5. A Place of One’s Own (2 Samuel 5:1-25)
It has been several years since I read the excellent book by Langdon Gilkey entitled Shantung Compound. One chapter is entitled, “A Place of One's Own.” Gilkey was interned in a Japanese detention camp, along with a diverse group of people, who all had one thing in common -- they were all Westerners. The Japenese did not know what to do with all the Westerners present in the country when the Japanese overran China during the Second World War, so they detained them in various encampments. Shantung Compound was an old Presbyterian encampment which was converted for use in confining these Westerners. Gilkey was given the task of assigning rooms for each of the people interned in the camp, which led to some very interesting situations, as he so well describes.
In the chapter, “A Place of One's Own,” Gilkey tells of the people’s strong feelings for having a place they could call their own. In one instance, a very gentle, gracious lady manifested this strong craving for her own “space.” A woman whose bed was right next to this lady began to sense her bed was moving. Each day as she looked out her window, the view was slightly different. She realized her bed was being moved. The lovely lady beside her was moving her own bed, and the bed of her roommate, tiny fractions of an inch each day to give her more space, at the expense of her roommate. We all want “a place of our own” don't we?
We come in 2 Samuel 5 to the point where David becomes king of all Israel and, at the same time, he finally obtains a place of his own. The place has been known as Jebus up to this point in time, and its inhabitants, were called the Jebusites. But from our text onward, Jebus becomes Jerusalem, Zion, the “city of David.” In the next chapter, Jerusalem will become the dwelling place of God, as the ark of the covenant is brought to the city, where Solomon will later build the temple. This text is climactic for David and very instructive for us. Let us look to the Spirit of God to learn what He has to teach us as David finds “a place of his own.”
The Structure of our Text
As a result of my study of 2 Samuel 5, I now understand there are four major sections which I have outlined below:
- 5:1-5 -- Israel submits to David as “God's king.”
- 5:6-10 -- David takes Jebus and makes it Jerusalem, the “city of David.”
- 5:11-16 -- The building of David's house (his physical house, and his household).
- 5:17-25 -- David defeats the Philistines.
Israel Submits to David as God's King
1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 “Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.”' 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 5:1-5).
The Israelites are in the spotlight in verses 1-3. They are the ones who come to David in Hebron and are also the ones who recognize and anoint him as their king. Once we recognize that the people are the initiators, we should also recall the people were the initiators when Saul became their king. We really cannot grasp the significance of the submission of the Israelites to David as God's king without seeing this event in comparison and contrast to 1 Samuel 8:1-22, where the people demanded a king, and Saul was given to them as their first king.
You may remember that in 1 Samuel 8, Samuel is getting up in years, and his sons are certainly not ideal replacements for their father (8:1-3). His sons are dishonest, misusing their authority as judges in Beersheba. And so, in verse 4 of chapter 8, the elders of Israel come to Samuel, demanding that he give them a king, “to judge them, like all the nations” (8:5). Samuel is greatly distressed by the people's demand, and God is displeased as well. They are not just rejecting Samuel as their judge, they are rejecting God as their King (8:7-8). Nevertheless, God instructs Samuel to warn them of the high price tag for having a king, and then to tell them they will indeed have their king. In chapters 9 and 10, Saul is designated and anointed as Israel's first king. In chapter 11, Saul leads Israel in war against Nahash and the Ammonites, who have besieged Jabesh-gilead and threatened to humiliate all of its inhabitants by gouging out the right eye of each citizen (11:1-2). God gives Saul and Israel a great victory over the Ammonites, and the people are jubilant. They want to get their hands on those who looked down upon Saul and put them to death (11:12-13).
Samuel puts this whole matter into perspective in chapter 12. Israel's demand for a king is a sin against God, for which a storm is sent to destroy their wheat crop (12:12-18). In one sense, this generation of Israelites is just like their forefathers. Opposition from foreign powers is a divine chastisement for Israel's disregard of God's laws. But in another sense, their sin of asking for a king is even greater than that of their forefathers. In the past, God sends Israel a deliverer in response to the nation's repentance and cry for deliverance. In this case, there has been no repentance at all. They do not plead for deliverance; they demand a king. I believe Israel wants a deliverer without repentance, and they want a king so that future deliverances is assured as well. They want a king so that they will not have to trust in or obey God. When Samuel points this out and underscores it with a storm, the people repent.
