Lesson 2: Chapters 4-6
David is Anointed King of Israel and
Jerusalem Becomes the Capital City of the Nation

Most Holy Lord,
You raised up Your anointed, David, to help secure the destiny You planned for Your covenant people Israel. Raise up for us, Lord, worthy leaders to guide the destiny of our nation. We once openly confessed to being a Christian nation guided by Your moral laws and the love of Jesus Christ. Now, in the guise of religious "tolerance," that profession of national faith of the majority has been abandoned. Help us, Lord, to teach our children so that they do not fall prey to the religion of secularism and lose their way on the journey to salvation. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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I have given strength to a warrior, I have raised up a man chosen from my people. I have found David my servant, and anointed him with my holy oil. My hand will always be with him, my arm will make him strong. No enemy will be able to outwit him, no wicked man overcome him; I shall crush his enemies before him, my arm will make him strong. My constancy and faithful love will be with him, in my name his strength will be triumphant.
Psalm 89:19b-24

In 1010 BC Saul is dead and a twenty-three year old David has been declared the king of the tribe of Judah. Up to this point, David has been an exemplary hero. He is brave, just, and obedient to the will of God for his life. He even resisted the temptation to kill his arch enemy, King Saul, twice (1 Sam 24:1-8; 26:8-11), and he has kept his vow to Saul not to hinder Saul's heir from assuming Saul's throne as Israel's king (1 Sam 24:22-23). He has trusted God to fulfill his destiny and has not moved to take his destiny under his own power. But now in the opening chapters of 2 Samuel, we have seen David make two missteps:

  1. David failed to bring his nephews to justice for the murder of Abner (2 Sam 3).
  2. David has taken many wives, in violation of the "Laws for the King," (Dt 17:14-20; 1 Sam 3:2-5).

In Hebron, David's capital city in Judah, he lived with six wives (2 Sam 3:2-5), but in 2 Samuel 5:13-16, we learn that he acquires more wives and concubines after conquering Jerusalem. See the complete list of David's wives and children below.(1)

David's Wives See the lesson handouts

Chapter 4: The Death of Ishbaal son of Saul

Ishboseth [Ishbaal] was certainly not a just man, and yet he is called a just man because he was innocently killed.
Jerome, Defense Against the Pelagians,1.38

2 Samuel 4:1-3 ~ Unrest in Israel after Abner's Murder
1 When Saul's son heard that Abner had died at Hebron, his heart failed him [his hands grew weak], and all Israel was alarmed. 2 Now, Saul's son had two freebooting [bahal = terrifying, rash] chieftains; one was called Baanah, the other Rechab. They were the sons of Rimmon of Beeroth, and Benjaminites; for Beeroth is regarded as belonging to Benjamin. 3 The people of Beeroth had taken refuge in Gittaim, where they have remained to this day as resident foreigners. [ ] = literal translation IBHE, vol. I, page 811.

The Semitic expression that "his hands grew weak" in the literal translation is similar to the English idiom "he lost his grip," and expresses Ishboseth's fear and inability to take charge of his responsibilities after the loss of Abner, his military commander and chief protector. All of Israel was alarmed because the people knew Ishboseth was not up to the task of leading Israel.

Beeroth (Heb. beer = well) is a Gibeonite city within the tribal lands of Benjamin, north of Jerusalem (Josh 9:17; 18:25). It was originally one of four Hivite and Amorite Gentile cities that joined the Gibeonites in deceiving Joshua into forging a covenant of peace in a tactical move to avoid their destruction (Josh 9:1-6, 16-27). Joshua honored the covenant, but the people of those cities were reduced to a servile status as vassals of Israel (Josh 9:26-27). Apparently some Beerothites settled at Gittaim, probably after Saul attempted to eliminate the non-Israelite population living within the territory of Benjamin, specifically the Gibeonites and presumably the people of Beeroth as well (2 Sam 21:2). The Gentiles of Gittaim were considered to be Gentile resident aliens who were attached to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh 18:21-25). The brothers Baanah and Rechab served as commanders in Saul's/Abner's army probably in the same way Doeg the Edomite served Saul (1 Sam 21:8; 22:9, 18). Such Gentile allies did not have the same religious scruples as Israelite soldiers even though resident aliens living within Israel were supposed to be bound and protected by the same laws as the Israelites (Num 15:15-16).

2 Samuel 4:4 ~ Jonathan son of Saul had a son with crippled feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled but, as she hurried away, he fell and was lamed. His name was Meribbaal.
David swore to Jonathan that if Jonathan died he would protect his family (2 Sam 20:14-15). David will fulfill this oath by taking Jonathan's son Meribbaal into his household (2 Sam 9:1-13). The importance of this passage, coming in the middle of the account concerning Ishbaal, is that being crippled from an accident Jonathan's son is no longer fit to serve as Israel's king and is not a threat to David's kingship.(2)

2 Samuel 4:5-12 ~ The Murder of King Ishbaal
5 The sons of Rimmon of Beeroth, Rechab and Bannah, set out; they came to Ishbaal's house at the hottest part of the day when he was taking his midday rest. 6 The woman who kept the door had been cleaning wheat and had drowsed off to sleep. 7 Rechab and his brother Baanah stole past her and entered the house, where he was lying on his bed in his bedroom. They struck and killed him, then cut off his head and, taking he head with them, travelled all night by way of the Arabah. 8 They brought Ishbaal's head to David at Hebron. "Here," they said to the king, "is the head of Ishbaal son of Saul, your enemy, who meant to take your life. Yahweh has avenged my lord the king today on Saul and on his offspring." 9 But David answered Rechab and his brother Bannah, the sons of Rimmon, by saying, "As Yahweh lives, who has rescued me from every danger, 10 when someone told me, 'Saul is dead!'" supposing himself to be bringing me good news, I seized and put him to death at Ziklag, and that was how I rewarded him for his news! 11 How much more when bandits have killed an upright man in his house, and on his bed! Am I not to demand an account of his blood from you, and rid the earth of you?" 12 David then gave an order to the men, who put them to death, cut off their hands and feet, and hung them up beside the pool of Hebron. Ishbaal's head they took and buried in Abner's grave at Hebron.

