Tuesday, July 4, 2023

King David achieves victory over Five Surrounding Nations

God has brought David from shepherding sheep as a boy, to shepherding a nation, as king of Israel. He’s spoken to David through the prophet, promising to be with him. David answered with praise, saying, "Who am I that you should do such great things for me?" 

But a problem remains, the nation of Israel remains surrounded by enemy kingdoms. To the west are the Philistines. To the south is Edom. To the east you have Ammon, Moab, and the Arameans.

That is a lot of enemy nations to deal with. But God has blessed Israel, and has given the Jews this land to call their own. So now David must fight against these enemy nations that constantly attack and raid their lands. King Saul had often fought with these nations, particularly the Philistines, but did not succeed in defeating them. In fact, Saul eventually died in battle with the Philistines.

In 2nd Samuel chapter eight we see a grand campaign in which David conquers these nations one by one.

This reminds me of what it means to be a new Christian.

Do you remember when you first became a Christian? I do. It was about 11 years ago. I found myself a new person, but in the midst of a wasteland of my own making, there was much destruction surrounding me. There was post-traumatic stress, there were dark memories, there were sins that I still needed to be freed from. There were broken relationships with family members. 

It seemed almost post-apocalyptic in nature.

And immediately after I became a Christian the battle began. The war began. It was time to go from battle to battle, repenting of past sins, quitting smoking, finding recovery, reconciling with parents and grandparents, paying off piled up debts, finishing my education, finding work, overcoming lust and lying and stealing and other issues that I faced.

But, with God with me, with the Spirit living within me, with Jesus Christ as my savior, the battles could all be won. And we see David as well, going from victory to hard fought victory.

It says in 2nd Samuel 8: "In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines."

That name “metheg ammah” has puzzled biblical scholars. But the believed meaning is “bridge of the mother city” which is a reference to Gath. If you recall Goliath was born in Gath. And Gath was believed to be the main capital city of the Philistines. So in essence, David conquered the capital city of the Philistines. That's total conquest.

Similarly, in our own lives, if we work on an issue in our lives, smoking, drinking, stealing, lying, manipulating, selfishness, masturbation, whatever it might be, it’s not enough to make some progress. Maybe drink a bit less, smoke a bit less, lie a little less. That’s not gonna deal with the problem. You’ve gotta go right to the root of the issue, and destroy it for good. Destroy it to the point that it never happens again. End of story. Total repentance. David took the capital, Gath, and had total victory.

Next David defeats the Moabites, a nation to the east of Israel, on the other side of the dead sea. Ruth, the mother of David’s grandfather was originally a Moabite, but left Moab to become part of an Israelite family. Despite this, Moab made constant war against Israel. And David intended to defeat them.

In verse 2 it says, “David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.”

This was seen hundreds of years earlier by Balaam, who noted that a great leader would defeat Moab (Numbers 24:17).

There was also a great kingdom, Zobah, who seems to have controlled an area north of Israel during this time in history. David fought and defeated Hadadezer the king of Zobah as well.

It says in verses 3-4: “Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the Euphrates River. David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.”

But Zobah had allies, the Arameans of Damascus. And they counter attacked to help protect Zobah. But they too were defeated.

It says in verses 5-6: "When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. 6 He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.”

So as a result of that situation, Zobah was conquered, and the Arameans were also conquered.

One phrase I want to point out to you: “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.” David was a great warrior, but only because God made him one. David was only King because of God. And in the end David gained all these victories because God was with him. The Lord gave David victory.

Remember that in your own life: God is the one who gives victory.

Next we see in verses 7-12 David gathering all sorts of fine metals from these conquered nations and dedicating them to God. It’s possible that the metals were later used in the construction of the temple by Solomon.

It says in 7-12: “David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 From Tebah[c] and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze.

9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.

11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.”

Additionally, we see in verses 13-14 that David became famous because of his victory over the Edomites, and in particular a battle in the Valley of Salt. 

It says, “And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.”

Again we see total victory. We see David’s attention to detail. He fights these battles wit the purpose of not having to fight in the future. He sets up garrisons throughout Edom. That means he left troops behind in the major cities of that nation to make sure they never again fought against Israel.

The United States did something similar after World War II. They left troops in Japan, in Germany, in other nations to make sure that such wars never took place again in the future.

When you overcome a sin in your life and put it to death, make sure it stays dead. Take actions to keep it gone from your life. Sometimes it will try to sneak back in after a few years. Make sure you've left a garrison behind to keep it from coming back. Make sure the last battle was the final one, that it won’t ever be able to come back.

Lastly in chapter eight we get a listing of some of the leaders of Israel during this time.

It says in verses 15-18: “David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.”

It says King David did what was just and right for all his people, all the people in his care were blessed by his leadership. Joab was over the army, Jehoshaphat was historian, Zadok and Ahimelek were priests. And it even says that some of David’s sons were priests before God.

All around David is blessed. He gains victory over five enemy nations, he gathers supplies for the court and temple, and he has excellent leaders around him, even his own sons are serving as priests in the ministry.

So in review, the main points were as follows:

1. After we become a Christian, the real battle begins – defeating past sins, and healing from past hurts

2. Slow progress on an issue isn’t enough – gain total victory, like David when he took the capital of the Philistines.

3. God gave David victory – with you in your life, only God can give the final victory

4. When you overcome a sin make sure it stays gone – take actions and make plans to keep it under control forever

5. David did what was right and just – he was blessed – do what is right and you’ll be blessed (through difficulties)