Wednesday, August 7, 2019

David Becomes King

"When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel" (2 Samuel 5:3).

David had a good legal claim to be Saul’s successor. Saul had repeatedly called him “my son” (1 Samuel 18:2; 24:11, 16; 26:17). Jonathan had adopted him by covenant as a brother equal to himself, and Jonathan was crown prince (18:3–4). Jonathan had yielded the throne to David by covenant (23:17–18). In addition, David was Saul’s son-in-law (18:27). Yet, David was only 30 years old (2 Samuel 5:4), and there still lived an older son of Saul, Ishbosheth, who was about 40 years old (2 Samuel 2:10).

While there was no precedent, the inheritance to the throne was not automatic in Israel. The people had to vote and elect a man to be king, though the first candidate put forward would likely be the son of the previous king. In this case, the southern tribes of Judah and Simeon (which was semi-incorporated into Judah) elected David as their king, and he began to rule in Hebron. David was from Judah and had defended the Judahites and Simeonites from the Philistines for many years, so the people naturally wanted him to be king.

Because of the cultural division between northern and southern Israel, the independent-minded northern tribes were not inclined to follow the south (compare Judges 8:1 and 12:1). The Philistines had not been a problem for them and they felt no particular loyalty to David. The commander of Saul’s army, Abner, was held in great esteem by all the people, and he set up Ishbosheth as king over the other tribes (2 Samuel 2:9–11).

There was an initial conflict between the two sides, but it was clear that David’s side was stronger (2 Samuel 3). David, however, wisely refused to prosecute a war. Ishbosheth’s kingdom was perfectly legitimate and he had no reason to attack it. In time, however, Ishbosheth’s rule fell apart and he was killed by courtiers who hoped to curry favor with David. David had the murderous courtiers put to death, thereby showing again that he had nothing to do with revolution (2 Samuel 4).

By David’s actions, the northern tribes knew he was trustworthy. Therefore they came to Hebron to crown him king. Now the king of all Israel, David wisely set his capital in a newly conquered city positioned between the two halves of the nation: Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5).

In our “instant gratification” society we too often want things now. As you study David’s life, notice his patience as God gradually brought him to prominence and then consolidated his influence and power. Be sure you are not trying to outrun God’s plan for you.