2 Samuel 19:1-23, Satan is always an adversary. (5/6/13)
What does your name mean? Maybe my family is just weird, but we tend to know the meanings of our names from childhood. This week we’re going to look at the meaning of “Satan.”
Now, as a rule of thumb, and with a fair number of exceptions, I usually start out by assuming that a Greek theological word in the New Testament means roughly the same thing as it did in the Greek Old Testament, and therefore roughly the same as the Hebrew word that the Greek translates. Last week we saw that Satan seems to be the personal name of the Devil, so naturally I looked for “Satan” in the Old Testament.
In most Old Testament books (we’ll looked at Job later), the Hebrew word satan
, pure and simple. In most books, it isn’t used as a personal name at all, and it’s not translated by any Greek word that means “devil.” In our five scripture passages this week, I’ll give you the Hebrew (satan
) and then the Greek, mostly so you can see that the Greek doesn’t have either satan
. Then whatever translation we’re reading will give you the English. In today’s reading, the satan adversary
is Abishai, one of David’s military leaders and the brother of Joab.
From the NET Bible (used by permission of bible.org):
16-18 Shimei son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim came down quickly with the men of Judah to meet King David. There were a thousand men from Benjamin with him, along with Ziba the servant of Saul’s household, and with him his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They hurriedly crossed the Jordan within sight of the king. They crossed at the ford in order to help the king’s household cross and to do whatever he thought appropriate.
1 Kings 5:1-12, Satan is always an adversary. (5/7/13)
Now after he had crossed the Jordan, Shimei son of Gera threw himself down before the king.
19-20 He said to the king, “Don’t think badly of me, my lord, and don’t recall the sin of your servant on the day when you, my lord the king, left Jerusalem! Please don’t call it to mind! For I, your servant, know that I sinned, and I have come today as the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.”
21 Abishai son of Zeruiah replied, “For this should not Shimei be put to death? After all, he cursed the Lord’s anointed!”
22 But David said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? You are like my satan epiboulos enemy today! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t you realize that today I am king over Israel?”
23 The king said to Shimei, “You won’t die.” The king vowed an oath concerning this.
Yesterday the satan adversary
was a specific man, an important soldier in David’s army. Today the satan
appears to be an enemy nation, although it’s a little hard to tell, because Solomon doesn’t have any! Since a nation and its king were referred to interchangeably, Solomon could have had an individual military or political leader in mind.
Solomon fought the occasional military battle, but most of the hard work of subduing the Philistines and other hostile nations had been done by his father David. After God had forbidden him to build a temple, David stockpiled a great deal of money and materiel for its future construction. Solomon probably used some of that money to purchase the wheat and olive oil that he sent to Hiram.
From the NET Bible (used by permission of bible.org):
1 King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to Solomon when he heard that he had been anointed king in his father’s place. (Hiram had always been an ally of David.)
1 Kings 11:1-25, Satan is always an adversary. (5/8/13)
2 Solomon then sent this message to Hiram:
3-4 “You know that my father David was unable to build a temple to honor the Lord his God, for he was busy fighting battles on all fronts while the Lord subdued his enemies. But now the Lord my God has made me secure on all fronts; there is no satan epiboulos adversary or dangerous threat.
Solomon fell away from God in his later years, building shrines for the gods of his many wives and concubines and then worshipping in those shrines. God determined to take most of the kingdom away from him and give it to someone else; however, for the sake of Solomon’s father David, God said that he would not do this during Solomon’s lifetime.
That doesn’t mean that Solomon got off scot free. Remember we read the other day that Solomon had no satan adversary
in the early parts of his reign? He did have adversaries later – among them Hadad the Edomite and Rezon the son of Eliada. Take note of two really interesting facts about these satan
s: they are both ordinary men, not the Devil, and they are raised up by God
to be adversaries to Solomon!
Does you suppose that the word satan
in the Old Testament doesn’t mean anything like what it does in the New Testament, or do you think that maybe we need to keep an open mind about what it really means in the New Testament? Stay tuned as we continue to see how satan
is used in the Old Testament.
From the English Standard Version (courtesy of Good News Publishers):
1-2 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love. ...
1 Samuel 29:1-11, Sometimes the satan adversary is not even the bad guy. (5/9/13)
6-8 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.
9-10 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. ...
14 And the LORD raised up satan an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. He was of the royal house in Edom. ...
23, 25 God also raised up as satan an adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah. ... He was satan an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, doing harm as Hadad did. And he loathed Israel and reigned over Syria.
So far this week we’ve seen several cases in which the satan adversary
was an ordinary human being who happened to be an enemy or opponent of David or Solomon. Today it is David
who is the satan
Now, on the one hand, I can certainly understand the point of view of the Philistine commanders. David had fought and killed plenty of Philistines before he had to run from Solomon, and they were concerned that if he went into a battle between Philistines and Hebrews, he might forget whose side he was supposed to be on.
On the other hand, there’s no way we can reconcile our modern idea that the satan
is inherently evil with David, the man after God’s own heart. The Old Testament satan
is the adversary, but not necessarily the bad guy.
By the way, I forgot to mention yesterday that our reading from 1 Kings 11 had satan
in both the Hebrew and Greek. In today’s reading from 1 Samuel, we see our old friend epiboulos
again in the Greek version of the Old Testament.
From the English Standard Version (courtesy of Good News Publishers):
1 Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel.
Numbers 22:15-35, Sometimes the satan adversary is not even the bad guy. (5/10/13)
2-3 As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, "What are these Hebrews doing here?" And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, "Is this not David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day."
4 But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, "Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become satan epiboulos an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here?
5 Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'?"
By this time, we understand that the Old Testament often uses the Hebrew word satan
to refer to a human adversary, and the adversary can be the good guy or the bad guy, depending solely on the reader’s point of view. Today’s story takes us one step further.
Balaam is one of the very few heathen prophets in the Bible, and he’s been hired to put a curse on the people of Israel. To be fair, he told his client right up front (in the earlier part of this chapter) that he wouldn’t be able to do anything except what the Lord tells him to do. In today’s reading, he starts to go off with the client’s agents, but Balaam and his donkey meet someone unexpected on the road. Since the story is told more or less from Balaam’s point of view, the satan adversary
is the angel of the Lord!
From the Bible in Basic English:
15-17 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. And they came to Balaam and said to him, "Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: 'Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.'"
More of The Big Lie
The Son of God and the Father of Lies
The OT satan is always an adversary, but not always the Devil.
The Hebrew satan is translated various ways.
In the New Testament, both satanas and diabolos normally refer to the Devil.
Sometimes satanas and diabolos are used figuratively to refer to someone acting like the Devil.
Poneros – Evil in the New Testament
Demons cause sickness, not sin.
Sometimes Satan and demons cooperate with each other.
Neither Baalzebub nor Lucifer is a Biblical name for the Devil.
Belial means "worthless," and once it's used as a nickname for the Devil.
Satan's job description: Temptation and Lies
Our job description: Resist him!
Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
18-19 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more. So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me."
20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you."
21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
22 But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his satan adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. ...
27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"
29 And Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you."
30 And the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?" And he said, "No."
31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
32-33 And the angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out (as a) satan to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live."
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John's United Methodist Church,
"Transforming Lives Through Christ."
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
St. John's Music Ministries now has a YouTube channel, bringing you free concerts and choral music. Check it out!
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.
are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John's feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
Storm Dragon SoftwareTM
Ducks in a Row, Inc.
This website is supported in part by the generosity of Mrs. J. Jordan.