Daily Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 3 and Mark 7:14-37

2 Samuel 3 – A long war ensues between the house of Saul and the house of David.  David has six sons during the seven years he spends in Hebron: Amnon, Ahinoam’son; Ahinoam was his first wife; Chileah, his son by Abigail; Absalom, Maacah’s son – Maach’s father was king of Geshur, located in the Golan Heights; Adonijah, Haggith’s son; Shephatiah, Abital’s son and Ithream, son of Eglah.

           

Saul’s son Ishbaal (or Ishbosheth—to avoid use of the word baal) is a weak king who really does not have the loyalty of Israel.  It is really the force of his commander Abner who keeps the cities of Israel loyal to him.  They are centered in Gilead (at the city of Mahanaim). Jonathan, Saul’s other son is dead, and his son Meribbaal (Mephibosheth or Meribbosheth) is crippled (see 4:4), having been dropped at age 5 when his nurse dropped him running away to keep him safe after hearing of Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths.

           

With the combat having come out in David’s favor, Abner now makes a play for control of Saul’s house by sleeping with one of his concubines.  Abner gets angry after the altercation this causes and determines to go over to David’s cause “For just what the Lord has sworn to David, that will I accomplish for him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beer-sheba” (3:10). He actually tells Ishbaal this, and Ishbaal is reasonably afraid. The problem for Abner is that if he helps to deliver Israel to David, he will be seen as a threat to Joab, commander of David’s forces. Not only has Abner killed one of Joab’s brothers, he is ambitious to be equally important to David as he has been to Ishbaal.

 

Abner sends messengers to David indicating his willingness to join him.  David only asks that when he comes, he bring with him Saul’s daughter Michal.  David had won Michal from Saul by killing 200 Philistines (1 Sam. 18:20-27) and bringing the king their foreskins. Somehow in the conflicts with Saul, she had been removed from him and given to another man in marriage (Paltiel), a man who apparently loves her a great deal.  Through his contact with Abner, the traitor, David sends word to Ishabaal about his desire for Michal, and reminds him of the high price he paid for her. Ishabaal apparently agrees to return her. Paltiel follows Michal in tears when Abner brings her out with him (3:16). 

Abner contacts the elders of Israel who apparently have wanted to make David their king for a while and tells them that he will now permit David to become king.  Abner goes to Hebron and David receives him at a banquet.  David sends Abner off to rally all Israel so that they can make a covenant to seal the deal. But now Joab returns from a campaign and hears about the coming of Abner.  Joab confronts David because he is furious that Abner was received so well by him. I am sure he fears for his own place in David’s court but he is also angry because this is the man who killed one of his brothers. He tries to tell David that Abner must be out to deceive him.  And then, without David’s knowledge, Joab sends men after Abner to have him killed. What intrigue and drama there is in this story!

 

David learns of Abner’s  and declares that he (David) is without guilt for this bloodshed.  He sees to it that Abner is buried at Hebron and he laments his loss with fasting and prayer: “All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; just as everything the king did pleased all the people” (3:36). He even repudiates the violence of Joab and his brother.

 

This killing, which David renounces and tries hard to put on Joab’s tab will be echoed in the killing of Uriah later, a killing Joab arranges at David’s command but which he will make sure ends up on David’s tab, so to speak.

Mark 7:14-37 - It is not the outward thing that makes clean or unclean—whether hands or foods or laws—but the “the things that come out” of man that “defile” (7:14). He explains this more when he is alone with his disciples.  “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer” . . . it is what comes out of a person that defiles.  For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly” (7:18-23)

 

The next paragraph shows him in a house in Tyre, receiving a Syro-phoenician woman who begs him to come and heal her daughter who is possessed of some “demon.” He tries to dismiss her, “’Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs’”(7:24-29). The woman here teaches Jesus to observe his own teachings I think.

           

Then he goes on to the Decapolis region where he cures a deaf man who also cannot speak.  Again, he orders people not to speak of what he does, but “the more he ordered them the more zealously they proclaimed it” (7:36).

 

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