Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
2 Sm 1 — LOVE YOUR ENEMIES (Mt 5:44) (see Chapter 4)
"Alas! the glory of Israel, Saul, slain upon your heights." 2 Samuel 1:19
Saul's armor-bearer thought David would be happy about Saul's death, so he claimed to have dealt Saul the final blow. However, David was sorrowful about Saul's death. He had the armor-bearer executed and composed an elegy for Saul and Jonathan.
Prayer: Father, may I truly want my enemies to prosper.
2 Sm 2 — THE SECRET OF SUCCESS
"David inquired of the Lord, 'Shall I go up into one of the cities of Judah?' The Lord replied to him, 'Yes.' Then David asked, 'Where shall I go?' He replied, 'To Hebron.' " 2 Samuel 2:1
David's secret to success was not just doing something, but rather sitting there and inquiring of the Lord. He didn't make a move without the Lord's guidance.
Prayer: Father, thank You for telling me what to do rather than condemning me to doing my own thing.
Promise: "And now may the Lord be kind and faithful to you." 2:6
2 Sm 3 — RUINING A GOOD THING
"Then Abner said to David, 'I will now go to assemble all Israel for my lord the king, that they may make an agreement with you; you will then be king over all whom you wish to rule.' " 2 Samuel 3:21
Unfortunately, Joab, David's general, did not seek God's will as David did. Joab murdered Abner deceitfully just before Abner was going to bring all the tribes of Israel under David's rule.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for ruining Your plans by my sins.
Promise: "There followed a long war between the house of Saul and that of David, in which David grew stronger, but the house of Saul weaker." 3:1
2 Sm 4 — LOVE YOUR ENEMIES (Mt 5:44) (see Chapter 1)
"Rechab and his brother Baanah slipped past and entered the house while Ishbaal was lying asleep in his bedroom. They struck and killed him, and cut off his head." 2 Samuel 4:6-7
David was pro-life. Like God, he did not rejoice in the death of anyone, even of enemies like Saul, Abner, and Ishbaal (Wis 1:13).
Prayer: Father, like Jesus may I choose to die in place of my enemies.
2 Sm 6 — THE ARK OF THE NEW COVENANT
"When it was reported to King David that the Lord had blessed the family of Obed-edom and all that belonged to him, David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David amid festivities." 2 Samuel 6:12
The ark of the covenant was the focal point of God's presence on earth. Wherever the ark was, there was blessing and glory. How much more powerful is the Lord's eucharistic presence in the new covenant!
Prayer: "Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore. O, make us love Thee more and more."
Promise: "Then David, girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the Lord with abandon, as he and all the Israelites were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn." 6:14-15
2 Sm 7 — THE PROPHECY
"The Lord also reveals to you that He will establish a house for you." 2 Samuel 7:11
David decided to build the Temple for the Lord. Although it was not God's will for David to build the Temple, the Lord used this occasion to promise David: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before Me; your throne shall stand firm forever" (7:16). This may be the greatest prophecy of the Old Testament. It was fulfilled in Jesus, the Son of David.
Prayer: "Great are You, Lord God! There is none like You and there is no God but You" (7:22).
Promise: "Do, then, bless the house of Your servant that it may be before You forever; for You, Lord God, have promised, and by Your blessing the house of Your servant shall be blessed forever." 7:29
2 Sm 8 — "J" FOR VICTORY
"The Lord brought David victory in all his undertakings." 2 Samuel 8:14
Like David, the rest of your life can be a series of victories because Jesus lives in you and you in Him.
Prayer: Father, may I expect Your victory in every circumstance.
Promise: "David reigned over all Israel, judging and administering justice to all his people." 8:15
2 Sm 9 — POSITION PAPER
"David said to him, 'I will surely be kind to you for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the lands of your grandfather Saul, and you shall always eat at my table.' " 2 Samuel 9:7
David continued to reverence Saul and his family because they were God's anointed. He promised "social security" to Meribbaal, Saul's crippled grandson. David did not look at people's condition but their position in God's plan. We should do the same.
Prayer: Father, free me from a poor self-image. May I love myself as a child of God and a holy temple of the Spirit. May I love my neighbor as myself (Mt 22:39).
2 Sm 10 — MY OWN WORST ENEMY
"The Arameans drew up in formation against David and fought with him. But the Arameans gave way before Israel." 2 Samuel 10:17-18
David was invincible. No Ammonites or Arameans could stop him. David could be stopped only by choosing to sin.
Prayer: Father, may I conquer sin and thereby conquer all.
Promise: "Be brave; let us prove our valor for the sake of our people and the cities of our God; the Lord will do what He judges best." 10:12
2 Sm 11 — SEXUAL TEMPTATIONS
"David sent out Joab along with his officers and the army of Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem. One evening David rose from his siesta and strolled about on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful." 2 Samuel 11:1-2
The account of David's adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband is framed by two references to the war against the Ammonites. At first, David was not fighting in the war (11:1), but he came in at the end to finish it off (12:26-28). The author of 2 Samuel may be saying that if David had been fighting, he would not have fallen into sin. Similarly, we should "fight against sin...to the point of shedding blood" (Heb 12:4).
Prayer: Father, give me victory over all sexual temptations. May I be pure as Jesus is pure (1 Jn 3:3).
