In this chapter is repeated, I. The elevation of David to the throne, immediately upon the death of Saul, by common consent, ver. 1-3. II. His gaining the castle of Zion out of the hands of the Jebusites, ver. 4-9. III. The catalogue of the worthies and great men of his kingdom, ver. 10-47.
David's Accession to the Throne.
B. C. 1055.
1 Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 2 And moreover in time past, even when Saul was king, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel. 3 Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel. 4 And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. 5 And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David. 6 And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief. 7 And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David. 8 And he built the city round about, even from Millo round about: and Joab repaired the rest of the city. 9 So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him.
David is here brought to the possession.
I. Of the throne of Israel, after he had reigned seven years in Hebron, over Judah only. In consideration of his relation to them (v. 1), his former good services, and especially the divine designation (v. 2), they anointed him their king: he covenanted to protect them, and they to bear faith and true allegiance to him, v. 3. Observe, 1. God's counsels will be fulfilled at last, whatever difficulties lie in the way. If God had said, David shall rule, it is in vain to oppose it. 2. Men that have long stood in their own light, when they have long wearied themselves with their lying vanities, it is to be hoped, will understand the things that belong to their peace and return to their own mercies. 3. Between prince and people there is an original contract, which both ought religiously to observe. If ever any prince might have claimed an absolute despotic power, David might, and might as safely as any have been entrusted with it; and yet he made a covenant with the people, took the coronation-oath, to rule by law.
II. Of the strong-hold of Zion, which was held by the Jebusites till David's time. Whether David had a particular eye upon it as a place fit to make a royal city, or whether he had a promise of it from God, it seems that one of his first exploits was to make himself master of that fort; and, when he had it, he called it the city of David, v. 7. To this reference is had, Ps. ii. 6. I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. See here what quickens and engages resolution in great undertakings. 1. Opposition. When the Jebusites set David at defiance, and said, Thou shalt not come hither. he resolved to force it, whatever it cost him. 2. Prospect of preferment. When David proposed to give the general's place to him that would lead the attack upon the castle of Zion, Joab was fired with the proposal, and he went up first, and was chief. It has been said, "Take away honour out of the soldier's eye and you cut off the spurs from his heels."
David's Mighty Men.
B. C. 1048.
10 These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. 11 And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had; Jashobeam, a Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time. 12 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties. 13 He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. 14 And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great deliverance. 15 Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the host of the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim. 16 And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines' garrison was then at Bethlehem. 17 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate! 18 And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord, 19 And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest. 20 And Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three: for lifting up his spear against three hundred, he slew them, and had a name among the three. 21 Of the three, he was more honourable than the two; for he was their captain: howbeit he attained not to the first three. 22 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day. 23 And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian's hand was a spear like a weaver's beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear. 24 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among the three mighties. 25 Behold, he was honourable among the thirty, but attained not to the first three: and David set him over his guard. 26 Also the valiant men of the armies were, Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, 27 Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite, 28 Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Antothite, 29 Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, 30 Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite, 31 Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah, that pertained to the children of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite, 32 Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, 33 Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, 34 The sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shage the Hararite, 35 Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur, 36 Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, 37 Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai, 38 Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Haggeri, 39 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armourbearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah, 40 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 41 Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai, 42 Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a captain of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, 43 Hanan the son of Maachah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite, 44 Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jehiel the sons of Hothan the Aroerite, 45 Jediael the son of Shimri, and Joha his brother, the Tizite, 46 Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai, and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, 47 Eliel, and Obed, and Jasiel the Mesobaite.
We have here an account of David's worthies, the great men of his time that served him and were preferred by him. The first edition of this catalogue we had, 2 Sam. xxiii. 8, &c. This is much the same, only that those named here from v. 41 to the end are added. Observe,
I. The connexion of this catalogue with that which is said concerning David, v. 9. 1. David waxed greater and greater, and these were his mighty men. Much of the strength and honour of great men is borrowed from their servants and depends upon them, which cannot but somewhat diminish pomp and power in the opinion of those that are wise. David is great because he has great men about him; take these away, and he is where he was. 2. The Lord of hosts was with him, and these were the mighty men which he had. God was with him and wrought for him, but by men and means and the use of second causes. By this it appeared that God was with him, that he inclined the hearts of those to come over to him that were able to serve his interest. As, if God be for us none can be against us, so, if God be for us, all shall be for us that we have occasion for. Yet David ascribed his success and increase, not to the hosts he had, but to the Lord of hosts, not to the mighty men that were with him, but to the mighty God whose presence with us is all in all.
II. The title of this catalogue (v. 10): These are the men who strengthened themselves with him. In strengthening him they strengthened themselves and their own interest; for his advancement was theirs. What we do in our places for the support of the kingdom of the Son of David we shall be gainers by. In strengthening it we strengthen ourselves. It may be read, They held strongly with him and with all Israel. Note, When God has work to do he will not want fit instruments to do it with. If it be work that requires mighty men, mighty men shall either be found or made to effect it, according to the word of the Lord.
III. That which made all these men honourable was the good service that they did to their king and country; they helped to make David king (v. 10)-- a good work. They slew the Philistines, and other public enemies, and were instrumental to save Israel. Note, The way to be great is to do good. Nor did they gain this honour without labour and the hazard of their lives. The honours of Christ's kingdom are prepared for those that fight the good fight of faith, that labour and suffer, and are willing to venture all, even life itself, for Christ and a good conscience. It is by a patient continuance in well-doing that we must seek for glory, and honour, and immortality; and those that are faithful to the Son of David shall find their names registered and enrolled much more to their honour than these are in the records of fame.
IV. Among all the great exploits of David's mighty men, here is nothing great mentioned concerning David himself but his pouring out water before the Lord which he had longed for, v. 18, 19. Four very honourable dispositions of David appeared in that action, which, for aught I know, made it as great as any of the achievements of those worthies. 1. Repentance for his own weakness. It is really an honour to a man, when he is made sensible that he has said or done any thing unadvisedly, to unsay it and undo it again by repentance, as it is a shame to a man when he has said or done amiss to stand to it. 2. Denial of his own appetite. He longed for the water of the well of Bethlehem; but, when he had it, he would not drink it, because he would not so far humour himself and gratify a foolish fancy. He that has such a rule as this over his own spirit is better than the mighty. It is an honour to a man to have the command of himself; but he that will command himself must sometimes cross himself. 3. Devotion towards God. That water which he thought too good, too precious, for his own drinking, he poured out to the Lord for a drink offering. If we have any thing better than another, let God be honoured with it, who is the best, and should have the best. 4. Tenderness of his servants. It put him into the greatest confusion imaginable to think that three brave men should hazard their lives to fetch water for him. In his account it turns the water into blood. It is the honour of great men not to be prodigal of the blood of those they employ, but, in all the commands they give them, to put their own souls into their souls' stead.
V. In the wonderful achievements of these heroes the power of God must be acknowledged. How could one slay 300 and another the same number (v. 11, 20), another two lion-like men (v. 22), and another an Egyptian giant (v. 23), if they had not had the extraordinary presence of God with them, according to that promise, Josh. xxiii. 10, One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God fighteth for you?
VI. One of these worthies is said to be an Ammonite (v. 39), another a Moabite (v. 46), and yet the law was that an Ammonite and a Moabite should not enter into the congregation of the Lord, Deut. xxiii. 3. These, it is likely, had approved themselves so hearty for the interest of Israel that in their case it was thought fit to dispense with that law, and the rather because it was an indication that the Son of David would have worthies among the Gentiles: with him there is neither Greek nor Jew.