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31st March

2 Samuel 13-15; Psalm 90

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
31st March

2 Samuel 13-15; Psalm 90

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.

Saul finally dies in battle against the Philistines and David is made king, but only of Judah. The rest of Israel chooses one of Saul's sons as king. This led to a civil war as the two kingdoms fought it out. David's commander, Joab, shows himself to be manipulative and violent, killing the enemy commander Aber in cold blood after he had made peace. But David didn't punish him for his behaviour. We read as David won the civil war, defeated the Philistines, claimed Jerusalem as the capital city, and reclaimed the Ark of the Covenant. But cracks started to show with David taking many wives for himself and his wife Michael despising him.

Then yesterday we read as David had an affair with a married woman and then killed off her husband. The prophet Nathan pronounces God's judgement on David. While God forgave David, the consequences of this are that someone is going to rise up against David and claim his wives as David claimed this Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 13-15

In today's reading, we see David's family household begin to collapse. One of David's sons, Amnon, falls in love with his half-sister, Tamar. That might make us a bit squeamish, but this was a fairly normal thing at the time. The problem comes when he decides to trick her into his room by pretending to be ill and then rapes her.

At first she begs him not to, and points out that if he just waited, they could get married and they could be together. But he ignores her and goes ahead with it anyway. The moment he had finished, he suddenly despises Tamar and goes to send her away. She points out that's even worse. Now that he's had sex with her, the least he could do is marry her.

But he cast out and would have nothing to do with her. Tamar runs back to her brother Absalom, who comforts her. David is angry, but as we've seen before, he chooses not to discipline anyone, and so the situation is left open. This whole situation is disgusting, and once again feels like we're back in the time of the judges. Because of David's poor decisions, his family is starting to become wild.

Two years later, Absalom takes it upon himself to avenge his sister. He invites the whole family round and then, in front of them all, has his brother Amnon killed. Absalom then flees so that he won't get killed in return. While Tamar has been avenged, the destruction and brokenness within the family is made worse.

Joab decides it's about time Absalom came home and creates a plan to trick David into making an oath allowing Absalom back. David, trapped by his own words, invites Absalom home but refuses to meet with him himself.

Another two years pass, and Absalom decides he wants back in with the family. He summons Joab, but Joab ignores. Absalom then decides to set fire to Joab's fields to get his attention. This works and when Joab comes, Absalom asks that he persuade David to let him be fully restored. Joab does and Absalom and David meet.

David fully forgives Absalom and everything goes back to normal. The problem is, while the family is united again, the fractures are clearly still there. And while David is king, he's not the one making all the decisions. The key influencers now are Joab and Absalom.

Absalom decides to capitalise on this by standing at the gate of the city and spreading lies about David. Little by little, he begins to win the people over to his side. Once he has enough supports, he plans an uprising to take power for himself.

David hears about what has happened and flees the city. When various people offer to help him, David points out that this is either God's will, in which case he'll never be king again, or it's not God's will, and God will restore him in due time. He does, however, send some men back to be advisors and influence Absalom. Just like he was under Saul, David is once again on the run for his life. The situation is a complete mess.

Psalm 90

In book three of the psalms (Psalm 73-89) we saw the focus on the destruction and exile of Jerusalem. This ended with Psalm 89, focusing on the restoration of the kingdom and a future king. Book four of the psalms (Psalm 90-106) is focused on God as king. We also get the most mentions of Moses of anywhere in the psalms.

This psalm is attributed to Moses and falls into the category of lament psalm.

Psalm 90:1-2 - God is eternal

Psalm 90:3-11 - Our days are short

Psalm 90:12-17 - So make our days good

The psalmist starts by highlighting God’s eternal nature. All generations have found their source in God, and God was around before the earth was formed. In contrast, humans are like dust in comparison. What is a thousand years for us is just a day for God.

While God causes people to flourish one moment, they fade away another, much like plants in the seasons. God’s judgement weighs heavily on us in light of our sin. Our lives are short and are spent underneath God’s judgement.

Having brought their complaint, the psalmist switches to their request. Help us to count our days, not waste them. Have mercy on us and dwell with us so that we might be satisfied by your love. That our days are spent in joy and gladness. Let us see that God is good and does great things for his people.

This psalm serves as a reflection on the shortness of life. It’s here one day and gone another. Joy should be found enjoying each moment in God, for he is eternal.

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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