In my last post about David we learned about him killing the Amalekite man because the Amalekite man claimed to have killed King Saul. Then David wrote a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan while he and his men mourned and wept over their wrongful deaths. Now, in 2 Samuel chapter 2 we read about what David does knowing that Saul and Jonathan are dead. This is important because David (and many other people at that time) knows he has been anointed to become king of Israel.
In chapter 2 of 2 Samuel we see David again relying on God for guidance. After David and his men have mourned over the death of King Saul and Jonathan, David immediately asks the LORD, “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?” to which God says, “Yes.” Then David asks, “Which town should I go to?” and the LORD answers, “To Hebron” (2 Samuel 2:1).
David faithfully follow’s God’s instructions, and he and his men settle in the villages near Hebron. (They had to settle in the villages near Hebron because 600 of David’s men and their families would have overwhelmed a small city such as Hebron.) Then, we see what might be the most exciting moment of David’s young life.
While David is in Hebron, “The men of Judah came to David and anointed him king over the people of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4). This means a part of God’s promise to David has come true. All the way back in 1 Samuel 16 we read about the prophet Samuel coming to David and anointing him to become king of Israel. It has been at least seven years since Samuel anointed David, but now a part of that promise from God has come true at Hebron. However, David’s position as king over all of Israel has not come true, yet.
Meanwhile, Saul’s main commander, Abner, has anointed Saul’s son Ishbosheth as the king over Israel. This means David is king over the southern area which is known as Judah and is much smaller than the northern area of Israel, which Ishbosheth is now king over.
We now have David in the south and Ishbosheth in the north which is “the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.” (2 Samuel 3:1). Even though David has become king of the southern area of Judah he has not yet been crowned king of all of Israel which was the original promise of God.
To help us understand the context of this part of David’s life and the story of Israel and Judah we need to remember how kings often became kings in David’s time. In David’s time a person often became king because he was the son of the current king, or because he “usurped” the king to become king (meaning he killed the current king and violently took the throne), or both. While reading 1 and 2 Samuel it is very clear that the author(s) of these books (which were at one time one book) intends to show that David does not violently become king. David becomes king because of his faithfulness he has to God.
In contrast to the historical context above, David’s rise to the throne is very different than that of most kings for several reasons:
- David could easily have marched around Israel and Judah conquering and becoming king. He has 600 bad-boy warriors (who have already proven themselves in battles we read about in 1 Samuel) with him who are ready and eager to fight anyone for their leader.
- David’s response is quite intriguing because God has chosen him to be king of Israel, so it would be easy for David to see this “circumstance” as God’s will that it is now time to become king of Israel. (On a side note, we learned in chapter 24 of 1 Samuel that a circumstance does not necessarily mean God’s will is shown.) Instead, David still asks God what His will is, and David follows it.
- David’s men probably are encouraging him that this time period just after Saul and Jonathan have died is the time for David to seize the kingship of Israel. In 1 Samuel 24 and 26 we read about David’s men encouraging David to kill the king. In both of these instances David refuses to “hurt the LORD’s anointed one” even though David’s men are eager to kill Saul for David. Thus, David had to restrain them from hurting and killing Saul.
David does not seize the throne through violence. Yet David still needs to earn it. David has an opportunity as the king of the small area of Judah, but he still must earn his opportunity to be king of Israel.
Now that David has received his first opportunity to be king he needs to do several things to earn that opportunity:
- David needs to continue to follow God’s will and he needs to faithfully serve as king. By leading Judah successfully for seven years, he proves he is capable of leading all of Israel.
- Often in current culture we want God’s promise to us to come true immediately. But, we don’t see that happen with David. David is given kingship over a limited area and now he is responsible to successfully lead the people of Judah and show that he is worthy of having more territory and area to be king.
- Even though David has gone through times of pain, hard work, and endurance, he is given an opportunity as the king. But he still needs to earn his power and influence as king.
On a side note some people of the Christian faith have a hard time believing that we have to “earn” anything. Sometimes because of the strong emphasis of grace and forgiveness expressed in the New Testament Christians have a hard time taking responsibility to earn things. I disagree with some of that thinking. Yes, we have been forgiven by Jesus because of His death on the cross for our sins and that definitely was something we could not earn. I do believe that we cannot earn our salvation or earn our way to heaven by the good deeds we do. Salvation and the path to heaven come through Jesus, not by something we do or earn. My blog post above has been strictly for the purpose of work here on earth where we have to work hard towards goals and the promises that God has given us. The Bible book of Proverbs is full of emphasis on how people who work hard are wise and will not go hungry while people who are lazy and wait for things to happen are fools who will find themselves hungry and in poverty. Again, my emphasis on this post about earning our opportunity is for works here on earth, but does not pertain to salvation or how to get to heaven.
Question: What is an opportunity we are hoping to have and how can we earn it?