Solomon; David; Love and Hate
2 Samuel 12:24–31
Samuel Lesson #198
January 7, 2020
“Father, we’re so thankful we have this time to study this evening to reflect upon Your Word, and to look at what You have for us. Father, we’re thankful that You have given us forgiveness of sin because of what Christ did on the Cross and that by admitting our sins we have forgiveness, cleansing, being restored to fellowship, walking with You, and enjoying the intimacy of our relationship with You.
“Father, as we study Your Word this evening help us to understand what we’re studying and how it relates to us. Also it confirms to us the reliability and trustworthiness of the Scripture. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to 2 Samuel 12:24–31. We’re wrapping up this particular section in 2 Samuel that began just a couple of chapters ago in chapter 10. Chapters 10 through 12 are wrapped within the context of the war with the Ammonites. This was the attempt to take Rabbah, the capital of Ammon. It all started back in chapter 10 when the new king ruled in Ammon and he is insulting to David’s messengers to Ammon.
Because of that, it brought about a war. In the context of that war is when David commits his sin with Bathsheba and then his attempt to cover it up and the conspiracy to have her husband, Uriah, killed. Then we studied David’s recognition of his sin, his confession, and forgiveness. In chapter 12 we saw the issue of the death of the son that was a result of the adultery, the birth of the baby, and all the issues related to infant salvation, the origin of human life, and all of those studies.
Now we come to the end and are wrapping up this section in verses 24 through 31. In these verses we are in sort of a transition. There are some things that are said and some language used here that helps to transition us into the next section.
From 2 Samuel 13 on we see the consequences and some of the divine discipline that comes to David through his own family. We’ll get into that more next time. It’s a four-fold discipline: the death of the infant that was born to Bathsheba as a result of the adultery, then the sins of Amnon when he rapes his half-sister, Tamar, in chapter 13. Then we see Absalom’s revenge for that as he kills his half-brother Amnon, and then eventually Absalom’s rebellion against David.
The next few chapters are not the most uplifting. They are not the most joyful chapters that we have in Scripture but they are interesting. There are some important things embedded in them and God, the Holy Spirit, has revealed that to us.
Today, we’re just going to finish wrapping up where we are in the end of chapter 12. I’ve titled this Solomon because the first two verses deal with the birth of Solomon; David, because of the emphasis on David—I want to bring out a couple of new things I learned on the trip to Egypt; and then “love and hate” simply because we have the phrase here at the end of verse 24 that the Lord loved him, that is, Solomon.
Then Solomon is given a name, a special name that is revealed by God to Nathan and it is Jedidiah. We need to look at that. It reinforces because of the name Jedidiah that he is beloved of the Lord. That brings up some questions about God’s love for people, also the phrase that God “hates” certain people.
We have to understand that came into conversation when we were in Egypt and got into various questions there so I thought that it fits here. It wraps around the theme that goes on into chapter 13 where you continue to see the word “love” as well as the word “hate”.
What we’ll look at this evening is first of all the birth of Solomon, 2 Samuel 12:24–25. Then we’ll look at the question that is raised because of the introduction of God’s special love for Solomon that’s emphasized there and then concluding briefly with just a look at the conquest of Rabbah and the Ammonites, which brings this entire section from the beginning of chapter 10 to a close before we get into the next section.
Here we have in verse 24 that David comforted Bathsheba. That’s because of the death of the infant, so he comforts her and as they are comforting one another going through the mourning process that brings them closer together and they engage in sexual relations and she becomes pregnant again. She then gives birth to a son.
David calls his name Solomon. Then we’re told that the Lord loved him. That is a very significant statement for several reasons. Then we’re told in 2 Samuel 12:25, “And He [God] sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet so he [Nathan] called his name Jedidiah because of the Lord.” That helps to bring out the point that the Lord had a special love for Solomon.
That raises a lot of questions for a lot of people because this is often misunderstood. There are those who try to take this and fit it within a framework of Calvinist theology, that this is a special love. What we need to do is see that this is fitting within the framework of the Davidic Covenant, which we spent half the year studying.
God had promised there would be a son born to David through whom those covenant blessings would come. It is through this son of David’s that the Seed of the woman promised back in Genesis 3:15, that the Messiah would come. This is called the proto evangelium or the first hint of the gospel back in Genesis. God addressed the serpent and told him that the seed of the serpent would strike the heel of the Seed of the woman, but the Seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. That is an indication that the Seed of the woman is an allusion to the Messiah, who would be true humanity and would ultimately defeat Satan.
As a result of that, the Bible traces the seed of the woman. A lot of people read genealogies and groan, “Oh, what’s all of this about? It’s just one person begetting another person. Why are all these names in here that I can’t pronounce?” Those names are there to trace this lineage from Eve in the Garden and the birth of Seth in Genesis 4 all the way down.
