Introduction: 2 Samuel records David’s ordination as King of Israel. It was the fulfillment of God’s promise to David and the Jews that He made 15 years earlier through Samuel. Through David, God would bless Israel and establish the kingship leading to the King of Kings. From David’s anointing and his victories in battle, God reveals seven lessons about His blessings.
First, the 12 tribes of Israel delayed in accepting God’s chosen King of Israel, David. They waited until the last of Saul’s sons died. Their actions delayed God’s blessings. Many make the same mistake in waiting to accept Jesus. Like the Jews, God may bless you only after you accept Jesus as your King of Kings. Second, because of David’s faith, God allowed David to first free Jerusalem from captivity and then grow in power throughout all of Israel. God will also bless you in the face of conflict when you have faith. Third, after a foreign king from within the Promised Land submitted to David as king, David realized that God had blessed him for God’s glory and not his own. When God blesses you, He will do so for His glory and not yours. Fourth, in his moment of triumph, David misused God’s blessings to take on additional wives and concubines beyond the seven that he already had. From David’s mistake, God reveals that His blessings in your life should never be misused as a license to sin. Fifth, after David turned back to God, he sought out and received God’s guidance when the Philistines gathered to attack the Jews. From David’s example, God reveals that He will bless you with His guidance when you diligently seek His will. Sixth, God was faithful to keep His promise to defeat the Philistines. From this example, God reveals that His blessings are proof that He is faithful to keep His Word. Finally, when the Philistines rose up a second time, God told David not to attack. Instead, He told David to encircle the Philistines and to wait for God’s angels to confuse them. David succeeded because he acted in faith-led obedience. From David’s example, God reveals that His blessings are fully realized when your faith produces the fruit of obedience.
The 12 tribes declare David King of all of Israel. After the death of Saul’s last son, all of the tribes of Israel united behind David and anointed him as their king: “1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. 2 Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.’” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.” (2 Sam. 5:1-5; 1 Chron. 11:1). An army of more than 340,000 men came to Hebron to anoint David as king and to celebrate (1 Chr. 12:23-40). After Ishbosheth’s death, Abner lobbied the remaining 11 tribes to switch their allegiance to David (2 Sam. 5:3). Ishbosheth’s death and the end of Saul’s line finally caused the elders of the remaining tribes to accept what God had decreed long ago (2 Sam. 4:7). By stating “we are your bone and your flesh” (2 Sam. 5:1), the elders forgave David for siding with the Philistines. But they were effectively forgiving David for fleeing from a situation that they had helped to create. They had enabled Saul to remain as king, even when they knew that it was against God’s will. They rejected God as their king and wanted a king like the pagan nations around them. “Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, ‘No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’” (1 Sam. 8:19-20). God allowed the Jews to suffer under the king they wanted before they accepted the king they needed.
The elders from the 12 tribes submit to David as God’s anointed King of Israel1
Don’t delay in accepting the King of Kings. Immediately after David killed Goliath, certain women of faith prophetically sang of David’s future reign as king, where he would kill more enemies of Israel than Saul: “The women sang as they played, and said, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’” (1 Sam. 18:7). The servants of the King of Gath later quoted this prophecy to warn that David was a threat to them (1 Sam. 21:11). Thus, if the Jews’ enemies knew of this prophecy, the elders of Israel knew it as well. Yet, knowing God’s prophecies of victory through David, the Jews delayed years and until God removed all of their excuses before they accepted David as king. “In times past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led out and brought in Israel; and the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel.’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.” (1 Chr. 11:2-3). Many people make the same mistake. They have heard of the many prophecies proclaiming Jesus as the King of Kings (Rev. 19:16). Yet, they delay in acting upon God’s Word until God removes all of their excuses.
Be patient and wait for God’s timing. Exactly 15 years earlier when David was 15 years old, Samuel anointed David as the future King of Israel (1 Sam. 16:13). Yet, David had to wait on God’s timing while He molded David. The elders of Judah also previously anointed David as their king (2 Sam. 2:4). Yet, David would again have to wait additional years for God’s timing. God first molded David as a lowly servant within Saul’s court. David later suffered under Saul’s rule. Yet, God used David’s suffering to both humble him and to mold him to be the future King of Israel: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Is. 48:10; Ps. 66:10; Zech. 13:9(a); Dt. 8:2-3). Like David, God wants you to be patient because He prepared great plans for you: “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps. 37:7). “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1(b)). “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps. 130:5). Like David, will you patiently wait on God’s timing?
David received his training to be God’s next king through his work as a shepherd. God draws many analogies between David and Jesus. David began his service as the King of Israel at age 30 (2 Sam. 5:4). Jesus also began His service to us as our King of Kings at age 30 (Lk. 3:23). God tested David over his 40-year reign (2 Sam. 5:4), a number which symbolizes God’s testing. God also tested Jesus during His 40-day journey in the wilderness without food (Lk. 4:2). God proclaimed that David would “shepherd My people Israel.” (2 Sam. 5:2). David’s training as a shepherd gave him all of the skills that he would need to be a great future king. “He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds;” (Ps. 78:70). Jesus also came as the Good Shepherd to find His lost sheep. “But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” (Matt. 15:24). His leaders were also called upon to love His sheep. “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.” (Ezek. 34:12). Like David, will you shepherd God’s sheep?
God picked Israel’s King to serve the King of Kings. At all times, God directed the process in selecting Israel’s king. When Moses prophesied of the day when Israel would demand a king, he warned that God, as the King of Kings, would select their kings: “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.” (Dt. 17:17). Moses gave this counsel so that no king would boast that he became king based upon his own merit. The people previously wanted a king “like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5). Now, God would pick a king after His heart, not an idolatrous, self-absorbed leader like the other nations. David later showed that he was a man after God’s heart by giving God all the credit for selecting him to be the next king. “Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father's house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.” (1 Chron. 28:4). When you are successful in your endeavors and people praise you, do you turn that praise to God?
God is sovereign over all creation and every government. These events also show that God is sovereign and has control over kings, nations, and all time. Daniel explained: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.” (Jer. 10:10). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Have you placed your trust in powerful people or in God alone?
God delivered Jerusalem to David for his righteous reign. Because God was with David, David was able to first free Jerusalem from captivity and then grow in power throughout Israel: “6 Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, “You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame will turn you away”; thinking, “David cannot enter here.” 7 Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David. 8 David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul, through the water tunnel.” Therefore they say, “The blind or the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 So David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. 10 David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.” (2 Sam. 5:6-10). The tribe of Judah was originally given the opportunity to seize Jerusalem. But their faith failed them and they could not drive out the Jebusites: “Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.” (Josh. 15:63). Following Joshua’s death, God again called upon Judah to drive out the Canaanites who were still in control of Jerusalem. Yet, rather than responding with faith, they turned to the tribe of Simeon for help and failed (Jdgs. 1:1-4). The tribe of Benjamin was then given the right to Jerusalem. But they also could not drive out the Jebusites: “But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.” (Jdgs. 1:21). Jerusalem proved to be a thorn in the Jews’ flesh until the arrival of King David. It also foreshadowed the sins of the flesh that God warned would make the holy city a stumbling stone for peace to this day: “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zech. 12:3). God, however, used the Jews’ lack of faith for His glory. Because no tribe had a claim upon Jerusalem, David was able to make it Israel’s capital and unify Israel without any tribe claiming to have any special favoritism.
David captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites2
David’s point of entry to capture Jerusalem3
The King of Kings will also reign from Jerusalem. Like David, Jesus will liberate Jerusalem and reign from it as His holy capital. “A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King.” (Ps. 48:1-2). “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” (Ps. 2:6). “Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.” (Rev. 14:1).
When you walk in faith, God will defeat your enemies. David became great because “greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.” (2 Sam. 5:10). The “Lord of hosts” was one of God’s many names: “Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.” (Ps. 24:10). In a pre-incarnate appearance to Joshua, Jesus revealed Himself to be the “Lord of hosts”. “He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’” (Josh. 5:14). When the Jews walked in faith and obedience, the Lord of Hosts promised them victory (Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17; Gen. 22:17). “7 The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). For those who are obedient and take refuge in God in the face of the enemy, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). For example, God used Gideon’s army of 300 soldiers to kill 120,000 enemy Midianites (Jdgs. 7:16-22; 8:10). God also helped Jonathon kill 20 enemy soldiers (1 Sam. 14:14). Likewise, it was God’s blessing that allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58) and the Philistines (1 Sam. 18:5-6, 13-16, 27-30). If you will walk in faith-led obedience, Jesus, the Lord of Hosts, will also defeat your enemies.
