Day 23

Civil War in Israel

from the 1 & 2 Samuel reading plan

2 Samuel 3:1-39, 2 Samuel 4:1-12, Psalm 30:11-12, Jeremiah 16:5-9

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 3:1-39, 2 Samuel 4:1-12, Psalm 30:11-12, Jeremiah 16:5-9

For me, when studying Old Testament books like 1 and 2 Samuel, it’s best to do so with an understanding of context, time, and culture. Although the vitriol on display in the public square today—where we’ve lost the art of respectful discussion and disagreement—is not much more pleasant, the violence and carnage of the civil war stories found in 2 Samuel are indeed gruesome.

We begin with the end in mind: “During the long war between the house of Saul and the house of David, David was growing stronger and the house of Saul was becoming weaker” (2 Samuel 3:1). From there, the writer unfolds the machinations and details of kingdom intrigue for us. There are birth announcements, power moves, peace agreements made and broken, deceptions, murders, people wanting the right thing but going about it the wrong way. And in the middle of the bloodthirsty ambition surrounding him, David is becoming a leader.

While he is not without shame, we do get to witness David’s growth as a man and king. Rather than the foolish mischief of those who would woo him towards calculated misdeeds to secure the throne, David is engaged with the ways of honor and justice, poetic lament and respect. These are things that honor his God and serve to build loyalty in his people: the right things, for the right reasons.

And have you noticed David’s patience and trust in God’s promise? God spoke to Samuel, instructing that the young boy David was His choice, the one to be anointed (1 Samuel 16). But now, many years later, he is a grown man and still waiting. He waited through Saul’s manic ranting and reign, spending one minute in Saul’s good graces, and the next dodging Saul’s attempts to kill him.

At one opportune moment, when David could have ended Saul’s dangerous obsession with him, he submissively clips his garment rather than taking his life. Rather than seizing the opportunity to impose his own moment, he learns the patience that comes from belonging to a faithfully sovereign, promise-keeping God. David knew he was God’s anointed one, and he rested in that promise.

Not once does he whine or complain. He doesn’t rehearse a martyr’s refrain or an entitled person’s manifesto. (I’d actually give him room to do any of those.) David has found an intimate place before the Lord where his soul rests and sings. Even in the midst of carnage and betrayal, David rests in knowing he was God’s anointed.

That’s my big takeaway from these verses, and it’s a big one. Though, I’m contextually without a monarchy and not bearing up under such gruesome circumstances as David’s. I’m just managing today and my own expectations—expectations of myself, people I love, opportunities I think should be mine (maybe a bit like Abner), and to be honest, my expectations of God. I’m afraid I’ve whined and complained out of a sense of entitlement. But I so want to live gracefully, daily trusting in the sovereignty of God’s faithfulness.

Thankfully, God’s promise-keeping did not end with David’s throne. The promised Messiah and Redeemer of the Davidic line has come (2 Samuel 3:18). When unrest shakes our souls, we can take refuge in our relationship with our Promise Keeper God. Abiding in His presence strengthens us so we can wait on Him, His perfect will, and His perfect timing.


Kim Thomas is a painter, author, and the Curate at The Village Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee, where she and husband Jim call home. Together they were called to start the church in February of 2001. Her undergrad studies were in art while her graduate degree is in theological studies. Kim has written 5 books and paints in the Japanese medium of Nihonga. The abstract work allows for a slow interaction between artist and materials. When asked how would you describe an ideal day… “Words and images without words—that’s a perfect day’s work.”

Post Comments (41)

41 thoughts on "Civil War in Israel"

  1. RondaGale says:

    “When unrest shakes our souls, we can take refuge in our relationship with our Promise Keeper God. Abiding in His presence strengthens us so we can wait on Him, His perfect will, and His perfect timing.”
    I’m living in the “unrest that shakes our soul” season and as I run to my Promise Keeper God, He keeps His Promises!!! He is faithful! Above and beyond any and all I could ever imagine! And I get to know Him more deeply and intimately through it all.

    1. RondaGale says:

      …. find the “intimate place before the Lord where my soul rests and sings”.

