Truth, Understanding, Insight

Israel's Kings

23rd February 2006, sjh


1) Kings from Among their Own

While Israel had been a small emerging nation, their direct ruler was God, and he led them in the things they did. After they entered their promised land and settled there, they were overseen by a sequence of Judges, whose role it was to bring the message of God to the people. Eventually though, the people called for a king to be set over them in order to be like the other nations of the time. They wanted the strong figurehead as a leader in front of them. While they were warned about the problems with that arrangement, it was granted to them and so started the era of a long line of kings through the 500 years from around 1100BC through to 600BC. The details of this era are recorded as a history in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

2 Samuel 5

One of the early kings of Israel, and perhaps the best known one was a man called David. He was a faithful king and described as a man after God's heart. This section of the Bible contains a history of events that occurred during his reign, and the time leading up to it.

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. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel: and Yahweh said to you, You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel. 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before Yahweh: and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.

6 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 shall not come in here; thinking, David can't come in here. 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David. 8 David said on that day, Whoever strikes the Jebusites, let him get up to the watercourse, and strike the lame and the blind, who are hated of David's soul. Therefore they say, There are the blind and the lame; he can't come into the house. 9 David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. David built round about from Millo and inward. 10 David grew greater and greater; for Yahweh, the God of hosts, was with him. 11 Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons; and they built David a house. 12 David perceived that Yahweh had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake. 13 David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron; and there were yet sons and daughters born to David. 14 These are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, 15 and Ibhar, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia, 16 and Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphelet. WEB

This section reads largely as a historical account, describing the kingship of David, together with some incidents of the time. A significant statement that reflects the era is from verse 10, “David grew greater and greater; for Yahweh, the God of hosts, was with him.” In reading about the lives of the sequence of kings, the prosperity of the nation depended on the faithfulness of the leader to God. When the people departed from listening to God, then their prosperity was threatened.

The word “hosts” in “the God of Hosts”, means “armies”, and this military view of the world shows through in this chapter. There are recorded two military victories, and God is described as being behind it. While Christianity is associated with peacefulness, the Old Testament shows that context is everything, and there has and will be times when God shows his strength in conflict.

Another aspect that may come as a surprise is that king David had more than one wife. This was rather normal for the kings of that time, although God had stated in his guidelines earlier that it just wasn't a good idea.

Victory from God

The remainder of this chapter describes some of the opposition made by the Philistine people to the presence of the Israelites. The Israelites had been a long time away living in Egypt, and they required the backing God to reassert their position there. God had promised ownership of that land to the Israelites, and as shown in this section, gave them the ability to have it.

2 Samuel 5:17: 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. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. 19 David inquired of Yahweh, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? will you deliver them into my hand? Yahweh said to David, Go up; for I will certainly deliver the Philistines into your hand. 20 David came to Baal Perazim, and David struck them there; and he said, Yahweh has broken my enemies before me, like the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim. 21 They left their images there; and David and his men took them away.

22 The Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. 23 When David inquired of Yahweh, he said, You shall not go up: make a circuit behind them, and come on them over against the mulberry trees. 24 It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then you shall bestir yourself; for then is Yahweh gone out before you to strike the host of the Philistines. 25 David did so, as Yahweh commanded him, and struck the Philistines from Geba until you come to Gezer. WEB

A sub-theme to this section is the comparison of the Gods. Here David enquires of Yahweh for advice, and receives faithful communication from God about he should proceed. In comparison, the images left in verse 21 are the images of the gods of the Philistines, which were left behind in the haste to escape.