God was feeling angry at his people, and needed an excuse to punish them. So he told David to take a census of Israel. David’s commander Joab thought God’s idea was repulsive for some reason, but he helped David count the Israelites anyway.
After taking the census, David decided that Joab was right, that what he had done was foolish and sinful, and God agreed. God sent a prophet to ask David how he would like to be punished for obeying God. David didn’t fear God as much as he feared men, so he said he would prefer God to punish him himself, rather than sending David’s enemies to punish him.
Continue reading The Story of David’s Census—
Morning by Morning He Dispenses With Justice
One day, while David was fighting the Philistines, he complained that he was thirsty. There was a well over near where the Philistines were encamped. So three of David’s best warriors risked their lives to bring him some water from that well. But then David refused to drink it, claiming that they had brought him blood instead of water. He poured the water out on the ground.
The moral of the story
Continue reading The Story of the Mighty Warriors—
The Ungrateful Jerk
During David’s reign, there was a famine in Israel. After it had gone on for three years, David asked God why there was a famine. God explained that he was punishing dead king Saul for trying to kill all the Gibeonites after Joshua had promised they wouldn’t be killed.
King David asked the remaining Gibeonites how he could make amends. They said they would like it if he helped them kill seven descendants of Saul. (Whose whole family had already been killed off.)
Continue reading The Story of the House of Saul—
The Children's Teeth Are Set on Edge
Mephibosheth was the son of David’s best friend Jonathan, so David was good to him and let him live in his palace. When David fled from Absalom, Mephibosheth stayed at the palace, rather than going with David. Mephibosheth’s steward Ziba told David that the reason Mephibosheth had stayed behind was that Mephibosheth was planning to take over the kingdom. So David decided to take away everything he had given to Mephibosheth and give it to Ziba. But Ziba was lying.
Continue reading The Story of Mephibosheth and Ziba—
A Lame Deal
David’s son Amnon was obsessed with his beautiful sister Tamar. Amnon’s nephew advised him to pretend to be sick. Then he could request a meal to be served to him in bed by his sister. So he did. When Tamar went to Amnon’s bedroom and tried to give him some food, he wouldn’t eat it. Instead, he told her to get in bed with him.
Tamar said she couldn’t do that right now, because that would be foolish and wicked and disgraceful. They should get married first! She was sure their righteous father David would allow his children to marry each other. But Amnon ignored her proposal, raped her, and sent her away. Absalom, another son of David, saw Tamar crying, and he told her to shut up. He said she should stop taking Amnon’s actions so seriously, because he was just her brother.
King David was not happy with what Amnon had done. Two years later, Absalom had Amnon killed. David heard that all his sons had been killed, and he wasn’t happy about that, either. When he found out that only Amnon was dead, he was just slightly more happy. Absalom wasn’t allowed to see his father for two years. Then Absalom set Joab’s barley field on fire, which convinced him to let Absalom visit David.
Absalom became popular (despite his disgracefully long hair) by kissing all the men who came to see King David. Then Absalom was able to get the people to declare him king of Israel. When David heard that his son was trying to overthrow him, he and most of his household ran away. But he made ten of his girlfriends stay behind to take care of his palace.
Continue reading The Story of King Absalom—
A Man’s Enemies Are the Members of His Own Household
King David heard that Nahash, the Ammonite king who had wanted to gouge out the eyes of all the Israelites, had died. So David sent diplomats to tell Nahash’s successor how sorry David was that such a kind man had died. But the Ammonites assumed that David’s men must be spies plotting to overthrow them. So they sent the diplomats away half naked, and started a war with Israel. David stayed home while he had his commander Joab go out and lead Israel in fighting the Ammonites (which God had commanded them not to do).
David was walking around on the roof of his palace one night, when he saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. He learned that her name was Bathsheba, and that she was the wife of Uriah, one of David’s chief warriors, who was away fighting in the war. David had Bathsheba brought to the palace, had sex with her, and sent her back home.
Continue reading The Story of David and Bathsheba—
The Only Thing David Ever Did That God Didn't Approve of
Back when Israel was led by Samuel, there had been a war between the Israelites and the Philistines, and Israel was losing. The Israelites thought it might help if God was with them, so they brought out the ark of the covenant. When the Philistines heard that a mighty enemy god had arrived, they were afraid, and they knew they would have to fight hard to defeat Israel. So the Philistines fought hard, and defeated Israel.
They killed tens of thousands of Israelites, captured the ark of God, and took it to the temple of their god Dagon. But then Dagon started bowing down to the ark, and the Philistines started getting tumors. They tried moving the ark to different cities, but Philistines died wherever the ark went.
After seven months of this, the Philistines decided they should send the ark away. They put the ark on a cart and let two cows take it back to Israelite territory. When the Israelites saw that the cows had brought their ark back, they were so grateful that they… killed the cows.
But then when 70 Israelites looked inside the ark at the things that God had told Moses to put there so people could look at them, God killed them all. Now the people who had found the ark of God didn’t want to keep it, since it seemed to bring death everywhere it went. So they sent the ark to the house of some guy named Abinadab.
Continue reading The Story of the Lost Ark—
God Gives You Cancer
After Saul and his whole family died, his dead son Ish-Bosheth succeeded him as king of Israel. But David was made king of the tribe of Judah. The commander of the army of Israel was Saul’s cousin Abner, and the commander of the army of Judah was David’s nephew Joab.
These commanders thought it would be fun to see some men stab each other to death. So they made two dozen of their soldiers stab each other to death. But Joab’s brother Asahel didn’t like that, so he chased Abner. Abner didn’t like that, so he stabbed Asahel to death. Joab didn’t like that, so he chased Abner, too. But then Abner suggested not chasing him. So Joab stopped chasing him.
King Ish-Bosheth offended his commander Abner by accusing him of sleeping with Saul’s girlfriend. So Abner decided to desert Ish-Bosheth and help David take over Israel. When Abner offered to help David become king of all Israel, David agreed to let him do that… but only if he did David a favor first.
By this time David had married at least four women. But Saul had taken back his daughter Michal, David’s first wife, and given her to somebody else. David had Abner steal Michal back for him and make her other husband go away. After doing that, Abner went off to convince the Israelites to make David their king.
But David’s commander Joab didn’t like Abner, who had killed Joab’s brother. Joab thought Abner must have only come there to spy on David for Ish-Bosheth. So Joab found Abner and stabbed him to death. David didn’t like that (even though he had previously declared that Abner must die). So David put a curse on Joab’s family, and later had his son kill Joab.
Continue reading The Story of King Ish-Bosheth—
The One Where Nearly Everybody Gets Killed, But It's Not God's Doing for a Change
The Philistines came to attack Israel, and King Saul was afraid. Despite what had happened the last time he had sought God’s help, he asked God for advice, but God wouldn’t answer him. (Maybe God was deep in thought, or busy, or traveling, or sleeping…)
Saul wanted to ask God’s prophet Samuel for advice, but by this time Samuel was dead. Saul decided to ask Samuel for advice anyway. So he found a witch and got her to resurrect the spirit of Samuel. He promised her that she would not be punished for what she was doing, which was against God’s law.
Continue reading The Story of the Witch of Endor—
The Fall of Tall Saul