from Edom and Moab, from the Ammonites and Philistines and Amalekites, and from the spoil of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
According to the custom of the time, the most valuable of the spoils of war became the property of David; and these, along with the presents brought to him, he devoted to a sacred use - in preparation for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 18:8
). The spirit which he displayed had been shown at the erection of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:29
); and it was participated in by many (1 Chronicles 26:26-28
; 1 Chronicles 29:5-9
). Other instances occurred at a much earlier period (Genesis 14
:30; 28:22). David's act was:
1. Unselfish. The evil of selfishness specially appears in undue attachment to earthly possessions; "which is idolatry," and "a root of all evil." It ofttimes increases with the increase of worldly good, "like the Indian fig tree connecting itself vitally at a hundred spots, with the soil over which it spreads." Hence the injunction, "If riches increase," etc... 62:10). A good man receives that he may give, and feels that "it is more lessed to give than to receive."
2. Grrateful. David recognized the hand of God in his victories; and herein testified his thankfulness to his Divine Helper and Benefactor. Wealth is his gift; so is the power to acquire it (Deuteronomy 8:17, 18). But how often are its possessors forgetful of this, proud, and unthankful! "All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14).
3. Faithful. Earthly good is not an absolute gift, but a trust; it is put into our power only for a brief season; its possession involves the responsibility of its employment according to the will of the Owner; and its faithful use is conducive to the possession of "the true riches" (Luke 16:9-12). Whilst it should be altogether employed according to his will, a due proportion of it should be set apart as sacred to the claims of the needy, the support of Diane worship, and the spread of the gospel. It would appear that every Jewish family in ancient times devoted as much as a fourth part of its income to religious and charitable purposes. But inasmuch as no definite rule is now enjoined, every man must determine the proportion for himself by earnest thought and prayer, without reference to what others may do, and with a view to giving, not as little, but as much as possible. It has been stated that more wealth has been made in England during the last fifty years than during the preceding eighteen centuries. But notwithstanding numerous examples of noble beneficence, how small a part of it comparatively has been devoted to the highest ends (Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 3:9, 10; Luke 19:13; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8., 9.; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)!
4. Devotional. David's offering was religious; in it he offered himself to God; and sought to fulfil his purposes concerning the welfare of his people and the promotion of his honour and glory in the earth. This is the highest motive; and those who are actuated by it obtain an unspeakable blessing both here and hereafter (Malachi 3:10; Matthew 25:21).
"Largely thou givest, gracious Lord,
Largely thy gifts should be restored;
Freely thou givest, and thy word
Is, 'Freely give.'
He only, who forgets to hoard,
Has learnt to live."
David smote the Philistines and subdued them.
These years of war gave birth to some of the grandest of the psalms, amongst which may be numbered, 2., 20., 21., 60., 110.
I. THE FOE. They trust in chariots and in horses; their kings think that they will be saved by the multitude of their hosts. They inspire fear through the hearts of Israel, so that the land trembles as though God had rent it, and the people drink the wine of staggering and dismay. So tremendous is their assault, so overwhelming their numbers, that all help of man seems vain. It is thus in every era of the history of God's people, that Satan has stirred up their foes. Right behind the coalitions of men lies the malignity of the fallen spirit, who ever seeks to bruise the heel of the woman's seed.
II. THE ATTITUDE OF FAITH. Whilst the Serried ranks of the foe are are in sight, the hero-king is permitted a vision into the unseen and eternal. There is no fear upon the face of God, no change in his determination to set his king upon his holy hill. In fact, it seems that the day of his foe's attack is that in which he receives a new assurance of sonship, and is bidden to claim the nations for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. In perfect peace he anticipates the result, the Lord will send forth the rod of His strength out of Zion, and strike through kings in the day of His wrath, and make His enemies His footstool, so that in all after-days he may combine the office of priest and king, as Melchizedek did on that same site centuries before.
III. THE WARRIORS OF THE PRIEST-KING. Catching the contagion of his faith, they triumph in God's salvation, and in His Name set up their banners. They believe that God, as a Man of War, is going forth with their, hosts, and will tread down their adversaries. They are characterised by the willingness of their service. No mercenaries are pressed into their ranks; they gladly gather around the standard, as the warriors of whom Deborah sang, who willingly offered themselves. They are clad not in mail, but in the fine linen of the priests; "the beauties of holiness," a phrase which .suggests that the warfare was conducted by religious men as an act of worship to God. They are numerous as the dewdrops that bespangle the morning grass, when every blade has its own coronet of jewels, and the light is reflected from a million diamonds (Psalm 110.) What an exquisite conception of David's ideal for his soldiers, and of the knightly chivalry, of the purity, truth, and righteousness, in which all the soldiers of the Messiah should be arrayed!
IV. THE COMPLETENESS OF THE VICTORY. The armies of the alien cannot stand the onset of those heaven-accoutred soldiers. Kings of armies flee apace. They are bowed down and fallen in bitter, hopeless defeat. They are made as a fiery furnace in the time of God's anger, and swallowed up in His wrath. Their dead bodies strew the battlefield, and the valleys are choked with slain. In David we have a type of the Messiah. For, of a truth, against the Holy Servant Jesus, whom God has anointed, both the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel have gathered together. Men have refused His sway, and do refuse it; but God hath sworn, and will not repent, that to Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess: and it is more sure than that to-morrow's sun will rise that, ere long, great voices shall be heard in Heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15-18.)
The first series of David's wars, on the termination of which it is said that he enjoyed "rest round about from all his enemies" (2 Samuel 7:1
), was concluded before his proposal to build the temple. These seem to have been wars with such remnants of the ancient inhabitants as combined to molest his people within the limits of the twelve tribes. The wars now undertaken were chiefly against neighbouring nations, including the occupants of that large territory between Palestine and the Euphrates, which God had promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18
). The nations against which David now went forth were most of them extremely warlike; they seem, too, to have been banded together in leagues or confederacies; so that the enterprise was attended with difficulties and dangers which only a heart, made brave and fearless by trust in the Invisible, could have ventured to face. The 20th Psalm may have been written for the occasion, and left behind for the Levites, to be sung in the name of the nation, when they remembered the perils to which their king and his troops had gone forth. It is an instructive fact that the history of these wars occupies so small a portion of the Bible. A single verse is all that can be afforded to most of them. Had they been narrated at length, they would probably have forced a narrative that would have placed David, as a captain, on a level with Cyrus, Hannibal, or Caesar. It is one of the less noticed proofs of the inspiration of the Old Testament, that such dazzling transactions as these are passed over so briefly. There is no other history in the world where more space would be occupied in describing the carrying of an ark to its permanent resting-place, than in narrating seven great military campaigns. It would be beyond the power of human nature to resist the temptation to describe great battles — the story of which is always read with such interest, and which reflect so much earthly glory on one's nation, and create in the mind of the national reader such a feeling of satisfaction and pride.(1) The first campaign was against David's old friends, the Philistines. In former battles, David seems to have been content with driving them out of his territories — now he attacked them in their own. The town which he took, called Metheg-ammah, or the bridle of Ammah (so named from its situation), appears, from 1 Chronicles 18:1
, to have been Gath itself. It was now David's lot, amid the vicissitudes of the world, to attack the place where he had once been sheltered — to hurl his weapons against the king (if he was still alive) whose hospitality he had experienced.(2) Much the same thing had to be done in his next campaign — that against Moab. The king of Moab had protected his father and mother when it became apparently unsafe for them to remain in their native land — and, through Ruth, Moabite blood ran in David's veins. Jewish writers have a tradition that, after a time, the king put his parents to death, and that this occasioned the war which David carried on against them. The severity practised against Moab was very great; it was a terrible blow, intended to cripple them for a whole generation, and make it physically impossible for them to take up arms again.(3) The third of David's conquests was over a more distant enemy, Hadadezer, the king of Zobah, in the direction of the Euphrates. It appears that in the course of this campaign another enemy had to be encountered — a vast mass of Syrians came out against him. It is evident that this campaign Was a very remarkable one, for the slaughter of the Syrians amounted to the prodigious number of 22,000; and the victory, besides giving David possession of Damascus and the whole of Syria, was followed by the voluntary submission of Tel, the king of Hamath (ver. 10), in the valley of Lebanon.(4) Of the wars with the Ammonites and Amalekites (ver. 12) nothing is recorded, nor is it certain whether these wars were carried on at the same time with the other campaigns, or whether (as we are inclined to think) the war with Amalek was that which took place while David was at Ziklag, and the war with Ammon that which is described in a subsequent chapter.(5) The last enemy specified is Edom; arid it is evident that the contest with that ferocious people was peculiarly bloody and critical. There is a degree of indistinctness in the narrative of this event, when it is attempted to harmonize the three passages that contain allusions to it — in Samuel and Chronicles, and in the introduction to the 60th Psalm. In one place, it is said that it was 18,000 Syrians that fell in the Valley of Salt (2 Samuel 8:18
); in another they are said to have been Edomites (1 Chronicles 8:12