2 Sm 12 — REPENT IMMEDIATELY
"Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' Nathan answered David: 'The Lord on His part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.' " 2 Samuel 12:13-14
Nathan the prophet was sent by the Lord to convict David of his sin. Because David repented, the house of David was spared further catastrophes after Uriah and the child of Bathsheba and David had died.
Prayer: Father, send someone into my life to convict me of sin.
2 Sm 14 — KEEPING BAD COMPANY
"Your servant Joab did this to come at the issue in a roundabout way." 2 Samuel 14:20
Joab, David's general, killed Abner and Uriah. Then he schemed for Absalom's return, whom he would later kill. David should have fired Joab, but he let him continue causing trouble.
Prayer: Father, may I not keep bad company (see 1 Cor 15:33).
Promise: "The Lord your God be with you." 14:17
2 Sm 15 — SON AGAINST FATHER
"Absalom was stealing away the loyalties of the men of Israel." 2 Samuel 15:6
Absalom played politics for four years. This led to a civil war against his father, David. "As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All those who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went" (15:30).
The wages of sexual sin, violence, and unforgiveness is death, war, and even civil war (see Rm 6:23).
Prayer: Father, bring reconciliation between fathers and children (see Mal 3:24).
2 Sm 16 — FRIEND OR FOE?
"When David's friend Hushai the Archite came to Absalom, he said to him: 'Long live the king! Long live the king!' But Absalom asked Hushai: 'Is this your devotion to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?' " 2 Samuel 16:16-17
When our lives fall apart, we find out who our real friends and enemies are (see Sir 6:8ff).
Prayer: Father, may I love the enemies I had thought were my friends.
Promise: "I pay you homage, my lord the king. May I find favor with you!" 16:4
2 Sm 17 — GENIUS AND SUICIDE
"When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not acted upon, he saddled his ass and departed, going to his home in his own city. Then, having left orders concerning his family, he hanged himself." 2 Samuel 17:23
"Now the counsel given by Ahithophel at that time was as though one had sought divine revelation" (16:23). But Absalom went with Hushai's counsel instead. Ahithophel then committed suicide. David had prayed when "informed that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom...'O Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel to folly!' " (15:31)
Prayer: Father, turn the counsels of Satan's most powerful instruments to folly.
2 Sm 18 — HAIR-CUT
"The king gave this command to Joab, Abishai and Ittai: 'Be gentle with young Absalom for my sake.' All the soldiers heard the king instruct the various leaders with regard to Absalom." 2 Samuel 18:5
The civil war was settled as David's forces routed those of Absalom. Absalom himself caught his long hair in a tree and was left hanging. Joab killed him, and David wept and cried: "My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!" (19:1) David wanted to die in place of his son. Jesus, the Son of David, did die in place of us all.
Prayer: Father, may I want to die for my worst enemy.
2 Sm 19 — "THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION" (2 Cor 5:18)
"Then the Judahites in turn spoke even more fiercely than the Israelites." 2 Samuel 19:44
Although David gave mercy to his enemies and promoted reconciliation, the civil war continued. "We implore you, in Christ's name: be reconciled to God!" (2 Cor 5:20)
Prayer: Father, after I go to Confession, use me to reconcile the most bitter enemies.
2 Sm 20 — JOAB AND JUDAS
"With his right hand Joab held Amasa's beard as if to kiss him. And since Amasa was not on his guard against the sword in Joab's other hand, Joab stabbed him in the abdomen with it, so that his entrails burst forth to the ground, and he died without receiving a second thrust." 2 Samuel 20:9-10
Sheba's rebellion was put down by Joab, who arranged for Sheba to be beheaded. On the way to the battle, Joab killed Amasa whom David had chosen to replace Joab (19:14). Like Judas, he betrayed Amasa with a kiss.
Prayer: Father, may I never give a Judas-kiss.
2 Sm 21 — R AND R (REPENTANCE AND REPARATION)
"During David's reign there was a famine for three successive years. David had recourse to the Lord, Who said, 'There is bloodguilt on Saul and his family.' " 2 Samuel 21:1
When David had suffered three years of famine, he knew there was need for repentance and reparation. If you have major problems, go to Confession and try to repair the damages due to past sins.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me the opportunity to repent. May I go to Confession as soon as possible.
Promise: "After all that the king commanded had been carried out, God granted relief to the land." 21:14
2 Sm 22 — SONGFEST
"Therefore will I proclaim You, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praise to Your name, You Who gave great victories to Your king and showed kindness to Your anointed, to David and his posterity forever." 2 Samuel 22:50-51
David, the greatest singer of all times, celebrated his victories with songs of thanksgiving.
"Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for Him" (Ps 98:1).
Prayer: Father, may I sing the new song of the Lamb (Rv 14:3).
Promise: " 'Praised be the Lord,' I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies." 22:4
2 Sm 23 — CREDITS
"The utterance of David, son of Jesse; the utterance of the man God raised up, anointed of the God of Jacob, favorite of the Mighty One of Israel." 2 Samuel 23:1
The book concludes with the last words of David and a list of his warriors. It's like the credits at the end of a movie.
Prayer: Father, may my last words be in praise of You.
Promise: "He that rules over men in justice, that rules in the fear of God, is like the morning light at sunrise on a cloudless morning, making the greensward sparkle after rain." 23:3-4
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
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