In an earlier blog, I said that Samuel is about “the coming of the Covenant King”. And that is indeed what Samuel is about. Judges was about our need for a Covenant King, and Samuel is about our getting a Covenant King. It is, at least, about our getting a covenant king (little c, little k) who was a type or foreshadow of the Covenant King (big C, big K).
But as we have been following our daily reading plan, I have seen another idea in Samuel’s final chapters. That idea is kingdom.
Kings and Kingdom
Kingdom, of course, is not an entirely separate idea from covenant king. It is more like a secondary idea. King (covenant or otherwise) inevitably leads to kingdom. The fact that there is a king demands that there be a kingdom.
And there is such a kingdom in Samuel. It is the kingdom of Israel, also known as the Kingdom of God. It is the kingdom, the most precious and important kingdom there ever has been or ever will be.
Yet I hadn’t paid much attention to that kingdom/secondary idea as I read Samuel this time. I’m not sure why. It could be that I was just too focused on the covenant king idea. It also could be that I just missed it (that does happen in Bible reading and study; we sometimes do “just miss” things).
But I finally noticed it as I made my way through the story of Absalom’s rebellion. I’m not sure where that story actually begins. It doesn’t starts in earnest until 2 Samuel 15, but it is clearly related to the Amnon and Tamar story of 2 Samuel 13 & 14. It is also related to Bathsheba story of 2 Samuel 11 & 12. And it is further related to the Sheba story of 2 Samuel 20. We can legitimately say, then, that this story runs from chapters 12-20. That is nine full chapters in 2 Samuel, a whole lot of space in the Bible.
I began wondering why God would give this much space to this story. As I wondered about this, I finally noticed the word kingdom.
Being Careless With The Kingdom
Actually, I noticed the idea of being careless with the kingdom. The Scripture Storyline book again helped me here when author Todd Chipman said this about 2 Samuel 18 & 19:
I had always been aware of David’s mourning over Absalom rather than his rejoicing over the victory of his army; I learned this fact decades ago in Bible college. But Chipman here is pointing out that there is something more to this mourning than just the fact that it happened. He is saying this mourning directly contributed to the rebellion of the northern tribes that followed. What he is really saying is that David’s mourning was detrimental to the kingdom and thus his willingness to do it was being careless with the kingdom.
This in turn led me to realize that it wasn’t just David who was careless with the kingdom. Many other characters in this story are careless with it, too. For example:
- Absalom’s rebellion was careless with the kingdom
- Joab’s killing Absalom when he didn’t need to was careless with the kingdom
- Sheba’s rebellion was careless with the kingdom
- Amnon’s rape of Tamar was careless with the kingdom
And on and on we could go. The great space given to this story is repeatedly showing us people being careless with the one precious thing they never should have been careless with. It is repeatedly showing us people caring more about their own interests than God’s kingdom.
The One Who Was Careful With The Kingdom
This idea was made even clearer to me through a devotion I happened to listen to on the same day I was thinking about this story. This devotion used John 6:37-39, in which Jesus says this:
37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
Jesus here talks about “those God has given” Him, that is, people. Since the kingdom is made up of people, so those people are effectively the same as kingdom. Jesus is literally and legitimately talking about kingdom here.
Not only so, but Jesus says He was careful with this kingdom. He was so careful with it that He subverted His own will to safeguard it. He chose not to do anything God did not want Him to do so that He would not hurt the kingdom in any way.
I don’t know how difficult that would be for Jesus. There is a part of me which thinks it wouldn’t be difficult at all since His will was (and still is) the same as God’s. But there is another part of me which notices that this was important enough for Jesus to stress it. Whether it was difficult or not, Jesus wanted us to understand that this is how He operated. He wanted us to know He did what the kingdom needed, not what He wanted. He wanted us to know He was intentionally careful with the kingdom.
Careful or Careless?
And that is what we must be as well. These stories are not separate stories. They are closely related. They are the same story, in fact. And the stories we are telling now with our lives is a part of it. That being the case, we must look at both Jesus and the people of Samuel and decide which we want to be like. Do we want to be like David and company who were careless with the kingdom, or do we want to be like Jesus who was careful with the kingdom?
The answer should be obvious. And that answer is what God is leading us to as we read Samuel. He is leading us to be careful with His kingdom.