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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 5

 

 

Introduction

SECTION 6. David And His House Are Established And He Is Promised That His Kingship Through His Seed Will Be For Ever (5:6-10:19).

In this section we will see how David’s rule is established far and wide as the nations come in submission to him, some voluntarily, others as a result of being overcome. It covers the whole of his reign in a series of vignettes which demonstrate his widespread glory, and builds up to YHWH’s promise that the kingship of his house will last for ever. But their order is not chronological, but topical. They are a depiction of David’s growing greatness and power, leading up to the guarantee that the kingship of his house will last for ever, and a description of the defeat of his most powerful enemies. Thus:

1). David initially purified Israel. He removed the one remaining specifically Canaanite bastion which was situated right in the middle of his kingdom, thus making clear the triumph of Yahwism, and the fact of the purifying of the land. At the same time he replaced the idolatrous king-priest of Jerusalem by establishing himself as YHWH’s priest-king over Jerusalem. He would see this as what Mechi-zedek had been before him when he had been ‘the priest of the Most High God’ who had ministered to Abraham. The idea was therefore based on a hallowed tradition (see Genesis 14:18-20). Like Judah previously (Judges 1:7) David had already shown his reverence for Jerusalem when he had brought the head of Goliath there (1 Samuel 17:54). This would either have been because he was patterning his behaviour on that of Abraham who had paid tithes to Jerusalem after his victory (Genesis 14:18-20) or because the tradition had grown up that saw Jerusalem as having been built on the mountains of Moriah, where Abraham had offered up Isaac (see 2 Chronicles 3:1). This reception of an ancient, traditionally respectable, priesthood would add a new religious dimension to his reign. Now David could be seen as lord over the whole land and as the nation’s intercessory priest, with the priests and Levites fulfilling their duties in accordance with the Law subject to his priestly control as priest of the Most High God (see 1 Chronicles 9:10-34; 1 Chronicles 15:16-24), something which he took advantage of in setting up the worship at the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting (e.g. 1 Chronicles 9:23; 1 Chronicles 15:16).

2). David’s Kingship was seen as established because he dwelt in a house of cedar. David’s palace was built for him by the ‘princes’ of palace building, the Tyrians, in a clear act of treaty friendship from the greatest maritime nation in the world, which was thereby demonstrating its respect for David. Like the greatest of kings David now dwelt in a house of cedar. YHWH had upraised him so that he might join them in their glory. But we should recognise that this is symbolically preparatory for the even better ‘house’ that YHWH has destined for David (2 Samuel 7).

3). David produced a prolific number of sons and daughters. This was something seen in those days as very necessary to a great king, and as demonstrating the blessing of YHWH. David thus had a quiver full of children demonstrating that he was blessed by God (Psalms 127:5).

4). David triumphed over the Philistines twice, driving them back and routing them, while at the same time seizing their gods which he himself takes possession of (and burns), thus demonstrating to all the superiority of YHWH. It fully avenges the time when the Philistines had previously seized the Ark of God, and had publicly displayed it (1 Samuel 5-7). Now David was again the Smiter of the Philistines.

5). Having taken Jerusalem David brought the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH, the Ark of The Name of Him Who sits between the Cherubim, into Jerusalem and established it in its own special Tent as an indication that from now on this was to be where YHWH symbolically dwelt and ruled, making Jerusalem YHWH’s royal city with David as His intercessory priest-king. David was thus revealed as YHWH’s triumphant War-leader and Prince who by YHWH’s power had established YHWH as King in Jerusalem.

6). The house of Saul loses its final opportunity of participating in the blessing as a result of Michal’s barrenness resulting from her attitude towards David’s worship of YHWH.

7). David’s ‘House’ (his dynasty) was to be established for ever in its place in the purposes of God, something which will culminate in the everlasting king over the everlasting kingdom (e.g. Genesis 49:10-12; 1 Samuel 2:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-4; Ezekiel 37:25; Daniel 7:13-14; Psalms 2:7-12). The reign of David’s house was thus to be everlasting.

8). David exercises his priestly ministry in a prayer of thanksgiving to YHWH.

9). Through the help and power of YHWH David triumphs over all who oppose him bringing wealth into the Tabernacle and greatness to his name.

10). David’s sons themselves become priests.

11). David fulfils his promise to Jonathan and establishes his son both in his ancestral lands and at the royal court, thus showing favour to the house of Saul for Jonathan’s sake as he had promised. In contrast with Michal Mephibosheth has a son, demonstrating YHWH’s compassion on what remains of the house of Saul.

12). David defeats the greatest current threat to Israel by defeating the Aramaean Empires and rendering their kings harmless.

It must be noted that underlying what is described here, and indeed underlying the whole Davidic narrative, are the words, ‘And the Spirit of YHWH came on David from that day forward’ (1 Samuel 16:13). That was the reason why David was so continually successful and what enabled him to glorify YHWH in all aspects of life. (And it was that same Spirit Who would later empower the everlasting King).

We can thus analyse this Section as follows:

Analysis.

a David Reacts To Taunts And Captures Jerusalem Thus Purifying And Uniting The Land (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

b Hiram Builds David A House Of Cedar Which Demonstrates the Establishment Of His House And Kingship On Behalf Of God’s People (2 Samuel 5:11-12).

c David Bears Many Sons (2 Samuel 5:13-16).

d David Utterly Defeats The Philistines Releasing Their Grip For Ever On Israel (2 Samuel 5:17-25).

e David Brings The Ark Of God Containing the Covenant Into Jerusalem With Rejoicing Expressing His Love For And Dedication To YHWH (2 Samuel 6:1-19).

f Michal Expresses Her Disgust At David’s Behaviour Resulting In The Barrenness Of The House Of Saul (2 Samuel 6:20-23).

g David Wishes To Build A House Of Cedar For YHWH And Learns That YHWH Is Above Houses Of Cedar (2 Samuel 7:1-7).

f The House Of David Is To Be Fruitful Result In An Everlasting Kingship (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

e David’s Prayer Expresses His Gratitude To YHWH For All His Goodness (2 Samuel 7:18-19).

d David Utterly Defeats All His Enemies Round About Freeing Israel From The Threat Of Invasion (2 Samuel 8:1-15).

c David’s Sons Become ‘Priests’ (2 Samuel 8:16-18).

b David Establishes The House Of Saul By Receiving Jonathan’s Son At Court and Giving Him Back His Ancestral Lands (2 Samuel 9:1-13).

a David Reacts To Taunts And Defeats The Greater Powers Who Threaten His Borders Thus Establishing The Land (2 Samuel 10:1-19).


Verses 1-5

David Is At Last Anointed As King Over All Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5).

This section began in 2 Samuel 2:1 onwards with David being anointed as king over Judah, and it now ends with David being anointed as king over all Israel. In all that went in between YHWH had been preserving David for this moment. And the important thing was that it was achieved without causing disharmony and bitterness. The whole of Israel were as one in wanting him as king.

Note the threefold reasons why they considered that David was a reasonable candidate for kingship:

1) He was a true-born Israelite (2 Samuel 2:1).

2) He had been a victorious war-leader as he had led them out and in (2 Samuel 2:2 a).

3) Above all YHWH had chosen him to be shepherd of His people (2 Samuel 2:2 b).

In other words he had the three important credentials. He was true-born, he was a successful war-leader, and he had been chosen by YHWH. The last, of course, crowned the other two.

Analysis.

a Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to Hebron, and spoke, saying, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh” (2 Samuel 5:1).

b “In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2 a).

b And YHWH said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2 b).

a So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron, and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before YHWH, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 5:3-5).

In ‘a’ all the tribes of Israel came to David recognising that he was one of them, a true Israelite, and in the parallel all the tribes of Israel come to make him king. In ‘b’ he was the war-leader who had led Israel out (to battle) and had brought them in, and in the parallel YHWH had established him to be the shepherd of His people.

2 Samuel 5:1

Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to Hebron, and spoke, saying, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.’

All the tribes then came to David at Hebron, possibly in the person of their elders (2 Samuel 5:3), although it could have been by the calling of a general assembly of the adult menfolk, although that would have drawn the unwelcome attention of the Philistines. And their first emphasis was on the fact that he was a true-born Israelite (Deuteronomy 17:15). He was of the same make-up as they were. This was certainly better than having a foreign king over them, and was in accordance Deuteronomy 17:15..

2 Samuel 5:2

In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel, and YHWH said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.” ’

The next thing that they had brought to mind was how, when he was younger and Saul had been king, he had successfully and charismatically led them out against the Philistines. Thus he had demonstrated that he had the wherewithal to be a successful war-leader. But most important of all was that he had been sealed by YHWH.

Once again we are informed of a prophetic pronouncement which we have not come across previously. We are told that YHWH had said to him, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince (nagid=war-leader) over Israel.” The idea of the king as a shepherd was commonplace in the Ancient Near East, and was added to here by the fact that David had been a competent shepherd. To be nagid over Israel was to be YHWH’s deputy. YHWH was king, his representative was a nagid. This term had been used by Samuel of Saul (1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 10:1), and is later initially used of Solomon (1 Kings 1:35). Such prophecies as this are required in order to explain why both Saul and Jonathan were so certain that David would one day be king.

2 Samuel 5:3

So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron, and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before YHWH, and they anointed David king over Israel.’

