King David, Part 2

King David - quick review

With Saul dead and the war with the Philistines lost, Israel was in chaos. The southern territory of Judah was somewhat isolated from the fighting and David and his men traveled to Hebron where the Judahites crowned him king. Saul's general Abner, seeking to strengthen his influence in the northern provinces, installed Ish-Bosheth, one of Saul's sons, as a puppet king. Ish-Bosheth was an ineffectual leader and soon found himself at odds with Abner. Abner, using his political leverage, moved to ally with David and bring the northern kingdom under David's control.

David's general Joab, was a ruthless and effective leader, but he was volatile and he hated Abner. Abner had killed Joab's brother in battle; Joab would kill Abner in cold blood. King David responded to this vendetta by compelling Joab and his men to join David in publicly mourning the death of Abner. Meanwhile, Ish-Bosheth was assassinated by his own men who presented his head to David. David had the murderers killed and buried Ish-Baal's head in Abner's tomb in Hebron. David's open contrition for Abner's murder had ingratiated himself to all of Israel and now, with Ish-Bosheth dead, Israel sent emissaries to Hebron and anointed David king over all Israel. It's good to be the king.


Chapter 5 continued... David's establishment of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol is one of his most significant accomplishments as king. It is located on the border between Judah and Benjamin on a hill (mount Zion, adjacent to mount Moriah and the Mount of Olives) making it a natural fortress. The location was important in unifying the kingdom; it is a newly conquered town located on the border of the southern and northern kingdom making neither Israel nor Judah subordinate to one another.

Jerusalem was settled in the third millennium by the Jebusites, descendants of Canaan (Noah's boy), and was an established royal city in Abraham's time. In the bible, it is often called Jebus after its founders.

Genesis 14:18-20 18. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19. and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Salem is a shortened version of Jerusalem.

Psalm 76:2 His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.

The Jebusites were formidable. Both Judah and Benjamin had captured the city, but were unable to hold it.

Joshua 15:63 Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.

Judges 1:21 The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.

David and his men marched to Jerusalem with the intent to occupy the city. The Jebusites taunted him, "You will not get in here; even the blind and lame can ward you off." It is not clear how David captures the city, but he does. In 2Samuel 5:8, there is a reference to a water shaft providing access, but in 1Chronicles 11:6, David gives an incentive:

1Chronicles 11:6 David had said, "Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief." Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, and so he received the command.

David moved in to Jerusalem and called it the City of David. The Fortress of Zion was just under twelve acres in area when it was captured in 1000 B.C. and would have provided limited living space, but its raised location surrounded by steep canyons made an ideal stronghold. It had been standing for about one thousand years before David conquered it.

Verse eleven says the king of Tyre, Hiram sent stonemasons and carpenters and cedar logs and they built David a palace. Tyre is in Phoenicia about one hundred miles north of Jerusalem and was dependent on Israel's agriculture as a food source (still dependent in Jesus time - Acts 12:20.) Tyre also needed to secure overland trade routes that were largely controlled by Israel. But there was a greater significance:

2Samuel 5:11-12 11. Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. 12. And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

Hiram provided David with international recognition as king in Israel, but it was David's palace that provided his earthly symbolism as king.

Just so you know - I tried finding out the etymology of the word Zion. No one knows. We use the word to this day, but its meaning is forgotten. In the context of Jerusalem, it seems it was the name of the southern hill that the fortress was built on. In the bible, it appears here first (2Samuel 5:7).

David Defeats the Philistines

Still in chapter 5 - One of the frustrating things about doing these studies is the old testament authors do not necessarily put things in chronological order. I have chosen to present them in biblical order, but sometimes, if something seems out of place, Google it. This is one of those times. David's battle with the Philistines at the end of Chapter five probably took place before his conquest of Jerusalem and immediately after his rise to king over all of Israel. After defeating Saul, the Philistines had control over much of the northern kingdom. King David of Judah was of little concern, but now King David of Israel would be a problem.

When news of David's kingship over Israel reached the Philistines they mustered full forces to pursue him. David fled to the strongholds (caves) he used during the times he fled Saul. The Philistines spread out over the Valley of Rephaim north of Jerusalem. David inquired of the Lord whether he should attack. God said attack and David defeated the Philistines calling the place Baal Perazim - the lord who breaks out.

This is significant in two ways. First, as he usually does, David inquires of the Lord before making any potentially devastating decisions. David is close to God simply because he wants to align his will with God's will. Secondly, in naming the place Baal Perazim, David is giving God full credit for the victory. This is in sharp contrast to Saul's action of erecting a monument to himself in Carmel after his battle with the Amalekites. David knew that he could do nothing without God.

The Philistines were defeated and abandoned their idols at Baal Perazim, "and David and his men carried them off." Much like the Israelites carried the ark into battle in Joshua, the Philistines carried their "gods" into battle too. David's men would have burned them in accordance with Deuteronomy 7:5:

Deuteronomy 7:5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.

1Chronicles 14:12 The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, and David gave orders to burn them in the fire.

Round Two - The Philistines return to the same Valley of Rephaim and once again spread out over the entire valley. David once again inquires of God, but this time God himself will fight against the enemy.

2Samuel 5:22-25 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 balsam trees. 24. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam 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.

Gibeon to Gezer is fifteen miles from east to west down the Valley of Rephaim. And so ends chapter five.

Returning the Ark

Chapter 6 - The events of David's monarchy as described in 2Samuel are paralleled in 1Chronicles, chapters eleven through twenty-nine. The author of Chronicles (Ezra?, Nehemiah?) probably used Samuel as source material accompanied by other documents. Sometimes you have to read both to fill in some of the missing information, or do what I do; just read really fast and don't ask too many questions.

The Ark of the Covenant had resided at Abinadab's house in Kiriath Jearim for the entire duration of Saul's reign, more than forty years. It is likely that many Israelites had forgotten that there was an ark or even why there was an ark and if they did remember, they probably didn't know where it was. David pitched a tent in Jerusalem and assembled thirty thousand Israelites to go to "Baalah of Judah" (in Joshua 15:60 Kiriath Jearim is called Kiriath Baal) and bring the ark of God back to Jerusalem.

The ark was set on a new cart and accompanied by Abinadab's sons Uzzah and Ahio guiding the cart and all of Israel including David celebrating "with all their might" as they walked along with it. David didn't understand all of the conditions on moving the ark, particularly the command that the ark should only be moved when carried by Levites. At one point, one of the oxen pulling the cart stumbled and Uzzah reached out to grab hold of the ark. When he did, God struck him down and he died.

David became angry and fearful because of what happened to Uzzah and he was unwilling to continue bringing the ark to Jerusalem. Instead he left it in the home of Obed-Edom and it remained there for three months as the Lord blessed the entire household. David heard of the blessing of Obed-Edom and evidently learned what the problem was the first time they tried.

1Chronicles 15:13-15 13. It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way." 14. So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord , the God of Israel. 15. And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.

David assembled the appropriate team of Levites and they made another attempt. When they had taken six steps, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. As the procession continued, David wore a linen ephod and danced in front of the Lord "with all his might" as all Israel brought the ark into Israel with shouting and trumpets. They set the ark in the tent David had prepared and David offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. David then blessed the people in the name of the Lord and gave each a loaf of bread, cake of dates and a cake of raisins.

When the procession was entering the town, Michal, Saul's daughter, watched from a window as David was dancing in the ephod and despised him. When David came home she confronted him on his vulgar behavior of "disrobing in the sight of the slaved girls" but David was nonplussed:

2Samuel 6:21-23 21. David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord , who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord 's people Israel-I will celebrate before the Lord. 22.I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor." 23. And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.