Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18
You will notice a parallel in today’s scripture readings from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 18 is a straightforward, unembellished record of David’s victories as king. 2 Samuel 8-9 gives us historical facts that paint a moving portrait of a godly king.
2 Samuel 8 – David’s Success and Victories as King
If a boy in Israel was looking for a hero, he would need to look no further than King David. David’s life is a testimony to what God will do with a young man when he loves the LORD and is fully yielded.
The first years of David’s reign were marked by continued success. After God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), David accepted the rejection with humility and set about establishing himself as king and securing his rule over Israel.
Confident in God’s promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David conquered one adversary after another (2 Samuel 8). The first to fall to Israel were the Philistines who resided in territories to the west and south (8:1). Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel or began paying tribute to the king.
The Moabites, descended from Lot and occupying land on the east side of the Jordan, were the next to be defeated (8:2). Other nations inhabiting lands north and east of Israel included King Hadadezer of Zobah whose kingdom occupied a portion of ancient Syria and reached to the river Euphrates (8:3). Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). Rather than leave the King of Zobah defenseless, David had his chariot horses “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again (8:4-5).
Continuing his conquest and securing Israel, the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14) accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observes that, “David gat him a name,” meaning he developed a reputation as a warrior king, when he defeated a Syrian army “in the valley of Salt (i.e. the Dead Sea area), being eighteen thousand men” (8:13).
What was the secret to David’s achievements? Was he successful because of his skill as a general and warrior on the battlefield? Did the loyalty of his leaders or the size of his army make him victorious?
The secret to the king’s victories over his enemies is summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14).
David’s victories fulfilled God’s covenant promises with Israel that were made to Abraham, Moses and David (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21). From Egypt in the south to the Euphrates River in the east, the lands God promised Israel, David acquired for his kingdom.
2 Samuel 9 – A Compassionate, Merciful King
A moving, heart-touching story in 2 Samuel 9 paints for us a spiritual portrait of the manner of man King David was in Israel. He was strong enough to lead a nation and subdue his enemies, but also a compassionate and merciful king.
With his kingdom secure, David’s thoughts turned to extending grace and peace to the household of his predecessor, King Saul (9:1), and in particular the oath he had made with the friend of his youth, Jonathan, son of Saul.
David enquired if any of Saul’s household were alive. When he learned that Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan, was alive (9:2-6), he immediately sent for him and invited him to take his place in the palace at the king’s table (9:6-8). The Scriptures give us unique insight into David’s character.
David was a man of integrity, a promise keeper. As the grandson of Saul, Mephibosheth could have been viewed as a legitimate heir to the throne; nevertheless, David remembered his promise to show mercy to Jonathan’s household (1 Samuel 20:14-17).
David was also a man of compassion. Mephibosheth, a cripple and “lame on his feet” (9:3), was invited to dine at the king’s table. He had been injured in a fall when his nurse fled the palace with him after his father Jonathan and grandfather Saul died in battle (2 Samuel 4:4).
Ancient oriental kings would have had no tolerance for the infirmed in their midst, let alone eating at their tables. Such was not the heart of King David. Not only did David bequeath the royal lands of his grandfather, King Saul, to him as his inheritance (9:7-9), but we read, “Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:13).
Unlike a fairy tale with a “happily ever after” ending, the kindness and grace David extended to Mephibosheth will later be betrayed when the king’s enemies lead a coup and attempt to make Jonathan’s son king (2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30).
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith