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Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

2 Samuel 5

 

 

Verses 1-25

2 Samuel 5

1. Then camel all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.

2. Also in past time, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.

3. So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: 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 and three years over all Israel and Judah.

6. And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away [Thou shalt not come hither; but the blind and the lame shall keep thee off] the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking [or saying, David shall not] David cannot come in hither.

7. Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.

8. And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David"s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said [say], The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.

9. So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.

10. And David [Heb. went, going and growing] went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him.

11. And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons [Heb. hewers of the stone of the wall]: and they built David an house.

12. And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel"s sake,

13. And 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. And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammuah, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Song of Solomon ,

15. Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia,

16. And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphalet17. But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.

18. The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim [Translated in Joshua 15:8, the valley of the giants].

19. And David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

20. And David came to Baal-perazim, and David smote them there, and said, The Lord hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim [the place of breaches].

21. And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them [took them away].

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

23. And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.

24. And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the Lord go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.

25. And David did Song of Solomon , as the Lord had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.

David a Type of Christ

READING thus far in the second book of Samuel, we may be said actually to see the growth of David"s character. Hardly anything is left to the imagination. The history is rather a spectacle than aught else, a reality that appeals to the eyes as if it would say: Behold, this growth is sudden, yet sure—visible; every one can see for himself how strong this man becomes day by day, how more beautiful in spirit, how diviner in consecration and purpose. We naturally, and not unreasonably, suspect growth that is so very rapid and almost visible. We found a proverb upon early ripeness. Yet history justifies us in affirming that the growth of David was not only a sudden and patent, but solid and abiding, increasing more and more in all beautifulness and fruition. We should have wondered about this, reading the history as it were contemporaneously, but now we can read it retrospectively. We know that David was one of the fathers of Christ, and that Christ did not disdain to be called the son of David. By the help of what we know now we can interpret many things in the life of David which would otherwise have been perplexing and bewildering. Yet there were great black spots in the noble character, great broad bars of darkness across a life that was often so snowy in its beauty and purity. Even there a mystery not wanting in edification may be discovered. We cannot solve these mysteries now: but was it not well that David, being the father of Christ, should also retain almost visibly and faithfully his relation to ourselves—to the earth-state, to the world-school, that he should not be set away so high above us as to throw into utter discouragement all our aspirations and desires after the pure life? There we are upon perilous ground, yet we feel some need of being assured that David was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh—a man like ourselves—because we may be more encouraged by his weakness than we could have been by a strength which never failed, a vision which dared the sun. We may help one another not a little even by the weaknesses we struggle against.

We have seen how noble David was in the case of Saul; he is just as noble in the case of Ish-bosheth. The men thought they were doing a noble deed. They saw but one aspect of their action. They engaged in a venture; they thought themselves skilful, cunning, bold; within narrow limits they were Song of Solomon , but David looked upon the moral quality of the deed they had done, and hanged the perpetrators of the meanness. How difficult it is to see more than one aspect of a case and more than one feature of a character! How all but impossible to take in the whole situation and hold in vivid realisation all the elements that make up a character, a scene, a history! How the young men talked to themselves all night as they fled across the plain! How they almost added up the reward of their cunning bravery! How they put speeches into the king"s mouth, saying, When he beholds this head he will be in raptures; he will not know how to endow us; he will smile upon us and hold us in high esteem. Sustained by this bad inspiration, the night was short, the darkness fled behind them, and ere they had well time to know where they were the morning shone upon them and they were in the presence of the king. History tells us what happened.

What is the permanent lesson? The men who will do a mean deed for you will do a mean deed to you when it suits their purpose. Let us put this doctrine into every variety of expression, lest we lose its force and immediate application to our own position. Take it thus: the man who will tell a lie for you will one day tell a lie to you. The man is a liar. Without being such he could not have told the first lie in which he thought he was advancing your interests. When he told that lie he wrote himself in huge capitals LIAR. The man who tells lies in one direction must tell lies in all directions. Falsehood has no background that can be really trusted. The mean man will suit his own purpose, gratify his own ambition, and not consider your welfare when it comes to real crises. But this doctrine applied as David applied it would clear the world. Who would be left in business when every lying partner is turned out, when every false clerk is dismissed, when every hypocrite is displaced? Who would be left in the market-place? If we can answer that inquiry by a frank and honest reply to the effect that thousands of honest men would be left, then let us thank God for such a residue, and trace the miracle to his almightiness.

The men did not see that they were really dishonouring David. Who does see all round a deed? Their meaning was We have done for you what you could not have done for yourself; and David resented that with haughty consciousness of his ability to do more for himself by the help of God than any other man could do for him. David could have killed Saul; David could have put down his enemies. We do not want the help of officious intermeddling. A man may be able to handle his enemies, but he may be distressed and disennobled by his friends. David could not bear to be thus laid under obligation to these men. Observe his contempt for meanness: "How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed?" (iv11). The action was cowardly, unsuited to the temper and quality of a king; there was in it no noble passion—nothing in it but the basest cunning and treachery. What is the permanent lesson? Would David have any occupation nowadays? Are there any today who take advantage of weakness? Then they belong to the brood of Rechab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite. Let their genealogy be clearly stated to them. Men love to hunt up a pedigree, to trace an ancestry: there can be no doubt in assigning them their coat-of-arms. They have a bad parentage, and they themselves are worthy of it. Are there any men today who would strike a man when he is down, when he is afflicted, when he is unable to look after his own interests, when he cannot attend to the markets and see that justice is done to himself? Are there any that would go up to his chamber and tell him lies, or avail themselves of a false pretence and strike him under the fifth rib? Is the brood dead? Are the black souls extinct? If Song of Solomon , then David would have no occupation today. The question burns. We may well think over it, and wonder very much. The men who brought the news to David were hanged. So are all mean men sooner or later. There is only one fate for them. Rechab and Baanah were hanged by the pool in Hebron,—that Isaiah , in the most public place. All the inhabitants went to the pool for water, and in going to the pool for water they beheld the spectacle—two mean men hanged for the crime of meanness. Such is the bad man"s fate. No one has a good word to say for him; no one owns the body: let strangers break the bones and hide the carcase in an unnamed grave; no one would claim the mean man. Let us be taught by history. It is wastefulness on our part to neglect the pressing lessons of daily life. "The candle of the wicked shall be put out;" "the triumphing of the wicked is short," and "the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment."

Now we pass into another climate. In the fifth chapter David is made fully king. He has been, so to say, partially king; now his kingship is to be completed:—"So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel" ( 2 Samuel 5:3). It is legitimate to inquire into the typology of the whole case. Being the father of Christ according to the flesh, it will be to our edification to ask where the lines coincide, where they become parallels, and where they again touch one another. The study will be at once interesting and profitable.

"David was thirty years old when he began to reign" ( 2 Samuel 5:4). How old was Christ when he entered into his public ministry? Was he not thirty years old? The full meaning of this it is impossible to find out; nevertheless the coincidence itself is a lesson: we stop, and wonder, and think. Providence thus reveals itself little by little, and we are permitted to take up the separate parts, bring them together, and shape them into significance.

"And they anointed David king over Israel" ( 2 Samuel 5:3). Is that the word which is used when men are made kings. Is there not another word which is employed usually? Do we not say, And they crowned the king? The word here used is anointed,—a better word, a word with more spiritual meaning in it, and more duration. The oil penetrated; the oil signified consecration, purity, moral royalty. There was a crown, but that was spectacular, and might be lost. Was not Jesus Christ anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows? Have not we who follow him and share his kingship, an unction, or anointing, from the Holy One, through whom we know all things?

David reigned forty years. Forty is a perfect number. There are many numerals which represent perfectness, and forty—the four tens—is one of them. Or making the whole life seventy years we come again upon another aspect of perfectness: perfectness in the life and in the royalty: perfectness in both senses and in both aspects. And is not Jesus Christ to come to a perfect reign? Has he not his own forty and his own seventy—his own secret number, which represents to him mysteriously the perfectness of his reign? He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

The Jebusites mocked David when he would go and reign in Jerusalem; they said, "Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither" ( 2 Samuel 5:6). In other words: If you can overcome the lame and the blind, you may enter into Jerusalem, but other soldiery we will not interpose: even they will be strong enough to break the arms of David. Has no defiance been hurled at the Messiah? Has he not been excluded from the metropolis of the world? Are there not those who have mocked him and wagged their heads at him? Are there not those who have spat upon his name, and said, We will not have this man to reign over us? Let history testify, and let our own conscience speak.

David advanced more and more. The tenth verse has a beautiful expression:—"And David went on, and grew great" The words are short, but the meaning is boundless. David was a persistent man—he "went on." It is the man who steadfastly goes on, who enters the city and clears a space for himself, in all departments and outlooks of life. And is not Jesus Christ going forth from conquering to conquer? Is he not moving from land to land, from position to position: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.... And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ." Go on thou mighty Son of God!

Then we read in the eleventh verse, "And they built David a house." Even those who were averse to him came to this at the last. And is no house being built for Christ? Once he said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Is it to be always so? or is not the whole earth to be the house of the living Christ, the sanctuary of the crowned Lord? This is the voice of prophecy; this is the testimony of all history: in this inspiration we pray our bolder prayer and utter our grander hope. Jesus shall reign, and a house shall be built for him, and it shall be called the house of God.

"But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold" ( 2 Samuel 5:17). Christ has enemies today. There are Philistines who are banded against him: they want to deplete his name of all spiritual meaning, to take away from him all the glory of his miracles, to deny even his incarnation, to treat him as a myth, a vision, or a dream; but still he goes down to the hold, and still he advances his position.

Having overthrown the Philistines in one conflict, we read in the twenty-second verse, "And the Philistines came up yet again." These words have modern meaning—namely, the words "yet again." The enemy is not easily foiled. One repulse is not enough. The victory is not secured until the enemy is under foot—no truce, no compromise, no modification, no temporising, no living by mutual concession. David said, Shall I go up again as before? And the Lord said, No, let it. be otherwise: "Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees,"—vary the method. Sometimes when you are not apparently working you may be working most and best of all: in fetching a compass you may appear to be running away from the enemy, but in reality you are laying a strong line far out beyond him which means his enclosure and destruction. The Church of the living God should be a skilful strategist: the Christian Church should be inventing methods; it should be adapting itself to the varieties of circumstances which mark the history of the current day; it should have a thousand plans. Herein is the weakness of the Church: we suppose that we must work only according to one method—once stereotype a plan, and revert to that under all circumstances. The Lord says, No: vary your method, change your operation: sometimes there must be direct conflict, and sometimes the fetching of a compass, sometimes great tumult and shock of arms, sometimes long patient waiting, but always having in view the same purpose, marked by majestic steadfastness—a complete, unchanging purpose to destroy the enemy. The Lord said a signal would be given: "And let. it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself"—literally, then thou shalt be sharp, quick, eager; for a long time wondering if the sound has come, listening with the soul"s ear, wanting to hear the sound. We should be in an attitude of attention when we cannot be in an attitude of fighting. Soldiers should always be on the strain—should always be earnest. So God signals to us from heaven. He signals to us through human events. He says, by this occurrence or by that, Now is the time to arise. If there is great discontent amongst the people, he says: You have an answer to that discontentment—speak it. If there is great mental doubt, difficulty, unrest, the Lord says to the Church: You could hush the tempest and bring in a great calm—not by argument, but by deeper consecration, by larger generosity, by tenderer love, by holier purity: work the miracle! May we have understanding of the times, and know when there is a sound in the tops of the mulberry trees, that we may not be working behind the event, or in front of it, but with it, having understanding hearts, and knowing what Israel ought to do.

Selected Notes

"King David made a league with them in Hebron" ( 2 Samuel 5:3).—Hebron is picturesquely situated in a narrow valley, surrounded by rocky hills. This, in all probability, is that "valley of Eshcol" whence the Jewish spies got the great bunch of grapes ( Numbers 13:23). Its sides are still clothed with luxuriant vineyards, and its grapes are considered the finest in Southern Palestine. Groves of gray olives, and some other fruit trees, give variety to the scene. The valley runs from north to south; and the main quarter of the town, surmounted by the lofty walls of the venerable Haram, lies partly on the eastern slope ( Genesis 37:14; comp. Genesis 23:19). The houses are all of stone, solidly built, flat-roofed, each having one or two small cupolas. The town has no walls, but the main streets opening on the principal roads have gates. In the bottom of the valley south of the town is a large tank, one hundred and thirty feet square, by fifty deep; the sides arc solidly built with hewn stones. At the northern end of the principal quarter is. another, measuring eighty-five feet long, by fifty-five broad. Both are of high antiquity; and one of them, probably the former, is that over which David hanged the murderers of Ish-bosheth ( 2 Samuel 4:12). About a mile from the town, up the valley, is one of the largest oak-trees in Palestine. It stands quite alone in the midst of the vineyards. It is twenty-three feet in girth, and its branches cover a space ninety feet in diameter. This, say some, is the very tree beneath which Abraham pitched his tent; but, however this may be, it still bears the name of the patriarch.

