(16) Your throne will be established forever – 2 Samuel 7:16

After years of ongoing battles with the Philistines, Saul and the Israelites are eventually forced into a major showdown with them. David and his men are now bodyguards to one of the Philistine kings called Achish and they march to fight against the Israelites as part of his army. We don’t know what was going through their minds at this point but Achish has to send them away from the battle as the other kings don’t trust their loyalty and so David and his men are saved from the awful prospect of fighting against their own countrymen.

The battle goes badly for Israel. Saul sees his army routed and his sons killed and, after being wounded by an arrow, he commits suicide on the battlefield. When David hears of it he writes a lament which starts with the cry, “How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19) referring to Israel’s first king and his brave son Jonathan.

David then returns to Hebron, the main town of the tribe of Judah, where he is made king by the tribal elders. The ten northern tribes (the twelfth tribe, Simeon, had been absorbed into Judah) appoint one of Saul’s sons as king and the country enters a period of bloody civil war for over seven years. Eventually David prevails and the northern tribes ask him to be their king and so David finally rules over a united Israel and becomes the greatest king Israel has ever known. (The Star of David is at the centre of the Israeli flag today.)

David’s first act as king of all Israel is to establish a new capital. There is a stronghold right in the middle of the country, between Israel and Judah, which is still occupied by the Jebusites who taunt David that he will never be able to take it. David can never resist such a challenge and he finds a way into the city known as Jerusalem, which he calls the City of David.

From a military point of view, David pushes back the borders of Israel to their greatest extent ever, occupying most of what we would now call Jordan and Syria. A warrior, he is always dealing with enemies on all sides.

David also establishes Jerusalem as the centre of worship as he brings the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence among his people, to Jerusalem. He then appoints Levites (priests) to carry out the ceremonial sacrifices required by the law and to offer musical worship. Gifted musicians who play trumpets, harps and cymbals are instructed to make music in praise to God daily. David himself wrote many songs of praise to God that are preserved for us in the book of Psalms which we will look at later.

Jerusalem would have been a noisy, bustling place in the time of David with the sound of soldiers marching, slaves announcing the arrival of foreign envoys, the noise of building, and the clamour of the marketplace – all punctuated by the sound of music and singing from the tent of meeting where God was praised throughout the day.

When David was settled in his palace, he decided that it was wrong for him to live in comfort while the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent and he told the prophet Nathan that he would build the Lord a temple. Nathan agrees that this is a good idea, but that night God gives him a different message for David. God tells David that it is not for him to build God a house – that honour will fall to his son – but instead God will make him a house. This will not be a physical dwelling but a dynasty: “Your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

David responds to this amazing promise by going to sit before God in awe and wonder, asking, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18). It isn’t a normal promise, but the Bible tells us how it is fulfilled over the following four hundred years as David’s descendants sit on the throne of Israel, and then finds ultimate fulfilment in Jesus, known as the son of David, taking the throne of all things and ruling forever.

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