2 Samuel 5:1-5
David becomes king of Israel and Judah
5 All the Israelite tribes came to David at Hebron and said, “Listen: We are your very own flesh and bone. 2 In the past, when Saul ruled over us, you were the one who led Israel out to war and back. What’s more, the Lord told you, You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will be Israel’s leader.
3 So all the Israelite elders came to the king at Hebron. King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
4 David was 30 years old when he became king, and he ruled for forty years. 5 He ruled over Judah for seven and a half years in Hebron. He ruled thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah in Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 5:9-10
9 David occupied the fortress, so it was renamed David’s City. David built a city around it from the earthen terraces inward. 10 David grew increasingly powerful, and the Lord of heavenly forces was with him.
Thoughts on the passage:
There is a moment tt the end of any good epic fantasy movie where the new king is crowned, the queen is restored to her thrown, or the heroes are celebrated and honored. This is the happily ever after moment in a Disney cartoon, where Cinderella marries Prince Charming. In many ways it is the culmination of a long struggle and the while it can feel like a high note, it is really the progression of something much greater, and the real climax likely took place several scenes ago.
The same is true in our story today. This is the moment where David is crowned king of Israel and makes his new home in the fortress of Zion in the city Jerusalem. It seems like a triumphant end, but it some ways it is anticlimactic, the real action happened earlier. After all, this is the crowning of David as king of Israel, but he is already the king of Judah. His miraculous defeat of Goliath is long in the past. He married the princess chapters ago. His main adversary, Saul, has already fallen in the battle. The crowning of David as king of Israel is the final capitulation of the Israelites to a destiny that was foreseen long ago by Samuel when he anointed David as their future king.
If it is so anticlimactic, then why are we focusing on it today? What value can we learn from an event that has been essentially predestined for almost an entire book of the Bible? Certainly, I think there is a lot that can be gained, even as we recognize the place that this story holds in the narrative. We are at a transition point. This is the end of one struggle that ends with David on the throne of Israel and Israel and Judah united again. However, it is also the beginning of a new struggle, the struggle for David to succeed where Saul failed and prove that it is possible to be a ruler of a nation and yet also be subject to God.
I do not think we should make light of this challenge. After all, Saul was a capable ruler and king. If anything, his abilities were his own undoing as he struggled to let go and let God take command. He wanted to be in control and was not willing to let God be. That, more than anything, resulted in his replacement in God’s eyes with David.
Saul is not the only one to struggle to balance the challenges of leading with a life of faithful service to God. For centuries, kings and popes have struggled with this and the history books are replete with tales of their failures. The Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion of the Empire, famously did not get baptized himself until his death bed believing it was impossible to rule the Roman Empire and be a faithful follower of Christ.
This is the new challenge that will face David. He has been crowned king of all of God’s people and has taken on a new role as their leader and a new place as his home. All of this is a part of God’s plan for Israel, but it is also setting the stage for new challenges for David. Will he manage to succeed where Saul failed and be both the king that Israel needs and the king that God wants?
We are only looking at a few verses today and yet these few verses are rich with key details to help us see how this might be possible. First, the people of Israel are willing to claim David as one of their own. The language they use is one of kinship, despite the fact that they are not related. David was of the tribe of Judah, while Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. Since intermarriages between tribes was not encouraged, any blood relations would have to go back generations and generations. Despite a lack of genetic relation, they hail David as one of their own. Rather than letting his victory rankle, they submit themselves to him, and to the work that God is doing in him. They are willing to see how God is at work in David and in his leadership of Israel.
Not only do the people of Israel help to frame things in a new way, the movement of the capital to a new city does. He takes over a place dedicated to a foreign god. These are humble beginnings that connect with David’s own background. After all, it is fitting that this eighth son, this humble shepherd takes a new home and makes a fresh start in a place that is not given reverence. It is a reminder that God can dwell anywhere.
David is being crowned king and tasked with ruling over all the people of God. It is not an easy role. He will need a great deal of faith and humility to succeed. He will have many temptations to avoid. It can be hard to see how he is like us, and yet in him we are meant to see ourselves. David was the least, and yet given the most. David was an everyday person like you or I, and yet God called him to do extraordinary things.
God has called us to do extraordinary things too. As Christians, we have been given a number of great challenges, and living into them is not easy. We are challenged to give up everything to follow Christ. Are any of us really comfortable with that? We are challenged to love our neighbors and pray for those who persecute us? Is anyone else struggling with that? Being a follower of Christ is not easy.
What we need to remember as we hear this story of David is that it is not a task we are meant to do alone. David is crowned king of Israel, but is not because of what he has done, but because of what God has done. After all, it was God who called and blessed David. It was God who gave him the courage and strength to face Goliath. God has been at work in David’s life from the beginning. Does David face great challenges, yes, but he does not face them alone.
We face great challenges in our lives. Being a disciple of Christ is a great challenge. Dealing with adversity, grief, illness, and loss is a great challenge. Economic hardship can threaten our sense of security, and global events like disasters or acts of terrorism can threaten our sense of safety. In the midst of all these challenges and struggles, we are not alone. We are not called to walk alone either. Through it all God is with us. Through it all God is calling us. Through it all God is forgiving us. Through it all God is loving us. Thanks be to God. Amen
Questions to Ponder:
How have you seen God at work in your life up to this point?
What calling or role do you think God is preparing you for in the future?
How do you experience God helping you to be a faithful follower of Christ?
Great and wondrous God, you bless us and call us into ministry. You anoint us to do your work in the world. Help us to remember that call but also that anointing blessing that comes with it. Help us to remember that through it all, you are with us. Give us the courage and strength to faithful following you in all that we do. Amen