Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
This pericope focuses on David’s coronation and capture of Jerusalem.
When facing this text the preacher is faced with a choice regarding verses 6-8, left out of the reading according to the lectionary. The first choice leaves things as, skipping the donut hole of verses 6-8; the second reads the whole, verses 1-10. The first focuses on David’s coronation and reign as the LORD’s blessing of him. The second, however, sees a fuller (yes, I vote for option two!) picture, is more honest about challenges within David’s story, especially in relation to Christ’s, and is ultimately less susceptible to error and more preach-able.
While the spirit of the LORD has rested upon David for some time,1 the formal coronation takes place in Hebron. David, now thirty years of age, has proved himself as a leader faithful to the LORD. This should not be interpreted as though David were a figure like Mohandas Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr. Rather, David is poet and musician and blood-stained warrior. He is the one who carried Goliath’s severed head back to Jerusalem2 and the one who could play the harp so well as to fend off the evil spirit of the LORD from Saul.3
He is the one who immediately prior to today’s text hears of the vengeful murder of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth (a.k.a. Ishbaal). When the two men who killed Ish-bosheth brought his head to David as evidence of their great act, he rewarded them by killing them, cutting off their hands and feet, and hanging their bodies beside the pool at Hebron. In short, prior to David’s coronation, the LORD’s anointed is no model on non-violence. Yes, he is a great leader, a strong warrior, and a skilled musician and poet. At the same time, he is ruthless and not to be worshipped.
The coronation happens at Hebron. There is no crown or scepter to pass down. Rather, the people recognized the LORD’s anointing of David, the elders recognized him as king, 4 and David made a covenant with them as their leader. If we were to skip the donut hole in the pericope, we would move from David’s coronaton, including the detail that he was thirty years of age when crowned, that he reigned forty years, [donut hole], that he occupied and reigned in Jerusalem, and that David’s greatness was because the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.5
While there is nothing wrong with talking about David’s coronation and reign over Israel, it is wrong to paint the picture too nicely, sterilizing it of its ugly or more challenging bits. “The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land…”6 David’s first action as king is to take Jerusalem. And yet again, he proves his military acumen by hitting the city where it was vulnerable — through the water system. As the text recalls, “David had said on that day, ‘Whoever would strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the blind and lame, those whom David hates.'”7
At this point in the narrative, David’s cunning move of sending his troops in through the water system gets just a bit lost. Our reading needs to come to a screeching halt. David sends his soldiers to attack the blind and the lame, those whom David hates? The text here cries out to be explained if not corrected. The Masoretic Text, where the Ketiv reads “those whom David hates,” also includes a Qere option that is passive, “… the blind and lame, who are hateful to David.” This is no easy thing.
To top it off, the text then builds upon David’s ire with a justification for the exclusion of the blind and the lame from the Temple. “Therefore it is said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.'”8
Just who are these blind and lame? It is possible that this is a taunt used by the Jebusite defenders of the city. The city is so well fortified that even the “blind” and the “lame” could keep you out, David!9 It could equally be a slur by David of his enemies, calling them the “blind” and the “lame,” a solution that would mesh with David’s hate of them. However, the etymological move in verse 8b is most problematic, “Therefore it is said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.'” Which house is this? It could be the house that King Hiram of Tyre built for David that is mentioned just after this pericope,10 though this is unlikely. More likely is that it is an etymological statement about admission to the Temple,11 even though the Temple is not built until Solomon’s reign.12
With all the difficulties of this text, it is important that the juxtaposition that the text itself gives us of David’s coronation, his conquering of Jerusalem and this oddly prominent prohibition of the blind and the lame from the house (of the LORD) be held together. For, if I may be so bold, the interpreter of scripture, especially for the purpose of preaching, must always work to avoid avoiding the difficulties!
I want to move toward the preaching of this text within the framework of testimony.13 The testimony to Israel’s God in this text — donut hole and all! — is dissonant. David, the unlikely slayer of Goliath, has become king over Israel, and the text testifies that David’s greatness is because “the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.” At the same time, David’s indignation is justification for closing off the temple to the blind and lame. Indeed, there is counter-testimony to this in the Old Testament,14 a counter-testimony incarnate in Jesus the Messiah, son of David, of whom Matthew reports in his version of the cleansing of the temple:
He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den or robbers.” The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them.15
11 Samuel 16:13
21 Samuel 17:54
31 Samuel 16:23
4I am reminded of the traditional choice and coronation of the kings of the Scots. As I recall the story from there, each of the Scottish noblemen would bring with them to Scone (pronounced SKOON) a boot full of earth from their reign. They would dump the earth on the place traditionally called Caislean Credi or the Hill of Credulity. It was on this place that symbolized common ground that these Scots “elders” would choose their next king.
52 Samuel 5:10
62 Samuel 5:6
72 Samuel 5:8a
82 Samuel 5:8b
9Something akin to Isaiah 33:23: Then shall indeed much spoil be divided, even the lame shall seize booty. (JPS)
102 Samuel 5:11
11The LXX makes this reading clear by ending verse 8 with “into the house of the LORD.”
12Strange as David’s declaration is, nowhere in Scripture does it say that the blind and the lame in general are omitted from the Temple. There are stipulations against priests who are blind and lame, among other “blemishes,” making sacrifice (Leviticus 21:18), and against making sacrifice to the LORD of any blind or lame livestock (Deuteronomy 15:21). It should also be noted here that there are a number of sectarian text from Qumran that go “well beyond” any biblical texts to exclude the blind and the lame from the assembly, cf. Saul M. Olyan, “The Exegetical Dimensions of Restrictions on the Blind and the Lame in Texts from Qumran,” Dead Sea Discoveries 8 (2001) 38-50.
13A nominal though not substantive nod toward Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997).
14Jeremiah 31:8, and also Isaiah 35:5-6.
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
The book of First Samuel ends with the death of King Saul and his three sons (1 Samuel 31). Much earlier in that book, we learned that Saul had disobeyed the Lord and that the Lord had rejected him as king (1 Samuel 15). The Lord then directed Samuel to anoint the boy, David, as king, and Samuel did so in a secret anointing (1 Samuel 16:1-13). That was quite some time ago—even before David killed the Philistine, Goliath.
After David killed Goliath, the women greeted the homecoming warriors by shouting, “Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:6), causing Saul to become murderously jealous. Saul plotted to kill David, but the Lord (sometimes with the help of Saul’s son, Jonathan, who was a good friend of David) always helped David to escape. David had both reason and opportunity to kill Saul, but refused to do so (1 Samuel, chapters 24 and 26). He remained loyal to Saul even in the face of great provocation, and mourned the deaths of Saul and his sons (2 Samuel 1).
Following Saul’s death, David was anointed king of Judah—the southern portion of the Promised Land (2:4).
One of Saul’s sons, Ish-bosheth (also known as Ish-Baal), survived his father and brothers. Abner, who had been Saul’s general, made Ish-bosheth king of Israel (the northern portion of the Promised Land (2:8-11). Following that, there was a battle between Israel, led by Abner, and Judah, led by Joab (2:12-32). In that battle, Judah lost twenty soldiers, but Israel lost 360—a clear victory for Judah. During that battle, Abner killed Asahel, Joab’s brother—a fact that would ultimately lead to Abner’s death by Joab’s hand.
Accused by Ish-bosheth of going in to Saul’s concubine (wrongly accused according to Abner), Abner defected to David and persuaded the elders of Israel to favor David over Ish-bosheth (3:1-21). But then Joab killed Abner to avenge the death of his brother, Asahel (3:22-39).
Rechab and Baanah, thinking that they would incur David’s favor, killed Ish-bosheth. David responded by having Rechab and Baanah killed and their bodies mutilated (chapter 4).
The death of Ish-bosheth left a power vacuum—a leadership vacuum. That led the elders of Israel to come to David seeking to persuade him to assume their throne as well as the throne of Judah—to establish a united kingdom.
2 SAMUEL 5:1-2. THEN ALL THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL CAME TO DAVID
1Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to Hebron, and spoke, saying, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. Yahweh said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'”
“Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to Hebron, and spoke, saying, ‘Behold, we are your bone and your flesh‘” (v. 1). Hebron is David’s capitol city. It is located 19 miles (31 km) southeast of Jerusalem and 23 miles (37 km) northeast of Beer-sheba.
Hebron has a rich history. Abraham made it his home after he separated from Lot, and built an altar to the Lord there (Genesis 13:18). When Sarah died, he buried her in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron (Genesis 23:1-20). As we shall see (v. 5), David will reign seven and a half years at Hebron prior to capturing Jerusalem and making it his capitol.
As noted above, the elders of Israel were left bereft of leadership when Saul, Saul’s sons, and Abner were killed. Now they come to David, who has already been installed as King of Judah (2:1-7) to ask him to be their king as well.
Their first appeal to David is that “we are your bone and your flesh”—i.e., we are your kinspeople. In a narrow sense, that is not true. David is from Bethlehem of Judah, so his tribal affiliation is with Judah in the south—not Israel in the north. However, in a broader sense it is true. Both Israel and Judah are descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their ancestors suffered side by side through the long siege of slavery in Egypt and the forty-year trek in the wilderness. Israel and Judah have a great deal in common—and little reason to be divided.
“In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel“ (v. 2a). This is the second appeal by the elders of Israel. They tell David that, even while Saul was their king, David “led out and brought in Israel.” Similar language in 1 Samuel 18:13 and 16 refers to military leadership. The elders of Israel are saying that, even while Saul was their king, David performed many of their king’s military duties.
“Yahweh said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel‘” (v. 2b-c). This is the third appeal by the elders of Israel—and they saved their best appeal until last. The Lord has called David to be the shepherd of Israel—ruler of Israel. David could conceivably ignore their first two appeals, but he cannot ignore the Lord’s call.
“You shall be shepherd of my people Israel“ (v. 2b). Shepherds provide leadership and protection to their flocks, and the shepherd motif is a common metaphor for kings and other leaders—albeit often negatively. Kings and other religious leaders are supposed to be shepherds. They are supposed to provide trustworthy leadership and tender care for those in their charge—but seldom do (Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1-4; 25:34-38; Ezekiel 34:1-10; Zechariah 10:3; 11:4-17). David, however, will be an exception. The Good Shepherd, Jesus will come from David’s lineage (Luke 2:4; John 10:11).
But it is the Lord, not David, who is the true shepherd of Israel (Psalm 23:1-6; 78:52, 80:1).
2 SAMUEL 5:3. THEY ANOINTED DAVID KING OVER ISRAEL
3So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before Yahweh; and they anointed David king over Israel.
“So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron“ (v. 3a). In verse 1, we heard that “all the tribes of Israel came to David.” Here we hear that “the elders of Israel came to the king.” These are more than likely the same event. It is unlikely that verse 1 intended to convey that the entire population of all the tribes of Israel came to David. More than likely, it was their elders who came to David in verse 1.
“and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before Yahweh“ (v. 3b). The text refers to King David—only the second time that this full title is used (see 3:31).
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. Essentially legal contracts, covenants typically describe what is required of each of the parties and the benefits that each can expect to enjoy. Examples of human covenants include everything from an agreement between two people to a treaty between two or more nations. In the ancient world, covenants were binding agreements, and people entering into covenants would usually ratify a covenant by swearing oaths and making ritual sacrifices.
In a relationship between two parties of unequal power, the more powerful person would be in a position to dictate the terms of the covenant (or at least to heavily influence the terms). In this case, David is most powerful, and David makes the covenant with these elders—not vice versa.
They make this covenant “before Yahweh.” Their promises, therefore, are sacred and binding. In the event that one of the parties to the covenant fails to live up to the provisions of the covenant, they will be answerable, not only to the other party, but also to the Lord.
“and they anointed David king over Israel” (v. 3c). David was first anointed as king by Samuel, many years earlier (1 Samuel 16:1-13). This was a secret anointing, and showed the Lord’s intention for David’s life.
More recently, the people of Judah “anointed David king over the house of Judah” (2:4).
Now these Israelite elders anoint David as king over Judah. This brings unity to the people of God. They now have a common king.
2 SAMUEL 5:4-5. DAVID REIGNED FORTY YEARS
4David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.
“David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years“ (v. 4). David was relatively young when he assumed the throne, and he reigns for forty years—forty being shorthand for a very long time. Forty appears frequently in both Old and New Testament key events. The great flood lasted forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:4). Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years (Exodus 16:35). Moses remained on Mount Sinai for forty days while receiving the law (Exodus 24:18). Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days (Luke 4:2).
“In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah “ (v. 5). This tells us that David’s foray against the Jebusites where he took the city of Jerusalem (vv. 6-8) was not the first act of his kingship. He ruled in Hebron for seven and a half years before conquering Jerusalem. He will rule there for thirty-three years.
2 SAMUEL 5:6-8. DAVID TOOK THE STRONGHOLD OF ZION
These verses, not included in the lectionary reading, tell of David leading his army against the Jebusites at Jerusalem. The Jebusites considered their city impregnable, but David used their water shaft to infiltrate soldiers into the city, and he “took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David” (5:7).
2 SAMUEL 5:9-10. DAVID NAMED IT THE CITY OF DAVID
9David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. David built around from Millo (Hebrew: mil·lo — “filling” or “what is full”) and inward.10David grew greater and greater; for Yahweh, the God of Armies, was with him.
“David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David“ (v. 9a). The stronghold under consideration is Jerusalem. David names it after himself.
“David built around from Millo (mil·lo —”filling” or “what is full”) and inward“ (v. 9b). We are not quite certain what is meant by the Millo. The NIV translates verse 9b, “He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward,” reflecting archeological evidence that the Millo was terraces supported by retaining walls. In any event, this verse tells us that David engaged in a major effort to improve and expand the city of Jerusalem.
1 Kings 9:15 tells of King Solomon conscripting labor to build the Millo. That probably has to do with additional construction or reconstruction work.
“David grew greater and greater“ (v. 10a). Earlier, we read, “Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: and David grew stronger and stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker” (3:1). Now Saul and his sons are dead, and David is well on his way to becoming the greatest king in Israel’s history.
“for Yahweh, the God of Armies, was with him“ (v. 10b). This is the reason for David’s success—not his personal ability or courage—not luck. This is a theme that we have heard before (1 Samuel 18:12, 14; 2 Samuel 3:1).
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
Anderson, A.A., Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Samuel, Vol. 11 (Dallas, Word Books, 1989)
Baldwin, Joyce G., Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries:1 & 2 Samuel, Vol. 8 (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988)
Bergin, Robert D., The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Samuel, Vol. 7 (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996)
Birch, Bruce C., The New Interpreter’s Bible: Numbers- Samuel, Vol. II (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998)
Brueggemann, Walter, Interpretation Commentary: I and II Samuel (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1973)
Cartledge, Tony W., Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Samuel (Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys, 2001)
Craddock, Fred B.; Hayes, John H.; Holladay, Carl R.; Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year, B (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1993)
Dutcher-Walls, Patricia, in Van Harn, Roger (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Text. The First Readings: The Old Testament and Acts (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001)
Evans, Mary J., New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Samuel (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2000)
Gehrke, Ralph David, Concordia Commentary: 1 and 2 Samuel (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968)
Klein, Ralph W., Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Samuel, Vol. 10 (Dallas: Word Books, 1983)
Newsome, James D., in Brueggemann, Walter; Cousar, Charles B.; Gaventa, Beverly R.; and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV—Year B (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993)
Peterson, Eugene H., Westminster Bible Companion: First and Second Samuel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999)
Copyright 2008, 2010, Richard Niell Donovan
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on 2 Samuel 5
How far Abner's deserting the house of Saul, his murder, and the murder of Ish-bosheth, might contribute to the perfecting of the revolution, and the establishing of David as king over all Israel, does not appear; but, it should seem, that happy change followed presently thereupon, which in this chapter we have an account of. Here is,
- I. David anointed king by all the tribes (v. 1-5).
- II. Making himself master of the strong-hold of Zion (v. 6-10).
- III. Building himself a house and strengthening himself in his kingdom (v. 11, 12).
- IV. His children that were born after this (v. 13-16).
- V. His victories over the Philistines (v. 17-25).
- I. The humble address of all the tribes to David, beseeching him to take upon him the government (for they were now as sheep having no shepherd), and owning him for their king. Though David might by no means approve the murder of Ish-bosheth, yet he might improve the advantages he gained thereby, and accept the applications made to him thereupon. Judah had submitted to David as their king above seven years ago, and their ease and happiness, under his administration, encouraged the rest of the tribes to make their court to him. What numbers came from each tribe, with what zeal and sincerity they came, and how they were entertained for three days at Hebron, when they were all of one heart to make David king, we have a full account, 1 Chr. 12:23-40. Here we have only the heads of their address, containing the grounds they went upon in making David king.
- 1. Their relation to him was some inducement: "We are thy bone and thy flesh (v. 1), not only thou art our bone and our flesh, not a stranger, unqualified by the law to be king (Deu. 17:15), but we are thine," that is, "we know that thou considerest us as thy bone and thy flesh, and hast as tender a concern for us as a man has for his own body, which Saul and his house had not. We are thy bone and thyflesh, and therefore thou wilt be as glad as we shall be to put an end to this long civil war; and thou wilt take pity on us, protect us, and do thy utmost for our welfare." Those who take Christ for their king may thus plead with him: "We are thy bone and thy flesh, thou hast made thyself in all things like unto thy brethren (Heb. 2:17); therefore be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand," Isa. 3:6.
- 2. His former good services to the public were a further inducement (v. 2): "When Saul was king he was but the cypher, thou wast the figure, thou wast he thatleddest out Israel to battle, and broughtest them in in triumph; and therefore who so fit now to fill the vacant throne?" He that is faithful in a little deserves to be entrusted with more. Former good offices done for us should be gratefully remembered by us when there is occasion.
- 3. The divine appointment was the greatest inducement of all: The Lord said, Thou shalt feed mypeople Israel, that is, thou shalt rule them; for princes are to feed their people as shepherds, in every thing consulting the subjects' benefit, feeding them and not fleecing them. "And thou shalt be not only a king to govern in peace, but a captain to preside in war, and be exposed to all the toils and perils of the camp." Since God has said so, now at length, when need drives them to it, they are persuaded to say so too.
- II. The public and solemn inauguration of David, v. 3. A convention of the states was called; all the elders of Israel came to him; the contract was settled, the pacta conventa-covenants, sworn to, and subscribed on both sides. He obliged himself to protect them as their judge in peace and captain in war; and they obliged themselves to obey him. He made a league with them to which God was a witness: it was before the Lord. Hereupon he was, for the third time, anointed king. His advances were gradual, that his faith might be tried and that he might gain experience. And thus his kingdom typified that of the Messiah, which was to come to its height by degrees; for we see not yet all things put under him (Heb. 2:8), but we shall see it, 1 Co. 15:25.
- III. A general account of his reign and age. He was thirty years old when he began to reign, upon the death of Saul, v. 4. At that age the Levites were at first appointed to begin their administration, Num. 4:3. About that age the Son of David entered upon his public ministry, Lu. 3:23. Then men come to their full maturity of strength and judgment. He reigned, in all, forty years and six months, of which seven years and a half in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem, v. 5. Hebron had been famous, Jos. 14:15. It was a priest's city. But Jerusalem was to be more so, and to be the holy city. Great kings affected to raise cities of their own, Gen. 10:11; 36:32-35. David did so, and Jerusalem was the city of David. It is a name famous to the end of the Bible (Rev. 21), where we read of a new Jerusalem.