  2. Lana says:

    I think it’s really interesting chapter 1 starts with David killing the messenger and in chapter 2 we see civil war. I think Abner has one of the greatest lines in the entire Bible – a line that sums up the Jesus message well: Don’t you realize this will only end in bitterness?

    Israel is engaged in a cycle of violence and violence only ends in bitterness. How do you stop the cycle? Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute
    you; bless and do not curse. In other words, you don’t respond to violence with violence. You respond to violence with love.

    And how do you respond to violence with love? You ask God for a miracle. You ask him for help. You ask him for a pure heart towards the person you want to verbally or physically smack down. I’ve been practicing this often and he has been faithful 100% of the time. Just my honest testimony.

    1. Lana says:

      Oops. I meant to post this for yesterday’s reading lol. Still a day behind!

    2. Emily B. says:

      Still good, though! :)

    3. RondaGale says:

      Love your “honest testimony”! … the shoe fits here!
      Thank you!

    4. Patty says:

      Boy, did that hit home for me. Just what I needed to hear. Thank you Lord for leading me to this. And thank you for posting this, Lana.

    5. Susan says:

      Needed this! Thank you!

    6. Nancy says:

      Lana, glad you were a day late or I would have missed your post. “You ask him for a pure heart towards the person you want to verbally or physically smack down.” I lay awake last night wrestling with this same situation, praying for an answer and here it is. Bless you my dear!

  3. Heidi V. says:

    “But I so want to live gracefully, daily trusting in the sovereignty of God’s faithfulness.” Yes! I’m such a grumbler sometimes – wanting to be king of my days and my time, and unwilling to get through the battles of the dailies with grace and dignity. Just yesterday, during a internal grumbling session, I asked myself – “who do you think you are?”. Based on today’s reading, its apparent – that I think I should be king. But based on my situation, God clearly doesn’t think I’m ready for that. The battles rage around me and I’m just bobbing and weaving my way through them. Lord, today, let me do it in your strength and be satisfied with whatever the outcome. Let me choose Your ways – which is more about HOW is walk than where I am walking. Let me not be focused on my tasks and chores, but on my attitude. I want to choose GRACEFULNESS because of the grace I receive. Help me behave like a queen – not a dissenter.

    1. Kristin says:

      Well said, Heidi!

    2. RondaGale says:

      Let me choose Your ways – which is more about HOW is walk than where I am walking. Let me not be focused on my tasks and chores, but on my attitude. I want to choose GRACEFULNESS because of the grace I receive. Help me behave like a queen – not a dissenter.
      I love this!

  4. Sarah D. says:

    Needed this. Packing to go to Liberty University!! I honestly am in shock that I’m going to be a college freshman. The emotions hit when I was saying goodbye to my brother and his wife the other day…also when I was saying goodbye to my dog before my mom took him to be with his doggy sitter. So many emotions. Excitement. Fear. Anxiety. Sadness… But I know God is with me. I need to remember His promises and rest and take refuge in the Promise keeper. Lord help me to daily trust in Your faithfulness!

    1. Lana says:

      Praying for you.

    2. Emily B. says:

      You’re going to do great!

    3. truthseeker says:

      Welcome to Lynchburg and most of all LU ! I have lived here for 18 years and have been involved with TRBC and have known many LU students. God has placed you in a fantastic situation and I will keep you in my prayers. Blessings on you and your family as everyone adjusts to the new normal.

  5. Tochi Heredia says:

    Promise Keeper God. I needed to be reminded of this today.
    Like David, I’ve sometimes known what God was calling me to, what the goal was in the end, yet the moments prior to that where so painful, confusing and downright contradictory that I either lost sight of the goal or I tried to do everything in my power to make things work out.
    It’s so easy to get caught up in world’s we-want-everything-and-we-want-it-now mindset, that we expect God’s will to be instant. I saw my own sin reflected in the pages of my Bible today and it made me realize how prone I am to take shortcuts. Ironically, when I try to make things happen faster and tidier, I put obstacles in the way of what God intents to do.

    Father, give me patience. Your will is the only one that is wholly perfect. Lord, help me to trust you to take me safely to the finish line, even when the path gets hard and dangerous. Thank You for not making us run the race alone, thank You for Your Spirit and the peace and clarity Your company provides.

