2 Samuel 5:1
Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.
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(1) All the tribes.—Not only as represented by their elders (2Samuel 5:3), but by the large bodies of their warriors enumerated in 1Chronicles 12:23-40. It is to be noticed, then, that the “children of Judah” (1Chronicles 12:24), over whom David was already king, joined in the assembly, and that there were 4,600 Levites with Jehoiada as the leader of the priestly family of Aaron, while Zadok appears only as a conspicuous member of that family (1Chronicles 12:27-28).

Thy bone and thy flesh.—The Israelites, oppressed by the Philistines and their other enemies, and having seen the utter failure of the house of Saul and the death of their head, Abner, felt the necessity of union under a competent leader, and it is probable that this gathering to David, already prepared for by the negotiations of Abner, took place immediately after the death of Ish-bosheth. They assign three reasons for their action: (1) that they were of the same flesh and bone with David (comp. Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2; 2Samuel 19:12)—i.e., were of such common descent that it was unfitting for them to constitute separate nations; (2) that David, even in Saul’s reign, had been their military leader, and hence they knew him and had confidence in his prowess and sagacity; (3) that the Lord had chosen him for their king. The exact language of the Divine promise quoted is not found in the record, but is either (as in the case of Abner’s words, 2Samuel 3:18) a summary of the communications made to David, or else some unrecorded language of one of the prophets.

2 Samuel


2 Samuel 5:1 - 2 Samuel 5:12

The dark day on Gilboa put the Philistines in possession of most of Saul’s kingdom. Only in the south David held his ground, and Abner had to cross Jordan to find a place of security for the remnants of the royal house. The completeness of the Philistine conquest is marked, not only by Abner’s flight to Mahanaim, but by the reckoning that David reigned for seven and a half years and Ishbosheth two; for these periods must be supposed to have ended very nearly at the same time, and thus there would be about five years before the invaders were so far got rid of that Ishbosheth exercised sovereignty over his part of Israel. It is singular that David should have been left unattacked by the Philistines, and it is probably to be explained by the friendly relations which had sprung up between Achish, king of Gath, and him {1 Samuel 29:1 - 1 Samuel 29:11}. However that may be, his power was continually increasing during his reign at Hebron over Judah, and at last Abner’s death and the assassination of the poor phantom king, Ishbosheth, brought about the total collapse of opposition.

I. This passage deals first with the submission of the tribes and the reunion of the divided kingdom. A comparison of 2 Samuel 5:1 with 2 Samuel 5:3 shows that a formal delegation of elders from all the tribes which had held by Ishbosheth, came to Hebron with their submission. The account in I Chronicles is a verbatim copy of this one, with the addition of a glowing picture of the accompanying feasting and joy. It also places much emphasis on the sincerity of David’s new subjects, which needed some endorsement; for loyalty which has been disloyal as long as it durst, may be suspected. The elders have their mouths full of excellent reasons for recognising David’s kingship,-he is their brother; he was their true leader in war, even in Saul’s time; he has been appointed by God to be king and commander. Unfortunately, it had taken the elders seven and a half years to feel the force of these reasons, and probably their perceptions would still have remained dull if Abner and Ishbosheth had lived. But David is both magnanimous and politic, and neither bloodshed nor reproaches mar the close of the strife. Seldom has so formidable a civil war been ended with so complete an amnesty. Observe the expression that David ‘made a league with them. . . before the Lord.’ The Israelitish monarch was no despot, but, in modern language, a constitutional king, between whom and his subjects there was a compact, which he as well as they had to observe. In what sense was it made ‘before the Lord’? The ark was not at Hebron, though the priests were; and the phrase is at once a testimony to the religious character of the ‘league’ and to the consciousness of God’s presence, apart from the symbol of His presence. It points to a higher conception than that which brought the ark to Ebenezer, and dreamed that the ark had brought God to the army. Modern theories of the religious development of the Old Testament ask us to recognise these two conceptions as successive. The fact is that they were contemporaneous, and that the difference between them is not one of time, but of spiritual susceptibility. Who anointed David for this third time? Apparently the elders, for priests are not mentioned. Samuel had anointed him, as token of the divine choice and symbol of the divine gifts for his office. The men of Judah had anointed him, and finally the elders did so, in token of the popular confirmation of God’s choice.

