Sheba’s revolt in chapter 20 marks the end of what can be considered the sequential chronology of 2 Samuel. The remaining chapters recount events that fit the author’s thematic purposes for the end of the book, but don’t tie to a strict timeline.
This is evident from at least three factors. First, the author in chapter 21 tells us that this story happened “in the days of David,” which would be a peculiar thing to say since we’ve been reading about David all along. Second, the song of deliverance in chapter 22 is a poem spoken by David on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And third, the events of chapters 21 and 24 show a younger, more virile David than was reflected in the last few chapters.
As with the flashback stories at the end of Judges, let’s approach these chapters as though the authors knew what they were doing, and try to better understand the purpose they serve here at the end of the Books of Samuel.
Our first story is launched against the backdrop of a three-year famine, which David discovers is the LORD’s judgment for a crime perpetrated by Saul. The event referenced doesn’t appear in scripture, but the author reveals it as a breach of the promise Gibeon had exacted – albeit under false pretenses – from Joshua. David’s solution, though perhaps disturbing to us, appears to satisfy the LORD’s call for justice.
After recounting a few earlier battles with the Philistines, the author’s recounts a song David spoke to the LORD in thanks for His deliverance. Before we dive in, I’m reminded of Nathan’s rebuke in chapter 12: “I gave you…the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight?”
Consider what might have been when the younger, more innocent David who authored this song celebrates that “The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness… For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”
Pay attention also to how David envisions the LORD in action. “Smoke went out from His nostrils… He rode on a cherub and flew… He sent arrows and scattered them… The foundations of the world were laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD.”
Our verse for this week is Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
2 Samuel 21 and 22. Now let’s read it!
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.