Monday, July 9, 2012

Establishing His Rule

As he reigns as king In Hebron (over Judah) before being king over all of Israel, it is there that David begins to experience the reversal of his exile, as “sons were born to David in Hebron” (2 Samuel 3:2a), with the blessings of children representing the blessings of God for faithfulness to His commandments and covenant obligations.  At the same time, David’s enemies began turning towards him, as Abner (Saul’s general), insulted by Ishbosheth (Saul’s son), looks favorably towards David in recognition of the promises of God upon David’s life, telling Ishbosheth, “God will severely judge Abner if I do not do for David exactly what the Lord has promised him, namely, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah” (3:9-10a).  Abner, sensing the growing strength of the house of David, did not want to share in the exile that was surely coming to Ishbosheth, instead wanting to participate in David’s exodus, as the Lord firmly entrenched him as king over all of the land of Israel and over all of the people of God.  Furthermore, “Abner sent messengers to David saying, ‘To whom does the land belong?  Make an agreement with me, and I will do whatever I can to cause all Israel to turn to you’.” (3:12)  Naturally, David, responding to Abner’s reminder of the promises given to him when he was anointed as king, is favorably inclined to Abner, striking an agreement with him. 

Abner does not stop there.  He goes on to offer counsel to the elders of Israel, saying “Previously you were wanting David to be your king.  Act now!  For the Lord has said to David, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save My people from the Philistines and from all their enemies’.” (3:17b-18)  With these words, Abner firmly inserts himself in the overall Biblical narrative, utilizing the words of exile and exodus, of rescue from foreign subjugation, and of deliverance from enemies in connection with David’s being established as king over all of Israel.  With these words, Abner, before the elders of Israel (as if David needed assistance from man in his being elevated), raises David to the status of Moses, causing both his listeners and us to hear the voice of God appointing first Moses and every subsequent appointed leader of Israel, as deliverers for their people and combatants of oppression. 

Moving forward a bit, eventually we come to read that “All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron saying, ‘Look, we are your very flesh and blood!  In the past, when Saul was our king, you were the real leader in Israel.  The Lord said to you, “You will shepherd My people Israel; you will rule over Israel.”’” (5:1-2)  Whether or not this was born of sincerity, is left to debate.  Nevertheless, David is finally acclaimed by all of Israel as the one who is to be their king and leader and shepherd, and the one who will lead them against their enemies, to rescue them from subjugation.  We go on to read, “When all the leaders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, King David made an agreement with them in Hebron before the Lord.  They designated David as king over Israel” (5:3).  It is here that the author makes the point to mention that David was thirty years old when he began to reign (5:4), and the fact that Jesus was thought to have been the same age when He began His ministry is not lost upon us. 

Having been acclaimed as king, “the king and his men advanced to Jerusalem against the Jebusites who lived in the land” (5:6).  These were a portion of the difficult thorns and thistles with which Israel had to constantly deal because they had not fully redeemed the land of promise for themselves.  These were the lions that made it impossible for the lambs to lie down.  It was against this group that David was going up, so as to take Jerusalem.  Still pursuing his exodus, his going up to Jerusalem is a reflection of Israel’s crossing the Jordan and finally going up to their promised land, after forty long years of waiting in the wilderness, as God purged from their midst those who faithlessly looked to Egypt.  For David, those that looked to Saul had been finally purged from Israel, allowing him to begin his stewardship over God’s land and people. 

Like both Israel and David, Jesus would eventually set his face towards Jerusalem, after a period of acclaiming Himself and being acclaimed as Son of God and Son of Man (king of Israel), to enter in upon that mission towards which His life had been directed, which was to end the long exile of His people, doing so through His own exile and exodus.  We note with interest that it was “all the tribes of Israel” that “came to David at Hebron” and “designated David as king over Israel” (5:1a,3b), which was followed shortly by David attempting to take Jerusalem.  This is noted because Jesus was also hailed as the King of Israel, and the Blessed One Who comes in the Name of the Lord (John 12:13), as He approached Jerusalem, with His kingship ultimately sealed by what would take place within and just outside the walls of that city.  Having reached that point, “David’s power grew steadily” (5:10a), as would the power of Jesus, in that He would be appointed the Son of God in power (Romans 1:4) when raised from the dead.  It is also said that “Even more sons and daughters were born to David” (5:13b), and of course, Jesus would figuratively give birth to an innumerable number of offspring, sons and daughters the world over and for all time.    

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