Morning = 2 Samuel 5:1-25, The Wait is Over!

Today, September 22, Holly and I have been married for 12 years. We were able to get away yesterday, we spent the whole day on the beach and it was a joy reflecting over the eb and flow of these past 12 years together. But going back before we were married I was so struck with who she was and her love for Christ that after getting to know her for just 3 weeks I knew I was going to marry her. So I did what anyone would do in that situation, I told her! And sure enough about 2 years after that moment, shortly after both of us graduated college, we got engaged and ran towards the altar as fast as we could.

I tell you this because waiting was a true part of our story. I was all-in, clearly, but I had to wait for Holly to be in as well. And then once she was in we had to wait for marriage during those months we were engaged. Waiting, seems so simple but so hard to actually do. Many of you also know what it is to wait. So much of the Christian life is waiting isn’t it? David knew what it was to wait. Anointed as a young boy but waiting, for years, for God to bring about his kingship over Israel. Finally, in our passage this morning, the wait is over!

David’s Kingdom Established (v1-16)

v1-3, “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 who 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.”

As brief as this opening section is, it is nonetheless overwhelmingly significant. These five verses contain the climax we’ve been building to, the destination we’ve been heading towards for quite some time. Once a small town boy shepherding sheep, David is anointed to be king by the prophet Samuel. He eventually became a servant to Saul in Saul’s house after killing Goliath. After much waiting and many troubles David then comes to rule over the southern kingdom of Judah for seven and a half years. After more waiting and more trouble David finally becomes king over all Israel. With the northern commander Abner and their king Ish-bosheth now assassinated, all Israel (meaning all the northern tribes) now understandably look to David.[1] But notice how they do so.

They come south to David at Hebron and make three statements. First, they acknowledge relationally that they are the same “bone and flesh” as David. Despite their recent warring and tension they do share a common family heritage, and come saying like someone today might say ‘We are your flesh and blood.’[2] Second, they acknowledge experientially that David’s expertise and skill in his previous abilities to lead the people. Yes Saul was their king, he was the leader of the people, but he wasn’t the one who was followed by the nation, as they went out and came in. That honor belonged to David, as God steadily increased his might and favor with all the people. Third, they acknowledge biblically the Lord’s hand in all of this saying in v2, “And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of My people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’”[3] Some often critique the order of these three things, saying the third should’ve been first. But that this comes last in the list of things they acknowledge isn’t a bad thing. Often what is placed in the third position in a list is often the most important item in the list. But nonetheless we can’t help but ask, ‘You knew God had called and anointed David to be king this whole time and all of you still refused to come and submit yourselves to him?’ This is the only reason they needed realistically. The other two might be important, but that David’s is God’s choice for king puts the matter to rest. By admitting their own knowledge of David divine appointment, they exposed their own folly in rejecting him for so long.[4] Even so, despite their sin and rebellion were God’s purposes stopped? No sir. David now sits on the throne.

Look at v2, did you hear what they believed about David? That he was, by God’s choice, the shepherd of God’s people. The image of a king as shepherd was an often used image in ancient near eastern cultures. Many kings small and large in the nations around Israel referred to themselves as the shepherd of their nations. And we can easily see why this was so common. A shepherd leads, loves, provides for, and protects the sheep in his flock. He knows them and they know him. So too all that the shepherd is and does for his sheep is what a king ought to do and ought to be for the nation he looks after. While we’ve seen many shepherds up until this point in the Bible, it is important to notice that here in v2 is the first time the image of shepherd is used in reference to a king of Israel.[5] And after this moment the image of shepherd will continue to be prominent when Israel’s leaders are in view. Some of them prove to be faithful shepherds, many prove to be faithless shepherds, but one thing is sure: even though all of them are flawed shepherds they all function as pointers to the Great Shepherd of the sheep the Lord Jesus Christ. All the beauty of Christ as our Chief Shepherd is previewed here in these under shepherds either by way of preview or contrast.

Well, the northern tribes see God’s divine appointing of David and so they gather to David in Hebron and in v3 David makes a covenant with them. Meaning David makes a special solemn oath bound relationship with them, such that he would be their king and they would be his people.[6] A quick read through Scripture shows how God often brought His people into covenant with Himself. What we often miss is that God also brings His people into covenant with each other, where special promises are made and lived out within the covenant community. In all of this we not only see a preview of the Good and Greater Shepherd in Christ, we see what life in Christ will be like together as we mutually submit to His Kingship. You know what we call this now? Church membership. The elders as God given under shepherds and the members as the cherished and adored bride of Christ pursued by those elders. What a picture!

