2 Samuel 5:3
So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.
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(3) Made a league with them.—It would be an anachronism to understand this of the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, but the “league” may have had reference to certain special matters, such as leading them against their enemies, not destroying the remnant of the house of Saul or its late adherents, and not showing partiality (as Saul had done) to the members of his own tribe.

2 Samuel 5:3. King David made a league with them — It is not said what the contents of this league or covenant were. The Jews think it was an act of oblivion and indemnity for all injuries done on either side, whether of Judah against the other tribes, or of all the other tribes against Judah. But in that case the league would rather have been between the tribes than with the king. It is therefore probable that it included a great deal more, and that David obliged himself to rule them according to God’s laws, and that the people promised obedience to him agreeably to the same; and that both the king and the people ratified their engagements by solemn sacrifices, and appeals to God for the sincere performance of them. All this, being done as in the presence of Him who fills heaven and earth, and to whose all-seeing eye the hearts and ways of mankind are without a covering, is properly said to have been before the Lord, although it was not before the ark, that symbol of the divine presence, for that certainly was not now at Hebron. They anointed David king over Israel — That is, they desired the high- priest to anoint him, whose office it was; and thereby expressed their consent that he should reign over them. David was anointed in all three times; first by Samuel in his father’s house, 1 Samuel 16:13; then when the tribe of Judah owned him for their king, 2 Samuel 2:4; and now, when all Israel did the same.

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.Before the Lord - Abiathar and Zadok the priests were both with David, and the tabernacle and altar may have been at Hebron, though the ark was at Kirjath-jearim.3. King David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord—(see on [260]1Sa 10:17). This formal declaration of the constitution was chiefly made at the commencement of a new dynasty, or at the restoration of the royal family after a usurpation (2Ki 11:17), though circumstances sometimes led to its being renewed on the accession of any new sovereign (1Ki 12:4). It seems to have been accompanied by religious solemnities. King David made a league with them; whereby he obliged himself to rule them according to God’s laws; and the people promised fidelity and obedience to him.

Before the Lord; either,

1. Before the ark, which might be here, though that be not mentioned in this place. Or,

2. Before the priest clothed with the ephod; whereby he was in a manner put into God’s presence. Or rather,

3. In the congregation of the mighty, or magistrates, where God used to be present, Psalm 82:1; in the public assembly now met together in God’s name and fear, and as in his presence, to call upon him, to appeal to him as the witness and judge of their transactions. Compare Judges 11:11 1 Samuel 23:18. They anointed David; either by a prophet, or the priest, to whom this office belonged. See 2 Samuel 2:4.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron,.... Which either explains what is meant by the tribes coming to him, 2 Samuel 5:1; namely, coming by their elders as their representatives; or else the meaning is, that the messengers the tribes sent, when they returned and reported the favourable reception they had met with from David; the elders of the several tribes, the princes or principal men met, and came together to David in Hebron:

and King David made a league with them before the Lord; the states of the nation; he entered into a covenant with them; he on his part promising to rule them in justice and judgment according to the laws, and they promising to yield a cheerful obedience to him in all things just and lawful: and this was done "before the Lord"; either before the ark of the Lord, as Abarbinel; but that was in Kirjathjearim, from whence it was after this brought by David to this city; rather, as Kimchi observes, wherever all Israel, or the greater part of them, were assembled, there the divine Shechinah or Majesty dwelt; so that what was done in a public assembly was reckoned as done before the Lord, and in his presence; or this covenant was made before the Lord, and each party appealed to him as witness of it, so that it was a very solemn one:

and they anointed David king over Israel; that is, over all Israel, which was the third time of his being anointed; the first was by Samuel, pointing out the person the Lord chose and appointed king; the second was by the tribe of Judah, when they invested him with the office of a king over them; and now by all the tribes, when he was inaugurated into the whole kingdom of Israel; and not only the elders came at this time, but great numbers of the people from the several tribes, and continued with David some days, eating, drinking and rejoicing, see 1 Chronicles 12:1.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron {b} before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.

(b) That is, taking the Lord to witness: for the ark was still in Abinadab's house.

3. all the elders of Israel] From 2 Samuel 5:1 and 1 Chronicles 12:23-40 it is evident that a general assembly of the nation, and not merely a few delegates, met at Hebron: here the elders are particularly specified because they acted as the representatives of the people in negotiating with David. See note on 1 Samuel 8:4, and cp. ch. 2 Samuel 3:17.

made a league with them] Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 3:21. This ‘league’ was probably a solemn contract in which the king on the one hand engaged to rule according to the laws, and the people on the other hand promised him their allegiance. Some kind of a charter, defining the king’s rights, was in existence (1 Samuel 10:25): and later on we find the people demanding some limitation of these rights (1 Kings 12:3 ff). The Israelite monarchy was not an absolute and irresponsible despotism.

before the Lord] The covenant was made as a solemn religious ceremony, in the presence of the supreme King of Israel, whose vicegerent David was. Cp. 1 Samuel 11:15.

they anointed David king] For the third time. See note on ch. 2 Samuel 2:4. In Chronicles is added “according to the word of the Lord by Samuel.”

The book of Chronicles contains further interesting details about this assembly at Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:23-40). The numbers of fighting men sent by each tribe are preserved, amounting to a total of nearly 350,000. Stress is laid on the unanimity of feeling, and the general rejoicing with which David’s anointing was celebrated in a three days’ festival.

Verse 3. - A league. The early kings of Israel were not invested with despotic power. Thus, on Saul's appointment, "Samuel wrote in a book the manner of the kingdom" (1 Samuel 10:25, made most emphatic in the Revised Version by the note in the margin, that the Hebrew is "the book"). The revolt against Rehoboam was the result of the too great extension of the royal power in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 12:4). Though subsequently the kings seemed to have retained their supremacy, yet when the good and patriotic Jehoiada restored the family of David to the throne, he reverted to the old ways, and "made a covenant between the king and the people" (2 Kings 11:17). Besides personal rights, the tribes, accustomed to their own leaders, and unused to yield obedience to a central authority, would certainly stipulate for a large measure of tribal independence, and the management of local matters by themselves. They anointed David king. This was the public ratification of Samuel's anointing, and by it David became de facto, as well as de jure, king. The prophets could not give any right over the people without the consent of the people themselves. But all religious men would see in the Divine command an obligation upon their conscience to accept as their king the man whom the prophet had anointed; and Saul acted in an irreligious manner in seeking to frustrate God's will. And this impiety culminated in his murder of the priests at Nob, which was the open avowal that he would trample all scruples of conscience underfoot. 2 Samuel 5:3"All the elders of Israel came" is a repetition of 2 Samuel 5:1, except that the expression "all the tribes of Israel" is more distinctly defined as meaning "all the elders of Israel." "So all the elders came; ... and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord (see at 2 Samuel 3:21): and they anointed David king over (all) Israel." The writer of the Chronicles adds, "according to the word of the Lord through Samuel," i.e., so that the command of the Lord to Samuel, to anoint David king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:12), found its complete fulfilment in this.
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