The United Kingdom of Israel:
Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King
Lesson 12 David Is Acclaimed King of Judah & King of Israel
Second Book of Samuel 2:1—5:5
Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition
The New American Bible
The Revised Grail Psalms
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Glossary for Lesson 12
video overview of Lesson 12 with Matthew Phelps (00:00)
This online supplemental material coordinates with the lesson on pages 73–79 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
Welcome to our study of the united kingdom of Israel. We invite groups and individuals doing this 28-lesson Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study to take advantage of our supplemental online study pages. The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King has been granted an imprimatur and can be purchased from our website shop. If you have a question for one of our authors, click on the “ask us your question” button on any supplemental page.
let’s review—First Book of Samuel 30:1—Second Book of Samuel 1:27
In Lesson 11, “The Deaths of Saul & Jonathan,” David and his men return to their homes at Ziklag in the land of the Philistines, where they discover that their city has been burned and their wives and children taken captive by Amalekites. After first inquiring of the LORD, David and the 600 men who follow him set off to rescue their loved ones and recover their stolen property. They are successful and also obtain considerable spoil that the Amalekites had taken from other cities. David sends gifts to friends of his in cities in Judah, as well as in cities of the Jerahmeelites and Kenites, calling into question the truth of his previous claims to Achish that he and his men had raided cities of the Jerahmeelites and Kenites. Meanwhile, Saul’s army is defeated by the Philistines, and he and his sons die on Mt. Gilboa. There are conflicting biblical accounts of Saul’s death. In one version Saul falls upon his own sword when he sees that defeat and capture by the Philistines is inevitable. In the other version, an Amalekite comes upon Saul, who has been injured and asks the Amalekite to kill him. The Philistines carry the bodies of Saul and his sons away and hand them on the wall at Beth-Shan. When that news reaches Jabesh-Gilead, the men of that city march all night to recover the bodies, which they bury in their own city. David learns of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan from the Amalekite who claims to have killed Saul at Saul’s request. David has the Amalekite killed. Then David mourns for Saul and Jonathan and composes a lamentation honoring them. It repeats a sentence that continues to be quoted in the present day: “How are the mighty fallen!” (although usually we hear it translated as: “How the mighty are fallen!”)
map notes—the Arabah & Mahanaim
The Arabah mentioned in the Second Book of Samuel 2:29 refers to a barren region south of the Dead Sea, which sometimes is called the Salt Sea. Whenever you encounter the terms Arabah, Negev, or Negeb in this study, they are names for desert areas in the same region. Most if not all of these areas lie in the southern third of territory allotted by God to the tribe of Judah.
Mahanaim, a Levitical city in territory allotted by God to the half-tribe of Manasseh, is located at some distance from Judah and on the opposite side of the Jordan River. Mahanaim provides some safety for Ish-Bosheth’s fledgling government. Ish-Bosheth’s father Saul previously operated out of his home city of Gibe-ah, which is in territory allotted to the tribe of Benjamin, but it’s also adjacent to Judah and very close to Hebron, where David has set up his base of operations as king of Judah. Click on the image to enlarge the map, which appears on page 78 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
David is politically astute
After the men of Jabesh-Gilead recover the bodies of Saul and his sons, David makes the prudent move of reaching out to Jabesh-Gilead. The people are not part of the tribe of Judah, and traditionally they’ve had close ties to the tribe of Benjamin. At this point in time, the Benjaminites—and indeed none of the tribes other than Judah—are not accepting David as king. Although all of the tribes seem to acknowledge that God has put David in charge, only his immediate kin support him. This perhaps can be interpreted that 11 tribes are not very devout if they are willing to ignore God’s wishes, or it can be seen as an indication of the power of Saul’s general Abner, who provides military backing for Ish-Bosheth, Saul’s son. David’s message to the men of Jabesh-Gilead recognizing their loyalty to Saul is recorded in the Second Book of Samuel 2:5–7, and it appears to set the stage for the later alignment of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah.
you could look it up—God’s plan in action
The circuitous route laid out for David to become king over all 12 tribes of Israel offers an excellent example of how the economy of grace is at work in David’s life. This term also is referred to as divine economy, and it means having management over a household. Learn more about economy of grace by reading Lost in Translation, an online column in which Turning to God’s Word author Matthew Phelps helps readers connect with ancient ideas expressed in the original Scriptures. New entries are posted on Tuesdays. If you’d like to receive Matthew’s comments about biblical languages by email each week, there’s a sign-up form next to the searchable archives.
don’t get confused by these names: Ish-Bosheth & Zeruiah
Parallel accounts of the events described in the First and Second Books of Samuel can be found in the First and Second Books of the Chronicles, but it can be difficult to compare the two because many of the names of key figures are spelled differently. In the First Book of the Chronicles 8:33, for example, Ish-Bosheth is referred to as Eshbaal. Some translations spell this Ash-Baal. In either case, the word Baal that forms part of the name of Saul’s son also is the name for one of the gods worshiped by the Canaanaites. The name Eshbaal and its derivatives means “man of the lord.” In this case lord is a reference to Baal as master. It’s probable that those compiling the First and Second Books of Samuel couldn’t bring themselves to pronounce the name of a heathen god, and so renamed Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth, which means “man of shame.” What was shameful about Ish-Bosheth was that his given name tied him to pagan worship. This says more about Saul, who chose the name, than about Ish-Bosheth.
Because Zeruiah is identified only as the parent of Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, it’s easy to miss that she is a woman. In general, whenever you see “son of …” in Scripture, the reference is to the person’s father. Not only is Zeruiah a woman, however, she’s also David’s sister—something we can learn in the genealogy in the First Book of the Chronicles 2:13–17. This makes Zeruiah’s sons David’s nephews, a fact that colors how we view their strong devotion to David’s kingship and how we view David’s responses to some of their more violent actions. In the same passage from the First Book of the Chronicles, we learn that another of David’s sisters is named Abigail, and this clears up any confusion about why the compilers of the First and Second Books of Samuel felt it necessary always to identify David’s wife Abigail as the widow of Nabal of Carmel.
one more name that pops up in the biblical text
Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, is mentioned in passing in the Second Book of Samuel 4:4. On the video overview for this lesson, Matthew discusses why Mephibosheth is introduced at this stage in David’s story. The online Glossaries linked to each supplemental study page can be used to refresh your memory about who’s who as we move forward. As the cast of characters becomes larger, it becomes much more difficult to keep them straight from one lesson to the next. You can check out the online Glossary for this lesson right now. It includes a copy of the same map that appears in the study book and on the study pages, as well as links where you can hear the biblical text read aloud. The audio links are from the New International Verision (NIV ), a different translation than the Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition (RSV–CE) that we use. The content will vary in places, but in most cases the audio will useful for learning how to pronounce unfamiliar names of people and places.
biblical vocabulary—arise & play
It’s Abner the Benjaminite and not Joab the Judahite who suggests the young men arise and play, a euphemism for “do battle.” Things will not turn out well for the Benjaminites. Although Abner slays Asahel, the original fight escalates into a civil war and Abner and Ish-Bosheth also eventually die.
something to watch for later
In the Second Book of Samuel 2:23, people stop and stand still when they encounter the slain body of Asahel. Because something similar shows up in a later lesson, it’s fair to assume this was a normal human reaction at the time. What do you think would be the reaction of a person coming upon a murder victim in the present day?
WHAT DO YOU THINK is going on with Abner?
When Ish-Bosheth accuses Abner of having improper relations with Saul’s concubine Rizpah, the biblical text records that Abner strongly objects to the accusation. He does not, however, deny the charge.
? What is Abner’s relationship to Ish-Bosheth? If necessary, refer to the Glossary for this lesson.
? Do you think it more likely that Abner is guilty of having relations with Rizpah or more likely that he is innocent of this charge?
? Why might Ish-Bosheth care either way?
? What is going on politically that might motivate Abner to uses the occasion of being accused of a fault with a woman to break ranks with Ish-Bosheth?
? What is suggested by the fact that David insists on having his wife Michal returned to him before he will participate in Abner’s plan to unite the remaining tribes of Israel with the tribe of Judah under David’s leadership?
? Why do you think it is that David asks Ish-Bosheth to see to it that Michal is returned to him instead of relying on Abner to arrange this?
? Why do you think it is that Ish-Bosheth complies with David’s request?
? What reason might Abner have for speaking separately to the elders of the tribe of Benjamin, to which he belongs, about abandoning Ish-Boshether and throwing their support behind David?
it’s not a bloodless coup
Not only does Joab murder Abner, two of Ish-Bosheth’s own captains then murder Ish-Bosheth, clearing the way for David to become king over all of the descendants of Jacob. The most important point of this lesson comes at the end, in the Second Book of Samuel 5:1–5, which describes David being anointed king over all of the tribes. This anointing is critical because it reinforces that David has been chosen by God.
WHAT DO YOU THINK about David’s response to Abner’s death?
After Joab slays Abner, David takes steps to distance himself from this act of violence, and the biblical text is clear that David had no part in Abner’s murder.
? What things does David do that demonstrates he had no part in Abner’s death?
? Why do you think it is that since David seems determined to prove himself innocent of Abner’s murder David doesn’t have Joab killed?
? How does the fast that David undertakes after Abner’s death differ from the fast that Saul imposed on the people? If necessary, refer to the fourteenth chapter of the First Book of Samuel.
? Why do you think it is that David has Abner buried at Hebron instead of in territory allotted to the tribe of Benjamin, of which Abner is a member?
? What curse does David impose on the sons of Zeruiah?
? What is unusual about the attitude that David expressed toward the sons of Zeruiah?
pray the Psalms—divine splendor
The beginnings of David’s kingship are described in the Second Book of Samuel 2:1–4 and 5:1–5. David’s reign is understood to be a type of the ideal kingship instituted by Christ. Psalm 21 celebrates the king’s relationship with God, and Psalm 21:2 expresses great joy: “In your strength, O LORD, the king rejoices; how greatly your salvation makes him glad!” Psalm 21:4–6 celebrates God’s gifts to the sovereign king. The LORD has set a crown of gold upon the king’s head. The kings’ splendor relates to the divine light that believed to enfold him like a protective mantle. You can learn more about the Psalms by viewing a sample lesson from the Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God through the Prayers of the Church. Psalm 21 is one of the Psalms studied in the prayers for Monday Vespers (Week I).
WHAT DO YOU THINK about this interpretation of Psalm 45?
Some scholars interpret Psalm 45:7 as addressing the king as God. This is defended by saying that because the king is consecrated to God, he in a certain therefore belongs to the sphere of the divine.
? Does this interpretation make sense to you?
? Why or why not?
the popes inspire us—considering the king as a son of God
Pope St. John Paul II, in a general audience March 17, 2004, sees evidence in Psalm 2:7 that people in the ancient Near East believed that kings were encircled by a luminous halo that testified to their participation in the very essence of divinity. The saint explains: “Of course, in Psalm 2:7 the sovereign is indeed a ‘son’ of God, but only in the metaphorical and adoptive sense. Thus, he must be the lieutenant of the LORD who safeguards justice. It is for this very mission that God surrounds him with his beneficial light and blessing.”
close with Bible-based prayer related to this lesson
Many of our Catholic study groups like to conclude their discussions with a prayer based on the scriptural focus of their lesson. If you’re uncomfortable composing your own Bible-based prayers, you can follow our four easy steps. If you prefer, you can use the following short prayer based on the Second Book of Samuel 2:1—5:5.
O God, early Church fathers taught
that you created the world for the sake of the Church.
Nurture in your faithful people a love for unity
in order that all peoples may see in our love for each other
the love you and your Son has for humanity.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ,
who was willing to dieto establish his Church
and bring about the possibility of salvation for all people. Amen.
our videos coordinate with the biblical text
The Scripture ranges for the videos that accompany this Catholic Bible study match the Scripture ranges for the sets of questions in The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King. You can follow along with the video as Matthew discusses Lesson 12, “David Is Acclaimed King of Judah & King of Israel,” on pages 73–79 of the study book. (Some mobile devices may only open the video overview for Lesson 12 at the beginning.)
Question 1 Second Book of Samuel 2:1–7
Question 2 Second Book of Samuel 2:8–17
Question 3 Second Book of Samuel 2:18–32
Question 4 Second Book of Samuel 3:1–11
Question 5 Second Book of Samuel 3:12–19
Question 6 Second Book of Samuel 3:20–27
Question 7 Second Book of Samuel 3:28–39
Question 8 Second Book of Samuel 4:1–4
Question 9 Second Book of Samuel 4:5–12
Question 10 Second Book of Samuel 5:1–5
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