Ishbaal, king of Israel, is living in humble accommodations since having been driven out of his father's fortress at Gibeah by the Philistines. Without Abner to see to his security, there is only one old woman serving as his doorkeeper with no soldiers to guard him, unless of course that was the duty of the men who became his assassins.

Question: These Gentile brothers are making an assumption about David that is similar to what other Gentile in an earlier episode? See 4:10 and 2 Sam 1:8-16.
Answer: They make the same dangerous assumption as the Amalekite who thought David would reward him for killing Saul. They were wrong and were condemned to death like the Amalekite.

The other possible reason the brothers may have murdered Saul's son was because of a "blood debt." Saul attempted to wipe out the Gentiles living within the tribal lands of Benjamin that would have included their own people at Beeroth. The Gibeonites will seek retribution for the massacre against Saul's descendants (see 2 Sam 21:1-6).

Question: For what two reasons does David execute these two men? One reason is obvious and the other is less obvious but sets an important precedent.

  1. They have killed an unarmed man to whom they owed their allegiance and who had done them no harm.
  2. Their execution, like the execution of the Amalekite who killed Saul, establishes the precedent that regicide (king-murder) is a death penalty offense. It is not in David's interest nor is it in the interest of his future dynasty that such an act be tolerated.

Dismemberment of criminals was a common practice in the Ancient Near East and is a fitting punishment according to the Law when one considers the murder of Ishboseth and his decapitation (verse 7). Mosaic Law demanded that the punishment fit the crime (called the Law of Reciprocity or in Latin "Lex Talionis," see Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Dt 19:21).

Chapter 5: David is King of Israel and captures Jerusalem

He chose David to be his servant, took him from the sheepfold, took him from tending ewes to pasture his servant Jacob, and Israel his heritage. He pastured them with unblemished heart; with a sensitive hand he led them.
Psalms 78:70-72

As regards the Jebusites living in Jerusalem, the sons of Benjamin did not dispossess them, and the Jebusites have been living in Jerusalem with the sons of Benjamin ever since.
Judges 1:21

2 Samuel 5:1-5 ~ David is Anointed King of Israel
1 All the tribes [staff-bearers] of Israel then came to David at Hebron and said, "Look, we are your own flesh and bone. 2 In the days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel on its campaigns [you who led Israel out and brought in], and to you it was that Yahweh promised, 'You are to shepherd my people Israel and be leader of Israel.'" 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact [covenant] with them in Yahweh's presence at Hebron, and they anointed David as king of Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; then he reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. II, page 813.

Question: What two different groups representing the tribes of Israel approach David?
Answer: He is first approached by the "staff-bearers" and then by the "elders."

David is first approached by all the "staff-bearers" of Israel (verse 1) and then by the elders (verse 3). The "staff-bearers" are probably the princes/chieftains of the twelve tribes. God designated the princes/chieftains of the tribes in Numbers 1:1-16 and in chapter 2. These men are described as ... men of repute in the community; they were the leaders of their ancestral tribes, the heads of Israel's thousands (Num 1:16) and as the men who lead their tribes in the march and carried the tribal standards (Num 2:2). The elders are the ruling judicial body of each tribe (Ex 18:25-26; Num 11:16-17). David has the support of the common people and their various civil and judicial leaders.

Question: In 2 Samuel 5:3-5 David is anointed King of Israel. How many times is David anointed? Also see 1 Sam 16:13; 2 Sam 2:4.
Answer: Three times.

  1. First he was as a boy privately anointed by Samuel (1 Sam 16:13).
  2. Next he was made king over the tribe of Judah (2 Sam 2:4).
  3. Finally he was crowned king over a united Israel (2 Sam 5:3).

The United Kingdom of Israel only lasted 95 years, the Northern Kingdom of Israel survived 208 years (ruled by nine different dynasties), but David's dynasty ruled over Israel and then over the Southern Kingdom of Judah for 425 years!

God chose David to rule over His people when David was still a boy tending his father's sheep in Bethlehem. God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint him (1 Sam 16:1, 10-13). Later, as a young man David fought in the army of Israel's King Saul and became a mighty warrior who was loved and respected by the people. After Saul's death, David's tribe of Judah made him king over them, but it wasn't until seven and a half years later that the other tribes came to David and asked him to be their king. At the time David became king of all the tribes of Israel, he was thirty years old (2 Sam 5:4). When the tribes said to David "Look, we are your own flesh and bone," literally in the Hebrew: "we your bone and we your flesh," they were acknowledging their kinship link with him and God's command that only Israelites chosen by God could be kings over the covenant people (Dt 17:15).

Question: When was this expression of kinship as "bone and flesh" first spoken in Scripture and by whom? See Gen 2:23.
Answer: These words are very words Adam used when he took Eve as his wife, acknowledging the kinship bond that now, with God's blessing, existed between them when he said, "For this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" [literal Hebrew].

