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CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—
2 Samuel 5:1. “Then, etc. “The tenor of the history leads us to hold with Ewald that the recognition of David as king over all Israel occurred immediately after Ishbosheth’s death, against Stähelin, who thinks that there was an interval of several years after his death, during which all the tribes gradually came over to David.” (Erdmann.) “Thy bone,” etc., i.e., thy blood relations descended from one common ancestor. “The alliance of David with the Philistines had raised so painful a suspicion respecting his patriotic attachment to Israel, and his protracted residence within the Philistine territory had led to so widespread a belief that he had become a naturalised Philistine, as to have created powerful obstacles to the universal recognition of his claims to the throne. The people of Israel had, to a large extent, taken up this impression, and acted in opposition to him as a supposed alien. But time, as well as the tenor of David’s administration in Judah, had dispelled their doubts and proved him to their satisfaction to be in heart and soul an Israelite.” (Jamieson.)
2 Samuel 5:2. “Leddest out,” etc. Most expositors refer this to David’s military leadership “The Lord said” (see on 2 Samuel 3:17) “feed,” or, shepherd, i.e., rule them. “This is the first time we find a governor described in Scripture as pastor of the people; afterwards the name is much used by the prophets, particularly Ezekiel 34:23, and in many other places.” (Patrick.) The designation is also used in Homer. “Captain,” rather leader, prince. “The first and third grounds answer exactly to the precept in Deuteronomy 17:15, ‘Thou shalt make him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose;’ out of the midst of thy brethren shalt thou make a king over thee.” (Erdmann.) “A league,” etc. “The relation of both parties to the Lord is indicated by the phrase ‘before the Lord.’ ” (Erdmann.) “There was probably gradually established among king and people some recognition of mutual rights and duties—an unwritten, or, possibly in part, a written law. This would not be out of harmony with the theocratic conception of the government. Philippson points out some apparent indications (as 1 Kings 12:0) of such a law.” (Transr. of Lange’s Commentary.) See also notes on 1 Samuel 10:25. “They anointed David.” “To which the chronicler adds (1 Chronicles 11:3) ‘according to the word of the Lord by Samuel,’ an explanatory addition referring to the Lord’s command to Samuel to anoint David king over Israel. David’s anointing by Samuel is now confirmed by the anointing of the people, they having expressly and solemnly recognised his Divine call to be king over Israel.” (Erdmann.)
2 Samuel 5:4. “Thirty years old.” “The age of David shows that the events related from 1 Samuel 13:0 to the end of the book did not occupy above ten years—four years in Saul’s service, four years of wandering, one year and four months among the Philistines, and a few months after Saul’s death.” (Biblical Commentary.)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 5:1-5
DAVID CHOSEN KING OVER ALL ISRAEL
I. Those who prove their right to rule by their conduct will in due time find subjects to maintain their sovereignty. The divine right of kings must be sought and found in what men are and in what they have done or can do. Those who claim to be leaders and rulers of men claim to be God’s vicegerents, and as such must produce their credentials—proofs of intellectual and moral worth. If no man can represent a human monarch without credentials, much more are they to be demanded when a man assumes the headship of a nation or a community and claims authority over it in the name of the King of kings. And those of character and ability are the only ones that will be accepted in the long run, and none but these will command an allegiance worth having. David had to wait long before the whole nation recognised his right to reign, but in all these years of waiting he was adding to his credentials, and by a series of brave and righteous deeds was increasing the strength of his claim to the throne until it became irresistible, and the whole nation was forced to acknowledge that he whom God had chosen to shepherd it was fully worthy of the high honour to which he was called. So it has ever been and will be. Although no prophet is sent to anoint the head of him whom God now calls to similar service, yet every divinely appointed king of men, possessing as he does these qualifications to rule, will in due time be placed upon a throne by willing subjects.
