“And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron. So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal’s wife the Carmelite. And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul. And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. And now the LORD show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing. Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them” (2 Samuel 2:1-7).
God had cleared the way for David to ascend the throne of Israel. His years of persecution, exile and wandering are now over. It had been approximately twelve years since he left off looking after sheep to arrive at the point where he would lead God’s people. This does not mean that he will not suffer further anguish and sorrow though.
After a time of mourning over the death of Saul and Jonathan, David prayed about God’s will for his life. He realised that he needed direction and guidance after being a fugitive for so long. This reveals that he was aiming at being wise throughout his administration over Israel. Paul, in Ephesians 5:17, writes, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Without seeking God first maybe David would have headed off to Jerusalem and storming the gates of the palace to take his place on the throne.
It was revealed to David that he should go into Hebron, and he did not delay in obeying the Lord, taking everyone who was with him there. The majority of these people had been ejected from Judah during Saul’s reign, but now in David they were reunited with their family and friends. David had brought them back to the Promised Land. “Hebron was the capital and centre of Judah, and one of the Levitical cities; the inhabitants of which were strongly attached to him, both from sympathy with his cause ever since the massacre at Nob” (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary). Hebron has always been the place of blessings in Scripture. It is here that Abraham first set foot on Israeli soil and where he was promised a miracle son in his old age. It is the place where many of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Bible are buried. Joshua took possession of the Promised Land in Hebron. The significance of Hebron is a Bible study all of its own.
We remember that David had already been anointed as the future king of Israel twelve years previously. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13), but now he would be revealed as God’s chosen king. David’s coronation would be in two parts. The first of which appears to be a private coronation conducted by the elders in the cities of Judah. Judah is the kingly tribe that would one day produce the “King of kings” who is the “Lion of the tribe Judah” (Revelation 19:16, 5:5). It would be another seven and a half years before David would reign over all the tribes of Israel. We shall see that not everyone was in favour of David’s kingship, and Saul’s cousin Abner would set up another king in opposition to him. Maybe they had believed Saul’s lies about him.
After this private anointing, David heard about how the men of Jabeshgilead had recovered the bodies of Saul and his sons had buried them. “And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days” (1 Samuel 31:11-13). He praised them for their exploit and promised to bless and reward them. This is David’s first royal commendation, and it reveals that he held no bitterness in his heart over what Saul had done to him. He did not hide from these followers of Saul that Judah had anointed him as their king. He did this to encourage them rather than cause them any further grief. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12) … “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3). David did not want them to “dote on the dead” (Matthew Henry), but to look forward to brighter days. It is possible that they feared another attack from the Philistines because of their retrieval of the bodies, but David reassures them that he will protect them. “Be not afraid lest the Philistines should punish you for this fact, but take good courage, I will defend you” (John Wesley).
It was vital that David begins his reign in the position God wants him to be. It is no less a need in our own lives to if we are to be mightily used of the Lord. Like David we must present ourselves to God in prayer and be willing to obey His will for us. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).