It is important for Christians to understand how the Lord is glorified. In today’s world, there are many loose interpretations of scripture that lead many to believe that we can do anything we determine to be “good,” slap the Lord’s name on it somewhere, and glorify Him that way. That is not at all what the Bible teaches. The Bible does not teach that we can pursue our own will according to our own desires and selfish ambitions, attach Jesus’ name to it somewhere, and please the Lord this way. The Father is pleased when we pursue Him in meekness, surrendering our will for His eternally-focused purposes according to the pattern and temperament of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that God is glorified when He is revealed in His people in ways that lead to the fulfillment of His promises. For example, consider Jesus. The scripture explain that Jesus came into the world and that people witnessed His glory; the glory as of the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14). Additionally, when Jesus ascended into heaven, more witnesses saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the throne of the Father in glory (Acts 7:55). Since Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God (God in flesh) and the Messiah (fulfillment of the Father’s eternally unconditional promises), then the glory of God is made manifest through these things. To glorify God, we must allow God to reveal Himself in our lives according to His previously declared and documented promises.
This is not a new teaching. This is not a subject limited to the revelation of Jesus Christ. God has communicated this truth about His glory since the beginning. The Old Testament is filled with examples of this teaching, and one of those examples is provided in the crux of the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant is the fancy name scholars came up with to describe the promises God made to David concerning His faithfulness to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob concerning the land, the great nation and the Blessing. The Davidic Covenant becomes especially important because it reveals how God would “bless” the world through Israel. He would do so utilizing the kingship of David. God promised to establish David’s throne as the vessel He would use to deliver His promised Messiah. In other words, God promised that the Light of the world, the Blessing to all the families of the earth, the Great High Priest from the order of Melchizedek, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Shiloh, the Savior of Israel and the world, would be a king, and would be a descendant of king David for all of eternity. Thus, the Davidic Covenant does not explain new promises God made, but reveals the details concerning the methods He would employ to fulfill the first promises He made.
In 2 Samuel 7:8-11 the Bible provides more details of God’s response towards David’s desire to build God a more prestigious house for the Ark of God. David saw the house that the king of Tyre built for him and compared it to the house that he built for the Ark of God to reside in. David was disappointed that the dwelling place for the Ark resided in a structure made of canvas and was essentially a tent. Compared to the house that he was living in, the tabernacle that David built for the Ark was pitiful in nature. David’s heart was noble and good to desire a more suitable dwelling place for God. David’s desire reflected the heart he had to exalt the name of the Lord above his own. David did not want people to look at the outward appearance of his own home and the tabernacle where the Ark dwelt, and be disappointed or unimpressed with the Lord’s glory compared to David’s. David wanted the people to see the structure of God and marvel at its beauty that was to be symbolic of God’s beauty, honor, glory, and majesty. While David’s desire was good, it was impossible.
God explained that His glory and majesty is such that cannot be contained or expressed in human methods. God is holy. God is Yahweh. He is the Creator of all things. He is without sin, and in every way pure. How then can a sinner produce something pure that represents the holiness of God? This is why God said that He didn’t want His people making carved images in the Law. It is impossible to mimic or aesthetically represent the greatness of God through material goods. God never asked for a house to be built in His name because He knew that He was above any human structure. According to God’s promises, He desires to dwell within the hearts of His people, not houses made by human hands. God desires to make the hearts of people pure through the atoning work of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He couldn’t care less about a building and its walls built by people trying to bring Him glory by futile human efforts.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 7:8-11 explains this truth candidly. When God addressed Nathan the prophet to give David this message, God reminded David about the work He had done to put David in the position he was in. First, and most importantly, God referred to Himself as “the Lord of Hosts,” that is, Jehovah Sabaoth. This name refers to God’s sovereign control over all things. This name refers to God’s supreme authority over all people and circumstances. This name refers to God’s control over spiritual and physical dynamics in any period of history and concerning the future. This name refers to the fact that God is the absolute authority, and that no one can contend with His will. God reminded David that he was a mere shepherd boy before he was the king of Israel. God exercised His sovereignty as the Lord of hosts to put David in this position. God took David in His own hand and placed David in the position of king of Israel with determined purpose. David was a ruler over mere sheep, but the hand of the Lord God Almighty made David a ruler over Israel – the special treasure of God.
God also reminded David that He was with David at all times. Though David was selected and anointed as king at a young age, he was not able to assume the position of king until over a decade later. David was persecuted by king Saul for over ten years and was forced to live in caves, in the wilderness, and in enemy territory. David’s life was hard and hardly representative of one that possessed the authority of God’s people as king. David was a mighty warrior but restricted in his strength. David was a loyal servant, but forced into positions of compromise. God never departed from David through all of those trials and challenges. God reminded David that He was the means by which David was able to survive, persevere, and excel into the throne of Israel. It was the sovereign hand of God as the Lord of Hosts that cut off David’s enemies. It was the sovereign hand of God as the Lord of Hosts that made David’s name great. David was not able to do these things on his own. In fact the testimony of David shows that in those moments of time where David was reluctant or defiant to do the Lord’s will, he caused great problems that affected many people in harsh ways. David was exalted as king above all other men because the Lord God Almighty exercised His supreme control to do so.
As such, God promised that He would continue in His work to exalt David because this was the manner in which He was glorified. God would not be glorified in a structure built with weak materials and human hands. God sought to glorify Himself through the revelation of His essence through the work He did in the life of David. This is why God promised to do exceedingly more than He had already done for David and through David. David did not deserve the things that God promised him. Yet God promised these things because He was able to reveal His character and nature as God through the fulfillment of the promises that He made. How do we know God as Jehovah Sabaoth unless He exercises supreme control over the life of a shepherd boy to exalt him as king under impossible circumstances?
God told Nathan to tell David that his work in David’s life would grow more so that He could continue to reveal His true essence (eventually leading to the revelation of Himself in flesh as Jesus the Christ). God promised to appoint a place for Israel to dwell, restating the promises concerning the land made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God not only promised that He would give Israel the land according to the boarders of Genesis Chapter 15, but also assured David that His people would be able to dwell safely in that land on account of the kingship of David. God would use David to keep the people safe to show the children of Israel that He is truly sovereign. God would exercise supreme control in the life of David to glorify Himself in the peace and security He was able to bring to His people. This shows that, while God was able to bring peace and security to His people using flawed human beings as kings, He will most certainly be able to bring a quality of peace and security the world has never seen when He assumes His own throne as the Messiah King of Israel!
Additionally, God promised that He would build a house for David. Though David desired to build a house for God, the Lord mercifully denied David’s desire and told David that He would build a house for David! The reference to a “house” had nothing to do with a physical structure. Since the full majesty and glory of God cannot be contained in structures made by human hands, neither can the magnitude of His promises concerning a Messiah King that would save Israel and the world from sin. The house that God would build for David would be far greater than the house that the king of Tyre built for David. Though David looked at his home as being superior to the tabernacle that the Ark resided in, God promised to build an even greater structure with His own hands that would transcend time itself, which would be fitted together by the chief cornerstone of the Messiah! God’s reference to a house for David was a reference to a dynasty. God would progress towards the fulfillment of His promises, gradually revealing Himself as the means by which all people must be saved.
According to the scriptures, we cannot glorify God by our own efforts. We need God to glorify God because God’s glory is so great that He is the only One that can lift His name above all others. So how does He do that, and how do we participate? According to the promises God made to David, God will glorify Himself by revealing Himself in the work He does in our lives. God glorified Himself by revealing His identity as the Lord of Hosts through the life of David. David brought glory to God by allowing God to take him from the shepherd’s field to the throne of Israel. David glorified God by enduring a decade’s worth of miserable persecution and hardships trusting in the promises of God. These things brought glory to God because all the while, God was exercising His sovereignty, taking David’s life into His own hands to put David in impossible circumstances that led to the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises. David’s life had God’s handprints all over it, and as time went on, David’s life resembled the fulfillment of God’s promises concerning Jesus Christ.