The result was that the elders of Israel came to Hebron in order to make him king. We note that the kingship was not absolute. The terms were laid down in a covenant, the main requirements of which would be to serve YHWH faithfully and to act as their war-leader whenever the need arose. Then they anointed him as king. We note that while Ish-bosheth would also almost certainly have been anointed, there is no mention of such a thing for him, whereas in the case of David it is mentioned both times that he receives a kingship. This was because in the eyes of the writer he was the true anointed one of Israel (1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 16:13).

2 Samuel 5:4-5

David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.’

We are then given the statistics of David and his reign as we had been previously with Ish-bosheth (2 Samuel 2:10), and will be in the case of future kings. He was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. The forty years is then divided up into seven and a half years over Judah in Hebron and thirty three years over all Israel and Judah in Jerusalem. We should note how Israel and Judah are now seen as two separate groupings. This process had been going on ever since Judah had, along with Simeon, settled the southern part of the land, while Ephraim and the other tribes had settled the north. Until the rise of the Philistine empire each had had different enemies to contend with. And as neither Judah nor Ephraim would yield precedence to the other the result was that once strong kingship ceased the division would almost be inevitable.

David’s age when he began to reign (‘thirty years old’) is the same age at which the priests and Levites were seen as fully matured enough to take up full service with regard to the Tabernacle (Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:23, etc). Interestingly it is the same age as that at which Jesus Christ Himself commenced His ministry (Luke 3:23). It contains the hint therefore that David was now seen as mature enough to act in the name of YHWH.


Verses 6-10

David Captures The Jebusite Fortress At Jerusalem In Order To Deliver It From The Inhabitants Of The Land And So That He Can Make It His Capital City And Stronghold (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

Note how it is stressed that the main reason for David’s venture against Jerusalem was because it was inhabited by ‘the inhabitants of the land’, in other words the Canaanites. His initial purpose was thus in order to purify the land in accordance with YHWH’s commands which had forbidden making a covenant with them (Exodus 23:31; Exodus 34:12; Exodus 34:15; Numbers 33:15; Numbers 33:52-53; Numbers 33:55). Not for David the compromise of allowing them to stay there as an eyesore to YHWH.

A secondary purpose, however, was almost certainly because, now that David was king of both Israel and Judah it was important that he establish a capital city that would be acceptable to both. Hebron, his present capital, was central for Judah, but was very much a city of Judah, and that fact alone could have caused dissension among the other tribes once David’s ‘honeymoon’ period was over. But equally no prominent city among the northern tribes would have been remotely acceptable to Judah. It was indicative of his tact and wisdom that he therefore eyed up Jerusalem, which was on the borders of Judah and Benjamin with a view to making it his capital city. It had a number of things in its favour:

1). It was a cosmopolitan city, including both a Judean section and a Benjaminite section, while its main fortress had always been inhabited by a people who were not identified with any tribe. It had thus never been specifically identified with one particular tribe.

2). It was on the borders of both Judah and Benjamin.

3). It was fairly central and yet was in a good defensible position.

4). It had ancient validation in that in the ancient and sacred past Abraham, the father of Israel, had paid tithes to its king, who had been a priest of the Most High God (El Elyon).

Furthermore, knowing David’s hatred of anything or anyone responsible for bringing YHWH’s Name into disrepute by defying the living God (1 Samuel 17:26; 1 Samuel 17:36; 1 Samuel 17:45) it must be seen as quite probable that the presence of such an independent Jebusite city had been gnawing at his heart for some time, even though it was something that he had been unable to do anything about while lower Jerusalem was split between Benjamin and Judah, and his kingship had not been recognised by Israel. Now, however, that he was king over both, and Jerusalem was right in the centre of his kingdom, its anomalous situation must have become wholly unacceptable to him. Here was a city which defied YHWH, and did so boastfully and openly, and yet sat proudly in the middle of his kingdom. He would feel that he could not allow it to remains so. So as we have seen this was certainly very much in mind as well.

Jerusalem, which as we have pointed out was on the border of Judah and Benjamin, and was called Urusalim in the Amarna tablets, was fairly widely spread out, being built on a number of closely related hills. The king of Jerusalem and his forces had at one time been defeated by Joshua (Joshua 10), but it does not say there that he had besieged Jerusalem and taken it. That was firstly no doubt because it was not situated in the line of the conquests that followed Joshua’s victory, as he swept through the Shephelah clearing the way for Israel’s occupation, and perhaps secondly because standing proudly on its high hill it would have required many months of siege to subdue it, when there were more important objects in view. It appears to have initially been taken by Judah (Judges 1:8), but that may only have been the lower city and not have included the impregnable Jebusite fortress. If Judah did take the fortress it is clear that once Judah’s forces had moved on to other conquests the Jebusites, the previous inhabitants, had returned and had retaken the original fortress city on its high hill surrounded by valleys, had strengthened its fortifications, and had been there ever since, gloating down on Israel from their proud eminence. Meanwhile Benjamin and Judah had both added to the city and had established their own sections of Jerusalem on other surrounding local hills (Judges 1:8; Judges 1:21), eventually making peace with the Jebusites. It is significant that Saul seemingly did not see it as requiring to be taken. He did not see it as a threat to the nation and he did not have David’s passion for YHWH.

