Sermon preached on 2 Samuel 5:6-16 by Rev. W. Reid Hankins during the Morning Worship Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 1/10/2016 in Novato, CA.
2 Samuel 5:6-16
“For His People Israel’s Sake”
A nation needs a capital, some seat of government from where its authority is exercised. We know how that works. Even on a local level, in Marin County, if you need a marriage license or a birth certificate, or some other official thing, you head over to San Rafael, to the Civic Center, as that is the county’s seat of government. In Sonoma county, it is Santa Rosa. And if you want something official done in the state, you go to Sacramento. And of course we all know that Washington D.C. is the capital for our federal government, with all three branches of government headquartered there.
Well, today’s passage is about David establishing a seat of government in Jerusalem. And this reminds us of the context. In our last passage, we saw the beginning of a glorious establishment of David’s kingdom over all Israel. For a few chapters he had been finally reigning as king, but only over the tribe of Judah. At that point, his capital was Hebron, which was deep in Judah territory. But now as he had finally consolidated his rule over all of Israel, he surely recognized that a change of capital would be in order. If you remember our nation’s history, we chose a capital in Washington D.C. that wasn’t perceived as overly connected to any one state, to help unite the states together. Similarly, David here takes over this city of Jerusalem which was previously not under Israelite control at all, was on the border of Judah and Benjamin territories, and was actually technically in Benjamin territory. And so today’s passage continues to show use the glorious establishment of David’s kingdom. Not only has he been anointed as king over all the tribes, but then he immediately precedes to conquer and establish this new capital for his new expanded kingdom. So this is all part of the glorious upward spiral of David and his kingdom.
And of course as we see David establish the capital of his kingdom, we of course should get excited. This is the story of how Jerusalem becomes this seat of power among God’s people in the Old Testament. We are used to hearing a lot about Jerusalem when we study the Bible. It is an important place in so much of what we study in the Bible. And so today’s passage is kind of like a prequel movie, or maybe like the Marvel X-Men Origins movies, where we find out about the origin or backstory for Jerusalem being established as the capital of the nation of Israel.
Though what I find interesting about this prequel or background story is that the emphasis for Jerusalem is a little different than what we probably think most about. In other words, when we think about Jerusalem and its significance, we probably first remember that it was the city where the Tabernacle and then the Temple was. It’s where the Ark of the Covenant was. It’s where the sacrifices to God were given. All this reflected how God’s special presence was there in the temple. And so we probably tend to think about Jerusalem from the ministry of the priesthood and the temple. But that’s not what this passage is about. In fact, the Ark of the Covenant does get brought into Jerusalem until next chapter. The emphasis here is not on the priesthood and its ministry. It’s about the king and the kingdom. There’s not a house for God built here, it’s a house, a palace, for the king that gets built. And so this backstory to Jerusalem reminds us that we must have a fuller perspective about Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, it was not just the center for worship. It was also the center of government. It was the city of the great king. But to clarity, I don’t just mean from a human perspective. Psalm 48 says that it is the city of God, and that God is in her palaces. And so for Jerusalem to be the seat of government, where David is established by God as king, is to recognize that God reigns through David in the City of David. If it’s the City of David, it’s all the more the City of God. God’s government is being setup in Jerusalem over God’s people. Similar to how God chose to make his presence known in terms of worship through the temple and the Ark, God would have his kingly rule and reign over his people made known through his anointed one; through his Messiah; which at this point is King David! And so that is really the focus of this backstory and its signifigance.
Let’s then consider what took place to secure Jerusalem. Our first point is to see how David conquered Jerusalem. We begin in verse 6. There we see that Jerusalem was controlled by a group of people known as the Jebusites. Who are these Jebusites? Let me mention two things about them. First, they were one of the seven evil wicked nations that God told Israel to destroy when they came into the Promised Land, back during the time of Moses and Joshua. We see that in Deuteronomy 7:1. Second, Israel was unsuccessful at that time in wiping out the Jebusites, according to Joshua 15:63. Joshua 15:63 says that through that time the Jebusites lived alongside the people of Judah in this stronghold of Jerusalem.
In other words, when David goes to attack and take Jerusalem, this was a longstanding problem for Israel. They had already been told by God to conquer them. They had already failed in doing this. Evidently by now, so many years later, they had presumably long given up on the prospect of conquering them and this city. And I think the reason is obvious. Jerusalem is a formidable stronghold. We see this expressed by the Jebusites themselves in verse 6. When David goes to attack the city, the Jebusites basically taunt David saying that they were so safe in their stronghold of a city, that even their blind and lame could defend the city for them. Of course David is not discouraged. He surely attacked this city in the confidence knowing that he was living out this long ago command given to them by God to go and remove the Jebusites, as the arm of God’s judgment for their pagan wickedness. Instead, David responds with a bit of taunting his own, in verse 7 apparently taking the label of the lame and the blind to refer to these Jebusites as a whole. Of course, spiritually speaking, that was the case for these Jebusites as a whole. They were spiritually blind and lame, not being in a positive relationship with the one true God.
And so David ends up taking the city, referred to as the stronghold of Zion in verse 7. (Mt Zion is the name of the hill that the city sits upon, thus another name for Jerusalem is Zion.) Evidently, he takes it through some wise strategy. Jerusalem, as mentioned, was a formidable stronghold, probably something along the lines of a walled fortress that sat on top of a hill with sharp slopes surrounding it. Maybe something like a Helm’s Deep from the Lord of the Rings books. It would have been hard to beat, and thus that’s surely why Israel hadn’t conquered it yet. But David offers his men a reward and a strategy. He wants someone to go up through the water shaft and strike the enemy that way. Whoever does will be rewarded by becoming David’s chief military commander. Well, that’s what happens, and according to 1 Chronicles it is Joab who accomplishes this feat. And so this water shaft must have been some unrecognized weak spot, that David seizes upon; some Achilles’ heel for them.
And so David conquered the city and this leads us then to our second point. To see how this is God establishing his king and kingdom. When David conquers the city, it becomes a valuable asset for him. It’s the new capital and seat of government for David’s united kingdom. We see how he valued it by renaming it the City of David, verse 9. And then in verse 9 we see that he further develops the city. He built up the city itself and the surrounding regions. And so he advances and expands the city. In verse 11 we see he even builds a royal palace there, with the help of Hiram, king of Tyre.
And so I love the summary statements in verses 10 and 12. Verse 10, “So David went on and became great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.” Verse 10 speaks more toward the future, but the context suggests a connection with his acquisition of this headquarters in Jerusalem. David began his united kingdom with this initial acquisition, which he turns into the headquarters for his kingly operations. You know, you need a good home base in order to run a kingdom like this. I think of even my church office. Before when I worked out of my home, I just didn’t have the right setup there to be able to work as effectively. Now, that I have an office, I have a setup that is much more effective for me to get my work done. Well, David establishes this headquarters in Jerusalem, and he then is able to go on and do even more great things. And of course, as verse 10 tells us, it was ultimately because God was with him. That’s how he was able to conquer this otherwise impenetrable fortress of Jerusalem. And that’s why he was able to go on and do great things.
And then verse 12, “So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.” I love this verse! This is really the heart of this entire passage. God was establishing David as king over all of Israel. This acquisition of a capital city like Jerusalem and the building of a royal palace was key in this. It was a key part of how God was solidifying David’s rule over the people and his work as king. It was providing a firm foundation for David’s kingdom going forward. And it says that David knew that God was doing this. In other words, David recognized God’s hand in all this. He had confidence in God’s providence to gloriously setup David’s kingdom and kingship.
But look at God’s purpose in all of this. It wasn’t even for the sake of David himself, per se. Verse 12 says that God did it for his people’s sake! Wow! How wonderful! Remember back when the people asked for a king like all the other nations, it was essentially a slap in God’s face that they didn’t trust God to provide for them. But after God allowed them to fail in that experiment with Saul, God again shows how he would care for his people. What love God has for his people, even when the make wrong choices. And so God provided a king after God’s own heart, one to rule his people on his behalf. In other words, God places David there as king as a way to provide for his people. Earlier in the chapter, in verse 2, it mentions how God calls David as a shepherd for his people. Well, God knows his people need such a shepherd. And so David is the Lord’s anointed to be a shepherd-king for God’s people, to reign over them on God’s behalf.
