chapter is based on 2 Samuel 5:6-25;
6; 7; 9; 10.]
soon as David was established on the throne of Israel he began to seek a
more appropriate location for the capital of his realm. Twenty miles from
Hebron a place was selected as the future metropolis of the kingdom.
Before Joshua had led the armies of Israel over Jordan it had been called
Salem. Near this place Abraham had proved his loyalty to God. Eight
hundred years before the coronation of David it had been the home of
Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. It held a central and
elevated position in the country and was protected by an environment of
hills. Being on the border between Benjamin and Judah, it was in close
proximity to Ephraim and was easy of access to the other tribes.
In order to
secure this location the Hebrews must dispossess a remnant of the
Canaanites, who held a fortified position on the mountains of Zion and
Moriah. This stronghold was called Jebus, and its inhabitants were known
as Jebusites. For centuries Jebus had been looked upon as impregnable; but
it was besieged and taken by the Hebrews under the command of Joab, who,
as the reward of his valor, was made commander-in-chief of the armies of
Israel. Jebus now became the national capital, and its heathen name was
changed to Jerusalem.
of the wealthy city of Tyre, on the Mediterranean Sea, now sought an
alliance with the king of Israel, and lent his aid to David in the work of
erecting a palace at Jerusalem. Ambassadors were sent from Tyre,
accompanied by architects and workmen and long trains laden with costly
wood, cedar trees, and other valuable material.
increasing strength of Israel in its union under David, the acquisition of
the stronghold of Jebus, and the alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre,
excited the hostility of the Philistines, and they again invaded the
country with a strong force, taking up
their position in the valley of Rephaim, but a short distance from Jerusalem. David with his men of war
retired to the stronghold of Zion, to await divine direction. "And
David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt
thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto David, Go up: for
I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand."
advanced upon the enemy at once, defeated and destroyed them, and took
from them the gods which they had brought with them to ensure their
victory. Exasperated by the humiliation of their defeat, the Philistines
gathered a still larger force, and returned to the conflict. And again
they "spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim." Again David
sought the Lord and the great I Am took the direction of the armies of
instructed David, saying, "Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass
behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And let
it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry
trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the Lord go out
before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines." If David, like
Saul, had chosen his own way, success would not have attended him. But he
did as the Lord had commanded, and he "smote the host of the
Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer. And the fame of David went out into
all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations." 1
Chronicles 14:16, 17.
David was firmly established upon the throne and free from the invasions
of foreign foes, he turned to the accomplishment of a cherished
purpose--to bring up the ark of God to Jerusalem. For many years the ark
had remained at Kirjath-jearim, nine miles distant; but it was fitting
that the capital of the nation should be honored with the token of the
summoned thirty thousand of the leading men of Israel, for it was his
purpose to make the occasion a scene of great rejoicing and imposing
display. The people responded gladly to the call. The high priest, with
his brethren in sacred office and the princes and leading men of the
tribes, assembled at Kirjath-jearim. David was aglow with holy zeal. The
ark was brought out from the house of Abinadab and placed upon a new cart
drawn by oxen, while two of the sons of Abinadab attended it.
The men of
Israel followed with exultant shouts and songs of
rejoicing, a multitude
of voices joining in melody with the sound of musical instruments;
"David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord . . . on
harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on
cymbals." It had been long since Israel had witnessed such a scene of
triumph. With solemn gladness the vast procession wound its way along the
hills and valleys toward the Holy City.
"when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand
to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the
anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for
his rashness;[* Marginal reading] and there he died by the ark of
God." A sudden terror fell upon the rejoicing throng. David was
astonished and greatly alarmed, and in his heart he questioned the justice
of God. He had been seeking to honor the ark as the symbol of the divine
presence. Why, then, had that fearful judgment been sent to turn the
season of gladness into an occasion of grief and mourning? Feeling that it
would be unsafe to have the ark near him, David determined to let it
remain where it was. A place was found for it nearby, at the house of
Obed-edom the Gittite.
