Then all the tribes of Israel came to David… (2 Samuel 5:1)
Today we come to the point in the story where, at last, after years of waiting, the people of every tribe in Israel come together and anoint David as their king. “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David…” (2 Samuel 5:1). What does that mean?
In the book of Chronicles we are given there a detailed breakdown of the numbers: “These are the numbers of the divisions of the armed troops who came to David in Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul over to him, according to the word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 12:23).
“The men of Judah [that is the tribe that welcomed David at the beginning] bearing shield and spear were 6,800 armed troops” (2 Samuel 12:24). So David began the day with an army of close to 7,000. But then look at how many were added in a single day (1 Chronicles 12:25-37):
House of Aaron 3,700
Reubenites, Gadites 120,000
That is close to 350,000 men! They all came in a single day, and they “were of a single mind to make David king” (2 Samuel 12:38).
This was an Old Testament Day of Pentecost! At Pentecost 3,000 people who had bitterly opposed Jesus, repented and crowned him as Lord of their lives. They were baptized, they were forgiven their sins, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and from that day on they were Christ’s people, living under the blessing of his rule.
Here you have a vast company, a hundred times the size of the crowd at Pentecost, and 350,000 of them came crowning God’s anointed king and pledging themselves to live under his rule. It is a marvelous scene – multiple football stadiums – and it is an anticipation of the day when a crowd no one can number will gather as one before the throne of King Jesus.
Why would these people make David their king? What led to this extraordinary change? They had fought against him for years. Some of them, especially the Benjaminites, had been hardcore supporters of Ish-bosheth, the rival king. Why would they come to David?
And since David points us to Jesus Christ, this really raises the question: why would a person who has resisted Jesus Christ crown him as Lord of his or her life today? Why would you do that if you have resisted Christ, especially if you have done this for a very long time?
I want to draw from this story today, three reasons for coming to Christ the King, three discoveries in crowning Christ the King, and three priorities in serving Christ the King.
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.” (2 Samuel 5:1)
Jesus Christ is the Savior and King for the entire human race, and therefore, Jesus is the King for you. This is the point of the Christmas story. God made himself one with us in Jesus Christ. And he did it so that he could be our king and we could be his people.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things. (Hebrews 2:14)
He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God. (Hebrews 2:17)
Notice, they do not say to David, “You are our bone and flesh.” They say to him, “We are your bone and flesh.” They present this as a plea to David – an argument as to why he should receive them. “We have resented your reign and resisted your rule, but please take us and be our king. After all, we are your own bone and flesh!”
The contrast with Abner’s approach to David is very striking. Abner presented himself as the one who could be the making of David. But these people know that David will be the making of them.
There is great humility here, and that is how we must approach King Jesus. It’s not, “Lord Jesus, you will certainly be blessed if we become your people.” It’s “Lord Jesus, we will certainly be blessed if you become our king. You came into the world for flesh and blood people like me. Please take us.”
In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. (2 Samuel 5:2)
These people had forgotten that in earlier years, it was David who had won great victories for all of the tribes of Israel. It was David who had defeated Goliath. It was David who led the tribes into battle. Somehow they had all overlooked this. They had simply forgot it. He had always been for them, even though they had somehow gotten the idea that he was against them. But now they see it: “David you were for us even when we were against you! We see now what you did, and that it was all for us!”
Why should you come to Jesus Christ today? He was for you even when you were against him! While we were still sinners Christ died for us. When we had no interest in him, he died on the cross so that our condemnation could be removed. He rose from the dead so that we could be justified. He ascended into heaven so that we could be reconciled to God.
And the LORD said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.” (2 Samuel 5:2)
Here is a wonderful description of what a true leader does: the king is a prince and a shepherd. The role of a leader is to protect and provide. Like a shepherd, he provides for his people in time of peace, and like a prince, he acts to defend his people in times of trouble.
These people had appointed Ish-bosheth as their king. What had Ish-bosheth ever done for them? Their self-appointed king had failed them, and now that he was gone, these people were like sheep without a shepherd, and they came flooding in huge numbers to David.
God called David to be the shepherd of these people. And David knew what that meant because the Lord was his shepherd, and he wrote about that in Psalm 23.
When you can say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” you will also be able to say, “I shall not want.
He leads me. He will restore me. He will provide for me. Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, he will be with me and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, rejoicing with him forever.”
When had Ish-bosheth ever led them out against their enemies? Never. Not once. The reason there were so many battles after David became king is that enemies who oppressed God’s people had gained control in large parts of the Promised Land.
Imagine what it would be like if Al Qaeda was established in Texas, and Isis in Indiana, and Boca Haram in Nebraska, and all of them were able to act at will. That was how it was in those days. The isolated tribes of Israel were under the thumb of the most cruel and oppressive enemies who were embedded in the land. No one could drive them out, until David became their king. He led these defeated people to victory over the enemies who oppressed them.
I am praying that some of you who have been resisting the rule of Jesus Christ in your lives will crown him as your king today. You have every reason to come to Christ today. I want you to know what will happen when you do.
And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. (1 Chronicles 12:39)
This was a remarkable act of hospitality! Word goes around the tribe of Judah: “We have 350,000 guests coming. And they will be staying for three days!”
When they came to God’s anointed king, they were welcomed with great joy! There was no being on probation, no chiding over why it had taken so long for them to come. As soon as they arrived, they were completely at ease and completely at home.
If you will have Christ as your king, he gives us this wonderful promise: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). If you will come to Jesus Christ today, wherever you are and whatever you have done, he will never turn you away. You will be at home. You will know that you belong. You will say, “After all my wandering, this is where I was meant to be!”
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. (2 Samuel 5:3)
When these people come, the king makes a solemn commitment to each and every one of the 350,000. They had been his enemies, but now they are his friends. In this covenant, the king commits himself to these people and they commit themselves to him.
David made a covenant with them “before the Lord.” That underlines the solemnity of the commitment. He made a sacred and unbreakable commitment. He will never abandon these people. He will never renounce them. He will seek their good in every circumstance and he will do whatever it takes to be their shepherd, even if it costs him his own life!
Then notice what the people do: “They anointed David king over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:3). In other words, there was a specific public act in which they committed their lives and their loyalty to this king who pledged himself to them.
Here is something really important: These people knew that David was God’s anointed king. “The Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd over my people Israel’” (2 Samuel 5:2). But knowing that David was God’s anointed king did not bring them into David’s kingdom! They came into David’s kingdom when they anointed David as their king.
Here’s the question: Have you crowned Jesus as the king of your life? I’m not asking at this point if you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, I am asking if your heart and your life are completely surrendered to him, so that you would say, “He is my king!”? Nothing would be more absurd than to believe that Jesus is God’s anointed King and yet you have not surrendered your life to him!
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… (2 Samuel 5:12)
Notice that it was “the Lord” who established David as king – not Joab, not Abner, not even the 350,000 who came and anointed David. “David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel” (v.12).
Why did the Lord establish David as king? “For the sake of his people Israel” (v.12). David knew this! There is one reason God exalted him to the position of the king, and it was not for David’s sake, it was for the sake of the people. The Lord lifted him up so that he, the king, might be a servant of the people.
When Christ the King came into the world, he said, “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). “Those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant… For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:42-45). This is a kingdom unlike any other!
Everything that Jesus Christ did was for the sake of his people! He was born for the sake of his people. He was tempted for the sake of his people. He lived a perfect life for the sake of his people. He died on a cross for the sins of his people. He was raised from the dead to justify his people. He ascended to heaven for the sake of his people. And when he comes again, it will be for us. You cannot give more to Jesus Christ than he will give to you!
At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. (2 Samuel 5:5)
David was in Hebron for seven and a half years. And in all that time, only one tribe owned him as king.
For seven and a half years, God’s people endured one outbreak of violence after another. First Abner, then Joab, then Baanah and Rechab. What next? How could all of this be happening when God’s anointed king was on the throne in Hebron?
Is that not exactly the question that we face as we look at our world today? How can the world be as it is, if Jesus Christ is really on the throne?
David gives us a fascinating reflection on these years in Psalm 110, where he clearly anticipates that, like him, the Messiah will also experience a long delay between the time of his own anointing, and the time when his enemies will be subdued. “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’” (Psalm 110:1).
Then David recalls how God said to him, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” (Psalm 110:2). Rule with all the chaos, violence, and opposition around you! That is what David did for seven and half years. In all the chaos and violence, there must have been times when even David wondered if the promised kingdom would ever come! Not a single tribe was added to David’s kingdom in seven and a half years!
The same thing is said about the rule of our Lord Jesus Christ. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that God has “crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet… at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 2:7, 8).
Jesus Christ is God’s anointed King. He is on the throne but, as with David for seven and a half years, what we see around us is continued chaos, opposition and violence. Like David, we need great patience
All the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. (1 Chronicles 12:38)
Not a single tribe was added to David’s kingdom in seven and a half years, and then 11 tribes are added in a single day. Never underestimate what God can do in a single day.
David began the day with about 7,000 from the tribe of Judah who were loyal to him. By the end of the day, 350,000 people had been added to his kingdom! That is a remarkable transformation in a single day.
Let this story remind you that the day will surely come when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power… (Psalm 110:3)
For seven and a half years, David stayed focused on one thing – sending out messengers of grace (2 Samuel 2:5-6). They went to the people least likely to receive David with this message: “I will do good to you.”
After all the maneuvering of Abner, and all the violence of Joab, Baanah and Rechab, not a single person was brought into David’s kingdom. God’s people came in the day of God’s power. They came because God’s Spirit was working in them. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord (Zech. 4:6).
God’s people offered themselves freely – no coercion, just freedom and joy. They did this because they had been won by grace. May God’s Holy Spirit bring all of us to the place where freely and gladly we crown Christ as our King today.