This morning’s sermon is about the official beginning of King David’s reign in Israel. Over the next several weeks we will learn much about the events that took place during this time. David was the most heralded and beloved king in the history of Israel. The details of his kingship are recorded in the books of 2nd Samuel and 1st Chronicles.
The Chronicles were written much later than the books of Samuel. 1st and 2nd Samuel were written by men who lived at the same time as Saul and David, and later compiled into a single narrative. 1st and 2nd Chronicles were most likely written by Ezra, a priest who led a group of exiled Jews back to Jerusalem after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. If so, the Chronicles can be dated around 450 BC. They repeat many of the details recorded in Samuel and Kings, with a few notable additions.
The message today also highlights the establishment of Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel. This too is an extremely significant occurrence in Jewish history. The importance of Jerusalem to both God and the nation of Israel cannot be overstated.
Finally, this message documents David’s war with the Philistines. These were his former allies, as he had lived in Philistia and fought on their behalf only 10 years earlier. Now, having returned to Israel, David would have to expel these dreaded adversaries from their occupation and continual aggressive encroachment.
I. DAVID IS ANOINTED KING (2 Samuel 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3, 12:23-40)
David had lived in and reigned over Judah for 7½ years. During this time the nation of Israel was divided between 2 kings. With the death of Ish-bosheth and Abner, and the ending of the bitter civil war, the people finally put aside their disagreements and came together once again. This renewed unity paved the way for the coronation of David as the second king over the entire nation of Israel.
Representatives from all 12 tribes, including a delegation of Levites, traveled to Hebron. Some brought large quantities of food to be used for a celebration. They held a festival for 3 days, during which time David was anointed as the new king of Israel. Many of those who came were soldiers. The Bible provides specific details and numbers about this. These men joined those already loyal to David thereby increasing and greatly strengthening what had been a decimated Israeli military. For the first time in a long time there was great joy in Israel.
David was 30 years old when he first became king in Judah. As mentioned previously, his reign lasted 7½ years. This means that he was 37½ when he became king over all of Israel (including Judah). This would have been around 1000 BC. He ruled over the united nation for 33 additional years. Thus, he was king over Judah and Israel for a combined total of 40 years.
II. JERUSALEM BECOMES THE CAPITAL (2 Samuel 5:6-16; 1 Chronicles 11:4-9)
During his lifetime King Saul reigned primarily from his hometown of Gibeah. Though he lived and worked there, Gibeah was never officially named the capital of Israel. The new king David was residing in Hebron, a city of Judah, which itself was not an ideal capital city for the entire nation of Israel. David wanted to establish a capital that was more centrally located and had a more significant religious and strategic value. Following the LORD’s direction, David chose Jerusalem as the capital of ancient Israel.
For many centuries Jerusalem had been inhabited by the Jebusites. These people were descendants of the Canaanites. Following the conquest of the Promised Land during the days of Joshua, the children of Israel were unable to drive them out of the city. Thus, the Jebusites had remained in Jerusalem all this time. In order for Jerusalem to become the capital of Israel, the Jebusites would have to finally be defeated.
Jerusalem was a well fortified city. When David and his men approached, the Jebusites confidently believed their walls could not be breached. They mocked the armies of Israel, stating that they could successfully defend their city with only the blind and the lame. David shrewdly sent his men threw a shaft that provided water to the city. By so doing, he bypassed the city walls. Once inside, David’s soldiers easily overthrew the Jebusites and took the city.
Once it had been secured, David and his family moved to Jerusalem. The King of Tyre sent lumber, carpenters, and stone masons to build a lavish house for David. David and his men completed several additional building projects to repair and enlarge the city. After settling in Jerusalem, King David took more wives and concubines, and had several more children. Both he and the nation of Israel became greater and greater.
III. THE PHILISTINES ARE DEFEATED (2 Samuel 5:17-25; 1 Chronicles 11:10-47, 12:1-22)
Over the years David had developed a large following of “mighty men”. Many of them sided with him during his flight from Saul. Still others defected from Israel and joined him while he was living in Ziklag. The most notable of these are listed by name and some even have war stories written about them in Scripture. David’s mighty men, along with the thousands who had volunteered for military service at Hebron, constituted a large and formidable army.
A sizable population of Philistines had occupied northern Israel dating back to the death of King Saul. Finally David’s forces were significant enough begin driving them out. Perhaps wanting to strike first, the Philistines set up for war in the valley of Rephaim just outside of Jerusalem. King David prayed asking God what to do, and the LORD answered to attack. David met the Philistines head on and defeated them soundly. He then collected and destroyed the idols they’d abandoned and named that place Baal-Perazim which means “Lord of the Breakthrough”.
There is an interesting scene described in Scripture that may have been associated with this battle. The Philistines had deployed a garrison of troops in Bethlehem, which is also also near the Valley of Rephaim. David commented that he’d like a drink of water from the well in Bethlehem. Hearing this, 3 of David’s mighty men risked their lives and broke through the Philistine lines simply to bring the king some water. Talk about devotion!
After they’d reorganized and regrouped, the Philistines returned to the Valley of Rephaim again. This time God told David to to circle around behind them and wait until he heard the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees. This sound has been interpreted by some as God leading His angelic armies out before David and his men. They confronted the Philistines and struck them down from Geba as far as Gezer. This was the beginning of David’s territorial reclamation of Israel.
Over the centuries Jerusalem has been recognized as a sacred site by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. As such, the population and diversity of the city has increased substantially since Biblical times. Jerusalem is considered to be the “most holy city” in the world.
In the Bible, Jerusalem is called by many different names. These include Salem, Jebus, Mount Moriah, Zion, the city of David, and many others. According to Jewish writings, Jerusalem has over 70 distinct Hebrew names. The name Jerusalem has been interpreted into English as “Home of Peace” or “Abode of Peace”.
Jerusalem is the cite of numerous Biblical events. The temple was built there and remained in some form or fashion from the time of Solomon until after the most of the New Testament had been written. Jesus was executed on a cross there, the church was established there and then spread throughout the entire world, Jesus will someday return there and set up his millennial kingdom, and in the end times God will reveal the New Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the city of God and is the eternal capital of Israel. As Christians, we should pray for peace in Jerusalem and lovingly support the people who live there. It is a special place, unlike any other city in the world, and we as Christians must recognize and defend its unique significance.