April 7 Reading: II Samuel 8-10 Commentary
“So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” (II Sam. 9:7)
“Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” (Joab’s statement in II Sam. 10:12)
II Samuel 8 – David’s Military Victories
The throne of Israel was now free from internal conflict after the death of Ishbosheth (II Sam. 4). The capital was established at Jerusalem. Now, David set his sights on securing his territory from outsiders.
II Sam. 8 records his military conquests in the surrounding region. Those military victories include the following:
1. Taking Metheg Ammah from the Philistines (v. 1).
2. Defeating the Moabites (people who were the descendants of the relationship between Lot and his older daughter – Gen. 19:36-37). Their land was east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. They became David’s servants (v. 2).
3. Conquering the northern kingdom of Zobah, defeating King Hadadezer. David took 1,000 chariots, 700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers from them (vv. 3-4).
4. Defeating 22,000 Syrians who came to help king Hadadezer. He put garrisons in Syria and they became his servants and brought him tribute (vv. 5- 8).
5. David killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt (southeast of Israel and south of the Dead Sea). He erected garrisons there as well and Edom became David’s servants (vv. 13-14).
“So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people” (v. 15). As a result of David’s conquests, Israel now possessed all the land God had promised Abraham in Gen. 15:18.
II Samuel 9 – David’s Tender Spirit
David had humble beginnings as a shepherd boy. But he was a warrior at heart. We saw that in his fight with Goliath, his ability to elude capture by Saul while wandering in the wilderness, and his many conquests once he became king.
But there was also a tenderness of spirit to him. We saw that in his relationship with Saul’s son Jonathan. We saw that in how he wouldn’t lift his own hand to kill King Saul even though he had several chances to do so. And surely we see David’s tenderness of Spirit in all the psalms that he wrote that are recorded in the book of Psalms.
In addition, David shows tenderness of spirit here in II Sam. 9 as he wanted to do something kind to anyone left in the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake. Most had been killed during the transition of power from Saul to David. But there was one person left – a man by the name of Mephibosheth – who was lame in his feet.
Showing Kindness to Mephibosheth
We briefly were made aware of Mephibosheth’s accident in II Sam. 4:4:
“Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.”
David found a servant left from the house of Saul named Ziba. Ziba arrived at the king’s command and informed David about Mephibosheth and his circumstances. David called for him to be brought before him (vv. 1-5).
When Mephibosheth arrived, he was filled with fear. How could he not be? He was the last surviving member of Saul’s household. He must have feared for his life, thinking David would rid himself of another potential candidate to retake the throne one day. In submission, Mephibosheth fell at David’s feet saying, “Here is your servant!” (v. 6).
However, David had other intentions. In a touching ceremony, David blessed Mephibosheth and returned to him all the land that belonged to the house of Saul (v. 7, 9). Fufthermore, David instructed Ziba and his family to work the land for Mephibosheth so that it would provide for his needs (v. 10). (It must have been a sizable estate considering the size of Ziba’s family as noted in verse 10).
Finally, David told Mephibosheth that he and his son Micha always had a place at the king’s table (v. 7, 12-13). From that day forward, Mephibosheth would be like one of the king’s sons.
It was a very generous and forgiving gesture from a king who had every right to be bitter towards the descendants of the former king who sought his life.
II Samuel 10 – Defeating a Big Enemy
David chose to show kindness to a non-Israelite leader, Hanun, when his father, king of the Ammonites died. Evidently, Hanun’s father had shown kindness to David at some point in the past. Now David wanted to repay that kindness with a gift of condolence for Hanun, taken by the hand of David’s servants (vv. 1-2).
Hanun’s advisors though, reject David’s gift. They think David had sent his servants to spy out the land (v. 3), not to honor the dead king. So they turned Hanun’s heart against David.
In response, Hanun “took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away” (v. 4). In Jewish culture, the beard was a significant feature of one’s appearance. To shave it half off was a complete humiliation for these men. The humiliation was furthered by leaving them indecently exposed. So David comforted his men and told them to stay at Jericho until their beards grew back (v. 5).
At some point, the people of Ammon found out how upset David was over their rejection of his gift and subsequent action against his servants. They “had made themselves repulsive to David” (v. 6). So, to bolster their own army, they hired 33,000 mercenary soldiers – 20,000 Syrian foot soldiers, 1,000 men from the king of Maacah and 12,000 men from Ish-Tob. They came out “in battle array” against David (vv. 6-8).
The Battle Results
It’s a massive fighting force coming against David and Joab, the commander of his army. But Joab told his soldiers this, “Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” (v. 12). Once again, David and his men trusted in the Lord for their well-being.
In the end, the battle is a complete success for David. In short, all the armies fled, starting with the people of Ammon (v. 14). When the Syrians saw the Ammonites had fled, they had no choice but to fight David. In the end, his army killed 700 charioteers, 42,000 foot soldiers and the commander of their army (v. 18).
And the Syrians made peace with Israel and served them (v. 19).
Questions to Consider:
How do you treat people who have wronged you in the past? Are you able to let the incident go and forgive them for the wrongs they’ve done to you?
Showing kindness to the undeserving is one of the deepest levels of compassion a Jesus follower can show.There was no benefit for David in showing kindness to any of Saul’s family. We wouldn’t criticize him if he hadn’t. Still, David chose to bless a young man of Saul’s family who was lame in both feet. What acts of kindness have you shown to someone who the world sees as undeserving?
What other points would you want to know about in our II Samuel 8-10 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.