We don’t exalt God’s name by building things and doing things according to our own desires and efforts – even if they’re genuinely good. We are sinners by nature and are unqualified to exalt the name of the Lord to the place He deserves. Instead, we must confess our inadequacy and weakness to please God and bring Him His due glory, submitting to the work He promised to do in the hearts of those who believe upon His name. We must trust in His identity as the Lord of Hosts and submit to His sovereign control, making Him the Lord of our lives. Whether times appear to be good in restful seasons, or disastrous in times of difficulty and persecution, we let God do what God does because we trust that His work and will is always good, and that His promises will be fulfilled. We trust that the revelation of God’s identity in our life is better than our pitiful efforts to show God how good we are (especially since none are good). To glorify God, we must allow God to take over our lives and lead us to the place He desires us to be so that He can be exalted to the name above all names when He takes us to a place we don’t belong, but find ourselves there nonetheless.
God showed us how He desires to do this work. He desire to do this work Himself since He is the only One that can. David was the beneficiary of some INCREDIBLE promises, but David was not responsible for the fulfillment of any of them. God’s promises were great because they resulted in the manifestation of Jesus Christ. God revealed Himself as the Messiah King of Israel, coming into the world as flesh and blood to do that which no person born in sin could ever do. Jesus exercised His sovereignty as the Lord of Hosts by demonstrating His authority over diseases, spirits, and even death! Yet Jesus died to Himself to do this work. Therefore, the method by which God’s glory is revealed is made clear to those who desire to glorify God. If we are to allow the Lord God to reveal His identity and essence in our lives to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises, we must do as Jesus did – die to self to be raised up in the glory of the Father!
What do we need to do to please God? Lots of people have the noble desire to please God. However, many people are confused about how to please God. Even more discouraging is that many feel that they can come up with their own methods of “stuff” that is pleasing to God. The truth of the matter is, God’s Word is very candid about how we are to please God as His people. There is no mystery about it. Those who genuinely desire to please God need only to seek His wisdom according to His Word to know how to do so. The best thing of all is that the scriptures show that there is actually very little that we are required to do to please God.
Consider this, the Bible states that it is impossible to please God without faith. Thus, no matter how much we do or how much effort we put in, if it is not founded on the basis of “faith,” then it is worthless to God. More importantly, the scripture from which this quote comes from (Hebrews 11:6), clearly explains that the focus of faith is the subject of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah. This means that our faith must be specific and detailed. Our faith cannot be liberally determined by a loose set of man made standards. Our faith must be built upon the factual and truthful claims of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God (God in flesh) and the Messiah (the fulfillment of the Father’s eternally unconditional promises). The scriptures are helpful to teach these truths all the way from Genesis to Revelation. Since God sought to make His book focus on these two points, it is clear that our faith must be centered on our trust in these points as true and real. That said, faith becomes simple in nature. Since Jesus is the Son of God AND the Messiah, then Jesus has done all of the work that is required to please God. He is the means by which we can have access to the Father. He is the means by which we are able to stand approved before the Father. He is the means by which we can receive the rewards and blessings of the Father. Jesus, and only Jesus, is the means by which we can be one with the Father. Knowing this, what more can we offer to please God besides trust in this fact? Hasn’t Jesus already done everything pleasing to God?
This is a truth that was explained long before Jesus took the form of flesh. For example, in 2 Samuel 7:4-7 the Bible explains that God quickly addressed David’s desire to build a dwelling place for God. David had a noble desire to provide a more impressive dwelling place for God. David saw the tabernacle that was constructed for the Ark of God and was displeased with its appearance compared to his own house that was built up of rich resources that the wealthy king of Tyre paid for. David’s heart was in a good place. He didn’t like that his house looked better to the eye compared to the place where the Ark of God was kept. In the mind of David, he felt that God’s holiness, righteousness, and majesty should be seen in the house that the Ark of His presence dwelt in. Certainly the God who created all things should dwell in a structure more impressive that David’s, right?
Actually, God responded to the contrary. The scriptures state that the very night David communicated his desire to build God a more elaborate dwelling place for the Ark to the prophet Nathan, God spoke to Nathan. God gave Nathan a message to communicate back to David. Here is how the message went:
“Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Where ever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd My people saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”
God’s point is simple. First, it is important to consider this: what structure exists that can house the glory and majesty of the Lord God Almighty? Is it possible to construct a vessel that contains all of God’s glory? The Lord states that He covers His glory with light (Psalm 104:2)! If the Lord’s glory is so bright that He uses light to cover Himself, what substance could possible contain His essence and majesty? Is it truly possible for a human being or group of people to build a structure to contain the true essence of God? Certainly not! So then, who would build a house for God? Who would build a structure for God? Who would be able to construct anything of value for God? Isn’t our salvation and the substance of our faith predicated on the belief that God has built a dwelling place for us in heaven?
God had to remind David that He’s never dwelt in a house. In fact, the place that God instructed the children of Israel to build for His presence to rest in was a tent. God didn’t ask for a huge building. God didn’t ask for a massive temple. God didn’t ask for a structure with a tall steeple and stained glass windows. God didn’t ask for a giant lavish building with a dome on the top. God did ask for corporate centers to be converted into stadiums. When God first commanded the children of Israel to build a structure, He purposefully asked for a tent – the tabernacle. God funded a tent, and not because He was broke. God’s command was not just a matter of practicality for the children of Israel to transport. Certainly God’s plans accounted for the migration of Israel, but His purpose was deeper than convenience and portability. God’s point was simple: The value of the materials used in the service of God does not lend in any sort of way to the value of God or His holiness. God is holy and exalted above all things regardless of the works or material used in service to Him.
This is why God never asked for the children of Israel to build Him a structure. Later when Solomon built God’s temple, it was that very temple that the prophet Ezekiel saw God’s presence depart from despite all of its outward glory and value. No matter how elaborate the structure was, the hearts of the people who visited it were far from God; and that is where God’s true focus is. Why didn’t God ask the people to build Him “a house of cedar?” The answer is simple. While a house of cedar might look impressive to men, it is still tainted by the hands of sinful men that construct it. God is holy and ultimately dwells in His eternal kingdom. Can the works and efforts of men and women compare to the works of God’s hands? Certainly not! Additionally, the true desire of God is to dwell within the hearts of His people. God is not impressed with the buildings and structures of people. He is impressed by the work of His own hands, and since His hands are dedicated to transforming the lives of His people into His own image, it is the hearts of His people that He desires to reside in. Since it is Jesus that is responsible for the work that needs to be done to make the human heart a place that the Spirit of God is willing to dwell in, then what can people do to impress God in this manner?
Here is the truth about God’s response to David. David had a good and noble desire to exalt God’s name. This is why the scriptures teach that David was a man after God’s own heart. David wanted God to be revered more than he was. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, I must decrease,” David communicated the same extent of humility. God’s response explains that, while people might desire to exalt God’s name, people cannot do so. We need God to exalt God. We need God to praise God. We need God to build us a dwelling place in His kingdom, not the other way around. God doesn’t ask us to build Him structures, perform elaborate works, or provide exhaustive energy into glorifying His name because our works don’t compare to His.
When God commanded the children of Israel to build the tabernacle, His command was an opportunity to demonstrate faith. Certainly animal skins and canvas was hardly the materials that represented the majesty of Yahweh. Nevertheless, God’s Law called for His dwelling place to be constructed out of those materials, and God had good purpose for those commands. The children of Israel simply had to trust (in faith) that God’s commands were righteous and good, no matter how odd they seemed. Their obedience to build the tabernacle out of the materials God commanded was a demonstration of faith that God’s Word was sufficiently good. So how do we please God? The answer is clear – we obey in faith. We don’t need to go out and save every soul. We don’t need to go out and volunteer for every church need. We don’t need to do all of the things that the traditions of men and women have compelled people to do. Rather, we need to trust that the work of Jesus Christ was sufficient to cleanse us of sin and unrighteousness, thereby allowing the Spirit to reside in our hearts, making us one with God. Then, we simply need to hear how He brings understanding of God’s will to us through the truthful teaching of the Word, and faithfully respond to it in obedience, no matter how odd or unorthodox to human tradition God’s Word may seem. If God’s not impressed with human effort, then we should try to impress God by human means. Instead, we should faithfully obey.
How should a person respond to the Lord when things are good? Though Jesus promised that His people would suffer persecutions and various trials for His namesake, every now and then, He provides relief. Yes, life can be hard, but God causes the sun to rise on the just and the unjust. Therefore, there are times of rest, relief, and release that God will bring to people at various times. The scriptures are clear to show how His people should respond during those times. Often times, people have a tendency of relaxing to the point that there is no longer a pursuit of God. Sometimes circumstantial comfort can cause people to grow cold in dependency on God and begin to subtly drift from Him. When life is hard, people cry out to God for help with great passion and urgency. When life gets easier, there is often a tendency to cry out to God less, consider Him less, and connect with Him less. This is not good and does not match the righteous standards of scripture.
In 2 Samuel 7:1-3 the Bible explains that God was merciful to give David a much-needed season of rest. David was able to dwell in the house that the king of Tyre had built for him in Jerusalem and enjoy the work that the Lord had been doing in his life. The scriptures plainly state that the Lord had given David rest from all of his enemies, all around. This is important to consider. It is the Lord that provides rest. While the world tries to sell the idea that we can manufacture our own brand of rest, our versions of rest have great potential to cause more burden than actual relief. Vacations often cause debt. Traveling often brings burden. The scriptures explain that God doesn’t always need to affect circumstances in order to bring rest to His people. Jesus taught that as His followers, we should cast our burdens and yokes upon Him and He promises to give rest in response. This rest comes from the promise and hope of the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises in eternal life. This hope transcends circumstances so that even when there might be chaos around, we are able to have peace and rest regardless. The testimony of 2 Samuel 7:1-3 describes these sorts of circumstances.
It is true that David enjoyed a season of circumstances in which he did not have to go out and fight the Philistines, the Jebusites, or the Ammonites. David didn’t have to fight against the children of Israel living in the north that were led by the descendants of Saul. God had brought victory over all of that work. However, those victories, while circumstantial, were outward evidences that God was progressing towards the fulfillment of the promises He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel was becoming a great nation. Israel was dwelling safely in the land. Israel was in position to progress to the revelation of the Blessing. Therefore, while David’s circumstances were literally peaceful, they were exceptionally favorable because of how they displayed God’s faithfulness to His promises. Only God is able to bring this quality of rest, because only God is able to deliver upon His promises. The Book of Hebrews explains that the essence of God’s eternally unconditional promises is founded on the concept of “rest,” but this “rest” refers to a release from the burden and bondage of sin in God’s eternal kingdom. God alone is able to fulfill this promise just as God alone is able to fulfill His promises to Israel, which serve to be a testimony to God’s faithfulness concerning eternal matters. True rest can only come from God, and the Lord was willing to give David a taste of His rest for a time.
The scriptures are clear to show how David responded to this rest. He did not leverage the comfort he received to distance himself from God. David did not grow independent of God. David did not neglect God. David did not loose passion for God just because things were simpler in his life. In fact, the testimony of 2 Samuel 7:1-3 testifies quite the opposite. David had a conversation with Nathan the prophet and revealed that he still had a burden even in his time of rest. David was discontented during this time of rest on account of the increase he had received. David acknowledged that he was fortunate to live in a house made of cedar wood that was built for him by the king of Tyre. However, he also recognized that it was inappropriate that the Ark of God rest in a tabernacle made with tent curtains while he lived in such luxury. David was discontented that the circumstances made it look like David’s name was more highly exalted that God’s name. In David’s mind, it appeared as if his name was higher than God’s because of the manner in which they were dwelling.
Though David had the opportunity to rest and enjoy the gifts of grace that God had given, David’s heart grew restless. He wanted to exalt the Lord, even in his time of rest. David wanted to make sure the people knew that God’s name is the highest. David wanted the people to see that God’s name is the name above all names, and His dwelling place is highly exalted above all in majesty and glory. In David’s mind, the tent that the Ark rested in was not communicating these truths. Though the Lord granted David with a chance to get some relaxation in, David’s heart craved to honor God, even in his season of rest and peace. The scriptures teach that David was a man after God’s own heart. This section of David’s testimony shows that his heart was often relentless in his pursuit of God and the exaltation of his name – and rightly so! Nathan the prophet heard David’s complaint and instructed David to do as his heart desired. Nathan acknowledged that the Lord was with David and so God would honor David’s desire to exalt His name in some way, shape, or form. Therefore, whether we are living in times of difficulty, or times of rest and comfort, our desire to seek the Lord and exalt His name should never grow cold or depart. According to the scriptures, this continually burning fire for the Lord serves as outward evidence that God is indeed with us like He was David.
It is better to be considered a fool by others that genuinely praises God than to be considered a fool by God for criticizing the praises of others that love God. The Bible shows that men and women have done some things that appeared to be silly to others throughout history in order to honor God. Still today, non-believers look at many of the worship practices of believers in Jesus Christ and mock them, considering them to be foolish. Many consider it foolish to honor and revere the contents of the Bible. Many consider it foolish to rejoice in infirmity. Many consider it foolish to look forward into eternal life with joy while chaos and darkness fill this world rapidly. Regardless of the perception of others towards those who genuinely praise the Lord, God is pleased. The Bible states over and over that God desires to be praised as well as worshiped. In fact, in Psalm 22:3 the Bible explains that God is enthroned in the praises of His people! He inhabits the praises of His people. When God’s people praise Him, His name is not only exalted, but His presence is also amongst His people. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. There is no foolishness in this truth!
The testimony of David moving the Ark of God showed that David was highly charged by the presence of God dwelling in Jerusalem so that he praised God with all his might. David made a mistake in his efforts to transport the Ark of God the first time so that he did not consider the holiness, righteousness, and sovereign presence of God. He moved the Ark without considering God’s statutes, and a man died as a result. This got David’s attention to say the least, so that David spent the next three months making preparations to do things right. David spent three months considering the holiness, righteousness, and sovereign presence of God. David built up a tabernacle and altar for the Ark. He prepared the Levitical priests, specifically the sons of Kohath that were appointed to transport the Ark. He prepared musicians to play psalms and songs of praise while the Ark was being moved. He also prepared sacrifices to honor God as a way to demonstrate thanksgiving towards God’s willingness to dwell with His people according to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In 2 Samuel 6:16-23 the Bible describes David’s response to the great fanfare that surrounded the transporting of the Ark. David was dancing and singing before everyone without shame. He recognized that the Lord of Hosts was exercising His sovereign power according to His faithfulness to move Israel closer to the fulfillment of His promises. Israel was unified. Their enemies were being defeated. David established a new capital city in Jerusalem. God’s presence was in the midst of this city as He hovered above the Ark of the Covenant, in between the cherubim on the Mercy Seat. There was plenty of reason to rejoice, and David led Israel to do so without restraint, and the scriptures testify that all of Israel followed according to David’s joy.
There was one person however that did not follow David’s lead. The scriptures explain that Michal, David’s wife and the daughter of Saul, saw David leaping and whirling about before the Lord and actually despised him. The word “despised” in this passage is a strong word. It is the same Hebrew word that describes how Esau “despised” his birthright so that he eventually forfeited it for a bowl of soup. It is also the same Hebrew word used in Numbers 15:31 to refer to those who are indifferent to the righteous laws and commands of God that are to be put out from the people because they “despise” God. Michal saw the things that were taking place, and on the premise of jealousy, she rejected David’s praise and ultimately she rejected God. The scriptures testify that she later approached David to criticize him and his actions. She didn’t like the manner in which David paraded himself around and the manner that he offered sacrifices. She did not criticize his irreverence (because there was none). She criticized his appearance. She specifically referenced her distaste for David removing his outer garment so that the other women could see him without his outer robe. Michal was jealous in the ways people responded to David’s praise, and so she despised his praise, comparing David to a “base fellow” that walks about in shameful ways.
Michal’s criticism was wrong. This truth is revealed in the description of David’s conduct, which provides great insights into his motives. David was not being irreverent, and he was not seeking to catch the eyes of other women. The testimony of 2 Samuel 6:16-23 explains that when the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, he offered a burnt offering, then a peace offering, and then distributed a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins to everyone in attendance. This is a very important detail to make note of. First, it is important to examine the order of David’s sacrifices. David offered a burnt offering first. A burnt offering is an offering given unto the Lord in which the total animal is consumed in fire. It is an offering that resembles complete sacrifice unto God. The crucifixion of Jesus was considered to be a “burnt offering” since Jesus gave His whole body unto sacrifice to the point of death. David offered a “peace offering” second. A peace offering was an offering in which a person could give a partial sacrifice unto the Lord so that one portion was consumed in the fire unto the Lord, and the other portion would be consumed later that day by the one offering the sacrifice. The idea behind this offering is that the person offering the sacrifice would share in consuming the same animal as one might share a meal with a person. It was to be a picture of fellowship with God.
When God gave the commands concerning the feast day of Pentecost, He gave the command to give these two exact offerings in this exact order. The prophetic picture of Pentecost explains God’s promises to fulfill His New Covenant promises to unite Jew and Gentile as one unto Him through the presence of His Spirit, which is made possible by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. In other words, as Jesus gave Himself as the “burnt offering,” the Holy Spirit was able to be received to unify believers with the Father in fellowship like a “peace offering.” The order and context of David’s sacrifices symbolized and celebrated the same thing! David gave these sacrifices in this order to acknowledge the presence of God that dwelt over the Ark as it was being carried into Jerusalem according to God’s promises. David shared the bread, meat, and cakes with the people as a gesture of fellowship with God according to the sacrifices. David’s praise was genuine. His joy was Spirit-filled. His actions were righteous as they followed the Law of God. There was no reason to criticize David though he might have looked silly or even insane celebrating the way that he was.
David responded against the criticisms of his wife. While Michal accused David of looking like a shameful base fellow, David stated that he didn’t have a problem with that. He essentially told her that he was willing to look even more undignified in her eyes so long as he was able to praise God. David didn’t care about what others thought. At that moment, David only cared about God, His identity, His promises, and the hope of God fulfilling those promises. David was willing to look as “base” or “shameful” as anyone else might accuse him to be so long as he was able to demonstrate his humble position in the Lord. David reminded Michal that God had selected and anointed God with purpose; and the circumstances in David’s life validated God’s anointing and the promises that stemmed from such an anointing. Saul was no longer king – David was. Israel was unified and growing in power and other forms of increase. David was humbled, and his affection towards God through celebratory praise, dancing, singing, and sacrifice was all genuine.
On the flip side of things, Michal was judged. The scriptures explain that Michal was not able to bear any more children after her criticism of David. Since God inhabits the praises of His people, Michal’s criticism and judgment of David’s praise, was actually a criticism and judgment of God’s presence. God will not be mocked in this way. So while some might find it foolish, base, and shameful to publically praise God in the anticipation of His promises being fulfilled, those people are ultimately criticizing God, and scripture shows they will be dealt with. Thus, it is better to be a fool for God, joyfully awaiting the fulfillment of His promises in faith, rather than criticize those who do so, only to be judged for mocking God by mocking His people.
The promises of the Lord are precious. They should be handled with care and great affection. The presence of the Lord is powerful. His presence should be acknowledged with fear and humility. When people mishandle the promises of God, there are consequences. When people are indifferent to the presence of God, there is consequence. On the other hand, when God’s people show fear, humility, affection and care for God’s presence and promises, there are great blessings that come from the Lord. The Bible shows that God desires to bless His people, and when His people are obedient to seek His blessings in the proper manner, there is such great joy and excitement that transpires! Some of Israel’s greatest moments of triumph had nothing to do with military victories in battle. Instead, some of Israel’s greatest moments of triumph had to deal with the blessings that God bestowed upon them for following His laws and statutes.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 6:12-15 proves this as true. The Bible explains that David had a desire to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. God wanted the vessel that contained God’s promises to be kept in the city of promise. This was a noble desire, but David went about the wrong methods to do this work. David did not follow God’s laws and ordinances that God gave to explain how Israel was to transport the Ark from place to place. Therefore, God became angry with them and a man named Uzzah died as a result of touching the Ark. David became distraught and angry, and so for three months he didn’t try to move the Ark again. Instead, David spent the next three months preparing to move the Ark of God the right way, and all of Israel was blessed for it as a result.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 6:12-15 does not provide a lot of details concerning the proper transportation of the Ark of God. Therefore, it is helpful to try to harmonize the parallel passage found in 1 Chronicles 15:1-29. The testimony in 2 Samuel explains that the house of Obed-Edom was being blessed greatly once the Ark was taken back there after David’s first failed attempt to move the Ark. This shows that those who properly receive and care for the promises and presence of God are indeed blessed. David saw this blessing and wanted the same blessing for himself and the rest of Israel. Therefore, David made efforts to repent by turning from his initial foolishness and turning towards the Law of God to do things according to God’s righteousness rather than his own flawed wisdom.
The parallel passage found in 1 Chronicles explains that David made extensive preparations to move the Ark. First, he built a structure to house the Ark. He prepared that structure by consecrating it and anointing it. David also prepared the proper people to move the Ark. Rather than having the next available person move the Ark, David called the Levitical priests, specifically the sons of Kohath, and instructed them how they would move the Ark in the manner that the Law of Moses described. The Bible explains that the people began to get excited. David appointed musicians of various kinds to follow the Ark in order to inspire songs of praise as the Ark made its way into the city of God’s promises in Jerusalem. Though the Ark was essentially just a box, David spent three whole months ensuring that such an object was treated with the utmost fear and care according to God’s commands. David’s preparation was a great statement of faith as he sought to do everything God commanded, trusting the contents of the Ark to be precious, and the presence of God (though invisible) to be authentic.
The testimony of 2 Samuel explains David’s preparation more simply. The Bible testifies that David moved the Ark “with gladness.” This is a simple Hebrew word that is used throughout the Old Testament. Yet the use of this Hebrew word in Deuteronomy 28:47 explains the intensity of the word, which helps explain the temperament of David’s preparation and action. Deuteronomy Chapter 28 deals with the curses of Israel. God warned Israel that if they departed from God’s righteousness as revealed in the Law, they would experience many harsh curses that would cause havoc and ruin amongst the people. Deuteronomy 28:47-48 states this:
"Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.”
According to the Bible, God provided Israel with a great abundance. They were supposed to rejoice over extent of God’s provision, not complain. The Bible explains that God expected the people to worship and serve God with “gladness,” otherwise they would suffer the curses God warned of. Thus, “gladness” is a critical part of one’s attitude towards God. The absence of “gladness” results in the absence of blessings and the presence of miserable consequence. The first time David moved the Ark, he didn’t do so with this “gladness,” which ultimately refers to care, appreciation, respect, and honor for God’s promises and the means by which He fulfills them. The attitude of gladness is supposed to be a demonstration of faith – faith that God is faithful and able to do what He promised so that one is glad in anticipation for the work He swore to do.
The second time David moved the Ark, he did so with the right temperament. He had gladness, which showed that his attitude was humbly focused on God’s holiness, righteousness, and sovereign power. He followed the Law. He prepared the hearts of the people. He rejoiced in anticipation of the things God would do once the Ark was in the city of Zion. David offered sacrifices during the move and danced “with all of his might” as the Ark was moved. David had the fear of the Lord and it caused him to rejoice. David had humility and it caused him to dance. David followed God’s Law and it caused him to sing. David’s faithful obedience that was founded on fear and humility provoked the joy of the Lord in ways that are seldom seen in scripture. David was blessed by doing what God said in the manner that God said to do it. Though God had not yet fully fulfilled His promises for Israel, David danced and sang as if He already had, in anticipation of the work that God would do in the future. That is faith!
The promises of God are to be handled with care. God’s identity and goodness is expressed through the fulfillment of His promises, so that if one changes the essence of His promises, one changes the essence of God. If one mishandles God’s promises, one mishandles God. If one appreciates and cherishes God’s promises, one appreciates and cherishes God. Therefore, it is critical to know God’s promises. It is impossible to know who God is without also knowing the basis of His eternally unconditional promises. How can we know God if we do not know what He is working towards and the manners in which He describes He will accomplish His work? When Jesus taught His disciples at the Last Supper, He told that disciples that He no longer considered them servants, but instead friends. Jesus considered the disciples “friends” because a servant doesn’t know what the Master is doing, but Jesus revealed the will of the Master to the disciples, putting them in the know. It was this knowledge that allowed them to connect more closely and intimately with God, which then enabled them to be used as instruments of God. However, when we walk according to ignorance of God’s identity and purposes, we are disconnected from God, and will not be used by Him for His glory and our blessing.
God presented a powerful illustration of this truth in the testimony of 2 Samuel 6:1-11. In this portion of scripture, David sought to relocate the Ark of the Covenant. David was excited about the things that God was doing in his life. God had confirmed him as king of all of Israel. God had brought victory to David against the Jebusites so that Jerusalem became territory of Israel according to God’s Messianic promises. God had exercised His sovereignty to influence the king of Tyre to establish David in Jerusalem by building David a house there; and then later providing two great victories over the Philistines. Life was good for David, and God made it that way! David was likely riding high on the momentum of God during this season of his life, and rightly so. However, when David made efforts to move the Ark of God, he allowed his emotions to overrun his decision-making so that he handled the Ark with indifference, carelessness, and irreverence. As such, severe consequence was paid.
It is important to recognize the manner in which the Bible referred to the Ark of God in this portion of scripture. The Bible refers to the Ark as, “the Ark of God whose name is called by the Name, the Lord of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim.” There are many places where the Bible describes the Ark of the Covenant. There are few places where the Bible refers to the Ark in this detailed manner. This means that God is placing emphasis on His identity in relationship to the Ark in the context of David’s desire to move the Ark. First, it is important to recall what the Ark is and why it was precious to God and the children of Israel. The Ark was a box that contained important items in remembrance of God’s work for Israel. The Ark contained the Law of Moses, Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded almond blossoms, and a jar of manna bread.
These items were symbolic of God’s own attributes and promises. The Law was not only a testament of God’s righteousness, but also documented all of the practices that would teach the children of Israel about forgiveness, redemption, and propitiation – issues dealing with salvation that comes through Jesus. The Book of Galatians refers to the Law as a “tutor” intended to lead people to Christ. Thus, while the Law revealed sin and guilt within all people, it also led to forgiveness and cleansing by the Messiah according to God’s righteousness. Aaron’s rod was also an important part of God’s promises. When God selected Aaron as the first high priest in Israel, he did so by taking a rod from the head of each of the twelve tribes in Israel and making Aaron’s rod bud almond blossoms. God showed that He could bring life and fruit out of a dead branch, but that He would do so through the role of the high priest, pointing to God’s Messianic promises that were fulfilled in Jesus. Lastly the Ark contained manna bread, which was symbolic of God’s provision. God sustained the children of Israel with manna bread for forty years while they wandered through the wilderness, using that substance as the tool to deliver His people into the Promised Land. Even the bread was a symbolic substance that pointed to Jesus as the Bread of Life, and the means by which all people are spiritually nourished to enter into the kingdom of God!
This is why the Ark of the “Covenant” was so precious to God. It was a box that contained symbols that pointed to the promises of God. It was referred to as the Ark of the “Covenant” because it was the container of God’s promises to Israel. It was referred to as the Ark of God because God swore upon Himself to fulfill these promises Himself, which is also why He dwelt in between the cherubim on the lid of the Ark. The lid of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat, showing that the means by which God would fulfill His own promises to His people would be on the foundation of mercy. His presence dwelt on mercy since God delights in mercy. His presence dwelt between the cherubim bowing to Him showing the holiness of God. In fact, the Mercy Seat was a prophetic picture of the empty tomb of Jesus Christ as it was described in the Gospel of John, showing that God’s mercy comes by Jesus.
The scriptures described God in the context of the Ark in two different ways: as “the Name” and as “the Lord of Hosts.” The mention of God as “the Name” refers to God’s holiness. It is not just that God has a name, but that God’s essence is the absolutely supreme identity and name above all names. He alone is holy. He alone is Yahweh. He alone is God. God is also referred to as “the Lord of Hosts” in this context, which refers to His sovereignty. God is the Lord of Hosts/Armies because He is able to control and influence all people and all people groups at all times to fulfill His will by any means He desires. No one can contend with God or successfully resist His will. Thus, the mentions of God in connection to the Ark refer to His holiness, His righteousness, and His sovereignty. God’s promises reveal these things about God.
Knowing these things, it is easier to see why God responded in the aggressive and harsh manner that He did in 2 Samuel 6:1-11. According to the scripture, David prepared to have the Ark of God moved by placing it on a new cart and having the sons of the priest Abinadab, drive the cart. Abinadab’s sons were Ahio and Uzzah. David’s plans were flawed. First, the Law of God, which was contained and protected in the very Ark he was seeking to move, stated specific instructions in how to transport the Ark from one place to another. The Ark had to be covered so that no one could see it. The high priest had to go before the Ark. The Ark had to be mounted on poles using the sockets that were fastened to it in order for the Ark to be carried without the Ark being touched directly. Then the Ark had to be transported by men from the tribe of Levi, specifically from the descendants of Kohath. David’s plan didn’t account for any of this. Thus, David’s plan, while noble to put the Ark in the God’s anointed city, did not account for God’s holiness, righteousness, or sovereignty.
When the men began to move the Ark improperly, the Bible states that David had musicians go before the Ark to play music in celebration of the Ark’s relocation. Unfortunately, the children of Israel were celebrating on the premise of irreverence to God’s identity, indifference to God’s commands, and disrespect to God’s righteousness. They celebrated, but God was angry. His promises were being handled without concern for His holiness, as if men in any sort of way could handle God’s presence. The loud music and celebratory environment was all a sham. While the people were excited, including David, God was angry! This shows that, no matter how noble a person’s desire might be, and how outwardly good an outcome might seem, if God’s people do not acknowledge, fear, respect and obey God’s holiness, righteousness, and sovereignty, God is not pleased, and there will be consequences suffered.
As the men transported the ark, the road got bumpy. Uzzah put out his hand to support the Ark and took hold of it, at which point the Lord’s anger was even more greatly aroused, and Uzzah died on the spot! Yes, God killed Uzzah for touching the Ark. While many people have difficulty with this testimony, and accuse God of being harsh and evil, these blasphemous accusations do not consider the identity of God and the nature of His promises that is first described in the beginning of the testimony. God is holy. He is not such that we as people can just throw around His name and promises like some perverted manmade thing. He is the Creator of all things and the source of all life. He should be treated as such! Since we are sinners, a sinner cannot just go up to He who is holy without concern. The glory and splendor of God is so bright that is consumes darkness. Hence, when sinful men and women irreverently approach God with indifference and pride, His glory will naturally consume the darkness within the hearts of such people. Uzzah was no exception.