If Salem, the place of which Melchizedec was king, was Jerusalem (as seems probable from Ps. 76:2), it was famous in Abraham's time. Joshua, in his time, found it the chief city of the south part of Canaan, Jos. 10:1-3. It fell to Benjamin's lot (Jos. 18:28), but joined close to Judah's, Jos. 15:8. The children of Judah had taken it (Jdg. 1:8), but the children of Benjamin suffered the Jebusites to dwell among them (Jdg. 1:21), and they grew so upon them that it became a city of Jebusites,Jdg. 19:11. Now the very first exploit David did, after he was anointed king over all Israel, was to gain Jerusalem out of the hand of the Jebusites, which, because it belonged to Benjamin, he could not well attempt till that tribe, which long adhered to Saul's house (1 Chr. 12:29), submitted to him. Here we have,
- I. The Jebusites' defiance of David and his forces. They said, Except thou take away theblind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither,v. 6. They sent David this provoking message, because, as it is said afterwards, on another occasion, they could not believe that everan enemy would enter into the gates of Jerusalem,Lam. 4:12. They confided either,
- 1. In the protection of their gods, which David, in contempt, had called the blind and the lame, for theyhave eyes and see not, feet and walk not. "But," say they, "these are the guardians of our city, and except thou take these away (which thou canst never do) thou canst not come in hither." Some think they were constellated images of brass set up in the recess of the fort, and entrusted with the custody of the place. They called their idols their Mauzzim, or strong-holds (Dan. 11:38) and as such relied on them. The name of the Lord is our strong tower, and his arm is strong, his eyes are piercing. Or,
- 2. In the strength of their fortifications, which they thought were made so impregnable by nature or art, or both, that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them against the most powerful assailant. The strong-hold of Zion they especially depended on, as that which could not be forced. Probably they set blind and lame people, invalids or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance upon the walls, in scorn of David and his men, judging them an equal match for him. Though there remain but wounded men among them, yet they should serve to beat back the besiegers. Compare Jer. 37:10. Note, The enemies of God's people are often very confident of their own strength and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh.
- II. David's success against the Jebusites. Their pride and insolence, instead of daunting him, animated him, and when he made a general assault he gave this order to his men: "He thatsmiteth the Jebusites, let him also throw down into the ditch, or gutter, the lame and the blind, which are set upon the wall to affront us and our God." It is probable they had themselves spoken blasphemous things, and were therefore hated of David's soul. Thus v. 8 may be read; we fetch our reading of it from 1 Chr. 11:6, which speaks only of smiting the Jebusites, but nothing of the blind and the lame. The Jebusites had said that if these images of theirs did not protect them the blind and the lame should not come into the house, that is, they would never again trust their palladium (so Mr. Gregory understands it) nor pay the respect they had paid to their images; and David, having gained the fort, said so too, that these images, which could not protect their worshippers, should never have any place there more.
- III. His fixing his royal seat in Sion. He himself dwelt in the fort (the strength whereof, which had given him opposition, and was a terror to him, now contributed to his safety), and he built houses round about for his attendants and guards (v. 9) from Millo (the town-hall, or state-house) and inward. He proceeded and prospered in all he set his hand to, grew great in honour, strength, and wealth, more and more honourable in the eyes of his subjects and formidable in the eyes of his enemies; for the Lord God of hosts was with him. God has all creatures at his command, makes what use he pleases of them, and serves his own purposes by them; and he was with him, to direct, preserve, and prosper him, Those that have the Lord of hosts for them need not fear what hosts of men or devils can do against them. Those who grow great must ascribe their advancement to the presence of God with them, and give him the glory of it. The church is called Sion, and the city of the living God. The Jebusites, Christ's enemies, must first be conquered and dispossessed, the blind and the lame taken away, and then Christ divides the spoil, sets up his throne there, and makes it his residence by the Spirit.
- I. David's house built, a royal palace, fit for the reception of the court he kept and the homage that was paid to him, v. 11. The Jews were husbandmen and shepherds, and did not much addict themselves either to merchandise or manufactures; and therefore Hiram, king of Tyre, a wealthy prince, when he sent to congratulate David on his accession to the throne, offered him workmen to build him a house. David thankfully accepted the offer, and Hiram's workmen built David a house to his mind. Many have excelled in arts and sciences who were strangers to the covenants of promise. Yet David's house was never the worse, nor the less fit to be dedicated to God, for being built by the sons of the stranger. It is prophesied of the gospel church, The sons of the strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall ministerunto thee,Isa. 60:10.
- II. David's government settled and built up, v. 12.
- 1. His kingdom was established, there was nothing to shake it, none to disturb his possession or question his title. He that made him king established him, because he was to be a type of Christ, with whom God's hand should be established, and his covenant stand fast,Ps. 89:21-28. Saul was made king, but not established; so Adam in innocency. David was established king, so is the Son of David, with all who through him are made to our God kings and priests.
- 2. It was exalted in the eyes both of its friends and enemies. Never had the nation of Israel looked so great or made such a figure as it began now to do. Thus it is promised of Christ that he shall be higher than the kings of the earth,Ps. 89:27. God has highly exalted him,Phil. 2:9.
- 3. David perceived, by the wonderful concurrence of providences to his establishment and advancement, that God was with him. By this I know thatthou favourest me,Ps. 41:11. Many have the favour of God and do not perceive it, and so want the comfort of it: but to be exalted to that and established in it, and to perceive it, is happiness enough.
- 4. He owned that it was for his people Israel's sake that God had done great things for him, that he might be a blessing to them and they might be happy under his administration. God did not make Israel his subjects for his sake, that he might be great, and rich, and absolute: but he made him their king for their sake, that he might lead, and guide, and protect them. Kings are ministers of God to their people for good,Rom. 13:4.
- III. David's family multiplied and increased. All the sons that were born to him after he came to Jerusalem are here mentioned together, eleven in all, besides the six that were born to him before in Hebron, ch. 3:2, 5. There the mothers are mentioned, not here; only, in general, it is said that he took more concubines and wives,v. 13. Shall we praise him for this? We praise him not; we justify him not; nor can we scarcely excuse him. The bad example of the patriarchs might make him think there was no harm in it, and he might hope it would strengthen his interest, by multiplying his alliances, and increasing the royal family. Happy is the man that has his quiverfull of these arrows. But one vine by the side of the house, with the blessing of God, may send boughs to the sea and branches to the rivers. Adam, by one wife, peopled the world, and Noah re-peopled it. David had many wives, and yet that did not keep him from coveting his neighbour's wife and defiling her; for men that have once broken the fence will wander endlessly. Of David's concubines, see 2 Sa. 15:16; 16:22; 19:5. Of his sons, see 1 Chr. 3:1-9.
The particular service for which David was raised up was to save Israel out of the hand ofthe Philistines,ch. 3:18. This therefore divine Providence, in the first place, gives him an opportunity of accomplishing. Two great victories obtained over the Philistines we have here an account of, by which David not only balanced the disgrace and retrieved the loss Israel had sustained in the battle wherein Saul was slain, but went far towards the total subduing of those vexatious neighbours, the last remains of the devoted nations.
- I. In both these actions the Philistines were the aggressors, stirred first towards their own destruction, and pulled it on their own heads.
- 1. In the former they came up to seek David (v. 17), because they heard that he was anointed king over Israel. He that under Saul had slain his ten thousands, what would he do when he himself came to be king! They therefore thought it was time to look about them, and try to crush his government in its infancy, before it was well settled. Their success against Saul, some years ago, perhaps encouraged them to make this attack upon David; but they considered not that David had that presence of God with him which Saul had forfeited and lost. The kingdom of the Messiah, as soon as ever it was set up in the world, was thus vigorously attacked by the powers of darkness, who, with the combined force both of Jews and Gentiles, made head against it. The heathen raged, and the kings of the earth set themselves to oppose it; but all in vain, Ps. 2:1, etc. The destruction will turn, as this did, upon Satan's own kingdom. They took counsel together, but were broken in pieces,Isa. 8:9, 10.
- 2. In the latter they came up yet again, hoping to recover what they had lost in the former engagement, and their hearts being hardened to their destruction, v. 22.
- 3. In both they spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim, which lay very near Jerusalem. That city they hoped to make themselves masters of before David had completed the fortifications of it. Jerusalem, from its infancy, has been aimed at, and struck at, with a particular enmity. Their spreading themselves intimates that they were very numerous and that they made a very formidable appearance. We read of the church's enemies going up on the breadth of the earth (Rev. 20:9), but the further they spread themselves the fairer mark they are to God's arrows.
- II. In both, David, though forward enough to go forth against them (for as soon as he heard it he went down to the hold, to secure some important and advantageous post, v. 17), yet entered not upon action till he had enquired of the Lord by the breast-plate of judgment, v. 19, and again, v. 23. His enquiry was twofold:-
- 1. Concerning his duty: "Shall I go up? Shall I have a commission from heaven to engage them?" One would think he needed not doubt this; what was he made king for, but to fight the battles of the Lord and Israel? But a good man loves to see God going before him in every step he takes. "Shall I go up now?" It is to be done, but is it to be done at this time? In all thy ways acknowledge him. And besides, though the Philistines were public enemies, yet some of them had been his particular friends. Achish had been kind to him in his distress, and had protected him. "Now," says David, "ought not I, in remembrance of that, rather to make peace with them than to make war with them?" "No," says God, "they are Israel's enemies, and are doomed to destruction, and therefore scruple not, but go up."
- 2. Concerning his success. His conscience asked the former question, Shall I go up? His prudence asked this, Wilt thou deliver them into my hand? Hereby he owns his dependence on God for victory, that he could not conquer them unless God delivered them into his hand, and refers his cause to the good pleasure of God: Wilt thou do it? Yea, says God, I will doubtless do it. If God send us, he will bear us out and stand by us. The assurance God has given us of victory over our spiritual enemies, that he will tread Satan under our feet shortly, should animate us in our spiritual conflicts. We do not fight at uncertainty. David had now a great army at command and in good heart, yet he relied more on God's promise than his own force.
- III. In the former of these engagements David routed the army of the Philistines by dint of sword (v. 20): He smote them; and when he had done,
- 1. He gave his God the glory; he said, "The Lord has broken forth upon my enemies before me. I could not have done it if he had not done it before me; he opened the breach like the breach of waters in a dam, which when once opened grows wider and wider." The principal part of the work was God's doing; nay, he did all; what David did was not worth speaking of; and therefore, Not unto us, but unto the Lord,give glory. He hoped likewise that this breach, like that of waters, was as the opening of the sluice, to let in a final desolation upon them; and, to perpetuate the remembrance of it, he called the place Baal-perazim, the master of the breaches, because, God having broken in upon their forces, he soon had the mastery of them. Let posterity take notice of it to God's honour.