That Judah saw Jerusalem as very important from the beginning comes out in that that was where Adoni-Bezek was taken to be executed in the early days of the conquest (Judges 1:7). It was also where David had taken the head of Goliath in order to celebrate his triumph (1 Samuel 17:54). It is clear therefore that it was seen as having religious importance to Judah, which we might, in fact, have expected given its traditional connections with Abraham, who himself had also taken his trophies of victory back to Jerusalem in acknowledgement of its king as ‘priest of the Most High God’. Possibly the tradition had also already grown that it was the same mountain as that on which Abraham had been ready to offer his son, Isaac (compare 2 Chronicles 3:1). Thus for it to be in the hands of the Jebusites would have torn at David’s soul, especially in view of Genesis 15:18-21; Exodus 3:8 (and often) where it is stressed that the Jebusites were intended to be brought into submission.

But David was to find, as others had before him, that it was one thing to talk of capturing the fortress city, and quite another actually to do it. This was so much so that the Jebusites were able to mock his attempts, declaring that he would never achieve his aim because even the lame and the blind could defend it. But they had reckoned without David’s astuteness, for David realised what its weak spot was (it was the weak spot of most fortified cities). Like all cities it required an abundant water supply, and in order to obtain it a shaft had been dug which went down, either to an underground river which flowed under the city, or more probably to a tunnel which led to an underground water supply outside the walls. Thus he ordered his forces to discover the tunnel, find the shaft, and enter the city in that way, promising a reward for whoever did so. The soldiers on accomplishing the feat would probably emerge from the shaft into an underground cavern from which well worn steps would lead up into the city. If it was done at the right time they could congregate there in the darkness and no one would know of their presence until it was too late. An alternative and less picturesque suggestion is that he was calling on them to block off the water supply, thus making the city surrender through lack of water.

Analysis.

a And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “Except you take away the blind and the lame, you will not come in here,” thinking, ‘David cannot come in here’ (2 Samuel 5:6).

b Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, the same is the city of David 2sa (5:7).

c And David said on that day, “Whoever smites the Jebusites, let him get up to the watercourse, and smite the lame and the blind, who are hated of David’s soul.” Which is why they say, “There are the blind and the lame, he cannot come into the house” (2 Samuel 5:8).

b And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David (2 Samuel 5:9 a).

a And David built round about from Millo and inward (2 Samuel 5:9 b).

Note that in ‘a’ the Jebusites stated that David would never enter Jerusalem, and in the parallel David had not only entered it but commenced building fortifications there from the Millo inwards. In ‘b’ David took the stronghold of Zion, and in the parallel he dwelt in the stronghold and called it the City of David. Centrally in ‘c’ we are told of the David’s response to the Jebusite jibe and its consequence.

2 Samuel 5:6

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “Except you take away the blind and the lame, you will not come in here,” thinking, ‘David cannot come in here.’

Note that it is stressed that the main reason for David’s venture against the Jebusites was because they were ‘the inhabitants of the land’, in other words ‘Canaanites’. His initial purpose was thus in order to purify the land in accordance with YHWH’s commands which had forbidden making a covenant with them (Exodus 23:31; Exodus 34:12; Exodus 34:15; Numbers 33:15; Numbers 33:52-53; Numbers 33:55). Not for David the compromise of allowing them to stay there as an eyesore to YHWH.

This may in fact have been his first action on becoming king, and it may even have been the action that drew the attention of the Philistines to his new position of authority, for if the Jebusites had been included as a tributary in the Philistine Empire, which they almost certainly would have been, they may well then have appealed to the Philistines for help. That in itself would be an indication to the Philistines that David was stepping outside his mandate and ‘rocking the boat’.

Whatever the case the Jebusites, who were Canaanites/Amorites, sneered at David’s initial attempts, (and his earlier call on them to surrender), declaring that even the blind and the lame could hold out against him. Thus if he were to take the city he would have to remove even them. Basically the thought was of how totally impossible it was that he should take the city, as the past had proved. On the other hand never previously had they come up against someone who was ‘filled with the Sprit of YHWH’ (1 Samuel 16:13).

2 Samuel 5:7

Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, the same is the city of David.’

And how wrong they proved to be. For ‘nevertheless’ David ‘took the stronghold of Zion’ and renamed it ‘the City of David’. The name Zion was geographical and only occurs five times in the historical books (1 Kings 8:1; 2 Chronicles 5:2, in both of which it is explanatory of the City of David; 2 Kings 19:21; 2 Kings 19:31, in both of which it is a prophetic word; and 1 Chronicles 11:5 which is a parallel passage to this one. It is, however, common in the poetical books and the prophets where it had become symbolic of the place where God dwelt, and was also sometimes used of the people seen as YHWH’s unique people).

The naming of it as ‘the City of David’ was important. It stressed that it belonged neither to Judah or Israel, but to David, belonging to him from then on by right of conquest because he had taken it in conjunction with ‘his men’, his own private army. It will be noted that elsewhere we often have the description of God’s people as composed of ‘Israel and the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ (2 Chronicles 35:18; Isaiah 8:14; Ezekiel 12:19), or of ‘Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ (2 Kings 23:2; 2 Chronicles 20:15-20 (three times); 21:13; 33:9; Isaiah 5:3; Isaiah 22:21; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 11:2-12 (three times); 17:25; etc.; Daniel 9:7; Zephaniah 1:4; compare Matthew 3:5) stressing its separateness.

It is quite possible that David had in mind the position that Jerusalem had had in the days of Abraham, when Abraham had acknowledged his responsibility to pay it a portion of the spoils while acknowledging its king Melchi-zedek as the ‘priest of the Most High God’ (Genesis 14). He may well therefore have seen it as a city that especially belonged to God and was closely associated with His worship, which would explain why he was so keen to bring the Ark there, in spite of the Tabernacle being elsewhere. Indeed he may well have seen himself as the spiritual successor to Melchi-zedek, and therefore as bound to take the city. Certainly he appears to have perpetuated its priesthood with the result that he and his sons became ‘priests after the order of Melchi-zedek’ (Psalms 110:4; compare 2 Samuel 8:18), not as sacrificing priests, but as intercessory priests. We note that kings of the Davidic house regularly appear to have entered into a special ministry of intercession (compare 2 Samuel 5:17-19; 2 Samuel 21:1; 2 Samuel 24:10; 2 Samuel 24:17; 1 Kings 8:22 ff; 2 Kings 19:1; Ezekiel 44:3. See also 2 Kings 23:2-3).

2 Samuel 5:8

And David said on that day, “Whoever smites the Jebusites, let him get up to the watercourse, and smite the lame and the blind, who are hated of David’s soul.” Which is why they say, “There are the blind and the lame, he cannot come into the house.” ’

The derision of the Jebusites angered David, who no doubt saw it as a defiance of the armies of the living God (1 Samuel 17:26; 1 Samuel 17:36; 1 Samuel 17:45), with the result that he devised a plan for bringing the city into submission. Let those who would overcome the city enter it by the ‘water-tunnels’ (sinnor - the meaning of the word sinnor is uncertain, but its root meaning is ‘hollow’ and in Psalms 42:7 a it undoubtedly relates to something which parallels the waves and billows of a stormy sea, possibly water-spouts), making their way along the underground river or tunnel and up the water shaft. Then they could smite from within the defenders, whom David derisively calls ‘the lame and the blind’ in imitation of the original jibe. If the Jebusites thought that the lame and the blind could hold out against David’s forces, let their own defenders prove it.

And as a result of this exchange of jibes a proverb arose in Israel which stated, ‘there are the lame and the blind, they cannot come into the house (palace, tabernacle)’. This may mean that any who are insulting or unpleasant will always be left outside and never be invited into someone’s house and given hospitality. Or it may have been indicating that it was always dangerous to assume that someone was too weak to hit back, for it might be discovered that they can do so only too well, the negative thereby being proved wrong. Or it may have been a proverb which became a jibe against Canaanites because, as ‘the lame and the blind’, like the literal lame and the blind (Leviticus 21:18), they were not welcome into the house of YHWH (Deuteronomy 23:1-2; Zechariah 14:21).

2 Samuel 5:9

And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from the Millo and inward.’

Having taken the city David took up residence in it, along with many of his men, together with many priests and Levites, making it his stronghold, and proceeding to fortify it further. The Millo was probably the system of terraces, consisting of retaining walls with levelled filling, discovered in excavations, which David further strengthened and fortified. He then built further fortifications within. No doubt he also in some way made it impossible for any in the future to do what his men had done.

It is clear from its initial mention that the taking of Jerusalem was seen as a high point in his reign. This was possibly precisely because of its associations with Abraham and Melchi-zedek with the idea that a new era had now begun. But for centuries it had resisted Israelite pressure, and had constantly been a bastion against Yahwism, perhaps the last prominent one in central Israel, with the people still worshipping their own gods there. Here were to be found the native Canaanites who should have been driven from the land. And yet even Samuel had seemingly been unable to do it. But now it had been accomplished by David, and the Canaanites had been made to submit to Yahwism. It no longer made Israel a divided land, and David had begun his reign by finally removing the Canaanite religion from at least that part of the land. It augured well for the future.


