A Promising Beginning
Preached by Jason Abbott
When I put this up, what do you see?1
Well, you have from left to right—Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. At the top left, you have Betsy Ross sowing the flag (1776). Just below Betsy you have Washington crossing the Delaware (Christmas 1776). To the right of Betsy, you have a depiction of the Boston Massacre (March 1770). And just under the Massacre, you have “The Spirit of ‘76” aka “Yankee Doodle” which depicts an imagined Revolutionary War battle scene (1875, A. M. Willard). Finally at the top right corner, you’ll see an image of the booklet “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (1775).
So, we have images brought together over the course of many, many years. But they communicate to us, don’t they. What exactly do they communicate to us? What is represented to us by this collage? (Answer: the founding of our country is; the beginning of our nation is.)
Friends, this is a lot like our passage for today. Today’s passage is a collage of events taking place over many, many years which tell us all about the beginning of David’s kingdom. And, it’s a promising beginning.
So let’s look at the passage together—read it and take in this history collage. You can either follow along on the screen or turn to page 329 in the brown Bibles at the ends of each row.
2 Samuel 5:1-16
5 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
11 And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. 12 And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
13 And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. 14 And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.
We’ve two things here: (1st) a kingdom comes and (2nd) a kingdom expands. So let’s look at each of these and see what we can learn from them.
1. A kingdom comes (vv. 1-5).
David was around 15-years-old when God first promised him the kingdom of Israel through Samuel. He was 30-years-old when he tasted this promise in part, becoming king over Judah. And David was 37-years-old when he finally reigned over Israel. What this means is that David waited for what God had promised him for around 22-years before experiencing it fully.
Now, think about those 22-years. David didn’t simply kick back and relax—just waiting for someone to come along and crown him. How many hardships? How many spears did Saul throw at him? How many friends did he have to leave? How much slander did he have to endure? How many days did David wonder whether God would really or could really fulfill what he’d promised to him?
But here—finally, finally, finally!—God does it. Look at the text.
. . . all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel (vv. 1-3).
Now it’s easy to think here about the vindication which David would’ve felt. The opposition comes to him and asks to be part of his family—his bone and flesh. They confess that even when Saul was king that it was really David who led out and brought in the nation of Israel. How easy it would have been for him to gloat in the midst of their repentance.
Yet, for David to gloat or for us to rejoice over his vindication here would, in the end, miss the point of the text completely because this text isn’t about David being vindicated after 22-years. This passage is about God’s vindication and glory. This text tells us—God’s . . . word . . . is . . . good.
Did you hear the elders confess this to David?
. . . the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel . . .’ (v. 2).
Friends, don’t miss this. David’s kingdom has come after 22-long-years because God promised that it would. All the human sin, all the hardships and pain, and all the opposition that those 22-years had to offer could not foil God’s promise to David—you shall be prince over Israel.
And we truly need to remember this lesson too—God’s . . . word . . . is . . . good. There are times when we wonder, like David, how long we will have to endure until the Lord will bring us relief from persistent sins or from broken relationships or from a long term illness. When will we get relief from life in this broken world? When will injustice and suffering and death be finally put away? We wonder: When will God’s kingdom once and for all come to us?
Remember—God’s . . . word . . . is . . . good. Christ has promised to come back, and he will come. Just look back on how he faithfully delivered what he promised to David. But, also remember how he has faithfully delivered what he’s promised to you. Remember the Lord’s graciousness to you in the past and be encouraged concerning the certainty of his continued graciousness toward you in the future when you trust in him.
This doesn’t mean it will always be easy for us. God never promised us that. But he has promised to refine and sanctify us—to make us more like Christ Jesus. He has promised to never forsake us and to always hear us when we pray to him. And the Lord has promised to wipe away every tear and undo every evil at the end of this present fallen age. As sure as Christ Jesus came, he will come again—his . . . word . . . is . . . good! Trust him!
2. A kingdom expands (vv. 6-12).
This part of our history collage shows how God prospers David’s kingdom. He brings it and then he expands it. Look at the text with me.
