he still took the time to first inquire of the Lord. This seems like a very small thing. Or maybe not that big a deal. We might think “Of course he would inquire of the Lord first.” But we saw in Saul’s life that this is not a given. Samuel told the people long ago that the true king over Israel is God himself. By inquiring of the Lord, David is saying God is the true king. I serve him. I do only what he guides me to do. Acts 13:22 says “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”
Read verse 4a. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. The people really needed a king. But not just any king. Saul was a king who ruled over his people. Yes, the people prospered under him. And yes, he won some military victories. But spiritually the nation was far from God.
God chose David to be the king over Judah and later over all of Israel. His role as king would not just be as ruler. He would be the shepherd over his nation. The nation would still prosper and they would win great victories. But they would also know God and recognize him as their true king. They would see God’s glory through the actions of David.
We are still feeling the impact of David’s kingship today. Acts 13:23 says “From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.” Israel needed a king and God gave them David. We needed a king and God gave us Jesus.
As I mentioned earlier the new semester brings lots of new students. The population of College Park is approximately 25,000. The undergraduate population is approximately 26,000 students with about a quarter of them freshmen. There are lots of human kings vying for people’s time, attention, and loyalties. For example, these guys. But none of them is the king people need. Because the king people need is a shepherd king. And the only one who can be that is Jesus. And the ones who can introduce Jesus to them are you and me. This semester one of our prayer topics for YDJ will be for us to really reach out to fellow students and young people. Because if we inquire of God like David, “Shall I go up to one of the dorms of North Campus? Or buildings of the Mall?” God is going to say, “Go up.” And you’ll ask, “Where shall I go?” And The Lord will answer, “To Cambridge. To Stamp. To McKeldin.” We’ll see in 2 Samuel that as great as David was, he was just a glimpse of who Jesus is. David recognized that the people of Israel needed a king who would lead them to God and shepherd them against their enemies. God established him to be that person. Let us recognize that people still need a king who will lead them to God and shepherd them against the temptations of the world. God gave us Jesus to be the answer. Because we know this to be true, let us take the opportunity of new semester to renew our hearts and our efforts to share Jesus with others. Let’s read the key verse.