Scriptures

2 Samuel 8

Introduction

What we read about here in this chapter and the last chapter, go together with what we read in 1 Chronicles 17 and 1 Chronicles 18. They are not recorded in chronological order, rather they are written to let us know about the events which happened after the Ark was brought to Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 6:12-15.

‘In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines. David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute. Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the Euphrates River. David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses. When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went. David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze. When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze. King David dedicated these articles to the LORD, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah. And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.’ 2 Samuel 8:1-14

David’s Victories

This chapter begins with the words, ‘in the course of time’, which implies that this chapter, along with the next two chapters happened over a period of several years. If David wanted to remain king and further establish his kingship then he was going to have to defeat all of Israel’s enemies.

David’s first threat was found in their old foes, the Philistines they were a constant thorn in the flesh for Israel, Numbers 33:55, since Israel took over Palestine. David’s main aim was to get rid of all the enemies of Israel in Palestine, or at the very least bring them into subjection.

David’s second threat was the Moabites, David totally massacred them, which is strange because there was a time when David trusted the Moabites, when his father and mother stayed with the king of Moab while he was a fugitive from Saul, 1 Samuel 22:3-4. We don’t know exactly what the Moabites had done to provoke David to take such drastic actions again them, but we presume it must have been something terrible.

Notice that David hamstrung all the chariot horses, Joshua 11:6 / Joshua 11:9, this appears to be very cruel, but in this case very necessary. If an army has no horses to pull their chariots, then the chariots would become useless. The shields of gold were possibly valuable ornaments worn by the Syrian soldiers, 1 Kings 10:16.

Tou, king of Hamath obviously didn’t want to get involved in a battle with David and so he sends David his congratulations for defeating Hadadezer, who was one of Hamath’s enemies.

Hamath was the north-eastern stronghold of the Solomonic Empire, 2 Kings 14:25. The people of Hamath were descendants of Ham and Canaan, Genesis 10:18. Joram brough David a lot of valuable gifts, Psalms 18:43-44.

David continues his conquest by killing eighteen thousand Edomites. Coffman says the following about this passage.

The avid seekers of ‘contradictions’ or ‘discrepancies’ are diligent to point out that David is here said to have slain those Edomites, but that 1 Chronicles 18:13 ascribes the victory to Abishai, and that 1 Kings 11:15-16, and the heading of Psalm 60 declare that it was Joab who did it! However, as Willis noted, David was involved as king, Joab as commander of the army, and Abishai had charge of that particular battle.

Because of David’s conquests over all these armies, Israel as a whole became very rich from the spoils of war. The nations around were becoming poorer whilst Israel was getting richer as a nation, 1 Chronicles 18:1-13.

David’s Officials

‘David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.’ 2 Samuel 8:15-18

Unlike Saul before him, David as king of Israel, treated people justly and right, he treated them fairly, 1 Chronicles 18:14-17. Saul was only bothered about himself, and his rule and didn’t care how he treated people as long as he got his own way but David had people’s heart in his mind, he was for the people, he wasn’t on a power trip but genuinely cared for the welfare of others. Matthew 20:25-28 / 1 Peter 5:3.

What we read here is a list of David’s administrators for the business of the kingdom, among whom the sons of David were certainly included, as we learn later in the activities of Absalom. The parallel inspired account tells us exactly what the functions of David’s sons were, 1 Chronicles 18:17. We must remember, despite what the text says here, David’s sons were not priests as we understand the word priest.

R. Payne Smith, says the following about the word, ‘priests’ used here. In the time of the writing of 1 Kings, this word, ‘kohen’, as a word for ‘priest’ was already becoming obsolete, as proved by 1 Kings 4:5, and therefore the author of 1 Chronicles 18:17, writing at a still later time, changed the passage to give the correct meaning.

We are certain that the Chronicler knew what the passage in 2 Samuel 8:18 meant, and that he was also aware that the word, ‘kohen’ had gone out of use as a term for chief officials; and so he properly rendered the passage thus, ‘David’s sons were the chief officials in the service of the king.’

Go To 2 Samuel 9

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