God is with David, and the kingdom of Israel is becoming stronger and gaining success – mostly.
2 Samuel 5
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”
3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
6 The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.
8 On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”
9 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.
11 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David.12 Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14 These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19 so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”
The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”
20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.
22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.
So, after a pretty long lead-up, David finally becomes the king of Israel. He’s welcomed by the Israelites as one of their own number, as an inspiring and committed military leader, and as the one ordained by God. He’s a king who fits with his people. After the reluctance and madness of Saul, it’s a new chapter in the life of the nation.
It’s a new chapter for the military situation of Israel as well. The Philistines were the main enemy at that time, and they and the Israelites had been trading victories in battles. Seeing David coming to the throne, they sense a big threat – a change in the strategic landscape. They decide to go for a full-force manhunt to attack and destroy David. But, through God, David and his soldiers seek them out and they are routed, dropping their precious idols as they go. The Philistines try once more – showing how much of a threat they feel that David is to them – but again the Lord fights for David and the Israelites and they win another great victory. It feels like the strength of Israel is growing, and the good times might be coming.
The Israelites take the fortress at Jerusalem, and David builds up the area around the citadel. It’s more good times for the growing, strengthening nation. Enemies are being suppressed. A great city is being grown. Another nation pays tribute, in the form of a palace that they build for David. God is with them at each step, and David feels His blessing. Things are looking up.
There is, however, a hint, just a whiff, that perhaps this is not quite perfection, that human taintedness might again rear its head. David starts acquiring more wives and concubines. From a human perspective, this might seem like the trappings of success and fame, just like the groupies of a music superstar or powerful world leader today. But if you think about this analogy, maybe you are wondering where the combination of David’s power and his love for women might end up. Is God’s kingdom only about external success? Where is the heart of David and his people really at? Read on next week!
Sometimes we also go through periods of great external success – in our personal lives and relationships, at work or study, in our sports or activities, in our finances. It’s great to enjoy it and to thank God for it. But that’s not the end of the story. There is no heaven in this life, and there is no real success aside from finding our identity in Jesus alone. Let’s thank God for the blessing of Jesus, and look to the glory that is to come.
Head: David’s victories come both by God’s hand and by David’s ingenuity (attacking up the water chute, v8). Do you think it is possible to be too focussed on your own skill or cleverness, and ignore God’s rule? On the other hand, do you think it is possible to be caught up in looking for signs and thus fail to use the gifts God has given you?
Heart: When things are going well in your life, how do you respond? Where does your heart go to in those times?
Hands: Ask someone you trust where they see words or actions in your life that might lead to trouble – with God and/or people – later on.
Prayer: Father, thank you so much for the blessings I enjoy in this life, and for the way they show your goodness. Please help me not to make idols of comfort, success, or my skill and work. Help me to remember that Jesus has given us the most important blessing – a life enjoying you forever. Amen.
A song to listen to: Blessed be your name