“And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house” (2 Samuel 5:6-8).
David began to build his kingdom just as God intended for him to do. King Saul had accomplished very little, and we could say that he brought Israel into decline. The Philistines dominated almost all the area, but now through David, that was about to change. David’s first order as king was to make the Jebusite city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital city.
Jerusalem is presented to use as Salem in Genesis 14:18. “If Salem, the place of which Melchizedec was king, was Jerusalem (as seems probable from Ps. 76:2), it was famous in Abraham’s time” (Matthew Henry). The tribe of Judah had captured Jerusalem just after Joshua had died, but it seems they did nothing more than burn it to the ground. “Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire” (Judges 1:8). Maybe Saul ought to have taken the inheritance given to him by the Lord, but he did not. “Jebusi, which is Jerusalem … This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families” (Joshua 18:28). “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day” (Judges 1:21). This means that the Jebusites must have retaken the city and built it again after it was destroyed, and any Jews living there were expelled.
Jerusalem, which for over six hundred years had been controlled by the Jebusites, was in a prime location on a high ridge and heavily defended; therefore David did not choose an easy route to establish a national centre. It is interesting to see that David took Benjaminite territory first rather than of Judah and in doing so would have assured Saul’s tribe that he was going to treat them well.
From the tops of the fortified walls the Jebusites saw David’s advancing army. They fired insults at him rather than missiles because they considered Jerusalem too be impregnable. Their mocking describes David as to weak to take the city even if it was being defended by blind and crippled people. Scripture describes the city as a castle, “Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion” (1 Chronicles 11:5).
Their scorn meant nothing to David because he was confident that he was carrying out God’s will. Instead of an all out attack on Jerusalem, David wisely asked for volunteers to climb through the water tunnel into the city. According to 1 Chronicles 11:6 it was Joab who lead the way, “So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.” It is easy to think that this was an easy task though, but it was not. Joab and his men had to climb a near vertical water shaft that was probably around fifty feet high. The inhabitants drew water into the city in buckets dragged through the pipe.
We have no record of any battle taking place, and though there must have been some resistance, it seems that the Jebusites were taken by complete surprise. Very quickly the city fell to Israel. “And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David” (1 Chronicles 11:7).
The conquest of Jerusalem meant that Israel would now have a religious and political capital. The bottom line is that this was God’s choice, so here we see an ancient promise being fulfilled. It seems that David was instrumental in not only driving out the Jebusites but also removing them from future history, for there is no genetic trace of them. He turned their insult back on them, for they were not the blind and lame, and they were not permitted to dwell in his kingdom.