You get genealogies in various different places like Genesis 5 and 11 and later genealogies tracing the seed through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph down through Joseph’s descendants. Later on you have other genealogies all of which are designed to show that Jesus is from that lineage.
That’s why the Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy. That’s why Luke has a genealogy in Luke 4. All of this is designed to trace Jesus back to David through Solomon. When we get to this phrase “now the Lord loved him” [Solomon], the major thing we have to remember is that this is talking about God’s blessing of Solomon, that it’s going to be through his line that the Messiah is going to come.
We’re going to start off and just talk about David a minute. This is something I haven’t brought out before. If you read among certain archeologists of Israel that are referred to as minimalists, meaning they don’t believe a whole lot of what the Bible says but just a minimal amount [almost nothing], and they don’t believe that was history. They reject it as historical.
As is typical of that sort of hostility to the Bible, they are constantly proven wrong. For many decades there have been those who have denied the actual existence of David. It doesn’t matter that the Bible talks about him. They believe that if it hasn’t been discovered archeologically then it didn’t happen. They denied the existence of David. They denied the existence of the Hittites and they denied the existence of many other biblical things all of which have had evidence discovered their existence through archeology.
One of the things you have to remember is empiricism. Empiricism is great and wonderful but empiricism is just learning things from your experience, from your senses such as hearing and smelling and touching and all the senses, which become the source of information. They become your source of truth.
As we’ve gone over again and again and again there are basically four ways we know anything, four systems of perception, four ways we know. The first is through rationalism. We come to know something is true because we use our minds, we reason things out, and we work through it logically. We start with logical principles and come to valid conclusions.
Empiricism is always limited because our data is limited. Ultimately we’ve trusting our own mental faculties and our own logic machine to come to truth. In empiricism we’re looking at data. For example, we’re looking at the fossils. If we’re trying to figure out the history of the world we look at the fossils and that’s our experience. The trouble is that we have so many people who would rather judge truth by their experience.
It may be their experience with the fossils or in the case of archeology, it’s their experience with what is discovered in and through the remains of previous civilizations. So they use that as the absolute control.
Then you have mysticism. These people turn inward and they have various spiritual experiences or insights and they use that to determine what truth is. They say that God has spoken to them. They’ve had dreams or whatever and they say God is the source of them. We always have to remember that either our experience interprets Scripture or Scripture interprets our experience.
It doesn’t matter how real something seems to us, if it contradicts Scripture, we have to let Scripture interpret the data and not the other way around. Then the fourth system of knowledge is revelation. God has spoken to us and because God has spoken to us we can understand what He has said and that then becomes the framework for evaluating and understanding our experience.
When it comes to archeology we have to accept that we don’t know everything and we don’t have access to everything. We do have some things so over the last several decades there are three different archeological finds that substantiate that there was a David, a historical figure.
Nothing speaks directly of David himself, but in each of these instances there’s a reference to the House of David. If there’s a lineage from David, which is a House of David, then David must have been an historical figure.
There are many who still deny that. They say David was just some mythological figure made up for various reasons in the past.
We’ve talked about some of this in the past and some of you have seen some of this evidence before in Israel at the Israel Museum and other sites. The first evidence of David that we have from archeology is the Tel Dan Stele. Tel is just a word meaning a mound, so it refers to a mound where a habited place was built up. It becomes a mound over the centuries.
Probably the best illustration is think of a 12-layer chocolate cake. Don’t think too much about it. When you cut a quarter of the cake out what you see are twelve different layers. That’s like these tels. You cut into them and you see the different layers of civilization over the ages.
The bottom layer is the oldest. The one on the top is the most recent. As an archeologist goes through and cuts through that, they begin to categorize and classify all the different things that they find. Then they have to dig in those layers. Usually they do that through pottery remains that they discover. That’s what a tel is.
Dan is a city in the far north of Israel. It was originally called Lachish during the time of Abraham. During the time of the judges, the tribe of Dan migrated from their area down around modern Tel Aviv, which is in the coastal plains of Israel. The tribe of Dan couldn’t defeat the Canaanites that were there because they didn’t trust God.
Eventually they migrated north to the furthest point north in Israel, up near Mount Hermon, the headwaters of the Jordan River. They conquered the people at Lachish, so this is where the Dannites had their habitation, so it became known as Dan, the furthest city to the north in Israel.
You hear phrases in the Bible saying “from Dan to Beersheba”, Dan in the north and Beersheba in the far south. So this stele was found in the archeological dig up there in Dan in 1993. They discovered these stone fragments while excavating the city gate at Dan.
