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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
2 Samuel 5

 

 

Verse 1

2 Samuel 5:1. Then came all the tribes to David — That is, elders, deputed as ambassadors from every tribe, sent by a common agreement among them; saying, Behold, we are bone of thy bone, &c. — Abner and Ish-bosheth being dead, whose authority had swayed the Israelites against their duty, they now acknowledged David’s divine right to the crown; they remembered that he had every qualification requisite for a rightful king of Israel, according to God’s own limitations, Deuteronomy chap. 17.; that he was one of their brethren, and that he was chosen of God. They called to mind his valour, and various merits toward Israel, the many deliverances which he had wrought out for them, and God’s express declaration in his favour, that he would make him the shepherd and captain of his favourite people. And when they had thus considered his undoubted title and merits, and their own duty, they immediately came together to crown him.


Verse 2

2 Samuel 5:2. The Lord said, Thou shalt feed my people Israel — The learned Bishop Patrick very justly observes here, that this is the first time we meet with any ruler, or governor of a people, characterized under the idea of a shepherd; and it cannot but be thought remarkable that the first man so characterized was at first in fact a shepherd; and when we find him, after his advancement to the throne, still characterized by God himself under the same idea, what can be a clearer inference, than that God’s raising him to be a king was but exalting him to a nobler office of the same nature with his first? How fine a document is this to princes, that they are not, in the intention of Providence, the tyrants, but the guardians of their people! that their business is the preservation and well-being of the flock, from the duty they owe to the great Lord and owner thereof! And how fully is this document confirmed to us, when we find bad princes set forth, in the prophetic style, under the characters of roaring lions, hungry bears, and devouring wolves. It was a truly noble and princely maxim of Cyrus, that “every man that aspired to the government of others should take care to be a better man than those he ruled.” — Delaney.


Verse 3

2 Samuel 5:3. King David made a league with them — It is not said what the contents of this league or covenant were. The Jews think it was an act of oblivion and indemnity for all injuries done on either side, whether of Judah against the other tribes, or of all the other tribes against Judah. But in that case the league would rather have been between the tribes than with the king. It is therefore probable that it included a great deal more, and that David obliged himself to rule them according to God’s laws, and that the people promised obedience to him agreeably to the same; and that both the king and the people ratified their engagements by solemn sacrifices, and appeals to God for the sincere performance of them. All this, being done as in the presence of Him who fills heaven and earth, and to whose all-seeing eye the hearts and ways of mankind are without a covering, is properly said to have been before the Lord, although it was not before the ark, that symbol of the divine presence, for that certainly was not now at Hebron. They anointed David king over Israel — That is, they desired the high- priest to anoint him, whose office it was; and thereby expressed their consent that he should reign over them. David was anointed in all three times; first by Samuel in his father’s house, 1 Samuel 16:13; then when the tribe of Judah owned him for their king, 2 Samuel 2:4; and now, when all Israel did the same.


Verse 4-5

2 Samuel 5:4-5. David was thirty years old when he began to reign — At this age the Levites were at first appointed to begin their ministrations, Numbers 4:3. About this age the Son of David entered upon his public ministry, Luke 3:23. And it is the age when men come to their full maturity of strength and judgment. In Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years — By this it appears it was immediately after his third unction that he made the attempt upon Jerusalem, mentioned in the next verse, otherwise he could not have reigned there so long.


Verse 6

2 Samuel 5:6. The king and his men went to Jerusalem — His first warlike enterprise, after he was made king of all Israel, was against that part of Jerusalem which was still in the hands of the Jebusites, namely, the strong fort of Zion, which they held, although the Israelites dwelt in the other parts of the city. Which spake unto David — When he came with his army to attack the fortress; saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come hither — In this translation the order in which the words stand in the Hebrew is not observed, nor are they exactly rendered. They are literally, The king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusite, inhabiting the land, and he (the Jebusite) spake to David, saying, Thou shalt not come hither except thou remove the blind and the lame; or, rather, as כי אם הסירךְ, chi im esihreka, may be properly rendered, For the blind and lame shall keep thee off, which is the sense given to the words in the English Bible of Coverdale, printed in 1535, where they are translated, Thou shalt not come hither, but the blind and the lame shall drive thee away. The Seventy render the passage, ουκ εισελευση ωδε, οτι αντεστησαν οι τυφλοι, &c. Thou shalt not come hither, for the blind and the lame resist, or, have resisted, thee, saying, That David shall not come hither. They confided in the strength of their fortifications, which they thought so impregnable that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them against the most powerful assailant. And probably they appointed a number of blind and lame people, invalids, or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance on the wall, in contempt of David and his men. There is another interpretation of these words which Dr. Delaney and many others prefer, namely, that they imagined their fortress to be impregnable and secure under the protection of their gods, whom the Israelites were wont to despise, and to call them gods who had eyes, but saw not; feet, but walked not. As if they had said, Our gods, whom you call blind and lame, shall defend us, and you must overcome them before you overcome us. “These blind and lame,” says a learned writer, “were the idols of the Jebusites, which, to irritate David, they set upon their walls, as their patrons and defenders. And they as good as said, Thou dost not fight with us, but with our gods, who will easily repel thee.”