God humbles the proud. The Jebusites believed that they were invincible because of the Jews’ long history of defeats before them. Thus, they boasted that “the blind and lame will turn you away” (2 Sam. 5:6). Many believe that David surprised them by invading through an unguarded “water tunnel” (2 Sam. 5:8). The proud Jebusites quickly fell after David’s surprise attack. God sets Himself against those who pride themselves in their own abilities or their pride: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12). ‘“Behold, I am against you, O valley dweller, O rocky plain,’ declares the LORD, ‘You men who say, ‘Who will come down against us? Or who will enter into our habitations?’”’ (Jer. 21:15). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). “‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”’ (Jam. 4:6(b)). Do you walk with humility to allow God to exalt you?
Tear down Satan’s strongholds. David tore down the enemy’s stronghold in the heart of God’s Promised Land. God also wants you to tear down the enemies’ strongholds in your life: “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.” (Prov. 21:22). Does Satan have a stronghold in your life?
The king of Tyre submits to David, and David glorifies God. As further evidence of God’s blessings, a king in modern Lebanon submitted to David. David showed himself to be God’s servant by giving Him the credit: “11 Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David with cedar trees and carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a house for David. 12 And David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” (2 Sam. 5:11-12). God previously allocated the city of Tyre in Southern Lebanon as part of the inheritance of the tribe of Asher and as the northern border of the Promised Land: “The border turned to Ramah and to the fortified city of Tyre; . . .” (Josh. 19:29). The Jews had shown a lack of faith to claim this territory. Yet, even though the Jews were unfaithful, God remained faithful to His promises by giving this territory to David.
King Hiram of Tyre sends messengers to pay tribute to King David4
God’s promise that you will find peace with certain enemies. When you walk with God, He promises that even your enemies will be at peace with you: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7). “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?” (1 Pet. 3:13). If you find yourself in constant conflict with others, are you looking at your own walk?
God blesses you for His glory and not your own. David showed himself to be a Spirit-led king by giving God the credit for his blessings and by realizing that His blessings were not meant to glorify David: “David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” (2 Sam. 5:12). David knew that they did not deserve God’s blessings. Thus, he frequently offered God songs of thanksgiving: “. . . To you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord, I shall pay my vows to the Lord.” (Ps. 116:1, 17-18). “ . . . I will render thank offerings to You. For you have delivered my soul from death.” (Ps. 56:12-13; 116:8). “. . .Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.” (Ps. 107:1, 2, 22). “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18). “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” (Eph. 5:20). Have you given thanks for God’s blessings? Are you also giving Him the credit for your blessings?
David misuses God’s grace to build a harem. Although David showed great faith and obedience, he failed to guard his heart in his success. As a result, he allowed his old temptations of the flesh to overcome him and take on more wives and concubines: “13 Meanwhile David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David. 14 Now these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.” (2 Sam. 5:13-14). Before arriving in Hebron, David had two wives (1 Sam. 25:43). During his seven-year reign in Hebron, he took four additional wives (2 Sam. 3:2-5). David then forced Abner to kidnap his former wife Michal and make her his seventh wife (2 Sam. 3:12-16). Here, David expanded his number of wives and concubines further.
Don’t allow success to cause your guard to go down. David was at his best when he was threatened and forced to cling closely to God. By contrast, David’s greatest failures of his faith came during his times of success. During his times of success, he felt entitled to gratify the desires of his flesh and took more wives or concubines. His sense of entitlement would later grow and cause him to see no conflict in sleeping with Bathsheba while she was married to Uriah. He first lusted after her (2 Sam. 11:2). His secret lust later led him to commit adultery with her (2 Sam. 11:4). When his adultery led to Bathsheba’ pregnancy (and he could not convince her husband Uriah to sleep with her), he had Uriah killed to try cover his tracks (2 Sam. 11:14-17). Satan will exploit any opening that you give him. If you let your guard down when times are good, Satan will entrap you. Do you allow success or times of plenty to cause you to drop your guard?
Don’t misuse God’s blessings as a license for licentiousness. For three reasons, David’s actions violated God’s law. First, he violated God’s Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Second, he violated God’s law against a leader having more than one wife: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). Third, he violated God’s purpose of marriage by joining himself together by more than one other person (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). Having sex with multiple partners violates the same laws. Are you misusing God’s blessings to chase after the lusts of the flesh?
David’s actions resulted in misery and sorrow. When someone longs for the things of the flesh, God will eventually hand that person over to his lusts (Rom. 1:28). And there can be no family peace when a man has more than one wife (Dt. 21:15-17). The consequences on the parents and the children is both misery and sorrow. For example, each of the children listed in these verses fought with each other and David for power and control. As a result of David’s later adultery, his health also suffered (Ps. 38:3, 18). If you are married, are you staying pure and honoring your covenant with God and your spouse?
