2 Samuel 5
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics

1. About twenty years had elapsed since David was anointed by Samuel, seven years and a half since he was anointed King of Judah; and at length, at the age of thirty-seven, his faith and patience were rewarded, every obstacle was removed out of his path, and the Divine purpose concerning his royal destination fulfilled. "In the fulness of time, at the right moment, in perfect vigour of mind and body, he grasped the supremacy which was offered to him, having passed through every outward stage of power and honour, and every inward test of heavy trial and varied strife" (Ewald).

2. His anointing (performed by prophet or priest) took place at the instance of the elders (ver. 3) as the representatives of all the tribes (ver. 1), in accordance with the former summons of Abner (2 Samuel 3:17, 19, 21), and doubtless after consultation in their national assembly (1 Samuel 8:4); now desirous and even eager (after long resistance) to accomplish the purpose of God, having "learnt by experience" the kind of king they needed, and being constrained by the pressure of circumstances.

3. "By his anointing by Samuel he acquired jus ad regnum, a right to the kingdom; and by his present anointing he had a jus in regno, authority over the kingdom" (A. Clarke). It was not merely a designation, but an inauguration to his office; a recognition and acceptance of his Divine appointment, as well as a symbol of his Divine endowment with all needful gifts (see 1 Samuel 10:1, 10; 1 Samuel 16:12); and it distinguished his person as sacred (1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 26:11), inasmuch as he represented the authority and power of the Divine King of Israel. His anointing for the third; time marks one of the greatest days of Israel's history (2 Samuel 2:4; 1 Samuel 9:28; 10:24; 11:15); and, in connection with it, observe -


1. His personal relationship. "Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh" (Genesis 29:14), expressive of their claims upon him, and of his qualification to rule over them; to understand their wants, sympathize with their aspirations, and promote their welfare (Deuteronomy 17:15). "The elders speak as if they had not been very sure whether they were to regard David as a Hebrew, or as a naturalized Philistine; but now their doubts are gone, they dwell on his blood relationship to them as a conclusive evidence that he would be out and out a Hebrew - that, therefore, he was worthy of the Hebrew crown" (Blaikie). So "in all things it behoved" the Captain of our salvation "to be made like unto his brethren" (Hebrews 2:17).

2. His proved ability and eminent services (ver. 2), indicative of his proper calling and the general esteem in which he was held (1 Samuel 16:5); "the bond of fellowship and love which had bound him to them, even under Saul, as leader in their military undertakings."

3. His previous designation. "According to the word of the Lord by Samuel" (1 Chronicles 11:3); making it their duty to seek his leadership as well as his to undertake it. "Why should they refer to God's choice of David?

(1) Because, although they had known all along that David had been fore-appointed to the throne, they had yet been struggling against that arrangement; and so it was fitting now that they should express their repentance and declare their readiness to receive him in God's name, and as from God's hand.

(2) Because they wished to remind him and themselves that the royal king of their nation was Jehovah, and that he and they were in allegiance to him" (W.M. Taylor). He did not "take this honour unto himself" without being "called of God" and desired by the people. It sought him rather than he it. And the grounds of his acceptance of it were (as is not always the case with those who assume royal office) unselfish, patriotic, and devout.

II. THE COVENANT MADE BY THE KING WITH THE ELDERS. "And King David made a covenant with [to] them before the Lord" (ver. 3). This covenant, agreement, or promise (whatever may have been its precise terms):

1. Expressed directly and chiefly an engagement, on his part, to rule over them according to the Divine will (Deuteronomy 17:16-20; 1 Samuel 10:25). He was by no means to be an absolute and irresponsible monarch, or "a king ruling arbitrarily as in heathen kingdoms, where at most a few nobles, the populace, or an imperfect oracular system limited his power;" but to be subject to the Law and to the voice of prophecy.

2. Involved the obligation, on their part, to obey him according to the same will (2 Samuel 3:21). "The Law of God was the rule and square of his government, whereunto both prince and people are sworn; which was a bridle against his absolute power or their rebellious manners" (Guild).

3. Was ratified in the most solemn manner - "in a form in which the theocratic principle is distinctly recognized." "The end and cause why God imprints in the weak and feeble flesh of man the image of his own power and majesty is not to puff up flesh in the opinion of itself; neither yet that he that is exalted above others should be lifted up by presumption and pride, and so despise others; but that he should consider he is appointed lieutenant of One whose eyes continually watch upon him and see and examine how he behaves himself in his office" (John Knox).

III. THE SPIRIT DISPLAYED BY THE PEOPLE, not only by the presence of the elders but also by that of the armed hosts, the flower of the nation, who marched to Hebron from all parts of the country, numbering (in addition to his "mighty men," 1 Chronicles 11:10-47; 2 Samuel 23:8-39; and those who had come to him during his exile, 1 Chronicles 12:1-22) 339,600, with two hundred chiefs of Issachar "and all their brethren," one thousand chiefs of Naphtali, and Zadok and twenty-two chiefs (1 Chronicles 12:23, 40). "All these men of war that could keep rank came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king."

1. Voluntary submission. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (Psalm 110:3).

2. National unanimity; such as is celebrated in Psalm 133. (written subsequently), 'Brotherly love' -

"Behold! how good and lovely it is
That (those who are) brethren should also dwell together!"

3. Enthusiastic devotion. "And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking; for their brethren had prepared for them," etc.

4. Abonnding joy. "For there was joy in Israel." This "gathering of the people" (Genesis 49:10) was a most memorable one (vers. 4, 5). In it the good hidden in their reprehensible desire for a king (l 1 Samuel 8:4-22) becomes apparent; we see the fruit of past labour, conflict, chastisement, and the seeds of future enterprise, success, advancement. "The kingship, as administered by David, appears neither as a necessary evil nor an improved constitution, but as a new ethic potency" (Oehler, 'Theology of the Old Testament' sec 165). "His career constitutes the culmination of that general advancement towards which the people of Israel had been aspiring with increasing energy for more than a century" (Ewald). - D.

Abner and Ishbosheth being dead, and Mephibosheth incapable from his lameness, the eleven tribes that for upwards of seven years had not only held aloof from David, but waged war with him, now come to the conclusion that it is best to become his subjects, and again be united with Judah in one kingdom. They accordingly make their submission to him and solemnly accept him as their sovereign.


1. Close relationship. "Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh" (comp. Ephesians 5:30). God has given to us a King who is one with us in nature. The Ruler of the Church, yea, of all things, is a Man; the throne of the universe is filled by a human form (see Hebrews 2:5, et seq.) - a fact which endears the Christ to his willing subjects.

2. Previous service. (Ver. 2.) "In time past," etc. In which service David had both displayed and increased his capacities for ruling men. With this may be compared Christ's period of service when on earth, especially during his public ministry and last sufferings. By these he was trained and prepared for his throne (made "perfect through sufferings," Hebrews 2:10); and it is in and by these that he reveals himself and attracts the hearts of men.

