Daily Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 19-20 and Mark 14:54-72

2 Samuel 19 – When word gets out how the king is taking the death of his son, the day of victory turns into a day of mourning, and Joab is furious – rightfully so.  His men are made to feel ashamed instead of proud of their sacrifices.  Joab confronts him: “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all our officers who have saved your life today, and the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, for love of those who hate you and for hatred of those who love you.  You have made it clear today that commanders and officers are nothing to you; for I perceive that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. So go out at once and speak kindly to your servants; for I swear by the Lord, if you do not do, not a man will stay with you this night; and this will be worse for you than any disaster that has come upon you from your youth until now” (19:5-7). In response, David does get up and take his place at the gate of the city to receive the returning troops.

           

Meanwhile, the people of Israel, who had joined Absalom in his rebellion discuss among them the need to receive David back.  They remember the good he did in the past, defeating their enemies, the Philistines. The men of Judah, however, too are now torn (I think). Put off by the behavior of their king, they hesitate to rally around David.  He sends word to their elders through Abiathar and Zadok that he expects their support.  He then also contacts Amasa (!) and asks his support, promising him command of his armies (19:13).  He must be really mad at Joab or distrustful of him. Amasa is very popular among the people of Judah, so they give their support to David again. The result of this “diplomacy” is a revival of support among the Judahites for David.

           

Shimei (the Benjaminite) of Bahurim greets David with a thousand people from that tribe, and begs him to forgive his bad behavior (cursing him—see 16:10) And Ziba also comes to serve him. Abishai wants to put him to death, but David dismisses him, saying, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me?” (19:22) There is a permanent breach here between David and the sons of Zeruiah, his half-sister—Joab and Abishai, the very men who led his armies to victory.  Either his love for Absalom or his displeasure with their forthrightness over behavior toward his troops has soured David on them seriously.

           

Mephibosheth too comes to curry favor with David.  David presses him about why he failed to support him and he has the nerve to blame his servant, Ziba. David falls for his excuse and again offers to divide lands he confiscated (chapter 16) when he heard that Mephibosheth was not supporting him.  Wisely Mephibosheth refuses to take back half the land from his maligned servant.  I guess he’s just thankful he was able to hoodwink David into forgiving him.

           

Barzillai, an old Gileadite who had provided food for David in Mahanaim, is asked to accompany David back to Jerusalem; but he prefers to go back to his own town.  He offers to send his son Chimham instead.  They go over to Gilgal.  There is a feud building here between the people of Israel and the people of Judah. It has been stoked by David himself because he sought Judah’s presence in his return—thinking he was owed it as a Judahite himself or thinking he needed their support.  But Israel is jealous because the Judahites outnumber the Israelites in David’s retinue, even though they (the Israelites) represent ten tribes as opposed to Judah’s two, and they were the first to request David’s return. “But the words of the people of Judah were fiercer than the words of the people of Israel” (19:43).

 

2 Samuel 20Sheba, a Benjaminite, foments trouble by claiming now that the people of Israel “have no portion in David” (20:1). The Israelites fall behind Sheba, but the Judahites return to Jerusalem with David. The concubines Absalom had compromised, David now locks away “until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood” (20:3).

 

David asks Amasa to call the men of Judah together within three days.  He is late though. So David sends Abishai and Joab against Sheba.  Amasa, late, catches up with them at Gibeon.  What must be the ill-feelings among these commanders – Amasa, reconciled to David but previously leader of the rebellion of Absalom; Joab and Abishai, loyal commanders of David’s troops (except for the disobedient slaying of David’s beloved rebel-son? It is not really surprising what happens then. When Amasa approaches Joab, Joab takes him “by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.  But Amasa did not notice the sword in Joab’s hand; Joab struck him in the belly so that his entrails poured out on the ground, and he died” (20:9-10).

 

Then – amazingly –Joab takes off after Sheba. Why is this man loyal to David??? The bloody body of Amasa, lying on the road distracts the men, until one of Joab’s men removes it to a field and covers it. They all pursue Sheba to Beth-maacah.  A woman in that town approaches Joab and tries to save her town.  Joab tells her that if Sheba is turned over, he will withdraw from the city.  So she promises to throw Sheba’s head over the wall (20: 21). It happens, and Joab returns to Jerusalem in command of all the army of Israel. David’s government is reconstituted.

Mark 14:54-72 - Jesus is taken to the high priest and all the chief leaders are there.  Peter follows “at a distance” into the courtyard of the high priest.  Inside, “many” give false testimony against Jesus but they do not agree. 

 

Jesus is silent until the high priest asks him if he is the Messiah.  Jesus answers directly: “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven’” (14:62).  This drives the high priest insane.  Who needs witnesses he says in the face of this blasphemy.  They abuse him and the guards beat him.  Outside Peter denies him three times, hears the cock crow and cries in self-disgust.

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