David, a Good King of Israel

When we last left off David had just become king of Israel. Once upon a time David was just a no-one, a shepherd boy who wasn’t even important enough for his dad to bring to the meeting with the prophet Samuel. And now, after years of uncertainty and war, David is finally where God promised him he would be. David is king of all Israel.

But being a shepherd boy and being a king are not the same thing. Today we shall see how David does in his early days of being king. Please open your Bibles and turn to 2 Samuel 5:6-10.

Now before we read it, let’s remember that at first David was only king of Judah—that’s only one tribe of the twelve tribes of Israel, and that’s his tribe. Because of that his capital was in Hebron, a place that is solidly in the territory of Judah. But once David became king of all Israel, he was looking to move his capital to a place that might be considered more neutral.

He set his sites on Jerusalem, which was solidly in the lands of Benjamin—which if you’ll remember was the tribe that Saul was, so this would sort of be a concession to the people of Benjamin.

Now it’s hard for us to imagine, but where capitals are is super important, because back then they didn’t have planes or trains or cars. Rich people had horses and camels but the average person would just be walking everywhere. Having a capital near by you was having power, because it gave you access to the seat of power of the entire country. This is why there was such a debate on where the capital of the USA would be and it was considered such a big concession to the South to  have it placed in Virginia.

So this is a political move.

Unfortunately for David, there are people already living in Jerusalem and they’re not Israelites and they’re not willing to give up their city.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 5:6-10.

6 The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. 8 David had said on that day, “Whoever would strike down the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, those whom David hates.”  Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

These Jebusites already live in Jerusalem when David decides he wants it, but the Jebusites they’re not worried. Jerusalem is a well fortified walled city that also has some geographic benefits protecting it. It would be a hard city for an invader to take. Because of that the Jebusites are so confident that they’re like “We’re so awesome that we don’t even need to send our best men to defend us. Our blind people and people who can’t walk will be enough to protect us against your pathetic army.”

But their taunting doesn’t work, David still comes to Jerusalem and he overtakes it. Here where it says “stronghold of Zion” just know that Zion in this context is Jerusalem. Zion can mean different things in different contexts, but in the story of king David when someone says Zion it means Jerusalem.

So Jerusalem is now the capital city of Israel, and as it says David becomes greater and greater because God is with him.

Next someone read 2 Samuel 5:17-21.

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up in search of David; but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the valley of Rephaim. 19 David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” The Lord said to David, “Go up; for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” 20 So David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. He said, “The Lord has burst forth against[a] my enemies before me, like a bursting flood.” Therefore that place is called Baal-perazim.[b21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them away.

If you guys remember, when David was on the run from Saul there was a point where David left Israel and lived with the Philistines. While David was only king of part of Israel, just Judah, the Philistines pretty much left him alone because they viewed him as an ally. After all, at one point he had been living and working with them. But when David became king of a unified Israel, he became a threat to the Philistines. They wanted the lands and people of Israel. They knew it would be best if they attacked David early in his reign, before he was really solidified so that was what they did. They invaded Israel.

David meanwhile asked God if he should attack them, and God was like “yep, go ahead. I’ve got your back!” So David ran the Philistines out of his land, defeating them for now.

The Philistines then try again right after this, but David defeats them again handily. All of this shows David is still a strong leader and general, and he is a strong king. He is making Israel a mighty stronghold.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 6:1-7.

6 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. 3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio,[a] the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4 with the ark of God;[b] and Ahio[c] went in front of the ark. 5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs[a] and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7 The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark;[b] and he died there beside the ark of God.

Now that David is solidified in Jerusalem he decides to bring in the ark of the covenant. If you guys remember, the Ark of Covenant is this intricate large golden box that houses the ten commandments amongst other things. It represents God’s presence in Israel, so it’s very important that the object that is viewed as the home of God, the seat of God, be in the seat of Israel’s power, that is the Israelite capital, Jerusalem. So David brings it in.

Everyone is celebrating and so happy and dancing in the streets as the ark comes in, and something happens and the oxen spook. The ark gets unbalanced and this random dude named Uzzah reaches out to steady it.

