You have perhaps seen the movie, Pollyanna, where Rev. Ford, played by Karl Malden, is giving a masterful preaching of a Jonathan Edwards type sermon – with the chandelier shaking and people uncomfortably pulling at the their collars. And Pollyanna obviously does not approve, and afterwards encourages the pastor to focus on the 800 rejoicing verses in the Bible. And the pastor does just that – never again does he preach on the negative texts of Scripture.
Well, based on the number of sermons in existence on this chapter, I assume that most pastors subscribe to a Pollyanna philosophy that ignores any chapters that deal with blood, and guts, and destruction. And if they were somehow forced to preach on this chapter, they would no doubt look only at the phrase, "the LORD preserved David." That's the happy verse of this chapter. But as we will see, we get a distorted view of life if we follow a Pollyanna philosophy. Even the Christmas story is punctuated by the massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem and the fleeing of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus into Egypt. And the reason for this is that the Bible is a book on real life, and real life is not always happy. You can count on the Bible to be relevant.
But there is a kernel of truth in the Pollyanna movie, and that kernel is that even the worst things that happen to us are designed by God to work together for our good and for His glory. I love the way Pollyanna looks for the good in every situation, including her receiving crutches she didn't need instead of a doll. And that is certainly the case in this chapter. Though Satan tried to rob David of joy and of life itself, the Psalms that David wrote at this juncture show that he was not able to do so. David had learned how to rejoice in even tribulation. And those same Psalms show that this gruesome chapter was symbolic of the New Covenant kingdom of Jesus. Imagine that! And so there is a sense in which even the most negative Scriptures have a happy resolution in Jesus. And we don't need to ignore them in order to find that happy resolution; instead we need to dig deeper into them. And I am going to make a feeble attempt at doing so this morning. There is a lot more that could be said, but I am going to studiously attempt not to say a lot more
The historical context shows enemies intent on Israel's destruction (Psalm 60, 108; 124; 1 Kings 11:14-17)
But before we dig into the passage, let me point out that there are four other passages that give us a historical context for what is going on here. And once you understand the context, a lot of what people find offensive in this passage is somewhat softened. They show that David was not an imperialist and he was not a bloodthirsty tyrant. Quite the contrary. David was first of all possessing exactly what God had commanded him to possess within the boundaries of Israel. And with regard to the two nations that were outside of Israel's boundaries – Edom and Moab – David was engaging in the kind of defensive warfare that Deuteronomy 20 explicitly commands.
Piecing all of the little pieces together, here is what happened. While David's armies were in the north protecting their God-given territory there, a Syrian coalition dominated by Moab and Edom swept into Israel from the east and from the south. It was totally unexpected. David though he was on good terms with those two nations. But there was a conspiracy that they entered into with Syria, and they took advantage of the absence of Israel's armies to invade. And if Keil and Hengstenberg's interpretation of 1 Kings 11 is correct, the imperialistic invasions of Israel by Moab, Edom, and Syria resulted in the massacre of a huge number of Israelites. The situation was so bad that it required the presence of Joab and the army to identify and to bury the dead. There were a lot of dead Israelites. So this means that David was under attack from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. This was a fight for survival. That's the context.
Let me read the whole of Psalm 60, because it not only gives the weeping and confusion of Israel during this attack that I've just mentioned (and Psalm 124 is also very preoccupied with that), Psalm 60 also gives God's authorization for the subsequent conquest of these nations. Psalm 60, beginning with the inspired title.
Psalms 60:0 "To the Chief Musician. Set to "Lily of the Testimony." A Michtam of David. For teaching. When he fought against Mesopotamia and Syria of Zobah, and Joab returned and killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt."
Psalms 60:1 "O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again!"
Psalms 60:2 "You have made the earth tremble; You have broken it; Heal its breaches, for it is shaking."
Psalms 60:3 "You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion."
Psalms 60:4 "You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah"
Psalms 60:5 "That Your beloved may be delivered, Save with Your right hand, and hear me."
So you can see that they were under attack, and David is asking God to deliver Israel from annihilation. Verse 6 begins God's response:
Psalms 60:6 "God has spoken in His holiness: "I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem And measure out the Valley of Succoth."
Psalms 60:7 "Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet for My head; Judah is My lawgiver."
Psalms 60:8 "Moab is My washpot; Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me."
Psalms 60:9 "Who will bring me to the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom?"
Psalms 60:10 "Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?"
Psalms 60:11 "Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless."
Psalms 60:12 "Through God we will do valiantly, For it is He who shall tread down our enemies."
So the historical context shows that David was perfectly justified in the actions that he took here. God Himself authorized these actions. And to speak ill of them (as so many people have done) is to speak ill of God and His holy justice.
The Psalms show that God intended this to be a symbol of New Covenant realities (Psalm 60, 108; 124)
But those same Psalms indicate that God was using this historical situation to teach us about the way Jesus' Messianic kingdom would come and would be established. In many ways this passage functions symbolically just like Psalm 110 did. David's kingdom was a symbol or a type of Christ's kingdom. So when I title this sermon, "Images of Christ's Kingdom," I am not engaging in eisegesis. I am simply taking my cue from what God Himself does in His interpretation of these events. They are symbols of Christ advancing the Great Commission with the sword of the Word - the Bible. So there is a Christ-centered focus that should be uppermost in our minds. And there are eight main lessons with respect to Christ's kingdom that I want to highlight this morning.
Kingdom Vigilance (v. 1a)
The attacks of Psalm 60:1-5 and Psalm 124 came after God "had given him rest from all his enemies all around" (7:1 with 8:1).
The first is that there must be constant vigilance in the New Covenant era. It doesn't matter how many victories we have had against Satan in the past, Satan will come back swinging and still try to take us down. Verse 1 begins with the phrase, "After this it came to pass…" After what? After the glorious events of chapter 7- the amazing covenant that God had made with David and the peace on all sides that he was experiencing. In fact, the contrast is so great that liberal commentaries say that this chapter must be out of order - "It must have happened before chapter 7!" And even some evangelicals follow suit. But it is not out of order. The inspired text says, "After this it came to pass…" It would have been easy for him to sit back and say, "Great, I've got it made. I can relax for change." Take a look at 7:1.
2Samuel 7:1 "Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around…"
He had rest. There were no more attacks. Things were beginning to stabilize in the kingdom, and David had the luxury to be focusing on preparations for the temple. The devastating slaughter that Israel experienced shortly after chapter 7 came after a time of tremendous success. It came after God had made Him a promise of an everlasting covenant. It came at the height of David's spiritual walk with God and at the height of his political career. And it is no wonder that David asks why God had abandoned them and failed to go out with his armies. He is mystified at this sudden turn of events.
Lesson one: The church militant must never let down its guard.
And there are two lessons that we should learn from that first phrase in verse 1. The first lesson is that the church militant must never let down its guard. To a large degree that is exactly what has happened to the church of my generation. We grew up in a Christian culture and became self-satisfied and content with the status quo. The church was no longer watchful, and when Satan came back swinging, we weren't prepared. Satan has taken over American families, churches, and state-by-state he has taken over this nation. We are a polytheistic nation that has completely cast off the bonds of God's law. Satan has broken down our hedges and all but destroyed the church's ability to be salt and light in our culture. Now here is the point - I don't blame Satan for what is happening in America. Not at all. We can expect Satan to be Satan and to always hate God and to always oppose God's people. He's going to be consistent. You can expect that from him. So who do I blame? I blame the church for having lost its vigilance.
Take the movie industry, for example. According to Ted Baehr, Christians were one of the predominant forces in Hollywood from 1933 to 1966 (a period of 33 years). During that time, the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency and the Protestant Film Commission read every film script to ensure that movies represented the largest possible audience by adhering to high standards of decency. They would not endorse the movie otherwise, and revenues would go way down. I was not aware of it, but he claims that prior to 1933 American movies were morally bankrupt, full of nudity, perversity, and violence. And it's interesting that the protests, letter writing campaigns, censorship, and other attempts to force change did not work. It wasn't until the church came alongside of Hollywood and acted as salt and light that the huge differences began to happen. It took work, but the vigilance of those two organizations made an incredible impact.
But then the church bailed from the movie industry, bailed from politics, bailed from the news media, and basically showed no interest in being salt and light. And what happened? Satan got back off the ground where he had been knocked down, and he came back swinging. It is unbelievable the changes that have happened from the 60s to the present. Most of our modern problems that we grieve over, are problems that have stemmed from church's lack of vigilance. It's our fault.