The term bone and flesh/flesh and bone is used in Scripture to express kinship:

2 Samuel 5:2 ~ The elders said: "In the days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel on its campaigns [you who led out and brought in Israel], and to you it was that Yahweh promised, 'You are to shepherd my people Israel and be leader of Israel.'"
The tribal elders state that Saul was their king, but it was David who had God's blessing to lead the people. The phrase the elders used to describe David's leadership in the literal translation is "you who led out and brought in Israel."

Question: Where were the two places the expression "to lead out and bring in" was used previously in the Old Testament books and what were the circumstances? See Num 27:17 and 21.
Answer: It is the same phrase used by Moses in the Hebrew text of Numbers 27:17 when he petitioned God to set over the covenant people a man to act as leader in all things for the Lord's community. Then in verse 21, Yahweh told Moses to commission Joshua to lead the people saying: at his command they will go out and at his command they will come in ...

In Numbers 27:17, where Moses petitioned God for a leader over the covenant people, he asked God to appoint a man:

In Numbers 27:17, we have the definition of the ideal Mosaic leader that foreshadows David, the future shepherd king of Israel in 2 Samuel 5:2-4. The literal Hebrew translation of Numbers 27:17 reads "to lead out and bring in" (IBHE, vol. I, page 428). But it is also the Mosaic model fulfilled in the Messiah, David's heir who is Jesus of Nazareth. See the comparison below between David, the prophetic promises of the future Messiah and Jesus (underlining added for emphasis and brackets indicate literal translation IBHE and IBGE).

David and the Davidic Kings The Promised Messiah Jesus
Elders of Israel to David: "In the days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel on its campaigns [you who led out and brought in Israel], and to you it was that Yahweh promised, 'You are to shepherd my people Israel and be leader of Israel.'" 2 Sam 5:2-4 Yahweh: "I will seek out my sheep and will deliver them from all the places where they were scattered ...And I will gather them from the peoples and will bring them out and gather them in..."
Ez 34:12-13

"I shall raise up one shepherd, my servant David, and put him in charge of them to pasture them [and he shall feed them]; he will pasture [feed] them and be their shepherd." Ez 34:23
Jesus Christ, son of David ...
Mt 1:1

"...I am the gate of the sheepfold... anyone who enters through me will be safe [saved]: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture [feeding]... "I am the good shepherd..."
Jn 10:7-9, 15

Jesus: "and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (Jn 6:51b)
"Take it and eat," he said, "this is my body."

Jesus to Peter: "Feed my sheep..."
Jn 21:17
Yahweh's judgment of the failure of the Davidic kings: I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep without a shepherd."
1 Kng 22:17
Yahweh: "For lack of a shepherd they have been scattered, to become the prey of all the wild animals; they have been scattered"
Ez 34:5

"I myself shall pasture my sheep, I myself shall give them rest, declares the Lord Yahweh. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray ... I shall be a true shepherd to them."
Ez 34:15-16
... they were troubled and abandoned like [scattered] sheep without a shepherd.

He [Jesus] said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
Mt 15:24

"For the Son of Man has come to save what was lost."
Lk 19:10

Jesus: I am the good shepherd...
Jn 10:15
  As for you, my sheep, the Lord Yahweh says this: "I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats."
Ez 34:17
Jesus: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory ... All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats."
Mt 25:31-32
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2014

Key phrases, concepts, or words that are repeated and fulfilled in Jesus' mission: "scattered sheep," "lost sheep," "out and in," "feed the sheep," and "shepherd."

  1. David the Shepherd of Israel is the Mosaic model of a leader:
  2. The promised Messiah is the model of the Mosaic leader who is the ideal Davidic king:
  3. Jesus of Nazareth is the model of the Mosaic leader and ideal Davidic king:

2 Samuel 5:3 ~ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact [covenant] with them in Yahweh's presence at Hebron, and they anointed David as king of Israel.
The elders of Israel drew up a formal covenant treaty with David, probably assuring him of their loyalty and service in exchange for his obligation as Israel's king to dispense justice and protect Israel from her enemies.

2 Samuel 5:4-5 ~ David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months; then he reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

The numbers 7 and 40 are symbolic numbers in Scripture in the Old Testament and in the New Testaments (see the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture. " Sometimes the numbers are not literal, however, the seven and a half years David is said to have ruled over Judah seems to be a literal number since symbolic numbers are always rounded. The 40 years David ruled may be literal or it may be symbolic since it is the ideal number of years for a righteous leader or a period of peace (see for example the 40 years Moses, the ideal prophet led Israel, the 40 years of peace during the rule of the ideal judges Othniel, Deborah, and Gideon, the 40 ideal years of peace of King Solomon's reign, etc.)

The United Kingdom of Israel only lasted about 102 years (Saul 20 years, Ishbaal 2 years, David 40 years, and Solomon 40 years), and the Northern Kingdom of Israel with nine different dynasties survived 208 years, but David's dynasty ruled over Israel and then the Southern Kingdom of Judah for 425 years until the Babylonian conquest!

2 Samuel 5:1-5 is read in the liturgy of the Church for the Solemnity of Christ the King together with Luke 23:35-43.

Question: How old was David when he became King of Israel? How old was Jesus when He began His mission as the true Davidic king? See 2 Sam 5:4; Lk 3:23.

Answer: They were both 30 years old.

Question: David ruled for forty years, but is that number also significant in Jesus' ministry? See Mt 4:1-2 and Acts 1:3.
Answer: The number forty is also significant for Jesus. He faced forty days of temptation in the desert at the beginning of His ministry and there were forty days that He taught the Church between His Resurrection and Ascension at the end of His earthly ministry. Jesus, however, rules for eternity.