  6. Diane Huntsman says:

    So much to learn from Davids example.. a man after Gods own heart to be sure.. I know the days he spent in solitude watching sheep building an intimacy with the Almighty has shaped who he is as we read about his life, as we peer into his patience and His unmatched obedience and respect for Gods chosen.. and we see our own lack and how we know we would handle things differently, we handle things perhaps “our way” instead of Gods.. and so one is left to reason, it’s the time we take in solitude with God growing in our understanding of who He is that’s going to make all the difference in how we respond to adversity.. there aren’t any shortcuts to godliness, the silver bullet answer always begins and ends with “out in the field” moments pondering and meditating on the vastness of God, on the enormity of His love and His matchless majesty.. Davids just a man like you or I but he did what we all must do to be like him.. marvel, worship, and get intimate with the One who gave us life to begin with. Well done, David. Well done.

    1. Grancy says:

      I am blessed by your comment this morning… May I post part of it on my Facebook page, without your name, but with reference to SRT devotionals? It is what I pray people took away from watching yesterday’s eclipse— the absolute, awesomeness of our God! And that they prepare their hearts for the glorious return of our Savior— Now that’s going to be a show in the sky to end all shows!

      1. Diane Huntsman says:

        Of course!! Thank you so much for your response! Have a wonderful day!!

    2. Diane Smutek says:


    3. Kristin says:

      “There aren’t any shortcuts to godliness.” Love it! So true! May we all have the patience, humility, and desire to be more like God every day.

    4. Juliet says:

      Love this so much! Very convicted by it. No shortcuts, we have to have the out in the field moments. Sometimes just sitting in God’s presence is hard, we feel like we are wasting time or we aren’t “getting anything”…but it’s never a waste! We will one day live in the fruit of those moments. Building intimacy

  7. Pam says:

    God’s perfect timing….I’ve been in a period of waiting myself….seeking a church home. For some reason, I have been drawn to this smallish church that really does not have a lot of resources for single women. It has a women’s study on Wed night, but not on Sunday morning. Most of the congregation is married (I know, that’s a good thing…except when you aren’t married). I’ve struggled with whether or not this is where I can call “home” and I’m tired of feeling like an outsider. The sermons, however, keep me coming back. They are awesome Biblically based messages. I can honestly say that I’ve grown over the past few months because of these sermons. And yet over the past few months, I’ve actually cried out to God asking Him
    Why He has me here instead of somewhere that I don’t feel so out of place. Finally, a few weeks ago, the pastor had a meeting to introduce the church to a new direction. The things discussed thrilled my heart…paying off the church debt to focus more on missions and help support others in international adoptions….teaching others and becoming a ethnically diverse congregation, and becoming a church of redemption and restoration. I finally felt like my waiting was so I could hear and see the talk regarding the new direction. Maybe, just maybe, God has me in the right place after all. His timing is perfect!

    1. GramsieSue says:

      Such a sweet testimony. He places us where He wants to use us, not to make us comfortable. Step out of that comfort zone, sister, and see what exciting things God will do through you! ❤️

      1. Kb says:

        Awesome! Might I suggest you seek to start the singles group? If WE are the church then when we see a need or a way the body would benefit it would be wise if us to act on that and be the hands that Christ has ordained us to be!! There are NO perfect people so there will be no perfect church. God speed on your search for a church home!

        1. Pam says:

          Thanks Kb. I appreciate the encouragement.

      2. Pam says:

        GramsieSue, I agree! It’s not all about me ….It IS all about Him!

    2. Rachel says:

      Yes! Praise God! YOU make that church more diverse. You are needed in a smaller body like that. I say this because I’m in a small church plant and I’m one of those married women and we need you! You are valued!

      1. Pam says:

        Thank you Rachel! I never considered that I may be needed.

  8. Bryce says:

    Today’s devo has opened my eyes to see David in a new way, and understand even more how he was a man after God’s heart. This is a great reminder for me everyday…when I feel my patience leaving me, to remember Who I rest in and that it’s not of my own strength but His. Thank you SRT.

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