2 Samuel 10: David's Victories
The ark had been brought to Mount Zion, but as yet there was no temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. We read in 2 Sam. 7 that David wished to build a temple. See also 1 Kings 5:3; 8:17. The book of Chronicles speaks of his even gathering materials for the temple. (1 Chron. 22:1-5) But the Lord told David by Nathan the prophet, that while he did well to wish to build the temple, he should not build it, but it should be built by his son who should be king after him. So the building of the temple was put off until the days of Solomon.
David was not allowed to build the temple because of his wars on every side. Soon after he took Jerusalem the Philistines came twice against him, and it was in one of these battles that the sound of going in the tops of the trees was a sign to him that the Lord was with him. A little later he still further subdued the Philistines. Another nation which he conquered was Moab, whose country was to the southeast of the Dead Sea. Then he fought with the Syrians in the northeast and took Damascus and the country all the way to the Euphrates river. Another land that David conquered was Edom, the mountain country south of the Dead Sea. There was also long war with the Ammonites. These, you remember, were the people who had attacked Jabesh-gilead, when Saul came to its relief. Their home was away to the east of the Dead Sea.
Our chapter tells how the king of Ammon treated with insult messengers whom David sent with kindly purpose. The beard was and still is a sign of dignity with Eastern people, and the cutting of the beard was a disgrace. Jericho where the messengers waited was on their way back to Jerusalem. The Ammonites then hired soldiers of Syrian tribes living to the north and had a double army to meet the army that David sent against them. Do you remember David's captains, Joab and Abishai? They were his nephews, sons of his sister Zeruiah. They led the army in the battle at Gibeon when their brother Asahel was killed. It was Abishai who went with David into Saul's camp and brought away the spear and cruse of water. It was Joab who climbed up to the fort of the Jebusites, which led to the taking of the city. Joab now divided the army in battle, leading a part himself against the Syrians and sending the rest with Abishai to meet the Ammonites. The Syrians fled, and the Ammonites fled too to their city.
In the days of Samuel the phrase "from Dan to Beer-sheba" meant the whole land, from the northern limit under Mount Hermon to the pastures of the south. David's wars and victories extended the kingdom far beyond these narrow borders. He ruled perhaps a wider country on the east of Jordan than on the west, and to the Euphrates on the north and to the Red Sea on the south. The promises given to Moses and Joshua were fulfilled. (Exod. 23:31; Joshua 1:4) We see the meaning also of verses in the Psalms, which speak of the extension of Israel from the sea to the river Euphrates. (Ps. 72:8; 80:11)
1. What did David build in Jerusalem? What was he not allowed to build?
2. Who was prophet in those days?
3. How large was the land of Israel in the days of Samuel? How far did David's kingdom reach?
4. David was called a man of war; what were some of the nations that he conquered?
5. What battles have we to fight to strengthen our kingdom?
This is a story of warfare. What can war represent in the spiritual life? There is conflict between goodness and truth on the one side and all that is evil and false on the other. This conflict is called temptation. Remember how the Lord said that He came to bring not peace but a sword, and that a personís foes shall be they of the personís own household. All the wars mentioned in the Scriptures represent such spiritual conflicts. (A. 1659, 1664)
David is one of those in the Bible story who represent the Lord. Was there warfare in the Lord's life? He met and conquered evil of every kind. This involves many and severe conflicts, which lasted all His life. The Lord's temptations are especially represented by David's wars. Even David's cruelty in destroying his enemies represents the Lord's thoroughness in temptation, making no compromise with evil but destroying it completely. (A. 1690, and especially A. 8273) David's wars represent not only the Lord's temptations but the battles that we must fight with evil by which the Lord's kingdom in us is extended and made strong. The kingdom begins to be established in us when we begin in a simple way to rule our lives by the Lord's commandments. It is strengthened as we understand the Lord's Word more deeply, and especially as we are faithful in temptations. Its power extends until every department of life and every faculty is brought under its dominion. This is represented by the extending and strengthening of David's kingdom by his victories. We may see in the calling of one nation by another to resist David, a picture of the way in which all evil and false things are in league together in opposition to the Lord. (Isa. 9:7; A. 5323)
David was not permitted to build a temple for the Lord because of his wars, but it was reserved for Solomon the peaceful king. The temple was a type of heaven and of the heavenly state in which the Lord can find a dwelling in the soul. The state of conflict is not heavenly; though it looks forward to heaven and is the necessary preparation for it, as David desired to build the temple and it was said that he did well to have it in his heart.