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Verses 1-12

3. David’s acceptance by all Israel 5:1-12

In 1004 B.C. David became king of all Israel and Judah. [Note: See Merrill, p. 243.] This was his third anointing (cf. 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4). The people acknowledged David’s previous military leadership of all Israel, as well as God’s choice of him to shepherd His people as their king. Thus David’s kingship stood on two legs: his divine election and his human recognition.

"In the ancient East, shepherd at an early date became a title of honor applied to divinities and rulers alike." [Note: New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, s. v. "Shepherd," by E. Beyreuther, 3:564.]

For example, King Hammurabi of Babylon (ca. 1792-1750 B.C.) referred to himself as the shepherd of his people. [Note: See James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, pp. 164-65, 177-18.] This is the first time the Bible refers to a specific human ruler as a shepherd, [Note: Patrick, p. 368. Cf. Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 3:15; et al.] though as an analogy the term appears earlier (Numbers 27:17) and with reference to God (Genesis 48:15; Genesis 49:24). The New Testament refers to David’s greatest son, Jesus Christ, as the "Good Shepherd" (John 10:11; John 10:14), the "Great Shepherd" (Hebrews 13:20), and the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4).

The fact that Samuel had anointed David when he was a youth was evidently now common knowledge in Israel. Therefore we should regard previous resistances to his assuming the throne after Saul’s death as rebellions against the known will of God. The covenant (2 Samuel 5:3) was an agreement between the people and the king before God. [Note: P. Kyle McCarter Jr., II Samuel, p. 131; Brueggemann, p. 239.] Probably it included a fresh commitment to the Mosaic Covenant.

"Thirty years old (2 Samuel 5:4) was regarded as an ideal age at which to take on responsibility (cf. Numbers 4:3; Luke 3:23)." [Note: Baldwin, p. 195.]

Three prominent descendants of Jacob began their ministries at or near the age of 30: Joseph (Genesis 41:46), David (2 Samuel 5:4), and Jesus (Luke 3:23). The years David reigned were 1011-971 B.C., a total of 40 years.

"[Verses] 6-16 highlight key events of David’s entire reign and are followed by summaries of his experiences in the military (2 Samuel 5:17-25), cultic (ch. 6), and theological (ch. 7) arenas." [Note: Youngblood, p. 853.]

Jerusalem was an excellent choice for a capital. It stood on the border between Benjamin and Judah so both tribes felt they had a claim to it. It was better than Hebron in southern Judah, far from the northern tribes, or Shechem, Shiloh, or some other northern town that would have been too far from the Judahites. Joshua had captured Jerusalem (Joshua 10), but shortly after that the native inhabitants, the Jebusites, retook it (Judges 1:21). The Jebusites were descendants of Jebus, the third son of Canaan (Genesis 10:16; 1 Chronicles 1:14). It seems to have remained in Jebusite control since then. Its elevated location, surrounded on three sides by valleys, made it fairly easy to defend. David may have chosen Jerusalem also because he appears to have seen himself as the spiritual successor of Melchizedek, a former king of Jerusalem in Abraham’s day (Genesis 14; cf. Psalms 110:4-6). [Note: See Eugene H. Merrill, "Royal Priesthood: An Old Testament Messianic Motif," Bibliotheca Sacra 150:597 (January-March 1993):58.] One scholar estimated that the population of the city at this time was about 2,500 people. [Note: F. E. Peters, Jerusalem, p. 11.]

"Jerusalem is usually described as a city-state, and the position envisaged after its storming by David and his troops is that it remained a city-state; the coming of David meant only a change of city ruler. . . . The inhabitants remained, but their fortress had now become the personal possession of David and was under his control." [Note: Gwilym H. Jones, The Nathan Narratives, p. 135.]

The interchange concerning the blind and the lame (2 Samuel 5:6; 2 Samuel 5:8) seems to be "pre-battle verbal taunting" (cf. 2 Kings 18:19-27). [Note: Ibid., p. 125.] The Jebusites claimed that their town was so secure that even disabled inhabitants could withstand an invasion. Another view is that the Jebusites meant that they would fight to the last man. A third option is that the expression refers to the custom of parading a blind and lame woman before the opposing army as a warning of what would befall treaty-breakers. This view assumes David had previously made a treaty with the Jebusites. [Note: See Gordon, p. 226.] David countered by taking them at their word and applying "the blind and the lame" to all the Jebusite inhabitants of Jerusalem. His hatred was for the Jebusites, using the figure that they themselves had chosen to describe themselves, not for literally blind and lame people. "The blind and the lame" evidently became a nickname for the Jebusites as a result of this event.

