<< 2 Samuel 2: David Made King of Hebron >>
” And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. “And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah, And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried Saul. -2 SAM. II. 3, 4.
IN the midst of the mountains of Judah, surrounded by magnificent scenery and by fertile lands, about eighteen miles from Jerusalem, is the ancient city of Hebron. Poor as this city is now, perhaps no spot in the world is more distinguished for its associations, than is this old capital of Judah. It is said to have been built before Zoan, the capital of Lower Egypt (Num. xiii. 22). It was in the neighbourhood of Hebron that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob chiefly lived; and there is the cave of Machpelah, where their remains were buried, and where their tombs are preserved and jealously guarded even to the present day.
The country is dotted with ruined towns, which had been famous in their days of vigour, and where successive churches had flourished and decayed. About ten miles from Hebron was Debir, whose name signifies ” the Oracle,” ‘and whose still earlier name, Kirjath-Sepher, meant the METROPOLIS OF THE BOOK, intimating in a most significant manner that it had been the centre of a former divine revelation. Right and left of Hebron, before and behind, were rich slopes covered with vineyards and oliveyards, fields of corn and magnificent prospects, all forming a rich reminder of that heavenly Father and Friend, from whom descend all the glories of earth, as well as all the perfections of heaven.
The first time Hebron is mentioned in the Word is in the history of Abraham (Gen. xxiii. 2). It is there called Kirjath-Arba, or the chief city of Arba; for Kirjath means metropolis or chief city. Arba is described as the father of a race of giants, the Anakim (Josh. xiv. IS ; xxi. 1I). The inhabitants seem to have been very kind and gentle in the time of Abraham; afterwards they partook of the corruption of the Canaanites in general, and, being strongly intrenched, they presented a formidable obstacle to Joshua when he was completing the settlement of the Promised Land. He gave it into the hands of the noble Caleb, who drove out the three sons of Anak, and with the assistance of the brave Othniel, secured for the tribe of Judah not only Hebron, but also Kirjath-Sepher, with its highly valued upper and lower springs of water (Josh. xv. 13-19).
Hebron, then, rich in its sacred recollections, rich in its prospects and productions, rich in being the very centre, the very metropolis, of the great tribe of Judah, became the seat of David’s sovereignty; and for seven years and a half his rule extended but little beyond. In its early associations, in its subsequent possession by giants, and in its adoption of David for its king, Hebron was the representative of the centre of the church among the Jews when the Lord Jesus came into the world, and their becoming the nucleus of the new, the Christian Church. In an individual soul Hebron, whose name signifies friendship, represents the good dispositions implanted in our voluntary nature, their enslavement to lusts for a time, and their ultimate reception of the Lord as king within, although there is much unsubdued and unsanctified in us, which can only gradually be brought into the order of heaven.
The centre, the best part of a church, in the sight of God, is often very different from the chief part as it would appear in the sight of men. The humble, the pure in heart, the good and the true, whether among the poor or the rich, are the centre of the Church in the sight of the Lord. “The Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam. xvi. 7). Those genuine and sincere souls who had been waiting for deliverance by a coming Saviour were such as Anna the prophetess, Simeon, the parents of John the Baptist, Nathanael, Zaccheus, Joseph of Arimathea, and the disciples of the Redeemer generally. These felt that Jesus, the divine David, was their true king, and they exalted Him and enthroned Him in their hearts. They were Jews spiritually as well as naturally, and they made Him King of Judah in Hebron.
To be king of this spiritual kingdom the Lord Jesus came into the world. Hence, when Pilate demanded of Him, Art thou a king then? “Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear WItness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John xviii. 37). We know that He was not a literal king; no earthly diadem encircled His brow, no earthly sceptre was the symbol of His royalty. He came, however, to be the King of the wise and the good. And this kingdom was far more extensive and enduring than the kingdom of any earthly monarch. It is a kingdom embracing heaven as well as earth: it is everlasting; for truth and goodness, the bases of this kingdom, never perish, and have no limits either of time or space. They take in all worlds and all ages. He who is King in these respects, is King of kings, and Lord of lords. David, then, crowned king at Hebron, was the type of Jesus as, Divine Truth, enthroned in the hearts of angels and men. It was that which He Himself announced, when He declared, “All power is given unto me, in heaven and on earth” (Matt. xxviii. 18).
This Kingship of the great Redeemer forms a prominent feature in all the prophecies respecting Him, and is only compatible with His being Divine Wisdom in human form, God Himself incarnate, and thus justly the Supreme Ruler of the wise and the good. The Jews expected their Messiah to be a king, but a king with the pomp, the power, the trappings of earthly splendour. It is true that He was to be a king; but a king with attributes truly divine, not encumbered with things so poor as those. An earthly monarch passes by in grand parade, and is greeted by the acclamations of the multitude; but ere the roar of applause dies away, the sneer of envy shows how superficial it all was. The hosannas of to-day are often turned into the “Crucify Him” of to-morrow. But when Wisdom becomes King of the hearts of the truly humble, the penitent, the spiritual, that is a kingdom that lives and grows and blesses for ever. This was the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. This was meant by David, in the representative Israel, becoming King at Hebron.