Samuel then gives the people a promise:
13 “Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14 “If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. 15 “If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers” (1 Samuel 12:13-15).
24 “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 “But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away” (1 Samuel 12:24-25).
I wish to note here is the connection Samuel makes between the people and their king. Both the people and their king must trust and obey God. If they do not, then God will chasten them. If they do, then God will bless them. I believe Samuel is indicating to us that the people will get the kind of king they want, and that they deserve. God gives the people a king like Saul because he is just like them. He rebels against God's Word, just as the people do. He falls short of fully obeying God, just as they do. In the case of 1 Samuel 8-12, the people demand a king, for all the wrong reasons. I believe now that the sins of Samuel's sons was merely a pretext, and that their real reasons for demanding a king were far less noble than “justice.” In 1 Samuel 12:12, Samuel informs the people that their real reason for demanding a king is fear of Nahash, who is advancing against Israel. They want a king to lead them in war and give them victory over their enemies. They want a deliverer like Samson, not a deliverer like Samuel. Samuel strips aside the sham and hypocrisy to expose the sin of Israel, which makes them worthy of a king like Saul.
But when we come to 2 Samuel 5, we see a distinct change. The change is not just that from a pathetic king like Saul to a patriot and leader like David; the change is also evident in the people. I have a confession to make at this point. Up until now, I have felt unkindly toward the Israelites. I have been standing on the sidelines of this story with my hands on my hips, impatiently tapping my foot. As I read verses 1-5 of chapter 5, I find myself thinking, “Well, its about time!” I have changed my mind, however. I now look differently upon the Israelites delay. Let me try to explain why this is so.
You will notice that there is no crisis here, no pressing danger, which forces the Israelite leaders to act. Saul is dead, along with his sons, including Ish-bosheth. But there is no Philistine attack, no Ammonite threat. The Philistines attack in response to hearing David is anointed king over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:17). The Israelite elders come to David while he is in Hebron, submitting themselves to him as God's king. In 1 Samuel 8, they are rebelling against God as their King, but not here. Here, the Israelite leaders are acting out of obedience to God, not in rebellion against Him. The king they gain in David is, in some measure, the king they deserve. When they approach David, they acknowledge several vitally important truths, which are the basis for David's kingship and thus their submission to him as their king.
(1) The Israelite leaders acknowledge their physical ties to David: “We are your bone and flesh . . . .” This is a very significant profession on the part of the Israelite elders. They acknowledge their essential unity, rooted in their common father, Jacob (whom God renamed Israel). They do not say to David, “You are one with us,” but rather, “We are one with you.” From the very beginning, there is a problem of unity among the sons of Jacob, as seen in their hatred of Joseph. Saul is of the tribe of Benjamin and David of the tribe of Judah. Abner certainly aggravates the friction between these two tribes and polarizes the rest. Now the Israelites are willing to see themselves as one nation, not two. This is key to David's leadership of the whole nation. We only need to recall the words of the Israelites when this division recurs to see how important this unity is:
16 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; To your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So Israel departed to their tents (1 Kings 12:16).
(2) The Israelites recognize David's leadership over them in the past, even while Saul was their king. When the people demand a king, they want a king who will “go out before them to fight their battles” (see 1 Samuel 8:19-20). Fundamentally, Saul defaults on his responsibility to lead Israel in battle, and it is David who does what they have sought in a king. It was not Saul who went up against Goliath, but David. It was not Saul who led Israel in battle, but David (at least a one of their commanders). The Israelite elders recognize David's leadership in doing what a king is supposed to do. In effect, the elders of Israel are acknowledging that even when Saul was their king, David acted more like a king than he did. They are not choosing to follow an unknown commodity (as they do with Saul), but a man who has proven himself to be “a mighty man of valor, a warrior” (see 1 Samuel 16:18).
(3) The elders of Israel submit themselves to the Word of God as they recognize David as God's choice for the next king of Israel. David has been publicly anointed as Israel's next king (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Saul knows that David is to be Israel's next king (1 Samuel 24:20), as do Abigail (1 Samuel 25:30), as do the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:11). All Israel has to know that David is the one God has designed to be king in Saul's place (2 Samuel 3:9-10, 18). The Israelites are not surprised to learn that David is Israel's next king; although they are a little slow to act on this revelation. When the elders of Israel come to David, it is in obedience to the revealed will of God. This is far better than their previous rebellion against God by demanding a king in 1 Samuel 8.
