The “Great King” Disciplines a Human King
WHO is the “great King”? None other than Jehovah, the God of heaven. (Matt. 5:35) And who is the human king whom he disciplines? King David. How the great King disciplines King David is told in the book of Second Samuel. This book covers about 40 years of David’s life, from the time when his own tribe is about to make him king until just before he has his son Solomon proclaimed king over all Israel.*
The record of David’s reigning as king does indeed show that he kept receiving discipline from his God Jehovah. But David always responded to it in the right way, whether that discipline was in the form of oral instruction, or of severe chastisement because of mistakes or sins committed.—Compare Hebrews 12:5, 11.
As Second Samuel begins, we see David mourning the deaths of King Saul and of his close, loyal friend Jonathan. Next, David inquires as to what course he should take, and Jehovah tells him to go to the Judean city of Hebron. David obediently does so and is anointed as king over the tribe of Judah. However, Abner, chief of Israel’s army, has Saul’s son Ish-bosheth proclaimed king over all the rest of Israel. This results in civil war, which continues for several years until Abner defects to David, bringing with him the allegiance of the rest of Israel. After reigning seven and a half years over Judah, David is now anointed as king over all 12 tribes of Israel. David at once takes Jerusalem, which has been held by the Jebusites, and makes it his capital.—2 Sam. 1:1–5:10.
David continues to ask of Jehovah how he should proceed, and repeatedly proves successful in his wars with the Philistines. He desires the sacred ark of the covenant, symbolic of God’s presence, to be brought to Jerusalem. But because he does not proceed in the God-ordained way, he is disciplined; God slays one of the men involved because of his improperly taking hold of the ark. Later, amid great rejoicing, David has the ark brought the rest of the way to Jerusalem in the right manner, on the shoulders of the Levite priests. Considering it unfitting for the ark to continue being in a tent while he is living in a palace, David now desires to build a temple for it. But Jehovah tells him that because he is a man of war and bloodshed his son will build this temple. Nevertheless, Jehovah himself will build David a house, that is, a dynasty that will last forever. God has fulfilled this promise in his Son, Jesus Christ, a descendant of David.—2 Sam. 5:11–7:29; Luke 1:30-33.
David continues warring victoriously against Israel’s enemies. However, one spring, instead of going forth in battle, David remains at home. As a result, he gets involved with Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his outstanding warriors. She becomes pregnant, and, David’s efforts to cover over the infidelity failing, he sees to it that her husband falls in battle, upon which he marries her.—2 Sam. 8:1–11:27.
However, this course greatly displeases Jehovah. He sends his prophet Nathan to rebuke David, who admits his guilt and is repentant. Still, David suffers greatly for his sin. The prophetic judgment is that the sword will never depart from his house. First, the son conceived in adultery dies. Then one of David’s sons, Amnon, falls in love with his own half sister Tamar, violates her and then despises her. Her full brother Absalom bides his time and then murders Amnon. He is eventually reconciled to his father, David, only to start a conspiracy to win the affections of his people away from David. Absalom stages a revolt, causing his father, together with his large household, to flee Jerusalem. Truly David is being disciplined, chastised, because of his sins. Jehovah maneuvers matters so that Absalom’s forces are defeated. Next follow some of David’s poetic writings, most of which also appear at Psalm 18.—2 Sam. 12:1–20:26; 22:1–23:7.
Once more David makes a serious mistake and is disciplined for it. He orders a census to be taken, despite objections of his army chief Joab. No sooner has he done so than his conscience smites him. But it is too late. Given his choice of three punishments, David chooses pestilence. Seeing his people die like flies, he prays: “It is I that have sinned and it is I that have done wrong; but these sheep—what have they done?” His offering a sacrifice to Jehovah stops the plague. With this incident the book closes.—2 Sam. 24:1-25.
Truly Second Samuel tells how the great King Jehovah disciplined his servant King David. Commendably, at no time did David rebel or blame someone else, as did Adam, Eve and King Saul. David’s heart was right, he accepted discipline. We never read of his making the same mistake twice. His reign was successful in that he had God’s favor until the end and was used by him to extend Israel’s borders to their divinely appointed limits. He certainly set a fine example as to how we should respond to discipline regardless of the form it may take.—Heb. 12:5-11.
What has been previously said about the historicity and writership of 1 Samuel largely applies to 2 Samuel, the prophets Nathan and Gad continuing their writing.—1 Chron. 29:29.