- 2. He put their gods to shame. They brought the images of their gods into the field as their protectors, in imitation of the Israelites bringing the ark into their camp; but, being put to flight, they could not stay to carry off their images, for they were a burden to the weary beasts (Isa. 46:1), and therefore they left them to fall with the rest of their baggage into the hands of the conqueror. Their images failed them, and gave them no assistance, and therefore they left their images to shift for themselves. God can make men weary of those things that they have been most fond of, and compel them to desert what they dote upon, and cast even the idols of silverand gold to the moles and the bats,Isa. 2:20, 21. David and his men converted to their own use the rest of the plunder, but the images they burnt, as God had appointed (Deu. 7:5): "You shallburn their graven images with fire, in token of your detestation of idolatry, and lest they should be a snare." Bishop Patrick well observes here that when the ark fell into the Philistines' hands it consumed them, but, when these images fell into the hands of Israel, they could not save themselves from being consumed.
- IV. In the latter of these engagements God gave David some sensible tokens of his presence with him, bade him not fall upon them directly, as he had done before, but fetch a compassbehind them,v. 23.
- 1. God appoints him to draw back, as Israel stood still to see the salvationof the Lord.
- 2. He promised him to charge the enemy himself, by an invisible host of angels, v. 24. "Thou shalt hear the sound of a going, like the march of an army in the air, upon the tops ofthe mulberry trees." Angels tread light, and he that can walk upon the clouds can, when he pleases, walk on the tops of trees, or (as bishop Patrick understands it) at the head of the mulberry-trees, that is, of the wood, or hedge-row of those trees. "And, by that sign, thou shalt know that the Lord goes out before thee; though thou see him not, yet thou shalt hear him, and faith shall come and be confirmed by hearing. He goes forth to smite the host of the Philistines." When David had himself smitten them (v. 20), he ascribed it to God: The Lord has broken forthupon my enemies, to reward him for which thankful acknowledgment the next time God did it himself alone, without putting him to any toil or peril. Those that own God in what he has done for them will find him doing more. But observe, Though God promised to go before him andsmite the Philistines, yet David, when he heard the sound of the going must bestir himself and be ready to pursue the victory. Note, God's grace must quicken our endeavours. If God work in us both to will and to do, it does not follow that we must sit still, as those that have nothing to do, but we must therefore, work out our own salvation with all possible care and diligence, Phil. 2:12, 13. The sound of the going was,
- (1.) A signal to David when to move; it is comfortable going out when God goes before us. And,
- (2.) Perhaps it was an alarm to the enemy, and put them into confusion. Hearing the march of an army against their front, they retreated with precipitation, and fell into David's army which lay behind them in their rear. Of those whom God fights against it is said (Lev. 26:36), The sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them.
- (3.) The success of this is briefly set down, v. 25. David observed his orders, waited till God moved, and stirred them, but not till then. Thus he was trained up in a dependence on God and his providence. God performed his promise, went before him, and routed all the enemies' force, and David failed not to improve his advantages; he smote the Philistines, even to the borders of their own country. When the kingdom of the Messiah was to be set up, the apostles that were to beat down the devil's kingdom must not attempt any thing till they received the promise of the Spirit, who came with a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:2), which was typified by this sound of the going on the tops of the mulberry trees; and, when they heard that, they must bestir themselves, and did so; they went forth conquering and to conquer.
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2 Samuel 5 Bible Commentary
David king over all Israel. (1-5) He takes the strong-hold of Zion. (6-10) David's kingdom established. (11-16) He defeats the Philistines. (17-25)
Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:1-5
(Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5)
David was anointed king a third time. His advances were gradual, that his faith might be tried, and that he might gain experience. Thus his kingdom typified that of the Messiah, which was to come to its height by degrees. Thus Jesus became our Brother, took upon him our nature, dwelt in it that he might become our Prince and Saviour: thus the humbled sinner takes encouragement from the endearing relation, applies for his salvation, submits to his authority, and craves his protection.
Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:6-10
(Read 2 Samuel 5:6-10)
The enemies of God's people are often very confident of their own strength, and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh. But the pride and insolence of the Jebusites animated David, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. Thus in the day of God's power, Satan's strong-hold, the human heart, is changed into a habitation of God through the Spirit, and into a throne on which the Son of David rules, and brings every thought into obedience to himself. May He thus come, and claim, and cleanse, each of our hearts; and, destroying every idol, may he reign there for ever!
Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:11-16
(Read 2 Samuel 5:11-16)
David's house was not the worse, nor the less fit to be dedicated to God, for being built by the sons of the stranger. It is prophesied of the gospel church, The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee, Isaiah 60:10. David's government was rooted and built up. David was established king; so is the Son of David, and all who, through him, are made to our God kings and priests. Never had the nation of Israel appeared so great as it began now to be. Many have the favour and love of God, yet do not perceive it, and so want the comfort of it; but to be exalted to that, and to perceive it, is happiness. David owned it was for his people's sake God had done great things for him; that he might be a blessing to them, and that they might be happy under him.
Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:17-25
(Read 2 Samuel 5:17-25)
The Philistines considered not that David had the presence of God with him, which Saul had forfeited and lost. The kingdom of the Messiah, as soon as it was set up in the world, was thus attacked by the powers of darkness. The heathen raged, and the kings of the earth set themselves to oppose it; but all in vain, Acts 2:2.
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- Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary (concise)
- 2 Samuel
- 2 Samuel 5
Samuel 5 explained 2
2 Samuel 5:1
Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.
Verse 1. - Then came all the tribes of Israel. As Ishbosheth reigned only two years, and David's reign at Hebron lasted for seven years and a half, there is an interval of more than five years to be accounted for; and we have given reason for believing (see note on 2 Samuel 2:10) that it must be placed after the death of Ishbosheth. The treacherous murder of Abner, and the tragic fate of Ishbosheth following upon it so rapidly, must have filled all Israel with horror, and made them look upon David as "a bloody man" (2 Samuel 16:8). But gradually his innocence became clear to all except inveterate partisans, and as the prejudice against him passed away, the evident advantage of union under so able a ruler would force itself upon their attention, and their decision would be hastened by the advantage which the Philistines would be sure to take of their anarchy. How much they had profited by it we gather from the haste with which they endeavoured to crush David's kingdom. The enormous gathering at Hebron to anoint David king proves not merely the unanimity of the tribes, but that his election was the result of long preparation and arrangement. We have fuller details of it in 1 Chronicles 12:23-40, where we learn that the people assembled in large numbers, the total being computed in the 'Speaker's Commentary' at 348,222; and it is remarkable that of this vast array only sixteen thousand nine hundred came from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, which were situated in the neighbourhood of Hebron. On the other hand, the two and a half trans-Jordanic tribes sent no less than a hundred and twenty thousand men, and the three unimportant tribes of Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali mustered a hundred and eighteen thousand; while Issachar was content to send only two hundred, who were all, however, "men that had understanding... and their brethren were at their commandment." These words suggest the probable explanation of the disparity in the numbers, which to many seems so strange that they think they must be corrupt. Each tribe settled for itself in what way it would be represented, and the more distant sent a large proportion of their men of military age on what would be an enjoyable holiday. As they spent three days at Hebron, the expedition would occupy, even for those most remote, little more than a week; and it was well worth the while of the tribes thus to come together. It made them feel the value of unity, and gave them a knowledge of their strength. Their tribal independence during the time of the judges had made them too weak even to maintain their liberty; but now, welded by the kingly power into a nation, they soon, not only won freedom for themselves, but placed their yoke upon the shoulders of their neighbours. As for the difficulty of supplying them with food, all would bring victuals from home; and the neighbouring tribes showed great hospitality. Especially we read that those who were nigh unto Hebron, "even as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, victual of meal, cakes of figs, and clusters of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep in abundance: for there was joy in Israel" (1 Chronicles 12:40). It was a grand national festival, joyously kept because the people saw in the election of David an end to all their troubles; and so vast a gathering overbore all opposition, and gave both to them and their king the consciousness of their might. But while we find in the Book of Chronicles the account of this mighty multitude, it is here (ver. 3) expressly said that it was the elders who made a league with David, and anointed him king. The people by their presence testified their joyful assent to what was done; but David's election was made legitimate by the decision of the constituted authorities in each tribe. It would be most interesting to know the various steps taken, and how the agitation grew and spread from tribe to tribe, until all hesitation and resistance were overcome. But the object of this book is to show us the great qualities, the sin, the repentance, and the punishment of the man who added to the old routine of sacrifice bright services of song, and who was the author of that book of devotion which to this day best expresses the feelings of the heart, as well in the joys as in the sorrows of life. The manner of his election throws no light upon his character, and is passed over. Enough to know that in those five years after Ishbosheth's murder David won the approval of all Israel, and that his appointment to the kingdom was by the free choice of the tribes, acting in a legitimate manner, and sending each their elders to Hebron to notify to David their consent; and that their decision was ratified by this joyful gathering of a mighty multitude from all parts of the land. Three reasons are given by the elders for David's election, and we may be sure that they represent the arguments used in their popular assemblies. The first, that they were David's bone and flesh. In other words, the tribes were all of one race, and united by the closest ties of relationship. For the descendants of a common ancestor to be at war with one another was both morally and politically wrong. The second, that David had been their actual leader in war even in Saul's time. His personal qualities, therefore, justified their choice of him to be their deliverer from the evils which had overwhelmed the land after the disastrous defeat at Gilboa, when Saul had no longer the aid of David's presence. The third, that Jehovah had by the mouth of his prophet given the throne to David. It is remarkable that the elders place this last. Their view probably was that the Divine command must be proved by outward circumstances, that so reason might confirm faith. So Saul's public appointment by Samuel was ratified by the people only after he had shown himself worthy to be a king by the defeat of the Ammonites.
2 Samuel 5:2
Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.
Verse 2. - Thou shalt feed. In biblical language the pastoral office is that of the civil and not of the spiritual ruler. Captain; Hebrew, nagid, prince; so the Revised Version (and see note on 1 Samuel 9:16). The word refers not to military matters, but to the civil administration. David had proved himself a competent leader in war when Saul was king. What Jehovah now gives is the government of Israel in time of peace. The Authorized Version renders "captain" from not perceiving that the Divine promise ensured to David far more than a military chieftainship.