It is no surprise that when David is anointed (for the third time) as Israel's king by these elders, it is done in the context of a covenant which is made with David before the Lord (2 Samuel 5:3). This is an act of obedience and faith. This is a far cry from the confrontation that we see between Samuel and Israel's elders in 1 Samuel chapter 8. The reign of David is a reign of righteousness, due in part to the repentance and obedience of Israel and its leaders.
David Captures Jebus,
Which Becomes Jerusalem, the “City of David.”
My wife and I have some “young friends,” who come to visit us, as we go to visit them. One night, Jeannette and I were reading a children's story to two young friends at bed-time, written by a well-known theologian. As the story (and time) went on, the youngest child lost interest. She fooled around and got in and out of bed several times. I could hardly blame her. The older child endured through the whole story. But when the story was finally over, Katie turned to us and said, “That was a long story.” It most certainly was.
There are a lot of long stories. When I ask someone how they became a Christian, they usually smile and say, “Well, that's kind of a long story.” The story of the city of Jerusalem is a long one as well. Jerusalem was, until the time that David captured it, known as Jebus. Its inhabitants were known as the Jebusites. The Jebusites are first named in Genesis 10;15-16, where we are told that they are truly Canaanites, the descendants of Canaan, the third son of Ham (Genesis 10:6). It was this Canaan who saw the nakedness of Noah (Genesis 9:22), and who brought a curse upon himself and his descendants (Genesis 9:25). It was on Mt. Moriah that Abraham offered up his son, Isaac (Genesis). This Mt. Moriah is the same mountain on which Solomon built the Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1).
Repeatedly, God promised the Israelites that He would bring them into the promised land. This land was possessed by the Canaanites (including the Jebusites), and God promised to drive them out (Genesis 15:18-21; Exodus 3:8, 17; 13:5; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11). When the spies were sent into the promised land to check it out, among those inhabitants of the land the spies named the Jebusites (Numbers 13:29). God not only promised to drive out the Canaanites (Joshua 3:10), He commanded the Israelites to do so (Deuteronomy 7:1ff.; 20:17). When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, the Jebusites were among those Canaanite peoples who joined forces to oppose Israel's entrance into the land (Joshua 9 & 11; 24:11).
In the Book of Joshua, Jebus was first described as one of the cities belonging to the sons of Judah, who were not able to drive them out (Joshua 15:63). In Joshua 18:28, Jebus seems to be a Benjamite city, and the Benjamites are not able to drive out the Jebusites, either (Judges 1:21). This leads to a kind of coexistence, which results in the Israelites embracing the sins of the Jebusites (Judges 3:1-7). The result of this was oppression from their neighbors as a divine chastening (3:8ff.). In Judges 19:10-12, the city of Jebus is still portrayed as non-Israelite. There may have been times when Jebus was under Israelite control (cf. 1 Samuel 17:54), but the victory was far from complete. It is not until David's day (and our text-- see also 1 Chronicles 21:15) that Jebus falls to the Israelites once and for all. There is even more to say about this city of Jebus, now to become Jerusalem, but we shall wait until our next lesson on chapter 6 to do this.
I believe that the taking of Jebus in verses 6-10 is to be understood in comparison to verses 17-25, where David twice defeats the Philistines. It is not difficult to understand why David fought against the Philistines in this chapter, because it was a matter of self-defense. The Philistines attacked the Israelites, and specifically David. I can imagine how they felt, knowing that they (or at least Achish, the King of Gath) had given David sanctuary in their land. They had even allowed him to be a part of their army. There was little David did not know about them, their methods, their routes, their resources. David would be a formidable foe. Better to deal with him quickly, before he was too entrenched. When the Philistines came up against David, there was little choice but to fight them. But the Jebusites were not at war with the Israelites. They had come to some form of coexistence. There was no apparent “need” for this fight. Why, then, Did David lead all of Israel up against this city, a city which the Israelites had never been able to thoroughly defeat before?