And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. . . And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel (vv. 6-7, 9-12).
As we read these six verses, we cannot help but grasp the explanation for all of this prosperity. The author makes it plain. David conquered Jerusalem because: “the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him” (v. 10). And, David’s kingdom grew because: “the Lord had established him . . . and . . . exalted his kingdom . . .” (v. 12). This kingdom expands because God expands it.
We’re being taught through this history what biblical poetry tells us to sing in praise to God. Simply listen to Psalm 127.
Unless the Lord builds the house, / those who build it labor in vain. / Unless the Lord watches over the city, / the watchman stays awake in vain (v. 1).
This is so true. Just consider what we’ve witnessed in the last few chapters of 2 Samuel. We see it born out time and time again.
- Against the Lord, Saul tried to build his kingdom and built in vain.
- Against the Lord, Ish-bosheth tried to build his kingdom and built in vain.
- Against the Lord, Abner tried to build his kingdom and built in vain.
Friends, we can make all kinds of plans for ourselves, but, if we’re moving against God’s will for us, ultimately those plans will fail. We must not cut corners when it comes to the will of God. We must not attempt to build our own kingdoms in opposition to the will of God. Rather, we should recognize the profound beauty of submitting to God’s will.
One of the most God-honoring people I have ever known exemplifies this. His name is Jeff, and he does flooring for a living. He works long hours year-round and makes a good living, but not a great living. He’s as honest a person as there is. He’d never overcharge a client or try to get away with subpar work. He’s content with his place in the world. He’s content to serve God with his skillset and calling. And the peace he has, in this, makes his life incredibly beautiful.
For instance, when Jeff’s church was doing some remodeling at one point, he went over—after already working a full day—and laid new tile all evening long without anyone knowing. And nobody would have known about it, except that one of his pastors had forgotten something, went back for it, and discovered him there on his hands and knees working away. You see, Jeff didn’t long for recognition—for his own kingdom. He longed for God’s recognition and for God’s kingdom. Jeff was an amazing servant because of this Christ-like longing.
And this was David’s calling as king too. Did you see that in the passage? The author tells us that David was called to serve.
David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel (v. 12).
Friends, when we align ourselves with the will of God in this fallen world, the Lord will inevitably bring us alongside the work he’s already doing for the sake of his people. The more prominence and power you have in your calling from God, the more responsibility you have to serve others for God.
So what is your calling and how are you using it to serve people for God?
Well, David had great responsibility, and David had a promising beginning to his kingship . . . didn’t he! But then we come to the last verses of today’s passage, where our author matter-of-factly tells us: “David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem . . .” (v. 13). And then, following that, we get a list of his children: “Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet” (vv. 14-16).
You don’t know any of these other cats, but, likely, you know one of them—Solomon. And you really can’t think for too long about Solomon without thinking about his mom—Bathsheba. And you really can’t think for too long about her without thinking about her first husband—Uriah, whom David conspired to murder in order to cover up his power rape of Bathsheba.
And suddenly we find an ominous foreshadowing here concerning this king and this kingdom. And it doesn’t bode well . . . for the sake of God’s people.
Friends, the most promising beginning doesn’t guarantee a promising ending when it comes to sinners like David and like you and like me. The truth be told even the best of us cannot take a good beginning and bring it to a good conclusion. We may even have the best of intentions, but they’ll fall short because of our sin and our frailty. It’s what we see with David and with Solomon and with every king who ruled over Israel. It’s what we know to be true of ourselves.
And, yet, this was no surprise to God. In fact, this was all working to bring about his sovereign rescue plan—to bring us the King whose beginning and ending (and every moment in between) were perfect because he alone knew no beginning and will know no ending. He alone is God and Man. The Lord sent us a better king than David. God sent us his Son—Jesus Christ.
- The best kings will fail you.
- The best politicians will fail you.
- The best business leaders will fail you.
- The best pastors will fail you.
- The best spouses will fail you.
- The best friends will fail you.
- Because—sinners will fail you.
- But Jesus will never fail you, so trust in him and follow him. Amen.