Thursday 07 July 2016

Bible Book:
2 Samuel

"So all the elders of Israel came to the King at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel." (v.3)

2 Samuel 5:1-5 Thursday 7 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm 116



King David - believed to have reigned about a thousand yearsbefore Christ - has gone down in history as the most famous king ofIsrael, and the model of what kingship should be. Christiantradition sometimes speaks of Jesus as "great David's greater Son"(from the hymn Hail to the Lord's Anointed) as his family (throughJoseph) was descended from David's line (see Matthew 1:1-16).

Yet David was only the second king of Israel, and this was at atime when people seem to have felt ambivalent about kingship.Initially a loose federation of tribes, it seems that theIsraelites were influenced by surrounding nations to create a kingof their own. But this concept sat uneasily with their allegianceto Yahweh, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with whom they hada covenant relationship. Could they serve God and also be obedientto a monarch?

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel contain an extraordinary and vividnarrative about the individuals involved at the start of themonarchy in Israel - Samuel the prophet; Saul, the first anointedking who then seems to be rejected by God; and myriad stories aboutDavid, including a well-known and much more graphic story of hissecret anointing than this one (1Samuel 16). By contrast, this passage seems to be a moreneutral court record. It is significant that David as king isobliged to 'make a covenant' with the people "before theLord".

It is because these very ancient narratives were written down (andmany scholars believe they are some of the oldest texts in the OldTestament) that we know about David's court, but it is important torealise how small and fragile the nation was at this time. It waspart of a landscape of tribal groups who were constantly jockeyingfor territory and fighting localised battles.

The conquest of Jerusalem (itself probably very small at the time)is dealt with in a few puzzling verses about "the blind and thelame" which seems to be a sort of explanation about how a proverbabout David arose. It was probably a taunt from the Jebuzites aboutthe pathetic nature of David's army, ie even disabled veteranscould defend the city against them. And perhaps they could havedone, had not David found the back way in through the watercourse.

To Ponder

  • To what extent do you think the ancient Israelites were rightto worry about whether they could really serve both God and the'powers that be'?
  • The passage says that "David became greater and greater, forthe Lord, the God of hosts, was with him." How far is it true tosay that being successful is a matter of whether or not someone isfilled with God's Spirit?
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