I believe that that there are several reasons. First and foremost, it was a city that God had promised to give to the Israelites, and a people that He had ordered the Israelites to destroy. Their presence among the Israelites was corrupting God's people (Judges 3:5-6). Saul was reluctant to deal decisively with attacks from Israel's enemies from without. He was even willing to live with the enemy dwelling within Israel. The Jebusites were left alone, so far as we can tell. Even the garrison of Philistines was not resisted, until Jonathan could bear their presence no longer, virtually forcing both the Philistines and his father to act (1 Samuel 13:3). David recognized that no kingdom could be viewed with fear (or even respect) if it were not able to expel its enemies from its midst. The Jebusites had to be dealt with, and David knew it. It was time for these enemies of God to be defeated. The defeat of the Jebusites and the taking of Jebus would be the first step in Israel's conquest of their enemies, a conquest that was partial in the times of Joshua and the judges. This victory would overshadow the victory of Saul and the Israelites over the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11). What a way to start a reign as king!
Second, David needed a new capital city. When David had been king of Judah alone, Hebron served well as his capital city. But now David was the king of all Israel. He needed a capital that was farther north. He needed a capital which would be more centrally located, and one which would unify the nation. Jebus was the perfect city. Israel's victory over the Jebusites would unite the nation. The possession of Jebus as David's new capital would do likewise. The city was virtually on the border of Judah and Benjamin. It was a city that neither the sons of Judah nor the sons of Benjamin had been able to capture. Thus, taking this city as his capital would not seem to favor either of these two tribes. In addition to all of this, its natural setting made it difficult to defeat (which is why the Israelites had not taken and held it before). It was in the hill country, on the top of more than one mountain, and with valleys around it. With a little work, it was a virtual fortress (5:9).
There is a three fold reference to the “blind and the lame” in verses 6-10. Nearly everyone would agree that this must be significant, but there is little agreement as to what the significance is. I am inclined to take these words at face value, and to interpret them in the light of the context. I do not believe that the people of Jebus have anyone particular in mind when they say, “You shall not come in here, but the blind and the lame shall turn you away” (verse 6). We know that they said this because they believed there was no way that David could ever enter the city and overtake it.
Have you ever been charged by a mean dog, only to learn that he was chained, and the angry dog was stopped just inches short of you? If the dog were loose, you would either run or talk very kindly to it, trying to talk it out of mauling you. You would certainly not aggravate or tease the dog, if you thought it was loose. But once you see that it is confined by a large chain or a fence, you suddenly find the courage to speak harshly to the dog, and perhaps even to tease it. When we feel smugly secure, we speak with much more boldness.
Now, when the people of Jebus saw David and the Israelite soldiers coming against their city, it was not something new or frightening to them. In their history, such attacks had occurred with some frequency, but never successfully. And so, safely behind the walls of the city, the Jebusites mocked David and his men. It was something like an arrogant bully threatening, “I can whip you with one arm tied behind my back.” Were they intimidated by David's army? Not at all! And so they mocked them by bragging that they were so secure they could turn their defense over to those who were blind and lame.
David's anger is aroused, much as it was by Goliath's arrogant boasting. He took up the words of their boast in his orders to his men. “Let his men go and do battle with the 'lame and the blind,' and let them reach them by entering the city through the water tunnel. This they did, and when they did they defeated the Jebusites. And from that time on there was a saying amongst David's followers,22 “The blind or the lame shall not come into the house.” This seems to be an excuse, a pretext, for those who have no compassion on the handicapped, and who have seized upon an incident to justify their lack of mercy. I believe that these words much have been recorded in the light of 2 Samuel 4:4 and 9:1-13. Would Ish-bosheth's own servants kill their master in his bed? Would the Israelites actually forbid the handicapped to be in their house? David would seek out the handicapped Mephibosheth, to show him love for Jonathan's sake by having him eat at his own table.
Is this attitude and action on David's part not a foreshadowing of the ultimate King of Israel, when He came to this earth? Would the self-righteous not look the other way, and walk on the other side of the street, lest they come into contact with a wounded man (see Luke 10:25-37). They wondered why Jesus would associate with sinners and be touched by the impure. The very people that they shunned, Jesus sought. David was a prototype of the One who would come after him, who would seek out those who were infirmed, and minister to them (see Luke 4:16-21; 5:29-32; 7:18-23). And just as David represents the Messiah, the arrogant and boastful Jebusites represent the self-righteous, who scorn Jesus, and will eventually suffer defeat at His hand. David's enemies were defeated, as he became greater and greater. He could not be stopped for God was with him.
