The people of Israel have been relatively silent so far in the book of 2 Samuel. We saw yesterday in 2 Samuel 4 that “all Israel was dismayed” (v. 1b) at the news of Abner’s murder. But there was that mention in 2 Samuel 3 about “all the people took notice of it” referring to David’s weeping and fasting for the death of Abner, “and it pleased them, as everything that the king did pleased all the people” (2 Sam. 3:36). In the opening verses of 2 Samuel 5 we read, “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And Yahweh said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel”’” (vv. 1-2). The people of Israel give three arguments in these verses for why they are pro-David.
First, their relationship to David. They say “Behold, we are your bone and flesh…” (2 Sam. 5:1). This brings to mind the words of Genesis 2:22-23 which says, “And the rib that Yahweh God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” Bone and flesh point out the fact that they are brothers. Not brothers who have the same parents, but brothers who have the same father of the faith, Abraham. And as this union between man and woman established the covenant of marriage, so the elders of Israel made a covenant with David and anointed him king over Israel (2 Sam. 5:3).
Second, the people highlight David’s leadership. Even when Saul was king, David led out and brought in the people of Israel. This refers to David’s expertise in battle, a point highlighted in the song of the women (see 1 Sam. 18:7). David was a warrior and a successful one at that, a point that qualifies him to become king. Yahweh had told Moses that He had chosen Joshua to “lead [Israel] out and bring them in, that the congregation of Yahweh may not be as sheep that have no shepherd” (Num. 27:17). David is a new Joshua who will shepherd the people and complete the conquest that Joshua began. This is part of the reason that several conquests are mentioned in this chapter, the defeat of the Jebusites and of the Philistines, twice. The Jebusites mocked David and his men saying even the blind and lame could defeat them for they thought their walls were impenetrable (2 Sam. 5:6). A bold statement to make. Too bad the Jebusites were left eating their words (2 Sam. 5:8). The mention of David’s soul hating the “blind and lame” is not David’s vendetta against people who are handicapped, but a clear reference to the Jebusites who had spoken of some of their people in that way.
Jerusalem is a fitting spot to set up as the capital city. For starters it was never totally conquered by Israel in days of Joshua or after, despite Judah’s victory there, they never did occupy the territory (Judg. 1:8, 21) in the center of the Promised Land. That is, until David, the great Joshua, took the stronghold for good (2 Sam. 5:7). Jerusalem was in the territory of Benjamin (see Josh. 18:28), something that might bring some healing between the house of Saul and the house of David. Jerusalem was also associated with Melchizedek, the king of Salem (see Gen. 14:18; Ps. 76:1-2). Salem is mentioned with Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18 and again in Psalm 76:2. The mention of it in Psalm 76:2 connects Salem with the place where God established His abode, which is Jerusalem. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek and as a child of Abraham, David has picked Melchizedek’s city as the chief city.
With more and more victories in battle, even Gentile kings act favorably toward David, like Hiram the king of Tyre. For Hiram supplies David with what he needs to build a house (2 Sam. 5:11-12), and later with what Solomon will need to build a house for Yahweh (1 Kings 5). Think back to how Israel built the tent of meeting (or tabernacle) in the wilderness. They used the gold they had plundered from the Egyptians (see Ex. 12:35-36; 35:29; 36:6-7). Soon the king of Tyre will willingly give much of what is needed to build the temple of Yahweh (1 Kings 5). All nations of the earth are being blessed through Abraham’s seed.
The final argument the people share has to do with the promise of Yahweh. For it was Yahweh who said to David, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel” (2 Sam. 5:2b). David is shepherd of Yahweh’s people. Sure David is king over Israel, but he is king over the house of Israel for the benefit of Israel. This is how all servants of God are to act, whether they are in positions of government (see Rom. 13) or leaders in the church (see 1 Tim. 3; Heb. 13:17). There have been many obstacles it seems since 1 Samuel 18 to having David become king over Israel. Saul’s spear, the folly of David’s fighter’s, and self-seeking generals all seem to throw a wrench into God’s promise to make David Israel’s shepherd, but God’s promises never fail. Even when God’s promises are opposed by others and even when they seem old and left unfulfilled, God is faithful to His promises then, now, and always!