Inauguration of David's Reign
2 Sam. 5:1-25
All is now set for the coronation of David as king over Israel. All the obstacles have been removed, thus preparing the way for his reign. The only remotely viable obstacle in his way is Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson, the only surviving member of the house of Saul. Mephibosheth, though, is not really a threat for 2 reasons: (1) he is only 12 years old and (2) he is lame. When Mephibosheth’s nurse received news about the death of Saul and Jonathan, she fled from the royal residence, carrying the 5-year-old Mephibosheth in her arms. As she fled, she tripped and fell upon Mephibosheth. She landed on his legs, crushing the legs and rendering him lame. In a day when kings needed to be mighty warriors, Mephibosheth’s handicap precluded him from being king. All is now set in order for the reign of David.
DAVID IS ANOINTED KING OVER ISRAEL (5:1-5)
The elders over the 10 northern tribes of Israel converge upon Hebron for the purpose of anointing David as king over all the land. They provide David with 3 reasons they have chosen him to be king: (1) he is bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh (racial identity); (2) he was victorious in the struggle against the Philistines during the reign of Saul; and (3) God had chosen him by the hand of Samuel to shepherd His people Israel.
First, when the elders of the northern tribes claim that David is bone of their bone, etc., they are probably saying either that because they are blood-related (all being children of Abraham through Isaac), he is qualified to be their king or else that they are so much one with him in goal, purpose, character, etc., that he is fit to be their king. Second, they want him king because of his military prowess. Throughout the reign of Saul, David had been even more successful than Saul in dispensing with the Philistines. In fact, the people used to sing: “Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands.”
The last reason, though, is pivotal and also condemning. It is pivotal because no matter how identified with David they were and no matter how successful in battle against the Philistines he was, the only thing that really mattered was that God had chosen him to be king over Israel. Even if he had been a complete failure as a military leader, even if his goals had been different from those of the elders of Israel, if God chose him to shepherd Israel, then shepherd he was supposed to be—and none other.
What is so sad about the third reason is that it betrays the fact that the elders knew all along that David was supposed to be king over Israel, even when they followed Abner in supplanting David with Ishbosheth. They are partially to blame for the past 7˝ years of the disastrous civil war which befell Israel and Judah because of Abner’s arrogance. Seven and ˝ wasted years. Now some Christians will excuse this by saying that God used even this to further His plan. Once more, they let people off way too easily when instead they should be glorying in how God is able to uses even our evil to further His plans.
In the third book of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis tells the story of how Lucy comes upon a magical book which lets her see what happens when she is not around. Even though Aslan the Lion who represents Jesus in the book warns Lucy not to look into the book, she nevertheless looks into the book and sees her best friend riding on a train talking to a girl who also went to Lucy's school. Thinking that Lucy does not know what she is saying, the best friend makes a snide remark about Lucy. She didn't really mean it; she was just trying to impress the other girl. Lucy is livid and vows that she will never be that girl's friend again. Aslan the Lion tells Lucy that she should have never looked into the book, like He had warned her in the first place. Such knowledge can be so harmful. Lucy says that she regrets that she looked into it because she now knows that she and the girl can never have the kind of friendship they had before she looked into the book. She then asks Aslan what kind of friendship the 2 of them would have had if she had not looked. Aslan says that such knowledge is never given people. The opportunity to pass up the book and remain good friends was now past.
Unfortunately, in many cases we blow wonderful opportunities God gives us. Moments when you can really choose for Jesus don't always come. Moreover, the fewer times we choose for Him, the fewer opportunities He will present to us. He's just not going to waste His time.
I was really impressed, though, recently when I heard about Lamon Long, Karen Long's father-in-law. When he was facing certain death and could no longer speak, he asked for some writing materials so tha he could communicate with his children, by birth and by marriage. He wrote down that he wanted each of them to make peace with the Lord. Those children were listening to him because they were so focused on him because of his impending death. Like the passage B.F. Risinger (the pastor of FBC Corsicana at that time) read at Lamon's funeral, at the end of our lives we need to be able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7). Simply because we blow opportunities does not mean that everything is lost; the truth is that sometimes God moves in and does more in a little amount of time, that we could ever do in a great amount of time.
Three other points need to be stressed in this section. First, when the elders designated David as the king, they anointed him with olive oil (the usual substance of anointing). The oil was not that important; what the oil represented was what was important. The oil represented the Holy Spirit. If David was going to be the kind of king God wanted him to be, then he had to be led by the Holy Spirit and equipped by that Spirit. Only with the Holy Spirit coming into his life were these 3 things possible. (Note that he word "Messiah" means "The Anointed One" and that the ver "to anoint" comes from the Hebrew word "Msh." In other words, David has been "messiahed" with the oil so that he is now "the Messiah," a type of the future Messiah, Jesus.)
Second, God wants David to "shepherd" His people Israel. He is nto to be a king like the kings of pagan lands who functioned as tyrannical despots. Rather, like the shepherd cared for his flock, led them to green pastures and still waters, and had genuine concern for them, so David was to care for Israel, lead them in righteous paths, and show genuine concern for them. In a small but very real way, David becomes the prototype of the true Messiah Jesus (see John 10:11). Passages like this one and examples from the life of David as the Messiah prepare for our understanding of Jesus as the Messiah.
Third, notice who it is who anoints David over Israel. It is not the young men. It is not the ladies. The ones who anoint David are the elders of the 10 northern tribes. Now David is only 37 1/2 years old, something elders need to remember. Many times the younger men need to lead because of the energy they possess. On the other hand, they need to have the recognition of older people in the church who have actually gone through most of the situations the leaders will encounter and who can normally distinguish between a fake and a genuine person. (There is an ominous note to all these proceedings. David receives 2 anointings, one from the elders of Judah and the other from the elders of Israel 1 1/2 yrs. later. The division here prepares us for the greater division which will occur with David's grandson, Rehoboam, which will result in a permanent split and the creation of 2 different kingdoms—the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.)
SELECTION OF JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL OF DAVID'S KINGDOM (5:6-10)
Now that David has been established as the sole ruler over the tribes of Israel, he sets his sights upon the Jebusite city of Jerusalem to serve as his capital. He chooses this site probably for various reasons: (1) it is located approximately in the center of the land which would make it accessible to all the tribes and not just the tribe of Judah; (2) it was located in the land allocated to the tribe of Benjamin, the tribe from which Saul came (this would placate the hurt feelings of the Benjaminites who were still smarting over the fact that the scepter had passed from the tribe of Benjamin to the tribe of Judah); and (3) because of its location, Jerusalem definitely sparkles. Coming over the top of the Mount of Olives and seeing Jerusalem from that place is really breath-taking.
Although the Israelites had been occupying the land of Canaan for at least 200 years (upwards to about 400 years), the Benjaminites (in whose territory was Jerusalem) had been unable to conquer Jebus, later to be called Jerusalem. At one point they had probably conquered the villages surround the city; however, they had been unable to vanquish the citadel or fortress. The fortress resided upon the top of Mt. Zion, which is also identified as Mt. Moriah, the site where Abraham was supposed to have offered up Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The fortress on top of the hill was surrounded by the 3 valleys of Gehenna to the south, Kidron to the east, and Tyroporrean to the west. Because of the steep cliffs surrounding the fortress, the Jebusites felt their city completely impregnable.
When the Jebusites receive news that David has targeted their city for conquest, they taunt him because they feel like he is totally powerless against their fortified city. They claim that they are so secure in their fort that even the blind and lame could defend their city. To this David declares that the "blind and lame" (a disparaging reference to the Jebusites) will be forced to leave the city and never be able to reenter it. Moreover, he promises that the first person who first kills a Jebusite, that is, who leads in the conquest of the city, will become the chief of his army. Joab responds to the challenge.
Upon the advice of David, Joab does not storm the gates of the city but instead sneaks in through a tunnel. Although Jerusalem was located on top of a mountain, the spring which served as the primary water supply lay at the base of Mt. Zion. The Jebusites had dug a tunnel which connected the water supply to the city. Joab with his men entered the city by climbing up the tunnel and overpowering the guards who defended the city. True to his word, David appoints Joab as the chief of his army. For the next 30+ years of David's reign, Joab will lead the armies of Israel from victory to victory.
DEVELOPMENT OF JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL OF ISRAEL (5:11-16)
Now that David has secured Jerusalem for his capital, he receives communication from Hiram the king of Tyre that Hiram wishes to build David a luxurious palace made from the wood of cedar trees. Cedar wood was considered luxurious because of the fragrance produced by the wood and also because it was considered hard wood. Since the Israelites for the most part were at the heart shepherds and nomads living in cities, they had not acquired expertise in building. Along with the wood, Hiram sends craftsmen and carpenters who will construct David's palace.
In addition to receiving a palace, David also acquires a harem. Since he was an oriental monarch and since oriental monarchs have harems, in his mind it was only right that he too have a harem. From this harem in Jerusalem were born numerous sons. In addition to concubines (the harem), David received numerous wives, among who was Bathsheba, the mother of 4 of David's sons, especially Solomon.
These 2 episodes sound an ominous note in the story of David. Before the Israelites entered Canaan, God gave them explicit orders not to engage in social or economic relations with non-Israelites. By building David’s palace, Hiram is making sure that David is indebted to him. David will now refuse to conquer a king who has ingratiated himself to David. Developing friendly ties with pagan nations will result in disaster for the Israelites in the years to come.
Next, David in acquiring a harem is taking on the trappings of an oriental despot. All around him are the eyes of his sons who are learning from their father's actions. Later when Solomon inherits the throne, he too takes on his father's lifestyle. This time, though, he will not want to restrict himself to Jewish concubines; for the sake of political ties (which David taught him by receiving help from Hiram), he will bring in women from other nations to be his wives and to serve him in his harem. With them will come their pagan gods. Solomon will deem it necessary to build temples for these new idols, just not in Jerusalem which is the dwelling place of the Lord God. It will take several years for the seeds of these episodes to germinate and blossom; now it is only just a matter of time.
DAVID'S INITIAL WARS WITH THE PHILISTINES (5:17-25)
Normally whenever a new king ascends to the throne, his enemies try to exploit his inexperience to determine what kind of mettle he is made of. President G.W. Bush discovered this early on in his administration when the Chinese downed the spy plane and held its crew hostage for several days. True to form, the Philistines embark on the same kind of behavior. After David's anointing and most likely before he conquered Jerusalem, the Philistines send an army into Israel to test the new king. David descends to meet them in the Valley of Rephaim which is located just to the west of Jerusalem.
Before entering battle, David consults the Lord to determine first whether he should engage the Philistine in battle and second whether or not he will win the battle. Note that David does not fall into the same trap that most of us fall into. We know that God has exalted us to a certain position either at work or in our family, and we are grateful for it; however, once we get that position, we think and act like God now wants us to rely upon ourselves and our wisdom to conduct our affairs! Not so with David. He knew that God had exalted him and had also anointed him so that he could follow the Lord in His strength and power. The Lord informs him that he should enter the battle and that he will win the battle.
The 2 major commentators I consulted confidently claimed that David determined the Lord's will by consulting the Urim and Thummin, the die which the high priest would cast to determine the Lord's will. At best die can give you only "a yes or a no" response. Since these are "yes and no" questions, David may have consulted the Urim and Thummin. David engages the Philistines in battle and soundly defeats them. The defeat is so decisive that David names the place Baal-perazim which means "the Lord of the breakwater (or breakthrough)." When the time for the battle came, the armies of the Lord of hosts broke through like a raging flood and overwhelmed Israel's enemies. David took the idols which the Philistines had brought with them for good luck and burned them.
This battle proved to be only round one. When the Philistines saw their army defeated, they mustered another army, probably one even larger to take on David a second time. Once more David consults the Lord in prayer. Maybe he consulted the Urim and Thummin again; however, the nature of David's prayer argues against such a consultation. David not only seeks to find out if he should battle the Philistines; he also seeks how to destroy them. The Lord gives specific instructions regarding the way to defeat the Philistines.
The Israelites are not to conduct a full frontal assault. Rather, they are to go around to the rear of the Philistine army and attack when they hear the sound of marching in the Balsam trees behind them. The marching sound will be nothing less than the sound of the armies of the Lord marching into battle. By following the Lord's advice, David is once more able to defeat decisively the very armies which had destroyed Saul and the Israelite army years earlier. David is truly the Lord’s Anointed.