"Except thou take away the blind and the lame" ( 2 Samuel 5:6).—Jebus possessed a secret supply of water, which enabled its inhabitants to stand out a siege of any length, probably in the form of subterranean access to perennial springs. It was absolutely necessary to cut this off, in order to take the strong castle. This seems to be alluded to in a peculiar term employed by the Scriptural narrative: "David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the tsinnor and smiteth the Jebusites and the lame and the blind, that one hated of David"s soul, he shall be chief and captain" ( 2 Samuel 5:8). Now what may be the meaning of this term tsinnor, which besides occurs only in Psalm 42:7. where it is translated "water-spouts"? It has been explained by such various conjectures as "precipice," "the cliff or portcullis which Joab climbed," "the ravine by which the stronghold was girt," "canals," "outlet for water," "trough," "water-pipes," or, according to The Speaker"s Commentary, "the water-course, the only access to the citadel being where the water had worn a channel—some understand a subterranean channel." Dr. Kennicott, however, seems to have given the best and most acute explanation, rendering the passage thus: David said, "Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites, and through the subterranean passage reacheth the lame and blind." He adds: "Most interpreters agree in making the word signify something hollow, and in applying it to water, as we have in Josephus "subterranean cavities." Jebus was taken by stratagem. It seems to have been circumstanced like Rabatamana, in having also a subterranean passage." Strangely enough, in the excavations made during the year1867 , Captain Warren, near the top of this eastern ridge and about opposite the Fountain of the Virgin, discovered a rock-cut passage descending from the surface by a series of pits, stairways, galleries, leading from the surface down to the water-level, at a point about fifty feet inward from the Fountain. At another time he penetrated from the Fountain inward to the same point, the bottom of a shaft not far from forty feet in depth. This the Rev. Mr. Birch seizes upon as the long-lost tsinnor of Jebus. Somehow, he thinks, David learned how the Jebusites obtained their supply of water.. Evidently there was no chance of taking the stronghold by assaulting its walls. Would any one try the desperate expedient of first pushing through the horizontal water-channel, at the imminent risk of being drowned, then of scaling the upright shaft, where a single stone dropped from above would bring certain death, and afterward of penetrating into the fortress through the narrow passage, which two or three men might readily hold against a hundred? The plan seemed desperate; but, as there was no alternative, David issued a proclamation to his followers that whosoever first got up through the tsinnor—the name at that time of this subterranean rock-cut passage—and smote the Jebusites should be commander-in-chief.

Mr. Birch suggests that Joab never could have performed the feat of penetrating to Jebus through the tsinnor, much less through the difficult passage discovered by Captain Warren, without aid from within the town. In other words some confederate among the Jebusites must have helped Joab in what otherwise would have been really an impossible undertaking. Who, then, was this confederate and, really, traitor to his people? With whom did Joab, whose craft was even greater than his prowess, negotiate for the secret betrayal of the stronghold of Zion, and on whom depend for aid in ascending the pits? What was the bakhshîsh promised and given to the ally of the followers of David the king? He answers only by casting suspicion over a spotless name hitherto. Years after, near the close of David"s reign, we find a Jebusite of rank, by name Araunah, still in possession of the threshingfloor just outside the city of David: possibly he may have been the traitor, and retained this valuable possession as his reward. Josephus says: "Araunah was not slain by David in the siege of Jerusalem because of the goodwill he bore the Hebrews and a particular benignity and affection which he had to the king himself." Had we a Jebusite account of the fall of the fortress, perhaps it might contain some story which would scarcely justify the noble and spotless character from a Jebusite standpoint we give him. Certain it Isaiah , even from our own standpoint, Araunah, who ought to have fallen in the defence of his fortress-town with his fellows, or have perished with the rest after its capture, was the only man who lost nothing when Jebus fell—neither life, nor goods, nor lands, nor, in the estimation of David with his warriors, honour.