Verses 10-12

David Is Established As King Over Israel, Growing Greater And Greater Because YHWH Is With Him. The King Of Tyre Seeks Treaty-Friendship With David And Builds Him A House Of Cedar Demonstrating The Establishment Of His Kingship (2 Samuel 5:10-12).

David continues to grow greater and greater because YHWH is with him, and when Hiram of Tyre builds him a house of cedar he recognises that it demonstrates that YHWH has established him as king over Israel and exalted his kingship for Israel’s sake.

While Tyre was not incorporated into David’s empire, it appears in what follows to have acknowledged his superior status, for Hiram, the king of Tyre, provided the wherewithal that was needed for the building of David’s palace in recognition of his greatness, (something which he did not do for everyone). The Tyrians were famed palace builders, and this was seemingly an act of treaty friendship to one who, in the light of the context, was probably seen as of superior power. Such a palace of cedar would be seen in the Ancient Near East as establishing his great status. That great Tyre should act in such a way was seen as a clear indication of David’s growing pre-eminence, and that he should live in a palace of cedars was seen as an indication of his position and splendour. Hiram reigned from c.979-945 BC, and thus towards the end of David’s reign. Thus these incidents are not in chronological order.

There is something very beautiful in the fact that in the section chiasmus this incident is paralleled by David’s restoration of the house of Saul and Jonathan when he brings the lame Mephibosheth to his court and gives him a seat at the king’s table.

Analysis.

a And David waxed greater and greater, for YHWH, the God of hosts, was with him (2 Samuel 5:10).

b And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons, and they built David a house (2 Samuel 5:11).

a And David perceived that YHWH had established him as king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingship for his people Israel’s sake (2 Samuel 5:12).

The continual expansion of David’s political strength is highlighted by the attitude of the king of Tyre towards him. Not many kings found the king of Tyre being so cooperative. And it was all because YHWH, the God of Hosts, was with David. From more recent archaeological discoveries we know that it is probable that Hiram reigned in the latter part of David’s reign so that this description is not in chronological order. It was not intended to be. What the writer is intent on doing at this point is summarising the high points of David’s reign, not writing a chronological history. The order is thematic.

2 Samuel 5:10

And David waxed greater and greater, for YHWH, the God of hosts, was with him.’

From the moment of his anointing David’s greatness began to grow and expand. He ‘grew greater and greater’. And the explanation was simple. It was because YHWH of hosts was with him.

2 Samuel 5:11

And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons, and they built David a house.’

Indeed David grew so great that even Hiram, the king of Tyre, made every effort to please him and show his friendship towards him. He sent his representatives to David’s court and supplied cedar trees and carpenters and masons, quite possibly at his own cost, so that they could build David a magnificent palace. There was to be no austerity living for David. He had taken his place among the great. It was an acknowledgement that Tyre recognised his greatness, and sought friendship and cooperation with him. And as a great city which traded with the world by sea, and had extensive trade links, its influence was important.

2 Samuel 5:12

And David perceived that YHWH had established him as king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.’

And the result was that from this very fact David himself recognised even more that YHWH had established him as king over Israel, and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel. David’s growing greatness manifested the superiority and power of YHWH. Note the emphasis on the fact that his kingship had been exalted (by, for example, his now living in a house of cedar) for Israel’s sake. YHWH was not seen as simply conveying a personal benefit. It was one that would bless all His people.


Verses 13-16

David’s Own Continuing Fruitfulness (2 Samuel 5:13-16).

A further indication of YHWH’s hand on David was the fact that he was so fruitful and had so many sons and daughters. This was on top of the sons who had previously been born to him in Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2-5).

Analysis.

a And David took for himself more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron (2 Samuel 5:13).

b And there were yet sons and daughters born to David (2 Samuel 5:14).

b And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:15 a).

a Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, and Ibhar, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia, and Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphelet (2 Samuel 5:15 a).

Note that in ‘a’ David had many concubines and wives, and in the parallel many children. In ‘b’ sons and daughters were born to David, and in the parallel the names of those sons and daughters are to be given.

2 Samuel 5:13

And David took for himself more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron, and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.’

