Do you remember what happened in chapter 7? David wanted to build a house, a temple, for the Lord, but the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David to reveal what the Lord intended to do for David. David wanted to build a house, a temple, for the Lord, but the Lord was going to build a house, a dynasty, for David, so that a succession of kings would come from David to rule over the Lord’s people on behalf of the Lord. And the Lord promised that David’s house and David’s kingdom will endure forever and his throne will be established forever. And the reason David’s house and kingdom will endure forever and his throne will be established forever is because one of David’s descendants will live forever. The Lord Jesus Christ — who, according to his human nature, was descended from David — died like every other king who was descended from David. But the Lord Jesus Christ was different, because he was raised from the dead, and he ascended to heaven where he now rules and reigns over all things so that whatever happens in the world today is under the authority of Jesus Christ the King, who is King David’s greater Son who reigns forever.
And in chapter 7, not only did the Lord promise that David’s house and his kingdom will endure forever, but the Lord promised to make David’s name great. And he promised to provide a place for the people of Israel so that they will have a home of their own and will no longer be disturbed. And the Lord promised to give David rest from all his enemies. So, the Lord promised to make his name great; to give the people a secure place to live; and to give David rest from his enemies. And chapter 8 shows how the Lord fulfilled those promises to David, because we’re told in this chapter how David became famous. That is, he made a name for himself as the Lord promised. And we’re told that he reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right. In other words, he provided the people with a secure place to live as the Lord promised. And we’re told how he conquered the nations so that he had rest from his enemies as the Lord promised.
So, this chapter follows on from chapter 7. And what we read here about David’s kingdom and his victories and the way he established peace in his kingdom is meant to reveal something to us about Christ’s kingdom and how Christ our King subdues his enemies throughout the world. However, whereas David subdued his enemies with the sword, Christ the King now — in this gospel era — subdues his enemies with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Christ subdues his enemies by the preaching of God’s word to men and women and boys and girls in every nation. He subdues his enemies and brings them into his kingdom, which is an everlasting kingdom.
So, let’s see what this passage says about David’s victories. The Bible commentators suggest that these victories are listed, not chronologically, but geographically. So, it’s not that he defeated the Philistines first; and then he defeated the Moabites; and then he defeated Hadadezer. No, we’re to imagine a map and the Philistines are in the west; and the Moabites are in the east; and Hadadezer is in the north; and, if you jump down to verse 13, the Edomites are in the south. So, it’s west and east and north and south. David was subduing his enemies in every place.
David defeated the Philistines, we’re told in verse 1, and subdued them. It means he humbled them and brought them into subjection. Ever since the days of Samson, the Philistines had been a constant thorn in their side. And though the Israelites had often beaten the Philistines in battle, they had never been able to subdue the Philistines. They had never been able to conquer them. Until now, that is.
David also defeated the Moabites. The Moabites were descended from Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew. And so, the Moabites were distantly related to the Israelites. Moab was not part of the Promised Land and back in Deuteronomy 2, the Lord forbade the Israelites from taking their land. However, they were often hostile towards Israel, and like the Philistines, were a thorn in their flesh. And so, from time to time we read about their animosity towards God’s people; and so it was now a relief to the people of Israel when David managed to defeat them and they too become subject to Israel.
The little detail about the way two-thirds of the men were put to death, while a third were spared, is shocking to us. However, every time we read of this kind of judgment we’re to remember that it’s recorded for us to warn us about the coming day of judgment, when the Lord will come in glory and with power to punish his enemies in every nation who refused to yield their lives to him. And whereas David showed mercy to a third by sparing them, the Lord, when he comes to judge the world, will show no mercy to those who refused to believe in him or to submit to him in this life; and every single one of his enemies will suffer his wrath when the day of judgment comes. But until that that day comes, he invites people in every nation to repent and to believe in him so that they will be spared when the day of judgment finally comes.
According to verse 3, David also defeated Hadadezer, king of Zobah. The commentators point out that his name means ‘Hadad is my help’. Hadad was the name of his god. But his god was no help to the king of Zobah, because David was able to defeat the king and his army as well as the Arameans who came to help Hadadezer. You can see from verse 4 that David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. However, instead of adding the chariots to his own army, David hamstrung most of them, which means he crippled them so that while they could still walk, they could no longer run. Why did he do that? The answer is found in Psalm 20 where David wrote:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
David understand that he wasn’t to trust in chariots and horses, or in the size of his army, or in their weapons. They were to trust in the Lord to give them victory over their enemies. And believers in every age need to remember that we too are to trust in the Lord and in the Lord alone whenever we face troubles and trials.
And you’ll see from verse 5 that David struck down many of the Arameans and put garrisons throughout Damascus and made the people subject to him.
Jump down to verse 13 and 14 now, where it tells us that David became famous after he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites. Like the Moabites, the Edomites were distantly related to the Israelites, because they were descended from Esau, who was Jacob’s brother. And like the Moabites, they were often hostile towards Israel. But finally, under David, the Moabites were subdued and garrisons were put throughout the land.
And so, to the west and the east and to the north and to the south, David was able to defeat their enemies and make the land of Israel secure for God’s people. No longer did they have to worry that the Philistines and others might send a raiding party to attack them and to steal their possessions. David had made the land secure.
And did you notice what the narrator said in verse 6 and in verse 14? In both verses we’re told that the Lord gave David victory wherever he went. The Lord was with David; and the Lord — who controls all his creatures and all their actions — ensured that David and his men gained the victory over their enemies.