Jesus came to raise the standards for sexual purity. Jesus did not come to repeal the laws against sexual immorality. Instead, He raised the bar on the type of conduct that He expects from believers. He warns that even a lustful look is an act of adultery in God’s eyes: “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28). Lustful looks can also break the Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). For the unsaved, the penalty for adultery is exclusion from heaven (Rev. 21:8; 22:15). If you are engaged in sexual immorality, you also risk removing God’s blessings and protection from your marriage. You may also bring a curse upon your children through family conflict and divorce. Adultery can also teach children that there is little value in a covenant, commitment, selfless love, and God’s Law. Yet, while exhorting us to even higher standards of moral conduct, Jesus also used the example of the woman caught in adultery to urge believers not to judge or condemn others who have sinned in the past (Jo. 8:7).
Guard yourself against temptations. Every believer must take sin seriously. This includes taking steps to guard your eyes from lust by avoiding tempting situations that may lead to adultery. It also includes being accountable to others. Have you guarded your eyes from the pride and the lusts of the world? Are you accountable to anyone else?
Your sexual sins can also cause others to stumble. David’s son Solomon followed after his father’s sexual sins, even though he was once the wisest man alive (1 Kgs. 4:30). Like his father, Solomon also coveted women. His coveting led him to take 700 wives and 300 concubines. These lusts for the flesh led him astray (1 Kgs. 11:3). His lusts also turned his heart away from God. (1 Kgs. 11:4). He then began to serve other gods and did evil in God’s eyes (1 Kgs. 11:5-6). Are your actions causing others to stumble?
David inquired of God, and God promised to defeat the Philistines. Although David did not deserve God’s blessings, God acted with mercy and grace. When David enquired in faith after the Philistines threatened him, God promised David victory if he went out to confront them: “17 When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines came and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 19 Then David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” (2 Sam. 5:17-19). There are two lessons here. First, believers should never boast in God’s blessings. His blessings are an act of grace, something you do not deserve. Second, believers should always inquire of God. When you pray in faith, He promises to give you wisdom.
Consult the Holy Spirit through the Word and prayer in all major decisions. David did not presume that God would automatically fight for him in any battle. He needed to first make sure that he was acting according to God’s will. God had previously rewarded David when he consulted with God before an attack on the Philistines. “So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah.’” (1 Sam. 23:2). Believers are also warned against the sin of presumption whereby they simply presume to know God’s will (Jam. 4:13-17). “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12). Today, Jesus has left you with His Word to guide your feet: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 6:23). “I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10:23). He has also left you the Holy Spirit to apply His Word: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (Jo. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; Ro. 8:26). He will also guide you in prayer when you seek wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Ja. 1:5). Are you seeking His guidance through the Word and prayer?
David trusted in God, and God was faithful to defeat the Philistines. Although David was a sinner, he trusted God. As a result, God defeated the Philistines: “20 So David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters.” Therefore he named that place Baal-perazim. 21 They abandoned their idols there, so David and his men carried them away.” (2 Sam. 5:20-21; 1 Chron. 14:11-12). Because of David’s faith, God was faithful to keep His Word. The name “Baal-perazim” is literally translated as the “possessor (or lord) of breaches.” God can defeat any stronghold of the enemy in your life. With God on his side, David’s soldiers cut through the enemy like water. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). David’s men then acted faithfully and took away and destroyed the idols of the Philistines. While the NASB translation states that David’s men “carried away” the idols, the King James Version states that David’s men “burned” the idols.
You can trust God because He is faithful to keep His Word. David prevailed because he trusted in faith in God’s promises. God’s promise of protection was not unique to David. Like David, you can trust in God’s Word and His protection. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thess. 5:24). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 54:17). He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam 22:31). When you are feeling defeated, God’s Word can be a source of comfort and encouragement to you as well (Ro. 15:4; 2 Cor. 1:3; Is. 40:1). If you are afraid of any physical or spiritual enemy in your path, are you taking refuge in Him and reading His Word for encouragement?
Destroy the idols in your life. The Jews were warned not to keep any of the idols that they plundered. “Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt.” (Dt. 13:16). “But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” (Josh. 6:18-19). The anger of God “burned” against all of Israel when one man named Achan kept idols after God defeated Jericho (Josh. 7:1). As a result of this one man’s actions, the Jews lost the first battle of Ai (Josh. 7:2-5). If God blesses you, He does not want you to use His mercy and grace as an excuse to embrace the idols of the flesh. Even if an idol of the flesh does not cause you to stumble, your actions can cause others to stumble.