); the introduction to the Psalm makes the number of Edomites 12,000; in Samuel, the victory is ascribed to David — in Chronicles, to Abishai — and in the Psalm, to Joab. It is probable that the war with Edom was carried on at the same time as the war with the Syrians; that while David and his army were in the north a detachment of the Syrians was sent to co-operate with the Edomites in attacking the southern part of Judah; that hearing of this, David despatched Abishai with a portion of his troops to encounter them; that Abishai completely defeated the confederate armies in the Valley of Salt (near Edom), much about the same time as David routed the Syrians in the neighbourhood of Damascus. If the Edomites and Syrians were confededate, it is not surprising that in one.place it should be said it was 18,000 Syrians that fell, and in another 18,000 Edomites. The psalm (60th), gives us a glimpse of the state of things in David's army at this time, revealing the frightful difficulties and dangers of the enterprise, and the singularly lofty efforts of prayerful courage which were needed to carry him through the crisis, It appears that his army, far from home, and engaged with a very powerful foe, had sunk to the lowest ebb, and had even, for a time, been visited with the most direful reverses. The effect of these victories must have been very striking. Nor, only were the people now freed from all the harassing attacks to which they had been subject at every moment and on every side, but the Hebrew kingdom was elevated to the rank of a first-rate Power. Garrisons were placed in all the surrounding strongholds; the accumulated hoards of Eastern wealth were transferred to Jerusalem; and streams of tribute rolled their golden waters into the treasury of David. The secret of David's success is expressed once and again in the narrative: "The Lord was with David, and preserved him whithersoever he went." It is one of the great lessons of the Old Testament that the godly man can and does perform his duty better than any other, because the Lord is with him — whether he be steward of a house, or keeper of a prison, or ruler of a kingdom, like Joseph; or a judge and lawgiver, like Moses; or a warrior, like Samson or Gideon or Jephthah; or a king, like David or Jehoshaphat or Josiah; or a prime minister over a hundred and twenty provinces, like Daniel. This is one of the prominent lessons of the Book of Psalms — it is inscribed upon its very portals; the godly man "shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." In all these warlike expeditions King David fulfilled his typical character — was an emblem of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, going forth "conquering and to conquer."
PeopleAbiathar, Ahilud, Ahimelech, Ahitub, Amalek, Amalekites, Ammonites, Aram, Benaiah, Cherethites, David, Edomites, Hadadezer, Hadoram, Jehoiada, Jehoshaphat, Joab, Joram, Kerethites, Moabites, Pelethites, Rehob, Seraiah, Syrians, Tebah, Toi, Tou, Zadok, Zeruiah
PlacesAmalek, Aram, Berothai, Betah, Damascus, Edom, Euphrates River, Hamath, Israel, Jerusalem, Metheg-ammah, Moab, Valley of Salt, Zobah
TopicsAmalek, Am'alek, Amalekites, Ammon, Ammonites, Aram, Bene-ammon, Dedicated, Edom, Goods, Hadadezer, Hadade'zer, Moab, Moabites, Nations, Philistines, Plunder, Rehob, Sons, Spoil, Syria, Syrians, Zobah
Outline1. David subdues the Philistines and the Moabites
3. He smites Hadadezer, and the Syrians
9. Toi sends Joram with presents to bless him
11. David dedicates the presents and the spoil to God
14. He puts garrisons in Edom
16. David's officers
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 8:1-14
5087 David, reign of
2 Samuel 8:1-18
7236 Israel, united kingdom
2 Samuel 8:11-12
Library 'More than Conquerors through Him'
'And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ish-tob, and Maacah, were by themselves in the field. 9. When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians: 10. And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother, that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon. …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Palestine Eighteen Centuries Ago
Eighteen and a half centuries ago, and the land which now lies desolate--its bare, grey hills looking into ill-tilled or neglected valleys, its timber cut down, its olive- and vine-clad terraces crumbled into dust, its villages stricken with poverty and squalor, its thoroughfares insecure and deserted, its native population well-nigh gone, and with them its industry, wealth, and strength--presented a scene of beauty, richness, and busy life almost unsurpassed in the then known world. The Rabbis never …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The King --Continued.
The second event recorded as important in the bright early years is the great promise of the perpetuity of the kingdom in David's house. As soon as the king was firmly established and free from war, he remembered the ancient word which said, "When He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety, then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there" (Deut. xii. 10, 11). His own ease rebukes him; he regards his tranquillity …
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David
A Cloud of Witnesses.
"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was nigh, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.... By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, …
Thomas Charles Edwards—The Expositor's Bible: The Epistle to the Hebrews
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate, …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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