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God's declaration to David of His sovereign counsels in chapter 7 and David's submission and worship had good practical effect. Notice it is "after this" (v.1) that David defeated and subdued the Philistines, taking control of their capital city (Gath). Saul had never been able to do this: in fact he was soundly defeated by the Philistines and killed in his last battle with them (1 Samuel 31:1-13). The reason for this was that he was more interested in his own self-importance than in the counsels of God. He never learned to honestly depend on the living God, therefore he could not be depended on to fight God's battles. May we, like David, learn to fully submit in adoring worship to the truth of the authoritative Word of God. Only in this way shall we gain victories for Him. The Philistines picture mere formal religion over which only faith can gain the victory, for the things of God are vital and real to a man of faith, not a matter of empty ritual.
In verse 2 David is seen fully defeating Moab also. The character of this enemy of God is defined for us in Jeremiah 48:11 "Moab has been at ease from his youth; he has settled on his dregs, and has not gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent has not changed." Moab is therefore a picture of such religion as is seen in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22), self-satisfied, boasting in material riches, easy going, settling down in the world without the exercise of trying circumstances. His taste for the things of the flesh remains in him, and there is no change in his scent. He is a stranger to the change that new birth brings.
There may be a question as to what is literally meant by David's measuring them with a line (v.2), but the spiritual significance of this is important. The self-indulgent religion pictured by Moab has no concern for the discipline that keeps one within proper lines of limitation. Never having learned self-discipline, people of this kind will be made to feel the discipline of God in measuring them precisely as they are, when the Lord Jesus takes the reigns of government. Evidently two thirds were cut off in death as a result of this measuring, while one third were preserved alive. This seems to indicate that the Lord Jesus will clearly discern and divide between those who have given themselves up to self-indulgent religion and those who, though identified with such religion, are not wholly given up to it. This is observing the principle, "on some have compassion, making a distinction" (Jude 1:22).
Next we are told of David's defeating the king of Zobah, which was in northern Syria (v.3), as he (David) went to establish his authority in the area of the Euphrates River. David evidently desired to extend his kingdom as far as God had decreed Israel's boundaries will be eventually (Genesis 15:18). Syria is a picture of the materialistic principle that absorbs all the blessings God gives and takes the credit for them as though they had originated them. Its name means exalted.
David captured from them 1000 chariots, 700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers. What he did with the soldiers we are not told, but he hamstrung all the horses except sufficient for use in 100 chariots. Of course, the hamstrung horses could not again be used for war.
The Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer, but only to be defeated also by David, who killed 22,000 of them (v.5), and put garrisons in their country, subduing them and putting them under tribute (v.6). This again was a more complete victory than Saul had ever accomplished. The reason is simple and clear. The Lord was with David in all his wars.
Shields of gold (v.7) were not the proper possession of Hadadezer and his servants. For gold speaks of the glory of God, and Syria cannot honestly claim to be seeking God's glory as is true of God's chosen King, the Lord Jesus Christ. A large among of bronze was also taken from two of the cities of Hadadezer (v.8). This speaks of the holiness of God. Some religions claim to be the possessors of holiness, but again it is the proper possession of only the Lord Jesus, as He will prove when He takes His great power to reign. Mere human religion never uses holiness rightly, but abuses it.
Toi, king of Hamath (v.9) is typical of those Gentiles who will willingly submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus when He is manifested in glory. Hearing of David's conquest of Hadadezer, Toi sent his son to greet and congratulate David, and sent with him gifts of silver, gold and bronze. It was not necessary for David to take these things through warfare, for they were willingly given to him. Isaiah 60:3 addresses the Lord Jesus in regard to the day of manifestation: "Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord along with the silver and gold he had taken from other nations which he had subdued.
David's victories were many in his subduing the surrounding nations. Verse 13 speaks of his killing 18,000 Syrians in the valley of salt, which evidently enhanced his reputation. Then we are told that he put garrisons throughout all of Edom. Edom (which is only Adam with the vowels changed) is a picture of the flesh. While we are on earth the flesh will not leave us, but garrisons are necessary to restrain it from acting as it pleases. The authority of the Lord Jesus over His own involves His restraining hand to keep the flesh under control. In the millennial kingdom righteousness will not dwell (2 Peter 3:13), but "a King will reign in righteousness" (Isaiah 32:1): nations will be subdued and under the control of the Lord Jesus.
Verses 15-18 gives a summary of the administration of David in its righteousness and justice for all the people. Comparatively speaking, his reign was far more equitable than is common among nations. Yet David was guilty of sad failure too, so that he is only a faulty type of the Lord Jesus, who will reign in perfect righteousness. Joab was David's commander in chief of army, a typical soldier, hard and determined, not the kind of servant the Lord Jesus would choose. Jehoshaphat was recorder, a responsible position, requiring strict honesty in maintaining records. Zadok and Ahimelech were priests. Zadok is given a little more place in the history of David, yet the work of these priests does not seem to be given much significance. Seraiah was appointed as the scribe (or secretary), another important (though not prominent function. Benaiah (a trustworthy servant) was in charge of the Cherethites and Pelethites, David's bodyguard. David's sons too were given places of some prominence in government, as "chief ministers," though some of them were not qualified for such positions. Samuel's sons did not walk in Samuels ways (1 Samuel 8:3), and Absalom certainly did not walk in David's ways (2 Samuel 13:28-29). In the kingdom of the Lord Jesus there will be no favoritism shown: all will be perfect justice and truth.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 8". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34