Boom. Uzzah is struck dead where he stands.

Doesn’t seem fair does it? This guy had the best intentions; he was trying to help the ark of the covenant. Why would God punish him for that?

Someone turn to Numbers 4:15 and read it.

15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the Kohathites shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, or they will die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the Kohathites are to carry.

For this guy to touch the Ark was literally illegal according to the law, because he was not a priest descended from the line of Aaron. You’ll remember that Aaron was Moses’s brother and basically the first high priest of Israel. By touching it, Uzzah technically defiled—or tainted—the ark.

But it still seems unfair! And we’re not the only people to think so. David had a very similar reaction. Someone please read 2 Samuel 6:8-11.

8 David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah,[a] to this day. 9 David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?” 10 So David was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

David is angry at God for killing Uzzah, and he’s afraid. Because if God would kill Uzzah for just trying to help, what else might he do? And it seems David was afraid of the ark of the covenant, so he refused to bring it in Jerusalem.

Personally I think this is a completely reasonable reaction. The ark of the covenant is not a toy and it must be taken care of in accordance with the law or else. So David leaves the Ark in this place Obed-edom and while it’s there God blesses that entire place.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 6:12-16.

12 It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; 13 and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. 16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

Someone reports to king David about how Obed-edom is being blessed and David is like “well I guess I should bring the ark into Jerusalem.” So he does and it’s this huge party! And David is dancing in the streets, it’s such a party!

His wife Michal sees him and she thinks he is ridiculous and horrible.

Why?

Well you may not remember, but at one point, Michal loved David, desperately. They were very young then and this was when David first came to Saul’s house. She was Saul’s daughter and she begged Saul to let her marry David. So they were allowed to marry.

But then Saul got super angry at David and wanted to kill him. Michal loved David so much that she was willing to risk her life to help him escape the palace.

But then David was gone and she was left there. And Saul was mad so he gave her to another man to be another man’s wife. She was this man’s wife for years while David was out fighting battles. When David came back to be king of Judah, he bartered with Saul’s former commander to get Michal back.

But maybe she was happy in that life. Maybe she didn’t want to come back, and she was given no choice. So here she is living a life she doesn’t want when she sees David making a fool of himself in the streets—at least that’s how she sees it.

Someone read 2 Samuel 6:17-23.

17 They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. 18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, 19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat,[a] and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

20 David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!” 21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. 22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

So David puts the ark in a place of honor, there is a huge party still with food being handed out to everyone, and then he goes home to like party with his family. Instead Michal comes out to meet him and she is super upset and basically tells him his behavior was shameful. And David was like “I was praising God and dancing for him. I would do anything for God, and do more ridiculous things than this to please him! And everyone will think well of me because they know I’m doing it for God!”

The conversation ends there and the next line is about how Michal has no kids. Now it’s likely Michal has no kids because by this point she is quite old, lots of time has passed since she was the young woman who married David. But narratively, the writer is implying she has no kids because of her lack of faith.

The writer is trying to tell us here that David’s unabashed joy before the Lord is good and right, and it doesn’t matter how ridiculous other people might think you are if what you are doing is for God. So if your singing for God, it doesn’t matter if you can’t sing well, because to God it is pleasing. It doesn’t matter if other people think you shouldn’t sing. It doesn’t matter if people think it’s beneath you to dance, if you’re doing it for God.

Now can someone read 2 Samuel 7:1-3.

7 Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

The last prophet of the Lord we talked about was Samuel, but there is a new one on the scene. His name is Nathan and this is the first we’re hearing about him. So one day, in a time of peace, David is talking to Nathan, and he’s like, “you know it seems strange that I build this amazing palace for myself, a mere human, when the ark of the covenant—the thing that represents God on earth—is in a mere tent. Surely God should have a better house than his mortal servant!”

And Nathan is like “you know you have a good point. Sure. Let’s do that.”

But it becomes clear very quickly that in this moment Nathan is just speaking his opinion and not God’s opinion, because it seems God sees things a little bit differently.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 7:4-11.

4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders[a] of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lordwill make you a house.

That night God speaks to Nathan and is like, “Woaahhhh. Hold up. Why are you—David—the one who is going to build me a house. Hmm? Did I ask you to do this? No. The ark of the covenant has never lived in a house, just in a tent and that’s cool, cuz I’ve needed to move with the people who were on the move. And I have never asked anyone to build me a house!!! So don’t worry about this! Remind David that I have always been with him, and I will make his name great and I will make sure the people of Israel are solid in their land and no one affect them. I—God—am making a home for you, my people. I don’t need you to make a home for me!”

Moral of the story here is that God doesn’t need David or any human to take care of him. He’s here to take care of us!

But God’s not done talking yet. Someone please read 2 Samuel 7:12-17.

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take[a] my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;[b]your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

God continues by saying that some day when David dies, he will raise up David’s kid to be king after him, and God will establish his kingdom. That kid—that heir of David—he will be the one God will let build his temple. And God will never take his love from him or back away from him like he did Saul, because God is planning to establish David’s line forever.

So Nathan goes back and tells David all of this. And David is maybe a little bummed that he won’t be the one that gets to build God’s house but he can’t be too disappointed because God has made such a big promise! So David literally spends the next section praising God and saying how amazing God is and how awesome it is that God has chosen him!

Someone read 2 Samuel 8:1-4.

8 Some time afterward, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines.

2 He also defeated the Moabites and, making them lie down on the ground, measured them off with a cord; he measured two lengths of cord for those who were to be put to death, and one length[a] for those who were to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute.

3 David also struck down King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah, as he went to restore his monument[b] at the river Euphrates. 4 David took from him one thousand seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but left enough for a hundred chariots.

This entire chapter is about David being an awesome warrior and general. Leading the Israelite to victory over and over and over again over their enemies. David is an amazing leader and he is amazing for Israel. It’s been a long time since Israel was this victorious and strong.

But a person can be a good military leader and a bad person. Let’s see if that applies to David can someone read 2 Samuel 9:1-4.

9 David asked, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and he was summoned to David. The king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “At your service!” 3 The king said, “Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?” Ziba said to the king, “There remains a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” 4 The king said to him, “Where is he?” Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”

One day David is thinking about the best friend he ever had—Jonathan. If you’ll remember Jonathan was Saul’s son and David’s best friend forever, such good friends that the Bible calls them soulmates. Jonathan died in the same battle his father did, but David had sworn an oath to Jonathan that he would never harm his descendants. However, there is a difference between swearing an oath of no harm and wanting to go out of your way to show kindness to his kids. And that’s exactly what David wants to do.

He finds a servant of Saul’s family and summons him. And he’s like “is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can do something for?”

And the servant is like “There sure is. One of Jonathan’s sons is still alive, but he can’t walk.” Apparently he had had some accident in his younger days that led to him not being able to walk. Back then not being able to walk was a big deal. Now we have wheel chairs and other amazing technology to help people walk even if they’re paralyzed or missing a leg! But back then they didn’t have anything like that. Not being able to walk meant that you couldn’t work, couldn’t provide for your family, and a lot of people who couldn’t work ended up as beggars. Now in this case it doesn’t seem that this guy was a beggar, it seems that his family was taking care of him, but it was still a precarious position to be in.

Someone read 2 Samuel 9:5-8.

5 Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6 Mephibosheth[a] son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, “Mephibosheth!”[b] He answered, “I am your servant.” 7 David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan; I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.” 8 He did obeisance and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”

David brings Jonathan’s son into his house and basically makes him part of his family. And Mephibosheth is amazing by this, thinking he’s not worthy, but David wants to do right by Jonathan’s son to remember his best friend!

This just goes to show that David wasn’t just a good leader politically and militarily but he was a good person. It’s easy to see why God chose him for this position and why David is remembered as a great king.

But David was still human. And so he made mistakes. And that’s where we’ll pick up next week.