And it is especially when things have been going well that Satan attacks to see if we have let down our guard. This is not the only time this happened in David's life. It was at the height of David's successes that Satan took David out with his adultery with Bathsheba. How many times do businessmen, pastors, and politicians fall into moral failures after a period of success such as chapter 7:1 describes.
But this issue of vigilance distinguishes the true nature of Christ's kingdom from the false one that says that the kingdom will be instantaneously set up by the physical presence of Jesus in Jerusalem in the future. The first view of the kingdom takes our human responsibilities into account; the second one makes us passive. All the descriptions of Christ's kingdom, including Psalm 110, describe it as beginning and progressing with enemies who are constantly looking for opportunities to take us out. It is the nature of Christ's kingdom to require eternal vigilance and to put off nonchalance.
Lesson two: Neither should the military.
Obviously there are applications that could be made to the military as well. In 1790, John Philpot Curran said,
The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.
Thomas Jefferson condensed Curran's advice with the familiar phrase, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Because of lack of time, I won't be commenting much on the military applications, unless they are critical corrections to what is currently happening. But I think you can see the obvious application to the military.
Kingdom Judgment (vv. 1-2)
David's severe defensive military actions were authorized by God (vv. 6. 14; for historical context see 1 Kings 11:14-17; Ps. 60, 108; 124), but they also form a symbolic picture of Jesus reclaiming the world from Satan (cf. Ps. 60; 108).
The next point deals with kingdom judgment. And for any who find judgments offensive and unworthy of New Testament times, I would refer them to the parable of the importunate widow who prays for Vengeance and Christ's application that the church must continually pray for such vengeance. But then He adds that curious little phrase in Luke 18:8, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" He questions whether the church will take seriously their right to pray for judgment. In my day the church has not taken the Imprecatory Psalms seriously. So I would point to Luke 18, and Romans 13, and the book of Revelation. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He continues to be a God of judgment. And we've got our eyes closed if we don't recognize the judgments happening in Africa, Asia, South America, and even in our own country.
The first kingdom to be judged was Philistia, in verse 1.
2Samuel 8:1 "After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines and subdued them. And David took Metheg Ammah from the hand of the Philistines."
Three things to remember about the Philistines: First, they had started the conflict by trying to annihilate Israel in 1 Samuel and trying to do so again in chapter 5 of this book. Second, they were one of the Canaanite tribes whose cup of iniquity was so full that God had consigned the entire nation to annihilation. There does come a time when a nation goes too far and it is going to be wiped off the map. Philistia was there. The third thing to keep in mind is that we have already seen that any Philistine who converted to the God of Israel was not treated any longer as a Philistine. And in fact, many Philistines did convert and became Jews. Verse 18 mentions David's most trusted guards – the Cherethites and Pelethites. They were former Philistines who became fully devoted to Yahweh. So even though these are judgments of God, they are redemptive judgments. In other words, God uses these judgments to the condemnation of some (those are the vessels of wrath) and for the redemption of others. But the Philistines are certainly a fitting culture to symbolize a world under God's judgment.
The second nation to receive judgments from David's hand was Moab. This one is a bit more puzzling to some people because Moab was not one of the territories given to Israel by Moses. Look at verse 2.
2Samuel 8:2 "Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David's servants, and brought tribute."
This is a passage that has troubled many. And it is interesting that different people are troubled by opposite things. Some people have been troubled by this verse because David didn't kill everyone. They say, "Saul was disqualified from the throne because he didn't kill all of the Amalekites. How come God lets David off the hook when he does exactly the same thing?" The problem with this reasoning is two-fold. First, Moab was not within the territory that God had given to Israel, so they were not under the mandate of total destruction. Their cup of iniquity was not yet full in the time of Moses. Only the specified tribes of Canaan whose cup of iniquity were full were so judged by God. In fact, in Deuteronomy 1 God explicitly told Israel not to meddle with Moab, Edom, or Ammon, and not to harass them. He said that they could trade with these three nations, but in the time of Moses, God had not given them that territory. In contrast, God had condemned the Amalekites to death in both the law and in 1 Samuel. So the Moabites are a different situation, and David was not being unfaithful when he spared one third of the soldiers.
But others have criticized David for the opposite reason: for fighting with Moab in the first place and for killing any prisoners. So David can't win for losing. He would have been criticized no matter what he did with Moab. And by the way, we ought to take a cue from that. When your goal is to please people rather than to please God, you will constantly find yourself frustrated. You're never going to be able to please everyone. So my advice is to stick to the word of God and let others say what they think they must. It is God's pleasure that we must seek.
Anyway, this second group of critics cites the passage I just quoted from Deuteronomy 1. It's a passage that mandates a non-interventionist approach to warfare, and they ask why David is invading the sovereign nation of Moab. Secondly, they point out that Deuteronomy 1 calls for free trade between Israel and Moab and they wonder where David was authorized to subjugate Moab under his heel. Of course, I am going to be pointing out that both Psalm 60 and Psalm 108 authorize the domination of Moab and Edom. When David is authorized to cast his shoe over Edom, it is a symbol of that nation being put under David's feet or under his dominion. When Moab is made David's washpot for him to wash his feet in, it's a similar symbol of Moab being under his feet. Why this change in policy?
Well, the answer is quite simple. Moab deserved what they got when they invaded Israel, seeking to swallow Israel up completely. David wrote Psalm 124 at this time, making it clear that the Syrian led coalition was determined to exterminate Israel completely. Deuteronomy 20 assumes that all nations should mind their own business and stop being the policemen of the world. But it also states that when a nation such as Israel is invaded or attacked, Israel should arm themselves to the teeth, travel to the capital city, announce peace to that invading city. If they accept the offer of peace, they are made slaves until war reparations are completely paid for. If they reject the peace, Israel was allowed to kill every male soldier that had not previously defected. Believe me, that would motivate soldiers to defect quickly if their king becomes a tyrant. David is actually being quite merciful, compared to what the law allowed.
What is puzzling is why Moab even decided to attack Israel in the first place. They had been on friendly terms with David previously, offering sanctuary for his parents from Saul's pursuit. David's great-grandma was from Moab. There was no reason for such hostilities, and it appears that David was completely blindsided by the Moabites and Edomites joining the Syrian coalition. Based on the attempted genocide that occurred, the Moabites got what they deserved.
Military lesson: Biblical war is severe enough to be a deterrent to aggression (Deut. 20).
So the obvious military lesson is to make sure that it doesn't pay to engage in wars of aggression against America. Obviously, America should not engage in wars of aggression against other nations either, or we are deserving of the kinds of repercussions that Deuteronomy 20 spells out. If you were to follow Deuteronomy 20, you would follow George Washington's non-interventionist policies. Unfortunately, most evangelicals today don't. They are hawkish. So the killing of two thirds of the Moabite army was a severe judgment, but it was a judgment allowed by Deuteronomy 20, and it was a judgment authorized by God in Psalm 60 and 108. And if you don't like it, get over it - this is the nature of God and you can't make God in your own image.
Gospel lesson: the redemptive judgments of Jesus.
But the Gospel lesson that can be given is that this symbolizes the redemptive judgments of Jesus. Though it does not explicitly mention any converts of Moab like it does of Philistia, the last sentence of verse 2 is worded in a way that symbolizes how Christ's judgments often lead to the salvation of nations. The last sentence says, "So the Moabites became David's servants, and brought tribute." When God speaks of this event in Psalms 60 and 108, He uses metaphors similar to those used in the New Testament to speak of the Gospel subduing all things under the feet of Jesus. But in any case, God's judgments in the New Covenant are often redemptive judgments.
Kingdom Deliverance (vv. 3-4)
The next facet of the kingdom was deliverance of God's people. Let's read verses 3-4.
2Samuel 8:3 "David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his territory at the River Euphrates."
2Samuel 8:4 "David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots."
Note that David was recovering lost territory, not engaging in interventionism (vv. 3-4)
"Recover his territory"
I want you to notice first of all that David was not engaged in territorial expansion up north, but was simply seeking to regain territory that had been stolen from Israel. Even if we didn't have the three Psalms that describe the attempted genocide, we would know that this was a defensive war, not an offensive one. The text says that he went to "recover his territory." That word "recover" implies that they had that territory before and it was swiped from Israel. But Psalm 124 describes this battle as God having rescued Israel from certain destruction. Let me read it. It says,
Psalms 124:1 "If it had not been the LORD who was on our side," Let Israel now say—"
Psalms 124:2 "If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, When men rose up against us,"
Psalms 124:3 "Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us;"
Psalms 124:4 "Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul;"
Psalms 124:5 "Then the swollen waters Would have gone over our soul."
Psalms 124:6 "Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth."
Psalms 124:7 "Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped."
Psalms 124:8 "Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth."
But of course, this Psalm beautifully describes our own rescue and deliverance from Satan and from eternal destruction. So even though there are literal applications of the text, there are typological aspects as well.
"Hamstrung all the chariot horses"
The second thing that proves that David was trying to follow God's laws with relation to defense alone was that he hamstrung all the chariot horses. That meant that he cut the Achilles tendon of one leg. The horses would still be able to reproduce and function, but they could not be used for chariot warfare that they had been trained for. And this was simply following God's mandate in Deuteronomy 17, which commanded kings not to multiply the horses of Egypt to themselves. And it was following the mandate in Joshua 11:6 which says, "You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire." Why get rid of such expensive weaponry? These horses and chariots were some of the most advancement military equipment in the ancient world. Why would God not allow them to have huge quantities of such chariots for their own protection? Well, apart from the incredible expense that would take Israel from being a Libertarian-type state to being a massive bureaucracy, there are two main reasons: 1) First, chariots were not suitable for most of Israel's terrain, and so would not be suitable for most defensive wars there. 2) Second, chariots were almost always a part of the military/industrial expansionism of ancient empires – something God wanted Israel to studiously avoid. David kept a few of the chariots, because they weren't sinful in themselves. But his goal was not expansionism via the multiplication of such things. His goal was to possess and defend only the territory that God had given to him, and to remain a very decentralized government.
Application to the modern military (Deut. 2:5,6,19; 17:16)
And I believe this should be the goal of modern militaries – to deliver a nation out of the hands of attacking invaders and to defend our borders. It's not popular philosophy among evangelicals nowadays, but I believe that George Washington's international policy of non-interventionism is the international policy commanded over and over again in the Bible. For example, concerning the nation of Edom God told Israel, "do not meddle with them" (Deut. 2:5), though He allowed Israel to have free trade with that nation (Deut. 2:6). But that phrase, "Do not meddle with them" must once again become the policy of America. People think that is unrealistic because we live in a time of global economics and need for global oil - of course we've got to be involved in wars over there. Give me a break! In David's day, the Middle East was the trade center for the known world. They had a global economy, yet God's mandate was still, "Do not meddle with them." This is not isolationism. Free trade is not isolationism. This is non-interventionism. God's policy was the same with the nation of Moab. He commanded Israel, "do not harass them or meddle with them" (Deut. 2:19). God allowed Israel to have a strong defense of its borders, but commanded Israel to limit its horses (Deut. 17:16) since those were often used for invasions of other countries. Section 8 of the enumerated powers act of the Constitution indicates that the power to collect taxes is to "provide for the common Defense and the general Welfare of the United States." Any war or any aid provided to other countries that does not provide for the defense of American citizens and the general Welfare of American citizens is a power that the Federal government has not been granted. Thus we are restricted by both Bible and Constitution from being hawkish and required by both to have a strong defense of our borders. Weirdly, America has inverted those two: we have almost no defense of our immediate borders (they are incredibly porous), but we get involved in virtually every nation's internal affairs. In fact, every time a terrorist comes over our borders we want to send more troops overseas instead of to our borders. It's got to end.
When applied to Satan, it encompasses all of creation (1 Cor. 15; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 2; 4)
But when this symbol or type is applied to the expansion of the Gospel worldwide, we have to ask what borders have been given to Jesus. He hasn't been given just the boundaries of Israel. He has been given all nations, and thus the marching orders for the church are to not rest until all nations are discipled and brought under the sphere of the Word of God. Hebrews treats Jesus as being a second Joshua who is possessing His possessions, but this time with the two edged sword of the Word of God rather than with a physical sword. These nations must be delivered from the tyranny and bondage of Satan and rescued from death to life. So defense and deliverance continues to be a part of New Covenant living.
Kingdom growth (vv. 1-14). Though Satan intended to destroy Israel, God used this difficult time to expand Israel to it's previously promised extent.
See map for expansion west (v. 1), east (v. 2), north (vv. 3-11), south (vv. 13-14).
But under point V it is clear that when Israel was attacked, it was allowed to expand its borders. That was the only time that it was allowed to expand its borders. And so this is a good place for us to deal with the controversial issue of land or boundaries for Israel.