2 Samuel 5:3
So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
Verse 3. - A league. The early kings of Israel were not invested with despotic power. Thus, on Saul's appointment, "Samuel wrote in a book the manner of the kingdom" (1 Samuel 10:25, made most emphatic in the Revised Version by the note in the margin, that the Hebrew is "the book"). The revolt against Rehoboam was the result of the too great extension of the royal power in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 12:4). Though subsequently the kings seemed to have retained their supremacy, yet when the good and patriotic Jehoiada restored the family of David to the throne, he reverted to the old ways, and "made a covenant between the king and the people" (2 Kings 11:17). Besides personal rights, the tribes, accustomed to their own leaders, and unused to yield obedience to a central authority, would certainly stipulate for a large measure of tribal independence, and the management of local matters by themselves. They anointed David king. This was the public ratification of Samuel's anointing, and by it David became de facto, as well as de jure, king. The prophets could not give any right over the people without the consent of the people themselves. But all religious men would see in the Divine command an obligation upon their conscience to accept as their king the man whom the prophet had anointed; and Saul acted in an irreligious manner in seeking to frustrate God's will. And this impiety culminated in his murder of the priests at Nob, which was the open avowal that he would trample all scruples of conscience underfoot.
2 Samuel 5:4
David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
Verse 4. - David was thirty years old. As David was probably about eighteen or nineteen years of age at the time of his combat with Goliath, the events recorded in 1 Samuel 17-31, must have occupied about ten or eleven years.
2 Samuel 5:5
In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
2 Samuel 5:6
And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.
Verse 6. - The king and his men went to Jerusalem. This expedition took place immediately after David's coronation, and probably he was moved to it by the presence of so large a number of the warriors of Israel. He had long foreseen the arrival of the time when he would be king of all the tribes, and must have debated in his mind the problem of his future capital. He could not remain in Hebron, as it was too far to the south, nor would haughty tribes such as Ephraim have consented to be merged into Judah. On the other hand, he could not move far away, as Judah was his main strength. But living in its neighbourhood, he must often have noticed the remarkable position of the city of Jebus, and admired its rock girt strength (Psalm 48:2). Though the Jebusites had been conquered by Joshua (Joshua 11:3), and Jerusalem captured (Judges 1:8), yet, as the children of Judah did not occupy it, but "set the city on fire," it seems to have been soon repeopled by its old inhabitants, who there maintained their independence, and, owing to the impregnable nature of its site, could not be treated as Saul treated the Gibeonite inhabitants of Beeroth. Even subsequently, the Jebusite chief who possessed what probably was Mount Moriah, still bore the titular rank of king; for the words in ch. 24:23 literally are, "All this did Araunah the king give unto the king." The explanation of this long independence of the Jebusites is to be found not only in the feebleness of the tribes during the troubled times of the judges, but even mere in the conformation of the site of their stronghold. Jerusalem is situated on the edge of the precipitous wall which forms the western boundary of the valley of the Jordan, and occupies a promontory, on three sides of which are ravines so abrupt and steep that, were it not for their vast depth, they might seem to have been the work of man. On the north side alone it is open to attack, but even there, when the besieger has obtained an entrance, he finds the city divided by another ravine into two parts; whereof the western portion contains the strong citadel of Mount Zion, while the eastern and smaller portion contains the less elevated mountain of Moriah. Though actually raised above the sea level several hundred feet less than Hebron, it seems to the eye more emphatically a mountain-city; and being well nigh encircled by the valleys of Ben-Hinnom and Jehoshaphat, it seems to sit enthroned above the Jordan valley, compared with which it enjoys a cool and refreshing climate. To its inhabitants it was "beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth" (Psalm 48:2, Revised Version); to the exiles it was "the city of God," to which their hearts ever turned; to us Christians it is the type of Christ's Church on earth, and of his kingdom in heaven. It was an act worthy of David's genius to foresee the great future of the place, and to inaugurate his kingdom by its capture. We gather from Ezekiel 16:45 that at the time when the Hittites were the dominant race in Syria, Jerusalem was one of their fortresses. The name is a dual, literally Yerushalaim, and probably the town was so called because it consisted of two parts - the upper and the lower city. Shalaim means the "two Salems," thus carrying our minds back to the city of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18). In Psalm 76:2 Salem is apparently contrasted with Zion, and so would be the lower town, containing Mount Moriah. Of the other part of the word, Yeru, numerous derivations are given, of which the only probable one is that which connects it with "Yehovah-yireh" - "God will see to it," the name given to the spot where Abraham on this mountain offered a vicarious sacrifice for his son. We must, however, bear in mind that towns retain the names which they bore in primitive times, and that the name of a Hittite fortress belongs probably to the language of that people. Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither. These words have been a sore puzzle to commentators, and many strange explanations have been given. Rashi says that the blind meant Isaac, and the lame Jacob, and that the words referred to an old compact by which Abraham gave Jerusalem to the Jebusites, and that Isaac and Jacob had confirmed this agreement. Unless, then, David was prepared to violate this covenant, he must abstain from the attack. We get no help from 1 Chronicles 11:5, as the words are there omitted, probably because they were not supposed to have any important meaning. The Orientals delighted in dark sayings, and possibly there was here some local reference which the people of Jerusalem would understand, but which is lost for us. But evidently it was a boastful defiance, and may mean that the Jebusites pretended that it would be enough to post only their feeblest men, the blind and the lame, for defense, and that David would try in vain to break through them. Thinking; Hebrew, to say; answering to our phrase "that is" It should be translated, "meaning."
2 Samuel 5:7
Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
Verse 7. - The stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David. Zion was the hill on the southwestern side of the city; but we learn from ver. 9 that the Jebusites had not occupied the whole of it, but a part only, which was their stronghold, round which there would be scattered dwellings, as the whole tribe dwelt there. The total area of the hill top was about sixty acres, and it was now quickly covered with houses, and called "the city of David," after its captor. The view of Dr. Birch and others, that the stronghold of Zion was Ophel, is rendered untenable by the fact that this southern tongue of Mount Moriah is completely commanded by other parts of the hill. According to Gesenius, Zion means "sunny;" others render it "the dry hill;" others, "lofty;" and Furst, "the castle." None of these derivations is of any real value, as the word is probably Hittite.
2 Samuel 5:8
And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.
Verse 8. - Whosoever getteth up to the gutter. The word rendered "gutter" occurs elsewhere only in Psalm 42:7, where it is translated "waterspout." Josephus thinks that it was an underground passage or drain. Ewald argues that it was a precipice, and others that it was a dent or hollow in the rocky face of the ravine, which David had noticed and thought practicable. The view of Josephus, suggested to him probably by his knowledge of the way in which the site of Jerusalem is honeycombed by tunnels, has been wonderfully confirmed by the discoveries made by Sir C. Warren ('Recovery of Jerusalem,' pp. 240, sqq.). At the northern end of the Pool of Siloam he found an arched passage gradually narrowing down from a considerable height, till finally there was a passage of only fourteen inches, and as there was a depth of ten inches of water, there were left but four inches of space for breathing. But through this his men struggled, and, at the end of four hours' labour, they reached the light of day at the spring called the Virgin's Fount. Beginning here on a subsequent day, they went along a passage sixty-seven feet in length, and came to a perpendicular shaft leading up through the solid stone of the hill; and, having scaled this, they next came upon a sloping passage, which finally conducted them to a spot on the hill of Ophel within the fortifications. Now, there are reasons for believing that this passage is older than the wall built by Solomon, and through it, or some such tunnel, Joab and a few men may have worked their way, and so have effected an entrance into the city, which otherwise was impregnable. It was probably the entrance near the Virgin's Fountain which they had observed, and David's words mean, "Whoever will undertake this dangerous enterprise, let him try this underground passage, and when he has entered the fortifications by its means, let him smite the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul," because of the boast of the Jebusites, that their cripples were a match for his heroes. It must be noticed, however, that the K'tib, or written text, has "who hate David's soul;" and as this is what the Jewish Massorites found in the manuscripts, it has more authority than their correction. These Jebusites had probably, in their boastful insult, spoken of David with contempt, and even said, like Goliath, that they would give his flesh to the vultures (1 Samuel 17:44). We learn from 1 Chronicles 11:6 that David promised the office of commander of the host to the man who undertook this exploit; and when Joab had volunteered and succeeded, he regained thereby the post which he had forfeited by the murder of Abner. The blind and the lame shall not some into the house. The proverb is one of contempt for these poor cripples, and forbids the exercise of hospitality to them. Such people, if they took to mendicancy, were to meet with refusal, though at their own homes they were fit objects of charity. This way of describing tramps as "the blind and lame" arose, we are here told, from this Jebusite taunt.
2 Samuel 5:9
So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.
Verse 9. - David dwelt in the fort. It was the stronghold or citadel of Zion which David took for his abode; but as he needed space for the dwellings of his mighty men, and for those who would soon flock for trade and security to the capital, David proceeded to fortify the whole of the summit. His works began from "the Millo," rendered "the citadel" by the LXX. Many, deriving the name from a Hebrew root signifying to fill, think that it was a mound, but Nature had herself supplied fit heights for defence, and it is evident that the place was called "the Millo" when David captured the city. We find "Beth-Millo" also in Judges 9:6, 20, where it signifies those who held the citadel of Shechem; and this Mills at Jerusalem was without doubt the old Jebusite keep, and the explanation of its name must be sought in the Jebusite language. As it formed one of the strongest defences of the city, it was rebuilt by Solomon (1 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 11:27), and repaired by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:5) in preparation for the Assyrian attack. Probably it stood at a corner, whence the phrase, "round about from the Millo and inward," or, as it is expressed in 1 Chronicles 11:8, "from the Millo inward," that is, starting from. the Millo, the walls enclosed the space behind it. In the parallel place (1 Chronicles 11:8) we find an interesting addition to the narrative, namely, that "Joab repaired the rest of the city." It appears from this that the Jebusites had occupied a good deal of the ground with their habitations, though probably the number of the tribe was not great; or possibly there remained old buildings which were the remains of the Hittite city, and which, being of massive construction, were easily made fit once again for human habitation. We see also proof of Joab's great ability in peace as well as in war. He it was who had captured the stronghold, and it was now his office to arrange the streets and plan of the city, and to assign dwellings to David's mighty men. This would be a work sure to cause jealousy and heart burnings, and no one but Joab, their old commander, could have satisfied them. We find that he assigned to one of them, Uriah the Hittite, a space of ground for a dwelling close to the royal palace. We may suppose, then, that David was now fully reconciled to the "hard sons of Zeruiah" (2 Samuel 3:39), and in the stern wars which followed David's election, he needed and had the full benefit of their vigour and ability.
