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Bible: What Does 2 Samuel 20-22 Teach Us About Rebellion and Deliverance?

Updated on September 8, 2016

The Assassination of Sheba


Amasa's Executioner

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The quarrel becomes so bitter that a certain Sheba, a Benjamite rebel, rallies all Israel (except Judah) to abandon David and follow him (vv. 1-2; cf. 1 Kings 12:16).

Before the king takes action against this rebellion, however, he cares for some personal business regarding his ten concubines (v. 3).

[Why the author inserts this trivia here is unknown].

Subsequently, David commands Amasa to assemble his army in three days, but the latter fails to do so (vv. 4-5).

Fearing even more dire consequences than the Absalom conspiracy, the king sends Abishai and Joab's men in pursuit of Sheba (vv. 6-7).

When Joab encounters Amasa at Gibeon, he kills him with his sword in an underhanded way (vv. 8-10).

One loyal to the general covers the corpse; nevertheless, Amasa's people follow Joab (vv. 11-13).

The army continues to grow as it circulates through all the tribes (v. 14). Finally, they assault Sheba in Abel of Beth Maacah (v. 15).

While conversing with Joab, a wise woman in Abel inquires why he wishes to overthrow such a city of reknown (vv. 16-19).

The general denies he has such a motive, then identifies his real objective: to stop Sheba (vv. 20-21a).

Once the woman consults with the townspeople, they kill the troublemaker and throw his head out to Joab (v. 21b-22a).

This action does the trick, for Joab leaves and returns to David (v. 22b).

[The chapter ends with an updated list of David's governmental officials (vv. 23-26)].



The Defender of the "Lamp of Israel"

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2 Samuel 21

To put an end to a three-year famine that plagues Israel, David seeks Yahweh's guidance (v. 1a).

The LORD tells him to make relations right with the Gibeonites (Amorites with which Israel had a treaty. Saul violated said treaty) [vv. 1b-2; cf. Josh. 9].

When the king gives a “blank check” to the Gibeonite leaders as to how Israel may make atonement, they request that David deliver over to them for summary execution seven of Saul's male descendants (vv. 3-6).

Keeping faith with an earlier oath, David spares Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son (v. 7).

In response to the present ordeal, he also acts faithfully, handing over the two sons of Rizpah and the five sons of Michal.

Shortly thereafter, on the first day of barley harvest, the Gibeonites hang them in Gibeah (vv. 7-9).

One of the grieving mothers, Rizpah, keeps a vigil over the unburied corpses until David decides to gather the bones of Saul, Jonathan, and these seven sons.

Apparently, he buries all nine bodies in Kish's tomb (vv. 10-14a). Afterwards, God gives the land rain (v. 14b).

Now the author recounts battles the elder David and his men fought against the Philistines, especially their giants (vv. 15-22).

The first battle features a certain giant who, seeking to kill the weary king, forces Abishai to defend David.

From that point on, the so-called "lamp of Israel" stays in Jerusalem (vv. 15-17).

Three other mighty men of Israel—Sibbechai, Elhanan, and Jonathan—slay three other Philistine giants (vv. 18-22).

David, the Psalmist/King


2 Samuel 22

Practically identical with Psalm 18, this chapter records David's song of praise for God's deliverance from his enemies (vv. 2-51).

In the opening verses, the king employs no less than nine metaphors to describe how great a personal protector and defender the LORD is (vv. 2-3).

He, therefore, does not hesitate to call upon Him (v. 4).

So close to death that he felt he were drowning, David records both his petition to God and the LORD’s speedy, dramatic answer in which He shook heaven, the sea, and the earth/world to rescue his threatened servant (vv. 5-20).

The poet uses vivid imagery and anthropomorphisms to show the irresistible power of his God.

Smoke, fire, darkness, brightness, lightning, and thunder all depict a Sinai-like scene.

His own righteousness has brought David divine reward (vv. 21-25). Notice the verbs and adjectives he uses: kept (v. 22a), have not/did not depart/depart (v. 22b, 23b), and blameless (v. 24a).

The king acknowledges that as man behaves in life, so God responds toward him (vv. 26-28). David professes his dependence upon the LORD for wisdom and courage, and asserts that he has found Him sufficient for every task (vv. 29-31).

Uniquely powerful, He can make His servant victorious (vv. 32-35).

Yahweh has saved him, protected him, and given him success over his godless enemies (vv. 36-43).

David also recognizes God's hand in maintaining his kingship throughout all of Israel's machinations (vv. 44-46).

He exultantly confesses that Yahweh is the living Rock to Whom alone belongs thanks for His mercy and deliverance (vv. 47-51).

© 2013 glynch1


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    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 4 years ago

      No. Government brutality is a commonplace occurrence, especially when the "powers that be" have no checks and balances. Joab was apparently an out of control general that David could not (or would not) restrain.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      You mention the brutality of that day in order till to maintain political power. Is that so uncommon now? An interesting telling of the biblical story.