3. Divine appointment. (Ver. 2.) "The Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed ['shepherd,' 'be the shepherd of'] my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain [literally, 'foremost man, leader'] over Israel." A king is to be as a shepherd to his subjects, not only ruling them, but caring for, watching over, protecting, guiding, uniting them; guarding and preserving the weak from violence and oppression, as a shepherd his lambs. The image was natural to the Hebrews, and runs through the Scriptures, extending even to the visions of heaven (Revelation 7:17). The king was also to be leader in peace or war, ever "to the front," worthy to be followed, first and foremost in all noble deeds, accepting courageously the perils of such a position. David was such a king, imperfectly; Christ is such a King, perfectly. Both were divinely designated to the office of Ruler of God's people, Kings by Divine right in the strictest sense. As such David is here recognized at length by the tribes of Israel, as before by the tribe of Judah. As such the Lord Jesus is recognized by his followers. These reasons had existed and should have been as powerful immediately after Saul's death; but they had not been allowed to operate. But the experience of these tribes whilst holding aloof from David, their present disorganized condition, possibly also their knowledge of the benefits of David's rule to Judah, combined to open their eyes, and so impress these considerations on their hearts as to produce a general willingness to accept him whom they had been rejecting. And thus it is with many in respect to the great King. His claims are known, but other lords are preferred, until, after delay more or less protracted, they become convinced of their sin and folly, and surrender themselves to him. Let those who are thus procrastinating beware lest they become convinced too late.


1. A mutual covenant. He engaging to rule them, and they to serve him according to the Law of God (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). In like manner, when men receive Christ as their King, promising loyalty and obedience, he on his part promises to be to them all that his gospel represents him. These Israelites, indeed, may have imposed special stipulations not expressed in the Law; but we, in accepting Christ, have simply to submit to the terms of the Divine covenant, as we are not in any degree independent parties.

2. The anointing of David as king. The third time he was anointed - once by Samuel, once by the tribe of Judah, and now by the rest of the tribes. For the people could in a measure give him authority over them. But our King Jesus can receive no authority from us. He is the Christ (the Anointed) of God; we have simply to recognize his Divine authority.

3. The presence of God was recognized. "Before the Lord." This was fitting, as he was supreme Monarch, to whom both king and people were bound to submit, whose blessing was necessary to render the union happy; and an engagement made as in his sight would be felt as peculiarly binding. So should we, in accepting Christ, place ourselves in the presence of God, first in secret, then in his house, and at the Lord's Table.

4. A joyful feast concluded the proceedings. (See 1 Chronicles 12:39, 40.) It was to the whole people a suitable occasion for rejoicing. They were again one nation. Their union would be cemented by eating and drinking together. They would the better retain the feeling of union when they had separated to their various localities and homes, and would be the better prepared to perform their common duties to the king and the nation. Thus also our Lord enjoins his subjects to eat and drink together in his Name, that they may recognize each other as his, rejoice together in their privileges, and be more closely united to him and the whole "Israel of God." In conclusion:

1. Happy is the nation whose rulers and subjects alike recognize God as the supreme Ruler over them, and his will as their supreme law; act as in his sight, and invoke his blessing.

2. Closer union amongst Christians must spring from more thorough acceptance of the royal authority of Christ. They are one in him, and they will become more completely, more consciously, and more manifestly one in proportion as they, all alike, renouncing merely human authorities, come to Christ himself, listen to him, and submit to his authority in all things. - G.W.

This is the first occasion on which we find the occupation of a shepherd made use of to describe the office of a king. Jacob, who had "fed Laban's flocks," spoke of "the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel" (Genesis 49:24; Genesis 48:15); Moses, who had "kept the flock of Jethro," prayed that Jehovah would "set a man over the congregation" as his successor, so that they might not be "as sheep having no shepherd" (Numbers 27:7); here the elders declare that Jehovah said (through Samuel) to David, who "fed his father's sheep at Bethlehem," concerning his royal destination, "Thou shalt feed [raah, equivalent to 'tend,' 'act as shepherd towards'] my people Israel" (2 Samuel 7:7; Psalm 78:70-72; Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 23; Jeremiah 50:5; Ezekiel 34:1, 23; Micah 5:4; Zechariah 13:7, etc.). "The business of a shepherd is a preparation for the office of a king to any one who is destined to preside over that most manageable of all flocks, mankind; for which reason kings are called shepherds of their people, not by way of reproach, but as a most especial and pre-eminent honour" (Philo, 'Life of Moses'). "Shepherds are not owners of the sheep; but their office is to feed and govern: no more are kings proprietaries or owners of the people. 'The nations,' as the Scriptures saith, are 'his inheritance;' but the office of kings is to govern, maintain, and protect people. And that is not without a mystery that the first king that was instituted by God, David (for Saul was but an untimely fruit), was translated from a shepherd" (Bacon). What was said to David applies to every king, ruler, magistrate, master, in the sphere over which he has legitimate authority. Consider -

I. THE DIVINE IDEA OF HIS OFFICE. It is an office in which authority and power:

1. Are entrusted by the ordination of God, the Proprietor, Ruler, Chief Shepherd of the people; not self-derived nor unlimited; yet investing every under shepherd with dignity.

2. Should be exercised according to the will of God (Psalm 101.), in affectionate interest in the people; intimate acquaintance with them, guiding them, providing for them, defending them, restoring them, and, generally, seeking their welfare with diligence, considerateness, tenderness, patience, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. "Chrysostom writeth that the shepherds in Cappadocia have such love unto their flock, that sometimes for three days together, in following them, they are overwhelmed with snow, and yet they endure it; and in Lydia, how far they travel with the sheep for a month together in the waste deserts and parching heat of the sun; who herein do teach such as are shepherds of men that they should even not spare their own lives for the common good" (Willet).

3. Must be accounted for, as to their use, before the presence of God. "These sheep, what have they done?" (2 Samuel 24:17). "A king is a mortal god on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honour; but withal told him he should die like a man, test he should be proud and flatter himself that God hath with his name imparted unto him his nature also" (Bacon).

II. THE DIVINE SOURCE OF HIS PROSPERITY. "And David went on going and growing" after the conquest of the stronghold of Zion, etc. (vers. 6-10), which he achieved as captain, "leader and commander of the people" (as well as their shepherd) "waxed greater and greater" (2 Samuel 7:9) in power and fame; "and Jehovah the God of hosts" (1 Samuel 1:3) "was with him" (as his Shepherd, Psalm 23:1, and Captain, 2 Samuel 22:35-37).

1. Approving of the manner in which he devoted himself to his calling. Fidelity is the necessary condition of the special favour of God; which is ever testified in the heart and conscience, and often shown by outward events (Genesis 39:2, 21).

2. Assisting him in the performance of the duties of his calling; strengthening, upholding, directing, protecting him.

3. Accomplishing the aim of his endeavours in his calling; for no skill nor effort, without Divine cooperation, can ensure success. "Except the Lord build the house," etc. (Psalm 127:1). While God was with him (1 Samuel 10:11) Saul prospered; when left to himself he lost his kingdom and his life.

III. THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF HIS EXALTATION AND ESTABLISHMENT IN HIS OFFICE. "And David perceived," from the friendly aid of Hiram, the erection of his palace (ver. 11), which he appears to have regarded as a pledge of the stability of his kingdom (Psalm 30., inscription), and his continued prosperity, "that Jehovah had established him," in accordance with his former choice, "king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom" (1 Chronicles 14:2, 17) "for his people Israel's sake;" because he had chosen them to be his people, "the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm 100:3), and sought their prosperity and exaltation, according to his faithful promises (2 Samuel 7:23) that through them all nations might be blessed, and the whole earth filled with his glory. A faithful servant recognizes in his successes:

1. An immediate purpose of good toward himself; beholding therein the hand of God and "the kindness and truth" by which it is directed; ascribing his prosperity, not to himself, but to the Lord.

2. An ulterior and larger purpose of good toward others, for whose benefit rather than his own he is exalted (2 Samuel 7:8, 16).

3. A powerful incentive to thankfulness, hopefulness, and fresh consecration to the service of God and his people. "It was the successiveness, the continuity of the steps, in his history, which assured him that God's hand had been directing the whole of it. Had David, instead of maintaining the crown, which circumstances pointed out to him as his, seized violently that which was not his, he would not have perceived that the Lord had made him King of Israel; he would have felt that he had made himself so, and would have acted upon that persuasion. The government which a man wins for himself he uses for himself; that which he inwardly and practically acknowledges as conferred upon him by a righteous Being cannot be intended for himself. And thus it is that the early and mysterious teaching of David while he was in the sheepfold bore so mightily upon his life after he became king.. The deepest lesson which he had learnt was that he himself was under government; that his heart and will was the inmost circle of that authority which the winds and the sea, the moon and the stars, obeyed" (Maurice).


1. The lowliest occupation is often a preparation for the highest; and he who shows fidelity in the least is rewarded with opportunity for its exercise in the greatest.

2. The possession of authority and power severely tests men's characters, and sometimes proves their destruction.

3. It is a good sign when one who is exalted shows more concern about performing the duties than enjoying the honours of his position.

4. God sends good rulers out of his regard for the welfare of the people.

5. The best rulers are those who sympathize most with the Divine purposes, and most humbly and faithfully "serve their generation."

6. Even the best are imperfect, and often fail to attain their loftiest aims or fulfil their early promise.

7. In One alone do we behold the perfect Shepherd-King (John 10:14; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 7:17). - D.

David's first act after his anointing amidst the assembled tribes (1 Chronicles 12:38-40) was to place himself at the head of his army, and march against Jebus, the capital of the Jebusites. With this place he was familiar from his boyhood, and often, perhaps, wondered why it was suffered to remain so long unsubdued (Joshua 1:3, 4). He perceived its advantages as a site for the capital of his kingdom, and the necessity of its reduction in order to the establishment and extension thereof. His enterprise, whatever may have been its immediate cause, was completely successful. Henceforth supreme interest centres in Zion, the city of David, Jerusalem ("foundation of peace"), beyond any other city mentioned in sacred history, poetry, or prophecy. "Jerusalem was destined to become the seat of the Hebrew government, and the scene of the most extraordinary events, and more strange and awful vicissitudes, than any other city of the universe, not excepting Rome" (Milman). Note -

I. ITS PECULIAR SITUATION. In the heart of the country, remote from the great roads of communication with the East; on a mountainous table land, and entrenched on a cluster of hills, the highest of which was crowned with the stronghold, rock fortress, or acropolis of Zion (ver. 7); on the borderline between Benjamin and Judah, belonging equally to both parts of the now united kingdom. Its selection was a striking proof of David's military ability and political insight, and was probably determined by a higher wisdom (Deuteronomy 12:5; 2 Chronicles 6:6). "God intended not Jerusalem for a staple of trade, but for a royal exchange of religion, chiefly holding correspondency with heaven itself, daily receiving blessings thence, duly returning praises thither; besides, God would not have his virgin people the Jews wooed with, much less wedded to, outlandish fashions" (Thos. Fuller).

II. ITS PREVIOUS HISTORY. As the city of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 77:2; Josephus, 'Wars,' 6:10), traditions of whose ancient greatness may have lingered around the spot, and fired the poet's imagination (Psalm 110:4); of Adonizedec the Amorite (Joshua 10:1), a man of different character, lille Adonibezek (Judges 1:7); smitten by Judah, occupied by Benjamin conjointly with the Jebusites (not, perhaps, driven out of their citadel), and afterwards entirely by the latter (Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:8, 21; Judges 3:5-7; Judges 19:10-12). "Joshua, and Deborah, and Samuel, and Saul, and David must have passed and repassed the hills, and gazed on the tower of the city, unconscious of the fate reserved for her in all subsequent time" (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine').

III. ITS HEROIC CONQUEST. David found little resistance in taking the lower city, in contrast With the upper city or citadel (Josephus), the defenders of which, relying on the strength of their position, said, derisively, that "blind and lame" were sufficient to repel his attack. But:

1. Self-confidence is fraught with danger. (1 Samuel 14:22.) "The enemies of God's people are often very confident of their own strength, and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh" (Matthew Henry).

2. Scorn is a spur to a resolute spirit. "And David said on that day -

Whoso smiteth a Jebusite (first),
Let him hurl down the precipice (watercourse)
Both the lame and blind,
Who are hateful to David's soul.'" And "he shall be chief and captain" (1 Chronicles 11:6).

3. Great inducements procure great achievements.

4. The prize is sometimes won by those for whom it is least intended. "So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief," his power, of which David bitterly complained (2 Samuel 3:39), being thereby confirmed.

5. The language of contempt comes back on those who employ it, to their lasting humiliation. It became a proverb: "The blind and lame [ironically applied to the over confident] shall not come into the house [succeed in anything]."

6. Severity should be joined with mercy. Although a hard fate befell some, yet most of the Jebusite inhabitants were incorporated into Israel (Zechariah 9:7), and one of them (2 Samuel 24:18) dwelt peacefully on an adjacent hill (2 Chronicles 3:1).

7. One victory is often followed by many. The capture of a fortress by national and world-wide consequences.

IV. ITS PERMANENT OCCUPATION, STRENGTHENING, AND EXTENSION. "And David dwelt in the stronghold [of Zion], and called it the city of David" (see Conder, 'Handbook,' p. 337). "And David built round about from Millo ['the citadel,' LXX.] and inward" (ver. 9). "And Joab restored the rest of the city" (1 Chronicles 11:9). "The erection of the new capital at Jerusalem introduces us to a new era, not only in the inward holms of the prophet king, but in the external history of the monarchy" (Stanley, 'Jewish Church;' Ewald).

V. ITS THEOCRATIC RELATION, WHICH WAS ITS CHIEF DISTINCTION. AS the metropolis of the chosen people, the residence of the Lord's Anointed (Messiah), the seat of government, the centre of religion and Divine service, the source of far-reaching influence, it was "the city of the great King" (Matthew 5:35), where he dwelt, reigned, manifested his glory, and "commanded his blessing, even life forevermore." So Jerusalem was described by psalmists and prophets, and won the passionate attachment of her children, in which love of country and home, devotion to God, and hope for the world were inseparably blended. "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God" (Psalm 86:3; Psalm 48; Psalm 122; Psalm 125:1, 2; Psalm 137.).

VI. ITS EXTRAORDINARY VICISSITUDES. "In the fifteen centuries which elapsed between those two points (Judges 1:8; Luke 21:20), the city was besieged no fewer than seventeen times; twice it was razed to the ground; and on two occasions its walls were levelled. In this respect it stands without a parallel in any city, ancient or modern" (Smith's 'Dictionary'). What a scene did it present during these ages of military, political, religious strife, of prophetic activity and demoniacal wickedness, of mercy and of judgment (Amos 3:2)! With its rejection of "the Son of David" its lingering theocratic glory departed, and its walls became a desolate heap. "O Jerusalem!" (Luke 13:34; Luke 20:41-44).

VII. ITS SPIRITUAL FORESHADOWING. "In the progress of the city of God through the ages, David first reigned in the earthly Jerusalem as a shadow of that which was to come" (Augustine, 'City of God,' 17:14. 20); "Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22); the spiritual kingdom of which Christ is King, the general assembly and Church of which he is the Head; the lofty, free, mother city of us all (Galatians 4:25, 26); "the holy city, new Jerusalem" (Revelation 21:1); glorious, unchanging, everlasting (Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 13:14). "O holy Zion! where all is abiding, and nothing passes away!"

"O happy harbour of the saints!
O sweet and pleasant soil!
In thee no sorrow may be found,
No grief, no care, no toil." = - D.

And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. The growing greatness of David was owing to the presence and favour of God, and was accompanied with them. It was, then -

I. GREATNESS WELL-DERIVED. All greatness is in some sense from God; but all does not spring from his favour. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction" (Psalm 73:18). He that becomes "a great man" through unjust violence, the oppression and swallowing up of the weak, low cunning, unscrupulous ambition, insatiable avarice, or an absorbing activity of mind and bevy which excludes God from thought and life, cannot rightly attribute his success to the blessing of God. Such greatness is disastrous, and carries a curse with it. It is reached by serving Satan, and accompanied with slavery to him and participation of his doom. He was not altogether lying when he said (Luke 4:6, 7) that the power and glory of the world were given by him to those who would worship him. The world abounds in instances of greatness so won. But the greatness which is a gift of God's favour is reached by paths of truth and uprightness and piety; by the strenuous employment of all the powers, indeed, but in harmony with the Divine will; not so much, therefore, with the purpose to grow great as to be of service to others. It is rather accepted as a gift of God than sought; and is accepted "with fear and trembling," lest the strong temptations which accompany all worldly greatness should become victorious. Such greatness is accompanied with a good conscience, and may be without serious peril to the soul. It may foster principles of godliness and benevolence. It qualifies for high service of others, and, so employed, enlarges the heart and elevates instead of degrading the character. It thus ministers to the truest greatness - that which is spiritual and eternal.

II. GREATNESS WELL-ACCOMPANIED. Some, the greater they grow the less of God they enjoy; they gradually forsake him, and he at length abandons them. But there are those of whom it may be said, as they grow great in this world, still "the Lord God of hosts is with them."

1. How the great may secure this blessing. By:

(1) Humility (Deuteronomy 8:13, 14; Psalm 138:6; James 4:6).

(2) Devotion of their enlarged powers to the service of God and of man.

(3) Constant prayer. On the other hand, pride, selfishness, and prayerlessness will separate them from God.

2. The benefits they will derive from it.

(1) The highest and purest enjoyment to which worldly honours and resources can minister.

(2) Preservation from the perils of their position.

(3) The power to gain the best kind of good. from it.

(4) And to do the most good by it.

(5) Greatness thus accompanied is likely to be lasting.

Finally, spiritual greatness combines in a pre-eminent degree the two excellences of being God derived and God accompanied. It springs from the favour of God, and secures its constant enjoyment. It consists in abundance of spiritual wisdom, holiness, and love, and consequent power for good; in the honour which these bring from God, and in the confidence, affection, and respect with which they inspire men. It has the advantage of being accessible to all, its conditions being, first, faith in Christ and God; and then the fruits of faith, such as love, humility (Matthew 18:4), obedience to God (Matthew 5:19), self-control (Proverbs 16:32), self-denying service (Matthew 20:20-28). Such greatness is intrinsic and essential. It is best for ourselves and best for others. It is inseparable from the man himself, and, surviving all worldly distinctions, goes with him into eternity, and abides forever (see 1 John 2:17). - G.W.

Hiram was another of those heathen princes with whom David stood in friendly relation (Achish of Gath; the King of Moab, 1 Samuel 22:3; Talmai of Geshur, 2 Samuel 3:3; Tel, or Tou, of Hamath, 2 Samuel 8:9; Joram, or Hadoram, his son, 1 Chronicles 18:10; Nahash, the Ammonite king of Rabbah, ch. 10:1, 2; Shobi, his son, 2 Samuel 17:27). He was king of "the strong (fortified) city, Tyre" (Joshua 19:29); chief of those Phoenician cities "whose flag waved at once in Britain and the Indian Ocean" (Humboldt); celebrated alike for its maritime enterprise, commercial activity, and mechanical arts (Isaiah 23:8; Ezekiel 27.). "Hiram, like David, had just established his throne securely upon the ruins of the rule of the shophetim, or judges, and raised the country to a position of power and independence which it had not previously enjoyed" (A.S. Wilkins, 'Phoenicia and Israel'). Notice:

1. His political sagacity. In seeking to secure a "commercial treaty" with the King of Israel, by means of which his people might receive corn, oil, etc. (Acts 12:20), in exchange for manufactured goods, Tyrian purple, articles of tin and bronze, weapons of war, jewellery, etc., and might not be prevented from continuing their commercial pursuits along the great caravan lines of traffic with Egypt, Arabia, Babylon, and Assyria, that ran through the country.

2. His peaceable disposition. In sending "messengers" with friendly communications, either of his own accord, or in response to an embassy. "How little David resembled the later Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian disturbers of the world is most immediately and clearly shown by the fact that he did not, like these great conquerors, seize upon the Phoenician maritime towns, but always remained on the best terms with the little Phoenician states, which were entirely occupied in commerce and the productive arts, and readily sought peace with him" (Ewald).

3. His generous appreciation. Without jealousy or suspicion of David, of whom, doubtless, he had heard much, on account of his ability, energy, and integrity, confirmed by personal intercourse. "God knows how to incline toward pious rulers the minds of neighbouring princes and kings, that they may show them all friendly good will" (Starke).

4. His valuable assistance. With "cedar trees" (from Lebanon, as subsequently, 1 Kings 5.), "and carpenters, and masons," in building a "house of cedar" (2 Samuel 7:2; 2 Samuel 6:16: 9:13; 11:2), or stately palace in Zion, the city of David; perhaps in erecting and adorning other houses in the city, and generally promoting the arts and industries of Israel (1 Chronicles 22:2). The intercourse thus commenced was immensely beneficial, though it ultimately proved an occasion of evil. "Many have excelled in arts and sciences that were strangers to the covenants of promise; yet David's house was never the worse nor the less fitting to be dedicated to God for its being built by the sons of the stranger" (Matthew Henry).

5. His steadfast friendship with David during his life, afterwards with Solomon, contributing to the maintenance of peace and the increase of prosperity among both peoples. "Hiram was ever a lover of David" (1 Kings 5:1).

6. His reverential spirit. "Blessed be Jehovah," etc. (1 Kings 5:7). Without entirely renouncing the worship of "the Lord Melkarth [king of the city], Baal of Tyre," he was drawn to the faith of Israel; and, to that extent, represented the gathering of the Gentiles to "the Desire of all nations" (Psalm 45:12; Matthew 15:27; Acts 21:3-6). He was an extraordinary man, eminent in life, honoured in death (by the erection of "the tomb of Hiram," Robinson, 2:456); and he will "rise in the judgment and condemn" the unfaithful under higher privileges (Matthew 11:21). - D.

These words are introduced after the narration of the taking of the fortress of Zion, the erection of additional buildings around it, and especially the building of a royal residence for David. It was the establishment of a metropolis for the whole kingdom, and both evidenced and promoted a settled state of things. David's thoughts upon the matter are given in the text. He recognized that it was God who made him king, and that his exaltation was for the sake of God's people Israel.


1. The Divine operation. God had raised David to the throne and settled him on it. At every step the hand of God was clear; especially clear was that hand as the whole series of steps, their connection and issue, were regarded.

2. The Divine purpose. All was "for his people Israel's sake." Not for the sake of David and his family, that they might be rich, luxurious, and honoured; but for the good of others. That the tribes might be united and consolidated as one nation, free, settled, safe, prosperous, and glorious. That the people might be elevated in their moral and religious life; and that they might be better fitted to fulfil the great end of their election as God's people, witnessing for him, maintaining his worship, preserving his truth, showing forth his praise, and promoting his kingdom in the world; and that ultimately from them might come the Saviour and salvation. Similarly, the Son of David is exalted, not for himself alone, but that he may deliver, "gather together in one" (John 11:52), teach, sanctify, elevate, and eternally save, the people of God. He is "Head over all things to the Church" (Ephesians 1:22). In like manner, all power, elevation, authority, etc., with which men are endowed are given to them for the sake of others, and ultimately for the sake of God's people, to whom in Christ all things belong (1 Corinthians 3:21-23), that they may be blessed and be made a blessing to mankind.


1. He recognized that his exaltation was from God. This would check pride and produce humility and gratitude.

2. He recognized that his exaltation was for the sake of the people. This would check selfish ambition and produce cordial devotement to the good of the nation. And thus should we seek to have a clear perception and deep impression of the agency and purpose of God in our lives. We should regard all we have of being, faculty, position, or possessions, temporal and spiritual alike, as from him; and all as given us, not merely or chiefly for ourselves, but for the sake of others, especially for their salvation - that they may become, if they are not, God's people, and that as God's people they may prosper, be united, victorious over all the foes of God and man, and powerful to bless mankind. For this is the Divine purpose, and as we make it our own we become intelligent coworkers with God, and our lives are filled with meaning, dignity, and worth, and a fitting preparation for the world where all are consciously, willingly, and habitually engaged in doing the will of God (Matthew 6:10). - G.W.

2 Samuel 5:17-20 (1 Chronicles 14:8-11). - (THE VALLEY OF REPHAIM.)
(References: 2 Samuel 8:1, 12; 2 Samuel 21:15, 18, 19; 2 Samuel 23:9, 11, 13; 1 Kings 2:39.) "Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-Perazim" (ver. 20). So long as David reigned over a single tribe and was at war with the house of Saul, he was left unmolested by the Philistines (1 Samuel 29:1-11), whose suzerainty he, perhaps, acknowledged; but when they heard that he was chosen king over all Israel, that an immense army had gathered around him not far from their own border, and that the Jebusite "stronghold of Zion" had fallen before him, they took alarm, mustered all their forces, marched up "to seek [attack] David" (the chief object of their suspicion and fear), and "spread themselves in the Valley of Rephaim" (near Jerusalem). In the condition and conduct of David (as representing the servants of God in conflict with their adversaries) we observe -


1. Often occurs after unusual success and honour; being adapted to check undue self-confidence and self-security. "Lest I should be exalted above measure," etc. (2 Corinthians 12:7).

2. Clearly manifests the spirit which men possess, whether of faith and courage, or of fear and cowardice (1 Samuel 17:11).

3. Makes personal effort indispensable. The conflict was forced upon David. It could not be avoided without disobedience (2 Samuel 3:18), dishonour, and destruction. And it is the same in other cases. "Ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies," etc. (Deuteronomy 20:3).

II. PRUDENTIAL ACTIVITY. "And David heard of it, and went down to the hold," the stronghold of Zion (ver. 7), from his residence on the highest and safest part of the mountain ridge; or more probably the stronghold in the desert of Judah, where he had formerly found refuge (1 Samuel 22:5; 1 Samuel 24:22; 2 Samuel 23:14). It may be sometimes necessary to "sit still" and quietly wait for Divine deliverance; but we should:

1. Not remain inactive through sloth, vain-confidence, or presumption.

2. Nor rush into conflict rashly, or enter upon new courses unadvisedly.

3. But after due consideration adopt those measures which afford the fairest prospects of safety and success. "A prudent man," etc. (Proverbs 22:3).

III. PRAYERFUL INQUIRY. "And David inquired of the Lord," etc. (2 Samuel 2:1; 2 Samuel 16:23; 2 Samuel 21:1).

1. After the utmost thought and endeavour of our own, we often find ourselves in perplexity as to the course we should pursue.

2. Our best resource in perplexity is to seek Divine counsel; and those who have had experience of its efficacy will not fail to do so (1 Samuel 14:16-23; 1 Samuel 23:1-12).

3. Nor shall we fail to find adequate directions and encouraging promises if we seek it in a right manner. "Go up," etc. "David did not seek Divine counsel (by consulting the Urim) whether to attack Jebus, apparently, because his mind was clear that the enterprise was advantageous. But when Ziklag had been burned by the Amalekites, and now when a dangerous army is at hand, he is glad of such advice. It would appear that he regarded it as a Divine aid in times of perplexity, but only to be sought for in such times. He had no idea of abdicating his duties as a military leader, and putting the movements of his army into the control of the priest. Hence, perhaps, it is that, as his confidence in his troops and in his own warlike experience increased, he ceased altogether to consult the sacred Urim, for we hear no more of it in his later wars "(F.W. Newman).

IV. PRACTICAL OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF THE LORD. "And David came," etc. When. the path of duty is made plain, nothing remains but to walk therein with:

1. Humility, simplicity, alacrity; as a soldier at the word of command. The habit of immediate and absolute obedience to the will of God is essential to "a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

2. Dependence on Divine strength and confidence in Divine promises.

3. Courage, concentration of purpose and energy in performance. "Do it with thy might." David's attack was made with such impetuosity that it was like the breaking forth of water, a torrent or inundation which bursts through, disperses and sweeps away whatever opposes its course.

V. PUBLIC THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE. "Jehovah hath broken forth upon mine enemies... Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-Perazim." i.e. properly, lord, master, possessor, and, tropically, place (which possesses or is distinguished by something) of breaches, inundations, dispersions, defeats (Gesenius).

1. The spirit in which success is really sought appears in the manner in which it is used. When sought by and for God it will be ascribed to him. "Not unto us," etc. "His right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory" (Psalm 98:1).

2. The help which is graciously and openly vouchsafed by God should be gratefully and openly acknowledged by men (Psalm 50:14, 15).

3. Of Divine benefits a record should be made by those who receive them, for the instruction of "the generation to come" (Psalm 78:4); and the place which is distinguished by them should become a permanent memorial of Divine power and goodness. This victory was long remembered. "For Jehovah will rise up as on the mountain of Perazim," etc. (Isaiah 28:21). "The military stamp of the first part of David's reign is the preindication of the military character of the whole of it. In the Psalms of David we hear the echo of this warlike and victorious theocracy. They are mostly songs of conflict and victory in praise of the God who saved his people from their enemies" (Erdmann). - D.

The enlargement and establishment of David's kingdom, while a joy to Israel, was a grief to their old and formidable enemies, the Philistines. These came in great numbers into the territory of Israel, hoping to seize David himself (ver. 17), as the shortest way of putting an end to the newly united state. So formidable was the invasion that the king found it desirable to leave his new city and go "down to the hold," the fortress probably of Adullam, with such forces as he could collect; and when the enemy "spread themselves in the Valley of Rephaim," he sought direction and promise of victory from God before attacking them, and received the answer, "Go up," etc. Christians are called to a warfare with powerful enemies, who are the enemies of Christ and his kingdom; and it is their satisfaction that they have received Divine assurance of victory. They have to fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil, as they assail themselves and endanger their salvation, and as they prevail in the world and even invade the Church. They are powerful foes, with many resources at command, and their onset is at times alarming. As the Philistines with David, they may be expected to make specially violent assaults when special prosperity has been attained, but the results are not yet fully established. But it is the joy of Christ's warriors that victory is certain. Each faithful soul shall successfully fight his own way to heaven, and the Church shall gain final and complete success in the battle with evil.

I. HOW THE ASSURANCE OF VICTORY IS IMPARTED. How does God assure us that we shall be successful in the Christian war?

1. By the intuitions of the soul. When we distinctly place before our minds the combatants, we cannot doubt which will ultimately be victorious. It is a conflict between good and evil, truth and error, right and wrong, holiness and sin, God and Satan. Evil is mighty, but good is almighty, because the living, true, and holy God is almighty.

2. By the promises and prophecies of his Word. These assure victory to every faithful soul in his own personal contest (see 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:10-13; James 4:7; Matthew 24:13), and triumph to the Church in the conflict with error and sin in the world, notwithstanding the deep and firm hold they have upon men, their extensive prevalence, their long reign. These assurances abound throughout the Scriptures, culminating in the descriptions of the conflict in the Apocalypse, and of the victories of the great Leader and his forces, and summed up in the triumphant shout of the great voices in heaven: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).

3. By the mission and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. He came as our "Leader and Commander" (Isaiah 55:4), and, by his personal conflict, endurance, and conquests, not only led the way for his followers, but secured victory for them. "Be of good cheer," he says, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33; see also Hebrews 2:9, 10, 14-18; 1 Corinthians 15:24, 25).

4. By the victories already won. The gift of the Holy Spirit and his mighty operations in apostolic times and all through the Christian centuries. The victories over the old paganism; the Reformation; the revivals of religion at various periods; the successes of modern missions. Every true hearted Christian has in his own experience not only a pledge of final victory for himself, but an encouragement to seek the salvation of others.

II. THE EFFECT WHICH SUCH ASSURANCE SHOULD HAVE UPON US. "Go up." Engage in the battle with evil; and do so with:

1. Confidence and courage.

2. Resolute zeal and determination.

3. Persistency, notwithstanding all delays, discouragements, and partial failures.

4. Songs of victory. Not only forevery advantage gained, but for the final and complete victory already to faith as good as won. If the hope of victory in other conflicts produces such effects, much more should the absolute certainty which the soldiers of Christ have. An altogether ill effect is that which the Divine assurances produce on some. They say that, as the battle is the Lord's, and he is sure to conquer, their efforts are needless. As relates to a man's own salvation, such a persuasion is fatal; for victory is promised only to the earnest combatant, and the assurance of Divine operation is made a reason why we should "work out our own salvation" (Luke 13:24; 1 Timothy 6:12; Philippians 2:12, 13). And as respects the spread and triumph of the kingdom of Christ, such a feeling indicates ignorance, indifference, indolence, and unfaithfulness, rather than faith in God. It is quite inconsistent with both Scripture and reason, and will deprive those who cherish it of all share in the joy of final victory, even if they are not utterly cast away as "wicked, slothful, and unprofitable" (Matthew 25:26, 30). - G.W.

2 Samuel 5:21 (1 Chronicles 14:12). - (BAAL-PERAZIM.)
The religion of the Canaanite people was "an apotheosis of the forces and laws of nature; an adoration of the objects in which those forces were seen and where they appeared most active" (Movers). The Philistines carried (probably on sacred carts) their images or gods (commonly regarded as identical) into battle, expecting victory by their aid; but so sudden was their defeat, and so hasty their flight, that they were compelled to leave them behind, and "David and his men took them away;" and "David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire." "When the ark fell into the Philistines' hands it consumed them; but when these images fell into the hands of Israel they could not save themselves from being consumed" (Patrick). In their destruction we see:

1. A proof of the vanity of idols. These images (atsabim, equivalent to "things fashioned with labour") were only "the work of men's hands" (Psalm 115:4-8), and "profitable for nothing" (Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 44:9-20; Isaiah 46:6, 7), disappointing completely the confidence reposed in them. Who could henceforth regard them or others with fear or respect?

2. A testimony to the power of Jehovah, the living and true God, the Holy One of Israel. It was against him that the Philistines fought in attacking his people; and by him they and their idols were overthrown, as aforetime (1 Samuel 5:3; 1 Samuel 7:7; 1 Samuel 17:38-54). Yet how persistent was their opposition (ver. 22)!

3. An expression of abhorrence of idolatry, and zeal for the worship of God alone; the personal fidelity of David to the fundamental principle of the theocracy (Psalm 16:4). During his reign idolatry found no place in Israel.

4. A fulfilment of the injunctions of the Law. "Thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images" (Exodus 23:24), "and burn their graven images with fire" (Deuteronomy 7:5). Idolatry was a direct crime against the state, high treason against the Divine King of Israel, and might not be tolerated in any form.

5. A precaution against exposure to temptation, by the influence of their presence, forms, names, associations, on hearts always too prone to go astray. "Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein," etc. (Deuteronomy 7:25, 26). No sacrifice was too great to avoid such a snare (Acts 19:19). "Here, perhaps, the admirer of ancient sculpture will be ready to drop a tear of regret over the fine statues and other monuments of antiquity theft must have been destroyed in consequence of the Mosaic mandate; but he may safely dry it up, for the chef d'oeuvres of this period were not worth sparing" (Michaelis). Even if they had been the finest specimens of art, their preservation from the flames would have been an ill compensation for the moral evil which it would have induced.

6. A representation of the design of the true religion. "To destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8), and to maintain and extend the knowledge, love, and service of God; not, indeed, by force, but by the truth (2 Corinthians 10:4; see 1 Samuel 5:3).

7. A prophecy and an earnest of the complete demolition of idols (Isaiah 2:18-20), and the earth being "filled with the glory of the Lord" (Numbers 14:21). "Thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen," etc. (2 Samuel 22:44, 50).

"All nations whom thou hast made,
Shall come and bow themselves down before thee, O Lord;
And shall give glory to thy Name."

(Psalm 86:9; Psalm 22:27; Psalm 97:7; Psalm 96:3, 5, 10.) Conclusion. Those who are zealous in destroying the idols of others should not spare their own. What is an idol? That object (whatever it may be) which a man sets up before his face or in his heart, and which he thinks about, delights in, and relies upon, more than God. "Flee from idolatry!" (1 Corinthians 10:14; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 3:19; 1 John 5:21). - D.

2 Samuel 5:22, 23 (1 Chronicles 14:13, 14). - (THE VALLEY OF REPHAIM.)

1. The life of a godly man on earth is a warfare which is perpetually renewed. Hardly has one conflict been passed through before another awaits him with old or new and more formidable foes: the world, the flesh, the devil; ignorance, idolatries, oppressions, sin and misery of all kinds (1 Samuel 17:1-11). Yea, each day the "good warfare" begins afresh. "The approach of duty is as a battlefield" (Essenian maxim). "On awaking in the morning, the first thing to be observed by thine inward sight is the listed field in which thou art enclosed; the law of the combat being that he who fights not must there lie dead forever" (Scupeli).

2. Signal success in one conflict does not ensure the like in the next; and it ought, therefore, to be always associated with humility, watchfulness, and prayer; from lack of which many a victory has been turned into a defeat, it was a motto of King Alfred ("Si modo victor eras," etc.) ?

"If today thou be conqueror, beware of the fight of tomorrow;
If today thou be conquered, prepare for the fight of tomorrow."

3. One victory affords ground for the confident expectation of another, when the latter is looked for in the same spirit as the former, with dependence on the strength of God, submission to his will, devotion to his glory and the good of his people. "David inquired of the Lord again."

4. The special means to be employed in every new conflict must be adapted to the special circumstances of the case; and both the wisdom to perceive them and the might to make them effectual are from the Lord. "Thou shalt not go up" (directly, in front of them, as in the former conflict, and as he was about to do again); "go round about them to their rear, and come upon them opposite the mulberry trees" (a spot, probably well known to David and his men, where a cluster or grove of baca trees would favour their attack), etc. "The words teach us that in our own strength, and merely with the human weapons of reason and science, we are not to make war against the adversary. Success can only be calculated upon when the conflict is undertaken under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God breathed forth, and in the immediate blessed experience of the gracious presence of the Lord and of the truth of his Word" (Krummacher). - D.

2 Samuel 5:24, 25 (1 Chronicles 14:15-17). - (THE VALLEY or REPHAIM.)
The sound of a going (as of footsteps, Judges 5:4; 2 Samuel 6:13) "in the beginnings" (on the tops or at the entrance of the grove) "of the baca trees," which David heard, was a sign appointed by God, occurring, either by his extraordinary and miraculous operation for a special purpose; or by his ordinary operation in nature and providence (the rustling of the leaves in a still season by a fresh breeze, such as, in the East, usually springs up about day dawn), and made use of by him for that purpose. It is not stated that it was intended for or perceived by any one else but David. To him it was "the sound of his Master's feet" (2 Kings 6:32); the "going out before him" of "the Captain of the Lord's host" (Joshua 5:14) at the head of legions of angels "to smite the Philistines," and summoning him to follow. And the enemy, wrapped in slumber, and attacked at an unexpected time and place, was surprised and routed. Are there now no signs of a similar nature?

1. They are needed at certain seasons - in order to the proper understanding, enforcement, and application of the truths and duties contained in the written Word; especially when iniquity abounds, love waxes cold, labour is vain, and fear and perplexity prevail; when "we see not our signs" (Psalm 74:9), nor receive "a token for good" (Psalm 86:17).

2. They are afforded in various ways - by a striking concurrence of events with the Word (1 Samuel 10:7) or their peculiar combination; by manifest tendencies, vivid impressions, spiritual suggestions, or an Unusual expectancy; sometimes with "a still small voice," sometimes with "the sound of a trumpet," "thunder and vain" (1 Samuel 12:17), or "a rushing mighty wind." They are never wholly absent; but do we hear or see them?

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes."

(Mrs. Browning.) Consider them as -

I. PERCEIVED BY A VIGILANT OBSERVER. "When thou hearest the sound of a going," etc. Having "inquired of the Lord," and received the promise of aid, David watched for the sign thereof. "I will stand upon my watch," etc. (Habakkuk 2:1). Such a watchman:

1. Fixes his attention on the spiritual realities by which the world of sense is surrounded, supported, pervaded; and becomes conscious of what is hidden from others, whose attention is wholly absorbed in earthly things; hearing a voice they cannot hear, and seeing a hand they cannot see.

2. Relies upon the promises which have been graciously spoken by "him who is invisible."

3. Looks for their fulfilment with fervent desire and unwearied patience, "more than they that watch for the morning" (Psalm 130:5, 6), until at length the sign and then the reality which it denotes are fully revealed. Everything depends upon a thoughtful, believing, waiting spirit!

"Signs summon not Faith: but they wait for her call;
For in her own right she holds nature in thrall.
Where sense sees a blank space, with nought to inspire;
She, seer-like, finds horses and chariots of fire.

Sense ransacks all space for the proofs of a God;
Faith finds them at home, at the end of her rod.
And he who complains of no God-prints below
Will find nothing but sense-prints where'er he may go." There are chemical experiments, in which, if a certain condition be wanting, the element sought for cannot be elicited. It is present, waiting, ready to leap into activity the moment the condition is present. But as long as that is wanting, the element is imprisoned, separated by an impassable barrier, and might almost be said to be nonexistent. Similarly, the preoccupied mind might sleep at the very gate of heaven - no celestial dreams would visit it. The worldly mind might final itself in the house of God, in the holiest of all; but the cloud of glory would sweep by it unnoticed. A mind keen after earthly objects, and engrossed by the interests of time, might live here three score years and ten, with the powers of the world to come all the time surrounding it, soliciting it, pressing in upon it; and yet never once recognize a single indication of the Divine presence. And he who finds nothing of heaven on earth would find nothing but earth in heaven (J. Harris).

II. POSSESSING INVALUABLE SIGNIFICANCE. "Then will Jehovah go out before thee," etc. The sign in itself is little; the thing signified, as it is revealed to the waiting soul, is great, inasmuch as it relates to the Lord of hosts, and includes:

1. His presence with us in a very special manner (2 Chronicles 14:11; 2 Chronicles 20:12; 2 Chronicles 32:6-8). If a soldier is inspired with courage and strength by knowing that his commander is near and his eye upon him, much more should we be similarly inspired by the conviction of the Divine presence.

2. His working for us and in us. "The Lord is my Helper," etc. (Hebrews 13:6).

3. His will concerning us, with respect, not only to our welfare, but also to our duty, the spirit we should cherish, the conduct we should pursue, the manner, place, and time of our activity. There is no greater joy to a faithful servant of God than to feel assured that he is where God would have him to be, and doing what God would have him to do. And this joy is his strength.

III. REQUIRING PERSONAL EXERTION. "Then bestir thyself; go out to battle. And David did so as Jehovah commanded him." There is a time to work and fight as well as to pray and watch. As it is presumptuous and vain to stir before the signal for action is given, so it is slothful and ruinous to wait after it is received. "Wherefore chriest thou unto me?... Go forward" (Exodus 14:15; Joshua 7:10). Divine assistance is not meant to supersede our exertion, but to quicken it. Because God works we must work, with a feeling of grateful obligation, reverence, and confidence (Philippians 2:12). "The Captain of our salvation" goes out before us that we may follow him (Revelation 19:14) with:

1. Implicit obedience to his every direction and movement (see 1 Samuel 13:1-7).

2. Strenuous effort and whole-hearted devotion.

3. The utmost promptitude, Now or never. The opportunity, if allowed to slip, returns no more. "Consider that this day ne'er dawns again" (Dante).

"'Charge!' was the captain's cry.
Theirs not to make reply;
Theirs not to reason why;
Theirs but to do or die."

IV. CONDUCTING TO IMPORTANT ISSUES. "And he smote the Philistines," etc. By such. a victory:

1. The imminent danger that threatened is removed.

2. The final overthrow of the enemy is assured (2 Samuel 8:1).

3. The firm establishment and wide extension of the kingdom are promoted.

It became possible to bring up the ark to Zion (2 Samuel 6:2) and to subdue surrounding adversaries. "And the fame of David went out into all lands," etc. (1 Chronicles 14:17). God fails not to fulfil his promises; disappoints not the trust that is placed in him; but makes the faithful "more than conquerors."

APPLICATION. With reference to:

1. The individual.

2. The family.

3. The Church.

4. The nation. Can ye not discern the signs of the times? - D.

When thou hearest the sound of marching... then is the Lord gone out before thee, etc. (Revised Version). The Philistines were a brave and determined people, not easily beaten. Repulsed and scattered "as the breach of waters," they reunite and return. David, inquiring of God, receives directions differing from those given him on the former occasion. He is instructed not to "go up" to the higher ground occupied by the Philistines, but to make a circuit to their rear, where was a plantation, and when he hears a sound as of marching on the tops of the trees, then to attack the foe with spirit and energy, knowing that God was gone before to give him certain victory. The enemies of the Christian and the Church are similarly persistent, and must be assailed and defeated over and over again. Indeed, the conflict is continuous. There are, however, certain times when we are specially to "bestir" ourselves, with assurance of conquest; and these are often indicated by special signs that the supernatural powers are "marching" on to lead us and give us success.

I. IN RESPECT TO THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN WARFARE AND WORK, THE SUPERNATURAL EVENTS BY WHICH OUR RELIGION WAS INAUGURATED MAY BE THUS REGARDED. In the incarnation of the Son of God, his supernatural revelations, the miracles of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, in the all-sufficient sacrifice he offered for sin, and in the descent and operations of the Holy Spirit, God went before his people to lead them on to victory. They were not for the men of that age only, but for all ages. We, recalling them to mind, may ever take courage in the assurance that we are following where God has led and still leads. Evermore they remain as calls to us to "bestir" ourselves with confidence of success; the eternal motives to energy and hope; the eternal armoury, too, from which we draw the offensive and defensive arms we need in the war.

II. IN RESPECT TO OUR OWN PERSONAL SALVATION, THERE ARE AT TIMES SPECIAL INDICATIONS THAT GOD IS GOING BEFORE US TO GIVE US SPECIAL HELP AND BLESSING. We ought not, indeed, to wait for these. The knowledge of our duty, the memory of Christ, the promise of Divine aid, the experiences of the past, constitute sufficient reasons for habitual diligence, prayer, and hope; and special inspirations may be most confidently expected by such as are thus ever "exercising themselves unto godliness," ever striving against evil and for the attainment of greater good. But there are moments of peculiar sensibility which afford peculiarly favourable opportunities and special calls to "bestir" ourselves that we may secure the blessings which they promise. Startling events which deeply move the conscience and heart; personal afflictions which compel retirement and produce impressions favourable to religious exercises; bereavements which bring face to face with death; losses which make the uncertainty and insufficiency of earthly good felt; sermons which unusually touch the heart; earnest appeals of a friend which produce deep emotion; whatever, in a word, brings God and eternity, Christ and salvation, nearer, and creates a sense of their supreme importance, whatever excites a craving for a higher good, are signs that God is working for us, and calls to "bestir" ourselves by special meditation, prayer, etc. We may at such seasons obtain more spiritual blessing in an hour than at others in a month.


1. Remarkable openings made for the entrance of the gospel. The operations of Divine providence preparing a way for the operations of Divine grace. These may be on a small scale, laying open to Christian effort an individual, a family, or a neighbourhood; or on a large scale, opening a continent crowded with scores of millions of the human race. The discoveries of travellers, and the removal of barriers and obstacles by military conquests, are thus to be regarded. India, China, Japan, and Africa furnish instances of God going before his people, and calling on them to "bestir" themselves and follow whither he leads.

2. Impressions favourable to religion. In one person, or in a family, a congregation, a town, or a nation. Impressions by sickness, by war, pestilence, or other calamities; or by signal displays of the Divine goodness. By these God goes before, and prepares the way for his people to publish more diligently and earnestly the gospel, with good assurance of success.

3. Unusual religious earnestness in Christians themselves. Extraordinary emotions of love and zeal towards God and Christ and the souls of men, and of longing to rescue the perishing and enlarge the Church, however they may have been excited, are to be regarded as the yearnings of God's Spirit in the Christian heart, and as calls and encouragements to exertion. The sign that God is working and leading his people to victory is more conspicuous when these emotions are shared by many.

4. Successes in the Christian war summon to new efforts and encourage the hope of new successes. They show that God is working, and assure us that he will continue to work with his faithful servants. - G.W.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by Biblesoft, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com

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