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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20 Verses 1-3

Confession - in the past, I've regarded Samuel/Kings more highly than Chronicles, even applying the word "sanitized" to the latter.

For example, look at what is covered in 2 Samuel 11-12:
  • Devious commander goes off to war

  • King stays home

  • King meets girl

  • King kisses girl (etc.)

  • Girl contacts king

  • King summons girl's husband to come home

  • Husband doesn't go all the way...home

  • King gets husband drunk

  • Husband doesn't go all the way...home

  • King contacts devious commander

  • Devious commander has husband killed

  • King marries girl

  • Girl has baby

  • Nathan tells a story

  • King reacts to story

  • Nathan tells the rest of the story

  • King feels really bad

  • Baby gets sick

  • King stops eating

  • Baby dies

  • King starts eating

  • Servants criticize king

  • King explains actions to servants

  • Girl has another baby

  • Oh yeah...king goes out to this war that's been going on

A very involved story about power, sin, and repentance. But here's how the author of Chronicles tells the same story in 1 Chronicles 20:1-3:

1 Chronicles 20:1-3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins. 2 David took the crown from the head of their king [a] —its weight was found to be a talent [b] of gold, and it was set with precious stones—and it was placed on David's head. He took a great quantity of plunder from the city 3 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.


a. 1 Chronicles 20:2 Or of Milcom , that is, Molech
b. 1 Chronicles 20:2 That is, about 75 pounds (about 34 kilograms)

At first I thought that the Samuel version of the story was instructive, and that the Chronicles version of the story teaches us nothing.

But then I thought about it - in essence, the Chronicles version teaches us, in effect, that God can use every one of us.

The Chronicles writer didn't care about the sins that David had committed. What was important to the Chronicles writer was that David served God and was able to do God's work. And an important work it was, as the footnotes show - David destroyed an icon to Molech at the end of the battle.

When we read the story of David and Bathsheba in Samuel, we can potentially forget how it ends. No, it doesn't end with Solomon's birth - it ends with the story of what happened to Rabbah. I don't know if the story is told strictly chronologically - if it were, then the siege at Rabbah would have been at least 18 months long (beginning before the conception of Bathsheba's first son, and ending after the birth of Bathsheba's second son). However, the "meanwhile" in 2 Samuel 12:26 indicates that the siege and the Bathsheba/Uriah/Solomon episode were going on in parallel. Note that the whole story of Bathsheba is bracketed by the story of the siege of Rabbah. There's bound to be some significance in this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


9/07/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger Ontario Emperor said...

Clearly? Is there a translation that reflects this?

9/29/2006 11:20 PM  

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