Reading 91/341, 2 Samuel 20-22

[A] Joab uses the new war as an opportunity to eliminate his rival Amasa. This is the fourth murder we see him commit: Abner, Uriah, Absalom, Amasa.
[B] When the Gibeonites say that they want neither silver nor gold nor the life of any man in reparation for what they suffered, it looks so hopeful that they might have something like forgiveness. Then they demand the lives of seven men. There is no forgiveness in the world yet. David goes along with it, and how could he not? God had sent a famine as punishment for the first crime of genocide. It is not possible to just go on as if nothing happened. Such crimes must be resolved by a death. The men hanging on crosses, with the mother of 5 of them at their feet is an image of Christ.
[C] We end with a beautiful song by David. It is said that he wrote many of the psalms. This song is in the form that many of the psalms take.

...2 Samuel...

There happened to be there a worthless fellow, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite, and he blew the trumpet, and said, “We have no portion in David, nor have we an inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tents, Israel!” So all the men of Israel went up from following David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri, but the men of Judah joined with their king, from the Jordan to Jerusalem. David came to his house at Jerusalem, and the king took the ten women (his concubines), whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in custody, and provided them with sustenance, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood. Then the king to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here present yourself.” So Amasa went to call the men of Judah together, but he stayed longer than the set time which he had appointed him. David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your lord's servants, and pursue after him, lest he get to fortified cities, and escape out of our sight.”

Joab's men went out after him, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was girded with his apparel of war that he had put on, and there was a belt with a sword fastened on his waist in its sheath, and as he went forth it fell out. Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand, so he struck him with it in the body, and his bowels spilled out on the ground, and he did not strike him again, and he died. Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri. There stood by Amasa one of Joab's young men, and said, “He who favors Joab, and he who is for David, let him follow Joab.” Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. When the man saw that all the people stood still, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a garment over him, when he saw that everyone who came by him stood still. When he was removed off of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Sheba went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beh-macah, and all the Berites were gathered together followed him in. Those with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah, and they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and all the people who were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down. Then a wise woman cried out of the city, “Hear, hear! Please say to Joab, ‘Come near here, that I may speak with you.’” He came near to her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Hear the words of your handmaid.” He answered, “I do hear.” Then she spoke, saying, “They were wont to speak in olden days, saying, ‘They shall surely ask counsel at Abel’, and so they ended the matter. I am of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?” Joab answered, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy. The matter is not so, but a man of the hill country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David; deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. They cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. He blew the trumpet, and they were dispersed from the city, every man to his tent. Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

Now Joab was over all the army of Israel, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites, and Adoram was over the men subject to forced labor, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder, and Sheva was scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar were priests, and Ira the Jairite was also a priest for David.

There was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year, and David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is for Saul, and for the blood-guilt of his house, because he put to death the Gibeonites.” The king called the Gibeonites, and said to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the children of Israel had sworn to them but Saul sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah), and David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is no matter of silver or gold between us and Saul, or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” He said, “What do you say I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us, and who devised against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the borders of Israel, let seven of his sons be delivered to us, and we will hang them up to the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” The king said, “I will give them.” But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord's oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the Lord, and they perished, all seven together. They were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, at the beginning of barley harvest.

Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water poured on them from the sky, and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the animals of the field by night. It was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh Gilead, who had stolen them from the street of Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, in the day that the Philistines killed Saul in Gilboa, and he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son, and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin, in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father, and they performed all that the king commanded. After that God responded to the entreaty for the land.

The Philistines had war again with Israel, and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines. David grew weary, and Ishbibenob, who was one of the sons of the giants, the weight of whose spear was three hundred shekels of bronze in weight, being girded with a new sword, planned to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him, and struck the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.” It came to pass after this, that there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giants. There was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. There was again war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, who had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number, and he also was born to the giants. When he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David's brother, killed him. These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

David spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul, and he said, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in him I will take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge. My savior, you save me from violence. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from my enemies. For the waves of death surrounded me. The floods of destruction assailed me. The cords of Sheol were around me. The snares of death caught me. In my distress I called on the Lord. Yes, I called to my God. He heard my voice out of his temple. My cry came into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled. The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, because he was angry. Smoke went up out of his nostrils. Fire out of his mouth devoured. Glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down. Thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew. Yes, he was seen on the wings of the wind. He made darkness into pavilions around himself, gathering of waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness before him, coals of fire were kindled. The Lord thundered from heaven. The Most High uttered his voice. He sent out arrows and scattered them, lightning and confused them. Then the channels of the sea appeared. The foundations of the world were laid bare by the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. He sent from on high and he took me. He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a large place. He delivered me, because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness. He rewarded me according to the cleanness of my hands. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his ordinances were before me. As for his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also perfect toward him. I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness in his sight. With the merciful you show yourself merciful. With the perfect man you show yourself perfect. With the pure you show yourself pure. With the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You will save the afflicted people, but your eyes are on the haughty, that you may bring them down. For you are my lamp, O Lord. The Lord will light up my darkness. For by you, I run against a troop. By my God, I leap over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect. The word of the Lord is tested. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? Who is a rock besides our God? God is my strong fortress. He makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me on high places. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation. Your gentleness has made me great. You have enlarged my steps under me. My feet have not slipped. I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them. I did not turn again until they were consumed. I have consumed them, and struck them through, so that they cannot arise. Yes, they have fallen under my feet. For you have armed me with strength for the battle. You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, that I might cut off those who hate me. They looked, but there was none to save; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them. Then I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth. I crushed them as the mire of the streets, and spread them abroad. You also have delivered me from the strivings of my people. You have kept me to be the head of the nations. A people unknown to me will serve me. Foreign nations will submit themselves to me. As soon as they hear of me, they will obey me. Foreign nations will fade away, and will come trembling out of their close places. The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock! Exalted be God, the rock of my salvation, the God who executes vengeance for me, who brings down peoples under me, who brings me away from my enemies. Yes, you lift me up above those who rise up against me. You deliver me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the nations. I will sing praises to your name. He gives great deliverance to his king, and shows loving kindness to his anointed, to David and to his seed, forevermore.”

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