David’s commitment to the Lord
And David acknowledged that. Look now at verses 7 to 12 which make clear for us that David did not use these victories to make himself rich. Instead of keeping the spoils of war for himself, he brought the plunder to the Lord. So, he brought to Jerusalem the gold shields which he had taken from Hadadezer’s men. And in verse 8 we read that he also took a great quantity of bronze from towns belonging to Hadadezer. It doesn’t say what he did with this bronze, but presumably he also brought it to Jerusalem. In verses 9 and 10 we read about the King of Hamath who sent his son to greet David and to congratulate him on his victory over Hadadezer. And he brought articles of silver and gold and bronze as a kind of tribute to David, presumably to stay in David’s good books. And what did David do with this gift? He dedicated the silver and gold and bronze to the Lord, as he had done — and this is the important thing to note — as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued. Whatever plunder he took, whatever gifts he received, he dedicated them to the Lord. He didn’t keep it for himself, and he didn’t make himself rich. No, he dedicated it to the Lord. And years later all the silver and gold and bronze which David amassed in Jerusalem was used to build the temple for the Lord, which was an amazing building, because it contained so much gold and silver and bronze. The walls of the Most Holy Place, which was God’s dwelling place in the midst of his people, were covered with gold, because it was to represent the glory of heaven. So, David did not keep the plunder for himself, but he dedicated it to the Lord, because he believed that it was the Lord who had given him victory over his enemies.
So, we’ve read about David’s victories and how the Lord gave him victory over his enemies so that the land was secure for his people. And David brought the spoils of war to Jerusalem for the Lord’s temple. And in the final verses of the chapter we’re told about some of the people David appointed to serve him in his kingdom. There was Joab, the commander of the army. There was a recorder, though we’re not sure what his job involved. There were the priests and there was a secretary. Benaiah was another military officer. And David’s sons were appointed as advisors. So, David appointed all these people to help him.
And look what it says about David in verse 15: he reigned over all Israel. In the days before this, the judges and Saul did not rule over all of Israel, because the Philistines, for instance, and other nations, were living in the land. They were occupying it. And, of course, after David, the kingdom was divided into the north and the south. But for a time, during David’s reign, the king was able to reign over the whole of the land.
And look: he did what was just and right for all his people. He was appointed by God to serve, not himself, but to serve the people. He wasn’t there to make himself rich, but he was there for the benefit of the people. And while David was not perfect, while he was still a sinner who will very soon sin in a very serious way with Bathsheba and her husband, nevertheless in general his reign was characterised by justice and righteousness so that he did what was just and right in the sight of the Lord.
And those two qualities are mentioned in Isaiah’s great prophecy in Isaiah 9 where he spoke about the coming of a son who will be king. Isaiah said of him:
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
David was not a perfect king, but the way he ruled the people with justice and righteousness anticipated the time Isaiah spoke about when the True King would come, who is Jesus Christ the Lord. And the Lord Jesus did not come to make himself rich, because for our sakes he made himself poor, leaving the glory of heaven to become one of us. And he did not come to serve himself, but to serve his Father in heaven and to serve his people by giving up his life as a ransom for us. He gave up his life to pay for your sins: all that you have ever done wrong. He shed his blood to cleanse you of your guilt. He died so that you can live forever. He is the Great King who loved his people so much that he was prepared to give up his life for them.
And after giving up his life for us and for our salvation, he was raised from the dead to live forever and to rule as King over all. But whereas David subdued his enemies by fighting against them and by defeating them in battle, and by slaying them with the sword, the Lord Jesus subdues his enemies today with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Today, Christ our King appoints preachers to go into all the world to proclaim his word and to preach the good news of the gospel that whoever believes will not perish, even though that is what we deserve, but will have everlasting life in Christ’s everlasting kingdom. Every Sunday, Christ the King comes to us in the preaching of his word and he summons us to turn from our sin and to trust in him for salvation. In this gospel era, in these, the last days in which we live, he doesn’t subdue his enemies by killing them, but by proclaiming to them the good news of the gospel and by offering them everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom.
But left to our own devices, none of us would believe in him or turn to him. No matter what the preacher said, and no matter how often we heard the message, none of us would be able to respond to the message, because by nature we’re sinners who are dead in our trespasses and sins and we’re incapable of believing the good news and we’re unable to respond to his invitation to come to him. By nature our hearts are hard and cold and we cannot by ourselves believe the message or love the Lord.
But Christ our King, who has promised not to lose any of his people, not only sends preachers to proclaim the gospel message, but he sends his Spirit to give his people a new heart so that they’re able to believe the gospel message. He sends his Spirit to them to enable them to turn from their sins in repentance and to turn in faith to the Saviour. He sends his Spirit to give them a new heart to believe in him and to love him. By ourselves, left to our own devices, none of us would have ever believed, because we’re sinners who cannot believe. But because Christ the King is so determined to bring his people into his kingdom that he sends us preachers to proclaim the good news and he sends his Spirit to enable us to believe the good news. And the Holy Spirit enables us to repent and believe and he makes us willing to come to Christ and to yield our lives to him so that, instead of living for ourselves, we will live our lives for Christ and his glory.
And so, if you’re a believer today, then you owe it all to Christ the King, who gave up his life for you on the cross to pay for your sins. And then he sent preachers to proclaim the good news to you. And he also sent his Spirit to enable you to believe. He did everything necessary to subdue your rebellious and unbelieving heart and to bring you into his kingdom. And so, you ought to give thanks to him for his kindness to you. And you ought to renew your commitment to live your life for him and to do all things for his glory.
And if you’re not yet a believer, then you should cry out to the Lord to be merciful to you, and to save you, because the day is coming when Christ the King will come again, not to save, but to condemn all those who did not believe. He will come in glory and with power to condemn all those who remained his enemies; and they will be sent away to be punished forever for all that they have done wrong in this life. And so, you should cry out to him to be merciful to you and to enable you to believe the good news so that you too will be saved.