When we take this interior view of the Lord’s kingdom, the grand terms of the prophecies can be truly understood. Thus, when Isaiah has proclaimed the future Redeemer to be the Child once born, the Son once given, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, he adds, “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be NO END: upon the throne of DAVID, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from hence forth, even for ever” (Isa. ix. 7). How plain is it that the throne of David which was in Jesus to exist for ever was the throne of justice and judgment, or goodness and truth, which are everlasting. In Jeremiah we have the same grand lesson. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper: and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD (OR, JEHOVAH) OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. xxiii. 5, 6). Viewed as an outward fulfillment of this sublime prophecy, nothing could be more unlike than the life of the Lord Jesus; but regarded in its spirit, what fulfillment more precise can be thought of, than that reign of the Lord in the hearts first of a few, then of an increasing number, in nation after nation, in age after age, of those who are truly Judah, because Jews inwardly, as the apostle Paul says, and truly Israel, in whose hearts are no guile, and whom He saves and governs because He is Jehovah our Righteousness. This reign will never cease. It will ebb and flow; but through ages and dispensations it will widen and deepen and spread, until one Lord shall be king over all the earth. ” In that day there shall be one Lord (Jehovah), and His name One” (Zech. Xiv. 9).
“Till o’er our ransomed nature,
The Lamb for sinners slain,
Redeemer, King, Creator,
On earth shall fully reign.”
The vicissitudes of earth will all conspire to bring in that great consummation of which it is written, “The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev, xi. 15).
But Hebron, and David’s entering upon his kingdom there, form an equally suggestive theme if we regard it as all emblem of the heart, and of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus acquiring its inner sovereignty therein. Hebron in its early clays will represent the heart, especially as to the good the Lord implants there, and which is so beautiful and attractive in the days of childhood. Hebron was said to be built before Zoan in Egypt. Before there is any science in the mind, there are loving emotions, traits of heaven, smiles of sweetest tenderness, embraces in which soft arms entwine around our necks, soft fingers touch us and holy gleams from the glistening eyes speak of innocence and happy joys within. The Saviour said, ” Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Heaven lies about us in our infancy, and certainly it lies very deeply and very sweetly within us.” Their “angels do always behold the face of my Father in the heavens” (Matt.. xviii, 10). As we grow in stature, however, we often decline in innocence. Other thoughts and impulses which belong to a lower grade of our nature, the carnal part, derived from our human ancestry and depraved by human faults, shew themselves. The coarse and corrupt ways of the world around us call out in us states of evil, and habits very different from the sweet purity of childhood. The giddy girl, and the rough boy, shew that the Hebron within is not what it once was. Three giants now live there, sons of Anak, and they have strongly entrenched themselves (Josh. xv. 14). Only by a grand struggle can they be driven out. These three giants are, the LUST OF THE FLESH (polluted pleasure) the LUST OF THE EYES (the love of show), and the PRIDE OF LIFE. They are hard to overcome, and many flinch from the struggle through cowardice. These monsters got in when they were little, but have now become great. They tyrannize over everything, and defile everything. Everyone knows that they produce abundance of misery, but faint-hearted ones flinch from facing them. Yet without their destruction there can be no peace.
See what ruin POLLUTED PLEASURE has caused; what disease, what sorrow what loss of character, what loss of health, what horrid experiences of body and soul, what insane follies are the inflictions of this giant who has long cursed Hebron with his vile presence. The myriads of drunkards are his work, the myriads of gluttons, the foul army of those who are the deadliest foes of the purities of home are all his followers. It is full time he should be cast out, with all belonging to him.
Then his brother LUST OF THE EYES, is little better than he. What thousands have been ruined for vain show! The restless spirit of vanity which is ever striving to deck itself out with some new gewgaw, and to procure a little more gilding, a little more finery, suffers integrity to be utterly lost, and the great aims of life utterly to fail before the tinsel of to-day. This senseless giant induces his poor victims to imagine they are exciting admiration by their silly expenditure, when they are only inducing sorrow in the judicious, and provoking sneers in such as are like themselves: sneers at their vanity in their elevation, and mockery at their ruin when they fall.
And lastly PRIDE. He is an awful giant, the eldest son of the terrible Anak of self-love. What ruin has he not caused! Pride in the despot has cried” havock and let slip the dogs of war.” What devastated lands and ruined cities, what burning houses, slaughtered brothers, husbands, and fathers, abused maidens, sisters mothers mangled and mutilated bodies, and brutalized minds! These are thy works, O Pride. Who should spare thee? Then see in the disdainful walk, the insolent haughty silence, the supercilious look, the bitter taunt, the insulting gibe, the factitious separations between the children of the same Heavenly Father induced by thee, the neglect of the humble and the swelling jauntiness of the high; how thy gall embitters all the ways of private life, and makes the sweet intercourse of life intended to multiply all our blessings, a constant struggling through thorns. With many, life is a long agony, mainly, O Pride, through thee. But Joshua has given orders that both thou and thy terrible brothers shall be cast out of Hebron. Down, down, all of you! Why should poor souls be vexed, harassed, cursed and destroyed by you any longer, either in time or in eternity?