2 Samuel 5:6-12 ~ The Capture of Jerusalem
6 The king and his men then marched on Jerusalem, on the Jebusites living in the territory. These said to David, "You will not get in here. The blind and the lame will hold you off." That is to say: David will never get in here. 7 But David captured the citadel of Zion, that is the City of David. 8 That day, David said, "Whoever gets up [naga' = to touch or to reach] the tunnel [tsinor] and kills a Jebusite ..." As for the blind and the lame, David hated them with his whole being. Hence the saying: the blind and the lame may not enter the Temple. 9 David went to live in the citadel and called it the City of David. David then built a wall round it, from the Millo inwards. 10 David grew stronger and stronger, and Yahweh, God of Sabaoth, was with him. 11 Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, with cedar wood, carpenters and stone-butters, who built David a palace. 12 David then knew that Yahweh had confirmed him as king of Israel and, for the sake of his people Israel, had extended his sovereignty. [..] = literal translation IBHE, vol. II, pages 813-14; Ancient Israel, page 452.

After being anointed king of a united Israel, David began to build up the kingdom by driving out Israel's enemies and establishing borders and frontiers. He needed a capital city that would be a neutral setting and not dominated by any one of the tribes. David chose Jerusalem, a walled Jebusite city that had never been successfully conquered by the Israelites that was built on the crest of the Judean mountains of central Israel just five miles north from Bethlehem (Judg 1:21) and some twenty miles west of the Dead Sea's northern end. The city was built over heights ranging from 2300 to 2500 feet above sea level and surrounded by valleys. The citizens of Jerusalem at one time were vassals of the Egyptian Pharaohs. Six letters written by the king of Jerusalem to the Egyptian pharaoh were found in the Egyptian Amarna library (18th dynasty) attesting to his loyalty and requesting assistance in repulsing the Habiru (perhaps Hebrews) who had invaded Canaan.

Jerusalem had once been called Salem but had been renamed after Abraham had a vision of the divine on Mount Moriah near the town (Gen 22:1-18). In the test of a covenant ordeal, Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. Abraham passed the test in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac in the belief that since God had promised him descendants through Isaac that God would raise his son from the dead (Heb 11:17-19).

Question: What name did Abraham give the site of his visionary experience? See Gen 22:14
Answer: He called the place "Yahweh provides."

After a divine voice ordered him not to kill the boy, Abraham called this place, "Yahweh provides" [can also be translated "will provide"], and hence the saying today: "On the mountain Yahweh provides [will provide]." In Hebrew "Yahweh provides/will provide" is Yahweh Yireh (Jireh), hence the name of the town was no longer Salem but Jireh-salem or Jerusalem, which means "will provide peace." One day it was to be the site of another experience of the divine and the beginning of the reign of the King of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Question: What is the other connection to Salem/Jerusalem in salvation history prior to David's capture of the town? See Gen 14:17-20; Heb 7:1-3; Ps 110:4 and CCC 58.
Answer: God's priest-king Melchizedek was the king of Salem. Abraham acknowledged Melchizedech as God's representative, was blessed by him, was fed by him in a ritual ceremony, and paid him a tithe of all the captured booty from his victory over the kings of Mesopotamia.

In the first century AD, the Jewish priest-historian Flavius Josephus wrote concerning Melchizedech and Salem: Now the king of Sodom met him [Abraham] at a certain place, which they called The King's Dale, where Melchizedek, king of the city Salem, received him. That name signifies "the righteous king"; and such he was without dispute, insomuch that, on this account, he was made the priest of God: however, they afterward called Salem Jerusalem (Antiquities of the Jews, 1.9.2 [179-180]).

2 Samuel 5:6 ~ The king and his men then marched on Jerusalem, on the Jebusites living in the territory. These said to David, "You will not get in here. The blind and the lame will hold you off." That is to say: David will never get in here.
Question: What boast did the Jebusites make concerning the strength of their city walls against attack?
Answer: They ridiculed David and his men by boasting that even the blind and the lame could defend the city.

2 Samuel 5:7-8 ~ 7 But David captured the citadel of Zion, that is the City of David. 8 That day, David said, "Whoever gets up [naga' = to touch or to reach] the tunnel [tsinor] and kills a Jebusite ..." As for the blind and the lame, David hated them with his whole being. Hence the saying: the blind and the lame may not enter the Temple.
The citadel of Zion was the Jebusite fortress on Mount Zion that later came to be called the "City of David." David cleverly avoided a direct assault on Jerusalem's walls but exactly how he managed to enter the city was a mystery. The problem was the translation of the Hebrew word tsinor suggests a channel, tube, or conduit. There was no evidence supporting such an entrance into the city and the verb used is naga', meaning primarily "to touch" or "to reach." In 1867 an English adventurer named Warren discovered an underground tunnel feeding in from the Gihon Spring on a slope outside the city walls to the east (Ancient Israel, page 452). The reward David offered for the man who could discover a way through the tunnels is lost from the text of 2 Samuel but a parallel account in 1 Chronicles 11:1-9 reads: The first man to kill a Jebusite will be made army commander and chief (1 Chr 11:6). According to that account, it was Joab, David's nephew, who was the first man to go up, and he was made the commander of the army of Israel.