God allowed this man to die, and even killed him, because David was off his mark. He had good ideas and intentions, but did not acknowledge the precious nature of God’s identity and promises. David treated the presence and promises of God like some manmade object. Therefore, God did what needed to be done to correct David to ensure that David was leading according to meekness and humility. When David saw Uzzah die, he was angry at the circumstances and feared God. He was so afraid of the Lord that he just left the Ark in Obed-Edom’s house where it first was in Shiloh. He left it there for three months, making no attempt to move it again. He said to himself, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” In other words, David realized that God was not One that could just be simply connected to people at the whim of people. God is holy and as holy, righteous, and sovereign, is separated from all mankind. How then can God come to mankind and mankind go to God? The answer is simply – only by the means that God has ordained and commanded. God gave orders into how to transport the Ark to ensure that mankind was not consumed by the glory of God, but David disregarded it. Without God’s instruction and provision, mankind cannot be joined to God. David recognized that his own ideas and efforts to possess and manipulate the promises and presence of God were deadly. God used the death of Uzzah to remind David of this MONUMENTALLY IMPORTANT truth to reteach David the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, thereby allowing God’s people to be connected to Him as friends, and equipped instruments of righteousness.
Good things happen when we’re walking with the Lord. This doesn’t necessarily mean that bad things won’t happen, but the goodness of God transcends the inevitable pitfalls and difficulties of life. Whether a believer or non-believer, life is going to bring problems and challenges. There are going to be fights and there is always pain of some kind in a fight. The difference for the believer is that when we are walking with the Lord, we get to share in God’s victory, even though it may seem like we’ve been defeated. The Lord promised to fight for His people and has historically proven His willingness to do so and His ability to win. The Lord has promised to protect His people. The current circumstances of Israel prove that God’s protection is true and powerful! If fights are going to come, it’s best that we fight according to the commands of the Lord in faith rather than try and fight them on our own, or even run from them as if we can avoid discomfort in this life.
The testimony of David actually shows that his willingness to engage in conflict was part of the way he received assurance that he was in the Lord’s will. David’s kingship was actually confirmed and validated by David’s willingness to fight. Yet David did not fight by himself. David did try to come up with clever schemes and plans to assure his own brand of victory. David continually sought the Lord in humility, and was able to see the Lord exercise His power as the Lord of Hosts, which confirmed his position in the Lord by extension. In 2 Samuel 5:17-25 the Bible explains that David was involved in two major battles against the Philistines. Though David lived amongst the Philistines for some time and actually fought on their behalf, David was put into a position where he had to decide if he was going to fight against them as the king of Israel. It is likely that David made some close friends and acquaintances while he was living with the Philistines. The testimony of 2 Samuel 5:17-25 shows that David had to make a difficult choice whether or not he would fight against people he had befriended at one time, who were helpful in some ways to keep him alive while fleeing from Saul.
This decision was no easy decision. Though the Philistines have historically been enemies of Israel, the decision to fight against the Philistines had to be hard for David based on his history with them. The reason that the Philistines were preparing to fight against Israel was actually on account of David. They had heard that Israel anointed David as king and felt threatened by his leadership. Therefore, the Philistines assembled together and deployed their fighters to advance. The scriptures are specific to mention that the Philistines gathered “all” of their people to go and search out for David, fearing his leadership and military prowess. When David heard about this, he knew that the Philistines were not assembling to have a friendly meeting. David inquired of the Lord. The Bible says that before David made a decision, he inquired of the Lord to seek His wisdom. David wanted to know if he should go out and fight against the Philistines, or just wait. Though the Bible does not provide insight into David’s heart regarding this situation, the circumstances show that he was in quite a predicament either way.
If the Lord commanded David to fight, he would have to go up against men that he likely knew and that he might have fought side by side with at one time. On the other hand, if the Lord commanded David to keep from fighting, the children of Israel might have grown afraid and impatient with David, urging him to respond against their enemies. Nevertheless, when God responded, David obeyed. He trusted in God rather than being swayed by the circumstances regardless of how difficult they might have been. God commanded David to engage and fight against the Philistines. David would have to face the men that he partnered with at one point in his life. Yet this was only to the fault of David. David had no business dwelling with the Philistines to begin with. Thus, the command of God to advance against the Philistines was an illustration that the Lord will sometimes call His people to reconcile past foolish decisions and make them right. David was not called to be a friend of the Philistines, yet that’s what David chose to do to stay safe. God later gave the command to respond against the enemy according to his true identity as the king of God’s people.
Regardless of the difficulty, David obeyed. Without question, David assembled his men and went to fight having the assurance of the Lord. When God commanded David to fight the Philistines, He assured David that He would deliver the Philistines into his hands in victory. God would exercise His power and authority as Deliverer and as the Lord of Hosts. That is exactly what God did. When David fought, God delivered the victory to David against the Philistines. However, after David received this victory, the Philistines assembled themselves again in another area. They sought to make a second advance. The Bible explains that David was practicing good habits. Like the first battle, David inquired of the Lord if he should go and fight. David didn’t make an assumption that he should fight, considering the victory that God brought to be an automatically guaranteed thing moving forward.
David wanted to make sure every step he took was within the footstep of God. Scripture testifies that God again commanded David to advance against the Philistines, but this time provided some wisdom concerning his strategy. God instructed David to form an ambush in a certain area. Here God demonstrated His omniscience. He knew the route that the Philistines would take. He knew where they would be vulnerable. He knew where David could succeed, and God gave that wisdom to David because David humbly sought God’s wisdom. More importantly, the scriptures show that when David obeyed God’s command and formed his ambush, that the Lord went out before David and fought with David! David was able to get another victory over the Philistines because God was fighting before David and on behalf of David; and who can overpower the Lord God Almighty?
These two victories are significant, especially in the total context of 2 Samuel Chapter 5. 2 Samuel Chapter 5 documents David being anointed as king over all of Israel, David’s conquest of Jerusalem, the receipt of a home from the king of Tyre to be established in Jerusalem, the growth of David’s family, which included the birth of his son Solomon, and then these two major victories over Israel’s enemies. Collectively, these events show that God was pleased with David as the king of Israel. God’s will was being done. God was establishing David as king according to His promise to David, and also according to His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God was working to make Israel a great nation that dwelt safely in the Promised Land as a blessing to all of the families of the earth. God was blessing those who blessed Israel, and making quick work of those who opposed them. The victories that God brought served to be confirmation that David was exactly where God wanted him. Though this part of David’s life required him to fight, putting his life on the line, enduring uncomfortable and perhaps embarrassing circumstances, God gave David the wisdom and strength to endure and come out a winner! Though David made decisions earlier in his life that likely made his battles more difficult to engage in, his obedience to God’s commands according to His wisdom allowed David to share in God’s victory. It was those victories that collectively worked together to show David that, despite the challenges and discomfort, he was exactly where God wanted him – fighting side by side with the Lord for the fulfillment of His eternally unconditional promises!
The Apostle Paul taught that the works of the flesh are evident (Galatians 5:19). He went on to provide a list of miserable attributes and practices that every human being is guilty of time and time again. Thankfully, the scriptures teach that LOVE covers a multitude of sins. Hence, while we continually make decisions to live according to the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit, the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cleanse God’s people from all sin and unrighteousness, thereby enabling sinners to dwell in the presence of the Holy Father (by faith according to His grace). This shows that God is able to do some pretty miraculous works of transformation. He is able to take the mess that human beings make, and do some pretty wonderful things with them. It is not by coincidence that Jesus’ first miracle was a work of transformation (water into wine). Amongst other things, Jesus wanted to show the world that He is able to bring beauty and value out of that which is despised and unwanted. As was the case with Jesus, He is able to bear much fruit out of dry and desolate ground.