This is interesting because that city gate is so old that Abraham would have walked through it. Some of you have been there. You can see that some of the wording on the slide is an early form of Hebrew writing and it is a reference to the “House of David”.
Of these thirteen fragmentary lines that were discovered not all are on this slide. What can be translated is what we see here, the ellipsis here [the dots] are words that are indecipherable or have been left out. When you read through it you see it says, “my father went up against him when he fought at … And my father lay down [died], he went to his [father], And the king of I[s-] [probably the king of Israel] entered previously in my father’s land. And Hadad made me king.” Hadad is the king of Syria, so this is his son.
“Hadad went in front of me and I departed from the seven … of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kings who harnessed thou[sands of cha]riots and thousands of horsemen (or: horses). [I killed Jeho]ram, son of [Ahab], king of Israel, and I killed [Ahaz]iahu, son of [Jehoram kin]g of the House of David.” So there’s a reference to the House of David. “And I set [their towns into ruins and turned] their land into [desolation …].”
The point is that this stele mentions the House of David and this is dated to about 850 BC, middle of the 9th century. David reigned from 1010 to 971 BC and he’s followed by his son Solomon, so this is about 120 to 130 years after David lived.
The next piece of evidence that we have uncovered is the Moabite Stele. A stele is a monument or a stone that has been erected that has writing on it, giving various information. This is often called also the Mesha Stele, named after King Mesha of Moab. This records a victory that was evidently given to him by his god, Chemosh, which allowed him to defeat Israel.
If you read this and decipher it, it talks about how they defeated the House of Omri, the father of Ahab. In the translation of this, an archeologist named André Lemaire, reconstructed a part of line 31 which reads the “House of David”. This is about the same time as the Tel Dan stele, so this gives us a second evidence. This Moabite stone is in the British Museum.
The third evidence is interesting. I was not aware of this third one until we went to Egypt. This is the Sheshonk I inscription at the Temple of Amon Re in Karnak near Luxor. Sheshonk is referred to the Bible as Shishak but the Egyptians refer to him as Sheshonk I. There is an inscription at the Temple of Amon Re, an Egyptian god, which is in Karnak, which is Luxor today and is ancient Thebes.
Here is a picture of this wall and I’ll show some other pictures of the temple at Karnak. It’s just a magnificent site, a huge site. You just can’t imagine all of the pillars that are there. They’re huge and covered with hieroglyphics and all kinds of different things.
We went to this one wall and Wayne House pointed this out. You may not be able to see it very clearly, but on later slides I’ve blown it up. There are all these little figures. Each of these figures is of a man facing to the right. His hands are tied behind him. Each one of these represents a city in Israel.
Shishak invaded through Judah and Israel in the late 9th century BC after the division of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and defeated a lot of these towns. He attacked Jerusalem and Rehoboam had to buy him off with a lot of gold from the Temple, which he replaced with bronze. That’s when things really began to get degraded.
There are portions of this you can see on this plaster where the engraved figures have deteriorated over the ages, the weathering of the wall, so some of them are partially gone. Some of them didn’t disappear that long ago. This one was originally discovered in the late 1700s.
Through the 1800s part of this area which is highlighted in this slide was there, but it just fell off due to weathering and everything.
There were pictures and drawings of it prior to the time it fell off. It wasn’t deciphered until late in the 20th century. Each of these figures (which you can see a little more clearly now) represents another town in Israel that was defeated by Shishak. What Wayne did was have a graphic artist come in on the basis of these other diagrams and add this to his slide.
You can see these two figures here and there are hieroglyphics. On each one there’s a cartouche. You’ll see on the other slides an oval that is on the figure [lower left of image on Slide 12]. That oval that surrounds some glyphs is called a cartouche. The cartouche tells you this is the name of a person or the name of a town. So, they reconstructed it. The cartouche has been translated by an Egyptologist, well known, highly respected Egyptologist, an evangelical, although we would quibble some of the things he does and the way he dates some things and his chronology but Kenneth Kitchen has translated this as the “Highland of David”.
That’s significant because we know from Scripture that Jerusalem was under siege by Shishak and that’s in the hill country. That’s what he’s describing here by the highlands, which is the hill country of Judea, which is where Jerusalem was located. I took this picture on this slide from Wayne House’s project he is working on called the House Visual Study Bible (see the credit on the bottom right).
He started working on this about a decade ago and he’s just about to the point where he wants to promote the New Testament [work he’s done]. It’s a work in progress. He’ll be working on this until the Lord takes him home and maybe others will take up the project afterwards. Wayne adds to it all the time.
Wayne is a remarkable scholar with tremendous energy. He’s written dozens and dozens of theological articles. He has edited a host of books and a new commentary series coming out in Logos over the last several years. Also, chart books … I don’t know he’s just incredibly productive. This is sort of his magnum opus.
