Civil War in Israel

Open Your Bible

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

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.”

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41 thoughts on "Civil War in Israel"

  1. ed sheera says:

    Your blog is one of a kind, i love the way you organize the topics.:,”-*

  2. Liz C says:

    I am over a week behind and yet God stills meets me where I am today. His timing is perfect and thank you SR5 for providing the outlet for my communication with Him. My soul is shaken this week and I’m whining but I can abide in Him and find peace.

  3. Meg says:

    I could use some prayer, I have been having bad anxiety focused around being enough in Gods eyes and having the right thoughts and feelings. Please pray that my faith would grow and that I would have a sense of peace. Thank you ladies!

    1. Karen From Virginia says:

      Awake and praying. Accepted in the Beloved. Precious. It’s been years for me of learning that because of Jesus, I am always ok and right with God.
      Lord, please help my precious sister to know you are here with her. That your tender mercies draw her and she is loved so deeply not because she’s perfect or good enough but because she’s yours, adopted,accepted. Heal her heart, help her to trust the truth over the feelings that come and go. Teach her to rest in you and let go of everything else. Speak to your daughter in Jesus name. Amen

    2. Pam says:

      Hi Meg, I know the feeling of not being enough. It helps me to think that God made us all unique and we all unique ways of fitting into the body of Christ. He is the potter. He actually formed you. He could have made you any way He wanted, so you are exactly made according to His design. You are more than “enough”.”

    3. Christy says:

      Praying for you, Meg. Christ is enough!

    4. Ashley says:

      Meg, you are enough because Jesus is enough! God already knows all your thoughts and feelings before you do, and He loves you anyways! Rest in His grace today! Bring your fears to Him. The enemy wants you to believe you’re not good enough or worthy of God’s time and attention, but God longs for relationship with you. Nothing can separate you from His love! I struggled with anxiety for a long time and the verses that helped me get through were Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, and Romans 8! Praying you would find freedom in Christ today, sister!

  4. churchmouse says:

    My oh my but there’s a lot of testosterone in the Scriptures today. Way too much male bravado and bloodshed. I have five brothers and when I lived at home with them (and two sisters), as soon as the rough housing started, I retreated. I just wanted away from all that action. I don’t mind stillness. Quiet is comforting. I’ve remained that way, comfortable in solitude. It is in solitude with His Word that God feeds my soul. David could be at peace even with all the conflict around him because he “knew he was God’s anointed and he rested in that promise.” I desire that confidence as well. My quiet time is often focused on reminding myself that I am God’s Beloved and trusting in all that entails. My identity is not found in any other. I am His and He is mine. He is the promise maker and the promise keeper. And I am the recipient of His grace, mercy, loving kindness and faithfulness. Thank you, Lord. In the tornado of testosterone, You are sovereign. In the deep quiet, You are sovereign. All is well with my soul.

    1. Karen From Virginia says:

      Oh churchmouse, when I opened the comment section and my eyes fell on your “lots of testosterone in the Scripture today ” I laughed! So true. Some of these chapters of battle are pretty brutal.
      Somehow God is in all the fighting and battles, the storms and quiet. Resting in Him regardless of the battle around whether in my personal circle or culture or nation. God’s sovereignty allows us to rest in our Father’s care.

      1. Meredith says:

        Karen, I’m copying and saving your reply to my notes because it is so true and encouraging! Those in Christ can rest in God, and that’s the best!! :) :)