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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

2 Samuel 5

Verses 1-5

David Crowned King of All Israel, 2 Samuel 5:1-5; AND 1 Chronicles 11:1-3

David’s careful handling of the delicate situation which came of the murder of Abner allayed the suspicions of the friends of Saul’s family. Many of the people had, all along, desired David to be their king, but had reluctantly continued with the family of Saul. Now there was no other person of Saul’s family to turn to, nor did they have a leader now that Abner is dead. Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, would have been still a child of about twelve years of age and was also lame.

The Scriptures speak of unanimity among the elders and tribes of Israel in coming to David to crown him their king. They speak of him as bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, as he who had led them out against their enemies and brought them safe again in times past, and as the one chosen of the Lord to feed His people and to rule over them. These qualifications met the requirements of the law of Mo­ses as set forth in De 17:14-20. Therefore they made a covenant with David to be king in accord with the word of the Lord spoken by Samuel (see 1 Samuel 13:13-14; 1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 15:26; 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 1 Samuel 28:17).

David was thirty years of age when the tribe of Judah made him their king, and he ruled over Judah only for seven and a half years while Abner sought to make Ish-bosheth king of Israel. He had his capital in Hebron during those years, but moved it to Jerusalem after being crowned over all Israel, and ruled all the tribes from there for thirty-­three years, rounding out his total reign at forty years.

(Author’s NOTE: the following passage has no parallel in Samuel, but fits chronologically at this point of David’s history, and so is considered here.)

Rallying to David, 1 Chronicles 12:23-40

When Israel finally turned to David to make him king, the men of war came to him by the thousands, to be in on the coronation and its festivities and to offer themselves to David’s service. All the tribes were represented, including the Levites, making thirteen tribal divisions in all. The small number ascribed to Judah may be accounted for by the fact most of the men of Judah had turned to David long before. The Simeonites also were of Judah, having their allotment in cities of his possession. The Aaronites are descendants of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. Zadok of the Levites is especially mentioned as a "young man mighty of valour." Later he became high priest of Israel (2 Samuel 8:17).

The Benjamites who had adhered to Saul’s family now came in considerable numbers to join David also. The Joseph tribes, Ephraim and the half of Manasseh on the west side of Jordan, were represented by more than 38,000 warriors. An interesting commendation is made of the men of Issachar. They recognized the needs of Israel and acted thereon in one accord. The Zebulunites came well armed, numbering 50,000, sincere and not double-hearted. The Naphtalites numbered 37,000 under a thousand captains, while the Asherites had 40,000 and the Danites 28,600. Those from east of Jordan; Reuben, Gad, and the other half of Manasseh, mustered 120,000.

It is said all these came with perfect heart to Hebron to anoint David king of all Israel, and that the. people they represented were also of perfect heart. This means they were in wholehearted harmony in making him their new king. For three days they observed celebration, feasting on bread, meat, figs, raisins, wine, meal, oil, slaughtered oxen and sheep in great abundance. These were transported from nearby and from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali by donkey, camel, mule, and ox. It was a great time, and the Scripture relates, "for there was joy in Israel."

Verses 6-10

David in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:6-10 AND 1 Chronicles 11:4-9

David recognized the potential for a strong capital in the Jebusite city known as Jebus, but later to be much better known as Jerusalem. The city had been conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:10) and allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28), but they did not drive out the Jebu­sites (Judges 1:21). The city was so naturally strong that the inhabit­ants believed it could be successfully defended by the blind and lame who made up a large number of the population. The rocky ridge on the west side provided a formidable natural barrier there, while on the other sides it had to be approached up steep hills surmounted by strong walls.

David issued a challenge that whoever could go up by way of the gutter and take the city would be made captain of his army. The gutter refers to the shaft or tunnel by which water was conducted into the city from outside the walls. The reference to the blind and the lame being hated of David’s soul does not refer literally, to the physically unfortunate people of Jebus. The deformities and blemishes of persons and animals under the law made them unfit for the services of the tabernacle and offerings (Leviticus 22:20; Leviticus 21:17-21). Only the perfect were fit for the Lord, as was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:19). The pagan Jebusites were all blind and lame spiritually and represented the evil opposers of God, and thus did David envision them.

It was Joab, the son of Zeruiah,_David’s troublesome nephew, who faced the challenge and successfully assault9d the city of Jerusalem. David kept his promise and made Joab captain of his host. Though David may have preferred another than this insubordinate relative for his captain he had in Joab, nevertheless, a brave and courageous man, who was loyal to his kingdom until the very end of his reign. Joab immediately undertook the fortification of the city of Jerusalem, building outward from Millo, which was a rampart or wall. This rampart seems to have been first erected by the Jebusites, and David and Joab added to it, eventually taking in Zion. The castle, or fort, became the dwelling of David.

The account ends with a significant statement, "David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him." Men may always grow strong in and by the Lord (Philippians 4:13).

Verses 11-16

David Grows Stronger, 2 Samuel 5:11-16 AND 1 Chronicles 14:1-7

This passage records the beginning of a long period of friendship between the kings of Tyre and Israel. Though many other kings fought against David and thus became subservient to him Hiram king of Tyre effected a treaty of friendship with him (see 2 Samuel chapter 8; 1 Chronicles 18:1-17). This was the expedient thing for him to do, for the Lord was giving David success in all that he did. Hiram had the artisans and material to construct fine buildings, so he sent his carpenters and masons, with cedar lumber, to build David a fine palace.

When David saw how he grew in stature before other nations and in the esteem of his people he gave credit to the proper One, the Lord. The Scriptures say that David "perceived" that the Lord had established his kingship and exalted his kingdom over the people for their sake. It means that David, by honest observation, readily acknowledged that the Lord was responsible (1 Peter 5:6).

David did not wholly keep the law with reference to kings (De 17:14ff), but took to himself an harem of wives and concubines, as did the heathen kings. He had many more children born to him in Jerusalem. The Samuel account lists eleven sons, while Chronicles lists thirteen. Samuel omits Elpalet and Nogah, and Chronicles puts a prefix to Eliada, making his name Beeliada. None of these sons are heard about again, except for Solomon, of course, and Nathan is the son of David through whom Mary, the mother of Jesus, was descended (Lu 3:31). It is learned from 1 Chronicles 3:5 that the first four named of these sons, Shammuah (or Shimea), Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon, were all the children of David and Bathsheba. Apparently Solomon was youngest.

Verses 17-25

The Philistines Subdued, 2 Samuel 5:17-25 AND 1 Chronicles 14:8-17

It is to be remembered that David received refuge and was befriended by the Philistine king of Gath in the last months that he fled from Saul. They doubtless were disappointed that David had not continued their vassal, following Saul’s defeat and death. For the seven and a half years that David was in Hebron , reigning over Judah only, he was still at war with the house of Saul, and the Philistines probably still had hopes for retaining his allegiance.

But when David seemed to be about to become their formidable adversary, they acted to nip the move in the bud. David was about to greatly strengthen Israel, and perhaps become militarily stronger than Philistia, by his successful conquest of the Jebusites, occupation of Jerusalem as his capital, and greatly strengthening its defenses. Furthermore the alliance and friendship with Hiram the strong king of Tyre was disconcerting to the Philistines.

The Philistines invaded Israel with a large army, encamping in the valley of Rephaim, the rich, wheat producing area southwest of Jerusalem in the vicinity of Bethlehem. David did not hesitate to go against them, but set up defensive lines first. David did not act without knowing the will of the Lord. When he inquired of the Lord he was instructed to go up against the Philistines, for the Lord would give them into his hands. The decisive battle he won against them gave the place a new name, Baal-perazim, or "lord of the breach," for David said, "The Lord hath broken forth upon my enemies as a breach of water." So hastily did the Philistines depart the field of battle that they left the images of their idol gods, which David collected and burned there on the battle field.

The Philistines were not convinced that they were irrevocably de­feated. They raised another army and returned to the same battle­ground, in the valley of Rephaim. Again David inquired of the Lord whether he should go up and attack them. This time, however, the Lord had somewhat different directions for him. He was to take his army and go around the Philistines and come upon them over against, or oppo­site, the mulberry trees. Scholars have determined that this was not the mulberry trees as commonly known today, but was a balm producing plant of unknown variety. However, that is not important to the wonder­ful lesson in connection with it.

David was told to wait for the "sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." Then he was to prepare to go into battle with the Philistines, for the Lord would have gone out already before him to engage his enemies. Someone has surmised that the sound in the tops of the mulberry trees was the marching tread of the Lord’s host. The lesson is that the Lord goes out before His people when they are engaged in His war, and the victory is thus assured. A similar situation occurred when Deborah and Barak prepared to battle the Canaanites (Judges 4:14). God’s people today have this same power available as assured in His holy Scriptures (Ephesians 6:10).

This time the Philistines were humbled completely and were smitten over a wide area stretching from Geba, or Gibeon (the two places are in close proximity north and northwest of Jerusalem), all the way to Gazer (Gezer, usually), down in the Shephelah, plains country, deep in Philistine territory. At last, the move to subdue the Philistines, and to deliver Israel from their hand was accomplished as the Lord predicted. It began with Samson (Judges 13:5), continued through Samuel (1 Samuel 7:13-14) and Saul (1 Samuel 14:22-23), and is now culminated in David. The Word of the Lord is sure and unfailing (2 Timothy 2:19).

1 Chronicles 12:8

(Author’s NOTE: The following passage (1 Chronicles 12:8-15) is discussed here (although it is found in the hardbound commentary under 2 Samuel 5) because this is its place chronologically. There is no parallel in Samuel.)

This is the account of the eleven Gadite captains who led their men to the aid of David when he was on the defensive against the Philistines, prior to the battles discussed above. They are described as mighty men, battle-fit, adept with the large shield and with the buckler, or smaller shield, and having faces like roes on the mountains. The roe was a gazelle, a graceful, elusive, and alert animal of Israel. These men were like the roe in all of these traits and therefore very useful to David.

Of the eleven named men, all were captains, the least over a hundred men and the greatest over a thousand. None of their deeds of war are accounted in the Scriptures in their name. The brave feat they accomplished at this time was their coming to David’s aid at a critical time when the Philistines had him in hold at the cave of Adullam (2 Samuel 5:17; 2 Samuel 23:13-14). They crossed the Jordan (they were an eastern tribe across the river) in the springtime when the river was at flood stage. The Philistines likely did not expect an attack, but the Gadites cleared them out of the eastern valleys, and proceeded also to expel them from the western valleys, toward their own cities.

In summation, leam that 1) Promotion of one in the Lord will transpire at His time and according to His will; 2) no enemy can withstand God’s people when His people act in accord with His will; 3) material prosperity and prestige goes along with those who are in the will of God; 4) victory in one battle does not guarantee that one will not be faced again with a like situation; 5) yet ultimate victory is assured for those who remain steadfast; 6) those who go forth to do God’s service can overcome obstacles and win victories.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.