So David has reached the throne at last. Schooled by suffering, and in the full maturity of his powers, enriched by the singularly varied experiences of his changeful life, tempered by the swift alternations of heat and cold, polished by friction, consolidated by heavy blows, he has been welded into a fitting instrument for God’s purposes. Thus does He ever prepare for larger service. Thus does He ever reward patient trust. Through trials to a throne is the law for all noble lives in regard to their earthly progress, as well as in regard to the relation between earth and heaven. But David is not only a pattern instance of how God trains His servants, but he is a prophetic person; and in his progress to his kingdom we have dimly, but really, shadowed the path by which his Son and Lord attains to His,-a path thickly strewn with thorns, and plunging into ‘valleys of the shadow of death’ compared with which David’s darkest hour was sunny. The psalms of the persecuted exile have sounding through them a deeper sorrow; for they ‘testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ.’ ‘No cross, no crown,’ is the lesson of David’s earlier life.

II. We have, next, the first victory of the reunited nation. Hebron was too far south for the capital of the whole kingdom. Jerusalem was more central, and, from its position, surrounded on three sides with steep ravines, was a strong military post. David’s soldier’s eye saw its advantages; and he, no doubt, desired to weld the monarchy together by participation in danger and triumph. The new glow of national unity would seek some great exploit, and would resent as an insult the presence of the Jebusites in their stronghold. The attack on it immediately follows the recognition of David’s kingship. It is not necessary here to discuss the difficulties in 2 Samuel 5:6 - 2 Samuel 5:8; but we note that they give, first, the insolent boast of the besieged, then the twofold answer to it in fact and in word, and last, the memorial of the victory in a proverb. Apparently the Jebusites’ taunt is best understood as in the margin of the Revised Version,’ Thou shalt not come in hither, but the blind and the lame shall turn thee away,’ They were so sure that their ravines made them safe, that they either actually manned their walls with blind men and cripples, or jeeringly shouted to the enemy across the valley that these would do for a garrison. The other possible meaning of the words as they stand in the Authorised Version would make ‘the blind and lame’ refer to David’s men, and the taunt would mean, ‘You will have to weed out your men. It will take sharper eyes and more agile limbs than theirs to clamber up here’; but the former explanation is the more probable. Such braggart speeches were quite in the manner of ancient warfare.

2 Samuel 5:7 tells what the answer to this mocking shout from the ramparts was, David did the impossible, and took the city. Courage built on faith has a way of making the world’s predictions of what it cannot do look rather ridiculous. David wastes no words in answering the taunt; but it stirs him to fierce anger, and nerves him and his men for their desperate charge. The obscure words in 2 Samuel 5:8, which he speaks to his soldiers, do not need the supplement given in the Authorised Version. The king’s quick eye had seen a practical path for scaling the cliffs up some watercourse, where there might be projections or vegetation to pull oneself up by, or shelter which would hide the assailants from the defenders; and he bids any one who would smite the Jebusites take that road up, and, when he is up, ‘smite.’ He heartens his men for the assault by his description of the enemy. They had talked about ‘blind and lame’; that is what they really are, or as unable to stand against the Israelites’ fierce and sudden burst as if they were: and furthermore, they are’ hated of David’s soul.’ It is a flash of the rage of battle which shows us David in a new light. He was a born captain as well as king; and here he exhibits the general’s power to see, as by instinct, the weak point and to hurl his men on it. His swift decision and fiery eloquence stir his men’s blood like the sound of a trumpet. The proverb that rose from the capture is best read as in the Revised Version: ‘There are the blind and the lame; he cannot come into the house.’ The point of it seems to be that, notwithstanding the bragging Jebusites, he did ‘come into the house’; and so its use would be to ridicule boasting confidence that was falsified by events, as the Jebusites’ had been. It was worth while to record the boast and its end; for they teach the always seasonable lesson of the folly of over-confidence in apparently impregnable defences. It is a lesson of worldly prudence, but still more of religion. There is always some ‘watercourse’ overlooked by us, up which the enemy may make his way. Overestimate of our own strength and its companion folly, flippant underestimate of the enemy’s power, are, in all worldly affairs, the sure precursors of disaster; and in the Christian life the only safe temper is that of the man who ‘feareth always,’ as knowing his own weakness and the strength of his foe, and thereby is driven to that trust which casts out fear.