What follows then in v4-5 is formal language used not only when a king begins his reign, but formal language used to summarize the whole reign of a king. “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.”

What did David do first as king? v6-9a tells us, “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 strike 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 lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David.”

Having united all Israel under his rule, David doesn’t sit back and relax on his throne basking in his kingly glory, no.[7]He gets to work and seeks to locate his new national headquarters in Jerusalem.[8] Why Jerusalem? Because Hebron was likely to far south for the northerners and Mahanaim was too far north for the southerners. Being situated between the two, Jerusalem seemed to be the best place for it, just as Washington D.C. right between the north-south divide was designed to unify our country. But there is more in view when it comes to Jerusalem and these Jebusites. Long ago it was Abraham who encountered the strange figure Melchizedek, who just so happened to be king of a place named Jerusalem. And part of the land God promised Abraham included this city of Jerusalem. But even by the time of Joshua and his conquests of the promise land the Jebusites were never totally driven out of the land, so since that day till this day they had control of Jerusalem. Their presence in the midst of Jerusalem was a national disgrace, a visible reminder of their failure to complete the conquest.[9] That David comes and takes over it here shows he is not only fulfilling the promise made to Abraham but that he’s also a new kind of Joshua, leading the people of God to where God has always intended to bring them.[10] You think it was a long time for David to wait to be king? God’s promise made to Abraham takes, plus or minus, 800 years to come about. But come about it did.[11] Lesson? Church, God’s promises aren’t like bananas. I mean it, there is literally a period of like 2 hours when a banana is good for eating. Before that moment it’s too hard to enjoy and afterwards it’s far too gushy, but that tiny moment in the middle it sure is ripe for eating! Church, God’s promises aren’t like this. His promises don’t come with an expiration date, and they’re always ripe for the enjoyment and assurance of His people! Even after 800 years.

The wording of this skirmish is difficult in v6-8. Some think David’s words were harsh against the handicapped present in the city, but it’s actually the other way around. It was common in this time for leaders to use the blind and lame as guards around a city for two purposes. First, they did this to mock their enemies, saying, ‘We’re such a strong city we don’t need real soldiers to defend us.’ Second they did this to curse their enemies, saying ‘If you defeat us may you be cursed with blindness and lameness.’ Either way it’s cruel and unusual for the Jebusites to do this, and in this light you can see that David’s comment in return about his soul hating the lame and blind is in response to these realities.[12] Despite their taunts David and his men went up the water shaft and captured the city, successfully driving out the Jebusites. David called it the City of David and from this point on it was affectionately known to Israel as Zion, a place which would become the hub of all God’s redemptive purposes for Israel, which is ultimately fulfilled not in a new place but in a Person, in Christ.

Once captured David’s activity continued in various building projects. v9b-16 shows this, “And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him. And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. And David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel. 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.”

These concluding verses of our first chunk today are a summary of David’s reign. His family grew large and his fame and renown stretched far beyond the borders of Israel to Gentiles like Hiram, this is evidence of that. But why did God do this with David? Did you notice v12? “David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” God didn’t exalt David for David’s sake or David’s benefit, no. He exalted David for Israel’s sake and Israel’s benefit. And benefit they would not only during his reign but also from His descendants forever and ever. We can’t expand on that for now, but when we come to chapter seven we can and we shall! 

For now, look on to the next chunk of our passage…

David’s Kingdom Expanded (v17-25)

v17-25, “When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David.[13] 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? Will you give them into my hand?” And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking 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. 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 against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” And David did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.”