David not only received assistance with the building of his grand palace, but also obtained even more concubines and wives than he had already (2 Samuel 3:2-5). That was seen in those days as an indication of a great king. He would, of course, necessarily have taken over Saul’s and Ish-bosheth’s concubines. (For them to have been made free to marry outside could have been politically dangerous). It is unusual for the concubines to be mentioned before the wives, and that may well have been because they were the royal concubines. Less likely is the idea that it may have been because they were for pleasure and childbearing only, while wives were often treaty wives, married in order to seal a treaty with someone important. But what was seen as important was that he continued to have many children. YHWH was giving him his quiver full (Psalms 127:5).

Multiplying wives was in fact going against YHWH’s Law (Deuteronomy 17:17), and living in a palace of cedar would one day be an indication of a feckless king if it was not accompanied by reigning in righteousness (Jeremiah 22:14-15). In both cases the danger was that the king would therefore take his eyes off YHWH and obedience to His will. Perhaps the thought here is that YHWH knew that David would not succumb to such temptation. Or perhaps we are being reminded that God accepts that his people will not always be perfect in every way, and does continue to bless them if their sin is ‘unawares’. David may well not have given these questions consideration, or may never have had them drawn to his attention. And the necessity for taking over Saul’s concubines clearly added to the pressure, (he really had no alternative), while by taking treaty wives he was simply following a regular practise recognised as a regular one for kings. In the circumstances of the time it was generally expected, and even necessary, to seal treaties in this way. The wives were seen as guarantees of the genuineness of the treaties, and as uniting the two houses. But the reason why he is not rebuked is presumably because David did not allow them to divert him from God’s will (unlike Solomon. This latter fact reminds us that he had unconsciously by his failure bequeathed a problem to his son. How carefully in our actions we should consider what ‘legacy’ we might pass on to our children).

2 Samuel 5:14-16

And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, and Ibhar, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia, and Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphelet.’

The names of the children born to him in Jerusalem are now given. These are additional to the six sons born in Hebron. Their quantity indicated that YHWH was pleased with him.


Verses 17-25

David Once Again Overwhelms The Philistines With The Help Of YHWH (2 Samuel 5:17-25).

It was inevitable that once the news reached the Philistines that David had been anointed as king over all Israel, they would seek to intervene. It had been one thing when he had been king over Judah as their vassal, thus dividing up and weakening their main enemy. It was quite another when he had risen to become king over all Israel without their agreement. The danger was that he might begin to get ideas above his station. So thinking that they would soon show this young upstart a thing or two, the five lords of the Philistines gathered their standing armies together, and combining their forces, advanced to the Valley of Rephaim which was not far from Jerusalem. Their expectancy was probably that he would hurriedly negotiate and acknowledge their supremacy, falling into line with their requirements.

The news reached David’s ears and he in turn went down to ‘the stronghold’, which may signify going down to the new defences in Jerusalem, but more probably, especially if this occurred before his capture of Jerusalem, to some recognised strong point with which he and his men were familiar near the valley of Rephaim. Then he enquired of YHWH (through the Urim and Thummim) as to what to do next. Should he negotiate or should he go forward? YHWH’s reply was that he should go forward, as He Himself would deliver the Philistines into his hands, and the result was that the Philistines were routed and fled, leaving behind their idols, which they had brought with them in order to ensure victory.

However, the Philistines were not done with yet. Gathering a much larger force they later again advanced on Rephaim. Possibly they chose Rephaim again because they felt it necessary to vindicate their gods by gaining the victory in the very place where they had previously deserted them. But once again with the help of YHWH they were routed, and this time David, who this time had been more prepared, continued the chase and decimated the Philistine armies. Note the continual emphasis on the fact that it was YHWH Who directed operations. It was YHWH Who was to be seen as the secret of David’s success. All this would, of course, take place over quite a period of time. Invasions took time top organise.

Analysis.

a And when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David, and David heard of it, and went down to the stronghold, and the Philistines had come and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:17-18).

b And David enquired of YHWH, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hand?” And YHWH said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into your hand” (2 Samuel 5:19).

c And David came to Baal-perazim, and David smote them there, and he said, “YHWH has broken my enemies before me, like the breach of waters.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim (2 Samuel 5:20).

d And they left their images there, and David and his men took them away (2 Samuel 5:21).

c And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:22).

b And when David enquired of YHWH, he said, “You shall not go up. Make a circuit behind them, and come on them over against the mulberry-trees, and it shall be, when you heart the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry-trees, that then you shall bestir yourself, for then is YHWH gone out before you to smite the host of the Philistines” (2 Samuel 5:23-24).

a And David did so, as YHWH commanded him, and smote the Philistines from Geba until you come to Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25).

Note that in ‘a’ the Philistines sought out David and encamped in the valley of Rephaim, while David prepared himself in the stronghold, and in the parallel David smote the Philistines and they fled as far as Gezer. In ‘b’ David enquired of YHWH about what to do, and in the parallel did the same. In ‘c’ David smote them at Baal-perazim, near or in the valley of Rephaim. and in the parallel the Philistines returned to the valley of Rephaim. Centrally in ‘d’ the Philistines abandoned their idols indicating YHWH’s total victory.