He is able to take off of this what he’s studied over the years and he’s got this online visual Bible so you can go to Matthew 2 or 1 and he has links to articles and pictures. He’s gotten the rights to use all of Randy Price’s pictures. Also, Todd Bolan, who is a DTS teacher who teaches out at Master’s Seminary. I’ve got all of his pictures. I’ll got all the pictures and Wayne House has the rights. Probably Bolan’s got forty to fifty thousand pictures from everywhere. I use some of them. I’ve got a lot of my own pictures I usually use.
You can go to Wayne’s website which is https://hvsb.app, or you can just search for House Visual Study Bible and you can sign up for it. There is what I consider to be a minimal cost for it, plus two weeks free of charge with your credit card information and all of that. You know most places you go your card is going to get charged after the two free weeks if you forget about it. Wayne has it set up so that after two weeks you get an email whether or not you want to continue and pay for it. If you do, you click on a button and at that point you get charged.
At this stage it’s just an opportunity to support this work in progress. He’s got to pay computer technicians and everyone else to continue doing all this. This is a phenomenal project that one guy is trying to do this. It just blows my mind. Anyway, that’s my little commercial for Wayne’s Visual Study Bible.
This is a fascinating thing that gives a third documentation to the historicity of the House of David. It shows the Bible is talking about someone who actually lived.
Back to our passage now. 2 Samuel 12:24, “Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son …” Obviously time is going by. She’s been pregnant once. She goes through the birth process so that’s nine months.
Now you have another nine-month period going by so that’s 18 months. It’s probably two years, at least, has gone by from the beginning of chapter 10 through the end of chapter 12. She has a son and David named him Solomon. I believe that root of the name Solomon is from shalom meaning peace.
One of the reasons God says David should not build the Temple is because he’s been a man of war, but his son will not be a man of war, but will be a man of peace. That’s why I believe that is the primary meaning here. However, you’ll always have the ones who doubt the inerrancy of the Bible, who come along and say it means other things. One of these ideas is that it means a replacement, a replacement for the dead son.
Maybe that’s a double entendre. Some words can indicate different things like that so it’s possible, but others have come along and said that this baby is really Uriah’s baby. It gets farfetched. There are some really strange views out there but this is the child that God has given.
Perhaps the name also has this secondary sense that it’s a replacement for the child that died, but this is the one through whom the Seed will come. That’s the point of the next phrase, “Now the Lord loved him.”
When you and I read that often we will look at a statement like that and we will impute certain meanings to that without paying enough attention to context or how it fits within the framework of the Scripture. So we’re going to look at how the Scripture uses the word “love”, but before we go any further I want to go ahead and finish these verses.
2 Samuel 12:25 says, “And He [God] sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.” This is divine revelation. Most of these figures had two, three, four names. They would have a birth name. They would have throne name.
David is known mostly by the name David but remember there is one passage that refers to Elkanan killing Goliath and his brothers. Elkanan was another name for David, just as Jedidiah is another name for Solomon. But this is the only time this name for Solomon shows up anywhere in Scripture.
Note at the bottom of the slide is the information for this name. It comes from the root verb yadid, which is interesting because that is a play on words also. In Hebrew it is ydyd. There’s a play on words there to bring to mind of his father David who is also beloved of the Lord. The root meaning here is “one who is beloved, honored, very significant”. Then it has the suffix Yah, which is the first syllable in the name for Yahweh. It means beloved of Yahweh.
If we fast forward to the 20th century there was a British officer who was assigned to Israel and to work with the Haganah, the pre-state of Israel’s army during the 30s and 40s. They were being defeated constantly by the Arabs in the Arab revolt in 1937–1939, so the British sent this officer as an advisor.
This guy was quite a believer. He was reared in a Plymouth Brethren home and knew a lot about Scripture. His belief was that the Haganah needed to fight at night because when the sun went down the Arabs would attack the Israeli villages and they would get defeated. The Arabs owned the night.
He read about Gideon defeating the Midianites in Judges 6 and 7 and he took that to mean they needed to fight at night. He would go after the Arabs at night and he trained these Haganah officers and troops to fight at night, one of whom was Moshe Dayan, who was later an Israeli general with an eye patch. Later he became high up in the cabinet during the Yom Kippur War.
When Ord Wingate, the name of the British officer, got too close, he was considered too much a lover of the Jews so the Brits decided he was “going native”. They felt they needed to get him out of Israel. When they transferred him, the Jews/Israelis loved him and they bestowed on him a nickname. They called him Yadid, meaning he was the beloved one. This stayed with him.