David's house is built, in Jerusalem
11 Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David with cedar trees and carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a house for David. 12 And David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel. 13 Meanwhile David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David. 14 Now these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.
Essentially, there were but two responses to David's rise to the position of King of Israel: (1) embrace him as a friend and ally, or (2) resist and attack him as an enemy. Hiram, the king of Tyre, chose the former, while the Philistines opted for the latter. Even though most translations suggest that verses 11-16 are two paragraphs, I have chosen to view these verses as one unit of thought, namely the building of David's house. Hiram helps David build a literal house, a palace, in Jerusalem. But while living there in Jerusalem, David continues to build his “house,” that is his family. In building both “houses” David is enhancing his position as the King of Israel.
Verses 11 & 12 introduce us to Hiram, the king of Tyre. Here is a man who could easily have viewed David as his enemy, but who chose to seek him as an ally. When God made His so-called Abrahamic Covenant with Abraham (see Genesis 12:1-3), He promised him that those who cursed him, He would curse, and that those who blessed him, He would bless. The Jebusites and the Philistines cursed David; Hiram blessed him. He sought to provide David with things he would need to build himself a palace in the city he had just defeated, and which he proceeded to strengthen and fortify. Hiram offered David the materials and the workmen who could build for him a great palace, and David gratefully accepted. Hiram's friendship with David
The text informs us that it was not until after this palace had been built that David fully grasped that he was indeed king of all Israel. It was like a dream to him for so long, but now he knew that God's promise had been fulfilled. What was it about the building of this house that brought about this realization? I am inclined to think that the reason may be related to this proverb:
Prepare your work outside And make it ready for yourself in the field; Afterwards, then, build your house (Proverbs 24:27).
Israel was an agricultural nation. One would not be wise to build his house before he had prepared his field. Once the field was prepared, the farmer could devote himself to building his house, because the crops would need time to grow. It was simply a matter of putting first things first. It would be like a man moving to Dallas from Detroit, buying a house in Duncanville and fixing it up nicely, only to find that the only job available was in McKinney. He would have been far better off to tend to getting a job first, and then finding a home to purchase. Now that David had a house, a place of his own, it was obvious that his “job” as Israel's king was certain and secure. The reality that God had finally and fully fulfilled His promise that David would reign over His people finally sank in. What David had waited for more than 20 years was now his. The building of his palace in Jerusalem convinced David it had all come true.
There was a second part to the building of David's house, and that was the building of his family. While David did have wives and children before moving to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 2:2; 3:2-5), it was there in Jerusalem that he added a number of other wives and they bore him other children. In the minds of those in the ancient orient, many wives and many children meant prosperity. Measured by this standard, David truly prospered in Jerusalem! The problem was that in adding a number of wives David came dangerously close to multiplying wives, in a way that disregarded this warning to Israel's kings:
“He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:17).
David defeats the Philistines
17 When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines came and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 19 Then David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?” And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” 20 So David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there; and he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters.” Therefore he named that place Baal-perazim. 21 They abandoned their idols there, so David and his men carried them away. 22 Now the Philistines came up once again and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 23 When David inquired of the LORD, He said, “You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. 24 “It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the LORD will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” 25 Then David did so, just as the LORD had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.
One can only imagine the conversations which must have taken place among the 5 Philistine kings when they received word that David had become king of Israel. Achish must have caught the brunt of the criticism for his role in offering David sanctuary among them (1 Samuel 21:10-15; 27:1--28:2; 29:1-11). David was actually a part of the Philistine army for a short time, and this would give him knowledge that could now be used against the Philistines. And so it was that the Philistines chose to go on the offensive, hoping to break the back of David's army, and to rid themselves of a formidable foe.
From a strictly military point of view, it may have been a good decision. The longer they waited, the more David would consolidate his kingdom, and the greater his military strength would be. But David's was God's king, ruling over the people of God, and thus he would not be defeated. When David learned of the Philistine attack, he went down, we are told, to the stronghold (verse 17). From 1 Chronicles 11:15, it would seem that David and his men fled to the cave of Adullam. It was while David and his men were there that the Philistines had taken Bethlehem and were camped there (1 Chronicles 11:16ff.). Did the Philistines expect to find David there? Regardless, this is where David expressed his desire for a cup of water from his favorite well in Bethlehem, and three of his brave men broke through the Philistine lines to get it for him (1 Chronicles 11:16-19).
