With the death of Ish-Bosheth and Abner the leaders of the northern tribes acknowledge the inevitable. Suddenly, they realize and declare God’s will that David be the king of all Israel. The elders gather and anoint David. David treats these rebellious elders honorably and makes a covenant with them. David’s wise action unifies the kingdom.
The new king must pick a new capital to further unify the kingdom. Jerusalem remains in enemy hands and David determines to capture it and make it his home. The Jebusites who dwell there are convinced that their city is unconquerable, but David and his army defeat them, and Jerusalem becomes the City of David.
The city Tyre lies on the northern border of Israel. Hiram, the king of Tyre, determines that it would be to his advantage to make friends with the new king. With builders and building resources at his disposal he builds David a palace. Unfortunately, following the custom of the day, David fills the palace with more wives, concubines, sons, and daughters.
Prior to being anointed king David had lived for several years in Philistine territory. When the Philistines got word that he had been anointed king over all Israel they recognized that David was now a real and powerful enemy. Rather than wait and see what David will do, the Philistines attack Israel and David defeats them after asking God for guidance.
After their victory David and his men carry off the idols abandoned by the Philistines. Armies often carried their gods into war in hopes that the gods would bring them victory. The Israelites had also made this mistake and carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle. Instead of bringing victory the Israelites lose the Ark to the Philistines. Only God’s supernatural protection kept it from being destroyed.
With only the description in 2 Samuel we’re left with a puzzle. Why would David and his men carry off the Philistine idols. Idolatry was clearly forbidden in the law and would ultimately be the downfall of all Israel. Fortunately, we have a parallel account of this battle in 1 Chronicles. The idols are carried off, but then they are burned.
The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.2 Samuel 5:21 NIV
The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, and David gave orders to burn them in the fire.1 Chronicles 14:12 NIV
The chapter concludes with another attack by the Philistines. David again asks God what he should do. God instructs him to take the army and circle around behind the Philistines so they can be attacked from the rear. David obeys and this unconventional strategy results in complete defeat of the Philistines.
So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.2 Samuel 5:25 NIV
What about us?
Most of us have learned from scripture and experience that when confronted with temptation the best choice is to run away from it. The primary illustration in scripture is the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (see Genesis 39). This chapter provides us with a similar and equally important principle. If you acquire something that might be a source of temptation destroy it immediately. There are often times when unwanted mail arrives that goes directly from the mailbox to the recycle bin.
It is unlikely that we will ever lead an army into battle. Although there are some military leaders in Ukraine who probably could use some special guidance and assistance right now. In our situation we often encounter circumstances where we lack clarity about what to do. We just cannot clearly see all the circumstances. We may even need to know whether we are to do anything or nothing. We learn from David that it is important to ask for guidance in every situation even if the circumstances look similar. Relying on our own experience may seem like a good idea, and very often leads to failure and frustration. Only God can see what we cannot.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.James 1:5 NIV
One of the keys to military success is information. The earliest aircraft, including balloons, were used for intelligence gathering. Things hidden from a person on the ground became plain when seen from the air. God’s perspective far exceeds that of the best intelligence satelite or “spy in the sky.”