Study Notes

2Samuel 20:1-26


When we left chapter 19, we saw that division had arisen between the Jews. The tribe of Judah and the rest of Israel were at odds with each other. It had been a bickering, a sibling rivalry of sorts, over who got to escort King David back to Jerusalem. But all it took was that one little disagreement to place a wedge between them.

We last saw where things stood in verse 43,

2Sam. 19:43 But the men of Israel answered the men of Judah and said, "We have ten parts in the king, therefore we also have more {claim} on David than you. Why then did you treat us with contempt? Was it not our advice first to bring back our king?" Yet the words of the men of Judah were harsher than the words of the men of Israel.

Judah would continue to escort David back to Jerusalem.

20:1-2 Sheba's Rebellion

SHEH-bah, the son of Bik-REE, from the tribe of Benjamin was there. He took advantage of Israel's anger, and convinced them to forsake David as their king.

Paul told the Corinthians,

2Cor. 2:11 in order that no advantage be taken of us by satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

If we are ignorant of the devil's devices, then we get taken advantage of by him. Here is a good example of a scheme of satan: someone turning people from their leader in order to become their leader. Ab-shaw-LOME did it by telling people that King David wasn't giving them justice.

It even happens in the church! There were people that were trying to get Christians to follow them by degrading Paul. They would say,

2Cor. 10:10 ..."His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible."

We have been warned that...

Acts 20:30 ...from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

How can you recognize a SHEH-bah, an Ab-shah-LOME, a wolf seeking to draw disciples to himself? This way: How does he talk about the current leader? Does he speak good or evil about the leader, the manager, or the pastor? If so, you can bank on the fact that he's looking for followers.

Out Of One Trial And Into Another

Also, look at the place David is in. His son had rebelled, causing all Israel to turn against him. He had spent those days running from Jerusalem, enduring insults from the likes of Shim-EE, struggling to survive in the wilderness, commanding an army during a war that looked hopeless, and then finding out that his son was dead. Talk about a desert experience! Trials like these make ours pale in comparison.

But it had all finally ended. David was returning to Jerusalem, victorious. The people were welcoming him back. If we were in his situation, we would have expected that God would give us a break, that we wouldn't be due for any more trials for awhile. But no sooner has one trial ended, then another one begins!

Aren't trials supposed to be the exception rather than the norm? Not according to Scripture. Peter wrote,

1Pet. 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you

Fiery ordeals are the norm! They are the regular thing in life. What should surprise us is the occasional time of peace and freedom from the trials.

20:3 Care For The Concubines

Remember that when David had fled from Jerusalem, he'd left ten of his concubines to keep the house. Unfortunately, these women were taken advantage of sexually by Ab-shaw-LOME. Now, entering back into his house, David protects them and provides for them, but does not have sexual relations with them.

20:4-5 Amasa's Delay

Am-aw-SAW, as you recall, was the leader of Ab-shaw-LOME's army that rebelled against David. When David was victorious, one of the forgiving things he did was to place Am-aw-SAW in charge of his own army.

David now commands him to rally the men of Judah together within three days, but for whatever reason he had, it took longer than that. He never showed.

This is something to note about forgiveness: When someone betrays you and you forgive them and restore them, that doesn't mean that they're not going to hurt you again. It doesn't mean that they won't let you down again. It doesn't even mean that they won't turn on you and betray you again. What it simply means is that you were imitating Christ and forgave them.

Jesus taught,

Luke 17:3-5 "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,' forgive him." And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"

Is your faith large enough to handle forgiving someone over and over every day? This isn't just the standard, it's a warning, a promise. Some people that you forgive will need to be forgiven over and over and over and over.

20:6-7 Abishai In Charge

David knew that this rebellion headed by SHEH-bah the son of Bik-REE was going to be more damaging than Ab-shaw-LOME's had been. Before, Israel had been united against David. Now, they are on the brink of civil war, something that would have even more far-reaching effects than the previous rebellion.

David called Ab-ee-SHAH-ee to bring men and pursue SHEH-bah. Ab-ee-SHAH-ee was one of David's mighty men, and was also Yo-AWB's brother. Yo-AWB, you recall, had been the commander of David's army until David replaced him with Am-aw-SAW.

It was Yo-AWB's men - along with the Ker-AY-thites, Pel-AY-thites, and all the mighty men - that followed Ab-ee-SHAH-ee to pursue SHEH-bah.

Yo-AWB must have been terribly jealous of his brother. Already he is formulating a plan to gain back the leadership of David's army. Have you ever been jealous of a brother? It's never spoken kindly of in Scripture.

Joseph was younger than his brothers, but was favored by his father. His brothers were jealous of him, and did evil to him, selling him into Egypt.

When the prodigal son returned home from his rebellion,

Luke 15:22-32 "...the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and {began} inquiring what these things might be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and {began} entreating him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and {yet} you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.' And he said to him, {‘My} child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and {has begun} to live, and {was} lost and has been found.'"

Sometimes it seems like the people that don't deserve it get all the blessings, doesn't it? But we are called to rejoice when our brother is blessed, not complain. We are to praise the Lord when another is exalted, even if it is over us. Has jealousy made you bitter against your brother - or against the Lord? James said,

James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

Jealousy is a wicked sin that must be repented of, or it will destroy us and others along with it.

20:8-10 Betrayed By A Friend

They met up with the tardy Am-aw-SAW in Ghib-OHN. Yo-AWB "accidentally" dropped his sword as he was walking up to greet him. He absently picked it up with his left hand, while taking Am-aw-SAW by the beard in a false gesture of friendship. But while grabbing the beard while you kissed a man in greeting was supposed to be a sign of friendly affection, Yo-AWB used it as a distraction, an opportunity to thrust his sword through Am-aw-SAW using his left hand.

The most devastating, the most murderous, treachery that happens is betrayal by someone purporting to be your friend. David knew this terrible betrayal when he wrote in Psalm 55,

Ps. 55:12-14 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend. We who had sweet fellowship together, walked in the house of God in the throng.

And of course, Jesus knew this pain as well.

Matt. 26:47-50 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him." And immediately he went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, "Friend, {do} what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

Betrayal by friends, by those who ministered alongside of you, are the worst enemies of all.

20:11 For David And Joab

One of Yo-AWB's men called to the army and proclaimed, "Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David, follow Yo-AWB." A very carefully phrased call to arms. Notice how specifically the call is made: "if you're for David and Yo-AWB, follow Yo-AWB." The implication is clear: if you're on David's side, you'll follow Yo-AWB.

How many times have we been duped by this kind of call? "Whoever is for Jesus and the Disney boycott, follow us! Whoever is for Christianity and the Republican Party, gather here! Whoever has been born again and is voting for George W. Bush, let's go!" Calls that are made in such a way so as to condemn those that do not gather.

20:12-13 A Messy Distraction

Am-aw-SAW was a gory sight, lying dead in the middle of the road. No one would follow Yo-AWB, because they were distracted by the terrible vision.

By simply moving the body aside and covering it up with a garment, they were able to get the men moving. After all, out of sight, out of mind, right?

While this may work on man, it does not work with God. God sees what is done behind closed doors, in darkened alleys, and hidden under coverings.

Ps. 69:5 O God, it is Thou who dost know my folly, and my wrongs are not hidden from Thee.

Ps. 90:8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, our secret {sins} in the light of Thy presence.

Jer. 16:17 "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.

Throwing a blanket over our sin will not put it out of God's mind. We must do as David did:

Ps. 32:3-5 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. Selah.

It is by confessing, not covering, our sins that they are forgiven.

20:14-15 On To Abel Beth-maachah

Yo-AWB led the pursuit of SHEH-bah a long distance, up to northern Israel. As far as the cities of Aw-BALE and Bayth Mah-ak-AW, with their inhabitants, the BAY-rites.

Knowing that SHEH-bah was in Bayth Mah-ak-AW, they besieged the city, building mounds against the city walls to use as ramps to overrun the city.

20:16-22 Delivering Sheba's Head

But a woman of the city appealed to Yo-AWB. These were citizens of Israel who had done no wrong. Why were the men of David coming to kill them? After all, even the Law of God mandated,

Deut. 20:10 "When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace."

Yo-AWB had not done so. If he had, they would have brought out SHEH-bah earlier. They captured him, cut off his head, and Yo-AWB called the men to go home.

20:23-26 Leaders In The Kingdom

These last four verses of chapter 20 detail the leadership over David's kingdom.

In spite of his treachery, Yo-AWB remained as the commander of the army. However, when David passes on the kingdom to his son Solomon, he will tell him,

1Kgs. 2:5-6 "Now you also know what Yo-AWB the son of Tser-oo-YAW did to me, what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner, and to Am-aw-SAW the son of YEH-ther, whom he killed; he also shed the blood of war in peace. And he put the blood of war on his belt about his waist, and on his sandals on his feet. So act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace.

Ben-aw-YAW, the son of Yeh-ho-yaw-DAW continued to be over the Ker-AY-thites and Pel-AY-thites (2Sam. 8:18). It is thought, due to a translation in the Targum, that these were the archers and slingers. (The Targum is an early translation of the Bible into Aramaic.)

Ad-o-RAWM was over the forced labor, at least until he was stoned to death by rebelling Israelites during the reign of King Rehoboam (1Kings 12).

Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT, the son of Akh-ee-LOOD, was the recorder, the one who maintained a registry of public events. This is not the same Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT, the son of Asa, that will become king (1Kings 15).

Sheh-YAW was the scribe, who was like the king's secretary.

Tsaw-DOKE and Ab-yaw-THAWR were the Priests, and Ee-RAW the Yaw-EE-rite was a priest to David.

Go to next study

Go to previous study