The lessons for leaders from 1 Samuel
Here are those four lessons again:
- There is no God besides or like Yahweh. “There is no God like you,” David confesses when God makes a covenant with him, “and no God besides you” (7:22).
- God knows and assesses all human actions. God knew what David had done to Uriah and sent Nathan to report to David, “thou art the man” (12:7).
- Yahweh is sovereign over the affairs of mankind and often reverses situations based on His assessment. Thus, God sovereignly turns the sage counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness (15:31, 17:14).
- No one prevails apart from God’s favor, blessing, and empowering. David, in his song of thanksgiving in chapter 22, repeatedly acknowledges God as the reason for all of his many successes. In many ways, David’s song in 2 Samuel 22 reiterates the same themes found in Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2. David personally experienced and, in some ways, epitomizes the truths Hannah sung of.
David’s life and reign as told in 2 Samuel
Mentioned in every chapter, David is far and away the principal human character of 2 Samuel. The first twelve chapters trace his reign, from its beginnings at Hebron to its transition to Jerusalem and God’s exaltation of him there (see 5:12). For the most part, these chapters depict David in a favorable light, but all begins to change when he sins with Bathsheba and murders her husband. “The thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (11:27), and no one—not even David—can escape the consequences. Although the consequences of his actions begin in chapter 12, with the death of the baby, a positive momentum continues through the end of the chapter (see vv. 26-31).
In chapters 13-20, the consequences of David’s sins nearly overwhelm him and his kingdom. The prophet Nathan spoke truly when he said the sword would never depart from David’s house (12:10). Before it is all said and done, David loses two sons and puts down two rebellions.
The last four chapters (chs. 21-24), a kind of appendix, are not connected to the storyline of 2 Samuel chronologically but are tacked on to the end of the book as important addenda that God led the author to include. Of particular note is the story that concludes the book of 2 Samuel—David’s sin of numbering the people. This sin leads to a plague, which leads to the purchase of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite in order to stop the plague, which then becomes the site on which Solomon, David’s son, will later build the Temple (2 Chron. 3:1).
The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7)
God’s covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7 marks one of those Himalayan peaks in Scripture in that God guarantees a dynasty for David forever. “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (7:16). How can a descendant of David rule forever? The answer, of course, is that God is looking into the future and beholding a future descendant of David who, as the long-awaited Messiah, will fulfill the prophecies uttered as early as Genesis 49:10 that when He comes to whom the kingship belongs, all the peoples will be gathered to him. This is the descendant whom David will call “my Lord” (Psa. 110:1).
This covenant, however, does more than just establish a dynasty for David. It establishes Jerusalem as the place for God’s name, and even the building of the Temple is seen as an outcome of the Davidic covenant.
The New Testament opens by reminding us that Jesus was not just a son of Abraham; He was also a Son of David (Matt. 1:1), in whom all God’s promises to David would find fulfillment.
God’s grace at work through David’s failures
As 2 Samuel traces the life of David, we see a man who loves, honors, and obeys God, but a man who is also far from perfect. David may be a great king—possibly Israel’s greatest in terms of his godliness—but he is not a perfect one. Not being the long-awaited perfect King himself, he becomes a type that points toward His greater Son. In addition, David’s life reveals how God can use even the failures of a godly man to get glory to Himself. God’s wrath against man ultimately works to His praise (Psa. 76:10). Solomon, a son who humanly speaking should never have been born, is especially loved by God and chosen to succeed David (12:25). David’s numbering the fighting men results in the hasty purchasing of and sacrificing upon the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the future site of the Temple (24:18-25; 2 Chron. 3:1).
Grace does not make it better that we sinned, but it ensures God gets praise in the end. God deserves praise for any successes achieved in life and praise for any failures that He somehow turns for good.
- What are the four lessons for leaders that we saw in 1 Samuel?
- Give an example of how we see each of those lessons at work in the life of David. (See if you can find your own examples as you read 2 Samuel.)
- David’s song of thanksgiving in 2 Samuel 22 reminds of some of the same truths in someone else’s song? Whose song are we talking about and where do we find it?
- What action of David’s becomes the turning point of his reign?
- Did God forgive David’s sin with Bathsheba (see 12:13)? But were there still consequences for David’s sin?
- What important event happens in 2 Samuel 7 and why is it so significant?
- Explain two ways in which God uses David’s failures to get glory to Himself?
- Does that mean it is better if we sin? Explain.
- Can you think of some ways in which God by His grace has gotten praise to Himself through your life with all of its failures and struggles?