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Death Reigns (4) David Vulnerable

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When Saul became king, neither he nor Samuel did anything to return the covenant box to the tabernacle. On one occasion, Saul tried to take it into battle, but he was prevented from taking this dangerous action (1 Sam 14:18). This continued separation meant that the tabernacle sacrifices lost some of their efficiency, so Death was not satisfied by them but was free to continue operating amongst the people.

Saul seemed to have an attraction to violence, which left him vulnerable to the spirit called Death. Saul drew Israel together by cutting up a pair of oxen and sending the pieces throughout the land, a very violent way of sounding the trumpet (1 Sam 11:7). He nearly had his son Jonathan killed after making a rash vow to his armies. Jonathan was saved by his fellow soldiers because he had won a great victory. Saul’s curse of death made trouble for the country (1 Sam 14:24, 29, 43-45).

David also seemed to be vulnerable to the spirit called Death. The early part of his life was focused on fighting, and the latter part of his life was disrupted by fighting and death amongst his supporters.

  • David was proud of having killed a lion and a bear. He was very brave but seemed to have a propensity for violent war (1 Sam 17:34-36).

  • David took Goliath’s sword and cut off his head after he was dead. When he returned to Saul, he was still holding Goliath’s head (1 Sam 17:50-57).

  • When David came back from battles, the people said that he had killed tens of thousands of people (1 Sam 18:7).

  • David killed 200 Philistines, so he could present their foreskins to Saul to obtain his daughter Michal as his wife (1 Sam 18:24-27).

  • Death seemed to stir up constant trouble amongst David’s military leaders producing many unnecessary deaths of men who served David.

    • Abner killed Asahel ((1 Sam 2:23).

    • Joab killed Abner (1 Sam 3:27).

    • Joab killed Amasa (2 Sam 20:10).

    • Benaiah killed Joab (1 Kings 2:34.

  • David killed two rebels and cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies on a tree to warn others against rebelling (2 Sam 4:12).

  • David brought the covenant box to Jerusalem and put it in a tent that he had placed there (2 Sam 6:1-18) while the tabernacle and its equipment remained at Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4). There is no suggestion in the OT account that God told him to perpetuate this separation. God had instructed Moses how the Tabernacle should function to provide spiritual protection to the children of Israel, and especially to deal with the spirit called Death.

    David liked having the covenant box in Jerusalem because he loved to worship God, but by separating it from the Tabernacle, he undermined the spiritual protection God had provided. This allowed Death to keep on attacking Israel and its leaders when he should have been defeated by the giving of the law. When dealing with the spiritual powers of evil, worship cannot compensate for following God’s instructions that provide for spiritual protection.

  • David murdered Uriah the Hittite because he coveted his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:14-17).

  • David did not deal with disputes between his children. Absalom killed his brother Amnon (2 Sam 13:28-29). Absalom died after rebelling against his father (2 Sam 18:9). Solomon killed his brother Adonijah (1 Kings 2:24-25).

  • David counted his fighting men without consulting God, bringing a plague that annihilated 70,000 people. This was the work of Death.

The law and the tabernacle should have protected David from attacks by the spirit called Death, but the mistake left him vulnerable, resulting in unnecessary death and bloodshed. David seemed to know that he was trapped by death. In his song of praise, he said,

The ropes of Hades entangled me; the snares of Death confronted me (2 Sam 22:6).

The cords of Death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me (Psalm 18:4-5).

And God frequently rescued him.

Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from Death (Psalm 68:20).

You have delivered me from Death and my feet from stumbling (Psalm 56:13).

The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to Death (Psalm 118:18).

You Lord have delivered my soul from death (Psalm 116:8).

God frequently rescued David from Death, but he never fully escaped the power of this evil spiritual power. And he passed it on to his son Solomon.

Christians mostly study the tabernacle as a type of Jesus, looking for details that represent his ministry. However, this misses an important point. God does not make mistakes. The tabernacle was not a failure the Jesus had to correct. God instructed it Moses to build it to provide spiritual protection for the children of Israel. And it actually worked. When they were on the backfoot following the Exodus, the spiritual powers of evil had agreed with God that they would accept animal sacrifices in return for giving up the right to attack his people. They tabernacle was the vehicle for making this happen.

David seemed to put his desire to worship ahead of obedience to the commands of Moses, so he shifted the covenant box to a tent in Jerusalem, while leaving the tabernacle at Gibeon. This provided him with a place for worship, but unfortunately, it destroyed the capacity of the tabernacle to provide spiritual protection for the people, and they were attacked ruthlessly by the spirit called Death.

Many modern Christians have a fascination with the tabernacle of David as a symbol of fervent worship in thei church building. Unfortunately, this has blinded them to the spiritual protection that comes through obedience to Jesus’ instructions about how we should be his disciples. This disobedience has allowed the spirit called Death to elbow his way into the church and establish a terrible stronghold there. Obedience, not praise, brings power and protection.


David’s son Solomon began his kingship by killing people who had opposed him, even though some had been very loyal to his father David: Adonijah, Joab, Shimei (1 Kings 2). This gave Death a place in his kingship.

Solomon built the temple and reunited the covenant box and the facilities for sacrifices, which should have ensured that Death was seriously constrained. However, he married so many foreign wives, who brought their own gods to Jerusalem, that he probably opened himself up to Death again.


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