If, indeed, David was in the cave of Adullam at the beginning of the battle with the Philistines, I find it interesting and encouraging. God does not waste His efforts. It was at the cave of Adullam that David's family and many of his fighting men came to him. (I now see why his family came to him there. It cannot have been that far from his home in Bethlehem, so that his family could slip away, without being seized by Saul's men.) In the process of David's fleeing from Saul, he found a number of “strongholds” which would serve him well in later years, when he was fighting folks like the Philistines.
In David's first confrontation with the Philistines, it was David whom they were after, and the new king turned to God for guidance. David inquired of God if he was to go up against the Philistines. God instructed him to go up against them, with the assurance that He would give the Philistines into his hands (verse 19). At Baal-perazim David met the enemy and defeated them, naming the place Baal-perazim as a reminder that God had given this “break-through” victory over the enemy. It was there, we are told, that the Philistines abandoned their idols, and David's men gathered them (verse 21). From 1 Chronicles 14:12 we learn that they were gathered in order to be burned.
I noticed in the paper today that Mike Tyson is eager and confident about his boxing rematch with Evander Holyfield, to whom he lost last November. He is not willing to let his defeat stand. He believes that he did not take his opponent seriously enough. The Philistines must have felt the same way about David and the Israelites. They would not give up that easily; they were unwilling to let their first defeat stand. They wanted a rematch. And so they made yet another attack against David. And so once again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. (It is almost as though they wished to recreate the first battle all over again, isn't it?) David wondered somewhat the same thing. Should he go up against them, just as he had done before? God's answer was that he should fight the Philistines, but not in the same way he had done in the past. This time, rather than attacking them head-on, David was told to circle around behind them. They were not to attack until they heard the “sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees” (verse 24).
Some seem to think that is was merely the noise of the wind in the trees that concealed the sounds of David's approach. I think there is more to it than this. God is infinite, and He seems to delight in bringing military victory to His people in an endless array of means. He has used a thunderstorm, with its bolts of lightening and rains, which is downright unhealthy for those whose weapons are made of iron, and the mud caused by the rains don't help chariots to function well, either (see 1 Samuel 7:10). God later employed an earthquake to shake up the enemy (1 Samuel 14:15). Earlier, God gave Israel victory over the Amorites by stoning the enemy with hailstones (Joshua 10:11). In 2 Kings chapter 7, God frightened off the Syrian army by causing them to hear the sounds of a great army, yet there was none (verses 6-7). I am therefore inclined to take the words of our text (2 Samuel 5:24) as a report of another great “multimedia presentation” by God, which served to unnerve the enemy and to pave the way for their defeat at the hand of David. This defeat was such that David pursued the Philistines back to their own territory (Gezer is virtually on the border of Philistine territory). The defeat of the Philistines is decisive. Though it was Saul's task to deliver Israel from the Philistines (1 Samuel 9:16), he was killed and Israel was defeated by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31). It was King David who gave Israel relief from the Philistines (2 Samuel 19:9).
There is, of course, a great sense of relief and of joy to arrive at this point in David's life. It has been many years since Samuel anointed David as Israel's king. David has been through many painful experiences in order to reach this point. There have been the good times, such as serving in Saul's house as his musician, and becoming close friends with his son, Jonathan. There was the defeat of Goliath, and there were promotions by Saul. There was the blessing of marriage to one of Saul's daughters, making David a part of the royal family. But there were many bad times as well. There were years of waiting, of hiding out from Saul in fear for his life. There were those times when David had to seek refuge among his enemies. Now, all of that has culminated in his reign over all Israel. It is indeed a joyous moment, a time for celebration.
I am impressed with David, especially when compared with Saul. Unlike Saul, David continually seeks God's will and endeavors to obey His commands. When David is wrong, he repents and seeks to do what is right. Though Saul does not give Israel victory over the Philistines, David does. Though Saul does not exercise moral leadership over the nation, David does. Over and over, David sets the moral and spiritual pace for Judah and the other tribes of Israel. He responds rightly to the news of Saul's death, and to the wickedness of those who raised their hands against the Lord's anointed.
