James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.2 Samuel 8:1-10:19
The title to this lesson is from the phrase, twice repeated in chapter 8, “And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went”; which the RV renders, “And the Lord gave victory to David whithersoever he went.”
The Lord’s Battle
It is important to keep in mind that the Lord gave the victory and that it was not David’s prowess that won it. Neither did his character merit it. God has a purpose concerning the redemption of the race in which He is using Israel, and what He is now doing through David is part of the program. We have seen this before, but we must never lose sight of it.
Of course David is, in his heart, submitted to the will of God, and one whom God, for that reason, delights to use; but still it is God working and not David.
God also is responsible for what follows in the punishment and destruction of the nations. That is not to say that He approves of all of David’s acts in detail, far from it indeed; but the great outline plan or policy is His, a fact that should make the careless pause to think.
There are things David does which are cruel in our eyes; but remember it is war we are considering and, as one of our own generals said, “War is hell,” i.e., a taste of hell on earth. The barbarities of David’s acts were in accord with the thinking of his time, just as the barbarities of the present are in accordance with the thinking of our time. A milder age, a millennial state, will look back at the wars of the twentieth century with the horror that we now contemplate some of the history of the Bible.
Foreshadowing Coming Judgments
But worse things are coming on the earth before those days, as we judge by the book of Revelation. The God who is judging and punishing the people of David’s period is the same who will be judging and punishing when the Antichrist is potent in the earth.
Little is said about these things in current preaching and teaching. It is unpopular to talk of sin and judgment, and death and hell; but these things are in the Bible, and we have no right to believe what we like and reject what we do not like. He is the faithful witness for God, and the faithful friend of his fellowmen, who warns them truthfully of the wrath to come.
DETAILS OF THE STORY (2 Samuel 8)
“Metheg-ammah” (2 Samuel 8:1) is identical with “Gath and her towns” (1 Chronicles 18:1). Be careful to examine the map for these localities, as it will aid in mastering the lesson; and remember that light will be thrown upon the text here and there by comparing the parallel record in I Chronicles.
The “line” (2 Samuel 8:2) is explained by a custom of Eastern kings to make their prisoners lie on the ground, while they determine by lot or a measuring line, who should be spared as slaves and who should be slain.
“To recover his borders” (2 Samuel 8:3) may refer to David’s purpose to get possession of all the dominion God promised his fathers (Genesis 15:18; Numbers 24:17). Horses were forbidden Israel either in war or agriculture; perhaps it was an act of disobedience for David even to save one hundred for his kingly retinue.
Verse 15 shows that while David was much in war yet he also reigned well at home. He had a strong cabinet (2 Samuel 8:16-18). An explanation of the two priests (2 Samuel 8:17) is that the former had been put in office by Saul, while David had exalted the latter. But now that David was supreme a compromise seems to have been effected, and Zadok exercised his office at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39) while Abiathar did the same at Jerusalem.
AN ILLUSTRATION OF GRACE (2 Samuel 9-10)
We need not dwell on chapters 9 and 10, but the Christian worker will discover a fine illustration of grace and a good outline for a sermon in that of Mephibosheth:
He had nothing to commend him to David.
David not only forgives and delivers him from the dread of retribution, but restores him to a good position in the kingdom.
He did this for the sake of another, Jonathan. Mephibosheth served David faithfully all his days.
1. From what is the title of this lesson obtained?
2. Why is God working for and through David?
3. How would you explain some of David’s acts?
4. To what future event do David’s victories point?
5. How would you explain the contemporary priests?
6. Can you tell the story of Mephibosheth from memory, and point out some of its spiritual lessons?