Joab captured the city for David, and from then on people referred to it as the City of David and Zion (1 Chronicles 11:6). [Note: See the map "Wars during the Reign of David" in Baldwin, p. 222. ] The name "Zion" (meaning unknown) appears only six times in the historical books of the Old Testament, though it occurs over 150 times in the Old Testament. It was a popular poetic name for Jerusalem. The Millo (a transliteration of the Hebrew word, 2 Samuel 5:9) probably consisted of terrace-like fortifications on the site’s east side. [Note: See Anderson, p. 85.] Some of the older commentators and others who did not have access to recent archaeological discoveries viewed the Millo as a large tower or castle.

"As was characteristic of all the great walled cities of Canaan, Jerusalem had a vertical water shaft connecting with a tunnel leading to an underground water supply outside the walls." [Note: Merrill, Kingdom of . . ., p. 236.]

It was through this secret passage that Joab took the city.

"Many scholars have identified the snwr [water supply] with the shaft discovered by Sir Charles Warren in 1867 (see Vincent, R[evue] B[iblique] 33 [1924] 257-70; Simons, Jerusalem, 45-67). This shaft connected the Spring of the Steps or the Spring of Mary (i.e., the ancient spring of Gihon) with the settlement or stronghold on the southeastern hill. It is often thought that this tunnel may have been the proverbial Achilles’ heel of Jerusalem in that David’s soldiers were able either to penetrate the city through this shaft or, more likely, to cut off the water supply from the Jebusites. The former alternative would be a formidable task even if the Jebusites had neglected this weak spot in their defenses (see Mazar, The Mountain of the Lord, 168). However, there is no proof that this shaft was the Jebusite snwr [water supply] (see J. Shiloh, "The City of David: Archaelolgical Project: Third Season-1980," B[iblical] A[rchaeologist] 44 [1981] 170)." [Note: Anderson, p. 84.]

"Two of the most significant events in world history now took place. The first was when David became king of a united Israel. The second was when he made Jerusalem the capital of his united realm." [Note: Payne, p. 177.]

The writer identified the key to David’s success in 2 Samuel 5:10. The Lord chose David as His anointed by sovereign election. David had nothing to do with that. However, Yahweh of armies continued to bless David because David related to God properly, generally speaking.

The information we have about Hiram, the king of Tyre, indicates that he reigned there about 980-947 B.C. [Note: Frank M. Cross, "An Interpretation of the Nora Stone," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 208 (December 1972):17. William F. Albright had previously dated his reign from about 969-936 B.C. in The Archaeology of Palestine, p. 122.] That would mean Hiram’s reign coincided with only the last nine years of David’s reign and the first 24 years of Solomon’s reign. This information helps us see that David built his palace (2 Samuel 5:11) late in his reign. 2 Samuel 5:11 therefore evidently does not describe something that took place immediately after David captured and fortified Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6-10). It was a later project. The writer probably mentioned it here because it illustrates another important evidence of David’s control over all Israel.

"David has joined the nations. David is a practitioner of alliances and accommodations. . . . Jeremiah later sees that cedar and its accompanying opulence will talk Judean kings out of justice (Jeremiah 22:13-18). 2 Samuel 5:11 sounds like a historical report, but it is in fact an ominous act of warning." [Note: Brueggemann, p. 246.]

2 Samuel 5:12 is key to understanding why David prospered as Israel’s king. David realized that Yahweh was Israel’s real sovereign. Saul was never willing to acknowledge this and viewed himself as the ultimate authority in Israel. In contrast, David regarded his own kingship as a gift from God. He realized, too, that God had placed him on the throne for the Israelites’ welfare, not for his own personal glory. Saul failed here as well. David had a proper view of his role in Israel’s theocratic government.

"From the previous events it appears that David’s kingdom was what could be described as a constitutional monarchy (cf. Halpern, Monarchy in Israel, 241). There is also a hint of a democratic concept of kingship since the exaltation of the king was for the sake of Israel. Therefore the kingship should be for the benefit of the people and not vice versa." [Note: Anderson, pp. 86-87.]

2 Samuel 5:10-16 is most likely a summary of David’s entire reign followed by his military (2 Samuel 5:17-25), cultic (i.e., formal worship; ch. 6), and theological (ch. 7) achievements. This pattern follows the conventional annalistic style of documenting the reigns of kings that was common in ancient Near Eastern historiography (history writing).

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