What we have in v17-25 is two victories over the Philistines, that ought to bring our attention back to 2 Sam. 3:18. There we read, “The Lord has promised David saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’” That these battles are fought and won in our passage show how God is already bringing 3:18 to pass. That’s the big picture view of this. Zooming in a bit more we can see more. When David only ruled over Judah in the south it seems the Philistines were content to be neighbors to a divided (and therefore weak) nation. But when they heard of David’s enthronement things changed.[14] They responded with an invasion seeking to prevent the unification of Israel from becoming a reality.[15] But when David heard that the Philistines had sent an army he went down to his stronghold to prepare. How did David prepare? He sought the Lord’s guidance in v19 and after getting the divine green light he went and attacked them and won in v20, witnessing firsthand how God broke through their enemies and therefore named the place of this battle ‘Baal-perazim’ meaning ‘lord of bursting through.’ It was such a thorough defeat that the Philistines left the idols they brought with them in the war. Perhaps you’ll remember a similar scene much earlier (1 Samuel 4) when Israel was again warring against the Philistines.[16] Israel desired extra courage and aid in the fight so they took the ark of God with them into battle, wrongfully using it as a kind of rabbit’s foot  or trinket for good luck. When Israel was defeated the Philistines took the ark and Israel despaired. In our passage today there is a reversal of that incident. The Philistines are defeated and they despair because they were defeated so badly they had to leave their idols/pagan good luck charms behind. And as Wiley Coyote did time and time again trying to catch the Road Runner with various Acme equipment, the Philistines even though defeated, muster their troops once again and attack Israel in the exact manner in the exact same place.

What does David do? He does the exact same thing, seeking the Lord’s guidance. And despite all the similarities this second battle has with the first God’s guidance is different this time. The first time it was clear in v19, “Go up.” This time it’s just as clear in v23, “Do not go up but go around behind them and wait to attack until you hear marching on the top of the balsam trees. When you hear it, know the LORD has gone out before you…” So they got in position and waited. And they heard the angelic host above them marching on the tree tops, and as God said, they won another great victory against the Philistines.

Conclusion:

There are many ways to end a sermon like this, allow me to draw your attention to three features of this passage that stand out.[17] First, the people of God gain a great unity as David their king sat on the throne. Second, the people of God experience movement ahead in their mission against their enemies as David their king led them out. Third, the people of God enjoyed the great blessings of a divinely established and a divinely expanding kingdom.

These three also look ahead to our moment today as God’s Church under the rule of Christ the King.

First, all who place their faith in Christ are brought into union with Christ. Being united to Christ brings unity in Christ. A unity that began flowing forth from Christ the moment He ascended to sit on His throne. Once we hated God and hated one another, now by grace, He has broken down walls of division and made us one people in the gospel.

Second, all who place their faith in Christ are no longer treated by Christ as civilians but soldiers, divinely called and put into our King’s glorious employ. In this global mission we ask Him for guidance about where to go and what to do. In this global mission we ask Him for victory. David’s question in v19 “Will You give them into my hand?” turns into our question ‘Would You give us this city Lord?’ In His mission we experience victory as Christ our King leads us out.

Third, all who place their faith in Christ enjoy the great blessings of His divinely established and divinely expanding Kingdom. And our great desire now becomes “Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be done.”

One day all in Christ the King will enter His Kingdom and the wait will be over! But here in the waiting room, the glorious results of His divinely established and divinely expanding Kingdom are experienced and enjoyed in every heart where Jesus has taken up His throne.


[1] Robert Alter, ed., The David Story: A Translation With Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel, Stated 1st Edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Co Inc, 1999), 220.

[2] John L. Mackay and J. Gary Millar, ESV Expository Commentary: 1 Samuel-2 Chronicles, ed. Iain M. Duguid, Hamilton Jr James M., and Jay Sklar (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2019), 317.

[3] Richard D. Phillips, 2 Samuel (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2018), 75.

[4] Phillips, 75.

[5] Peter J. Leithart, A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003), 204.

[6] Phillips, 2 Samuel, 76.

[7] Phillips, 77.

[8] P. Kyle McCarter Jr., II Samuel (Garden City, N.Y: Anchor Bible, 1984), 141.

[9] Phillips, 2 Samuel, 77-78.

[10] Leithart, A Son to Me, 204.

[11] Dale Ralph Davis, 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity, Revised edition (Fearn, Ross-Shire Scotland: Christian Focus, 2013), 64.

[12] Mackay and Millar, ESV Expository Commentary, 318.

[13] There is a good possibility that the Philistines go searching for David because they think he is a still one of their vassal kings. But eventually they learn David had no intention of continuing to be associated with them, so the Philistines aim to remove him from the situation via war. (See note in ESV Study Bible note on 5:17-21, page 551.

[14] Mackay and Millar, ESV Expository Commentary, 320.

[15] McCarter Jr., II Samuel, 157–58.

[16] R. C. Sproul, ed., Reformation Study Bible-ESV, 2015 Edition (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2015), 461.

[17] Phillips, 2 Samuel, 75.

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