David Becomes King 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9,10 Mark 6:1-13
Who will be the next leader, how he or she will be replaced, and who will
come to power are questions that arise in the life of governments and
people from time to time. Plenty of people comment about whether our present
Prime Minster has had his day. Abroad we have seen the power struggle
in Iran as a result of their recent general election. The handing on of
power in peaceful and open ways is a blessing which we have almost come
to take for granted in Britain. But it can be a troubled time for others.
After the death of Saul there was a period of instability amongst the
people he had been ruling. David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel
as Saul’s successor even though he was not Saul’s heir. Although
Saul had been an attractive choice to start with, he had turned out not
to be such a good king after all. So God had sent Samuel to a more suitable
candidate and in the closing years of Saul’s reign David had proved
himself worthy of his future calling.
accepted and anointed king of the tribes of Judah, the more southern tribes
who had been ruled by Saul. But Saul’s chief of staff, General Abner,
survived the battle with the Philistines which had seen Saul and Jonathan
killed. Abner made another of Saul’s sons who had survived into
a king. His name was Ishbaal and he became king of the northern tribes
of Israel. David’s seat of government was Hebron whilst Ishbaal
was based at Mahanaim. During the next few years there were shifting loyalties,
skirmishes, assassinations and an uneasy truce between the rival kingdoms.
The House of David grew stronger and David tried to ensure that there
was the chance for greater unity between the peoples of both kingdoms.
He tried to make it clear that he did not want to be seen as usurping
Saul’s kingdom. He waited until the northern tribes were ready to
accept his kingship of their own accord, and only after Ishbaal had died.
The Kingdom back together
The northern tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and made him their
king. David made a covenant with them, so that it would be a two-sided
relationship. They acknowledged their tribal ties with him and his role
in leading and protecting them whilst Saul was still their king. He had
been a brave warrior all along, staying loyal to Saul even when Saul believed
David was a threat to him. David then moved his base from Hebron to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem at the time was a stronghold, but it was more central for both
ends of the re-united kingdom and had more potential to be well-fortified.
For the rest of his long reign of 33 years he was, as the people put it
to him, “Shepherd of his people Israel”.
In later years and in Jesus’ day, and even now, David has been seen
as the model king and that period of his reign as the golden age of the
Kingdom of Israel. There was strength in unity, the territory expanded,
and there was blessing in David’s attitude towards his kingship:
saw himself and was seen by his subjects as the shepherd of his people.
As their shepherd he was their defender, protector and provider. He wasn’t
perfect, as the story of his affair with Bathsheba shows, but he was the
best king they had. After David came Solomon and then the two halves of
the kingdom split again. They were never again re-united and suffered
from decline, invasion and foreign occupation.
writers make it clear that they saw Jesus as the new King David. He was
descended from him but also his character and moral authority was like
his ancestor and fitted him for honour and respect. Jesus made it clear,
though, that he was not going to establish an earthly kingdom. He was
not bringing back the golden age. Jesus was not to reign over an earthly
kingdom like Israel or Judah. Instead Jesus preached about the kingdom
of heaven, something far greater and for all people everywhere and in
every time. He sent out his disciples not to wage war and force people
to submit to him, but to preach, teach and heal. They went out vulnerable
and entirely dependent, going in peace. They were to stay wherever they
were made welcome but not linger in places
where they were not wanted.
As the hymn-writer put it, Jesus was “great David’s greater
Son”. Jesus did accept the ideals of kingship that people saw in
David. Jesus, too, was a shepherd of his people: The Good Shepherd. He
was their defender, protector and provider, but in the realm of the spirit,
in morals and in seeking justice whoever happened to be the temporal ruler
at the time. Jesus was not bothered about Herod or the Roman governor
of their occupied land. He was more concerned about the way people dealt
with each other and God in their ordinary, everyday lives. Whatever earthly
power was in charge, the poor, the ill, the vulnerable and those possessed
by evil, had to be defended, protected and provided for. Even when he
fed 5,000 miraculously, he refused to be made into their earthly king.
He was anointed, not with oil but the Holy Spirit. He was not made a king
by an army commander or prophet, but came as the Son of the King of Heaven.
He came to be the Good Shepherd.
experience of King David way back in the history of God’s people,
God was gradually revealing more of his will for the world. Earthly rulers
come and go. The ways in which human society runs itself change with time.
But God calls us to live both as citizens of heaven and as people in this
world. Jesus calls us to follow him, to lead good lives as his spiritual
flock. But these lives are also practical, and often through our everyday
lives and the things we are involved with we can give expression to the
higher values by which we live; to the kingdom of heaven where we belong
in the end. Sometimes we have to be courageous to stand up to wrong; other
times we simply have to do good wherever and whenever the opportunity
© Rev Paul Smith