Verse 8, referring to the blind and the lame, is difficult to translate in the Hebrew. It is true that anyone with a deformity was forbidden entrance to the inner courts of the Jerusalem Temple, but the Temple wasn't built until more than seven years after David's death and so this verse is probably a gloss by a later scribe. Archaeologist Yigal Yadin has suggested the most plausible explanation is that the Jebusites had a group of blind and lame men publically call down curses on David if he dared to attack the city (this was the practice among some ancient Near Eastern people like the Hittites as a form of ridicule or to curse). The taunting curses might have been answered by David with a counter curse that explains David's strong reaction against the blind and lame men of the city. It unlikely that the verse means David despised all disabled men since he took Jonathan's lame son into his household as an adopted son (2 Sam 9:1-13).

2 Samuel 5:9-12 ~ David went to live in the citadel and called it the City of David. David then built a wall round it, from the Millo inwards.
David renamed the fortress on Mount Zion and strengthened its defenses. The meaning of the term Millo has been debated by archaeologists for decades. It was a structure that was perhaps begun by the Jebusites and expanded by both David and later by Solomon when he built his palace (1 Kng 9:24; 11:27). Most archaeologists think it was a filled in area and retaining wall that allowed Solomon to increase the footprint of his palace on the site of David's citadel.

2 Samuel 5:10-11 ~ David grew stronger and stronger, and Yahweh, God of Sabaoth, was with him. 11 Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, with cedar wood, carpenters and stone-cutters, who built David a palace.
The foreign kings of the region were taking notice of David's successes which the inspired writer reminds us was because God was with David, using God's warrior title "Yahweh, Elohim Sabaoth," which means "Yahweh God of the Hosts (armies)." King Hiram of the very prosperous Phoenician city of Tyre sent envoys to establish relations with Israel and the gift of valuable cedar wood (which only grew in Lebanon), masons, carpenters, and other supplies to assist David in building a palace. The interior walls of the stone palace were probably lined with valuable and luxurious cedar-wood.

12 David then knew that Yahweh had confirmed him as king of Israel and, for the sake of his people Israel, had extended his sovereignty.
Question: What did the acknowledgement of foreign kings confirm for David and why
Answer: For David it was the sign that he was going to be able to establish a dynasty because Israel was now, for the first time, acknowledged as an independent nation in the region. No acknowledgement of Israel's status as a nation by foreign powers was mentioned during Saul's reign.

2 Samuel 5:13-16 ~ Children Born to David in Jerusalem
13 After coming from Hebron, David took other concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and sons and daughters were born to him. 14 These are the names of those born to him in Jerusalem: Shammau, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, 16 Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, Eliphelet.

In violation of the "Laws for the King," David continues to take more wives and concubines. Many of the wives were probably brides from foreign powers with whom David made treaties and many of the concubines were probably gifts from foreign kings, according to the customs of the times. This was the result of Israel being recognized the first time as a nation by foreign powers. However, what was customary for the culture of the times was no excuse for David's violation of God's law. Just as what is customary or even lawful according to our times are still sins if contrary to God's law and the teachings of the Church are still sins. The "wisdom of man is foolishness to God" (see 1 Cor 1:19-25).

Some of the names of David's sons you will recognize: Nathan is listed in St. Luke's genealogy in Luke 3:31 and believed by the Fathers of the Church to be the Virgin Mary of Nazareth's ancestor, tracing Jesus' biological link to David, while Solomon is listed in St. Matthew's genealogy and is believed to be St. Joseph's ancestor, listing Jesus' legal link to David (Mt 1:6-7).

2 Samuel 5:17-21 ~ David's First Victory over the Philistines
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed as king of Israel, they all went up to seek him out. On hearing this, David went down to the stronghold. 18 When the Philistines arrived, they deployed in the Valley of the Rephaim. 19 David consulted Yahweh and asked, "Shall I attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my power?" Yahweh replied to David, "Attack! I shall certainly deliver the Philistines into your power." 20 Accordingly, David went to Baal-Perazim and there David defeated them. He said, "Yahweh has made a breach in my enemies for me, as though they had been breached by a flood." This is why the place was given the name Baal-Perazim. 21 They had left their gods behind them there, and David and his men carried them off.

While David was king of Judah at Hebron, the Philistines evidently still considered him a vassal of the king of Gath, but now that he has been declared King of Israel they have determined that David is a threat and they mobilize their army against him. It is unknown to what "stronghold" David "went down;" perhaps he went to Adullam in the desert of southern Judah (1 Sam 22:1-5). It is unlikely that he was at the citadel on Mount Zion in Jerusalem since it is said that David "went down" and not that he "went up" as he would have to the citizen on Mt. Zion. If he and his men were at Adullam, they would have surprised the Philistines by attacking from the south.

The Philistines gathered their forces in the Valley of the Rephaim, a broad sunken plain/valley southwest of Jerusalem (see Josh 15:8; 18:16). David consulted Yahweh as was always his custom (a significant seven times in 1 and 2 Samuel: 1 Sam 23:2, 4; 30:8, 2 Sam 2:1; 5:19, 23; 21:1) and was told that victory was his. The army of Israel defeated the Philistines who departed in such a hurry that they left the idols they had brought to the battle behind (also see 1 Chr 14:11). Afterward David named the site of the battle Baal-Perazim, meaning "lord of the breach."

Question: Why was this victory significant for David?
Answer: This significant victory against Israel's most powerful enemy helped to solidify David's position as Israel's king.

