Today we encounter more fighting and bloodshed. When we look at a map, we see that David’s military victories helped him overcome enemies on the North, South, East, and West. On the West were the Philistines. Today this is the Gaza strip…and they are still fighting. On the East were the Moabites. Today this is the country of Jordan. On the North were the Arameans and Syrians. This is modern day Syria and there is always a threat to Israel there. On the South were the Edomites. This too is modern day Jordan. Saul had fought many of these same people and had not been successful. Perhaps the time wasn’t right or maybe, Saul had moved so far away from the Lord that He didn’t help Saul in battle anymore. If we were to look at David’s victories in light of God’s covenant promises, we would see that when God had given the Israelites the promised land, it was to stretch from the Mediterranean Sea all the way East to the Euphrates River. We would also see that the Israelites barely managed to conquer enough of the land of Canaan to have a place to live. Now we see David moving East to fulfill the promise of land. Israel lost territory during Saul’s reign and now David had recaptured all of that plus he had gained more. Once David had captured these territories, he set up garrisons in those lands to maintain Israel’s authority and the people became vassals under David’s authority. David was a man of faith and he believed God’s promises. He acted on them for the honor of the Lord and for the blessings of His people.
David’s victories also meant peace for the Israelites. That meant they could lead normal lives and didn’t always have to watch over their shoulders to see who might be attacking them next. God had promised rest and now they were experiencing it. The other piece of David’s military victories was the accumulation of vast quantities of gold, silver, bronze, and precious stones. Eventually David would leave these for his son Solomon to use in building the temple of the Lord. Being king wasn’t just aboutmilitary victories, however. It was also about administrative duties that came with managing the affairs of an ever-growing country. We read that David ruled with justice and righteousness and he served all the people. Saul’s reign had been dark, stormy,and painful for many. David brought a new hope, calm in the storm, and justice. When we take a look at the advisors David has choses there is one that stands out. He chose Benaiah as the officer over his bodyguards. What makes this unusual is that Benaiah was a priest. Priests became prophets but becoming an army officer was very different.
We also see the kindness of God in David. He was still looking for ways to honor his late friend Jonathan. Jonathan had one son, Mephibosheth, who was crippled. David had inherited all ofSaul’s possessions when Saul died, and David was free to do with them as he wished. Here we see him being kind to the last remaining member of Saul’s house. But there are scholars who paint a different picture here. Allow me to share it. They see David’s kindness to Mephibosheth as a picture of God’s kindness to lost sinners. David had promised to not execute Jonathan’s family in defeat and David kept that promise and went beyond what he would have had to. No one in Israel could have shown this kindness to Mephibosheth except David because he was the king. Being able to inherit all of Saul’s possessions and disposing them as he saw fit is a picture of the son of David, Jesus Christ, who through His death, resurrection, and ascension had been glorified on the throne of heaven and can now disperse His spiritual riches to needy sinners. The nameDavid means beloved, and Jesus is God’s beloved Son, sent to earth to save lost sinners.
David could no longer show any love or kindness to Jonathan,so he looked out for his son. Traditionally the family of the prior king would have been killed so there was no competition for the throne. Yet David showed undeserved kindness. We are called and saved not because we deserve anything from God, but for the sake of God’s son Jesus Christ. In His grace God gives us what we do not deserve, and, in His mercy, He does not give us that which we do deserve. When Mephibosheth arrived at the palace, he may well have known fear. But if he had listened to his father, he would have known his father and David were the best of friends. David immediately assured him there was nothing to fear and invited him to live at the palace and eat at the king’s table. David had eaten at Saul’s table and it had nearly cost him his life. But Mephibosheth would sit at David’s table without fear. David made the first move, reaching out to Mephibosheth, a reminder that it is the Lord who reaches out to us. Mephibosheth looked at himself as a dead dog, yet he was given a new life in David’s household. We are dead in our sins and Jesus offers us a new life. God supplies all our needs, not out of an earthly king’s treasury but according to His riches in glory. David was a man after God’s own heart and he was a shepherd who had special concerns for the lame of the flock,those normally considered worthless.
Lastly, we see the story of good intentions gone awry. The Ammonite king died, and David sent a delegation to bring his condolences. The king had been kind to David, and he wanted to show his respect. Showing kindness also has the connotation of making a covenant or treaty and David may have sought to make a treaty with the next king. But David’s military might preceded him and the Ammonites were fearful the delegation was sent to spy out the land. Rather than ask why the Israelites were there the Ammonites made an assumption and treated the delegation as enemies. They captured the Israelite delegation, shaved off half their beards and cut off their official garments mid backside. All this was a warning and an act of humiliation. To mess with a man’s beard was a great insult and the Jews were called to dress modestly so exposing the men’s bodies was even more embarrassing. This was treating them as though they were prisoners of war and it also meant some of the tassels of their garments would have been cut off. Not only was this a humiliation but it proved to be a fatal mistake on the part of the Ammonites.
New clothes were not a problem, but it takes time for hair to grow, and the men stayed in Jericho until they were presentable once again. New clothes and beards would not erase old hurts and insults but by their actions the Ammonites not only insulted the delegation of Israelites, but they also insulted King David. This was really a declaration of war. The new king of the Ammonites was not really prepared for war, especially against David and his seasoned warriors. The new king Hunan called in reinforcements from the Assyrians and Arameans but under David’s army the others were fearful, and many fled rather than face getting killed. David came personally to lead the second battle against the Assyrians, and they defeated them. The Assyrians became vassals of Israel, subject to Israel for many years. It was the next battle, against Rabbah that David remained in Jerusalem. We will see the results of that decision tomorrow.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W