At Long Last.

After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.” So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

When they told David, “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the Lord, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. Now may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.” – 2 Samuel 2:1-7 ESV

David had waited a long time for this day. He had spent countless months waiting and endured sleepless nights wondering what God’s plan was for his life. His memory of his anointing by the prophet, Samuel, was distant but always on his mind. What had it meant? Why had God selected him and then allowed him to endure the pain of loss and the ignominy of exile and the fugitive lifestyle for all those years? David had been hunted like an animal, betrayed by his own people, on two different occasions narrowly escaped death by his own father-in-law, and had been forced to find refuge in caves and among the enemies of Israel. But God had not left or forsaken him. God had not abandoned His plans for him. And while David may not have always understood what God was doing to him, he trusted that God had good things in store for him. David’s confidence in God can be seen in the psalms he wrote regarding God, many of which were written during the darkest days of his life.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1 ESV

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation! – Psalm 27:7-9 ESV

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices! – Psalm 37:5-7 ESV

David had committed his way to the lord. He had trusted. Not perfectly and not always peacefully. He had had his moments of doubt and had made his fair share of decisions based on fear and not faith. But in spite of it all, he had continued to place his fate in the hands of God. And now God was revealing to David the plans He had made for him so long ago. Long after David’s initial anointing by Samuel, he was anointed the king of Judah.

David had arrived in Hebron, a city within Judah, because he had sought the counsel of God. After he had received the sad news of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, David didn’t jump to conclusions or rush into action. He didn’t just assume that, with Saul’s death, he was now de facto king of Israel. Rather than rushing back into the land of Judah, claiming his rightful place as king, David waited and turned to God for guidance, asking, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And when God said, “Go,” David asked, “To which shall I go up?” David wanted specifics. He wanted details. He had learned that God’s will was not something you played around with. It was dangerous to attempt to do God’s will your own way. It usually didn’t end too well. So, David wasn’t taking any chances. And when he arrived in Hebron, a city in the southern portion of Israel, near the border with the Philistines, he received a warm welcome from the people of Judah.

There is not a lot of fanfare associated with David’s anointing as king by the people of Judah. There does not appear to have been much pomp and circumstance. It simply says, “And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4 ESV). Much like his initial anointing by Samuel, there is a certain sense of anonymity associated with this event. At this point, only the most southern tribe of Judah, his own tribe, recognized David as king. The rest of the country knew nothing about it. It is similar to what happened after David had been anointed by Samuel. He simply returned to the pasture and his job as a shepherd. No one knew anything about it. Now, after being anointed as king by the people of Judah, nothing much seemed to change. He had the backing of one tribe. But the other eleven tribes were unaware that David was even still alive.

It is interesting to note, that as his first official duty as king, David sought to recognize the efforts of the men of Jabesh-gilead for what they had done to retrieve the bodies of Saul and his sons and give them proper burials. He blessed them for what they had done and assured them of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. The people of Jabesh-gilead had a special affection for Saul. Not long after his anointing as king of Israel, he had rescued them from the Ammonites, who had captured their city. Forty years later, when Saul‘s body had been hung on the wall of Beth-shan, the men of Jabesh-gilead had undertaken a very dangerous journey to retrieve it. David was grateful for what they had done and wanted them to know it. He also wanted them to know that he had been anointed king of Judah. Jabesh-gilead was on the other side of the Jordan and in the territory belonging to the tribe of Gad. In contacting them and blessing them for what they had done, David was employing diplomacy in an effort to unify the nation after their defeat by the Philistines and the fall of their king.

David knew the days ahead would be difficult and long. He was not going to be able to waltz into the land and expect everyone to greet him as their king. His acceptance would come in stages. In fact, as we will see in the next verses of this chapter, David’s God-ordained kingship over all of Israel would face an immediate challenge. His work was cut out for him. Long-held hostilities between the northern and southern tribes was going to erupt and men with ulterior motives and alternative plans would make David’s ascension to the throne of all Israel difficult and drawn out. But God’s will would be done. And David was content to do God’s will God’s way, no matter how long it took.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson