We have seen through our studies of 1 & 2 Samuel so many pictures given by God regarding what his kingdom would look like. One day Christ would come and establish his kingdom. But before he came, God showed through David, the Lord’s anointed, pictures of what God would accomplish with this future kingdom. So that is what we are looking at as we consider David and what God is doing through David.
Victorious Kingdom (8:1-18)
This first picture we are given is that of a victorious kingdom. Chapter 8 shows David conquering the enemies of God and the enemies of Israel. The very first verse represents the chapter well and it is a shocking declaration. David defeated the Philistines and subdued them. David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines. Now on the surface this may not seem too amazing. But 1 Chronicles 18:1 tells us that Metheg-ammah is Gath and its surrounding villages. David has taken a key stronghold of the Philistines out of their hands. It is a simple sentence with huge implications. David went into the Philistines and took one of their great cities right out of their hands. The Philistines have been a major problem and cause of trouble to Israel. But under David, the Philistines are defeated.
Further, David defeats Moab (8:2). Moab was trouble and a snare to Israel back in Numbers 23-24. Under David, the Moabites are subjugated and bring to tribute. Verses 3-8 show David conquering the regions north and northeast of Israel. An important statement is made in verse 6: “And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.” The successes of David cause other nations to make peace with him. Notice in verse 11 that the wealth of the nations is flowing to David who dedicates this wealth to the Lord. Verse 12 records more of the nations that were subdued like the Edomites, Ammonites, and Amalek. Notice verses 14-15: “And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went. So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.” This is a picture of the anointed. He will rule over all of Israel, subjugate the nations, and administer justice for all people. This is what Psalm 2 is declaring about Jesus. The Lord will make the nations his heritage and the ends of the earth his possession. He will break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces (Psalm 2:8-9). Notice we are seeing David do this as he expands the borders of the kingdom. Isaiah makes the same prophecies that the wealth of the nations will come in when Jesus reigns in his kingdom (Isaiah 60:5,11; 61:6; cf. Haggai 2:7-9; Zechariah 14:14).
But I want us to see one more amazing picture given in chapter 8. Look at verse 18. As David is setting up the administration of his kingdom, the end of verse 18 says, “…and David’s sons were priests.” Now there are some translations that shockingly do not read “priests” but the Hebrew word means “priests.” Translations shy away from this because we know that David’s sons cannot be priests because they are not from the tribe of Levi. The priests only came from the tribe of Levi and David is from the tribe of Judah. But we know that we are being given pictures about this kingdom of the anointed. We have seen earlier that Samuel, though he is not from the right tribe, seem to function as a priest before the Lord (1 Samuel 3; 7:10; 13:8-13). We have seen David seem to be like a priest as he eats the bread that only the priests are allowed to eat (1 Samuel 21). David has also been pictured to be like a priest when the ark of the covenant came into Jerusalem as he is offering the peace offerings and burnt offerings (2 Samuel 6:17) to the Lord. The point is that we do not have to be overly concerned when the text says David’s sons were priests. The picture is important: the son of David will be priest and king. Somehow there will be a merging into one of these two important categories.
Gracious Kingdom (9:1-13)
Chapter 9 opens with another staggering introduction. David asks if there is anyone left in Saul’s house so that he can show kindness to him. This is unusual because typically a king would exterminate the other dynasty to remove all rivals. You did not keep other threats around but wiped them all out. Rather than doing this, David wants to show kindness. The word translated “kindness” is hesed which is covenant, faithful love. David is remembering his covenant that he made with Jonathan and Saul (cf. 1 Samuel 20:14-15; 24:21-22).
David is told about a son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth who is crippled, lame in both of his feet (9:3, 13). So David asks for him to come to him. Mephibosheth falls on his face before David and pays homage to him. But David tells Mephibosheth that David is his servant and that he has nothing to fear. David desires to show him kindness. David will restore to him all the land of Saul and Mephibosheth will always eat at David’s table (9:7). Mephibosheth responds with humility. Who am I that you should show regard to a dead dog like me? David establishes provisions for Mephibosheth’s servants but Mephibosheth lives in Jerusalem and always ate at the king’s table. The one who should be killed has his fortunes reversed. The “enemy” receives the mercy and love of the anointed. The anointed restores the helpless and outcast and treats him like his own son.
Peaceful Kingdom (10:1-19)
Not only does the anointed extend kindness to Mephibosheth, but also to the nations (10:1-2). The same covenant loyalty is now offered to the Gentiles. So David sends servants to show kindness to Hanun of the Ammonites. But the princes of the Ammonites tell Hanun that this is all a trick so that they can spy out the land and overthrow it. So Hanun took David’s servants, shaved of half their beard and cut off their garments at their hips. Then he sent them back to David. The Ammonites shamefully mistreat the anointed’s servants and now prepare for battle against David. In verse 9 the situation does not look good for Israel’s armies. Joab sees that the battle is set against him from the front and the rear. But listen to the hopeful foreshadowing in verse 12. “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our Good, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” Joab calls for everyone to depend on the Lord and see what the Lord does. Of course, the Lord gave Israel victory against the Ammonites and the Syrians.
Now think about this: the outcome could have been so different if they would have accepted the covenant kindness of David.
This is the big message of these three chapters regarding the Lord and his kingdom. What Jesus does as the anointed is call for the outcasts, the outsiders, the lame, and the rejected to enjoy his kindness. Jesus is telling the world that he wants to show good toward everyone. He wants to bring everyone to sit at the table with him. He wants everyone to come to the table and be children of the king. Jesus wants to show covenant faithful love. This is what the New Testament is repeatedly telling us. We are the ones who are enemies of the Lord. We are the ones who are helpless (Romans 5). Listen to how the apostle Paul says this in his letter to Titus.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3–7 ESV)
Notice the description of us: foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to our passions and pleasures, hating others and being hated by others. What does our Lord do about this? He shows his goodness and loving kindness. He saves us, not because of us, but because of his own character. He saves us according to his mercy. Jesus tells us to come to his table, enjoy his presence, and enjoy his mercy and kindness.
Yet the typical response to this offer of kindness is rejection and hatred, just like we see with the Ammonites. It is such a strange response. Jesus is telling us that he wants to do good to us. He wants to heal us. He wants to restore us. He wants to help us. He wants to save us. He wants to show his kindness to us. Yet our response can be even stranger when we tell the one who wants to show us kindness that we do not want it.
Many years ago Apple decided to offer a free music album by a band called U2. U2 was a mega international band. The music was automatically put on your device for free from a universally loved music band. Yet a strange thing happened. People yelled and screamed about how dare they put this free music on their device. One person on social media made a very simple response: U2 is good; free is good. How is free U2 not good? It was not like a cheap laptop filled with a bunch of bloatware on your desktop that you could not get rid of and did not want to us. It was just free music from a major band. But there was a lot of rejection.
How do we look at the offer Jesus is making to us? Why would we look at Jesus’ offer of kindness with such hatred and resistance? Jesus says, “Let me show you kindness” and our response can be to go to war with him because we do not want his kindness. It makes no sense. But this is our response. David made an offer to Mephibosheth to have him come and live with him and eat at the table with him. Can you imagine him rejecting this offer so that he can live with nothing? The Lord wants to take care of us because we are spiritually lame and broken. The Lord wants to care for us because we cannot care for ourselves. Jesus extends his kindness to you today. What will be the response? Will it be like Mephibosheth? Who am I that he would care for me and let me be in his presence every day? Or will it be like Hanun? This is all a trick and we will reject his offer of kindness and love. Please notice that rejection of his kindness means judgment and destruction. How do we look at his offer? We need to see that his offer is his faithfulness, his mercy, and his kindness. He is offering to us the love we need.