David's Administration
2 Samuel 8:15-18
And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice to all his people.…

From the wars and victories of David we turn to contemplate his administration of the internal affairs of the kingdom. By his skill and energy, united with the services of many eminent men, and aided by the favour of Heaven, he raised the nation, in an incredibly short period, to a position of extraordinary power and glory. "More than Charlemagne did for Europe, or Alfred for England, David accomplished for the tribes of Israel" (W.M. Taylor). What is here recorded (taken along with what is elsewhere stated) affords an illustration of -

I. A JUST REIGN. "And David executed judgment and justice unto all the people" (1 Samuel 7:15-17; 1 Samuel 10:24). It was as important a part of his office to judge them as to lead them forth to battle (2 Samuel 15:2-4); and, in its fulfilment, he acted:

1. According to the laws of Jehovah, the supreme King and Judge, whose servant he was.

2. With proper discernment, strict equity and impartiality, and great diligence.

3. So that, either by his own decisions or those of judges appointed and superintended by him, right was done to all his subjects, wrongs redressed, and wrong doers punished. He was a king who

"In the royal palace gave
Example to the meanest of the fear
Of God and all integrity of life
And manners; who, august yet lowly; who,
Severe yet gracious; in his very heart
Detesting all oppression, all intent
Of private aggrandizement; and, the first
In every public duty, held the scales
Of justice, and, as the law which reigned in him
Commanded, gave rewards; or with the edge
Vindictive smote now light, now heavily,
According to the stature of the crime."

(Pollok, 'The Course of Time.')

II. A SKILFUL ORGANIZATION, indicated by the mention of the chief officers of state, who formed the king's council and acted as his confidential advisers, along with his sons (ver. 18), the prophets, and others (see for later enumeration, 2 Samuel 20:13-26; 1 Chronicles 27:32-34).

1. Military.

(1) The host (1 Chronicles 27:1-15), or national militia (under Joab), consisting of all the males capable of bearing arms, and arranged in twelve bodies of twenty-four thousand each, whose turn of service came every month.

(2) The bodyguard (under Benaiah), Krethi and Plethi (lictors and couriers; Cretans or Carians, and Philistines), "formed at Ziklag, and afterwards recruited from foreigners (2 Samuel 15:18; 2 Samuel 20:23), having their quarters in Jerusalem, not far from the royal castle" (Ewald).

(3) The heroes (Gibborim), mighty men or veterans (under Abishai); the old guard, who had gathered to David in his wanderings, constituting "the first standing army of which we have any special knowledge," the number six hundred being maintained, "divided into three large bands of two hundred each, and small bands of twenty each; the small bands commanded by thirty officers, one for each band, who together formed 'the thirty,' and the three large bands by three officers, who together formed 'the three'" (Stanley).

2. Civil; pertaining to the registering and publication of the royal edicts, the regulation of judicial, financial, and other matters, the management of the royal demesnes, etc. (1 Chronicles 27:25-31), from which the revenue was largely derived. "Each tribe had still its prince or ruler, and continued under a general superintendence from the king to conduct its local affairs (1 Chronicles 27:16-22). The supreme council of the nation continued to assemble on occasions of great national importance; and, though its influence could not have been so great as it was before the institution of royalty, it remained an integral part of the constitution. Without superseding the tribal governments, David greatly strengthened them by a systematic distribution through the country of a large number of Levites (six thousand) as officers and judges (1 Chronicles 26:20-33). It is extremely probable that this large and able body of Levites were not limited to strictly judicial duties, but that they performed important functions also in the education, the healing, and the general elevation of the people" (Blaikie).

3. Ecclesiastical; the Levites (1 Chronicles 23.); the priests, in twenty-four classes, and their attendants (1 Chronicles 24.); the choristers, in twenty-four courses (1 Chronicles 25.); the porters and officers (1 Chronicles 26.). "Order is Heaven's first law." It is an essential condition of peace, safety, and power. "The solemn transfer of the ark of the covenant, at which almost all the people were present, had made a deep impression on their minds, and had awakened them to a sincere adoration of Jehovah. These favourable dispositions David wished to strengthen by suitable regulations in the service of the priests and Levites, especially by the instructive and animating psalms, which were composed partly by himself, and partly by other poets and prophets. By such instructive means, David, without using any coercive measures, brought the whole nation to forget their idols, and to worship Jehovah alone" (Jahn, 'Heb. Com.').

III. AN ABLE EXECUTIVE. The best organization avails little unless there be men of ability to carry it into practical effect. David's reign was singularly rich in such men.

1. Warriors like Joab, Abishai, Benaiah, and other "heroes who had vied with him in valour and self-sacrifice for the community of Israel and the religion of Jehovah," and "whose names lived on, linked forever with his memory" (2 Samuel 23:8-39).

2. Ministers like Jehoshaphat, Sheva, Adoram, Ira the Jairite; counsellors like Ahithophel and Hushai.

3. Priests like Zadok and Abiathar; "masters of the song" like Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun; prophets like Nathan and Gad. "All is now in full movement and almost in its original life, while around the chief hero a crowd of other figures are woven into the mighty drama, and even these are illumined by the bright rays of his sun; nay, even what would be insignificant elsewhere acquires importance here from the conspicuous eminence of Israel's greatest king" (Ewald). A wise ruler discerns the ablest men, attaches them to him, and profits by their wisdom, appoints them to offices in which they can most effectually promote the common good, and upholds and encourages them in their faithful endeavours to that end. It has been said that "a ruler who appoints any man to an office when there is in his dominions another man better qualified for it, sins against God and against the state" (Koran).

IV. A MIGHTY NATION; united, prosperous, powerful, imbued with lofty principles and aims, "as an eagle muing her mighty youth and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam" (Milton). To this many influences contributed, one of which was a just, wise, and strong administration (Psalm 72.). "David's own moral exaltation, and still more the spirit of fearless justice in which he ruled, had its effect on the nation at large. The theocracy became real to them in a sense in which it had never been before. They saw that an organized system, which was based upon religion and built up of justice, was more truly the embodiment of the Divine government than the fitful inspiration of the judges. Thus they won the might that comes from right: they felt that a war in defence of this new organization was most truly a holy war, and that if David was at the head of it, he was not only the king but the high priest of the people. Animated by this feeling, they forgot all the old 'divisions and searchings of heart,' and flocked around the standard of their king in such numbers and with such a spirit that they crushed the greatest coalition that ever threatened to destroy their religion and their nation" ('The Psalms chronologically arranged'). "The enlargement of territory, the amplification of power and state, leads to a corresponding enlargement of ideas, of imagery, of sympathies; and thus (humanly speaking) the magnificent forebodings of a wider dispensation in the prophetic writings first became possible through the court and empire of David" (Stanley). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.

WEB: David reigned over all Israel; and David executed justice and righteousness to all his people.

Administration of the Kingdom
Top of Page
Top of Page