An illustration of this truth is provided in the documentation of David’s family growth in 2 Samuel 5:13-16. This portion of scripture merely explains that David took on more wives and concubines, and had more children through them. This portion of scripture is not specific to mention the names of his wives and concubines, nor how many. However, the Bible is sure to explain that these were the women he took to himself once he began to settle in Jerusalem. This is the detail that is important to consider. It was not just that David took on more wives and concubines to gratify certain fleshly desires no doubt, but that these women were from Jerusalem, which is Zion, the city of God.
The parallel passage of David’s family tree in 1 Chronicles 3:5-8 explains that David eventually ended up with 7 wives, many more concubines, and nineteen children! There are a few things to make note of in these details of scripture. First, and perhaps most fundamentally, David was a man that clearly pursued fleshly appetites. While some of his relationships were on the basis of mercy (as when David took on Abigail as a wife when her foolish husband died), it is important to recognize that David was not called to be the husband to every woman suffering unfortunate circumstances out of charity. As was the case with Bathsheba, David had fleshly appetites as most men do, and often pursued them. The will of God concerning marriage was for one man to be made one with one woman as a picture of the desire He has to be made one with His people through Christ. David’s family life didn’t resemble God’s will in any way showing that even though David was a man after God’s own heart, he was just as carnal as the next man. God would make use of this nonetheless, and transform David’s carnality into the manifestation of His faithfulness.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 5:13-16 lists the names of the children David had by the women he joined up with while in Jerusalem. Amongst those names is a very important man concerning the Messianic promises of God. David had Solomon while he was in Jerusalem. Though David had many sons before Solomon was born, Solomon was the man that God appointed to be the heir to the throne of David. Solomon was the son that God selected to build the first temple for the children of Israel. Solomon was the son by which God would confirm the Messianic kingship. The traditions of the culture would have called for David’s first son to become king as heir to the throne. However, fitting to the pattern that God had employed since the beginning, God did not do things according to the traditions of culture. David was not the firstborn of his family, yet God named him king. Why should God conform to the circumstances of culture to name the next king?
The point is, 2 Samuel Chapter 5 makes note of some important details in the life of David that showed God progressing towards the fulfillment of the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, eventually leading to the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. David conquered Jerusalem, and God first referred to the city of David as “Zion,” God’s preferred name for Israel’s capital in a Messianic context. David was then situated and planted in Jerusalem as the king of Tyre funded and constructed a house for David to dwell in. Then, though David had a son already, he took on more wives and concubines and David’s family grew greatly, including the birth of Solomon, who would succeed the throne of David. These details resemble the progress God was making in making Israel a great nation that dwelt in the land safely in order to bless all of the families of the earth by the Messiah. David was established in the land, in the city God desired as its capital, grew greatly as a family, and raised up an heir to the throne that would lead to the revelation of Jesus. Though David had other sons, Solomon was born in Jerusalem – a man native to Zion, the city God selected to establish His Messianic promises.
It is hard to deny that David had great fleshly desires and pursued them greatly when examining the extent of relationships he had with various women. Nevertheless, God was able to make use of David’s carnality. The progress that God made towards the fulfillment of His promises does not show that God approved of David’s polygamy. Rather, these details show that God is faithful to His promises since He swore by Himself to fulfill them. The details of David’s family life show that God is able to take a mess, and produce a glorious effect out of it anyway. The details of David’s family tree show that no man or woman can out sin God’s grace. Though we fail and walk according to the flesh making a mess of life as we go along, God is able to use the filth of the flesh for glorious purpose as the sovereign Lord God Almighty! He is indeed merciful, gracious, patient, powerful, and faithful!
How can we be sure that we are where the Lord wants us? Unfortunately, many people measure their spiritual position and posture by interpreting circumstances through the lens of the flesh. For example, a person might think that they are in the will of God if something they want actually comes to pass, or if circumstances seem comfortable and nice. On the contrary, some people think they are out of God’s will when circumstances get difficult or trying. Neither of these methods of measurement are Biblical. It is actually pretty simple to recognize when we are in the will of the Lord. First, we have to understand who God is according to scripture. We have to know that He is holy and totally separate from sin. God does not tempt, nor can He Himself be tempted. Therefore, God’s will is NEVER going to lead His people into sin or temptation to do so. Secondly, the Bible teaches that God is righteous. God has clearly and candidly communicated His standards of what He deems as right/wrong through the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, His will is ALWAYS going to be according to that standard and will never deviate. God’s will is always going to present an opportunity to respond according to the righteousness of God. The scriptures also teach that it is impossible to please God without faith. Therefore, God’s will is going to inevitably produce circumstances that develop and mature faith, which means that we have to know the essence of God’s eternally unconditional promises, and how Jesus is the fulfillment of them. God’s will is ALWAYS going to lead us closer to the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises in a manner that mirrors the ministry of Jesus Christ according to the Holy Spirit.
So how does this work exactly? The testimony of David’s early kingship provides an example of how to properly measure circumstances in order to figure out whether we are established in the Lord or not. In 2 Samuel 5:11-12 the Bible uses two verse that powerfully confirm that David was on the right tack in the Lord’s eyes. The scriptures simply explain that Hiram, the king of Tyre (a coastal region in far northern Israel) supported David’s kingship. When Hiram heard about the unified kingdom of Israel under David, the scriptures testify that he sent messengers to David with cedar trees, carpenters, and masons. These men built David a house! Yes, a foreign king heard about David’s kingship and paid to build David a house. Now the temptation is to focus on the material facet of this testimony as many people do in error. The fact that David got a free house is not the focal point of scripture. While the idea of God providing in this way might tickle the flesh to a certain degree, the material facet of our living circumstances cannot be the sole means of our examination. Consider the context of God’s provision.
First, it must be noted that the scriptures do not show David asking God for a house. David was not seeking a new home. David was not seeking a strategic relationship with Tyre. David was not saying things like, “If I only had a house I could REALLY serve the Lord!” This was not the case at all. Instead, the Bible explains that the king of Tyre took it upon himself to offer his resources to David to honor him as king. Hiram simply wanted to share the abundance of his riches with David in a way that recognized David as the true king of Israel. Therefore, Hiram paid for David to have a home in Israel. It was not just that Hiram built David a home, but that Hiram bought and built David a home in the land that God placed David in. Though David did spend some time living amongst the Philistines in Ziklag, the king of Tyre made it so that David would not have a reason to dwell in any other land but amongst his own people. Thus, the dwelling place that was provided to David anchored him in the land God called him to lead according to God’s promises.
Secondly, the Bible explains that David knew that “the Lord established him as king over Israel.” Again, because the home that was built for him was in Israel, the circumstances led David to conclude that God was the Author. Here is why. David was anointed as king of Israel as a young boy, and though he had to deal with many difficult challenges for well over ten years, David’s enemies were gone and now he could settle in the place he was called to lead. God promised David that He would make David king of Israel. Now that David had a home rooted in Israel, David recognized the circumstances as leading closer to the promises of God. Had the home been in Tyre for example (which was not a region that was controlled by Israel at the time), the circumstances could not have been interpreted the same way, and David likely wouldn’t have been as encouraged. The home David was given was a sign that David belonged in Israel because of God’s promise to make him king of Israel. The circumstances facilitated God’s previous promise; they didn’t compete with God’s promise.
Next, the manner in which David’s house came revealed the character and nature of God. David did not pursue the home that the king of Tyre sponsored. The scriptures do not even indicate that Israel and Tyre had any sort of friendly relationships at the time. Nevertheless, Hiram built David a home. Knowing the sovereign hand of God, David attributed his increase to the Lord. The manner in which David received his increase was evidence of God’s identity as the sovereign Lord of Hosts and Creator of all things. God used the riches of Tyre to build up the kingship of Israel, showing that all riches are God’s. David didn’t have to strive to build his increase. In fact, it is the absence of effort that resulted in the increase of Israel, that points to God as the Author. God promised that Israel would be a great nation, and that the king would be great as well. God exercised His sovereign control to compel a foreign king to give of his own wealth in order to increase God’s people and king. Since this gift led to the fulfillment of God’s promises and did not involve the scheming or plans of men or women, the scriptures show that God was in control, revealing His faithfulness to His promises.
Lastly, the Bible explains David recognized the “big picture” reason as to why he received increase. The scriptures explain that David knew that his exaltation was in order to exalt Israel and God. David’s increase was not to make David’s life better. David’s increase was to glorify God according to His faithfulness concerning the promises He made to Israel. David knew that he was being established as king because God said He would do so, thereby magnifying His own name. David’s increase directly resulted in the increase of God’s people according to God’s eternally unconditional promises. Therefore, we can come to the following conclusions to learn how to see if we are in the will of the Lord. When we look at our circumstances, we can ask the following questions:
Do these circumstances take me closer to, or farther away from the fulfillment of God’s promises?
Do the means by which these circumstances came to pass resemble the sovereign hand of God, or the plans of men and/or women?
Does the outcome of these circumstances directly increase God’s people to the glory of God Himself, or do the circumstances increase people without God being honored?
The truth of the matter is, though David was established and encouraged by the circumstances involving Hiram, David’s life was still riddled with difficulty. Just because he got a house doesn’t mean his life was comfortable. His life was defined by conflict, struggles, and battles. While David had a home given to him, he spent a great deal of time on the battlefield. Hence, when we ask ourselves these questions to measure where our spiritual proximity is, we must have a maturing understanding of God’s identity (in this case as the Lord of Hosts), of God’s nature (in this case His faithfulness), and God’s promises (in this case God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and later, David). The only way to know these things is by pursuing the knowledge of God through the lens of Jesus Christ in the scriptures, verse-by-verse, from Genesis to Revelation.
There are many in the world today that are in pursuit of greatness. However, most of those people will find that their pursuit will end in vain. According to the Bible, greatness only comes from one source, and that singular source is the Lord God Almighty. Unless one is humbly pursuing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, one will never find true greatness. Even still, one’s pursuit does not assure that one will be view as great in the eyes of other men and women. On the contrary, the scriptures teach that when we faithfully and humbly pursue the greatness of God, we must do so through the person of Jesus Christ according to the true testimony of scripture, at which point the Holy Spirit will reveal God’s greatness in our lives in contrast to our natural weaknesses. This is why the Bible teaches that when we are weak, He is strong. Therefore, one’s pursuit of greatness cannot be fulfilled if one is seeking to be great within one’s self. This is impossible. Instead, those who seek meekness and humility according to the example of Jesus Christ will get the privilege of experiencing the greatness of the One True Living God, which is FAR better!
This truth is explained in the testimony of David. In 2 Samuel 5:6-10 the Bible explains the events that took place that allowed the children of Israel take Jerusalem as its capital city. The scriptures explain that David went out to fight against the Jebusites, which were the native inhabitants of the region surrounding Jerusalem. These men and women were supposed to be totally destroyed when Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, but these people were not completely destroyed. In time that lapsed between Joshua and David, the Jebusites had grown strong and were arrogant in their strength. The Bible testifies that when David made preparations to finish the work that Joshua had started by destroying the Jebusites, the people of Jerusalem provoked David to great anger by talking trash. The Jebusites boasted that their army was so great, and David’s so weak, that even their blind and lame could defeat David. The Jebusites were confident that they would defeat the children of Israel to the point of this insulting boasting. David was not happy with this.
The scriptures state that David responded with wisdom and great force. David commanded his men to scale a water shaft that was near the city in order to breach their protective walls and fortresses. David told his men that whoever could successfully do so would be the chief and captain of the army in Israel – a great honor and privilege. As David incentivized his men, he referred to them in the manner of arrogance that the Jebusites spoke to him in order to stir up his people. The scriptures testify that David “hated” the Jebusites in his soul! Thus, he explained that whoever went over the water shaft would merely have to fight against the “lame” and “blind,” since the Jebusites were so confident in their strength. This inspiration tactic and strategic approach was effective. The Bible plainly states that David overtook the stronghold of Jerusalem despite the arrogance of the people in the city.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 5:6-10 explains that this battle was a pivotal point in David’s life as king, and for all of Jerusalem. This victory and conquest of Jerusalem caused David to become very great. Yet the greatness of David is attributed to the presence of “the Lord of hosts” in the scriptures. The Bible simply states that David grew “very great” because the Lord of hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth) was with him. The Lord of armies was with David, and so David was able to enjoy the benefits of God’s strength, power, and sovereign authority. David’s greatness was not on account of David’s own strength. This is seen to be true when examining his various mistakes and follies that are documented previously in scripture. The Psalms that David wrote candidly explain that God was responsible for David’s deliverance, conquests, and successes. David was great because God is great as Jehovah Sabaoth, and God promised to be with David and fulfill His promises through him.
This is perhaps the most important detail to recognize from this portion of scripture. The testimony of 2 Samuel 5:6-10 is the place where the scriptures first use the word “Zion” to refer to Jerusalem. Likewise, this is the first place where Jerusalem is referred to as “the city of David.” When David conquered the city, he referred to it as “the city of David” to spite the arrogance of the Jebusites that taunted him and the army of Israel before they engaged in battle. However, the scriptures themselves refer to Jerusalem as Zion. The word “Zion” in Hebrew translates into “parched place,” and it is for this reason that it is a Messianic way to refer to Jerusalem. The word “Zion” is used 154 times in the KJV of the Bible. The word is mostly used in the Psalms and in the writings of the prophets (38 times in the Psalm, 109 times in the prophets). Each of those instances are in the context of God’s Messianic promises concerning the things He swore to do for Israel, through Jesus.
The use of the word “Zion” is important to consider in the context of David’s greatness. Recall that God selected David to be the root of God’s Messianic lineage on the throne. David was the first true king of Israel from the tribe of Judah. Jesus is the Lion from the Tribe of Judah. When David conquered Jerusalem, it eventually became the capital city and holy city for the children of Israel, the dwelling place of God’s presence (Psalm 132:13). Zion was also the place where and angel came to visit a group of shepherds to proclaim the coming of the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, before He was born (Luke 2:11). When Jesus returns to this world, the scriptures proclaim that He will rule and reign from Jerusalem for 1,000 years, then later create a New Jerusalem according to His greatness and glory (Revelation 21:1-8).
When the Bible refers to Jerusalem as Zion, God seeks to draw special attention to His promises that were previously made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The children of Israel were indeed a “parched” people; that is, people that were dry and thirsty. The scriptures refer to Jerusalem in this way to remind them that they are in a condition of need that only He can fulfill according to His promises. This is why the Lord Jesus revealed Himself the One that freely provides “living water (John 7:38).” This is why Jesus explained that He will be the source of “the fountain of water of life” in the context of His explanation about His work to create a New Jerusalem in Revelation Chapter 21. This is why there is a pure river of water of life that is crystal clear proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Bible has all of these references to Jesus and water because of the way God views His people – as parched. Though His people are dry and thirsty, He is the means by which the thirst is quenched; and that satisfying and life-giving quenching comes exclusively through Jesus as the Messiah of Israel!
When considering these truths, it is clear to see why David was made great. David was made great because God was great, and His promises are great by extension. Since God is the means by which His own promises are fulfilled, they are the greatest thing that a human being can possess. Since Jesus is the One that fulfills the promises of the Father as God in flesh, then those who possess Jesus by faith, possess the promises of the Father, and by extension, His greatness. David was a great king because the presence of God was with Him; and the presence of God was with Him because of the work that God determined to do through Him, leading to the revelation of Jesus Christ – the TRUE king of Israel and God’s eternal kingdom!