On the other hand, David’s exploit reads us anew the lesson that to the Christian soldier there is nothing impossible, with Jesus Christ for our Captain. There are many unconquered fortresses of evil still to be carried by assault, and they look steep and inaccessible enough; but there is some way up, and He will show it us. For our own personal struggle with sin, and for the Church’s conflict with social evils, this story is an encouragement and a prophecy.

Jerusalem was captured by a reunited nation with its king at its head. As long as our miserable divisions weaken and disgrace us, the Church fights at a disadvantage; and the hoary fortresses of the foe will not be won till Judah ceases to vex Ephraim, and Ephraim no more envies Judah, but all Christ’s servants in one host, with the King known by each to be with them, make the assault.

III. We have, lastly, the growth of the kingdom. I pass over topographical questions, which need not concern us here. The points recorded are David’s establishment in the stronghold, his additions to the city, his increasing greatness and its reason in the presence and favour of ‘the God of hosts,’ the special instance of this in the friendly intercourse with Hiram of Tyre and the employment of Tyrian workmen, and the recognition of the source and the purpose of his prosperity by the devout king. We see here the conditions of true success,-’The Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.’ We see also the right use of it,-’David perceived that the Lord had established him king.’ He was not puffed up into self-importance by his elevation, but devoutly and clearly saw who had set him in his lofty place. And, as he traced his royalty to God, so he recognised that he had received it, not for himself, but as a trust to be used, not in self-indulgence, but for the national good,-’and that He had exalted his kingdom for His people Israel’s sake.’ Whosoever holds firmly by these two thoughts, and lives them, will adorn his position, whatever it may be, and will be one of God’s crowned kings, however obscure his lot and small his duties. He who lacks them will misuse his gifts and mar his life, and the more splendid his endowments and the higher his position, the more conspicuous will be his ruin and the heavier his guilt.

2 Samuel 5:1. Then came all the tribes to David — That is, elders, deputed as ambassadors from every tribe, sent by a common agreement among them; saying, Behold, we are bone of thy bone, &c. — Abner and Ish-bosheth being dead, whose authority had swayed the Israelites against their duty, they now acknowledged David’s divine right to the crown; they remembered that he had every qualification requisite for a rightful king of Israel, according to God’s own limitations, Deuteronomy chap. 17.; that he was one of their brethren, and that he was chosen of God. They called to mind his valour, and various merits toward Israel, the many deliverances which he had wrought out for them, and God’s express declaration in his favour, that he would make him the shepherd and captain of his favourite people. And when they had thus considered his undoubted title and merits, and their own duty, they immediately came together to crown him.

5:1-5 David was anointed king a third time. His advances were gradual, that his faith might be tried, and that he might gain experience. Thus his kingdom typified that of the Messiah, which was to come to its height by degrees. Thus Jesus became our Brother, took upon him our nature, dwelt in it that he might become our Prince and Saviour: thus the humbled sinner takes encouragement from the endearing relation, applies for his salvation, submits to his authority, and craves his protection.Compare the marginal reference. The chronicler adds some interesting details 2 Samuel 12:23-40 of the manner in which the various tribes from both sides of the Jordan came to Hebron to make David king, and of the joyful festivities on the occasion. The consummation to which events in God's Providence had been leading had now come. Saul and Jonathan, Abner and Ish-bosheth, were dead; David was already head of a very large portion of Israel; the Philistines, and perhaps the remnant of the Canaanites, were restless and threatening; and it was obviously the interest of the Israelite nation to unite themselves under the sovereignty of the valiant and virtuous son of Jesse, their former deliverer, and the man designated by the word of God as their Captain and Shepherd. Accordingly he was at once anointed king over all Israel (compare 2 Samuel 2:4 note). CHAPTER 5

2Sa 5:1-5. The Tribes Anoint David King over Israel.

1, 2. Then came all the tribes of Israel—a combined deputation of the leading authorities in every tribe. [See on [259]1Ch 11:1.] David possessed the first and indispensable qualification for the throne; namely, that of being an Israelite (De 17:15). Of his military talent he had furnished ample proof. And the people's desire for his assumption of the government of Israel was further increased by their knowledge of the will and purpose of God, as declared by Samuel (1Sa 16:11-13).The tribes come to Hebron to anoint David king over all Israel: the years of his reign at Hebron and Jerusalem: his age, 2 Samuel 5:1-5. He taketh the strong hold of Zion from the Jebusites, and dwelleth there, 2 Samuel 5:6-10. Hiram maketh a league with David, and sendeth wood and workmen to build a house, 2 Samuel 5:11,12. He taketh more wives, and eleven sons are born to him at Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:13-16. David, directed by God, smiteth the Philistines at Baal-perazin, 2 Samuel 5:17-21; and again at the mulberry trees, 2 Samuel 5:22-25.