2 Samuel 5:22-25 ~ David's Second Victory over the Philistines
22 Again the Philistines invaded and deployed in the Valley of the Rephaim. 23 David consulted Yahweh, who replied, "Do not attack them from the front; go round to their rear and engage them opposite the balsam trees. 24 When you hear the sound of footsteps in the tops of the balsam trees, advance, for that will be Yahweh going out ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army." 25 David did as Yahweh had ordered and beat the Philistines from Gibeon to the Pass of Gezer.

For a second time the Philistines marshal their forces and attack David in the valley southwest of Jerusalem.
Question: What advice does Yahweh give David this time?

Answer: God gives David the strategy for the battle and tells him to attack from the rear near a grove of balsam trees.

Question: What was the sound of footsteps in the tops of the trees? Answer: According to verse 24 it was the sound of God marching into battle ahead of the Israelites.

The Israelites pushed the Philistines from Gibeon, a town five and a half miles northwest of Jerusalem (2 Sam 2:12-17), all the way back to the pass leading to the Canaanite city of Gezer that was situated on the last of the central foothills sloping down to the northern Shephelah lowlands. The city, which was a under the control of the Philistines, guarded the crossroads of the trade highway called the "Way of the Sea" and the road to Jerusalem. The power of the Philistines is now broken and they will become vassals of David and Israel.(3)

Chapter 6: The Ark of the Covenant is brought to Jerusalem


You must seek Yahweh your God in the place which he will choose from all your tribes, there to set his name and give it a home; that is where you must go. That is where you must bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and offerings held high, your votive offerings and your voluntary offerings, and the first-born of your herd and flock; and that is where you must eat in the presence of Yahweh your God, rejoicing over your labors, you and your households, because Yahweh your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 12:5-7


... Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen as a dwelling-place for my name.
1 Kings 11:36b


2 Samuel 6:1-11 ~ The Disastrous First Attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem
1 David again mustered all the picked troops of Israel, thirty thousand men. 2 Setting off with the whole force then with him, David went to Baalah of Judah, from there to bring up the Ark of God, who bears the title "Yahweh Sabaoth, enthroned on the winged creatures." 3 They transported the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of Abinadab's house which is on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Ahinadab, drove the cart, 4 Uzzah walked alongside the Ark of God and Ahio went in front. 5 David and the whole house of Israel danced before Yahweh with all their might, singing to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. 6 When they came to Nacon's threshing floor, Uzzah reached his hand out to the Ark of God and steadied it, as the oxen were making it tilt. 7 This roused Yahweh's anger against Uzzah, and for this crime God struck him down on the spot, and there he died beside the Ark of God. 8 David resented Yahweh's having broken out against Uzzah, and the place was given the name Perez-Uzzah, which it still has today.
9 That day David felt afraid of Yahweh. "How can the Ark of Yahweh come to be with me?" he said. 10 So David decided not to take the Ark of Yahweh with him into the city of David but diverted it to the house of Obed-Edom of Gath. 11 The Ark of Yahweh remained in the house of Obed-Edom of Gath for three months, and Yahweh blessed Obed-Edom and his whole family.

The Ark of the Covenant, also called the Ark of Yahweh and the Ark of the Testimony (Ex 25:22; 40:3), was Israel's most sacred shrine. David calls upon thirty thousand Israelites warriors to accompany him to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant from Baalah, the old name of Kiriath-Jearim (Josh 15:60; 18:14), and to take it to Jerusalem.
Question: What is significant about the number of thirty-thousand men of Israel going to take possession of the Ark once again? It will be the first time Israel has had the Ark since 1 Samuel 6:20-7:1. See 1 Sam 4:10-11.
Answer: Thirty thousand men was the same number of Israelites who were defeated by the Philistines when the Ark was captured and taken away from Israel.

Kiriath-Jearim was a city in the tribe of Judah (Josh 18:14) that was a little more than eight miles north of Jerusalem. It was the town to which the Ark of the Covenant was sent after the Philistines and the Israelites of Beth-Shemesh discovered possessing it caused Yahweh to inflict disaster upon those who did not give the Ark proper reverence (1 Sam 5:1-12). After their frightening experience with the Ark, the Philistines decided to return the Ark to Israelite territory and the Ark went to Beth-Shemesh, but when some people of the town treated the Ark disrespectfully, Yahweh struck down seventy people (1 Sam 6:10-19). The people of Beth-Sheesh then asked the people of the near-by town of Kiriath-Jearim if they would take the Ark. The people of Kiriath-Jearim took the Ark and gave it to Abinadab (probably a chief priest) and his son Eleazar who was consecrated to guard the Ark of Yahweh. We are told the Ark remained there for some twenty years (1 Sam 7:2).

Question: What was the purpose of the Ark and what did it contain? See Ex 25:10-22; 40:20; 1 Chr 28:2; Ps 99:5; 132:7.
Answer: The Ark contained the "Testimony" which was the covenant treaty documents of the Ten Commandments. Its lid, called the Mercy-seat or Seat of Atonement, was God's earthly throne and the footstool of His heavenly throne. The Ark was the dwelling place of God among His people. God rested between the cherubim on the lid of the Mercy-seat that covered the box of the Ark. It was the visible, physical proof of God's presence with Israel and was the meeting-place between God and His people.

Question: Has God also given His New Covenant people a physical sign as visible evidence that He dwells among His people? What is it?
Answer: The consecrated Host of the Eucharist.