David obeyed God’s will, and God was again faithful to defeat the Philistines. When the Philistines attacked again, God’s battle plan was very different from His first plan. Instead of attacking the enemy head on, He had the Jews win the battle through cunning strategy and surprise: “22 Now the Philistines came up once again and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. 23 When David inquired of the Lord, He said, “You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. 24 It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” 25 Then David did so, just as the Lord had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.” (2 Sam. 5:22-25; 1 Chron. 14:14). God planned to confuse the enemy with the sounds His angels created while marching on top of the balsam trees near the enemy encampment. But God’s plan was only revealed when David sought out His will through prayer. Here, God reveals that not every battle is the same. Believers must not only consult with God about what God wants them to do but also how He wants His will to be implemented. Like David, believers must then have the same faith-led obedience to implement God’s will.
David’s initial victories over the Philistines5
Be obedient to receive God’s full blessings in battle. Only after David obeyed God’s Word did he prevail in battle (2 Sam. 5:25). There are many times in the Bible where God gave instructions and then recorded how the Jews meticulously followed His instructions. By recording the details of their acts of obedience, He stresses the importance of being obedient to all of His commands for you, not just the ones that you like or agree with. When the Jews walked in obedience, they defeated every enemy that they faced. By contrast, they lost battles when they were disobedient. Today, Christians are no longer “under the Law” in the sense that they must comply with it to be saved (Gal. 5:18; Ro. 7:6; 8:3; Matt. 5:17). Yet, Jesus also says that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). Jesus is the great “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments at Mount Horeb (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). His “disciples” were the “disciplined ones” in keeping His commandments. As bondservants or freed slaves, they were obedient out of love, not obligation. Whether you follow the Law out of love instead of obligation is also a test for whether you really know Him: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3; 1 Cor. 7:19). Is there any area in your life where you are being disobedient to God?
Don’t delay when acting upon God’s Word. David not only obeyed, he acted without delay in implementing God’s Word. This same principle applies to believers. “When you hear the work of God happening, bestir thyself– advance quickly.” (David Guzik on 2 Sam. 5) (emphasis original).6 Are you quickly acting on God’s Word?
Don’t always expect a visible sign to discern God’s will. This battle plan also reveals that God does not always use a visible sign to show His will. On multiple occasions, God helped the Jews defeat their enemies through conventional military ambushes (Jdgs. 20:29, 32; Josh. 8:1-9; 2 Kgs 7:12; 2 Chr. 13:13). He does not need to part the Red Sea or the River Jordan to show that He is fighting for you. He also may not work in the same way when He intervenes for you. Yet, the basis for victory is always the same. It includes trusting and obeying God. When you are attacked, do you trust and obey Him?
Satan will use the same spiritual attacks against you until you change your response. God told David to wait until He drew the Philistines out of their hiding places. In a similar way, God told Joshua before the battle of Ai to draw an enemy king before attacking him. (Josh. 8:1-9). Just as the Philistines used the same strategy to try to defeat the Jews, Satan will use the same strategy to entrap you until you change your response. If you place yourself in a place where you are weak, Satan will try to entrap you. Have you removed yourself from environments where Satan can easily tempt you?
Lure out those caught in sin from their spiritual strongholds. Jesus tells every believer to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16). We are to be harmless like a dove toward others. Yet, we must be cunning in the spiritual warfare battles to free friends, family, and the nation from sin. Like David, believers must lure those trapped in darkness out of their spiritual strongholds to share the good news with them. They will not hear the message while in a stronghold like a bar, a casino, or other places that appeal to the flesh. Yet, a believer may be able to free a trapped soul by drawing them out of an enemy stronghold. Are you inviting nonbelievers to Christian venues where they might understand the good news that you are sharing?
Victory requires the body of Christ to work together. Just as there are different kinds of military campaigns, this battle reveals that there are different kinds of spiritual warfare as well. In some circumstances, the enemy can be rebuked through faith and prayer in Jesus’ name. Yet, there are many spiritual strongholds that cannot be broken without the help of other believers. This requires that churches have times of prayer and fasting in coordination with others to pray for the nation. Christians should also act together in the political arena to be salt and light in the world. As salt, the Church must sting in the wound of sin. Are you praying and fasting with others for the nation?