Verse 8

2 Samuel 5:8. David said on that day — When the assault was made; Whosoever getteth up into the gutter — That is, whosoever scaleth the fort, or getteth up to the top of it, where the gutter was. Or, as some understand it, cuts off their pipes of water, or their cisterns into which the water fell. Dr. Kennicott observes that “the Hebrew, צנור, zenur, gutter, occurs but once more in the Bible, and does not seem commonly understood in this place. The English version calls it, the gutter; the Vulgate, fistulas, pipes; Vatablus, canales; Junius and Tremellius, emissarium, a common sewer; Poole, tubus aquæ, a pipe for water; and Bochart, alveus, a bed or channel of a river. Most interpreters agree in making the word signify something hollow, and in applying it to water.” It may mean, he thinks, “a subterraneous passage, or great hollow, through which men could pass and repass for water. That this zenur, in the text, was such an under-ground passage, might be strongly presumed from the text itself; but it is proved to have been so by Josephus. For, speaking of this very transaction, he says, ‘The citadel being as yet in the possession of the enemy, the king promised that he would make any one general of all his forces who should ascend into the citadel, δια υποκειμενων φαραγγων, through the subterraneous cavities.’ Here then we have subterraneous cavities most remarkably answering to zenur, and putting this interpretation upon a very solid footing.” Kenn. Dissert., vol. 1. p. 42. And the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul — This, some think, plainly shows, that by the lame and the blind must be meant the idols of the Jebusites; because David certainly abhorred idolatry, but could never detest men for mere unblameable infirmities. But two things may be said in answer to this: 1st, That the lame and the blind Jebusites had probably themselves insulted David, and blasphemed God, and David might hate them in the same sense in which he often speaks of hating the wicked in his Psalms; that is, he might hate their ways, their dispositions, and actions. But, 2d, The original words may, and certainly should be rendered, as they are by the Seventy, who hate David’s soul. He shall be chief and captain — These words are not in the Hebrew here, but are fifty supplied from 1 Chronicles 11:6, where they are expressed. Wherefore they said — That is, it became a proverb, or common saying, used by David and others: The blind and the lame shall not come into the house — Or, into this house; that is, into the fort of Zion. The blind and lame Jebusites were set to keep that fort, and to keep others from coming into it; but now they themselves are shut out of it, and none of them was to be admitted to come into it again; which David might resolve to ordain, to keep up the memory of this great exploit, and of the insolent carriage of the Jebusites, and their unhappy success. Or, the blind and the lame shall not come into my house; namely, into the king’s palace; which, though a general rule and decree of David, yet might be dispensed with in some special cases, as in that of Mephibosheth. But it is not necessary to understand this as a proverb; for the words may be rendered, as they are in the margin of our Bibles, Because they had said, Even the blind and the lame, he (that is, David) shall not come into the house; or, because they (the Jebusites) had said, The blind and the lame shall hinder him. They who understand, by the blind and the lame, the idols of the Jebusites, consider this clause as meaning, that from this time it became a proverb, Let not the blind and lame come into the house; that is, do not trust in idols, who have eyes and see not, &c.; and who are not able to do more for you than the lame and the blind.


Verse 9-10

2 Samuel 5:9-10. From Millo — Which seems to have been the town-hall, or state-house, near the wall of the city of Zion; or, as some think, a tower or armory. The Lord God of hosts was with him — This was the cause of his great prosperity, that God, who commands all the armies of heaven and earth, directed and blessed him in all his enterprises.


Verse 11

2 Samuel 5:11. Hiram sent messengers to David, &c. — Hearing that he intended to settle in the fort he had taken, Hiram sent him both materials and artificers to build him a palace. For the Jews, being given to feeding cattle and husbandry, were not very skilful in mechanic arts. The accounts left us of this king of Tyre are short; but it appears from them that he was a magnificent and a generous prince, and a believer in the true God. See the form of his congratulation to Solomon upon his accession to the throne, 1 Kings 5:7. And this character well fitted him to enter into and to cultivate an alliance with David, as he did with uncommon friendship and affection as long as David lived, and continued it to his son for his sake. — Delaney.


Verse 12

2 Samuel 5:12. For his people Israel’s sake — Well would it be for mankind if all kings had the same view of the design of their exaltation to the sovereignty; if they considered themselves as being raised to their high station for the good of their people; that this is the great end of their appointment; the pursuit of this end their great duty; and the attainment of it their true glory. Certainly great and good kings of all ages have been of this way of thinking: they have believed, not that the people were created and ordained by God for the king, but the king for the people.


Verse 13

2 Samuel 5:13. David took him more concubines and wives — This may well be reckoned among David’s miscarriages, the multiplication of wives being expressly forbidden to the kings of Israel, Deuteronomy 17:17. It may however be observed, perhaps in extenuation of this fault of David, that it has always been looked upon as a piece of political wisdom in princes to endeavour to have many children; that by matching them into potent families, they might strengthen their interest, and have the more supporters of their authority. And this seems to have been the reason why David took so many wives. Some of his first wives had no children, and he was induced to take others that he might obtain an issue, enlarge his family, and thereby strengthen his interest. But the many wives and concubines he took did not preserve him from coveting his neighbour’s wife. On the contrary, they inclined him to it; for men who have once broken the fence, will wander carelessly.


Verse 17

2 Samuel 5:17. All the Philistines came up to seek David — They raised all the forces they were able, to come up to David, and fight him before he was settled in his new kingdom. While the civil war subsisted between the partisans of David and Ish-bosheth, the Philistines contented themselves with being calm spectators of their mutual ravages and conflicts, which naturally tended to their mutual destruction; but when all these were ended in their unanimous election of David to the throne, and that election was succeeded by those beginnings and omens of a prosperous reign which have been mentioned, they began to be alarmed, and thought this the fit season to crush the growing power of this prince before it rose to a greater height. And David heard it, and went down to the hold — To some fortified place, to which his people might conveniently resort from all parts, and where he might intrench his army.


Verse 19

2 Samuel 5:19. David inquired of the Lord — Though David went into a strong hold, he did not trust to that, nor intended merely to stand upon his defence. But yet he would not give them battle till he had asked counsel of God, and was encouraged by him to do it.


Verse 20

2 Samuel 5:20. David came to Baal-perazim — For thither the Philistines marched from Rephaim, where they first pitched; as appears from 1 Chronicles 14:11. Hath broken forth upon mine enemies as the breach of waters — Hath overpowered and scattered them, as waters, when they make a breach in a bank, overflow and carry all before them. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim — That is, The master of the breaches. Thus ascribing all to God, and giving the place this name, that it might put him and his posterity in mind of God’s great power and goodness shown in that place.


Verse 21

2 Samuel 5:21. And there they left their images — Their gods, which they had brought into the field with them to be carried before their host. Such was the consternation into which they were thrown. Thus we read, 2 Chronicles 25:14, that the Edomites had their gods along with them when they fought with Amaziah. And perhaps they learned this from the Israelites, who carried the ark (the symbol of God’s presence) in their army when they went to fight with the Philistines; who saw it, and took it, as the Israelites now did their images, 1 Samuel 4:4-5, &c. But behold here the difference between the ark and these images! When the ark fell into the hands of the Philistines it consumed them; but when these images fell into the hands of the Israelites, they could neither hurt them, nor save themselves from being consumed.


Verse 22-23

2 Samuel 5:22-23. And spread themselves — The expression intimates, that they were very numerous, and made a very formidable appearance. So we read, Revelation 20:9, of the enemies of the church going up on the breadth of the earth. But the wider they spread themselves, the fairer mark they are for God’s arrows. And when David inquired of the Lord — Though he had been successful before, yet he would attempt nothing further without God’s direction; to whom he knew he owed his former victory. He said, Thou shalt not go up — That is, not directly, to fight in a pitched battle as before. So the following words explain it. But fetch a compass behind them — Where they least expect thee. God’s purposes and promises do not exclude or render unnecessary men’s endeavours.


Verse 24

2 Samuel 5:24. When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops, &c. — The Hebrew, בראשׁי, beroshee, here translated tops, may properly be rendered, in the beginnings, or, among the first of the mulberry-trees; that is, in the very entrance of the place where these trees were, or among those which were first in order, and by which the grove was entered. So that God gives David for a sign, the sound of many men’s feet walking, not on the tops of the trees, (for men do not walk there,) but on the ground amidst the trees, though nobody should be seen among them by any in David’s army. Probably the sound was to be heard by the Philistines, to whom it might appear as if a vast number of men were marching to fall upon them. The Hebrew, however, may be rendered, When thou hearest the sound of a moving in the tops, &c. And it may imply nothing more than a rushing and extraordinary sound among the trees, which was to be a signal for David’s attack. Then bestir thyself — Fall upon the Philistines. For then the Lord shall go before thee — By making such a noise either of a mighty host coming to assault them, or of something very extraordinary, that they shall be amazed, and confounded, and put to flight.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-5.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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