The King of God's People
90 Days with Scripture
Week 5: October 26, 2008
2 Samuel 5-7: The King of God’s People
1 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.' " 3 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. 4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. (2 Samuel 5)
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!"
21 David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor." 23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death. (2 Samuel 6)
18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:
"Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD ? 20 "What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign LORD. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 "How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God.
25 "And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, 'The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!' And the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 "O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, 'I will build a house for you.' So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer. 28 O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever." (2 Samuel 7)
David’s story sits in a particularly interesting place in Scripture: after the Judges before the prophets. After the Judges means that he is coming into being at the time when ‘there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’ Before the prophets means that he was a powerful figure before the prophets started to lament the corruption of Israel and her magnificent downfall and predict the coming of a King who would be the King who truly followed in the footsteps of David.
There’s a lot that can be said about the Davidic king. David is named in the Scripture almost a thousand times. By way of contrast, Moses was named only around 800 times. I could also note that David seems to be the reason why the book of Ruth was included in our canon. David is the culmination of the books of Samuel & Chronicles. David is the author of most of the Psalms. David is the standard by which all other kings of Israel would be measured. We are told that it was David’s kingdom that would stand in perpetuity. David is no insignificant figure in the history of Christianity. In fact, in our last canonical book, the Revelation, David is prominently mentioned. But more importantly, it is the role of David that is of more significant—his role as king of Israel.
King wasn’t a new idea. The Lord had anticipated that Israel would want a king. In Deuteronomy 17, we read:
14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
By the time we arrive at the book of 1 Samuel, following closely on the heals of Judges when ‘there was no king and every one did as he saw fit,’ we should be expecting what would happen:.
6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."
David was the height of a righteous king. After David, it pretty much went downhill. There were occasional bright spots, but for the most part the kings of Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not walk in the ways of their father David.
It got so bad that eventually the kingdom split, the people, including the king, were carried into exile. The prophets would prophesy that at some point David would regain his throne. Isaiah prophesied:
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
5 In love a throne will be established;
in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.
But he wasn’t alone in saying these things either. Other prophets say it as well: Israel was meant to have a king and the king was to be a shepherd, a servant, one who worships God without shame, one who will fight the Lord’s battles and be victorious. These are the things David did, and was. And one was to come who would recapture that allegiance to the Lord and follow in the footsteps of David. And Israel waited and waited and waited for their king.
Moses established the rules that would govern the King. David lived those standards and became the standard by which all other kings would be measured. The Prophets predicted that such a king would come again. The New Testament is not blind or silent to these Scriptures.
Matthew told us that Jesus was the son of David, the son of Abraham thus tying together two of the most significant figures in the entire narrative. But that’s not all. Consider this in Mark 11:
4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
10"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
11Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
In other words, they knew that the King was coming and had the audacity to declare that that king was Jesus of Nazareth. In the midst of Herods and Caesars and Pilates the New Testament declared: Jesus of Nazareth is the David we are waiting for. But perhaps this king did not come to meet their expectations. So we read:
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" 34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?" 35"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?" 36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place. 37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18)
Moses established the guidelines that governed a king of Israel. David encapsulated that standard. The prophets predicted that David’s throne would come back into power. The Gospels declare it was Jesus who was David’s offspring. Jesus announced his Kingship and was eventually enthroned on the cross. And we read in Revelation 5:
I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (Revelation 5)
Whatever else we may say about the king, the New Testament has one idea: That king is Jesus. Jesus is the King of the Jews, and, in fact, the king of all. There is no place his dominion does not extend, no people his reign does not incorporate. And, as we learn in Revelation 22:
16"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." 17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
This King will return.
Well, that’s a whirlwind tour of Scripture, and to be sure, I haven’t explored the theological ramifications of such a kingship. Rather, I have shown you the thread that stretches from the Pentateuch through the Revelation and how that King we should have anticipated comes full circle in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
As I conclude, I’d like to take you back to Deuteronomy for a minute to note for you what I think is the too often overlooked job that the King of Israel was to keep before him all the days of his life.
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees
David Wells wrote in a book called The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World that we live in a world that is constantly in flux:
This history of the church shows that in every generation there are cultural changes. The two motifs that are now transforming culture—the emergence of the postmodern ethos and the new, growing tidal wave of religious pluralism—are deep and powerful currents that are flowing through the nation. But they are not peculiar to America….Yet there is nothing in the modern world that is a match for the power of God and nothing in the modern culture which diminishes our understanding of the supremacy of Christ. (David Wells, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, 25)
If this is true now, then it was true then as well. Everything is always in flux around us. The king’s responsibility was to be the guardian of the word of God. This is why the kings of Israel failed.
Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD." He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: "Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple." 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
It is this word of God that keeps anchored in a world that is constantly in flux and this is what our King does for us. We do not have some trivial earthly, fleshly king who can barely keep up. We have no king who subjects himself to elections every four years. And our freedom, our liberty, does not depend upon the flesh or upon the political ambitions or loyalties of human beings. Our king is interested in his own rule and kingdom even when the earthly king does not and is not. Our King doesn’t just sit around making copies of the Word of God. Our King is the Word of God.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Here is our King!