The book of Second Samuel opens with a kingdom divided. After the death of Saul, his son Ish-bosheth reigned over Israel in his place while David, who was the rightful king by virtue of his anointing, reigned only over the tribe of Judah. A long war (see 3:1) and a string of tragic murders followed (including the murder of Ish-bosheth). A long last, David was crowned king over a united Israel. He was 37 years old.
David’s first priority as king was to establish Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. Jerusalem was the crown jewel of the Promised Land, a beautiful fortress city on a hill that was strategically located. The Jebusite people, who had never been expelled from Canaan, occupied the city and would have to be defeated. Because of Jerusalem’s defenses they were overconfident and David succeeded in conquering the city.
It is important to note that in defeating the Jebusites, David was acting in obedience to the command of God (see Deuteronomy 7:1-2). His immediate and courageous obedience to Scripture ensured the blessings and presence of God in his life. No wonder the biblical writer states that “David became greater and greater, for the Lord was with him” (v.10). The Lord was with David in other military exploits, namely against the Philistines (v.17-25), and the king was careful to seek the Lord’s wisdom in his battle plans.
Confident that God had established him as king, David built a house in Jerusalem and enlarged his family (only a few miles from his hometown of Bethlehem). The little harp-playing shepherd of Bethlehem had come a long way. No longer was he leading sheep and fighting animals — now he was leading Israel and defeating nations. Scripture makes it clear that it was neither David’s talent nor his ingenuity that brought him success. It was the fact that the Lord was with him, the Lord exalted him, and the Lord fought for him (v.10, 12, 20). All the while, David’s response to God’s grace was to be faithfully obedient to His commands (v.25). That is still the formula for the kind of success that truly matters.