David arranged for a new cart that had never been used before to move the Ark, but it was a bad decision. Just as the celebration was at its height, Abinadab's son Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark on the cart and was struck dead. There is nothing like this kind of incident to dampen the party mood.
Question: God gave specific instructions concerning safely moving the Ark. What precautions were the Israelites to take? See Num 4:5-6, 15, 18-20.
Answer: The chief priests were to prepare the Ark by covering it with the screening curtain that separated the Sanctuary's Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. Over the curtain, they were to put a second covering of fine leather and then a third covering of blue cloth. Only the chief priests or Levites of the clan of Kohath were to move the Ark by carrying the poles on either side of the Ark; the poles were never to be removed (Ex 25:13-15). These rules had to be observed in order to avoid death.

Do not miss the detail in verse 6 that the striking down of Uzzah occurred just as the Ark came to a threshing floor. In the Bible threshing floors and harvest imagery often serve as symbols of judgment. It is where the grain is separated from the unusable chaff in the same way God judges and separates the righteous from the sinner. Some examples of the link between threshing floor, harvest imagery and judgment in Scripture:

Coming to the "threshing floor" is the moment Uzzah faced his divine judgment.
Question: Why did God strike Uzzah?
Answer: A sinless God cannot be touched or approached by a person who is not in a state of grace. It is obvious that Uzzah was not in a state of grace.

Question: What did St. Paul write about the way to receive the Eucharist and the danger for those not in a state of grace in 1 Cor 11:27-32?
Answer: He warned that one must make an examination of conscience to determine that one is free of sin and in a state of grace or that person who receives the Eucharist in sin or who does not recognize the Body of Christ is answerable for such an offense and is eating and drinking to one's own condemnation. He attributes the illness and even death of some of the congregation to abuse of the Eucharist.

Question: What lesson should the Israelites have learned from this terrible experience?
Answer: The Ark is not like the meaningless false images of the pagans. The Ark is holy because it is the dwelling place of Almighty God among His people. The Israelites had been taking this concept for granted and this event was a reminder that a holy God cannot come into direct contact with a sinful people.

At first David was elated at the prospect of bring the Ark of the Covenant to his new capital city, but now David is afraid of the Ark.
Question: What does David decide to do with the Ark?
Answer: He decides to leave the Ark at the near-by home of a man named Obed-Edom.

Obed-Edom is not an Israelite. His name means "worshiper from Edom" or "servant of [the gods of] Edom." He is a Gentile Edomite from the Philistine city of Gath who was probably one of the Philistine expatriates loyal to David who had settled in the Judean hill country. This would explain David's willingness to leave the Ark with a foreigner who was now a convert to Yahweh (McCarter, 2 Samuel, page 170). It is highly unlikely David would leave the Ark of God with a pagan since such a person might desecrate the Ark or treat it with disrespect and be destroyed.

2 Samuel 6:12-19 ~ The Successful Attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem
12 King David was informed that Yahweh had blessed Obed-Edom's family and everything belonging to him on account of the Ark of God. David accordingly went and, amid great rejoicing, brought the Ark of God up from Obed-Edom's house to the City of David. 13 When the bearers of the Ark of Yahweh had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fat sheep. 14 And David danced whirling round before Yahweh with all his might, wearing a linen loincloth [ephod]. 15 Thus with war cries and blasts on the horn, David and the entire House of Israel brought up the Ark of Yahweh. 16 Now as the Ark of Yahweh entered the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul was watching from the window and when she saw King David leaping and whirling round before Yahweh, the sight of him filled her with contempt. 17 They brought the Ark of Yahweh in and put it in position, inside the tent which David had erected for it; and David presented burnt offerings and communion sacrifices in Yahweh's presence. 18 And when David had finished presenting burnt offerings, he blessed the people in the name of Yahweh Sabaoth. 19 To all the people, to the whole multitude of Israelites, men and women, he then distributed to each a loaf of bread, a portion of dates and a raisin cake *[rare word, exact translation unknown]. Then the people all went back to their homes. *Some Biblical scholars suggest that the last item of food was meat.

The Ark of the Covenant remained in the hill country of Judah for three months and during that time God blessed the family of Obed-Edom. It is a prefiguring of God's blessing on the Gentiles through their acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. The Fathers of the Church saw a link between the Ark of God remaining in a house in the Judean hill country and the Virgin Mary's visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth in the Judean hill country that also lasted three months (Lk 1:56). They saw Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant; see the chart on Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.

This time David is not taking any chances and is apparently providing sin sacrifice along the journey to Jerusalem (he will offer whole burnt offerings and communion offerings later in verse 17). ). 1 Chronicles 15:1-16:43 gives a more detailed account of David's plans to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem this time: David then summoned all Israel to Jerusalem, to move the Ark of Yahweh to the place which he had prepared for it. David also called the sons of Aaron and the Levites together... David then sent for the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab. To them he said, "You are the heads of the Levitical families. Sanctify yourselves, you and your kinsmen, so that you can move the Ark of Yahweh, God of Israel, to the place which I have prepared for it. Because you were not there the first time, Yahweh our God broke out at us because we did not handle it properly." So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves, to move the Ark of Yahweh, God of Israel, and the Levites carried the Ark of God with the shafts on their shoulders, as Moses had ordered in accordance with the word of Yahweh (1 Chr 15:3-4, 11-15).

David is dressed in some sort of liturgical garment, and he is dancing before the Ark as a sign of his joy in the presence of his God. As the procession nears the palace, David's first wife, Saul's daughter Michal sees him from the palace window.
Question: What is ironic about Michal viewing David through a window? See 1 Sam 19:12.
Answer: Michal views David, the man she once loved but now despises, through a window. She once helped the David she loved escape from her father through a window, saving his life.

Michal had once loved David enough to defy her father and risk her life to help him escape. In those years he made no attempt to rescue her and now, having been forcefully removed from the household of her second husband, her love has turned to contempt and perhaps hatred.

