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28th March

2 Samuel 1-3; Psalm 87

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
28th March

2 Samuel 1-3; Psalm 87

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in 1-2 Samuel we've read through the rise of Samuel, Saul, and David, and then Samuel and Saul's deaths. Samuel was born to Hannah, who gave him over to the priest Eli to server in the Tabernacle. Samuel grew up in God's presence and grew in favour with God while Eli's own sons and the rest of Israel were disobedient and rebellious. Samuel stepped up to fill the gap and led the Israelites to repentance before defeating the Philistines, giving the Israelites a new era of peace.

But as Samuel got older, the Israelites did not want his sons leading them, so they asked Samuel for a king. Samuel warned them that this king would oppress them, but they weren't interested. So Samuel gives them what they want and appoints a young man named Saul to be king. Saul started off okay but things quickly turned south. He offered sacrifices himself when he wasn't meant to and he made foolish and impulsive decisions that impacted his people negatively.

So Samuel found a new king. A young shepherd boy, David. When Samuel anointed him, the spirit of God left Saul and settled on David. We saw as David grew in favour with the people and with Saul's children, while Saul became unhinged by jealousy, wanting to kill David. Eventually, David fled from Saul's court, fearing for his life.. But David continued to grow in favour while on the run, gathering men around him who looked to him for leadership. And in it all, David was committed to being obedient, refusing to kill Saul when he had the chance.

Yesterday we read as Saul finally died in battle against the Philistines. The king had died and a new king needs to take his place.

2 Samuel 1-3

At the end of 1 Samuel, we read how Saul fell on his own sword and died. Here at the beginning of the 2 Samuel, we read how an Amalekite claimed to be the one who killed Saul.

These two stories obviously don't line up. The Amalekites have long been enemies of the Israelites and were not to be trusted. The most likely option is that the Amalekite saw Saul already dead and took the crown and armlet from his body. He then figured if he took these to David and claimed he was the one to defeat Saul, David would reward him handsomely.

Unfortunately for him, he was wrong. David, furious that this man would lay a hand on the king, had him killed. David is nothing if not a man of honour. Even though Saul had chased him down for many years, David was still going to honour him with all he had. We see this in how he mourns Saul's death. David writes a poem in his memory to honour both Saul and Jonathon.

David then turns to God and asks what to do next. Should he go back home to Judah? God says yes and tells David to go to Hebron. Once there, the people of Judah came together and anointed him as their new king.

It's been a long time since Samuel first anointed him as king many years ago, but now we're beginning to finally see it. His first act as king is to honour that people of Jabesh-Gilead that went out of their way to give Saul a proper burial. Meanwhile, the rest of Israel decided to make one of Saul's sons king, Ishbosheth.

The two kings eventually go to war, and each has a commander of his army. Ishbosheth has Abner, and David has Joab. As the two armies fight, David's army begins to win, and Ishbosheth's army begins to flee. One of Joab's brothers, Asahel, starts chasing down Abner, who is trying to escape.

Eventually, Abner decides to defend himself and kills Asahel. Joab then goes to avenge his brother's death and chases down Abner. Abner calls out to him and begs him to stop fighting. He points out that if every time someone was killed, their family tried to avenge their death, then all of Israel would be fighting forever. Joab pretends to agree with Abner and stops chasing him.

The war between the two nations continues on for a while. Eventually, Ishbosheth insults his commander Abner, and so Abner decides to betray Ishbosheth and hand the kingdom over to David.

David agrees to Abner's help only if he can bring back David's first wife, Michal. Abner agrees, brings Michal to David, and then goes off again to convince the people of Israel to side with David.

On his way, Joab hunts him down and kills him, avenging his brother Asahel. This level of deceit and murder is clearly not okay, but David never punishes Joab. This becomes a theme of David's reign.

Though he is now king, it is actually the deceitful and corrupt people like Abner and Joab that have the biggest influence, all because David is never willing to bring them in line.

However, David does honour Abner and publicly mourns his death, which wins him more support and favour amongst his people.

Psalm 87

This psalm is attributed to the sons of Korah and falls into the category of praise psalm. The focus is on celebrating Jerusalem (Zion) as the city of God.

Psalm 78:1-3 - Great is Zion

Psalm 78:4-7 - People from all nations will know God

The psalmist opens with eyes on Zion. It has been established on God’s holy mountain and so it is the place that God dwells more than any other. Lots of people speak very highly of Zion.

Then we get a verse from God’s perspective. There are people who know God and have a relationship with him; from Egypt (also known as Rahab), Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush. In other words, there are people in all the nations that know God. And currently each one is seen as a citizen of their country. ‘This one was born there’.

But Zion is God’s city, and God will continue to establish them. And as God surveys all the people that know him, while some are born to foreign nations, God will give them citizenship in Zion. They are all part of God’s kingdom. All people will be included in those who since and dance in praise to God.

This psalm is a short one, and due to the Hebrew turn of the phrase ‘This one was born there’ can be confusing to understand. But the point of the psalm is that while Jerusalem is the God’s chosen place to dwell, it’s his desire to bring all nations to him. While he is known as the God of Israel, all peoples belong to him.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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