II. The special qualifications demanded by God in a king or ruler. God expresses His idea of the relationship of a king to His people by the use of the word shepherd, and thus entirely removes the office from that of the despot who uses his people for his own selfish ends instead of using his life for their welfare. We learn from the words of Jacob, in Genesis 40:23 sq., what were the duties of an Eastern shepherd, and how stern was the life he led—how far removed his lot was from one of indolence and self-indulgence. This is the symbol which the Divine King uses when speaking of David, and repeats constantly in the Old Testament writings to show what He demands from those whom He calls to rule. Such a call does not mean exemption from care and toil, but a large increase of such burdens. In His eyes the honour is not in being served, but in rendering service, and the larger sphere and the more elevated position involve heavier duties and larger qualifications. Shepherds of men are expected to be willing to follow the example of the Great Shepherd, who proved Himself the true King of men by giving Himself for the flock. And for this work a special knowledge is also needed. As a man must be possessed of some special knowledge to be a successful shepherd, so a ruler of men must be possessed of special knowledge. Christ is the pre-eminent ruler of men because He knows them—because He needs not that any should “testify of any man” whom He is shepherding. (John 2:25; John 10:14). And it behoves him who is called by God to be an under-shepherd to make men in general—and especially those under his care—the objects of his thoughtful study, that he may become acquainted with their dispositions and needs. To do this he must have also a loving sympathy with them. We are none of us strangers to the feeling of regard which often springs up in men towards animals dependent on them, and therefore we can imagine that a faithful shepherd has some affection for his sheep. This is indispensable in human shepherds, for to love men is to understand them, and to love them is to be willing to suffer for them, and will beget love in return in any men worthy of the name. The Great Shepherd had as much love for men as He had knowledge of them, and therefore “all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him.” (Psalms 72:11). Every elevation in life brings with the honour a due proportion of increased duties and responsibilities, and such an exaltation as that which David experienced was heavily weighted with them.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
2 Samuel 5:5. During all this time he was sedulously engaged in completing the discipline of the rough men who had shared his desert fortunes, and preparing them for the higher service on which they were afterwards to enter. Can we imagine a position better adapted for this purpose? For was it not the most sacred place in the whole country? Was it not on that very ground … that for more than two centuries their ancestors had guarded their high deposit, maintained the divine testimony, and manifested the divine order of human life? Did not the treasured sepulchre there, upon that hill, which was already ancient and worn, with the passing of eleven centuries over its covered surface, contain their dust?—Drew.
Not all at once did David pass from the shepherd life of Bethlehem to the throne of Jerusalem. There was a long, and weary, and trying road to be traversed by him after his anointing by Samuel, before he reached the lofty elevation for which he was designated and consecrated by the prophet’s oil. He was not cradled in luxury, nor dandled in affluence, but his character was hardened by trial, and his judgment was matured by frequently recurring emergency. From the very first, indeed, he was “prudent in matters,” but such a history as his could not but stimulate and sharpen his natural abilities. His military genius, which was destined yet to show itself on many a glorious field as he extended his dominion “from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the land,” had been quickened and developed by his experiences in the long war with the house of Saul; and his knowledge of human nature, an acquirement so needful for one who was to be a ruler of men, had been increased by his dealing with his followers in the hold, and with his enemies in diplomacy; while, best of all, his confidence in God had been strengthened by his manifold trials, in and through which he had been sustained by the divine grace, and out of which he had been delivered by the divine hand. But it is not different yet. Success is not usually a sudden thing, or, if it be so, it is not a whole-some thing. Generally speaking, it is a matter of time, and trial, and diligence, and study. The heat of the conservatory, which brings the flower rapidly to maturity, does also nurse it into weakness, so that its beauty is only short-lived; but the plant that grows in the open air is strengthened while it grows, and is able to withstand even the biting winter’s cold. Resistance is necessary to the development of power; and the greatest misfortune that can befall a youth is to have no difficulties whatever with which to contend. It is by overmastering obstacles that a man’s character is mainly made. Hence, let no one be discouraged who is called in early life to struggle with adversity. He is thereby only making himself for his future life-work. Not in a day, nor in a year, nor in many years, do we reach the throne of our individual power, the sphere of our personal and peculiar labour. We graduate up to it through trial, and each new difficulty surmounted is not only a new step in the ladder upward, but also a new qualification for the work that is before us.…
Nor does this principle hold merely of the early part of our earthly life as related to the later. It will be illustrated also in our earthly life as connected with a heavenly. If we be Christ’s, it is no doubt true that He is preparing a place for each of us; but it is just as true that, through the discipline of our daily difficulties, he is preparing each of us for our own particular place; and the characters we are forming here will find their appropriate employment and development in the work which in heaven will be assigned to us.… Thus by the leverage of this principle we lift our earthly lives up to the very level of heaven itself; and every experience we are passing through now becomes a preparation for our eternal royalty at Christ’s right hand.—Taylor.
CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY NOTES—
2 Samuel 5:6. “Went to Jerusalem.” “That this took place immediately after the anointing of David as king of Israel is apparent not only from the fact that the account follows directly afterwards, but also from the circumstance that, according to 2 Samuel 5:5, David reigned in Jerusalem just as many years as he was king over all Israel.” (Keil.) “Whether David was directed by the special guidance of the Holy Spirit, or whether he was left solely to his own judgment regarding it, we cannot but admire the wisdom of the arrangement he made in the choice of Jerusalem in contrast to the shortsighted policy of Saul in reference to the same matter. The son of Kish set up his court in his native town of Gibeah—a place of no intrinsic importance—and bearing reproach among the people as having been the scene of one of the foulest outrages ever committed in the land. Moreover, it was within the territory of his own tribe of Benjamin, and his preference for it was apt to provoke the jealousy of the others. David, however, proceeded upon other and more statesmanlike principles. He would not continue in Hebron. No doubt that city was equally sacred to all the people, from its connection with their common father Abraham, but it had been recognised as the special capital of Judah; and if David had remained in it, some overzealous partisan of Judah might have said that the other tribes had been merely annexed to or absorbed in the little kingdom which for seven years and a half had its seat of government there. Hence, just as in our own times Victor Emanuel, when he was called to the throne of a united Italy, removed his capital first from Turin to Florence, and afterward from Florence to Rome, feeling that it was due to the other portions of his people that he should be no longer a mere Sardinian or Tuscan prince, so David wisely considered that a regard to the feelings of the other tribes demanded that some other city than Hebron should be chosen as the metropolis. But in determining what place should be selected, many difficulties would present themselves. Bethlehem, though dearer to him than all other cities, could not be thought of; and if he had gone into the territory of any other tribe than his own he might have been liable to the imputation of partiality, and might have provoked jealousy throughout eleven-twelfths of his dominions. In these circumstances the easiest solution of the difficulty would be to get hold of some place of requisite strength and importance not presently identified with any of the tribes, and in the acquirement of which all of them might have a share. Such a place was the fortress of Zion, held by the tribe of the Jebusites, whom, up to this time, no army had been able to dislodge. It was situated at the extreme verge of the territory of Judah, where it abutted on that of Benjamin, and belonged, properly speaking, to neither. (Taylor.) “The Jebusites.” “These belonged to the great Canaanitish race (Genesis 10:6) who dwelt, when the Israelites took possession of Palestine, in the mountain district of Judah. (Comp. Numbers 13:30, Joshua 11:3.) Neither Joshua who conquered them in a battle (Joshua 11:3 sq.), nor the children of Judah, who only got possession of the lower city (Judges 1:8; comp. Josephus Ant. 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 5:2), nor the Benjamites, to whom the city had been assigned (Joshua 18:28) could conquer the strong citadel of Jebus on Mount Zion.” (Erdmann.) “The blind and the lame.” It is impossible to decide with certainty to what or to whom this expression refers. Some, including several Jewish expositors, and Luther, regard it as describing the idols of the Jebusites, which they had placed upon their battlements, and upon which they relied for defence, and whom they knew the Israelites regarded with scorn. (See Psalms 115:4 sq.) The most probable interpretation seems to be that the Jebusites felt so secure in their citadel, shut in as it was by deep valleys on three sides, that they taunted the men of Israel with the assurance that blind and lame men would suffice to keep them out. Keil and most modern scholars thus interpret it. Wordsworth, however, objects to it on the ground that if the reference was to such persons they would have been pitied, and not hated (see 2 Samuel 5:8) by David.
2 Samuel 5:7. “The stronghold of Zion.” There is great difference of opinion as to which height was originally known as Mount Zion. It is certain that from the time of Constantine the name has been given to the western hill, on which has always stood the city of Jerusalem, but Mr. Fergusson, in his article on Jerusalem in the Biblical Dictionary, produces a mass of evidence in favour of identifying the ancient Mount Zion with the eastern hill (now called Mount Moriah), upon which the Temple was built, and to which he says it is certain the name was exclusively applied up to the time of the destruction of the city by Titus. He adduces in proof the words of Psalms 28:2, and other passages, in which Zion is spoken of as a holy place in such terms as are never applied to Jerusalem (Psalms 2:6; Psalms 132:13; Joel 3:1, etc.), and others in which he thinks Zion is spoken of as a separate city from Jerusalem. (Psalms 51:18; Zechariah 1:17, etc.) “The Rabbis,” he adds, “with one accord place the Temple on Mount Zion,” and contends that the transference of the name Zion from the western to the eastern hill solves all the difficulties which have hitherto surrounded the identification of many sites mentioned in Sacred History.
2 Samuel 5:8. “The gutter.” The cataract or waterfall. (So Keil and Erdmann.) Some understand simply a declivity; but the first rendering agrees with the meaning which must be given to the Hebrew word in Psalms 43:5, which is the only other place in which it occurs. “Hated,” etc. This clause may be rendered who hate, but the other rendering is the more probable. Erdmann remarks, “Both these admissible renderings point to the fact that the Israelites had to maintain a furious, embittered combat with the enemy.” But the entire passage is very obscure, and has received various interpretations. “Wherefore they said” is generally taken to mean that these classes were excluded from the Temple, but for that assertion we have no proof, and it is hard to see what this proverb could have to do with the Temple, which was not at that time in existence. The true explanation seems to be, “The blind and the lame are there—let him enter the place if he can:” a proverb which came to be current with regard to any fortress that was reputed to be impregnable. (Taylor.)
2 Samuel 5:9. “So David dwelt,” literally, sat down. Whichever eminence is here referred to, this was the foundation of that city which was to become the most memorable in the history of the world. “Those only,” says Dean Stanley, “who reflect on what Jerusalem has since been to the world can appreciate the grandeur of the moment when it passed from the hands of the Jebusites, and became ‘the city of David.’ ” Its situation is in keeping with its history, and is thus described by Dean Stanley. “The situation of Jerusalem is in several respects singular among the cities of Palestine. Its elevation is remarkable, not from its being on the summit of one of the numerous hills of Judea, like most of the towns and villages, but because it is on the edge of one of the highest table-lands of the country.… From the south, the approach is by a slight descent (Hebron being higher still), but from every other side the ascent is perpetual; and, to the traveller approaching Jerusalem from the west or east, it must always have presented the appearance … beyond any important city that has ever existed on the earth, of a mountain city; breathing, as compared with the sultry plains of the Jordan or of the coast, a mountain air; enthroned, as compared with Jericho or Damascus, Gaza or Tyre, on a mountain fastness. In this respect it concentrated in itself the character of the whole country of which it was to be the capital—the “mountain throne”—the “mountain sanctuary” of God.… Again, Jerusalem was on the ridge, the broadest and most strongly marked ridge of the backbone of the complicated hills which extend through the whole country from the desert to the plain of Esdraelon. Every wanderer, every conqueror, every traveller who has trod the central route of Palestine from north to south must have passed through the table-land of Jerusalem.… Abraham, as he journeyed from Bethel to Hebron—Jacob, as he wandered on his lonely exile from Beersheba to Bethel; … Joshua, as he forced his way from Jericho, and met the kings in battle at Gibeon; the Philistines, as they came up from the maritime plain and pitched in Michmash; no less than Pompey, when in later times he came up from the valley of the Jordan, or the Crusaders when they came from Tyre with the express purpose of attacking Jerusalem—must all have crossed the territory of Jebus.” Ancient writers thought Jerusalem to be so much in the midst of the then known world that they called it literally “the navel of the earth.” “In reference,” says Dr. Jamieson, “to the actual circumstances and after history of the Jews, Jerusalem was, of all sites in the country, the best that could be chosen; and yet on its mountain height, far away from the roads between the great empires, and accessible only by steep and winding passes, it was secluded, so that it was freed, as it now is, from any necessary implication in the great movements of the world. So secluded, and yet so central, it was marvellously fitted as the scene of the events that were to be transacted in it. “Millo,” or “the filling.” “At any rate some kind of fortification, probably a large tower or castle. The name probably originated in the fact that through this tower or castle the fortification of the city, or the surrounding wall, was filled or completed. It was probably a well-known fortress erected by the Jebusites.” (Keil.)
2 Samuel 5:11. “Hiram.” From 2 Chronicles 2:2, and 1 Kings 5:15, it seems clear that this is the same man who was afterwards Solomon’s ally. Hence some have supposed that this embassy was not sent until a long time after the conquest of Zion, and that the arrangement of the events in this chapter is “topical rather than strictly chronological.” (Keil.) As Hiram was still reigning twenty years after the erection of the temple (1 Kings 9:10), Keil places this embassy from six to ten years after David’s accession to the sovereignty of the entire kingdom. “Cedar trees.” The eastern part of Lebanon (Antilibanus), which belonged to Israel, did not produce cedar trees; but the north-western range, belonging to Phenicia, was then covered with cedar forests.
2 Samuel 5:13. “Out of,” etc. In Jerusalem, as in 1 Chronicles 14:0.
2 Samuel 5:14. “Shammuah,” etc. These are the sons of Bathsheba, although there is a slight difference in the termination of two of the names in 1 Chronicles 3:5.
2 Samuel 5:15-16. There are seven names here and nine in 1 Chronicles 3:0. Keil suggests that the two first-named, Eliphat and Nogah, died in infancy, and that two younger children received the same names.
2 Samuel 5:17. “To the hold.” Keil and others understand this to refer to some mountain fortress outside the citadel of Zion, and Keil further contends that this event must have therefore taken place before the Jebusites were driven out, as it is most unlikely David would have quitted the fortification to attack the enemy. Erdmann considers that it refers to the citadel itself, and thinks the expression “went down” is not against this view, for, “though the citadel was so high than one ascended from it on all sides, yet its plateau was by no means a horizontal plain, but was made up of higher and lower parts, and David of course made his residence upon the highest and safest part, the most favourable position for a military outlook, while the fortifications must have necessarily lain upon the relatively lower north-western side, and with this agrees the fact that the Philistines advanced to the attack from the west.” Maurer remarks, “David was not yet certain whether to defend himself at the walls, or to advance to meet the enemy.”
2 Samuel 5:18. “Valley of Rephalm.” Many writers identify this locality with a fruitful plain nearly three miles long by two wide, lying to the south-west of Jerusalem, and only separated from the valley of Hinnom by a narrow ridge of land. But Mr. Grove (Bib. Dictionary) contends that it does not answer to the description of the Hebrew word, which always designates an enclosed valley. It was the scene of some of David’s most remarkable adventures, It doubtless derived its name from the ancient Rephaim, or giants. (Joshua 15:8, etc.)
2 Samuel 5:20. “Baal-perazim.” The place of breaches, or bursts. (See 2 Samuel 5:20.) “There may have been previously a sanctuary of Baal on this spot.” (Bib. Dict.)
2 Samuel 5:21. “Images.” Probably small tutelary deities which they brought with them into the field for protection.
2 Samuel 5:23. “Mulberry trees.” “Baca-shrubs.” From baca, to weep. Hence either some drooping tree like the weeping willow, or one which sheds gum like the balsam. The Arabs now give the name to a tree of the latter kind, from which, if a leaf is broken off, there flows sap like a white tear.
2 Samuel 5:24. “The sound of a going.” As if an army was advancing. “The word signifies a majestic stately tread or stepping, often used of God. (Psalms 68:7.) (Tr. of Lange’s Commentary.)
2 Samuel 5:25. “Geba.” Probably Gibeah of Saul or of Benjamin, a city to the north of Benjamin, the present Jeba, “Gazer,” or Gezer, at the extreme north of the Philistine country.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—2 Samuel 5:6-25
THE CONQUEST OF JERUSALEM AND THE DEFEAT OF THE PHILISTINE
I. Man’s true security and strength lies not in his possession of the seen, but in his relation to the unseen. When David and his men advanced upon the fortified city of Jerusalem, all appearances were against them and for the Jebusites. To the eye of sense it seemed impossible that this hitherto impregnable fort should yield to the attack of any army. When we remember what it cost the legions of Rome to reduce it by siege, we can form some idea how altogether unlikely it appeared that such a force as that which David led could carry it by assault. If there had been no agencies at work beyond those which appealed to the eye of sense, we can well believe that the boast of the Jebusites would have been justified by the result. But a power was with the men of Israel of which the dwellers in Jerusalem took no account. The God of battles was on the side of the former, and He had decreed that for purposes of mercy to the world at large, the stronghold of Zion should become the city of David. It was not gained by him by strength of arm or skill in warfare, but given to him as a servant of the Lord God of Hosts. And when he was established there he dwelt securely, not by reason of the towers and walls which he built round about, but because the same God established and exalted him for His people’s sake. But though we read that David perceived this truth (2 Samuel 5:12), is there not reason to fear that his trust in the unseen and real was far from perfect and undivided? In the multiplication of wives and concubines, after the manner of the heathen nations, there seems to be a reaching out after some apparent but unreal sources of strength, which afterwards proved themselves to be indeed elements of insecurity and weakness. Assuming that his action in this matter must have been prompted in great measure by political motives, and remembering the disastrous consequences which followed, we learn how fatal is any attempt to look for success and security anywhere but in the service of God.
II. The enemies of God’s kingdom on the earth are undaunted and persevering in the face of continued defeats. The conquest of the Jebusites, although so striking and complete, did not prevent the Philistine host from seeking David, and the entire rout of their army at Baal-perazim did not discourarge them from coming up yet again. In the struggle that is ever waging between the Church of God and her foes, the servants of God have ever found their enemies as undaunted by reverses as were these people by the previous successes of David. It might have been thought that his name, associated as it had so often been with such signal disaster to this nation, would have ensured to him exemption from their attacks, but this was so far from being the case that they hesitated not to attack him even now when his position was stronger and his followers more numerous than ever. The courage and pertinacity of these Philistines were worthy of a better cause, and the same may be said of many a host since which has arrayed itself against the Lord and against His anointed. The history of the world plainly teaches us that it is not only those who fight for God and right who can persevere in the face of defeats, for their opponents have often proved to be equal to them in this respect. It behoves them to see to it that they never surpass them.
III. Those who follow God’s commands will have Him go before with needful help. In both the instances before us, David, as was his custom, asked guidance from above. By this act he acknowledged that he did not trust in his bow, and that he knew his sword could not save him (Psalms 40:6), and that he went forth now, as in the days of his youth (1 Samuel 17:45), only as the servant of the Lord God of Israel. And the result of this reverent waiting upon God for direction was what it always was and ever will be. God never commands His people to go where He will not go before them, and never sends them to battle for Him at their own charges. But while they see to it that they keep close to the Divine directions and patiently fulfil the conditions imposed by Divine wisdom, they must be energetic in doing their part, and “bestir” (2 Samuel 5:24) themselves to make use of the intervention of God on their behalf.
OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS
2 Samuel 5:9. The establishment of David’s capital … illustrates the principles upon which his kingdom stood, and shows wherein it differed from the great Asiatic empires which were contemporary with it. The first sign of the unity of these monarchies was the building of some great city … the inhabitants felt they were a people because they were encompassed with walls … The commonwealth of Israel began in open plains and pastures. A single man, who had not a foot of earth for his possession, was its founder … Only after centuries of conflicts, discomfitures, humiliations, they acquired a king, and a city which he could make the centre of their tribes.… Here are the two kinds of civilisation; the civic life is in one the beginning, in the other the result of a long process. But in the first you have a despotism which becomes more expansive and oppressive from day to day … in the other sometimes a weary struggle, but it is the struggle of spirits, a struggle for life. And God Himself is helping that struggle … and bringing out of confusion a real, at last even something of a visible and outward unity.—Maurice.
