Images of a Kingdom

2 Samuel 5

20 January 2008

Blenheim Free Church, Maidenhead

Morning service


I've brought a visual aid with me. It's a piece of electrical flex. I'd like you to think of this electrical flex as a picture of the Bible: one end plugged into Genesis chapter 1 at the start; the other end plugged into Revelation chapter 22 at the end.

Now, I could say that the glory of God runs through the Bible just as electrical power runs through this flex, and that would be true. But it's not the picture I want to give you today.

The point I want you to notice about this flex is that it has three wires inside it. If you were to cut it anywhere along its length, you would find the same three wires. They are a continuous link from one end to the other.

In the same way, wherever we open the Bible, from start to finish we find three key themes. There are three continuous strands that run from one end to the other.

These are the themes of God's People, God's Place and God's Providence, by which I mean his blessing.

So, right at the start of the Bible we find God's people (Adam and Eve) in God's place (the garden of Eden) enjoying God's providence (the blessing of relationship with him).

But when they disobey God, all these things are lost. They are ejected from God's place, the Garden. They no longer enjoy his blessing, but are now cursed. And they cease to be his people: they have turned away from him.

But, a little bit later in Genesis chapter 12, God speaks to Abraham, and once again we see the three strands.

The Lord had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you [that's the God's place theme]. I will make you into a great nation [that's the God's people theme] and I will bless you [that's God's providence].ref

And the rest of the Bible is a working out of this three-fold promise. It's like a three-stranded flex from start to end.

What has this got to do with 2 Samuel chapter 5?

Well, this chapter in 2 Samuel is a bit of a pause in the action. The story of David and Saul has been bowling along since almost the beginning of first Samuel, but now the writer stops for a while and takes a step back. He pauses to look at the big picture.

We know this because the events that are recorded in this chapter took place over quite a few years. We've got,

So, you see, this is something of a collage of images from David's reign. But the themes that unite them are the three themes that are always there, wherever we open the Bible: God's people, God's place and God's providence. So let's look at them.

The King is Exalted for God's People

First, the reason God made David king is for the good of his people.

But hang-on! Wasn't it the people themselves who made David king? That's true at one level.

In the turmoil after Saul's death the nation of Israel had become split in two. David had been king over the tribe of Judah in the south of the land for a couple of years, and then, after Ish-Bosheth's death the rest of the tribes come to David and ask him to be king over them as well. They recognise that Judah is their own flesh and blood; they cannot remain divided.

The people have experienced the disaster of king Saul. They were originally very happy with Saul, for entirely worldly reasons, but his heart turned away from God. Now they want God's king, the one he had chosen to shepherd them and rule his people.

And we see in verse 12 that God confirms their choice. And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.ref

So there's the "God's people" theme. It was for the sake of God's people that David was king. God's people prosper when they are united under God's king. God exalted David as king because God cares passionately about his people.

The King Establishes God's Place

The "God's place" theme is in verse 6-9.

David needs a new capital from which to rule the re-united people of God. Hebron in the South is too remote, so he marches to Jerusalem to capture it for his base. Jerusalem is more central, and well fortified: an ideal place for him to establish the throne.

The problem is that Jerusalem is already occupied, and because it is so well fortified that presents a bit of a problem.

It's not quite clear how David and his men managed to capture the city: the original Hebrew is apparently a bit obscure. But there is a suggestion that somehow it was vulnerable through the water system. Possibly David's men were able to get inside the city by climbing up a water shaft one by one. In any case it was a great surprise to the Jebusites who lived there. Previously they had mocked David and his men; now the joke was on them.

It's interesting that it is the Jebusites whom David has to defeat as he captures Jerusalem.

When God promised the Israelites that they would one day inhabit the whole of the land of Canaan, he usually listed the tribes they would have to defeat before it was wholly theirs.

So, in Joshua chapter 3, when the Israelites are about to enter the land, the Lord says This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.ref

This list occurs a dozen or more times over a time-span of about eight hundred years dating all the way back to Abraham. And almost always the Jebusites are listed last. The point is that now that David has defeated the Jebusites, he's reached the end of the list. At last God's people have made the the promised land completely their own. God's promise is fulfilled.

So we see David establishing God's place on two levels. God's people are now in God's place: the whole land is theirs. And David has established Jerusalem, which as we know will soon become God's special place as the temple is built. It will become the place where God chooses to make his presence most clearly known on earth. It will become the centre of the religious life of the whole nation for the next thousand years and beyond, and even now.

The King Ensures God's Providence

So, as king, David is exalted for the sake of God's people, and as king, David establishes God's place. The third strand is God's providence or blessing. And what we see from verse 10 onwards is that as king, David ensures God's providence.

From this point on to the end of David's life, Israel has never had it so good, and it's never been as good since. Until we reach the New Testament, David's kingdom is the high point of God's blessing on his people. We are told why in verse 10: it was because the Lord God Almighty was with him.ref

We see God's blessing in two major ways in this chapter. First, because of the king, God's people gain the respect of friendly nations. In verse 11 we read about king Hiram of Tyre who was a great admirer of David's. He sends materials and craftsmen to build David a palace.

Second, because of the king God's people gain victory over hostile nations. In verse 17 to the end of the chapter we read about David defeating the Philistines twice in quick succession.

The Philistines have been a thorn in the side of the Israelites since before the time of Samson. David has encountered them before, of course: Goliath had been a Philistine. But now, with these two battles David achieves a decisive victory against them. Although they continue to be a pest, never again will the Philistines cause serious trouble for God's people.

David can win this victory and establish the security of God's people because he is the kind of man who listens to God.

Before each battle we are told David enquired of the Lordref. And David not only listens, but he does what he is told: verse 25 David did as the Lord commanded himref.

This is important because the right tactic is different in each battle: in the first case a full-frontal attack; in the second sneakily circling round behind. The Lord revealed to him the tactics, and the Lord went before him. We can't assume what worked before will always work next time. We need to continue to listen to God.

You can't imagine Saul doing this can you? Saul would have trusted his own experience and fallen into the trap, but because of David's trust in God, he is able to shepherd the people, guarding them and protecting them. So all the people enjoy God's security and blessing.

So, we see in this chapter the three strands of God's people, God's place and God's providence, and they all revolve around the kingship of this man David, a man after God's own heart. Verse 12 is the heart the chapter, David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.ref


So, what has any of this got to do with us? After all, it's three-thousand years since David was king. What can all this possibly mean for us?

I want to return to the electrical flex picture I started with. Remember that I said that these three themes run from start to end of the Bible like the wires in the flex. Wherever we cut the flex we find the three wires, and wherever we open the Bible we will find the three themes: God's people, God's place and God's providence.

I'm going to tie a knot in the middle, to remind us that there is a point when everything changes. We live in New Testament times — after the knot: we are after the life and death of Jesus. David lived in Old Testament times — before the knot: before the death of Jesus.

After Jesus, everything changes.

Because of Jesus, God's people are no longer only the ethnically Jewish race. People from all races and cultures and backgrounds are now united as God's people. Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.ref The collection of the people of God is immeasurably greater after Jesus than before.

After Jesus, Jerusalem is no longer God's place. You might recall the conversation Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at a well in John chapter 4. She says to him Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.ref Jesus' reply is amazing: Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem... a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.ref

So, God's place is no longer a physical place: a land, or a temple, or a church, or a city. After Jesus, the place where God is found is in the hearts of his people. If we are God's people, then we are God's place. We don't need to go anywhere to find him; we can't ever be separated from him. After Jesus we are God is immeasurably closer to his people than he was before.

And after Jesus, God's providence has changed as well. The Israelites knew God's blessing primarily in terms of physical security and physical provision. It was about victory in war, and material wealth. But now we are told in Ephesians Chapter 1,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ... In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ...ref and on and on he goes!

The eternal blessings Jesus brings are immeasurably better than the blessings the people of David's time enjoyed.

After Jesus, all three strands are still there, but all three strands are changed. God's people, God's place and God's providence are still the themes of the Bible, but each one is so much greater than before. What an immense privilege we have to live this side of the cross!

But there is one thing that hasn't changed at all. If we want to enjoy all these benefits — if we want to be part of God's people, if we want to be God's place, if we want to enjoy God's blessings — then we need to make God's man our king.

The Israelites came to David and asked him to be their king, because they knew that having God's man to shepherd and rule them was the key to everything.

David was a great king, but he was only a fore-shadowing of God's true king, great David's greater Son. Jesus, the Good Shepherdref. David was not perfect, as we shall find out, but his descendent Jesus was perfect. And now God has established Jesus as king over his people and exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people.


So, my challenge for you today is to make God's man the king over your life. As the Israelites anointed David king over them; so you need to make Jesus king over you.

Subjecting yourself to a king is not a thing to do lightly. We don't really experience the power of a king in this day and age, but in Bible times the king was all-powerful. Whatever law he decreed you had to obey, no matter if you agreed with it or not. Whatever taxes he demanded, you had to pay. Whenever he ordered that you go to battle and fight, you had to go. This was the price of having a king over you.

It may be that you've said in the past that Jesus is your king, but you've allowed him to be king of only part of your life, as David was king of only part of Israel at the beginning of this chapter. Well, that's not really making him king at all, is it? Making Jesus king means making him king of your whole life, just as David became king of the whole of Israel. That's when we see all of God's blessings.

So, my challenge: Are you prepared to make Jesus king of all of your life?