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Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Life and Times of King David part 3

The City of David

The Life and Times of King David

part 3

David, being a man of his word and convictions, would not strike Saul. He loathed the thought of civil war for Israel as well. Thus he left the country and headed for Philistine territory. He returned to Gath with 600 men in his tow. In an attempt to release himself from the pursuit of Saul he offered his services and those of his men to the king.

King Achish no doubt had some problems with the concept, but nevertheless established them in the town of Ziklag. David and his men were then expected to conduct raids on the southern border of Judah.

However, David and his men instead went after the semi nomadic enemies of Judah, and strengthened her borders. The spoils of victory were given to the people of Negeb. Covertly, David was enhancing his position with those he would one day rule.

King Achish knew nothing of David’s duplicity, and was instead concentrating on the plans of the five Philistine overlords of the north. They had come together for an all out assault on Israel. Their first movement was to take the plain of Jezreel. David was asked to join them, but the commanders had a basic lack of trust in David and his men, and he was kept out of it. David was en rout from Jezreel to Negeb when Saul confronted the Philistines at Mount Gilboa.

When David returned to Ziklag, he found that the Amalekites had raided the town. They had looted and pillaged, but had also taken everyone hostage. The Lord told David to head after them, for he would surely catch them and make rescue.

David headed south to the brook of Besor, where 200 of his men collapsed, too exhausted to continue. David and his 400 found the Amalekites spread out over the land. They were having a great feast in celebration of all the spoil they had taken. David attacked at dawn, and recovered all hostages and livestock. He then divided the spoil  among those who had fought and those who had stayed behind.

Saul and his men, poised for battle at Mount Gilboa, were going into battle with an old king. A king who was no longer confident in the Lord’s involvement in his life. Before he went into battle he had consulted with the prophets of God about the coming battle, but the “phone rang off the hook.”

He then went to a witch, or medium for answers. He wanted to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. To everyone’s surprise, even the medium’s, Samuel showed up and predicted Saul’s death and the defeat of Israel.

Distraught and convinced he was headed for his last stand, he fought at Mount Gilboa. Jonathan and his two brothers, Abinadab and Malchishua, were all killed. Saul was seriously wounded by Philistine archers, and apparently when you lose to the Philistines you are subject to anal rape, so Saul fell on his own sword and perished also.

Until David came along, the state of Israelite music
was rather primitive. It typically consisted of instruments
like the "sistrum". This was little more than an elaborate rattle.
David imported skilled Phonecian musicians and added
to his nation's culture.
David received news of the defeat and the deaths of those he had come to know as family. Though he went into mourning he also realized that if he were to take Saul’s place as king, he would have to move quickly. He consulted of God as to where to go now, and was told to go to Hebron.

To Hebron they all went, and there David was anointed King over the house of Judah. The date was about 1000 years before Christ. David now ruled Judah, but Israel was now in division. A nation once unified under Saul, was now led by Ishbosheth, Saul’s youngest son. He ruled the ten tribes who lived in the central and northern areas of the kingdom: Benjamin, Dan, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Gad and the remnant of Rueben which had escaped the Moabite and Ammonite pressure. David ruled over the tribes of Judah and Simeon.  Abner, Saul’s chief general, lead bloody skirmishes against Joab and the armies of David for two years with little results.

Abner, however, began to move without the let of his king and took one of Saul’s concubines for his own. The king saw this as treason and a split developed between the two men. Abner then met with David secretly, no doubt feeling that Israel would have a better future under David’s rule, and he discussed the plans for turning over the northern kingdom.

As a show of good faith, Abner returned Michal to David from the town of Gibea. She had been married off to another when David had fled the country. There in David’s harem, she provided a link between Saul’s family and the Kingdom of Judah. This strengthened David’s position as future king of Israel.

Joab however, knowing nothing of the talks between Abner and David, sought revenge for a brother Abner had killed in battle. Abner, not realizing that Joab knew nothing of the secret talks, walked right up to Joab and was quickly disemboweled.

This was bad news for David and his political future, so David called a national day of mourning  in respect for the fallen Abner, this in order to keep his people from retaliation. However, without Abner, his king began to lose courage and the people followed suit.

Two of Ishbosheth’s captains, seeking favor of David, for the future, killed the king in his sleep.  Instead of promoting them, David had them executed for killing Saul’s son, not only their king.  Only Jonathan’s five year old crippled son remained of the house of Saul. Now no one stood between David and the throne of Israel. All of the elders went to Hebron and anointed David their king. With this act, Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled.

The Philistines, hearing these events, became alarmed. As long as Israel fought amongst itself, they knew that all of Canaan would eventually be theirs to take. A united Israel, however, with warrior King David at its command, was big, big trouble.

They therefore attacked before David would be able to get any help from the northern tribes. They amassed in the valley of Rephaim, hoping to drive a wedge between Israel and Judah before any solidarity could take place. David proved more than a match for them however, and defeated them twice. In fact, David kept rolling until the armies of the Philistines were destroyed.  The Philistines were never heard from again.

Jerusalem, the last city in central Israel was still controlled by the Canaanites. It was built on a high ridge bordered on the east, west and south by steep valleys. It had high walls and lofty springs. David considered this to be the best place for a capitol. It was also on the border between the two nations of Israel and Judah and would also be a great place for political rule.

David then set out to capture the city, only to be mocked by its inhabitants. The Jebusites told him, “The blind and the lame will defend this city against the likes of you.”  David told his men that the first one to smite them would be chief and commander.

Joab led his men through a water tunnel that ran under the city, no doubt a lesson learned from the fall of Babylon. They emerged inside the city and threw the Jebusites into confusion. He then threw open the city gates for the rest of his forces and soon the victory was done.

David would live there. He would call it the City of David. It belonged neither to Israel or to Judah. It was the sole property of David himself. Pretty good for a little shepherd boy from Bethlehem!

David centralized the power of the state in the king, with Jerusalem as the seat of government. Tribal allegiance was forgotten once inside the walls of Jerusalem, one now belonged to the king, not just a confederacy.

David also had the ark of the covenant brought there with the prophet Nathan. David danced before God as the ark was brought into the city. Jerusalem was now not only the City of David, but with the seat of God there, it was also the City of the Lord. Michal, his wife, thinking David silly for his exuberance, rendered herself barren with derisive comments. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.!

Now the whole of political, civil, religious and all other administrations were concentrated in one place with David as its ruler. David then surrounded himself with officers and clerics and created an administration of some of the most famous names in the Old Testament: Joab, Jehoshaphat, Seraiah, Benaiah, Zadok and Abiathar, to name a few.

It was then that he commissioned the collection of the book of Psalms. These hymns were sung by priests and celebrants at the Tent of the Covenant. We still have these books and records of these events to this day, including the existence of Israel, and her people who are historically connected to all of this. The flag of Israel is decorated with the Star of David. Remind your atheist and agnostic friends and co-workers, that it is one thing to disregard an invisible creator, but quite another to ignore Israel and the Jews.

more on all of this next time.

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