2 Samuel 5:10
And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.
Verse 10. - David went on, and grew great. This is the Hebrew phrase for "David grew greater and greater." In this and the six following verses (10-16) we have a summary of David's reign, telling us how he increased in prosperity because of the blessing of "Jehovah God of hosts." The birth of Solomon even is recorded in it, though it took place long afterwards. The insertion in this summary of Hiram's acknowledgment of David proves that this event made a great impression upon the minds of the people.
2 Samuel 5:11
And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.
Verse 11. - Hiram King of Tyre. At first sight it seems as if the Hiram who so greatly aided Solomon in the building of the temple was the same person as David's friend (1 Kings 5:10; 2 Chronicles 2:3), but this identification is disproved by the express statement in 2 Chronicles 2:13, and by the chronology. For granting that this account of Hiram's embassy occurs in a general summary, yet David would not long defer the erection of a palace, and in the history of Bathsheba we find, as a matter of fact, that it was then already built (2 Samuel 11:2). But as Solomon was grown to manhood at his father's death, David's sin must have been committed not more than nine or ten years after he became king of all Israel. Now, we are told by Josephus ('Contr. Apion,' 1:18), on the authority of Menander of Ephesus, that Hiram reigned in all thirty years. But in 1 Kings 9:10-13 we have an account of a transaction with Hiram in Solomon's twentieth year. In another place ('Ant.,' 8:03. 1) Josephus tells us that Hiram had been King of Tyre eleven years when Solomon, in the fourth year of his reign, began the building of the temple. He would thus have been a contemporary of David for only the last seven or eight years of his reign. But the history of this embassy is given as a proof of David's establishment in his kingdom, and cannot therefore be referred to so late a period in his lifetime, when it would have lost its interest. The improbability of two successive kings having the same name is not, after all, so very great, especially as we do not know what the word Hiram, or Haram, exactly means. Nor is Menander's statement conclusive against it, where he says that Hiram's father was named Abibal - "Baal is my father." This would probably be an official name, borne by Hiram as the defender of the national religion, or as a priest king. There is, therefore, no real reason for rejecting the statement in 2 Chronicles 2:13 that Hiram, or as he is there called Huram, David's friend, was the father of the Huram who was Solomon's ally. Cedar trees. Cedar wood was greatly valued both for its fragrance and durability, owing to the resin which it contains preserving it from the attacks of insects. Its colour also is soft and pleasing to the eye, as may be seen in the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey, the panels of which are of cedar. It did not grow in the Antilibanus, or eastern part of Lebanon, which belonged to Israel, but only in the western part, which belonged to Tyre. Cedar from the time of David became the favourite material at Jerusalem for the interior of houses (Jeremiah 22:14), and Isaiah charges the people of Samaria with pride for not being content with the native sycomores which had satisfied their fathers, but substituting for it this costly foreign timber (Isaiah 9:10). Carpenters and masons. The necessity of importing "workers of wood, and workers of stone for walls," as the words literally mean, proves how miserable was the social state of Israel in David's time. Though they had been slaves in Egypt, yet at the Exodus the Israelites had men capable of working in the precious metals and jewelry, in weaving and embroidery, in wood carving, and even in the cutting of gems (Exodus 35:30-35). During the long anarchy of the judges they had degenerated into a race of agricultural drudges, whom the Philistines had debarred from the use of even the simplest tools (1 Samuel 13:19). Possibly in Saul's time there was a faint restoration of the arts of civilized life (2 Samuel 1:24); but when we find Joab killing Absalom, not with darts, but with pointed stakes (2 Samuel 18:14), the weapons probably of most of the foot soldiers, we see that not much had been done even then in metallurgy; and here earlier in his reign David has to send to Tyre for men who could saw a plank or build a wall. When, then, we call to mind the high state of culture and the magnificence of Solomon's reign, we can form some idea of the vigour with which David raised his subjects from a state of semi-barbarism.
2 Samuel 5:12
And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake.
Verse 12. - And David perceived. We may well believe that David had many seasons of despondency and misgiving after he became king. His subjects were brave and energetic, but turbulent, unwilling to obey, and but half-civilized. His election had put an end to civil war at home, but only to arouse the hatred of the enemies who had long oppressed them. The tragical fate, too, of Saul, who, after so many heroic struggles, had seen the earlier glories of his reign fade away, and had sought deliverance from his misery by suicide; all this must have often depressed his spirits. But gradually his fears passed away; and when he had twice defeated the Philistines, and been able to establish his rule, and with it some degree of orderly government throughout the twelve tribes, David saw in all this, and in the embassies from foreign nations, the proof, not of his own ability, but of Jehovah's purpose to exalt his kingdom for his people Israel's sake. In this David was still a man after God's own heart, in that he felt himself to be only an instrument for the doing, not his own will, but the purpose of his Divine Master.
2 Samuel 5:13
And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.
Verse 13. - David took him more concubines. Thus with increase of power came also the increased gratification of David's weakness and sin. Well for him would it have been if, like Saul, he had been content with one wife. But this enlargement of his harem was gradual, and the list includes all the sons born at Jerusalem. Of these four, namely, Shammuah, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. were his children by Bathsheba (see 1 Chronicles 3:5, where the names are differently spelt). Besides a variation in the spelling, two sons are mentioned in Chronicles, Nogah and an earlier Eliphelet, whose names are not given here, perhaps because they died young. From 1 Chronicles 3:9 we learn that only the names of the sons of wives are given in these tables.
2 Samuel 5:14
And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon,
2 Samuel 5:15
Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
2 Samuel 5:16
And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphalet.
2 Samuel 5:17
But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.
Verse 17. - But when the Philistines heard. After the battle of Gilboa the Philistines became the virtual rulers of much of the country west of the Jordan, and probably even David and Judah paid them tribute. On its eastern bank, though Abner kept them from molesting Ishbosheth's kingdom, yet the rule of Saul's house in Ephraim and Benjamin must have been nominal only, and the Philistines would have seen him with pleasure wasting his strength in civil war. After Ishbosheth's death they had tightened their grasp over the central districts of Palestine, though probably content with exacting tribute. They must now have seen with displeasure the consolidation of the tribes under one able ruler. Even in their divided state, the natural strength of the country and the bravery of the people had made it a task too great for the Philistine power entirely to crush Israel's independence. But if they could destroy David before he had had time to establish himself in his kingdom, they would at least prolong indefinitely that feebleness of Israel which had made it so long subject to their dominion. Of this supremacy the Philistines have handed down a token forever in giving to the whole country the name of Palestine, the Philistines' land. David... went down to the hold. Many commentators identify the hold with the cave of Adullam, and certainly the account of the brave deed of three of David's heroes, in breaking through the Philistine garrison of Bethlehem to bring him water thence, gives great probability to this view. For we read there that "the Philistines were encamped in the valley of Rephaim, and that David was then in the hold" (2 Samuel 23:13, 14, where note that the word "hold" has the definite article). There are, however, many difficulties connected with this view; for the cave of Adullam was in the valley of Elah, on the road from Hebron to Philistia (1 Samuel 22:1), but the valley of Rephaim is close to Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8), abutting, in fact, upon the valley of Ben-Hinnom. Baal-Perazim also is in the same neighbourhood, being the rocky height which forms the border of Ben-Hinnom, and bounds the valley of Rephaim on the north. Still, the passage in 2 Samuel 23:13, 14 seems too precise to be lightly set aside, and we must suppose, therefore, that the Philistines, alarmed by the gathering of half a million of men and women at Hebron, sent messengers throughout their country to assemble their warriors. It was the weakness of ancient warfare that its vast hosts of people melted away as rapidly as they had gathered. For provisions were soon spent, and the men had to return to their farms and their cattle. Thus David, having used some of that large concourse of strong men for the capture of Jerusalem, was left immediately afterwards with no other protection than that of his "mighty men." Saul had endeavoured to have always round him three thousand trained men (1 Samuel 13:2), and David subsequently had probably quite as many (2 Samuel 15:18); but at this early stage he had probably not many more than he had brought with him from Ziklag to Hebron. He could not, therefore, make head against the Philistines coming with all the militia of their land; but, leaving his wives and the wives of his mighty men in the Jebusite stronghold of Jerusalem, we may well believe that he sped away to gather the warriors of Israel. But what seems strange is that he should have gone to the rear of the Philistines, especially as they had come in such vast numbers as to occupy the whole country - a garrison, for instance, being posted at Bethlehem, and doubtless at other fit spots. Still, this country was well known to David, and he could gather there old friends, whose bravery he had often tried before. And while thus waiting for the mustering of such as God would move to help him, in deep distress at so terrible a reversal following so quickly upon his exaltation, a strange longing for water from the well of his native town seized him. He was suffering apparently from fever of body as well as from distress of mind, and soon there was relief from both. For three of his heroes heard the words burst from his parched lips, and, hastening to Bethlehem, broke through the Philistine garrison, and filled a waterskin from the well at the gate of the city. Such an act naturally made a great impression upon David. What room was there for despair when he had such men around him? Pouring out, then, the water as a drink offering to Jehovah, his heart was now filled with hope, and inquiring of the Lord whether he might attack the Philistines, he received the assurance which he had already gathered from the exploit of his heroes, that God would deliver them into his hand.
2 Samuel 5:18
The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
Verse 18. - The valley of Rephaim. This fruitful valley (Isaiah 17:5) is about three miles in length, and two in breadth. Occupying it in vast numbers, the Philistines sent out bodies of men to plunder the whole country, while a sufficient force watched Jerusalem, intending to take it by famine. The Rephaim were an aboriginal race, first mentioned in Genesis 14:5, and evidently in early times very widely spread in Palestine. The idea that they were giants has no more to be said in its favour than that they were ghosts - the meaning of the word in Isaiah 26:14, 19. No sensible philologist will endeavour to explain the names of these primitive races and of their towns by Hebrew roots, though there has been too much of this craze in past times. The Rephaim seem. however, to have been physically a well-developed people, and several races of Canaan of great stature are described in Deuteronomy 2:11 as having belonged to them, as did Og, who was a man of extraordinary dimensions (Deuteronomy 3:11).
2 Samuel 5:19
And David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
2 Samuel 5:20
And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baalperazim.
Verse 20. - Baal-Perazim; literally, possessor of breaches, that is, the place where the attack burst forth. It is called Mount Perazim, "the hill of breaches," in Psalm 28:21, and as we have seen, it was the rocky height on the north of the valley of Rephaim. David must, therefore, have stolen round the army of the Philistines, creeping, probably by night, up to this ridge of Ben-Hinnom, and thence at the dawn of day have rushed down upon the camp. And his onset was sudden and irresistible, like the rush of the waters of some mountain lake when, swollen with rains, it bursts through the opposing dam, and carries hasty destruction to everything that lies in its way.
2 Samuel 5:21
And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.
Verse 21. - They left their images. This is a further proof of the suddenness of the attack, and the completeness of the Philistine discomfiture. For images we find "gods" in the parallel place in 1 Chronicles 14:12, and the word used here is rendered "idols" in 1 Samuel 31:9. As the Philistines supposed that these images of their deities would ensure their victory, they would set great store by them, as the Israelites did by the ark (1 Samuel 4:4), and the French by the oriflamme. Their capture, therefore, was a feat as great as the winning of the eagle of a Roman legion. David and his men burned them; Hebrew, took them away. This translation of the Authorized Version, made to force the words into verbal agreement with 1 Chronicles 14:12, is utterly indefensible; and, like most wrong things, it is absurd. The Bible cannot be improved by frauds, and really the two narratives complete one another. David and his men carried off these images as trophies, just as the Philistines carried off the ark (1 Samuel 4:11). But the ark proved mightier than the Philistine gods, and in terror the people restored it to Israel. But no avenging hand interfered to rescue these gods, and, after being paraded in triumph, they were made into a bonfire.
2 Samuel 5:22
And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
Verse 22. - The Philistines came up yet again. Their first defeat had probably not been accompanied by much slaughter; for David's men were few in number, though brave as lions. Retreating then to some distance, the Philistines called in their garrisons, and waited also for reinforcements from home, and then advanced again to the same spot. And as David was prepared to attack them in front, he also must now have gathered round him the chivalry of Israel.
2 Samuel 5:23
And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
Verse 23. - Thou shalt not go up. The attack in front is forbidden, and the answer shows that the priest with the ephod did more than give a mere affirmative or negative reply. For David receives full instructions. Taking advantage of the valleys, he is to creep round into the rear of the Philistines, and approach them under cover of a thicket of baca trees. Mulberry trees; Hebrew, baca trees. This suggests the idea that David's place of attack was the Baca valley (Psalm 84:6), and that there was such a valley, though this is not certain. For the Revised Version translates "valley of weeping," concluding that baca is not there a proper name. By baca trees the LXX. and Vulgate "pear trees," but as bacah means "to weep," it is probably some balsamic shrub, from which a resin exudes. The Revised Version puts here in the margin, "balsam trees." Dr. Tristram thinks it was a sort of aspen, but the authority of the Vulgate is great in such matters, as Jerome obtained his information in Palestine itself.
2 Samuel 5:24
And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.
Verse 24. - The sound of a going; Hebrew, a marching. Under the cover of this thicket David was to wait until he heard the sound as of the regular tramp of an army in the tops of the baca trees. It would be in the morning that the wind would shake the treetops, but the sound was to be something more than the soft whispers of a gentle breeze. A gale was to put them into sudden motion, and then the soldiers would know that their Jehovah had gone forth to battle, and David must immediately bestir himself. The enthusiasm of his men must not cool down, but as soon as the wind rustled he must charge the enemy, and his warriors, feeling that they were going with the host of God, would break down all resistance by their impetuous onset.
2 Samuel 5:25
And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.
Verse 25. - From Geba until thou some to Gazer. In 1 Chronicles 14:16 "Gibson" is substituted for "Geba," and it is one of those corrections which a commentator is inclined to adopt, because it makes all things easy. For Gibeon lay directly on the road from the Rephaim valley towards Gazer, and the armies must have passed it in the fight. But if "Geba" be the right reading here, then the battle must have been most sternly contested. For it is the "Gibeah of Benjamin," Hebrew, "Geba of Benjamin," described in 1 Samuel 13:16. The Philistines had a garrison there in Saul's time (1 Samuel 13:3), and had probably again occupied it as a military post after their victory at Gilboa. To reach it the line of retreat would go nine miles northward over difficult ground; but this was not disadvantageous to a retreating army as long as it remained unbroken, and the Philistines would expect to be able to make a successful defense at a strong citadel like Geba, held by a garrison of their own troops. But when driven by David's "mighty men" from this fortified hill, being hemmed in by the defile of Michmash on the east, they would have no choice but to hurry down the valleys to the west, and, still passing by Gibson, so flee to Gazer. Thus the reading "Geba" implies a stout and long resistance ending in a most complete victory. And confessedly this was a decisive battle, fought with larger forces, and causing far larger loss to the Philistines than that at Baal-Perazim, where, attacked by only a few men, they were seized with panic, and saved themselves by a headlong flight. Gazer lay upon the border of Ephraim, and was one of the royal cities of the Canaanites, and so strong that it was left in the hands of its old possessors (Joshua 16:3, 10; Judges 1:19). Subsequently Solomon fortified it (1 Kings 9:17), as being the key of the defiles which led from Ekron and the plain of Philistia up to Jerusalem. We also find it mentioned as an important military post in the days of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 9:52). The pursuit would naturally stop here, as the fugitives would now be in their own country, and succour would be close at hand. Probably, too, the Canaanites who held the fortress were friendly to them, and gave them shelter.
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DAVID WAS ANOINTED KING OVER ALL ISRAEL;
HE CAPTURED JERUSALEM;
HE BUILT HIMSELF A CEDAR HOUSE AND TOOK MORE WIVES AND CONCUBINES;
AND HE DEFEATED THE PHILISTINES TWICE
With this chapter we have the beginning of a major section of 2Samuel, namely, 2 Samuel 5-10, where we have an abbreviated and condensed record of David's successes. A record of his sins, sorrows and disasters of his later years appear in the following section, 2 Samuel 11-20. Willis pointed out that this section carries the record of seven major events of King David's reign, these being: "(1) the conquest of Jerusalem; (2) two victories over the Philistines; (3) Bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem; (4) God's prophecy that of David's posterity one would arise to build God a `house'; (5) David's victories; (6) his kindness to the son of Jonathan; and (7) victories over the Ammonites and Syrians."
The first two of these seven major happenings occur in this chapter.
DAVID WAS ANOINTED KING OVER ALL ISRAEL
"Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, "Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord said to you, `You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.' So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years."
"All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron" (2 Samuel 5:1). We learn from 2 Samuel 5:3 that they `all came' in the person of their representatives, the elders.
"David made a covenant with them" (2 Samuel 5:3). We have no way of knowing what this covenant contained and not even what any of the provisions of it were; but it fully satisfied Israel, and they promptly anointed David king.
"They anointed David king over Israel" (2 Samuel 5:3). This was his third anointing. (1) He was anointed by Samuel, but at first that anointing remained a secret. Samuel did not wish to precipitate a war. (2) Then after the death of Saul, Judah made David king over them at Hebron, where he was anointed a second time. (3) This was the third.
"Before the Lord" (2 Samuel 5:3). Cook suggested that the tabernacle and altar at this time might already have been moved to Hebron. Certainly, "Abiathar and Zadok the priests were both with David, although the Ark was still at Kearjath-jearim." The expression "before the Lord" indicates that solemn religious ceremonies accompanied the making of the covenant between David and the elders of Israel.
Although the heir apparent to Saul's throne was still alive, being about thirteen years old, "There was no thought in anyone's mind that Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, should reign. The situation demanded a warrior, not a cripple."
"David was thirty years old when he began to reign" (2 Samuel 5:4). This is a very interesting chronological statement.
"This proves that the earlier years of Saul's reign (during which Jonathan grew up to be a man) are passed over in silence, and that the events narrated in 1 Samuel 13 to the end of the book did not occupy a period of more than ten years. If David was twenty years old at the time he slew Goliath, four years in Saul's service, four years wandering from place to place, one year and four months in the country of the Philistines, then a few months after Saul's death would bring him to the age of thirty."
This emphasizes what we have frequently pointed out that these accounts in the historical books of the Bible are extremely condensed and abbreviated.
"And he reigned forty years" (2 Samuel 5:4-5). Caird stated that, "The seven years and six months of his reign in Hebron may be accurate; but the remaining thirty-three years have probably been added to bring the total up to forty." This is exactly the type of critical comment which is offensive to believers. Where is the proof of any such thing?
DAVID'S CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM
"And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, "You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off" ... thinking, "David cannot come in here." Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. And David said on that day, "Whoever would smite the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul" Therefore it is said, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house." And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built the city round about from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him."
"Jerusalem has been called the spiritual capital of the world, a judgment underscored by the judgment of the United Nations' resolution of 1947, designating it as an international holy city, held in honor by Moslems, Jews and Christians alike." Christians honor Jerusalem as the place from which the "Word of the Lord went forth," the scene of Our Lord's earthly ministry, especially the place where he made Atonement for the sins of mankind in his vicarious Death upon Calvary and his Resurrection from the dead, and as the type of that "Heavenly Jerusalem which is our mother" (Galatians 4:26).