2 Samuel 6:17-19 ~ They brought the Ark of Yahweh in and put it in position, inside the tent which David had erected for it; and David presented burnt offerings and communion sacrifices in Yahweh's presence. 18 And when David had finished presenting burnt offerings, he blessed the people in the name of Yahweh Sabaoth. 19 To all the people, to the whole multitude of Israelites, men and women, he then distributed to each a loaf of bread, a portion of dates and a raisin cake *[rare word, exact translation unknown]. Then the people all went back to their homes.
The Ark is placed a tent and then David provided burnt offerings and communion offerings which the chief priests sacrificed on God's altar. Since a communion meal is eaten by the members of the covenant, verse 19 may be describing a communion meal and the unknown word may be the cooked meat of the sacrifice (see the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 16:1-3).

It has been suggested by some scholars that David is taking on the role of the priests of Yahweh and has offered the sacrifices himself. He is described as wearing an "ephod" but this does not mean that he is wearing the priestly ephod since the word is used in a variety of ways in the Old Testament; it may refer to a simply tunic (see 1 Sam 2:18 where the boy Samuel wore a linen ephod). For David to assume a priestly role would be a violation of the Law under which only the descendants of Aaron are permitted to offer the sacrifices, and it was the reason God withdrew His support for Saul in 1 Samuel 10-14 when Saul presumed to assume the priestly role to offer the sacrifices himself. God is merciful, God is just and God is consistent in His dealings with mankind: Then Yahweh passed before him [Moses] and called out, "Yahweh, Yahweh, God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love [hesed] and constancy..." (Ex 34:6; underlining added for emphasis). God would not condemn Saul for usurping the prerogatives of the priesthood and then excuse David for the same violation. It is more likely that as God's civil representative that David is providing the sacrifices that the priestly representatives are offering to God (1 Chr 15:25-27). Leviticus 4:22-26 defines the sin offerings of a prince/ruler is to be offered to the priestly representative.

2 Samuel 6:20-23 ~ Saul's Daughter Criticizes David
20 As David was coming back to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him. "Much honor the king of Israel has won today," she said, "making an exhibition of himself under the eyes of his servant-maids, making an exhibition of himself like a buffoon!" 21 David replied to Michal, "I was dancing for Yahweh, not for them. As Yahweh lives, who chose me in preference to your father and his whole family to make me leader of Israel, Yahweh's people, I shall dance before Yahweh 22 and lower myself even further than that. In your eyes I may be base, but by the maids you speak of, by them, I shall be held in honor!" And to the day [until the day] of her death, Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children.

Question: What is Michal's sarcastic criticism of David?
Answer: In his behavior of dancing before the Ark, he has disgraced himself by acting like a fool in a manner not befitting a king but pleasing to common servant girls, the implication being her father would never have behaved so disgracefully. There might also be a hint of jealousy over David's acquisition of and fondness for other wives/women.

Question: What was David's response to the criticism?
Answer: David's response brings out the depth and simplicity of his faith:

  1. He was dancing only for God and not for serving girls; he doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
  2. He reminds her that God chose him to be king of Israel over her father.
  3. She may not hold him in honor, but the common people do.

And to the day of her death [until the day of her death], Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children.
This does not mean that God punished Michal for her criticism and left her barren; it simply means that she lived out her life a prisoner in David's harem and he did not grant her the intimacy of marriage.(4)

Question for reflection or group discussion:
We all want to be like the young David who clearly saw God's will for his life and maintained a close relationship with God because of his humility and obedience. It wasn't until David achieved the destiny God planned for him that he began to be tempted put his will above God's will. What strategies can we use in our lives to remain humble and obedient servants and to avoid falling into those temptations that can do damage to our relationship with God?


1. See the lists of David's wives and children in 2 Samuel 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles 3:1-3, 5-9 and 14:5. Jesus' foster father, St. Joseph, is believed to be a descendant of David's son Solomon (genealogical list in Mt 1:1-16; especially verse 6) while the Virgin Mary is believed to be a descendant of David's son Nathan (genealogical list in Lk 3:23-38; especially verse 31).

2. Meribbaal's name means "defended by the god Baal" or "defended by the master/lord." In the Massoretic (Jewish) text, Meribbaal is called Mephibosheth, "from the mouth of the lie." The Greek Septuagint text, 1 Chronicles 8:34 and other ancient versions all refer to him as Meribbaal. The name change in the Massoretic text is probably due to the rejection of any connection with the name of the pagan god Baal (whose name means "master" or "lord") even if that was not the intended meaning of the name. The name Ishbaal is treated the same way in the Massoretic text where he is called Ishboseth, "man of shame."

3. When David's son Solomon became king, he received tribute from the kingdoms on the Israelite frontiers, including the city-states of Philistia (1 Kng 4:21). This does not mean, however, that the Philistines didn't continue to be a problem for Israel's kings from time to time.

4. It is worth noting that the literal Hebrew reads: And until the day of her death, Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children. In the Greek text the word heos is used and the passage reads: And until [heos] the day of her death, Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children. It is the same word that is found in 1 Samuel 15:35 and in the misunderstood passage in Matthew 1:25 in which the text reads: He [Joseph] had no relations with her [Mary] until [heos] she bore a son (NAB). Heos is a conjunction that can be used to mean something did not take place up to a certain time and continued not to take place after that time, as it is used in the Greek text for this passage. Michal did not have children from the day of their dispute and that condition continued until her death. See "Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters"

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