DAVID AND THE PROMISES
It was after Saul’s first act of disobedience that Samuel was sent to sacrifice at Bethlehem and to anoint Jesse’s son David as king over Israel. David was of the tribe of Judah, Leah’s fourth son and the royal heir apparent designated by his ancestor Jacob (Genesis 49:8-12). During the anointing, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Saul, meanwhile, lost the Spirit of the Lord and became possessed with an evil spirit. To relieve the king of his mental anguish, a harp player was sought and David met the qualification. The king liked the young man, made him his armor bearer and felt relieved whenever he played the harp (I Samuel 16).
In reality, there were two different personalities in David. He was the eighth and a bit neglected son. His father did not regard him equal to the other seven. David, himself, felt rejected by his parents, but it benefited him by learning to trust in God (Psalms 27:10). The helpless sheep that were in his care led him to develop the skill to use the sling. He became brave enough to kill a lion, a bear and Goliath. The defeat of Goliath earned David Saul’s daughter, public popularity and the king’s jealousy and persecution. Before he became king, he ran from Saul and took liberties not permissible to ordinary people. With his credentials he would not make it even in our world of legal favoritism. He confiscated holy bread and ate it and he extorted things he needed to survive for services rendered. He was coerced to be a bandit. He had over six hundred fighting men with him that could easily defeat Saul’s three thousand. Even the Gentiles respected David and had no desire to tangle with his force. He had no scruples punishing those that did not help him. A woman by the name of Abigail pleaded for he husband Nabal who had refused to help David. At the same time, he defeated the Amalekites that were troubling Ziklag of the tribe of Judah; then he sent some of the plunder to compensate for their loss to the elders of Judah. They were receiving more protection from David than from Saul. It was not a surprise that they would not follow the house of Saul and make David their king.
With the exception of his weakness for women, who were mostly widows whose husbands died in David’s wars. David as the king behaved nobly. He was quickly anointed king over Judah and held that position for seven years. After that he became king over all of Israel and reigned for thirty-three more years. David walked with the Lord and consulted Him on all matters that pertained to the people. He treated everyone with fairness, even his enemies. Some members of Saul’s family continued to annoy David, but he remained kind to all the members of Saul’s household. He freed the nation of all her enemies, turned Jerusalem into the nation’s central worship and civil government, and he topped it by bringing The Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David became overwhelmed with God’s blessing and promised to build a house for the Lord; namely, for The Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 1-7).
Nathan the prophet was sent to tell David that his gesture pleased the Lord. As a reward, David’s name would live among the great, his offspring would occupy the throne in perpetuity and his son would build a House for the Lord. The prophet was told to add, “The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: when your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with flogging inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established for ever” (II Samuel 7:5-16).
Being a man after the heart of God is troubling to non-Jews because his life and choice contracted God’s commandments of coveting, adultery and killing. He was a warring king and successful in overcoming his enemies, but he had problems with controlling his passion and children. He started out great, but did not do so well when his own family began to unseat him as king. His own trusted men were allowed to do violent acts. Abner and Ish-Bosheth were murdered, Amnon committed incest with his sister Tamar and Absalom was hung by his hair after he tried to take the kingdom from his father, and there was David’s love for Bathsheba which proved fatal to her husband and child. While fleeing from Absalom David was cursed by Shimei a descendant of Saul, but he did not retaliate. In his transgressions with Bathsheba and in counting the nation, David accepted his punishment in humility at the hand of the Lord (II Samuel 15-18). It was an amazing relationship David had with God. David was not too proud to admit his faults like Saul was and the Lord’s forgiveness was and still is endless.
Like Abraham long before him, David was not allowed to complete what he had set out to do. He did not build God a temple, a palace for himself or a stable for his horses. He did not even surround himself with a large army, but some four hundred trusted foreign mercenaries. Most of the revenue went into fighting wars with neighbor nations and putting down rebellions at home. During David’s reign, all able Israelites were in reserve and rallied whenever the nation was threatened (II Sam.19-24; I Chrn.11-21). David’s last official act was to pick his successor, the son who would complete the Promises of God. When Adonijah proclaimed himself king without his father’s knowledge, Bathsheba quickly informed the king what had taken place and reminded him that he had promised to make Solomon her son king. David immediately ordered Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet to take Solomon to Gihon and anoint him king. The people responded to David’s choice with jubilation and celebration. Adonijah’s followers deserted Adonaijah and he himself begged Solomon to be pardoned. However, he was sentenced to die when he had the audacity to ask that Abishag, David’s last wife, be given to him as a wife (I Kings 1-2; I Chron. 29: 21-28). He was one of those people that did not know when to quit.
David left lengthy instructions for the building and organization of the future Temple. The blueprints included temple servants, priests, singers, gatekeepers, treasurers, guards and many other officials (I.Chron.22-29). He also left instructions as to how to punish his old enemies and reward his loyal friends. David’s final words to Solomon were to pass on the Mandate of God’s Promise. In I Kings 2:2-4, we read, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep his Promise to me: ‘if your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'”
Next to Moses, David became an example for many that followed. When his descendants began to fail, the hope arose that he might return as the Messiah. At the time of Jesus, his disciple believed that their teacher was fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 and when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, the people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Mt. 21:1-10). Jesus, himself, raised the question to the Pharisees, “What do you think of Christ? Whose son is he?” The Pharisees replied, “The son of David.” Then Jesus asked, “Why then did David led by the Spirit calls him Lord? For he says, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ If David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” (Mt. 22:41-45). Adoption has resolved that problem for Christians, at least for some interpreters. In reality, it must be treated as a miracle and that is how Luke understood the true origin of the Christ through a virgin, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).