I've divided the passage up into four sections so that you can quickly visualize it. Verse 1 has David expanding westward into Philistine territory. Verse 2 has him expanding eastward into Moabite territory. Verses 3-11 shows him taking over territory that had been lost to the north. And verses 13-14 shows David expanding his kingdom to the south into Edomite territory.
Before I get into the map, let me explain an apparent contradiction between the numbers and names in this chapter, and in 1 Chronicles 18 and Psalm 60. In Psalm 60 Joab struck down 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. In this passage David struck down 18,000 Syrians in the Valley of Salt. And in 1 Chronicles 18 Abishai kills Edomites in the Valley of Salt. Though it seems like a puzzle, it is actually quite simple. One commentator explains:
A traditional way of dealing with this apparent discrepancy is to suggest that Abishai (six thousand casualties cf. 1 Chr 8:12) and Joab (twelve thousand causalities) assisted David in the task but that David – as commander of the operation – was credited with all casualties inflicted on the enemy."
In other words, Abishai's 6000 added to Joab's 12,000 comes to David's 18,000. Simple math. Well, what about the difference in names? Was it Syrians killed (as is stated her) or was it Edomites (as is stated in the parallel in 1 Chronicles and in Psalm 60? Well, that is fairly simple as well. Since the Edomites were serving the Syrian empire, the deaths of Edomites would indeed be a blow to Syria and what Syria was trying to do. And actually, the literal Hebrew of 2 Samuel 8:14 does not say that eighteen thousand Syrians were killed, as Jewish rabbis have pointed out. The literal rendering is, "And David made himself a name when he returned from striking Syria in the Valley of Salt – eighteen thousand." It was Syria who sent those Edomites down to the Valley of Salt. Therefore, striking 18,000 Edomites was a blow to Syria. So all the facts really do reconcile beautifully.
Note: the dispensational assertion that God's land promises have not been fulfilled is erroneous. (See map.)
But I want you to look at the map that is in your outline, because this illustrates an error repeatedly made by Dispensationalists. They often claim that Israel never received her inheritance of land so those prophecies still need to be fulfilled in the future. Here's their reasoning: First, they say that Genesis 15 promised that the southwestern border would be the River of Egypt, and what river is more associated with Egypt than the Nile? Second, they point to four passages (Gen. 15:18; Ex. 23:31; Deut. 11:24; Josh 1:4) to prove that the eastern border is the Euphrates River. It doesn't say east – that's what they assume. So if you look at the red dotted line that cuts from the top of the Persian Gulf across the Red Sea, up the Nile to the Mediterranean sea, and then up the Mediterranean coast to North of Hamath, you have a huge swath of territory that Israel never did control. Their argument is that since the promises given to Abraham were unconditional, Israel still needs to inherit the land in the future. So these Christian Zionists want modern Israel to possess parts of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even a bit of Turkey.
While it is a clever argument, it falls to the ground on several points. First, the Abrahamic covenant was not unconditional, and Genesis 18:19 makes that clear. Second, not once is the eastern border called the Euphrates. Not once. Instead, Scripture calls the Euphrates the northern border, and does so 100% of the time. For example, Jeremiah 46 speaks of "the north country by the River Euphrates" (Jer. 46:10) and says that it is "toward the north, by the River Euphrates" (v. 6). Likewise Exodus 23:31 expresses the border moving from east to North as "from the desert to the River." So the desert is the eastern border and the River Euphrates is the northern border. And if you are lost, I've got a paper that I can send you that gives tons of Scripture and outlines these borders very, very carefully.
As to the southwestern border, not once in Scripture is the Nile River called "the River of Egypt." Instead, there is another Hebrew term that always describes the Nile - rwøa◊y. Second, the other six verses that refer to the southwestern border refer to it as the Brook of Egypt (Numb. 34:5; Josh. 15:4,47; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 24:7; Is. 27:12), a clear reference to the modern Wadi El Arish. So, unless we are willing to say that the Bible contradicts itself, the River of Egypt and the Brook of Egypt are synonyms. Third, Numbers 20:16 describes the border of Egypt as being near Kadesh Barnea, which again is a slam dunk argument for making the border the traditional one.
This means that what was promised to Israel was the small kingdom with the dotted black line around it that goes south to north from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates in the North, and from the Mediterranean in the West to the Desert in the East. And in this chapter we have a full and complete entering into the inheritance of the land that had been promised to David. In verse 1 David finished the conquest of Philistia, filling out all that had been promised to the West. In verse 2 he conquers Moab in the east. In verse 3 he recovered all of Israel's previous territory all the way north to the River Euphrates. And in verses 13-14 David expands to the southeast into Edom. All of this was a symbol for the even greater growth of the New Covenant Conquest of Canaan by the Greater David, Jesus. In fact, as I have mentioned before, Canaan was always thought of as a tiny downpayment for the world. Romans 4 indicates that the promise to Abraham was a promise that he would inherit the world – and that every nation was fair game for the Great Commission of the Gospel and that eventually there would be a New Heavens and New Earth. But nowhere does the New Testament allow us to expand militarily over the whole world. Types or symbols always pointed to the Gospel.
Military lesson: war reparations and occupying the land of nations that attack you is not imperialism; it is common sense.
But of course, there are military applications from the actual events that underlie the symbolism. And if you look closely at the map, you will notice that Moab and Edom were not part of the land promised to Israel. In fact, in Numbers 20 and Deuteronomy 1 and Joshua 15, God explicitly told Israel not to meddle with those nations or harass them (Numb. 20:14,18,20,23; 21:4; 34:3; Deut. 1; Josh 15:1,21; etc). Numbers 24 did prophesy that Israel would eventually take over Moab and Edom (Numb. 24:17-18), but God did not allow them to take those nations unless they engaged in a war of aggression against Israel.
Here's the deal. David's great grandmother was Moabite and he had earlier left his parents under the protective care of Moab. David made a treaty with Toi and with the king of Ammon. It was not until those three nations attacked Israel that Israel was Biblically allowed to invade and make sure that such aggression would never happened again. And so, when David took over Moab and Edom and put garrisons throughout their nation and required war reparations from those countries, he was doing exactly what the law allowed in Deuteronomy 20. It was not imperialism. It was common sense – when nations seek to annihilate you, you hit them hard and once they are hit you don't engage in nation rebuilding. You make them pay. All of this is motivation for other nations to not attack Israel. It makes such attacks not worthwhile. And so, while there is a Christo-centric focus in these land promises being fulfilled in Christ and while they are a downpayment for the New Heavens and the New Earth, we shouldn't neglect the fact that these principles have application to modern warfare as well.
Stewardship focus. Note that everything David gets, he dedicates to God (v. 11)
Kingdom wealth is for God and we are merely stewards (vv. 2-12)
The sixth image of the kingdom was David's stewardship focus. David did not engage in these wars to enrich himself or his friends and relatives humanistically. Instead, verse 11 says,
2Samuel 8:11 "King David also dedicated these to the LORD, along with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued—"
There were massive sums of money that were coming in from all of these nations. In fact, 1 Chronicles 22:14 tells us that the amount of gold and silver that David dedicated to the Lord was 100,000 talents of gold, which come to 3,750 tons (3,450 metric tons) and a million talents of silver, or 37,500 tons (34,500 metric tons) of silver. Converted into modern prices, that comes to 249 billion dollars that David devoted to materials and finances for the later building of the temple. 249 billion dollars! No wonder it was a magnificent temple. But there are a number of Scriptures that show that David considered everything he had to belong to the Lord. He saw himself as simply a steward. And that's exactly the attitude that Christ calls us to have in His kingdom. In fact, He said that you can't even be His disciple if you don't forsake all and follow Him. But in Mark 10 when the disciples said that they had given up everything to follow Him, Jesus told them,
Mark 10:29 … "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's,"
Mark 10:30 "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life."
Mark 10:31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
And so this is an image of where our kingdom focus should be. It should not be self-centered. It should be in seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And of course, Christ is able to give back to us far more than we give to Him. He says that when we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things that the Gentiles seek after will be added to us. But the money is not the focus – it is added. The focus is on serving Christ. And the more faithful we are with our stewardship trust, the more God can trust us with. I cannot imagine the wealth that David had if the part that he gave away was 249 billion dollars. That's a lot of moulah.
The general principle: "the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous" (Prov. 13:22)
But Proverbs 13:22 gives the general principle that is being talked about: "the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous." Isn't that exactly what happened with David? God delights in blessing stewards with more and more and more. And there may be times when God takes away to test our hearts, but when we have the kingdom focus that David did, God causes the wealth of the wicked to be stored up for the righteous. Seeking first the kingdom of God does not mean there is no place for storing up. And we will see in the future that while David was very generous, he had plenty to live on.
Military application: war reparations (vv. 2,3,6-8) and occupied territory with garrisons (v. 14) are deterrents to aggression
There are obviously military applications that could be made on this verse too – war reparations, occupying enemy territory, providing deterrents to aggression. I think I've talked enough about those.
Kingdom Conversions hinted at (vv. 2,10,18)
But I do want to briefly reiterate the kingdom images of conversions that are hinted at in this passage. In verse 2 David was authorized by Deuteronomy 20 to send all the Moabite soldiers to their deaths, but he showed mercy, and the way verse 2 is phrased at least stands as a symbol of New Testament conversion, even if they themselves did not convert. And in the New Covenant there are people whom Christ destroys in eternal fire, and there are those who are rescued from the fire, who gladly serve Christ in thankfulness for His mercy.
Secondly, verse 10 says,
2Samuel 8:10 "then Toi sent Joram his son to King David, to greet him and bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him (for Hadadezer had been at war with Toi); and Joram brought with him articles of silver, articles of gold, and articles of bronze."
Commentators point out that Joram is a Hebrew name, meaning Yahweh Exalts. No pagan would have named themselves Joram. This is why commentaries say that this must have been a name that he assumed later in life. I believe that like Hiram, king of Tyre, Joram was a convert to the God of Israel. And in the same way, there are two ways that Psalm 2 speaks of enemy kings being taken out in the New Testament times – one is by being destroyed in judgment and the other is being converted and kissing the Son. And Joram in effect kisses the Son of God when he gives gifts to David, who in turn dedicates them to God, and when he calls himself by the name of Yahweh, and when he blesses David. It's an image of kingdom conversions in the New Testament where eventually every nation will bow down and serve the Lord Christ.
And I've already mentioned the third hint at conversions in verse 18 – the Cherethites and the Pelethites who were former Philistines, converted to God. And though somewhat subtle, I think these are beautiful images of nations that avoid the wrath of Psalm 2 by kissing the Son in New Covenant times.
Kingdom administration (vv. 15-18)
The last four verses deal with kingdom administration.
2Samuel 8:15 "So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people."
2Samuel 8:16 "Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder;"
2Samuel 8:17 "Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Seraiah was the scribe;"
2Samuel 8:18 "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief ministers."
There was delegation of administration under David, just as there has been a delegation of authority under Jesus. And Romans 13 insists that there is no authority if not from God. All human authority must be seen as a delegated authority. The New Covenant Kingdom is not a kingdom where God alone rules. It is the kingdom of heaven invading earth through God's ambassadors and governed by God through His ministers. In other words, the kingdom does not run by itself; there is an administration of God's kingdom on earth even in New Testament. And of course, 2 Corinthians and the Pastoral Epistles deal with His administration of the church through elders and deacons and Romans 13 deals with His administration of the civil department and Ephesians and Colossians deal with His administration of the family through His representatives. But these last few verses speak of limited government with delegated and enumerated powers.
So even though we have eaten the whole loaf of bread in this chapter, hopefully you have at least gotten hints of why the Psalms apply these things to the coming Messiah. Ephesians 2 says that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and Revelation 2 says that this gives us authority to bear Christ's rod of iron and to rule the nations with that rod of iron. We can pray for redemptive judgments to advance His cause. We can pray that God's kingdom would come and His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. That may mean times of sacrifice, pain, and struggle such as this chapter describes. But God's kingdom is a real kingdom dealing with the reality of a sinful world. And this chapter calls us to vigilance, agreement with God in His judgments, calling upon Christ for deliverance, sacrificing ourselves for kingdom growth, having a heart of stewardship, being involved in Gospel conversions, and getting down to the nitty gritty of daily administration of our kingdom duties. May we be faithful in all eight points. Amen.
Children of God, I charge you to serve faithfully in God's kingdom and to seek its advancement.
TWOT says, "The Nile does not seem to be called a rDhÎn but is named the rwøa◊y which is an Egyptian loan word and is practically the name for the Nile and its branches." ↩