The fate of
Uzzah was a divine judgment upon the violation of a most explicit command.
Through Moses the Lord had given special instruction concerning the
transportation of the ark. None but the priests, the descendants of Aaron,
were to touch it, or even to look upon it uncovered. The divine direction
was, "The sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not
touch any holy thing, lest they die." Numbers 4:15. The priests were
to cover the ark, and then the Kohathites must lift it by the staves,
which were placed in rings upon each side of the ark and were never
removed. To the Gershonites and Merarites, who had in charge the curtains
and boards and pillars of the tabernacle, Moses gave carts and oxen for
the transportation of that which was committed to them. "But unto the
sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary
belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their
shoulders." Numbers 7:9. Thus in the bringing of the ark from
Kirjath-jearim there had been a direct and inexcusable disregard of the
David and his
people had assembled to perform a sacred work, and they had engaged in it
with glad and willing hearts;
but the Lord could not accept the service,
because it was not performed in accordance with His directions. The
Philistines, who had not a knowledge of God's law, had placed the ark upon
a cart when they returned it to Israel, and the Lord accepted the effort
which they made. But the Israelites had in their hands a plain statement
of the will of God in all these matters, and their neglect of these
instructions was dishonoring to God. Upon Uzzah rested the greater guilt
of presumption. Transgression of God's law had lessened his sense of its
sacredness, and with unconfessed sins upon him he had, in face of the
divine prohibition, presumed to touch the symbol of God's presence. God
can accept no partial obedience, no lax way of treating His commandments.
By the judgment upon Uzzah He designed to impress upon all Israel the
importance of giving strict heed to His requirements. Thus the death of
that one man, by leading the people to repentance, might prevent the
necessity of inflicting judgments upon thousands.
his own heart was not wholly right with God, David, seeing the stroke upon
Uzzah, had feared the ark, lest some sin on his part should bring
judgments upon him. But Obed-edom, though he rejoiced with trembling,
welcomed the sacred symbol as the pledge of God's favor to the obedient.
The attention of all Israel was now directed to the Gittite and his
household; all watched to see how it would fare with them. "And the
Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his household."
the divine rebuke accomplished its work. He was led to realize as he had
never realized before the sacredness of the law of God and the necessity
of strict obedience. The favor shown to the house of Obed-edom led David
again to hope that the ark might bring a blessing to him and to his
At the end of
three months he resolved to make another attempt to remove the ark, and he
now gave earnest heed to carry out in every particular the directions of
the Lord. Again the chief men of the nation were summoned, and a vast
assemblage gathered about the dwelling place of the Gittite. With reverent
care the ark was now placed upon the shoulders of men of divine
appointment, the multitude fell into line, and with trembling hearts the
vast procession again set forth. After advancing six paces the trumpet
sounded a halt. By David's direction sacrifices of "oxen and
fatlings" were to be offered. Rejoicing now took the place of
trembling and terror. The king had laid
his royal robes and had attired himself in a plain linen ephod, such as
was worn by the priests. He did not by this act signify that he assumed
priestly functions, for the ephod was sometimes worn by others besides the
priests. But in this holy service he would take his place as, before God,
on an equality with his subjects. Upon that day Jehovah was to be adored.
He was to be the sole object of reverence.
long train was in motion, and the music of harp and cornet, trumpet and
cymbal, floated heavenward, blended with the melody of many voices.
"And David danced before the Lord," in his gladness keeping time
to the measure of the song.
dancing in reverent joy before God has been cited by pleasure lovers in
justification of the fashionable modern dance, but there is no ground for
such an argument. In our day dancing is associated with folly and midnight
reveling. Health and morals are sacrificed to pleasure. By the frequenters
of the ballroom God is not an object of thought and reverence; prayer or
the song of praise would be felt to be out of place in their assemblies.
This test should be decisive. Amusements that have a tendency to weaken
the love for sacred things and lessen our joy in the service of God are
not to be sought by Christians. The music and dancing in joyful praise to
God at the removal of the ark had not the faintest resemblance to the
dissipation of modern dancing. The one tended to the remembrance of God
and exalted His holy name. The other is a device of Satan to cause men to
forget God and to dishonor Him.
procession approached the capital, following the sacred symbol of their
invisible King. Then a burst of song demanded of the watchers upon the
walls that the gates of the Holy City should be thrown open:
your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in."
A band of
singers and players answered:
this King of glory?"
company came the response:
Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle."
of voices, uniting, swelled the triumphal chorus:
your heads, O ye gates;
Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in."
joyful interrogation was heard, "Who is this King of glory?" And
the voice of the great multitude, like "the sound of many
waters," was heard in the rapturous reply:
Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory." Psalm 24:7-10.
gates were opened wide, the procession entered, and with reverent awe the
ark was deposited in the tent that had been prepared for its reception.
Before the sacred enclosure altars for sacrifice were erected; the smoke
of peace offerings and burnt offerings, and the clouds of incense, with
the praises and supplications of Israel, ascended to heaven. The service
ended, the king himself pronounced a benediction upon his people. Then
with regal bounty he caused gifts of food and wine to be distributed for
tribes had been represented in this service, the celebration of the most
sacred event that had yet marked the reign of David. The Spirit of divine
inspiration had rested upon the king, and now as the last beams of the
setting sun bathed the tabernacle in a hallowed light, his heart was
uplifted in gratitude to God that the blessed symbol of His presence was
now so near the throne of Israel.
David turned toward his palace, "to bless his household." But
there was one who had witnessed the scene of rejoicing with a spirit
widely different from that which moved the heart of David. "As the
ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked
through a window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord;
and she despised him in her heart." In the bitterness of her passion
she could not await David's return to the palace, but went out to meet
him, and to his kindly greeting poured forth a torrent of bitter words.
Keen and cutting was the irony of her speech:
glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the
eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows
shamelessly uncovereth himself!"
that it was the service of God which Michal had despised and dishonored,
and he sternly answered: "It was before the Lord, which chose me
before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the
people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord.
And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight:
and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had
in honor." To David's rebuke was added that of the Lord: because of
her pride and arrogance, Michal "had no child unto the day of her
ceremonies attending the removal of the ark had made a lasting impression
upon the people of Israel, arousing a deeper interest in the sanctuary
service and kindling anew their zeal for Jehovah. David endeavored by
every means in his power to deepen these impressions. The service of song
was made a regular part of religious worship, and David composed psalms,
not only for the use of the priests in the sanctuary service, but also to
be sung by the people in their journeys to the national altar at the
annual feasts. The influence thus exerted was far-reaching, and it
resulted in freeing the nation from idolatry. Many of the surrounding
peoples, beholding the prosperity of Israel, were led to think favorably
of Israel's God, who had done such great things for His people.
tabernacle built by Moses, with all that appertained to the sanctuary
service, except the ark, was still at Gibeah. It was David's purpose to
make Jerusalem the religious center of the nation. He had erected a palace
for himself, and he felt that it was not fitting for the ark of God to
rest within a tent. He determined to build for it a temple of such
magnificence as should express Israel's appreciation of the honor granted
the nation in the abiding presence of Jehovah their King. Communicating
his purpose to the prophet Nathan, he received the encouraging response,
"Do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee."
