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2 Samuel 5:1-10

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 5:1-10

Background to the Book of Samuel:  (What is happening in Judah at this time?)

The story contained in the books of Samuel tells of the extraordinary change in the way Israel is governed. Up to this time, there had been various tribes who on occasions had come together to combat a threat from other nations. In each instance in the book of Judges, we are told how a person was raised by God to lead the tribes on this particular occasion. The Spirit of God settles on the person and even when this is not overtly mentioned in the story we are clear by the way the story progresses that we know God's hand is directly involved in the successful consequences.

1 and 11 Samuel tell us about the immense political and new government structures, which take place around the end of the 10th century BCE. The centre of government during the time of the judges was at Shiloh and by the time we get to the end of 11 Samuel, the centre of what is now an empire, has moved to Jerusalem.

The voices for setting up a monarchy became stronger and it fell to Samuel, the last of the judges, to be instrumental in the forthcoming tussle between those who wanted a monarch and those who believed that God would continue to raise up leaders as required.

The amount of material, which focuses on Samuel, Saul and David compared with the space given to the remainder of the Kings of Israel, is quite disproportionate. A total of fifty-five chapters are given to these three people and forty-seven chapters to all the remaining kings of both the northern and southern kingdoms.

We read in the books of Joshua and Judges about the gradual settlement of the Israelite tribes into Palestine, some encroaching from the south, others from the east and the north. It was clear there was fighting with other tribes and we become familiar with the names of the Edomites and the Moabites. However, the greatest threat became the Philistines who were settled in the west of Palestine along part of the coast. Because they had achieved the art of iron casting, they were able to make wheels and other tools which gave them a superiority in war. The settlement process took at least two hundred years from the time the tribes started to enter into Palestine

One of the ancient traditions tells of the conquest of Canaan by slow stages, with each tribe fighting alone or, at best, in coalition with other tribes. Another tradition tells about the invasion, which attacked first the southern hill country, where Judah and Simeon defeated Adonibezek, took Hebron, Debir, and Hormah, but could not gain control of the coastal plain. The house of Joseph invaded the central highlands and captured Bethel. To the north, the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali settled among the Canaanites, and, as they grew stronger, gradually forced them into slave labour. To the west, the tribe of Dan was hemmed in against the highlands and could not conquer the plains.

The books of Samuel tell us how first Saul became king and was commissioned to defeat the Philistines that were a very real threat to the survival of Israel. Second, we follow the narrative as it tells of the gradual disintegration of Saul's mental and physical health and the rise of David after his defeat of Goliath. David is portrayed positively as he saves Saul's life and negatively as he betrays his own people and fights for the enemy, although never against Israel itself. The Philistines thought he was doing this, but David was fighting other tribes and killing everyone so there was no one alive to tell the Philistine commander what David was doing. Some of the negative qualities of David's actions and character are omitted in a later telling of his story (Books of Chronicles). It is well that we remember he was a person of mixed motives, great faith, courage, love, greed, need for power, who killed those in opposition to his desires, he was cruel and had fits of anger. His grief at the death of Saul and Jonathon is beautifully portrayed in the lament of 2 Sam 1:19ff.
In the second book of Samuel we read of the rise and fall of David's reign.

Dates of the first 3 Kings of the United Kingdom


c.1020-1004 BCE


1004 - 965



Context of 2 Sam 5:1-10
We are not so surprised at the depth of David's grief expressed in the lament when we read about his relationship with Jonathon in 1 Sam 18-31 in which they covenant with each other three times. Further more, Jonathon saves David's life three times by giving him warning of Saul's intention to kill him. Jonathon stands up for David against his father many times in these chapters leading up to the death of Saul and Jonathon in 2 Samuel 1. There appears to no jealousy by Jonathon that David will be the next King and not he. In fact when Jonathon saves David's life a third time at Horesh he talks about being second in command to David when David is king.

During the whole of this time when David is fleeing and hiding from Saul we do not hear of any attempt by David to ridicule or hurt Saul. Even when he had the chance to kill him, he didn't do it on either occasion (1 Sam 24, 26). This is a very positive attribute of David. Another aspect to David's grief could be the promise he made to Saul never to wipe out Saul's family (1 Sam 24:22) and this was broken with the death of Jonathon. David had a very high view of kingship because he says repeatedly that the Lord's anointed should ever be killed by human hands.

1 Sam 31 tells of the death of Jonathon, two of his brothers and their father Saul at the hands of the Philistines. The Philistines cut of their heads and hung their bodies from the walls of a town nearby. This is a particularly abhorrent practice to the Israelites and some valiant men from a nearby town took the bodies down burned them and buried the remains under a Tamarisk tree at Jabesh.

It is worth noting what happens in vv.1b-17. David returns to his own town Ziklag and on the 3rd day an Amalekite reported the deaths of Saul and Jonathon with a different version of their deaths to the one we read about in the previous chapter in which the Philistines killed Saul and 3 of his sons, including Jonathon. Whether the Amalekite thought to get a reward for telling David and because it was at Saul's request that he, the Amalekite, killed Saul, that he would not be punished. However, the very high theology David has of the anointed king means that he believes it is treason for anyone to lift a hand against an anointed person. He lived out this theology quite consistently himself when he refused on two occasions to kill Saul. So David commands one of his young men to kill the Amalekite because he had the blood of Saul on his hands.

The death of Saul did not stop the fighting between those who barracked for Saul and those who backed David. 2 Sam 2-5 tells the story of the ongoing fight between the two sides. Saul's commander Abner initially supported the sons of Saul and was instrumental in making Ishbaal King of Israel. A protracted period of war ensued and might have carried on longer except Ishbaal accused Abner of seducing his concubine which resulted in Abner swearing an oath to God and stating he would accomplish for David the throne of Saul. Very stupid accusation by Ishbaal - it lost him the vital support of a very competent commander of his forces. During this period of war David was busy on the home front by his six wives each giving birth to sons. When Abner made his proposal that he would bring the house of Saul over to David, David insisted he bring him his wife Michal. David accepted Abner and appeared to trust him, but when David's commander, Joab heard of Abner's transfer he secretly set up a meeting and killed Abner for revenge of his brother's death. David lamented the death of Abner. Two captains of Ishbaal decide to kill him, take his head to David and expected a reward but David is still consistent and condemns the manner in which Ishbaal is killed.

One of the most brilliant acts by David was immediately after his enthronement as King of all the tribes he marched on Jerusalem and took this amazing city. Strategically it straddled the geographic line between the tribes of Judah and Israel and it had no prior importance in either of their traditions. The city of David was its name and here was born eleven more children to David from various wives and concubines. The children are named but not those who gave birth to them, as was the case in 2 Sam 3.

David had a major battle with the Philistines, which he won decisively. This means one of the major opponents and worries has virtually been silenced for the time being. Before he takes any major action David asks the Lord's permission before he acts.

Insights/Message of 2 Sam 5:1-10
The fulfilment of the promise to David (1 Samuel 16:12f., 2 Samuel 3:9f., 18) comes true in these verses (2
Sam 5:1-3). The structure of the verses begins with the tribes coming to David and asking him to be their king. The tribes begin the argument with a reminder that they and David are related. Next the elders come and David made a covenant with them after which they anoint David king over Israel. It appears from the way the text speaks of David as King over Judah for seven and half years and then he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty three years that Judah and Israel were developed countries, but in reality they were still tribes divided over their loyalties. The mention of Jerusalem (v.5) before it was captured indicates these verses were probably very skilfully inserted at later time to give the statistical data re David. Verses 1 & 3 have the same structure "and all the tribes came" // "and all the elders came". The emphatic you used in Hebrew, which emphasises

The Hebrew gives a clear indication that when Saul is anointed, he is prince or ruler (dygn) not a king (^lm) as David is called (2 Sam 5:3), although when Saul answers the people's call for a king Saul is anointed, but this subtle shift in use of terms indicates that Saul was never meant to be king. However, having said that in 2 Sam 5:2 it does refer to Saul in the past tense as king over us. In these verses Yahweh tells David he is both ruler and shepherd of his people Israel and after this he is anointed king. The only other text which uses shepherding as part of the command to rule is in 2 Sam 7:7.

The verses omitted from the lectionary describe the capture of Jerusalem and David built inward from the Millo, which many scholars think is a type of tower. Other scholars in light of recent archaeological finds think it could refer to as a system of terraces. Solomon is usually the person accorded the building of the Millo. In the map above one can see the Millo marked and the purple colour represents the city of David. The name of Zion is a later name for Jerusalem
Verse 10 is a theological reflection which could easily be omitted and the v.11`follows quite easily on v.9.
Structure Outline
Tribes seek David to be King over Israel - It includes an acknowledgement that Yahweh has decreed David as ruler & shepherd

David makes covenant with Elders - They anoint David King

Statistics about David - David 30 years old, reigned 40 years, Jerusalem named as place for all Israel 33 years

Capture of Jerusalem - David builds more and he becomes great because God is with him

King of Tyre acknowledges David - Both city and David are exalted for the sake of people Israel

Further list of sons - Concubine's sons named first

Philistine's attack - David seeks the Lord's will and defeats Philistines. Political and Military head

Ark brought into Jerusalem - Now the spiritual capitol

Message: The fulfilment of the promise of God after the initial anointing of David culminates in this section. David is King over all Israel. He gets to this point with pretty clean record: he has not killed Saul or any of his descendants to claim the kingship. He has been successful in battle and popular with men and women. He has shown that his faith and trust in Yahweh is primary to everything he does. He seeks the Lord's will before he takes major action. David is the ideal king and the only suggestion of the need for power was in the story about his defeat of Goliath when twice he asked what the reward was for killing this uncircumcised Philistine. What began as a call for a king in the conversation between Samuel, Yahweh and the people has come to fruition and the people have a King who will bring them the glory and power that they seek over the neighbouring countries? David establishes Jerusalem as the political and religious centre for the combined tribes. He was very clever in doing this and choosing to move from Hebron, which was associated with the southern tribes.

The theology of David's obedience and his complete trust in God is established as the measuring stick for all the ensuing kings who basically fail. David is told he will be shepherd and ruler. It is a rare use of the verb to shepherd although the metaphor of shepherd is used quite frequently of kings. This, together with the Hebrew emphatic "you" is instructing David how to behave as king. He will rule with care and compassion. He has been a shepherd, he is to rule as a shepherd and we know later the story of a sheep indicts David.

Some theological points which can be relevant to our situation.

The trust of David in God and the way he has prayed before taking action is something we can apply in our lives. I am unsure we always get a clear answer and sometimes we have to trust that God will be with us after we have prayed.

The model of how leaders are chosen within the church is one that we follow at some points. People can name a person and encourage a person whom they have seen give leadership to consider a ministry within the congregation. This is one of the criteria, which are looked for when people apply for one of the specified ministries. In a commissioning service there is a covenant between the person and the church. The people give authority but it has to be earned. Just because a person is ordained does not guarantee that they have the authority and respect of people. David had proved himself as king before the people and elders came to him

Our expectation of a leader is that they will be a shepherd and one who can lead (rule) within the UCA understanding of leadership.

OT images/motifs used in the New Testament readings:No particular motifs or quotes used in this week's readings.

Resources/Worship for 2 Sam5:1-10
Worship: The story needs to be set in context, but it is short enough to be read as it is. It would be interesting to experiment whether the whole service could be set up as a covenant.

The Old Testament Guides (OTG) by Sheffield Academic Press are an excellent small resource which give many suggestions for readings on particular aspects in the books of Samuel, eg. If you want to know more about the Philistines there are details given of several articles/chapters in books that can help with this topic.

The New Interpreter's Bible is another very helpful resource and published in the 1990's is more up to date than some earlier works.

Anderson, A.A. 2 Samuel. WBC. Dallas: Word Books, 1989
Birch, B. The First and second Samuel. NIB. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998.
Brueggemann,W. First and Second Samuel. Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox
Press, 1990
Gordon, R.P. 1 & 2 Samuel. OTG. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1984
Gunn, D.M. The Story of King David. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1978
Hertzberg, H.W. 1 & 11 Samuel. OTL. London: SCM Press, 1964.
Klein, R. 1 Samuel. WBC. Waco., Texas: Word Books, 1983.
Mauchline, J. 1 and 2 Samuel. NCB. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1971.
Schniedewind,W.M. Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2
Samuel 7:1-17. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999

The Dramatised Bible: ed. Michael Perry. London: Marshall Pickering: Bible Society, 1989

Web sites with helpful lectionary resources:

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