April 6 Reading: II Samuel 5-7 Commentary
“Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, ‘Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.'” Therefore 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…” (II Sam. 5:1-3)
II Samuel 5 – David Becomes King
Saul, David’s adversary and the first king of Israel, had died (I Sam. 31). Saul’s son Ishbosheth, who laid claim to the throne, was assassinated by his officers (I Sam. 4). And Abner, Ishbosheth’s commanding officer had been killed by David’s commanding officer Joab, even though Abner was trying to unite Judah and Israel into one (I Sam. 3). Now was the time for the nation to turn to David to be their king.
We read that,
“…all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, ‘Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.'” (II Sam. 5:1-2).
“…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…” (v. 4).
David would go on to reign a total of 40 years, 7 in Hebron and 33 over all Israel, which included Judah (v. 5).
Jerusalem Becomes the New Capital
David had reigned over Judah in Hebron for 7 years. But that was not the location that could unite all of Israel. That location was the city of Jerusalem. One commentary has this to say about the city:
“The name Jerusalem may mean ‘Foundation of Peace.’ The city itself was strategically located in the hill country near the border of Judah and Benjamin, making it a foreign wedge between the northern and southern tribes. Although the city was attacked by men from both Benjamin and Judah, the Jebusites [one of the Canaanite tribes] were not driven out of Jerusalem at the time of the conquest (Josh. 15:63; Judg. 1:21)….An earlier name of Jerusalem was Salem, known because of its righteous king Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20). Mount Moriah – where Abraham had prepared to offer Isaac – was also located at Jerusalem (Gen. 22:2).” (Thomas Nelson Study Bible, NKJV, 1997)
So David had to go take Jerusalem from the Jebusites. They didn’t think he could because of the geography around it. The city sat on a hill south of Mount Moriah. It had steep cliffs on all sides except the north, making it a natural fortress. That background makes the Jebusites taunt of David in verse 6 makes sense when they say, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you.”
We have no details but David did take the city. In time, it became known as the City of David (v. 9). “So David went on and became great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him.” So much so that the surrounding leaders, like Hiram king of Tyre, began to bless David with supplies and gifts for his own house and the city. These type of alliances assured David that “the Lord had established him as king” (v. 12).
Defeating the Philistines
David, the mighty warrior, brought peace on all sides of Israel. His first task was to go up against the Philistines, the same people with whom he’d spent a year in hiding from Saul (I Sam. 27). They heard David had become king and gathered their forces to go against him (vv. 17-18).
To make sure this was an appropriate action, David inquired of the Lord before going to battle. The Lord told him to go because “…I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand” (v. 19). So David went and defeated them at Baal Perazim (v. 20).
The Philistines deployed again at the Valley of Rephaim. God again instructed David to go fight them. But this time God added this statement, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines” (vv. 23-24). So David was victorious again. And it seems pretty clear from these words, that God’s heavenly armies were fighting for David.
II Samuel 6 – The Ark of Covenant Comes to Jerusalem
David gathered some of his choice men, 30,000 in all, for a grand event – to bring the Ark of the Covenant from Baale Judah (a city about 10 miles northwest of Jerusalem and also known as Kirjath Jearim – Josh. 15:9) to Jerusalem. They “set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab…” (v. 3) where it had been staying since its recovery from the Philistines (I Sam. 7:1-2). It’s a festive journey with music being played from all kinds of instruments (v. 5).
But then tragedy interrupted the festivities:
“…when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God” (vv. 6-7).
David was angry at God for this, as Uzzah’s action was completely unintentional. However, according to Mosaic law, the ark was to be transported on poles by the priests (see Ex. 25:14-15 and Num. 3:30-31). Furthermore, no one, not even the Levites, were allowed to touch the holy objects of the tabernacle. To do so was to ensure one’s death (Num. 4:15). So in reality, David should have been angry at himself instead of God.
This incident made David fear the Lord, so much so that he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (v. 9). So instead of taking it all the way to Jerusalem, they left it at the home of Obed-Edom, a Levite from the family of Korah. The ark remained there for three months (vv. 10-11).
David Tries Again
Three months later, David is told the Lord is blessing the house of Obed-Edom on account of the ark. Once again, David makes preparations to get the ark and bring it to Jerusalem (v. 12). This time however, David did it right.
They carried the ark on poles as prescribed in the law. They made sacrifices at least once along the way to consecrate the journey (v. 13). And just as before, it was a time of glorious celebration with David dancing before the Lord, wearing a linen ephod like those of the priests instead of his royal robes (vv. 14-15).
An Unhappy Wife
When the procession entered Jerusalem, “…Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart” (v. 16). David knew nothing of this at the time, and went about taking the ark to the tabernacle. There, they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings to the Lord, and David blessed the people, giving them food before they departed (vv. 17-19).
Upon returning home, David is confronted by the still upset Michal. Years of heartache and bitterness (probably towards her father and perhaps David) come pouring out as she says, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v. 20).
David is unashamed though, of his behavior. “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight” (vv. 21-22).
It’s a sad conclusion to Michal’s part in David’s story. In the end, she had no children, thus ending the possibility of an heir to the throne coming from Saul’s line.
II Samuel 7 – A House for God?
There is a really important passage in today’s reading for your understanding of Biblical theology. After David has secured the kingdom and brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, he is feeling strange that he dwells in a king’s house but “the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains [meaning the tabernacle] (v. 1-2). He tells this to Nathan the prophet, who gives David his blessing saying, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you” (v. 3).
God had other ideas though. That night, he revealed himself to Nathan the prophet and gave him a word to share with David (v. 4). It seems that God did not really care about a house for himself, having lived all these years since Egypt in a tent or the tabernacle (vv. 5-6). He’d never asked to be built a house (v. 7), and didn’t see the need for one at this point.
Instead, God used the occasion of David’s desire to build him a house to reveal what God had planned for David’s house [i.e. his kingdom and legacy]. God would “appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more…” (v. 10). And he said that he would “make you [David] a house”, or a royal dynasty.
What did that look like exactly? God explained it further to David through Nathan this way…
The Davidic Covenant
In II Sam. 7:12-16, Nathan’s message is clear – David’s legacy is secure. He reveals God’s plan for David by saying,
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.
But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
What does all this mean? For starters, a son born to David will succeed him and build a house (temple) for the Lord. But beyond that, God is telling David through Nathan, that his kingdom would be established forever. It would not pass out of his family line.
The passage is known in Biblical theology as the Davidic Covenant. It expresses the idea that there would always be someone in David’s family who would be able to rule. And it was widely believed that the future promised Messiah would be from the family line of David. That was exactly God’s plan. And we will see in future study, that Jesus was that person, being born from the family line of David. And he will fulfill the “forever throne” part of the promise one day when he returns to rule for all eternity.
David was humbled by this knowledge and gave praise to God for his blessings (vv. 18-29).
Questions to Consider:
David ignored the proper transportation methods for the ark and it cost someone their life. Obedience, even in the small things matters. We can’t ignore what we want to from the Bible because it’s convenient for us.
David played music and danced when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. His wife scolded him for this public display of worship. David was not bothered though about displaying his love for God. It’s a great lesson in that we should never be ashamed to worship the Lord. Do you ever hold back on worshipping God out of fear of what others might think?
When God keeps a promise, He intends to keep it. Everything he told David about his lineage came true. What promises have come true in your life?
What other points would you want to know about in our II Samuel 5-7 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.