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We have a very different view of David in this chapter, from the view we had of him in the former. There we looked at him in his communion with God; and here, in his conflicts with men. Here are his conquests over the Philistines; the Moabites, Zobah, thy Syrians, and the Edomites. Here is also, the account of the rich gifts made to David; his courts of Justice, and his officers. So that altogether we see David here in a state of prosperity.
2 Samuel 8:1
(1) ¶ And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.
It should seem, that this victory of David's was fought by him. He did not, as in former battles, defend himself against the Philistines, but he went in quest of conquest. Thus, in spiritual warfares, when the Lord hath given us rest, as David had, from the enemies around, the same Lord gives us strength to wage war with the remaining Canaanites that are in the land. Let the reader remember God's promise to Israel, that he would by little and little drive out all their enemies before them; and here he will see the fulfilling of that blessed promise. Deuteronomy 7:22 . Metheg-ammah, was probably so called, from having been a frontier garrison to the Philistines, and an awe upon Israel in the times of their humblings. The word Metheg, signifies a curb or bridle. Some have thought that this Metheg-ammah was Gath. Here it was, most probably, that Jonathan smote the garrison. See 1 Samuel 13:3 .
(2) And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.
This conquest over Moab, seems to have been the fulfillment of Balaam's prophecy. See Nu 2 Samuel 24:17 .
(3) David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. (4) And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.
Here is another fulfillment, if not of prophecy, yet at least of promise. The extent of these kingdoms reached towards Euphrates, and the Lord's promise to Abraham and his seed, was to extend from the river Egypt to Euphrates. See Genesis 15:18 . David appears to have composed a song of praise on this occasion, as appears by the title of the 60th Psalm. It is one of David's michtams; that is, his golden Psalms. Aram-naharaim, signifies the city of rivers, perhaps so called, from its being well supplied with rivers. Damascus was the metropolis of Syria. Hence the haughty Syrian disdained the sacred river Jordan, while extolling Abana and Pharpar beyond it. See 2 Kings 5:12 . The destruction of the chariot horses, seems to have been done in conformity to that law of God, which forbad the Israelites from increasing their cavalry, lest they should thereby be tempted to put their trust in horses and chariots, See Deuteronomy 17:16 ; Psalms 20:7 .
(5) And when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. (6) Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went. (7) And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. (8) And from Betah, and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass.
The victories of David in those instances, and the treasures of gold and brass, pleasing as they are in the account, are abundantly heightened in that principal circumstance here spoken of, that the Lord Jehovah preserved David whithersoever he went. Reader! what a sweet thought is it, to be always under the eye, upheld by the arm, directed by the hand, and beloved in the heart of our blessed and all powerful Jesus! And yet it is no more than what is really the case. Such honor have all his saints. For, if I am God's property, I shall be God's care. Surely if Jesus hath purchased me with his blood, it must imply, that from so dear a price, the object of his purchase must be dear to him also; and he will preserve it whithersoever it goeth.
(9) ¶ When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer, (10) Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass: (11) Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued; (12) Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
Here is another sweet and interesting relation of David's zeal for the Lord, in his dedicating the spoils of his enemies to the service of his best of friends. It was the Lord that made David victorious; and therefore, David thankfully consecrates the whole of his gain to the Lord's service. And if I do not mistake, in all this he was a type of the Lord Jesus; of whom it is said, in allusion to the gospel church; that the multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah: that gold and incense shall be brought; for brass, gold; and for iron, silver; and for wood, brass; and for stones, iron: meaning, no doubt, that such revenues of praise should pour in upon the church of the Lord Jesus, that in every place incense should be offered unto his name, and a pure offering. See Isa_60:5-6; Isa_60:16-17 ; Malachi 1:11 .
(13) And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.
The high reputation of David is again noticed in this battle with the Syrians, in the valley of Salt. And whoever reads with attention, David's holy triumph upon the occasion, which he wrote upon it, will be enabled to form suitable ideas of the well-founded reason. Who will lead me (says he) into the strong city? Who will bring me into Edom? David in this song asks the question, and answers it himself. God will. It is thou which goeth forth with our armies. And hence, in the confidence of this, David considers himself, even before the battle, as already in possession of the territories of the enemy. God hath spoken in his holiness; (saith he) I will rejoice: I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of my head; Judah is my lawgiver. Moab is my wash pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me. See Psalms 60:6-19.60.8 . How beautiful it is to behold the triumphs of faith realizing the promises, and absolutely entering upon the enjoyment of blessings by anticipation before they come. Reader! may not all true believers in Christ do the same? If we heartily believe the record that God hath given of his Son, may we not exultingly cry out; Jesus is mine; God the Father is mine; the Holy Ghost is mine; all blessings in providence and grace, in heaven and earth are mine; for I am Christ's, and Christ is God's, 1 Corinthians 3:22-46.3.23 .
(14) And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David's servants. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.
May we not spiritualize this passage, and truly say, in allusion to the holy war, when the Lord hath subdued the corruptions of our nature by the conquests of his grace, doth not the Holy Spirit garrison our souls with his divine presence, and convert the very weapons, our time and talents, which in a state of nature, we brought forward as the artillery against heaven; doth not the Lord convert these very things to his own glory and service?
(15) ¶ And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.
How delightful to see, and again to have it marked to our notice, to whom David owed all his blessings. And his reign so prosperous, so ordered, so conducted! Surely the Lord was with him. But, Reader, again behold in it, the peaceable kingdom of Jesus strikingly represented; and all David's victories types of the triumphs of David's Lord in the conquests of his cross. It is Jesus who spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15 . Yes! dearest Lord, we now sing the glories of thy reign of grace; and by and by we shall sing that song of thy reign of glory in heaven. Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. Revelation 12:10 .
(16) And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; (17) And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe; (18) And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.
The officers and servants in David's court, are here made honourable mention of. But oh! how infinitely more honourable are the followers in the court of Jesus, whose names are written in the book of life. There, Lord, be it my portion to be found, when thou cometh to make up thy jewels. Philippians 4:3 ; Revelation 20:15 ; Malachi 3:17 .
WHILE I behold the victories of David, upheld by the arm of Omnipotence, and the Lord his God preserving him whithersoever he went, oh! for grace to look unto the same covenant God in Christ, that I may go forth against all the spiritual enemies of my salvation, conquering and to conquer; upheld by his Almighty arm, and kept by his gracious power from all danger, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. And, Lord! do thou endue my soul with the same spirit as thy servant David, to consecrate all gifts, and all attainments to thee, the bountiful Source and Giver of all; that both gain and substance may be cheerfully offered unto thee, the Lord of the whole earth.
But chiefly, while I read those victories of David, oh! let my soul pass over the review of David king of Israel, and behold Jesus the King of heaven and earth, going forth thus against all the powers of darkness, the confederacies of earth and hell, in the salvation of his people. Yes! dearest Jesus, I do behold thee as the Great Captain of salvation, boldly waging war with sin, with Satan, and the host of foes in our corrupt and carnal hearts. But thy weapons are all spiritual; and thy victories all eternal. Thou hast ascended up on high, thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them. And now, Lord, having slain thine enemies thyself; it is thou which leadest on thy people to the same victory over them, by the sovereignty of thy power. Do thou, blessed Jesus, lead me on, and bring me through, and make me more than conqueror; and in all my spiritual warfare, let me set thee, the Lord, continually before me, for if thou art on my right hand, I shall not be moved.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany