1 Chronicles 11:1-3
Then all Israel gathered themselves to David to Hebron, saying, Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.…
They anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel. David had a great promise given him. It was given him early in his life to inspire the noble purpose, and to make possible the necessary patience. You and I have great promises, given us, not when in sight of the longed-for good, but when it is yet distant and far away. Such promises are our morning stars, as they were David's. Often, however, to David the fulfilment of its promise seemed an impossibility. Often to us the obstacles to the fulfilment of our promises seem many and insuperable. It is worth while to linger and to observe how calmly and straight God's providence marched onward to the fulfilment of its promise in his case, and to gather thence some deepening of our confidence that it will march straight on to the complete fulfilment of every word on which he has caused us to hope. I confine myself to this one point, not dwelling on some important points likewise suggested here. Others may mark this to indicate the fact that ultimately the people are the source of all power in the state; or may single out the word "covenant" here, and dwell on the fact that David is the first example in history of a constitutional monarchy. We look above and beyond these things, to a Divine Giver fulfilling a long-despaired-of promise. That the precedent may have all its weight of consolation for the despairing inheritors of God's promises, let us mark successively -
(1) The seeming impossibility of this promise being fulfilled; and
(2) its blessed and complete fulfilment.
I. OBSERVE THE SEEMING IMPOSSIBILITY OF DAVID'S PROMISE BEING FULFILLED. NOT many arguments are usually needed to drive us to despair. Many of us when all is brightest cannot believe the good word spoken to us. How much more David might have concluded that the fulfilment of this promise was utterly outside the reach of all possibility! Look at the arguments of despair with which Satan could assail him.
1. There was already a monarch established in his throne. The choice of the whole people. And at the time the promise was made to David everything indicated he was the worthy choice of Israel. He had the hold which popular election, Divine approval, a generous disposition, great physical courage and prowess, great natural kingliness, conspired to give him. Nor had he any lack of heirs. There were three conspicuous sons - Jonathan; Abinadab, Melchi-shua, all worthy to succeed him. One of them, by his noble generosity and kindness, which blended with the noblest martial qualities, made him the darling and pride of the nation. There were other sons and grandsons. How was it possible that all these should be superseded and he made king? Especially impossible would this seem when he remembered that:
2. He did not belong to a tribe whose rulership would be acceptable to Israel, and did not even belong to the chief family of that tribe. Ephraim aspired to be the leading tribe of Israel. Her land centrally situate, she had been, from the days of Joseph downward, the leading tribe. They might as their first king accept a man of Benjamin, not caring to press their claims when they were securing one from a tribe always in friendliest alliance with their own, and too small to dream of rivalling them in importance. But would Ephraim ever admit Judah her rival to give Israel a king? And even if they were willing, would the great families of Judah accept that of Jesse as the royal house, when the family of Caleb was still found in Hebron? Yea, if they were willing, would his own family be? There were his brothers, great in warlike force; the eldest sufficiently kingly for Samuel to deem him the chosen of the Lord. There was his uncle Joab, probably no older than himself, and his brothers, all of them capable of ambition. Why should he be the one? Did his pride or legitimate complacency venture to go back to the great day at Ephes-dammim when he slew Goliath? There was Eleazar, who in the same conflict had supported David and won a great renown, and Jashobeam, who "slew three hundred at one time," and half a score of others who had done deeds of romantic fame. So that even before the enmity of Saul broke out there was enough to make David despair of his ever seeing the promise fulfilled. Then next:
3. Saul with all his forces sets himself to destroy David. The insanity that overtook Saul seemed to leave David no hope. The enmity so persistent; the whole soldiery of the kingdom available and employed to seize and destroy him; the land a little land - not much larger than Yorkshire; - what chance was there of surviving such a pursuit? The only defenders he could find were the rabble of outlawed people or men of broken character and fortunes, who could not lose by any change, but possibly might gain. Should he meet Saul in battle, his name would have a stigma of rebellion fatal to all kingly hopes. Should he avoid a battle, it was hard to see by what other means he could avoid the certain fate which seemed awaiting him. And when year after year this lasted, and David was "hunted like a partridge on the mountains," how inevitably would all hope of the fulfilment of God's promise fade from his soul I And yet the greatest difficulty of all remains to be noted. At last he cuts the knot of suspense, and, giving up all hope of the crown, he seeks to secure his life, and actually:
4. He enlists in the service of the enemies of Israel. We know not with what reservations he enters the service of Achish, whether he had intended the treason of fighting against Israel, or the treason of siding with Israel against the Philistines after receiving their hospitality and pledging faithfulness to them. Despair was working its usual folly and recklessness; and he had put himself in one of those false positions which are above all things to be avoided. And doing so, he not only abandoned for ever all thought of being king, but seemed to make the throne impossible. But even here God steps in, and, by raising up opposition on the part of the lords of the Philistines, saves him from the shame which would have dishonoured him whether he had fought against Israel or Israel's enemies. But put all these together: the settledness of the dynasty of Saul; the disadvantages of David's birth; the persecutions of Saul; his own break-down in faith; - and would you in his circumstances have been ever able to hops for the fulfilment of this great promise? Would you not rather have looked back on it as the dream of a friendly nature and as nothing more? Are there more impediments to-day in the way of God's promise to you being fulfilled than studded the way to the fulfilment of these? Yet observe, spite of all these impossibilities -
II. THE COMPLETE AND BLESSED FULFILMENT OF ALL GOD'S PROMISES. Consider how many things go to this.
1. There is the opportunity for making himself known to all Israel.
2. Then, by marvellous providential deliverances and by restraints on the heart of Saul, every effort to destroy David is frustrate.
3. Then, God saves him from himself, from the complications of his own despair, by keeping him entirely out of the war between Saul and the Philistines.
4. Then, Saul and his three sons fall together at Gilboa, and the only son of Saul remaining is one without any of the strength requisite for kingship. The house of Judah accepts him as the ruler fittest to secure them from the Philistines, one whose very name is itself worth an army. And Benjamin, nearest to the Philistines, is glad to do the same. Then, while the conflict with Ishbosheth has the minimum of slaughter that could be found in civil war, it daily made the eminence of David more conspicuous. And so it happens that, without any effort, toil, or solicitude on God's part, all things are brought round so perfectly that at last all the tribes of Israel come and invite him to be king. And that at the right time, viz. as soon as he was fit for such a post. He reached it and held it forty years in the richest manner; his kingdom reaching dimensions and prosperity hitherto never dreamed of, and being transmitted to a long line of descendants, seventeen generations holding the throne before the Captivity broke the line. And even so, what is impossible with man ever proves to be possible with God. And the promise made to you - of pardon of your repented sins, or of grace to conquer indwelling evil, or of answer to your prayer, or of perseverance to the end, or of daily bread, or of help in every time of trouble - however impossible its fulfilment may seem, will be perfectly, easily, richly fulfilled by him whose love and power know none of the limits within which we have to work. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.