Unlike Saul, David is not just a king who knows nothing other than crisis management, who seems only willing to “put out fires.” Saul only dealt with the problems he could not avoid. David dealt with problems that those before him had avoided, and with some success. The taking of Jebus is one such example of David's initiative and leadership. I believe that David understood God's promise that He would give over the Jebusites and their land. I further believe that David sought to obey God's command, though given to Israel in an earlier day, to defeat the Jebusites and drive them out of the land. I believe that David saw the city of Jebus as an ideal capital, and one that would serve to unite the tribes of Israel under his rule. He could have chosen to “peacefully co-exist” with the Jebusites, as others before him had done, but instead he took the difficult path and prevailed over them. And it was a victory such as this which gave Israel (and her king) status and respect (even fear) among the nations.
If I were to sum up the entire 5th chapter of 2 Samuel, I believe it's unity can be found in one central theme: men's response to God's king. While Saul, Abner, and others may have resisted David's rise to the throne, it was the will of God. After Abner's death, the people of Israel recognized that David should be their king, and it was their leaders who approached David, expressing their desire for him to be their king. In short, the tribes of Israel submitted to David as God's king (5:1-5). The Jebusites opposed God's king, and so it was that God gave David -- His king -- the victory over the Jebusites (5:6-10). They were overthrown by God's king, because they opposed him. Hiram, king of Tyre, seems to have recognized to one degree or another that David was God's king, and by his offer to help build David a palace, he demonstrated his submission to God's king (5:11-12). In the taking of more wives and the bearing of more children, David was thriving as God's king (5:13-16). The Philistines, however, would not submit to David as God's king. They attacked David, seeking to kill him and to remove the threat that he and a united Israel posed (5:17-25). Not once, but twice, did these Philistines come against David and the army of Israel. And twice God gave David the victory over his enemies. Those who received David as God's king were blessed; those who rejected David as God's king were crushed.
David is most certainly a prototype of the “Son of David” who is to come, God's King, who will come to the earth to defeat His enemies, and to rule over His kingdom.
1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 'You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.”' 10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. 11 Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:1-12)
This psalm speaks prophetically of the day when God will install His King, the Lord Jesus Christ, upon His throne. The enemies of God and of good will seek to unite themselves in order to resist and to overthrow the reign of Christ as King. It is clear that such resistance is foolish and fatal. When God sets His King upon His throne, no one will be able to resist or overthrow Him. Those who seek to do so will be crushed. There is only one wise response to the coming of God's King, and that is to humbly submit to Him, for in this is great blessing (verses 10-12).
David serves as a prototype of our Lord Jesus Christ as God's King, the King who is the subject of Psalm 2. Those who opposed David were eventually crushed. Those who submitted to him were blessed. When our Lord came to this earth 2,000 years ago, God made it clear that He was indeed the Son of God, God's King:
1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified (Matthew 17:1-6).
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).
30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (John 1:47-49; see also Matthew 2:1-6).
In spite of all the evidence, many of those in the religious establishment chose to reject Jesus as God's Messiah. They grasped at straws to prove to themselves and others that He could not possibly be God's King. But their best efforts failed. They thought that they had triumphed over Him when they brought about His crucifixion and death, but when God raised Him from the dead, it was clear that He had triumphed over them.
Jesus Christ is God's King. When our Lord Jesus came to the earth the first time, He added unblemished humanity to his deity. While He was introduced as God's King, He was rejected and crucified by sinful men. The purpose of His first coming was not to establish His kingdom by overthrowing Rome, it was to die for the sins of men, so that they could enter into His kingdom. Those who trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life await His second coming. It is at this future time that He will defeat His enemies and establish His throne on the earth. Those who reject Him as God's king will be overthrown, just as the enemies of David were. There is no more important issue for you to settle than your relationship with Jesus Christ, God's king. Those who are His friends will reign with Him. Those who are His enemies will be destroyed. May you be like Hiram king of Tyre, rather than like the Philistines, who set themselves against David and against God.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).
22 Actually, the text only says, “Therefore, they say, ‘The blind or the lame shall not come into the house.’“ The they seems to be contrasted with “David said” in verse 8. I doubt very much that this they can refer to the Jebusites, and thus it must refer to the Israelites. Based on this experience and upon David’s response, the people assumed that the ‘blind and the lame’ would never be allowed into this city, and most certainly not into the king’s house.