Regarding David's capture of this city, there is strong disagreement among able scholars regarding the exact time of its capture. As Willis said, "It is debated"; and we do not consider the question to be possible of any dogmatic solution. If the exact time had been of any great importance, surely the sacred writer would have informed us. Keil placed the capture of this Jebusite city at the very first of David's reign on the basis that the sum-total of the thirty-three years of David's reign were in Jerusalem, leaving no interim in which part of his reign over all Israel could have been while David lived anywhere else. Caird also accepted this, stating that, "It is quite possible that the campaign against Jerusalem was already over before the Philistines ever heard that David had become king over a united kingdom." Willis preferred the opinion that, "The two battles with the Philistines occurred between David's anointing as king over all Israel and his conquest of Jerusalem." The simple truth appears to be that nobody knows for sure.
The Hebrew text of this passage has been damaged in transition, and the meaning is not certain, as a comparison of various versions shows. Also, the parallel account in 1 Chronicles 11:4-9 states that David said, "Whoever smites the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander. And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief."
The ancient city of the Jebusites had a protected water supply that went down to a spring at the eastern foot of the ridge on which the city was built, called the water shaft in 2 Samuel 5:8. David overcame the city by sending his men up that water shaft. This has caused some to believe that David captured Jerusalem much earlier, for Joab was mentioned as the leader of David's men, during the first part of the reign of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 2:13). However, it is significant that Joab is not there called "chief and commander," indicating that, following this exploit of Joab in the capture of Jerusalem, he received the titles indicated. In these extremely-abbreviated records, it is impossible to read all the details.
"The blind and the lame will ward you off" (2 Samuel 5:6). The conceit of Jebusites was such that they boasted that they could repel any attack by David by the blind and the lame manning their fortifications. Jerusalem was indeed strong, the ancient citadel occupying the rockbound tip of the ridge lying between the Kedron Valley on the east and the Tyropeon Valley on the west at the point where the two valleys joined.
"Attack the lame and the blind who are hated by David's soul" (2 Samuel 5:8). It is best to understand these words as David's reference to the Jebusites who had so labeled their defenders. Although the Jews later forbad crippled and blind persons from serving in the temple, there is no reason to connect that with what is said here. The judgment of H. P. Smith that this verse is corrupt may very well be true.
"David built the city ... from the Millo inward" (2 Samuel 5:9). There may have been a number of fortifications in Palestine that were called 'Millo,' one of them being in Shechem (Judges 9:6,20). "It appears to have been a fortress of some kind, the northern defense of the city of David, and to have been a part of the original Canaanite defenses of the city of Zion." Both Solomon and Hezekiah in later times strengthened and repaired the Millo.
With the capture of this stronghold, David eliminated a Jebusite fortress that, in effect, had cut his kingdom in two; and the making of Jerusalem as his capital was one of the most important achievements of David's kingship.
DAVID BUILT HIMSELF A CEDAR HOUSE
"And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel."
"David's policy as king was that of being strong at home, but living side by side with other nations as his allies. Here he made an alliance with Hiram king of Tyre, and later an alliance with Toi king of Hamath (2 Samuel 8:9); and it was his proposed alliance with the Ammonites, which, due to their rejection of it, led to his war with them and with the Aramaeans."
"Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David" (2 Samuel 5:11). This king is also mentioned in 1 Kings 9:10-14; and, critics always alert to find something they can contradict in the Bible. Since Hiram is mentioned as king in the 20th year of Solomon's reign, Bennett declared, "Hiram I cannot have been reigning so early in David's reign." We might ask, "Indeed! And Why not?" Manasseh reigned over Israel for over fifty years; and since this event was probably in the eighteenth year of David's reign, and since the use of the past perfect tense in 1 Kings 9:10 indicates that what Hiram did for Solomon had been done at some indefinite time in the past, there is no reason whatever that demands that the Hiram in this chapter and in 1 Kings 9 must be considered as two different men. Keil did not hesitate to conclude that "Hiram reigned at least forty or fifty years."
"Who built David a house" (2 Samuel 5:11). From the mention of cedar trees, it is evident that this house was built of cedar, as David also mentioned in 2 Samuel 7. There is no more desirable timber from which a house may be built. At Washington-on-the-Brazos, once the capital of the Republic of Texas, tourists may see the cedar house which was built for the first president of that state. The cedar wood is hostile to all kinds of insects and creeping things; and even after more than 150 years since the place was built, the attendant sweeps the dead insects out of that house every morning.
"God exalted his kingdom for the sake of ... Israel" (2 Samuel 5:12). Tatum remarked that, "It appears strange that at the very time when God was so richly blessing David, he seemed so utterly selfish. He built his own house BEFORE thinking of building a house for God." There is even more evidence of David's selfishness in his sinful multiplication of his wives and concubines as related a little later. As this verse states, it was not anything that David personally deserved that resulted in all of God's wonderful blessings; those blessings were directed to the good of God's people Israel, and eventually to the salvation of all mankind.
DAVID MULTIPLIED HIS WIVES AND CONCUBINES
"And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David. And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada,, and Eliphelet."
Note that the daughters were not even named. The status of women was quite low in that society, and women today should indeed thank the Lord Jesus Christ who alone elevated womankind to their rightful importance and eminence. One of David's daughters, Tamar, was raped by her half-brother and was avenged in his murder by her brother Absalom.
"Shammua" (2 Samuel 5:13). This is the name that heads the list of the twelve spies sent out by Moses into Canaan (Numbers 13:1).
Speaking of David's many wives and concubines, DeHoff wrote that, "This was one of the mistakes that David made." However, this was far more serious than a `mistake.' It was a gross and ridiculous sin! Yes, it was sanctioned in the lives of kings and other mighty men in ancient times, but it was still dreadfully wrong. Willis has this to say:
"In violation of Deuteronomy 17:17, David multiplied wives and concubines in Jerusalem. In addition to the six in Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2-5) and Michal (2 Samuel 3:14-16), we must add those mentioned here ... Apparently, he had fifteen or twenty wives and concubines, opening up the way for Solomon to take seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines."
It is of interest that 1 Chronicles 3:5 says that the first four sons mentioned here were born to Bathshua, the daughter of Ammiel, evidently the same as Bathsheba, since Solomon is among the four. Keil concluded that, "David had nineteen sons, six of whom were born in Hebron, and thirteen of whom were born in Jerusalem."
THE PHILISTINES CAME UP AGAINST DAVID
"When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up in search of David; but David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of the Lord, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Wilt thou give them into my hand?" And the Lord said to David, "Go up; for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into your hand." And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them; and he said, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like a bursting flood." Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away."
"All the Philistines went up in search of David ... David went down into the stronghold" (2 Samuel 5:17). The implications of this passage are not clear. The Philistines going "up" in search of David seems to imply that they went up against Jerusalem; but David's going "down" into the stronghold is thought by some to indicate the cave of Adullum or some other place rather than Jerusalem. Such passages as this feed the disagreement of scholars as regards the time when these battles were fought. We do not know what the answer is; but it could be that David's going down into the stronghold is a reference to his leaving the city of Jerusalem and setting up his outpost against the Philistines at some area fortification below the elevation of David's capital. Caird proposed this solution:
"If David was engaged in building operations on the hill northward from Jerusalem, he certainly would have had to `go down' to the old Jebusite city, which stood at a slightly lower level."
"Now the Philistines spread out in the valley of Rephaim" (2 Samuel 5:18). Many able scholars, including Willis, identify this valley as "southwest of Jerusalem"; but Caird insists that, "The valley of Rephaim has been wrongly identified with the plain El Baqa which runs southwest of Jerusalem, but if the valley is placed to the south of Jerusalem, the boundary would fall well within the territory of Judah. In the present passage, it is said that David pursued the Philistines from Geba to Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25), which could have been done only if the battle were fought to the north of Jerusalem." This is another of those questions which can hardly be settled satisfactorily within the limits of the abbreviated information which has come down to us.
"The Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away" (2 Samuel 5:21). 1 Chronicles 14:12 relates that David's men burned the idols of the Philistines as commanded in Deuteronomy 7:5,25; but this does not contradict what is said here. They did both!
THE PHILISTINES TRY AGAIN TO DEFEAT DAVID
"And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread out in the valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, "You shall not go up; go around to their rear and come upon them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the top of the balsam trees, then bestir yourself,' for then the Lord has gone out before you to smite the army of the Philistines. And David did as the Lord commanded him, and smote the Philistines from Geba to Gezer."
The big thing here is that God Himself achieved this victory over the Philistines. The noise of marching in the tops of the balsam trees probably threw a great panic into the hearts of the Philistines, just as the sound of many trumpets had done for the enemies of Gideon in his victory over the Midianites (Judges 7:15-23).
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/2-samuel-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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2 Samuel Chapter 5 chronicles David’s rise to the position of king of all Israel. The chapter also covers his successful military campaigns.
The tribes of Israel approached David and mentioned that Saul was once their king and now he is gone. Looking for leadership, they tell David, as a former great military leader, he must assume the role of becoming their king as the Lord had commanded. At the age of 30, David was anointed the king of Israel. He would rule for 40 years.
The Jebusites controlled Jerusalem and David marched his army upon them. They said even the blind and the lame could defeat David and the army of Israel. In the end, David conquered the city and built a fortress in it which became known as the City of David. In this fortress, David lived and took many wives and concubines. David bore many children with the wives he took so his lineage would grow.
The long time enemies of Israel, the Philistines, were conquered by David. This occurred when they heard David had been named king of all Israel. To defeat David was to defeat Israel. David then asked the Lord if he should go to conquer them and the Lord responded He would deliver the Philistines to David. David’s first attack on them was successful. The Philistines who were defeated gave up their god, Baal, as a result.
There were Philistines who wished to counterattack Israel, but their attempts were not successful. David defeated their armies easily after the Lord spoke to David and gave him advice on how to deal with the attack. Following the guidance of the Lord, David led the army of Israel to victory. The Philistines were utterly defeated.
1 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.
2 Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.
7 Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
8 And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.
9 So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.
10 And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.
11 And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.
12 And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.
13 And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.
14 And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon,
15 Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
16 And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphalet.
17 But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.
18 The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
19 And David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
20 And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baalperazim.
21 And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.
22 And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
23 And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
24 And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.
25 And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.