Eventually he was responsible for forming a terrific counter “ops” in Burma. He was shot down in an American plane. After the war when they found the remains of this American bomber, I think there were two Brits on board and everyone else were Americans. The American rescuers just sort of scooped up the remains and couldn’t differentiate so they buried them all at Arlington National Cemetery.
This irritated the Brits because he was a British hero. His remains are there. I’ve gone to his grave many times. For years the British ambassador stationed in Washington, D.C. would go out every year on the anniversary of his death and they would have a little ceremony of putting flowers on his grave.
That’s the meaning of this word yadid. This is applied to Solomon. He is the beloved of the Lord.
What does this mean? What’s this all about that Solomon is loved of the Lord? Let me take us through a little study of how this word “love” is used. We have to understand some special things about this. Here are some questions: What does the Bible teach about God’s love, especially in contexts of loving one person in contrast to others? Is this a sign that this person is the object of God’s elective love in regards to salvation, or is this a sign that God has a special plan or purpose for this individual?
We need to trace this out. There’s a lot of confusion that does come up in relationship to this. One passage that really sort of crystallizes this problem is found in Malachi 1:2. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to this because we need to look at the context a little bit. This is the last book of the Old Testament written by that famous Italian prophet “Malachi”.
The problem that Malachi is addressing is that after the exile, after there have been three returns of Jews back to the land from Babylon primarily because they’re really not in obedience to the Lord. They’re disobedient to the Law of Moses and there’s all kinds of apostasy and all kinds of other problems so Malachi is really dressing them down.
He tells them this is a real problem for them and they have to get right with the Lord. Malachi 1:2–3 says, “ ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. ‘Yet you say, “In what way have You loved us?” ’ ” See, they’re rebellious towards God. They’re complaining that God has kicked them out of the land. They’ve gone through all this suffering. They’re dominated by all of these Gentile powers, so how can God say He has loved them?
God asked them another rhetorical question. He says, “ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Says the Lord. ‘Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.’ ”
If you go on and you look in your Bible, we read starting in the 4th verse, “Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places.” It looks on the surface that God is talking about two individuals and often people take it that He’s talking about the individual person, Esau, and the individual person, Jacob.
Who are Esau and Jacob? They are the twin sons of Isaac. Isaac was the promised seed, the promised son, of Abraham. God gave a covenant to Abraham what we refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. It promised that he would give him a son. At the time the covenant was given, Abraham was getting pretty old. He and his wife, Sarah, who was also beyond child-bearing years, had not been able to have a child.
God has said He will give them a child and it is through that child that they will bless the world. They will have an innumerable number of descendants. This goes from Genesis 12 to Genesis 22. A lot of machinations by Sarah and Abraham to somehow solve this problem on their own take place, part of which is that along the way they had acquired an Egyptian slave girl named Hagar. Sarah suggests they help God out by making Hagar Abraham’s concubine and go into her and she’ll have a son and that will be the seed.
God kept saying no, that the seed was to be from Abraham and Sarah. That seed goes back to the “Seed of the woman” in Genesis 3:15. Now it’s been narrowed down to one family, the family of Abraham. Abraham has Ishmael with Hagar, but that is not the line that’s chosen. That was his older son. Then he has Isaac, his younger son, with Sarah.
We’re going to see a principal here that God takes the younger son as the one through whom the blessing will come. God is choosing Isaac, not for salvation. This doesn’t mean Ishmael wasn’t saved. God is choosing Isaac as the line of the seed and the line of the covenant.
Isaac is the son, the promised son from the Abrahamic Covenant, and then Isaac marries Rebecca, who is a distant cousin. Rebecca will also be barren for many years just as Sarah was. God will miraculously allow her to become pregnant and she becomes pregnant with twins. The first to come out of the womb, to be born, is Esau, which makes him the elder. The second to come out is Jacob. Jacob comes out grabbing the heel of his twin brother, Esau, so he gets this name Jacob, which means a heel-grabber, which is an idiom for someone who’s always trying to make a deal, someone who is a chiseler, somebody who is always trying to get what they want without doing it the right way.
Before the birth God told Rebecca that in her womb are two nations struggling against each other. He didn’t say two people. It’s not about the individuals Esau and Jacob. It’s about the fact they are the progenitors of two nations. Esau had red hair and was called “Edom” a nickname meaning red and he is the father of the Edomites, who are cousins of Israel.
Initially they were in the southern part of Judah near the Dead Sea. Later they were across over in the area around Petra. Eventually they came back across. King Herod was an Edomite. That sort of traces them down through the New Testament.
What you have here is these two nations. When God is speaking here in Malachi asking if Esau wasn’t Jacob’s brother, yet He loved Jacob. He’s not talking about the individual, Jacob. When he says Esau I have hated, He’s not talking about the individual, Esau. He’s talking about their nations, those that descend from them because the seed of blessing is going to go through Jacob and not through Esau.