To wit, by their ambassadors, Ish-bosheth and Abner being now dead, and that without David’s concurrence.

Thy bone and thy flesh, i.e. thy brethren, or kinsmen, of the same nation and parentage, though not of the same tribe; and therefore, as God’s law, Deu 17:15, permits us, so our own relation and affection incline us, to choose thee for our king; and we doubt not thou wilt receive us for thy subjects and people, and pardon our offences against thee.

Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron,.... All the rest of the tribes, save the tribe of Judah, who had made him king over them in Hebron seven years ago. These were ambassadors sent in the name of the several tribes to him, quickly after the deaths of Abner and Ishbosheth; from having any hand in which David had sufficiently cleared himself, and which had tended to reconcile the minds of the people of Israel to him:

and spake, saying, we are thy bone and thy flesh; for though he was of the tribe of Judah, yet as all the tribes sprung from one man, they were all one bone, flesh, and blood; all nearly related to each other, all of the same general family of which David was; and so, according to their law, a fit person to be their king, Deuteronomy 16:18; and from whom they might expect clemency and tenderness, being so near akin to them.

Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy {a} bone and thy flesh.

(a) We are of your kindred and closely related to you.

Ch. 2 Samuel 5:1-5. David anointed king over all Israel

2 Samuel 5:1-3 = 1 Chronicles 11:1-31. Then came, &c.] It is probable that no long interval elapsed between the death of Ish-bosheth and the election of David. “The consummation to which events in God’s Providence had been leading was now come. Saul and Jonathan, Abner and Ish-bosheth, were all dead; there was no one of the house of Saul capable of taking the lead; David was already head of a very large portion of Israel; the Philistines, and perhaps the remnants of the Canaanites, were restless and threatening; and it was obviously the interest of the Israelitish nation to unite themselves under the sovereignty of the valiant and virtuous son of Jesse, their former deliverer, and the man designated by the word of God as their Captain and Shepherd.” Speaker’s Comm.

all the tribes of Israel] The ‘congregation of Israel,’ or national assembly composed of all the warriors of the nation above the age of twenty who chose to come, met to elect David king. See note on 1 Samuel 10:17.

we are thy bone and thy flesh] An expression denoting close relationship in virtue of common descent. Cp. Genesis 29:14; Jdg 9:2.

Three reasons, arranged in the order of their importance, are given for electing David king: the tie of relationship: his proved capacity as a military leader: the divine choice. The first and third correspond to the precept of Deuteronomy 17:15 : with the second compare ch. 2 Samuel 3:18.

Verse 1. - Then came all the tribes of Israel. As Ishbosheth reigned only two years, and David's reign at Hebron lasted for seven years and a half, there is an interval of more than five years to be accounted for; and we have given reason for believing (see note on 2 Samuel 2:10) that it must be placed after the death of Ishbosheth. The treacherous murder of Abner, and the tragic fate of Ishbosheth following upon it so rapidly, must have filled all Israel with horror, and made them look upon David as "a bloody man" (2 Samuel 16:8). But gradually his innocence became clear to all except inveterate partisans, and as the prejudice against him passed away, the evident advantage of union under so able a ruler would force itself upon their attention, and their decision would be hastened by the advantage which the Philistines would be sure to take of their anarchy. How much they had profited by it we gather from the haste with which they endeavoured to crush David's kingdom. The enormous gathering at Hebron to anoint David king proves not merely the unanimity of the tribes, but that his election was the result of long preparation and arrangement. We have fuller details of it in 1 Chronicles 12:23-40, where we learn that the people assembled in large numbers, the total being computed in the 'Speaker's Commentary' at 348,222; and it is remarkable that of this vast array only sixteen thousand nine hundred came from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, which were situated in the neighbourhood of Hebron. On the other hand, the two and a half trans-Jordanic tribes sent no less than a hundred and twenty thousand men, and the three unimportant tribes of Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali mustered a hundred and eighteen thousand; while Issachar was content to send only two hundred, who were all, however, "men that had understanding... and their brethren were at their commandment." These words suggest the probable explanation of the disparity in the numbers, which to many seems so strange that they think they must be corrupt. Each tribe settled for itself in what way it would be represented, and the more distant sent a large proportion of their men of military age on what would be an enjoyable holiday. As they spent three days at Hebron, the expedition would occupy, even for those most remote, little more than a week; and it was well worth the while of the tribes thus to come together. It made them feel the value of unity, and gave them a knowledge of their strength. Their tribal independence during the time of the judges had made them too weak even to maintain their liberty; but now, welded by the kingly power into a nation, they soon, not only won freedom for themselves, but placed their yoke upon the shoulders of their neighbours. As for the difficulty of supplying them with food, all would bring victuals from home; and the neighbouring tribes showed great hospitality. Especially we read that those who were nigh unto Hebron, "even as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, victual of meal, cakes of figs, and clusters of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep in abundance: for there was joy in Israel" (1 Chronicles 12:40). It was a grand national festival, joyously kept because the people saw in the election of David an end to all their troubles; and so vast a gathering overbore all opposition, and gave both to them and their king the consciousness of their might. But while we find in the Book of Chronicles the account of this mighty multitude, it is here (ver. 3) expressly said that it was the elders who made a league with David, and anointed him king. The people by their presence testified their joyful assent to what was done; but David's election was made legitimate by the decision of the constituted authorities in each tribe. It would be most interesting to know the various steps taken, and how the agitation grew and spread from tribe to tribe, until all hesitation and resistance were overcome. But the object of this book is to show us the great qualities, the sin, the repentance, and the punishment of the man who added to the old routine of sacrifice bright services of song, and who was the author of that book of devotion which to this day best expresses the feelings of the heart, as well in the joys as in the sorrows of life. The manner of his election throws no light upon his character, and is passed over. Enough to know that in those five years after Ishbosheth's murder David won the approval of all Israel, and that his appointment to the kingdom was by the free choice of the tribes, acting in a legitimate manner, and sending each their elders to Hebron to notify to David their consent; and that their decision was ratified by this joyful gathering of a mighty multitude from all parts of the land. Three reasons are given by the elders for David's election, and we may be sure that they represent the arguments used in their popular assemblies. The first, that they were David's bone and flesh. In other words, the tribes were all of one race, and united by the closest ties of relationship. For the descendants of a common ancestor to be at war with one another was both morally and politically wrong. The second, that David had been their actual leader in war even in Saul's time. His personal qualities, therefore, justified their choice of him to be their deliverer from the evils which had overwhelmed the land after the disastrous defeat at Gilboa, when Saul had no longer the aid of David's presence. The third, that Jehovah had by the mouth of his prophet given the throne to David. It is remarkable that the elders place this last. Their view probably was that the Divine command must be proved by outward circumstances, that so reason might confirm faith. So Saul's public appointment by Samuel was ratified by the people only after he had shown himself worthy to be a king by the defeat of the Ammonites. 2 Samuel 5:1David Anointed King over all Israel. - 2 Samuel 5:1-3 (compare with this the parallel passages in 1 Chronicles 11:1-3). After the death of Ishbosheth, all the tribes of Israel (except Judah) came to Hebron in the persons of their representatives the elders (vid., 2 Samuel 5:3), in response to the summons of Abner (2 Samuel 3:17-19), to do homage to David as their king. They assigned three reasons for their coming: (1.) "Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh," i.e., thy blood-relations, inasmuch as all the tribes of Israel were lineal descendants of Jacob (vid., Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2). (2.) "In time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast the leader of Israel (thou leddest out and broughtest in Israel)," i.e., thou didst superintend the affairs of Israel (see at Numbers 27:17; and for the fact itself, 1 Samuel 18:5). מוציא הייתה is an error in writing for המּוציא היית, and מבי for מביא, with the א dropped, as in 1 Kings 21:21, etc. (vid., Olshausen, Gr. p. 69). (3.) They ended by asserting that Jehovah had called him to be the shepherd and prince over His people. The remarks which we have already made at 2 Samuel 3:18 respecting Abner's appeal to a similar utterance on the part of Jehovah, are equally applicable to the words of Jehovah to David which are quoted here: "Thou shalt feed my people Israel," etc. On the Piska, see the note to Joshua 4:1.
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