God’s king is now ruling! This point cannot be overstated. Consider the many times with me that David could have taken the kingship by force. In 1 Samuel 24 Saul goes to relieve himself in a cave that David and his men were hiding in. “And the men of David said to him, ‘Here is the day of which Yahweh said to you, “Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.”’ Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe” (24:4). David’s men are telling David that this encounter is of the LORD and that he should strike his enemy dead. But David is struck to the heart for having even cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. How strong did David feel about this? First Samuel 24:7 says, “So David persuaded…” but the word the ESV translates “persuaded” literally means “tore apart.” We see this in Judges 14:6 where we read, “Then the Spirit of Yahweh rushed upon [Samson], and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat” (emphasis added). So again 1 Samuel 24:7 literally says, “So David tore apart his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.”
Then again in 1 Samuel 26 David and Abishai went down into the camp of Saul where Saul’s army was surrounding him as they all slept. David got right next to Saul and Abishai said, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice. But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against Yahweh’s anointed and be guiltless?’” (1 Sam. 24:8-9). So again, David had plenty of eager fighters on his side who would do the dirty work of cleaning house so David could take the kingship that was rightfully his (see 1 Sam. 16). You saw David’s responses above, and see his approach in today’s reading. After lamenting for his enemy, I mean the former king of Israel, David seeks direction from Yahweh on how to proceed forward. Second Samuel 2:1 says, “After this David inquired of Yahweh, ‘Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?’ And Yahweh said to him, ‘Go up.’ David said, ‘To which shall I go up?’ And He said, ‘To Hebron.’” John Calvin writes,
“Even though David clearly knew that God had constituted him as king and that Saul had trespassed, even though the time was ripe for him to enjoy the crown, nevertheless he asked God to tell him what he should do. Why? Because although he was on the way, he still knew that he could err seriously if God did not guide him. Let us learn through all of life to go to the Lord, especially when we are facing an important decision. Let us find out what is to be done, and let us not be so self-assured that we fail to pray to God to show us what is useful and expedient” (Sermons on 2 Samuel, 53).
It seems fitting that the people of Judah would anoint David at Hebron, the one plot of territory that Abraham had purchased all those years before (see Genesis 23). With David anointed as king over the house of Judah (1 Sam. 2:4) the kingdom of God was visible to the world. It may have been small and obscure, much like the mustard seed Jesus speaks about (see Matthew 13:31-32), but it was present. Yahweh’s chosen king rules only over one tribe, Judah, in the city of Hebron, but David is now reigning under the Lord’s guidance and direction, unlike his predecessor (see 1 Sam. 28:15-19).
David commends the men of Jabesh-Gilead for their show of steadfast love (Hebrew: hesed) to Saul and his house (2 Sam. 2:5-6). The question before them now is, will they join the true kingdom in its mustard seed form, the one led by King David (2 Sam. 2:7) OR will they continue with their allegiance to the house of Saul and follow Abner’s choice of Ish-bosheth (2 Sam. 2:8-10)? This question before the people of Jabesh-Gilead is the same question before all of us. Will we follow the kings and kingdoms of this world that oftentimes seem to hold the power and the sway OR will we submit ourselves to the King who declared that all authority in heaven and on earth is His? Which king and kingdom does your life reveal you to be following and trusting?