Promise Kept

And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” 2 Samuel 9:1-6.

It was not usually the way of Kings to let another royal lineage live. But David did not kill or connive to get the throne. He waited for the proper time, when the throne would be vacated by another means.

Mephibosheth was likely aware of how Saul had declared his loyalty to David, only to try to kill him. It was the way of Kings, as far as he was concerned. So when David summoned him, he feared for his life.

Most people are like this with God. They think they know the ways of God; that He is cruel and vindictive. They hide from Him their whole lives, alien to the promises, believing they must be for someone else. To them, all calamity is caused by God, not by the curse brought on the world by man’s rebellion. What a difference it makes when you discover how much He has done, and wants to do, for you.

Priests, in a Way

So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder, and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Seraiah was secretary, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over[a] the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and David’s sons were priests. 2 Samuel 8:15-18

This statement about David’s sons being priests is a controversial one. Many translators could not bring themselves to translate the Hebrew word, that is translated as priests in many other places, as priests. They decided to go with Chief advisors or something similar. So, what are we to think?

Perhaps David and his sons were fulfilling generic priestly roles apart from the high priests’ duties in the holy of holies. David often called for the Ephod, a priestly garment, when he wanted to hear from God. He had been anointed to be king, which made him gods representative in governmental matters. It is a somewhat priestly function. Back in the days of Abraham, Melchizedek was this king and priest to whom the patriarch paid tithes. So a priesthood existed before the law gave a priesthood to the Levites. It seems like David and his sons did not supplant the levitical priesthood, but served as God’s intermediaries in other ways.

In the new testament, Peter says we, believers in Jesus, are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. That does not mean we can now sacrifice bulls and rams on an altar. It means we are now Christ’s ambassadors to the world, announcing that the last sacrifice was given, and teaching what this means to all of us.

The Eternal Will Surpass the Temporal

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Samuel 7:1-3.

This seemed like a good idea to Nathan, too. They both want to honor God, and David feels like God is getting less honor than the king if the king lives in a nice house of cedar while the presence of God is in a tent.

The word of the Lord will come to Nathan that night, saying, “In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'” (v 7).

Then, the Lord goes on to tell Nathan to tell David that it is His plan to make David’s house, or lineage, great. He tells him how his son will build a house for God, and that David’s throne would be established forever.

If you keep reading the Bible, it will become apparent that at some point Israel goes into captivity, sees it’s last king, and it’s Glory days are over. But one day Jesus, the Messiah, is born into the house of David, lays down his life to take the punishment for the sin of mankind, takes it up again, is seen alive by hundreds of people, and ascends to His eternal throne in heaven. Now, is this some convoluted way to excuse God for failing to deliver Israel as promised, or are we, the finite specks of dust, missing something important?

From the beginning, God made man to live with Him forever. Man sinned and died spiritually, taking the whole planet with him under the curse. God wants to redeem His creation, so He sends His word to display the spiritual world to mankind. Through signs, wonders, and miracles, God reveals the spiritual world to the fallen natural world. When Jesus comes, it is to satisfy the claim of eternal punishment so God can begin restoring natural man to the spiritual world. At some point, Christ will return to claim those who believe and then this natural realm and all who rejected Him will perish. Therefore, all God’s promises are fulfilled to David because they will live in the spiritual realm long after the natural has passed away.

Lavish Worship

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.

And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. 2 Samuel 6:16-23.

Worship is a real sticking point with some people. Someone who is really exuberant and unrestrained makes more timid and reserved people uncomfortable. And sometimes the people who are more free in their worship are judgmental against the “stiffs” who look more like they’re at a funeral than at a worship service. Neither of these attitudes honors God.

As one of the less competent dancers who has to check with the rest if the congregation to see if I’m clapping on the beat, I get a little frustrated. I wish I could give honor to God in a way that was joyously off the chain and pleasing to the eye; and not a danger to those around me. What I figured out as a new Christian back in the 80s was to enjoy the worship of the graceful, and make it mine by saying “amen” to it. We all have different gifts, and I will not despise someone else’s worship, scowling and calling it, “inappropriate.”

The Kingdom is United Under David

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away. 2 Samuel 5:17-21.

These are good times for David. After Ish-bosheth is murdered, the Israelites submit themselves to David without a fight. The King of Tyre recognizes his government and contributes timber toward the new palace. David takes Jerusalem and new wives and concubines. He is still inquiring of the Lord about battle plans, and the Lord us giving him victory.

In the instructions the Lord had written for kings, one of those was not to take many wives, especially foreign wives, who might entice you to worship their gods. So, how many is too many? God was not specific, although it was not uncommon for any man who could afford to support them to have several wives and/or concubines.

Concubinage was a fairly normal arrangement in ancient times. Brute force was the engine of wealth at that time, and it favored men. There was not a viable path to independence for women. It would be centuries before specialization infrastructures would make it possible. So at this time a woman who was not able to get a husband of her own could become an extension of a wealthy man’s household and raise her children in peace and safety. There are women in America today who might find this is a better deal than section 8 housing and food stamps.