2 Samuel 5:17-18

And when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David, and David heard of it, and went down to the stronghold, and the Philistines had come and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.’

We do not know whether this was before or after his capture of Jerusalem, for what concerned the Philistines was not necessarily the taking of Jerusalem, which could, unless it was a vassal city, simply be seen as a local squabble, but the anointing of David as king over all Israel without their agreement. They recognised that such a situation might eventually result in Israel becoming powerful enough once again to challenge them. Their intention ‘to seek David’ may indicate that they wanted meet with him in order to ensure precisely what he was doing from a position of strength, or it may indicate that they had in fact decided that they must deal with him once and for all. They probably still remembered the song about him ‘slaying ten thousands’ (of Philistines).

Hearing that they were looking for him David ‘went down to the stronghold’. This may indicate that he went down to a lower defensive part of Jerusalem, ready for any attack, or that he went down to a strong point near the valley of Rephaim where his men would have some protection and from which they could survey the enemy. The valley of Rephaim was not far from Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 5:19

And David enquired of YHWH, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hand?” And YHWH said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into your hand.” ’

Then David, no doubt through the Urim and Thummim, ‘enquired of YHWH’. Able general as he was he recognised that he needed guidance in how to the deal with this sudden invasion. The question now was whether they should remain in their defensible position, or square up to the Philistines in the open. Was it YHWH’s intention to deliver them into his hand? YHWH’s reply was quite categorical. David was to go up because He would certainly deliver the Philistines into his hand.

2 Samuel 5:20

And David came to Baal-perazim, and David smote them there, and he said, “YHWH has broken my enemies before me, like the breach of waters.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim.’

So David brought his men to Baal-perazim (named after the event), and there they smote the Philistines, and as the Philistines fled before him he triumphantly declared, either that they were like a dam which had been breached by floods so that its waters flowed away, or that they were fleeing like water gushing out of a breach in a dam. And that was why the place was called ‘Baal-perazim’ (‘the Lord (YHWH) of breakings forth’).

2 Samuel 5:21

And they left their images there, and David and his men took them away.’

The flight of the Philistines, who were utterly routed, was so precipitous that they left behind the images of their gods which they had brought with them so as to ensure victory (no doubt on new carts - 1 Samuel 6:7). Possibly it had also been their intention to force them on David and require that the Israelites worship them. Finding them deserted on the field of battle was a sign of YHWH’s overall Lordship, and David took them away in order to burn them (which 1 Chronicles 14:12 tells us that they did do). Unlike the Ark of YHWH (1 Samuel chapters 5-6) the images of the gods of the Philistines could not protect themselves.

2 Samuel 5:22

And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.’

Gathering a larger force the Philistines again came up and spread their camp in the valley of Rephaim. Their aim would be to make themselves look as large a host as possible. This time David and his men would not catch them unawares and overwhelm them. But nor would they catch him unprepared.

2 Samuel 5:23-24

‘And when David enquired of YHWH, he said, “You shall not go up. Make a circuit behind them, and come on them over against the mulberry-trees, and it shall be, when you heart the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry-trees, that then you shall bestir yourself, for then is YHWH gone out before you to smite the host of the Philistines.”

No doubt watching from the stronghold David again enquired of YHWH. He recognised that this time the problem would be even greater, for the Philistines had come in even greater force. And this time YHWH told him to circle behind them and attack them from near the mulberry trees, which would provide cover until the last moment and enable them to take the Philistines by surprise from an unexpected angle. Then when they heard the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees (no doubt caused by an unusual wind) they were to attack instantly, for then they would know that YHWH had gone out before them in order to smite the Philistine host. Note the emphasis on the fact that it was YHWH Who decided the battle tactics. All the credit for the victory was to go to YHWH.

2 Samuel 5:25

And David did so, as YHWH commanded him, and smote the Philistines from Geba until you come to Gezer.’

David did precisely as he was told, and the result was that he smote the Philistines ‘from Geba to Gezer’. The name of Geba might simply have been chosen as a word play on Gezer. It need not signify that they were actually at Geba, but simply somewhere around that area. Geba was also in Benjamin, as was a part of Jerusalem, but it was further to the north. However, the unusual angle from which David and his men came at the Philistines may have driven them north towards Geba, before they fled towards Gezer. They would, after all, not know the territory all that well. Some suggest that a letter (nun) has accidentally dropped out of the text and that it should read Gibeon (as in 1 Chronicles 14:16). But the Chronicler may in fact have deliberately altered it knowing that they would certainly also have passed by Gibeon on the way to Gezer).

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-samuel-5.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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