Prayer

Almighty God, we bless thee that the tabernacle of God is with men upon the earth. Thy house is in the midst of our houses. We would that our house might be as God"s house, every house a home, and every home a church, and every church growing in grace and wisdom and spiritual power. This being our desire, thou wilt assist in its realisation, if so be we work industriously, with burning zeal, with simple faithfulness. The Lord grant that such may be our state of mind and heart, that so we may attain the divine purpose in our life, and shew forth to men what it is to live in God and have our being in the Most High. Thou has comforted us by thy grace, and healed us, yea abundantly hast thou come unto us in the mercies of every day; because thy compassions fail not, we are spared unto this hour—monuments of mercy, witnesses of grace, miracles of the love of God. We are what we are by thy grace, thou Living One, and not by our own skill; we are God"s workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus, clothed with all beautifulness by the Spirit, and made heirs of the kingdom eternal by a mystery of love, which we can never penetrate, but which we feel and which we answer with rising gladness. We bless thee for the cross—the cross of Christ, the greatest mystery of thy love and wisdom and power: the blood of Jesus Christ thy Son cleanseth from all sin; we need its ministry, we pray that we may realise its preciousness, and be found at last, not having on our own righteousness, which is a thing of the law and of form and mechanism, but having on the righteousness of Christ, wearing it as a garment, made anew in the image and likeness of thy Son. Let thy word continue to be precious to us—a lamp in the night-time, a song in trouble, a great and glad hope when all other things darken around us with threatening; then may thy word magnify itself in our experience, speaking to us as we are able to bear it and to endure its judgments and its encouragements. For a word so living, so full, so gracious we bless thee; may it be hidden in our hearts, and may it dwell within us richly—an answer to every temptation, a security in the time of danger. Amen.


Verse 10

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"David went on, and grew great."2 Samuel 5:10.

Greatness that comes by growth is the most permanent.—The proverb says some men have greatness thrust upon them; such greatness often falls off like an incubus, being wholly out of proportion to the man to whom it is momentarily attached.—"Went on,"—step by step, little by little, sometimes patently, sometimes imperceptibly, still to the eye that could see all vital processes the progress was continual and uninterrupted, and in one definite direction.—"Grew,"—did not force himself, acted in co-operation with the laws of nature and the laws of society; grew in knowledge, grew in Wisdom of Solomon , grew in capacity.—The result of such going on and such growing was greatness: not greatness in mere bulk, but greatness in the highest qualities,—greatness in mind, thought, feeling, purpose, beneficence.—When a man grows great physically, socially, and officially, and does not keep up a corresponding growth of intelligence and sympathy, he grows towards tyranny and selfishness; but when the official and the moral keep pace, then all the greatness achieved by the growing man is so much contributed to the welfare of society.—The reason of David"s progress and growth is given, "the Lord God of hosts was with him."—It was, then, a religious greatness, and it was such greatness as God himself created and approved; God set the crown upon the head of this loftiness, and glorious was the man who was to be the king of Israel.—Glory that is not connected with the Lord God of hosts is a feeble flicker; it dies whilst it shines; it is merely superficial; it is not connected with the great fire-system of the universe.—The difference between a lighted candle and the sun at midday, is that the one is a continually decreasing quantity, going out by the very effort of shining, exhausting itself by giving itself away: but the sun in the heavens is as brilliant now as when he first shone upon the system which he rules.—The man who is religiously great has bread to eat which the world knoweth not of: he is not dependent upon circumstances for his progress and growth: he grows from the centre towards the circumference: he grows from the inward to the outward; he grows from lofty and tender spiritual conceptions towards broad and generous charities.—When God has resolved upon a man"s greatness the world cannot hinder that man going straightforward to the throne.—He may be interrupted, he may be criticised, he may be violently opposed, he may be traduced; yea, all the army of darkness may set itself in array against him, but the Lord of hosts being upon his side, his enthronement and coronation are guaranteed.—What is true of all good men is true of all good causes; they have to undergo the whole process of scrutiny, suspicion, criticism; but just in proportion as they are good will they rise above all cloud and storm, and pass through every difficulty, and establish themselves in the confidence and gratitude of society.

 


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Bibliography Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5:4". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/2-samuel-5.html. 1885-95.

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