The faint-hearted fear these giants, and are afraid they will never overcome them. But those who have true courage and trust in the Lord, are always victorious. These were represented by Caleb, who took Hebron, and drove out the giants. He and Joshua were the two faithful ones who were firm for the Lord and for right, when the timid spies disheartened the people by their discouraging report. To the brave Caleb, whose name signifies AS THE HEART, and who represents a firm affection in the heart for the Lord and for religion, it was given to take Hebron, and introduce into it peace and rest. He said to Joshua, “As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day: for thou heardest in that day, how the Anakim were there and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (Josh. xiv. 11, 12, 14). If we were all single-hearted and courageous like Caleb, what mighty giants would fall before us! The sins of the heart are strong in our fears and timidity, much more than in any power of their own. Let a man resolve with the help of the Lord, that he will overcome the evil he hates, and persevere, and he will assuredly triumph, and that soon. The giants will fall and fade, and he will be astonished how soon. Oh how sad it is to see a man bewailing his sin, despising himself, and bemoaning himself and going again, as if drawn by a cart rope, to the old lust and the old misery. What a terrible hold an evil has, when a man is ashamed of himself, and feels he is ruining himself, and yet, as if drawn by a strong magnet, goes to the same unhappy slavery again.
“Oh, where’s the slave so lowly,
Bound fast by chains unholy,
Who, could he burst
His chains at first,
Would pine beneath them slowly?”
If we were all true Calebs, and acted from religion in the heart, our exulting faith would cheerfully exclaim, “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me” (Phil. iv. 13). Our giants would soon perish, and the Hebron of our hearts would be taken possession of first by Caleb and his family, or in other words by the desire to be conformed to the Lord, and then by the Lord Himself, our Divine David, coming to be King at Hebron.
Caleb was not satisfied with taking Hebron; he determined also to take Kirjath Sepher, the neighbouring city, whose name signifies the Metropolis of the Book. He acquired it by the aid of the brave Othniel, to whom he gave his daughter in marriage, and as a dowry the upper and lower springs. The taking of the city of Kirjath Sepher, represents the removal of the Word from those who had made it of none effect, to be honoured, loved, and obeyed by those who regarded it as abounding with truths for heart and life, the upper and the nether springs. They who have expelled giant lusts from the heart by the power of true love for God and their neighbour, go to the Word with earnest yearning, and draw from it with joy holy water as from the wells of salvation (Isa. xii. 3).. The waters of life from the upper springs refresh and purify the inner man: the waters of life from the lower springs wash the feet of the soul, and make the daily conduct pure. Stimulated and gladdened by the sacred and pellucid waters of the sanctuary, they run and are not weary, they walk and never faint (Isa xl. 31).
The blessing of David being anointed king in Hebron, or, in application to the progress of our regeneration, making the Lord the ruler of our inner man, is unspeakable. When religion has become embedded in the heart, and exists there as a fountain of hopes and aspirations, the heaven within begins to be felt, and becomes a focus of new powers and new joys. There may yet be many a conflict to reduce the outer man to order, but the power is there that can do it. David will need to stay seven years and six months at Hebron (ver. 11), or in other words, he must acquire a full sanctity of state in the inner man (signified by the seven years), and a full faith that by steady untiring labour the outer man will be regenerated also (for this is meant by the six months); and then he will become king over the whole land. We shall find still that in the outer man there is much sin working death; but we delight in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. Vii. 22, 23). David is king in Hebron. What we would, often we cannot do; what we would not sometimes unhappily is done. When we would do good, evil is present with us; but we will neither despair nor cease our efforts, until the whole soul becomes the embodiment of virtues and thoughts of wisdom. We are cleansing the inside of the cup and the platter, and the outside will become clean also (Matt. xxiii. 26).
Our text adds, “They told David, saying, the men of Jabesh Gilead were they that buried Saul.” The respectful burial of Saul signifies the respectful remembrance of the good of a former state. Saul had done good service, though his day of government was over. So is it with us in the progress of our regenerate life. We come into states of experience in which we discern how inadequate and how poor were the thoughts, sentiments, and affections of our early religious life. Yet they were everything to us then. We should bury them with a grateful confession of their worth, like the men of Jabesh Gilead. They buried the remains of Saul under an oak-tree; which, in spiritual things, represented the perception by the soul of the help the religion of the letter of the Word had been in our early childlike states. This is accompanied with sadness, which Jabesh signifies, but with gratitude. We enter on a new career, laying aside the forrner with the feeling:
“He who has helped us hitherto,
Will help us an our journey through:
And give us daily cause to raise
A new and grateful song of praise.”
Author: Jonathan Bayley— The Divine Wisdom of the Word of God (1892)