But that same
night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, giving him a message for the
king. David was to be deprived of the privilege of building a house for
God, but he was granted an assurance of the divine favor to him, to his
posterity, and to the kingdom of Israel: "Thus saith Jehovah of
hosts; I took thee
from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be
ruler over My people, over Israel; and I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have
made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in
the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will
plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more;
neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as
As David had
desired to build a house for God, the promise was given. "The Lord
telleth thee that He will make thee a house. . . . I will set up thy seed
after thee. . . . He shall build a house for My name, and I will stablish
the throne of his kingdom forever."
why David was not to build the temple was declared: "Thou hast shed
blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house
unto My name. . . . Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a
man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies: . . . his name
shall be Solomon [peaceable], and I will give peace and quietness unto
Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name." 1 Chronicles
cherished purpose of his heart had been denied, David received the message
with gratitude. "Who am I, O Lord God?" he exclaimed, "and
what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a
small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God; but Thou hast spoken also of Thy
servant's house for a great while to come;" and he then renewed his
covenant with God.
that it would be an honor to his name and would bring glory to his
government to perform the work that he had purposed in his heart to do,
but he was ready to submit his will to the will of God. The grateful
resignation thus manifested is rarely seen, even among Christians. How
often do those who have passed the strength of manhood cling to the hope
of accomplishing some great work upon which their hearts are set, but
which they are unfitted to perform! God's providence may speak to them, as
did His prophet to David, declaring that the work which they so much
desire is not committed to them. It is theirs to prepare the way for
another to accomplish it. But instead of gratefully submitting to the
divine direction, many fall back as
if slighted and rejected, feeling that
if they cannot do the one thing which they desire to do, they will do
nothing. Many cling with desperate energy to responsibilities which they
are incapable of bearing, and vainly endeavor to accomplish a work for
which they are insufficient, while that which they might do, lies
neglected. And because of this lack of co-operation on their part the
greater work is hindered or frustrated.
David, in his
covenant with Jonathan, had promised that when he should have rest from
his enemies he would show kindness to the house of Saul. In his
prosperity, mindful of this covenant, the king made inquiry, "Is
there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him
kindness for Jonathan's sake?" He was told of a son of Jonathan,
Mephibosheth, who had been lame from childhood. At the time of Saul's
defeat by the Philistines at Jezreel, the nurse of this child, attempting
to flee with him, had let him fall, thus making him a lifelong cripple.
David now summoned the young man to court and received him with great
kindness. The private possessions of Saul were restored to him for the
support of his household; but the son of Jonathan was himself to be the
constant guest of the king, sitting daily at the royal table. Through
reports from the enemies of David, Mephibosheth had been led to cherish a
strong prejudice against him as a usurper; but the monarch's generous and
courteous reception of him and his continued kindness won the heart of the
young man; he became strongly attached to David, and, like his father
Jonathan, he felt that his interest was one with that of the king whom God
establishment upon the throne of Israel the nation enjoyed a long interval
of peace. The surrounding peoples, seeing the strength and unity of the
kingdom, soon thought it prudent to desist from open hostilities; and
David, occupied with the organization and upbuilding of his kingdom,
refrained from aggressive war. At last, however, he made war upon Israel's
old enemies, the Philistines, and upon the Moabites, and succeeded in
overcoming both and making them tributary.
was formed against the kingdom of David a vast coalition of the
surrounding nations, out of which grew the greatest wars and victories of
his reign and the most extensive accessions to his power. This hostile
alliance, which really sprang from jealousy of David's increasing power,
had been wholly
unprovoked by him. The circumstances that led to its rise
received at Jerusalem announcing the death of Nahash, king of the
Ammonites--a monarch who had shown kindness to David when he was a
fugitive from the rage of Saul. Now, desiring to express his grateful
appreciation of the favor shown him in his distress, David sent
ambassadors with a message of sympathy to Hanun, the son and successor of
the Ammonite king. "Said David, I will show kindness unto Hanun the
son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness unto me."
courteous act was misinterpreted. The Ammonites hated the true God and
were the bitter enemies of Israel. The apparent kindness of Nahash to
David had been prompted wholly by hostility to Saul as king of Israel. The
message of David was misconstrued by Hanun's counselors. They "said
unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honor thy father,
that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his
servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to
overthrow it?" It was by the advice of his counselors that Nahash,
half a century before, had been led to make the cruel condition required
of the people of Jabesh-gilead, when, besieged by the Ammonites, they sued
for a covenant of peace. Nahash had demanded the privilege of thrusting
out all their right eyes. The Ammonites still vividly remembered how the
king of Israel had foiled their cruel design, and had rescued the people
whom they would have humbled and mutilated. The same hatred of Israel
still prompted them. They could have no conception of the generous spirit
that had inspired David's message. When Satan controls the minds of men he
will excite envy and suspicion which will misconstrue the very best
intentions. Listening to his counselors, Hanun regarded David's messengers
as spies, and loaded them with scorn and insult.