So in this second point, let’s reflect a moment longer in what way God established David and his kingdom in this city of Jerusalem. You see, here, it is all very glorious and we said that God’s people need this. They need an established and strong king and kingdom. God does that here with David in Jerusalem. And yet as glorious as this is, it must look beyond itself to something greater. Because in 2 chapters we’ll see that God will promise David that God will establish his kingdom forever through one of his offspring. But that’s where we have to look beyond this earthly Jerusalem. Because think about it. It’s so exciting that Jerusalem becomes the capital for a united kingdom of Israel. But it will really only serve as such for two generations. David and his son Solomon will rule over a united kingdom from Jerusalem, but after that the nation will split into two again. Jerusalem will only become the capital of Judah again. Israel will have its own capital in Samaria with its own king that is not of David’s line.
And then eventually even the mighty stronghold of Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Babylonians and the people taken away in exile. Ultimately David’s line will stop having a king in this earthly Jerusalem. And even after the people come back from Babylonian exile, they won’t have a descendant of David sit a king in the city of Jerusalem. The city does get rebuilt, and even a temple and worship reestablished. But no Davidic king. For most of the history the rebuilt city, it is under control of wicked pagans as a sort of vassal state. The temptation would be to think then that God failed in ultimately establishing David’s kingdom. But as Christians, we know better. But it’s interesting to see in what sense God ultimately establishes David’s kingdom. It was in Jesus, the Christ, that God ultimately establishes his kingdom. Now during the bulk of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus is very eager to not assert his messianic identity to the public. It’s not until after the cross, that we see Jesus particularly begin to asset it in a statement like Matthew 28:18. He said then, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” That’s a pretty profound statement. After the cross and the resurrection, Jesus knew that God had established him already as king over all; that God had established Christ’s eternal kingdom. And yet where did Jesus then make his seat of government? Was it in earthly Jerusalem in the land of Israel? No, not at all. He actually then ascends up into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. In other words, he makes his seat of government in a place even greater than earthly Jerusalem. In the language of Hebrews 12:22, it’s the “heavenly Jerusalem” which is the ultimate “Mount Zion” and the ultimate “city of the living God”. That’s where Jesus sets up his seat of government right now.
And of course Jesus said this is a good thing. He said he would go there and send out his Holy Spirit to us. That we would actually be all the more better off here and now if he goes and then sends his Holy Spirit to us. But the point is that Jesus has been established as king, and does reign from Jerusalem even now, but it is a heavenly Jerusalem. And this then makes sense of what we read in the book of Revelation. At the very end, when Christ comes back, God will make all things new. He’ll make a new heavens and a new earth, and then he’ll bring a new Jerusalem down out of heaven onto the new earth. There God’s people will be with God and his Christ, our Lord Jesus. And from there he shall reign forever and ever (Rev 11:15).
In other words, the establishment of David’s kingdom here in Jerusalem is wonderful. But it anticipates the greater establishment of Christ’s kingdom in a heavenly Jerusalem that will one day come down to a new earth at Christ’s second coming. But even now, Christ’s reign has already been established, already for the good of God’s people, and his seat of power is in this heavenly Jerusalem, at the right hand of God the Father! From there, already Christ reigns over his people, and does battle with the enemies of God.
So then, this leads us to our third point to consider who is in a good relationship with the king of God’s choosing. This is a theme in our passage too. As David is established, we are reminded that there were some outsiders that were not in a good relationship with King David. God had pronounced judgment on the evil Jebusites, and they confirm their judgment even in how they taunt David while trusting in their own strength. David pronounces his holy hatred for them, and that they’ll not have a place in his house ever, verse 8. On the flip side, you have the outsider Gentile King Hiram of Tyre that shows kindness to the Lord’s anointed by giving him such a wonderful gift of a royal palace. In thinking of these two different kinds of outsiders, I remember Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is the one that talks of kings of the earth who oppose the Lord’s anointed one, but calls them instead to kiss the son; in other words to show kindness and allegiance to the Lord’s anointed one. And so the Jebusites continued in their rebellion against God, and were destroyed by the Lord’s anointed. Hiram and the people of Tyre, at least at this time, show kindness to David and enter into a good relationship of some sort with David. From an Old Testament context, this shows the hope that we see more clearly in the New Testament, that there is hope that outsider Gentiles can be in a good relationship with the Lord’s Christ. Of course this passage just offers a glimpse at that. But it’s a glimpse nonetheless. Interestingly, we see a further glimpse of that at the end of this book, where we learn about a Jebusite that did survive this battle and even retained property in Jerusalem. A Jebusite named Araunah. Later Jewish historian Josephus writes that this Araunah had shown kindness toward both Israel and King David, and thus was spared. The account at the end of 2 Samuel would seem to reflect that. And so even among these condemned Jebusites, at least one escaped and was in good relationship with King David. I’m reminded of Rahab in a similar way; who was of course David’s great great grandmother.
And so here some Gentiles would be in good relations to David, the Lord’s anointed; some would not. But of course it would surely be even better to be one of David’s own honored men, especially someone like Joab, who got to be chief military commander for his service. And yet we read verses 13-16, and learn about all David’s sons, and wives, and concubines. Surely they were in the best relationship with the king. They lived with the king in the royal palace and ate with him at his own table. They were part of the royal household.
Why do I bring all this up? It’s not just to observe this here in the old covenant. But it’s to realize what we have now as Christians in Jesus Christ. You see, we as Gentiles were the outsiders. We are so thankful that Jesus made it very clear that he would welcome Gentiles into his kingdom, for any who would repent of their sins and receive by faith the offer of the gospel; that Christ died in our place for our sins. So it’s great that we are now a part of Christ’s kingdom and are in a good relationship with him. We are not an object of Christ’s holy hatred as enemies of God. That’s what we should be. But he’s changed our standing as we come to him in faith and repentance. Sadly, so many in the world today are still objects of his holy hatred and stand condemned by God and outsiders of Christ’s kingdom. If they are not saved before they die or before Christ returns, they will know the eternal judgment of hell away from all the good blessings of Christ’s kingdom. And so we are so thankful for his grace to save us like this.
But realize that we are not just saved into a relationship of peace with Jesus our king. That alone would be great. But we have an even better relationship with King Jesus. We are saved and brought into the royal family. We are adopted into Christ’s family. It’s like what we have here with David. The best relationship to the king is to be a part of his household and family. And that is what Jesus has made us! That explains why there are passages in the New Testament that talk about how Christians are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Because Jesus is up there in heaven, and since we’ve been adopted into his family and household, we are up there with him in a sense. We then have a place in the royal family of Christ, a place in the palace of the great King, and look forward to an eternity of being with him in that New Jerusalem to come.
So then brothers and sisters, in closing, I would like point you again to what David knew in verse 12. David knew how God was establishing his kingdom and how this was for the good of God’s people. Well, with us, with as much troubles we Christians have outwardly in this world, it would be easy for us to not know what we should know. Be reminded then again today that God has already established Christ’s kingdom in great glory. His seat of government is the right hand of God. We might have foolishly wanted a capital here on earth somewhere. But surely Jesus has chosen wisely. For the battle right now is not against flesh and blood. It’s not a physical and earthly battle. It’s a spiritual and heavenly one. So Jesus’ capital and seat of his kingdom’s power is exactly in the right place. So let’s know that again today. Trust in that knowledge. Recognize it for the great that it is, and see the great privilege you have to be a part of Christ’s kingdom in the wonderful way that we are. Believe that this power and authority of Christ’s established kingdom is powerful and effective for the here and now. And that you are even being used by God for the further establishment of Christ’s kingdom, to that day when he returns to usher in his kingdom in the fullness of glory.
Copyright © 2016 Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
All Rights Reserved.