Did Israel Almost Split Into 3 Kingdoms?

Political turmoil was brewing as two kingly lines prepare for a head on collision.  The author of 1&2 Samuel brings it back from the brink of civil war.

This is part of a series on mirror-reading the books of the Bible.  You can view all posts in the series here.  They are only cursory mirror-readings and, although I give evidence for their validity, further research is desired for support.

Mirror-Reading 1 & 2 Samuel Can Give Us A Better Understanding.

In order to understand 1 & 2 Samuel, you have to know the situation the author, we'll call him "Sam", was dealing with.  

Sam had a problem.  After King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel had split into two kingdoms (Did you know that?). The northern kingdom (called Israel) and the southern kingdom (called Judah). The only tribes in the Southern kingdom were Judah and Benjamin. The kings that reigned over Southern kingdom were from the line of David.  David was from the tribe of Judah.  However, there was one other king that reigned over all of Israel before David. His named is Saul. Guess what tribe he was from.  That's right, Benjamin!

The tribe of Benjamin started to rethink this whole Davidic line of kings.  David and Solomon were great and all but since then, it's been a mixed bag as far as Davidic kings go.  Perhaps a descendant of Saul should be on the throne instead.  After all, Saul was God's first choice, right? And that violent David probably stole the thrown from him anyway. If that hadn't happened, maybe the kingdom wouldn't have split in the first place! @@A rift was forming between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.@@

How 1 & 2 Samuel Saved The Southern Kingdom From Falling Apart

So Sam wrote a book (originally 1 & 2 Samuel was one book, not two) and he made sure to address the situation that had the potential to rip the Southern kingdom apart.  Here are the main points that Sam wrote about regarding those issues:

1. God wanted David to be King and had rejected Saul

Sam made sure to point out that Saul was rejected by God as king:

1 Samuel 15:11
 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.
1 Samuel 15:36
And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.

Any Benjaminite that wanted to play the God card to get the line of Saul back on the throne would be shut down.

2. David did not steal the throne

David had opportunities to kill Saul but did not. So why accuse David of stealing the throne when David clearly had no desire to steal it?

When Saul had to take a dump in a cave, David could have easily killed him. David's men wanted him to do it but peer pressure is no match for him:

1 Samuel 24:6-7
 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord's anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

The verse above not only shows that David was pro-Saul, but gives a warning to those who would try to kill the other king(or his sons) that was the Lord's anointed - a.k.a. David.

Later, David sneaks into Saul's camp at night and finds Saul sleeping.  Again, David is encouraged to kill him but he refuses.  

1 Samuel 26:10-11
But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?”  And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish.  The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord's anointed.

Yeah, so you definitely don't want to harm the Lord's anointed (hint, hint to the Benjaminites).

Furthermore, David killed the guy that killed Saul.

2 Samuel 1:14-16
 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?”  Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died.  And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord's anointed.’”

So overall, Sam makes David look like a pretty great guy when it comes to Saul.

3. God wanted David to be king.

Sam also stresses that God wanted David to be king.

1 Samuel 13:14
But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
1 Samuel 16:12-13
And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

But wait!

Those who were loyal to the Davidic line had a solution to this kingly dispute too.  Just kill the descendants of Saul! Problem solved!

Sam doesn't like that either, since it would also likely lead to civil war.

Enter Jonathon.


@@David and Saul's son, Jonathan, are portrayed as best buds, but there's a purpose behind that portrayal.@@  Sam wants to make sure the Davidic loyalists know that harming Jonathan's descendants is a big no-no.

1 Samuel 18:3
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
1 Samuel 20:15
and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

Sam is sure to point out that David was faithful to that agreement when he found Jonathan's crippled son and treated him kindly.

2 Samuel 9:7
And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

What Do You Think?

What do you think of this mirror-reading of 1 & 2 Samuel?  Do you think the situation I described above is true?  What other situations do you think "Sam" was responding to?

Header Image PHOTO CREDIT: Borya derivative of original