had been permitted to carry out the evil purposes of their hearts without
restraint, that their real character might be revealed to David. It was
not God's will that Israel should enter into a league with this
treacherous heathen people.
times, as now, the office of ambassador was held sacred. By the universal
law of nations it ensured protection from personal violence or insult. The
ambassador standing as a representative of his sovereign, any indignity
offered to him demanded
prompt retaliation. The Ammonites, knowing that
the insult offered to Israel would surely be avenged, made preparation for
war. "When the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves
odious to David, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents
of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out
of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah. So they hired thirty and two thousand
chariots. . . . And the children of Ammon gathered themselves together
from their cities, and came to battle." 1 Chronicles 19:6, 7.
It was indeed
a formidable alliance. The inhabitants of the region lying between the
river Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea had leagued with the Ammonites.
The north and east of Canaan was encircled with armed foes, banded
together to crush the kingdom of Israel.
did not wait for the invasion of their country. Their forces, under Joab,
crossed the Jordan and advanced toward the Ammonite capital. As the Hebrew
captain led his army to the field he sought to inspire them for the
conflict, saying, "Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves
valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord
do that which is good in His sight." 1 Chronicles 19:13. The united
forces of the allies were overcome in the first engagement. But they were
not yet willing to give over the contest, and the next year renewed the
war. The king of Syria gathered his forces, threatening Israel with an
immense army. David, realizing how much dependent upon the result of this
contest, took the field in person, and by the blessing of God inflicted
upon the allies a defeat so disastrous that the Syrians, from Lebanon to
the Euphrates, not only gave up the war, but became tributary to Israel.
Against the Ammonites David pushed the war with vigor, until their
strongholds fell and the whole region came under the dominion of Israel.
which had threatened the nation with utter destruction proved, through the
providence of God, to be the very means by which it rose to unprecedented
greatness. In commemorating his remarkable deliverances, David sings:
Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my
Even the God that executeth vengeance for me, and subdueth peoples under
He rescueth me from mine enemies:
Yea, Thou liftest me up above them that rise up against me:
Thou deliverest me from the violent man.
Therefore I will give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, among the nations,
And will sing praises unto Thy name.
Great deliverance giveth He to His king;
And sheweth loving-kindness to His anointed,
To David and to his seed, forevermore."
Psalm 18:46-50, R.V.
throughout the songs of David the thought was impressed on his people that
Jehovah was their strength and deliverer:
is no king saved by the multitude of a host:
A mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
A horse is a vain thing for safety:
Neither shall he deliver any by his great strength."
Psalm 33:16, 17.
art my King, O God:
Command deliverances for Jacob.
Through Thee will we push down our enemies:
Through Thy name will we tread them under that rise up
For I will not trust in my bow,
Neither shall my sword save me.
But Thou hast saved us from our enemies,
And hast put them to shame that hated us." Psalm 44:4-7.
trust in chariots, and some in horses:
But we will remember the name of Jehovah our God."
of Israel had now reached in extent the fulfillment of the promise given
to Abraham, and afterward repeated to Moses: "Unto thy seed have I
given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river
Euphrates." Genesis 15:18. Israel had become a mighty nation,
respected and feared by surrounding peoples. In his own realm David's
power had become very great. He commanded, as few sovereigns in any age
have been able to command, the affections and allegiance of his people. He
had honored God, and God was now honoring him.
But in the
midst of prosperity lurked danger. In the time of his greatest outward
triumph David was in the greatest peril, and met his most humiliating