When God is saying, “Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated” you also have to understand this is a figure of speech where you’re addressing opposites like love and hate. It really becomes an idiom for explaining acceptance and rejection or preferring one over the other.
When people read this and it says God hated, they say that’s a mental attitude sin for God to hate Esau. That just completely ignores the context and ignores how these words are used. It’s important to work our way through them.
Romans 9:10–14 picks up on this, so I want to summarize this. It has the same phrase, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” This doesn’t mean that God is engaged in mental attitude sins against Esau, but once you say that God doesn’t really hate Esau you have to ask if God really loves Jacob.
It’s not really talking about personal love versus personal hate. It’s a figure of speech we have to understand. I want to show it to you from the Scripture. In Romans 9:10–11 we read, “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, not having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls)…”
God had a plan. It’s not talking about salvation. It’s talking about God’s plan that the line of blessing would go through the younger. The principle in the ancient world was the older would be the heir and the younger would serve the older. God doesn’t do it man’s way. He’s going to flip it and the older will serve the younger. Esau is the older, so he’s going to serve Jacob who will be the line of the Seed.
Romans 9:12–14, “It was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ ” We have to ask the question, does God hate? If not, if God doesn’t hate, does God love? That’s where you start getting into a mess.
One solution to this problem is to say these are anthropopathisms. I put the definition for anthropopathism on this slide. It is a figure of speech like an anthropomorphism. “Anthro” refers to man. “Morpho” refers to a form. In the Bible there are various human forms like eyes, nose, ear, hands, arms that are attributed to God, but God doesn’t have eyes, a nose, ears, hands, or arms. They are human physical attributes that are attributed to God, which He does not actually posses in order to communicate to use His plans, purposes, and policies.
Anthropopathisms from pathos, which relates to emotion or feelings is attributing to God human emotions or feelings which He does not actually posses. That’s common in both definitions. This is in order to communicate something about God’s polices, purposes, and plans.
A lot of people will think that God doesn’t really hate so that makes sense. But the problem is that if hate is an anthropopathism then the opposite term, love, would have to be one, too. Now you’re really getting into some problems. If God doesn’t actually possess love, then what does it mean when it says “God is love” or “God loved the world in this way” or “God demonstrated His love”?
1 John 4:8 and 4:16 specifically say that God is love. Some of you were around back in the 70s when Bob Thieme taught that love was an anthropopathism. Some of you never read his book The Integrity of God, but in the first edition, the first 17 pages argue that this love of God was an anthropopathism. It became evident to him after a while that had real problems, in fact, it was heretical.
Since they had published a whole lot of books they didn’t want to just dump those so he wrote out a little note and it was put into the cover of each book to ignore the first 17 pages and that everything else in the book was okay. I know all of this because I worked as a ghost writer there for about eight years in the 90s.
I’ve had people ask how I can teach something when Bob Thieme said something was another way. There were a lot of things he said were a certain way and when the editors of the book which were Bobby Thieme and myself would go in to him and say something wasn’t right, we’d go in there and he would agree and tell us to fix it. That was my job—to edit the books and correct things. In the later editions of The Integrity of God none of the anthropopathisms were there. I realize there are a lot of people who just listened to what he taught and didn’t read the books. They’re probably saying they didn’t hear this before. Well, it was there.
You can’t say it’s an anthropopathism because if God’s love is one [anthropopathism], what about His righteousness? What about His justice? Why aren’t they anthropopathisms? What about omnipotence or omniscience? Can you say anything about anthropopathisms? If one is an anthropopathism, why aren’t all of them? Then you end up with a view of an attribute of God which philosophers call equivocal knowledge, which means our knowledge has nothing to do with the way God actually exists.
The philosophers say the way we think about God is called analogical knowledge, meaning there is an analogy. There is a point of commonality. We know what love is in our finite experience so that helps us to understand something that is beyond our comprehension, but is similar to what the Bible speaks about. It’s the same thing with knowledge. We have limited finite knowledge, so we can’t comprehend infinite knowledge, omniscience. But it’s analogical. There are points of commonality, so there’s a touchstone between us.
To say that God’s hate is anthropopathic would mean His love was anthropopathic. How in the world are we going to handle all of this? First of all, there are several different meanings to the idea of love that we find in the Scripture.
I think this is a very good comment by one of the lexical sources I was looking at. “The younger child who is preferred over the elder child is so common in the Old Testament as to be an archetype.” Notice that phrase “preferred”. It’s not saying that God loves with a deep personal love one person and hates and despises the others. He is preferring one over the other for His purposes. He loves both. It’s a figure of speech.
“Nor is it necessarily a sign of a dysfunctional family. When God favors a child, divine sovereignty—God’s righteousness and His justice, His sovereign plan for man through Israel—is behind the favoring and the slighting. Thus God favors Abel over Cain, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau (Malachi 1:2–3, Romans 9:13), Joseph over his brothers, Moses over Aaron, David over his brothers. Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years.” All of that is background.
The biblical word in the Old Testament for love is ’aheb. This is a big, broad word. It’s not a narrow word talking about personal love. It’s not a narrow word talking about a love with integrity. This word can describe a wide range of things.
It describes divine love, God’s love for man. It describes man’s love for God. It describes faulty parental love, the love of parents for their children. It describes friendship love. All of these are very different. It describes affection among friends, between spouses, love for neighbors, and love for enemies.
You can have personal love for your next-door neighbor, but if the guy down the street is a jihadist terrorist, you’re not going to have that same kind of warm, fuzzy feelings toward them. We have to demonstrate kindness, graciousness, and give them the gospel. All of these things are part of what it means to love your enemy.
This word has a large range from approval of something or acceptance of someone or something to parental love, marital love, friendship love, love with integrity to perverted sexual love. We’ll get into 2 Samuel 13 where Amnon loved his half-sister, Tamar. This is a perverted sexual love. It has nothing to do with romantic love, a love with integrity, or marital love. It’s the same word ’aheb but it’s describing perverted lust.
With this wide range of meanings, how do you decide what the nuance is? You have to look at context again and again and again because it can mean anything on this broad spectrum. We have examples of marital love. “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
The first phrase becomes a reference to their sexual relations at the beginning of their marriage. And he loved her follows that. This is talking about a personal love and a marital love between Isaac and Rebekah.
You have passages that talk about parental love, a father’s love for his children. For example the love that Abraham had for his unique son, Isaac, in Genesis 22:2 where God told him, “Take now your son, your only son—the Greek calls it his only begotten son like Jesus, so there’s a clear parallel—whom you love and go to the land of Moriah” … Moriah is that hill that the Temple in Jerusalem is on. The foundation stone in the Temple where the Ark of the Covenant rested is supposed to be the location where Abraham was supposed to sacrifice Isaac.
Abraham takes Isaac to the land of Moriah and God says to offer him there as a burnt offering, an ‘olah, on one of the mountains He would tell him. Here it talks about parental love. Abraham just adored that son.
Genesis 44:20, which is some years later, is talking about the love of Jacob for Joseph. The brothers are now in Egypt and they’re talking to Joseph, who is the vizier, the second in command under Pharaoh. They come to him and he is disguised because his head and his beard are shaved, which was the way of the Egyptians. They don’t recognize him and they’re talking to him, “And we said to my lord [Joseph], ‘We have a father, an old man [Jacob], and a child of his old age, who is young [Benjamin]; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ ” It’s parental love here.
This word also relates to fidelity. When you love someone, you’re faithful to them. That’s the idea. Exodus 20:6 and a number of other passages use the phrase “those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Love has more of the sense here of being faithful to someone.
Then it’s used in passages related to sexual lust. For example in Genesis 34:3 Jacob is taking the family to Shechem, which is near modern Nablus, and there the son of Shechem just has the “hots” for Dinah and we’re told, “His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman.” This is like Amnon and Tamar. It’s just sexual lust. “And he loved the young woman and he spoke kindly to the young woman.”
2 Samuel 13:1, “After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.” This is not a love with integrity. This should be translated that he had a sexually perverted lust for her.
We have all these different meanings to this same Hebrew word, but it has this idea of preference. Genesis 29:30, “Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah.” You remember the story. Jacob goes north to Haran. He’s working for his Uncle Laban. He falls in love with Rachel. He wants to marry her so Laban tells him to work for seven years for him and Jacob can marry her.
What happens on the marriage night is Laban double-crossed him. He put the older sister, Leah, in there and she had a veil over her. Jacob didn’t know the difference. When he wakes up the next morning he’s married to Leah and not Rachel. He goes to Laban who has double-crossed him and Laban tells him that if he works another seven years he can have the younger sister so Jacob marries Rachel. Jacob preferred Rachel. She’s the one he loved. “Then Jacob also went into Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah.” It doesn’t say he didn’t like Leah, but he had a strong attraction and love for Rachel.
He loved Rachel more than Leah and he served with Laban still another seven years. In the next verse we read, “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved”—that’s a bad translation because the word there for unloved is the Hebrew word sane’ which is used in other passages for hate. Does Jacob have a mental attitude sin of hate for Leah? Well, he had six children by her so I don’t think he hated her too much. It doesn’t mean he hated her. It means he preferred Rachel to Leah, but he really loved Leah also, but he loved Rachel more.
We read that when the Lord saw that Leah was unloved or was hated, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. This tells here that the idea of love versus hate is the idea of preference of one person over another. It doesn’t mean there’s an actual mental attitude sin of hate for that other person or group of persons.
When we take that back to Malachi 1 that says “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated”, what that means is that God preferred Jacob for the line of the Seed rather than Esau. God still blessed Esau richly as we read in Genesis. Later there were problems with the descendants and that’s what Malachi is bringing out.
“Leah conceived and bore a son and she called his name Reuben; for she said, ‘The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.’ ” He already loved her. What she’s saying here is that her husband will prefer her over my sister, Rachel, because she was giving him children. That’s this idea of preference. It has nothing to do with love and hate per se in the literal sense.
Love means preferred, but the other is not hated, but is not preferred. Genesis 25:28 says, “And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” They both loved both of their children, but Isaac preferred Esau because he liked the food he cooked, but Rebekah’s favorite of the two was Jacob.
Hate in some passages has this idea of a mental attitude sin. In Genesis 37:4 Joseph is telling his brothers about his dreams that God’s got a plan for him, but not for them other than that they’re going to bow down to him. “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” That’s the mental attitude sin of hate. “Now Joseph had a dream and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more.”
In other passages it clearly means not preferred or to be rejected for a specific task. Exodus 18:21, “Moreover you [Moses] shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”
You have love and hate in Judges 14:16, “Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, ‘You only hate me! You do not love me!’ ” Again you have hate versus love and it’s not talking about personal sin. It’s just that Samson won’t do what she wants him to do, so she says he hates her. It’s not talking about a personal sin.
Then we have Amnon’s lust, which does turn to personal sin after he rapes Tamar. Then he gets a case of guilt. He’s satisfied his lust and he hates her exceedingly. This is an example of lust turning to hate.
You have other examples in Psalm 119:113, “I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.” I prefer the Law and I reject the double-minded. Psalm 119:163, “I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.” I reject lying but I accept your Law.
This is all poetic language here so it doesn’t have this idea of personal love. It has this idea of accepting one thing and rejecting something else.
In conclusion, Jacob and Esau in Malachi and Romans are figures of speech where the head of a family line stands for a family. This is technically called a figure of speech of metonymy where a person is placed for his descendants. We have a similar thing where a head of state can be placed for those who serve him. Trump killed Soleimani last week. Trump didn’t personally do that. He ordered it and the military that serves him did it. Trump attacked Iran. Trump didn’t attack Iran, but you know it’s the head who is stated rather than the ones who serve him. Iran is Solemani’s country. This is the same idea.
Bullinger’s Figures of Speech Used in the Bible is a book which every pastor should use all the time. I was telling Dan Inghram today that when I took Exegesis of Psalms in seminary, I almost had to buy a new lexicon and a new Bullinger because I used them so much they were just about destroyed. The spines were just about wiped out in one semester of use. If we weren’t consulting this book on every figure of speech and documenting it, then we weren’t going to make the good grades.
Bullinger says that a figure of speech called a metonymy is using one person’s name for his descendants. It’s the name of a man for his posterity. Then he lists a whole bunch of verses including Malachi 1:2–3.
Wrapping it up, what does the Bible teach about God’s love? It teaches this has to do with God’s acceptance and rejection in terms of His plan—His preference of Jacob over against Esau.
Joab is going to finish the job on Rabbah, the capital of Ammon, and he sends a message to David saying he fought against Rabbah and has taken the city of water. It’s called the Royal City in 2 Samuel 12:26, but by defining it this way, what he’s saying is he’s captured the source of water. Once you’ve captured the source of water for a city in the desert you now control the city and that’s what he’s saying. Then he calls for David to come and to bring the campaign to an end with a final charge. This is what we read in verse 29, “David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, fought against it, and took it.”
2 Samuel 12:30, “Then he takes their king’s crown from his head. Its weight was a talent of gold”—75 pounds. Milcom [Moloch] was the name of the idol, so it’s probably not the king’s crown, but Milcom's crown. This was a sign that Yahweh had defeated the false idols and David, by taking that crown, is demonstrating the victory of Yahweh over his enemies.
Then in 2 Samuel 12:31, “And he brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them cross over to the brick works. So he did to all the cities of the people of Ammon.”
Basically he has taken control of all of the cities. After the siege he’s having them do all the repair work and rebuild the city.
That brings this section to an end with his victory over what today is called Jordan. Rabbah is what today is called Amman. Next time I’ll get into the episode with Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom.
“Father, thank You for the opportunity to study these things. Help us to understand as we read what it means when we read about Your love, and love and hate, understanding these figures of speech, that we may have a clear understanding of Your plans and Your purposes. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”