2 Samuel 5:12. This language, some may think, would have been more suitable and pious if an extraordinary, evidently miraculous, event had raised David to the throne of Israel. Such an event might have enabled him to perceive that he was divinely elected to reign; he might have continued to reign with the same comfortable assurance. But he appears to have risen quite as slowly—under the same course of accidents—as other leaders.… What man who has not taken some very outrageous method of establishing his power, might not say that the Lord had bestowed his dominion upon him, if that phrase became the lips of the shepherd sovereign? This is a question which I am not able to answer. I do not know what king might not safely adopt these words and ought not to adopt them. The danger, I fancy, is in the idle use of them when no definite meaning is attached to them. So far from admitting that David would have had more right to think and speak as he did, if some angel suddenly appearing had placed the crown upon his head, I apprehend that the strength and liveliness of his conviction arose from … the successiveness, the continuity, of the steps in his history, which assured him that God’s hand had been directing the whole. One startling event … he might have referred to chance, or to the rare irregular interference of an omnipotent Being. Only such a Being as the Lord God of Abraham … could have woven the web of his destinies.… The two clauses of the sentence are inseparably connected. A government which a man wins for himself he uses for himself. That which he inwardly and practically acknowledges as conferred upon him by a righteous Being cannot be intended for himself.… The deepest lesson which David had learnt was that he himself was under government; that in his heart and will was the inmost circle of that authority which the winds and the sea, the moon and the stars, obeyed.… To understand that the empire over wills and hearts is the highest which man can exercise, because it is the highest which God exercises; to understand that his empire cannot be one of rough compulsion, because God’s is not of that kind; to understand that the necessity for stern, quick, inevitable punishment, arises from the unwillingness of men to abide under a yoke of grace and gentleness; to understand that the law looks terrible and overwhelming to the wrong-doer, just because he has shaken off his relation to the Person from whom law issues, in whom dwells all humanity and sympathy, all forgiveness and reclaiming mercy—this was the highest privilege of a Jewish king, that upon which the rightful exercise of all his functions depended.—Maurice.
2 Samuel 5:23-24. The rustling of the Lord’s approaching help in the tops of the trees.
1. Dost thou wait for it at His bidding?
2. Dost thou hear it with the right heed?
3. Dost thou understand it in the right sense?
4. Dost thou follow it without delay?—Lange’s Commentary.
These words are important for us also, in a figurative sense, in our warfare with the children of unbelief in this world. They teach us that in our own strength, and merely with the human weapons of reason and science, we are not to make war against the adversary. Success can only be calculated upon when the conflict is undertaken under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, breathed forth and in the immediate blessed experience of the gracious presence of the Lord, and of the truth of his Word. Then there breaks forth from our hearts that which we call “testimony;”—a speaking from the present enjoyment of salvation; a speaking arising from a comprehensive, vital, powerful conception of the infallibility of that for which the undertaking has been begun; a speaking of the whole animated personality. This breaks through the enemy. No bulwark of science falsely so called withstands this.—Krummacher.
2 Samuel 5:22-25. We cannot but be struck, in this narrative, with the humble piety of David in asking guidance from the Lord, and with his willingness implicitly to obey the commands which he received. Nor can we fail to observe the clear and explicit nature of the answers which he received from the Urim and Thummim. The ancient heathens had their oracles in connection with the temples in which they worshipped their divinities; but the responses given at these places to those who consulted them were generally expressed so ambiguously that no great guidance was given by them, and they could not be falsified by any event.… But here, in the replies given by the sacred breastplate, there is no obscurity. Everything is definite and clear, and David could have no hesitation as to his duty in each case. Of course, there is not now any such means of obtaining the unerring guidance of God as David then enjoyed, in so far as the contingencies of our daily lives are concerned; but still, in answer to prayer, God will lead us in the right way, provided only we unfeignedly commit ourselves to Him, and willingly accept His direction step by step. Here is the warrant on which every one of us is entitled to proceed: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and and it shall be given him.” Let us, therefore, use the Bible and the throne of grace as David employed the Urim and Thummim, and we may depend upon it that, even as “the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees” indicated to him when he was to advance, there will be something, either within ourselves or in the arrangement of God’s providence external to us, which will guide us.—Taylor.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany