2 Samuel 2:4
And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.
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(4) They anointed David.—The first private anointing of David (1 Samuel 16) had been in token of his Divine commission; this was a sign of his recognition as king by the tribe of Judah; and there was still a third subsequent anointing (2Samuel 5:4), when he was accepted by all Israel. Comp. Saul’s anointing by Samuel privately (1Samuel 10:1), and his subsequent double recognition as king by the people (1Samuel 10:24; 1Samuel 11:15). The “men of Judah” were not only of David’s tribe, but were doubtless aware of his having been divinely selected for their future king, and, for the most part, had been on friendly terms with him during his long outlawry; they had also lately received presents from him in recognition of their kindness (1Samuel 30:26-31).

The men of Jabesh-gilead.—This town had been destroyed in the civil war against the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 21:9-12), and its 400 virgins given in marriage to the surviving Benjamites. There was therefore a special connection between Saul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, and this city. It is altogether probable also that the remnants of Saul’s defeated army had sought refuge in Gilead.

2 Samuel 2:4. The men of Judah came and anointed David king — This they did on just grounds, because not only the sovereignty had been promised to that tribe, but David was designed and had been appointed by God, and at his express command anointed by Samuel to the regal office. This had long ceased to be a secret. Jonathan had known it perfectly. Saul himself had been no stranger to it; and Abner, the general of his army, was not ignorant of it, as appears by his words to Ish-bosheth, (2 Samuel 3:8-9,) and his message to the elders of Israel; and it was now universally known, at least to the men of Judah, and was the avowed reason why they advanced David to the throne. And it was reason sufficient, God’s will being obligatory upon all, and all being indispensably bound to obey it. This had been the sole foundation of Saul’s title to the kingdom, and on this ground only the Israelites had accepted him for their king. But this ground of claim Ish- bosheth, Saul’s son, had not, for he had not been appointed by God nor anointed by Samuel, or any other prophet. Indeed, properly speaking, he had no ground of claim at all, as the crown was never made hereditary in Saul’s family, but remained entirely at God’s disposal, who was the supreme king and governor of Israel, The men of Judah therefore were resolved to comply with the will and appointment of God, and not to neglect their duty, although they saw that the other tribes would neglect theirs. Yet they act with modesty; they make him king of Judah only, and not of all Israel. “Whether they did this with more despatch,” says Delaney, “to influence the determinations of the other tribes in his favour; or, whether it was delayed until their dispositions were sounded upon the point, is nowhere said. This, however, is certain, that one tribe’s acting separate and independent of the rest, was of dangerous example; nor could any thing but the divine authority justify it; and therefore it is not probable that this step was taken until all other expedients for a unanimous election had failed. And here he began the division of the kingdom, so lately predicted by Samuel;” as also, in part, the accomplishment of the prophecy delivered by Jacob, (Genesis 49:10,) that the sceptre should be settled in Judah.

2:1-7. After the death of Saul, many went to David at Ziklag,David had already been anointed by Samuel 1 Samuel 16:13. His first anointing indicated God's secret purpose, his second the accomplishment of that purpose. (Compare the case of Saul, 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 11:14.) David was anointed again king over Israel 2 Samuel 5:3. The interval between the anointing of the Lord Jesus as the Christ of God, and His taking to Himself His kingdom and glory, seems to be thus typified. CHAPTER 2

2Sa 2:1-7. David, by God's Direction, Goes Up to Hebron, and Is Made King over Judah.

1-4. David inquired of the Lord—By Urim (1Sa 23:6, 9; 30:7, 8). He knew his destination, but he knew also that the providence of God would pave the way. Therefore he would take no step in such a crisis of his own and the nation's history, without asking and obtaining the divine direction. He was told to go into Judah, and fix his headquarters in Hebron, whither he accordingly repaired with his now considerable force. There his interests were very powerful; for he was not only within his own tribe, and near chiefs with whom he had been long in friendly relations (see on [257]1Sa 30:26), but Hebron was the capital and center of Judah, and one of the Levitical cities; the inhabitants of which were strongly attached to him, both from sympathy with his cause ever since the massacre at Nob, and from the prospect of realizing in his person their promised pre-eminence among the tribes. The princes of Judah, therefore, offered him the crown over their tribe, and it was accepted. More could not, with prudence, be done in the circumstances of the country (1Ch 11:3).

They anointed David king over the house of Judah: this they did upon just grounds, because not only the kingdom was promised to that tribe, Genesis 49:10, but David was designed and anointed by God, whose will both they and all Israel were obliged to observe and obey. And they piously resolved not to neglect their duty, though they saw the other tribes would. Yet their prudent caution and modesty is observable, that they make him king of Judah only, and not of all Israel. And therefore there was need of a third anointing to the kingdom over all Israel, which he had 2 Samuel 5:3. But as for that first anointing, 1 Samuel 16:13, it was only a designation of the person who should be king, but not an actual inauguration of him to the kingdom.

And the men of Judah came,.... The inhabitants of the tribe of Judah came from the several parts of it to Hebron, that is, the principal of them, the elders of each city:

and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah; they did not take upon them to make him king over all Israel, but left the rest of the tribes to act for themselves; and no doubt in this they had the mind of David, who was not willing to force himself upon the people at once, but by degrees get the whole government into his hands, as Providence should make his way; these men knew the kingdom was promised to their tribe, from Genesis 49:10; and were quite clear in what they did, and, without question, knew that David had been anointed by Samuel: but as that anointing was only a declaration of the Lord's choice of him, and of his will that he should be king after Saul's death, he is again anointed by the people, as an inauguration into his office:

and they told David, saying, that the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul. It is highly probable, that as soon as David was anointed king, the first thing he thought of was to inquire after the body of the late king, and give it an honourable interment, and upon inquiry was told that the men of Jabeshgilead had buried him already. See 1 Samuel 31:11.

And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.
4. the men of Judah came] An assembly of David’s own tribe was held in order to elect him king. No doubt he had previously secured the support of the elders. Cp. 1 Samuel 30:26.

they anointed David] David had already been anointed privately by Samuel to mark God’s choice of him as the future king, but it was natural that the ceremony should now be repeated publicly as the formal inauguration of his reign, and even a third time, when he was made king over all Israel (ch. 2 Samuel 5:3). Similarly Saul was first privately anointed (1 Samuel 10:1), and afterwards publicly installed in his office, and possibly anointed a second time (1 Samuel 11:14-15, note). On the significance of the rite of anointing see note on 1 Samuel 10:1.

And they told David] The connexion is obscure. We should expect a fresh verse and paragraph. Apparently either the announcement was intended to indicate the quarter in which opposition to his authority was most probable, or it was an answer to David’s inquiry whether the body of his predecessor had received fitting burial. In either case the embassy to the men of Jabesh was prompted by policy no less than by gratitude. If David could secure the support of the capital of Gilead (1 Samuel 11:1), he might reckon on speedily extending his power over the whole country. His conciliatory message is virtually an appeal to them to recognise him as Saul’s legitimate successor.

Verse 4. - They anointed David. Samuel's anointing (1 Samuel 16:13) had been private, and, if we may judge by the manner in which Eliab treated David (1 Samuel 17:28), even his own family had not attached much importance to it. It was nevertheless the indication of Jehovah's purpose, and now the anointing of David by the elders of Judah was the first step towards its accomplishment. And this was an independent act, though the knowledge of Samuel's anointing had prepared the way for it; and David thus acquired a legal right and authority by the nation's will, which Samuel could not have given him. So Saul's anointing by Samuel, and his election to be king at Gilgal, were independent acts; and while the former gave the king his sacredness, the latter conferred upon him jurisdiction and power. King over the house of Judah. How came the Philistines to allow this? When subsequently he was again anointed, and became King of all Israel, the Philistines gathered their hosts at once; not because he captured Jerusalem, which was then a mere hill fort belonging to the Jebusites, but evidently because they thought him dangerous. But why did they not crush him now? One reason, probably, was that Judaea was a difficult country for military operations. The tribe, too, had stood aloof from Saul, and its strength was unbroken. But the chief reason apparently was that David maintained friendly relations with Achish, and paid him tribute. This explains the curious fact that Ziklag continued to be the private property of the house of David (1 Samuel 27:6). The doings of a vassal of the King of Gath were regarded as of little importance. Had he not even marched with them to Aphek, as one of the servants of Achish? But when he endeavoured to restore the kingdom of Saul, they first made a hasty rush upon him, and, when repelled, they gathered their forces for as formidable an invasion as that which had ended in their victory at Gilboa. 2 Samuel 2:4David's return to Hebron, and anointing as king over Judah. - 2 Samuel 2:1. "After this," i.e., after the facts related in 2 Samuel 1, David inquired of the Lord, namely through the Urim, whether he should go up to one of the towns of Judah, and if so, to which. He received the reply, "to Hebron," a place peculiarly well adapted for a capital, not only from its situation upon the mountains, and in the centre of the tribe, but also from the sacred reminiscences connected with it from the olden time. David could have no doubt that, now that Saul was dead, he would have to give up his existing connection with the Philistines and return to his own land. But as the Philistines had taken the greater part of the Israelitish territory through their victory at Gilboa, and there was good reason to fear that the adherents of Saul, more especially the army with Abner, Saul's cousin, at its head, would refuse to acknowledge David as king, and consequently a civil war might break out, David would not return to his own land without the express permission of the Lord. 2 Samuel 1:2-4. When he went with his wives and all his retinue (vid., 1 Samuel 27:2) to Hebron and the "cities of Hebron," i.e., the places belonging to the territory of Hebron, the men of Judah came (in the persons of their elders) and anointed him king over the house, i.e., the tribe, of Judah. Just as Saul was made king by the tribes after his anointing by Samuel (1 Samuel 11:15), so David was first of all anointed by Judah here, and afterwards by the rest of the tribes (2 Samuel 5:3).

A new section commences with ויּגּדוּ. The first act of David as king was to send messengers to Jabesh, to thank the inhabitants of this city for burying Saul, and to announce to them his own anointing as king. As this expression of thanks involved a solemn recognition of the departed king, by which David divested himself of even the appearance of a rebellion, the announcement of the anointing he had received contained an indirect summons to the Jabeshites to recognise him as their king now.

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