A New King and a New Capital.

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him. – 2 Samuel 5:1-10 ESV

“And they anointed David king over Israel.” The great day finally arrived. It had not been without its difficulties and delays. There had probably been moments when David felt like it would never happen. It was in those moments of doubt that David had been tempted to take matters into his own hands and speed up the process. But the will of God can’t be rushed. Our impatience and subsequent impulsive attempts to help God out, will never cause God to alter His timing or the outcome He has in mind. In most cases, it will simply complicate things, making our wait seem even longer and the circumstances surrounding our lives even harder. But the day finally arrived when David was crowned king over all of Israel – all 12 tribes. The elders of Israel, representing the 11 other tribes (because Judah had already anointed David king) went to Hebron and formally announced their recognition of David as the king of all Israel. It is interesting to note that they confessed that David had been the one who had really led Israel, even during the days of Saul. David had been the military leader. He is the one who had commanded the troops and brought about the victories over their enemies. Then they also acknowledged that they had known all along that David had been God’s choice to be the next king of Israel. “And the Lord told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader’” (2 Samuel 5:2 NLT). In the ancient Near East, the term, “shepherd” was a common term used to describe either a divinity, a king or ruler. So they were admitting that they had known all along that David had been the God-appointed ruler over Israel. But they had never done anything about it up until this point. This awareness on their part helps explain the reaction of Saul to David’s success. He feared David and was jealous of him. It wasn’t just that they sang songs about him, it was that he knew the rumors that David was to be the shepherd of Israel. So, he had set out to kill David.

A lesson to learn from this story is that it is possible to know the will of God and refuse to accept it. We can be completely aware of what it is that God wants us to do and then simply refuse to do it. If they had known all along that David was the God-appointed replacement for Saul, why had they not done anything to see that David was made king years earlier? Knowing God’s will is one thing. Obeying it is another.

But as the old saying goes: Better late, than never. They finally crown David king. The year was 1004 B.C. and David was 30-years old. He had already reigned seven years over Judah and he would reign an additional 33 years over the unified kingdom of Israel. So David would enjoy a four-decades-long rule and he would prove to be the greatest king Israel ever had. His reign would have its highs and lows, its moments of glory and its days of heart-crushing humiliation and defeat. Like any man, David would make mistakes. He would leave behind a legacy filled with all kinds of victories on the battle field as well as defeats in his own home. There was his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. There was the rape of his daughter, Tamar by her half-brother Amnon, followed closely by Amnon’s murder by Tamar’s brother, Absalom. David would prove to be a great king, but not always a great father. His reign would be marked by courage, wisdom and a willingness to serve God. But he would have his moments of self-inflicted pain and suffering because of his own impulsiveness and pride. David was not a perfect man, but he was a godly man. He had a heart for God. He had a desire to serve God. And the one thing that set David apart from Saul and so many of the other kings of Israel, was his heart of repentance. David messed up regularly and sometimes, spectacularly, but he was always quick to repent. He desired to be right with God. He even invited God to investigate his heart and expose anything in it that might be offensive to God but oblivious to himself.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” – Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

This chapter is really a snapshot of the true beginning of David’s reign as king, and it chronicles David’s capture of the city of Jerusalem. The passage rather matter-of-factly states, “the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites” (2 Samuel 5:6 ESV). David was searching for a capital, a city from which to rule over his newly unified nation. He had been using Hebron in the south, but it would prove too distant from all the other tribes to make a good capital. Jerusalem was centrally located and was situated on a mountain top surrounded by valleys, which provided it easy to defend.

But there was something far more important about Jerusalem and the site on which it was located than its natural defensive capabilities. It was located on Mount Moriah. That is the same mountain top on which God commanded Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice (Genesis 22). The city of Jerusalem itself has ties all the way back to Melchizedek, who was the king to which Abraham offered a tenth of his spoils taken in battle. The Genesis account lists Melchizedek as the king of Salem, which was to become the city of Jerusalem. The author of Hebrews would later compare Melchizedek with Jesus:

This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God. – Hebrews 7:1-3 NLT

The mountain on which Jerusalem sits also contains the Mount of Olives, the very place from which Jesus ascended back into heaven after his death and resurrection. It is also the place to which He will return at His second coming. It was also on the very same mountain on which Jerusalem sits, that Jesus was crucified. The very location where Abraham had been commanded to offer up his son, his only son, would be the same place where God would offer up His one and only Son for the sins of the world. Jerusalem had great significance. It was to be David’s capital and eventually the home of the temple, built by David’s son, Solomon. Jerusalem would be where Jesus had His triumphal entry, but also His trials and condemnation to death for claiming to be the Son of God. It would be outside the walls of Jerusalem, the city of peace, that Jesus would be hung on a cross and left to die. Jesus would one day weep over the city of Jerusalem, saying:

“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” – Luke 19:43-44 NLT

David was choosing Jerusalem, “the city of peace” to be his capital. But over the centuries, it would know times of peace and times of difficulty. It would contain the temple of God, but many of its inhabitants would act as if God did not exist. Even in the days of Jesus, He would recognize that their love for God had waned and the days of God’s judgment were coming. But Jerusalem still holds a special place in the heart of God and it will be from the city of Jerusalem that the second David, the King of kings and Lord of lords will rule and reign when Christ sets up His kingdom on earth.

 

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

King of Righteousness and Peace.

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!  And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. – Hebrews 7:1-10 ESV

The author continues his comparison between Jesus and Melchizedek, begun all the way back in chapter two when he declared Jesus as “a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV). Jesus was and is a high priest, but He was not a descendant of Aaron, the original high priest appointed by God. Jesus’ priesthood was not of an earthly order. His was a divine priesthood, commissioned by God. He was the Savior of the world, the Messiah sent from God to act as King and ushering in a new Kingdom, but also as priest, offering up a better sacrifice for the sins of men. His priesthood was not based on an earthly, human genealogy, but a heavenly one. On one of the many occasions when Jesus found Himself confronted by the Pharisees, He asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42 NLT). They replied, “He is the son of David” (Matthew 22:42 NLT). Then quoting from Psalm 110, Jesus replies, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45 NLT). His point was that He was the Son of God. Yes, He was an earthly descendant of David, but His kingship was of a different sort than that of David. He was to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And in that very same Psalm of David, it reads:

The LORD said to my Lord,
    “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
    making them a footstool under your feet.”

The LORD will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
    you will rule over your enemies.
When you go to war,
    your people will serve you willingly.
You are arrayed in holy garments,
    and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.

The LORD has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
    “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” – Psalm 110:1-4 NLT

This passage was not referring to David, but to the coming Messiah. It was a prophecy concerning Jesus, outlining His God-ordained role as both king and priest. The author used the story of Abraham and Melchizedek to prove the superiority of Jesus as both king and priest. It the story, Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham offered a tenth of all his spoils in return. Melchizedek was a king and a priest, and as such, he was Abraham’s superior. The real point seems to be that the descendants of Abraham would eventually offer tithes to God through the Levites, their own brothers. That’s why the author writes, “those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham” (Hebrews 7:5 ESV). When Abraham offered his tithe to Melchizedek, the tribe of Levi did not yet exist. So in a sense, the author says, Levi and his sons offered a tithe to Melchizedek through their forefather, Abraham. The whole issue here is one of superiority. Jesus, as a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, is superior to any earthly high priest. Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek, the inferior was blessed by the superior. And we are blessed by Jesus. We are blessed by the King of peace and righteousness. And it interesting to note that Melchizedek blessed Abraham for no apparent reason. If you read the story in Genesis 14, it says that the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam and Goiim made war with the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela. Melchizedek, the king of Salem, is not even mentioned. He had no dog in this hunt. When the battle took place “the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions and went their way” (Genesis 14:11-12 ESV). Abraham stepped in defeated the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam and Goiim, rescuing Lot and taking a great deal of plunder. And that’s when Melchizedek shows up on the scene. His country of Salem had not been attacked and yet he appears to Abraham and blesses him. Abraham had not done anything to deserve Melchizedek’s blessing. He had not rescued any of his citizens. He had not returned any of Melchizedek’s spoil. The king of righteousness and peace blessed Abraham.

Those of us who are in Christ, have been blessed by the King. And that blessing had nothing to do with any merit on our part. We have done nothing to earn His blessing. When Melchizedek blessed Abraham, he said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,  Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you” (Genesis 14:19-20 NLT). And the blessing we have received is similar. We have been given victory over sin and death by God through the sacrificial death of His Son. We have been blessed by God through the Son of God.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews5:8-10 NLT

We have been given perfect righteousness through Christ. And we now enjoy peace with God, having been made right in His eyes because of the substitutionary death of His Son.

Our Great High Priest.

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 5:1-10 ESV

In the early days of Israel, the high priest was an appointed position. Aaron was the original high priest, designated so by God Himself. His command to Moses to set aside  Aaron and his sons as priest is recorded in Exodus 28:1: “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.” God would later qualify the vital nature of their calling. “I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God” (Exodus 29:44-46 ESV). Aaron and his sons were set apart by God to serve as priests, offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. No one else could serve in this capacity. King Saul attempted to do so, and lost his kingship because of it. During the days of Israel’s wilderness wandering, Korah, a Levite, incited a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, demanding that he and his brothers be made priests. But Moses told him, “would you seek the priesthood also? Therefore it is against the Lord that you and all your company have gathered. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?” (Numbers 16:10-11 ESV). As a result of their attempt to self-appoint themselves as priests, Korah, Dothan, Abiram and all their families were literally swallowed alive by the earth. The priesthood was a serious matter to God. And so when we read of Jesus being appointed high priest “to act on behalf of men in relation to God” it should get our attention. Jesus was not a descendant of Aaron. He was a descendant of David, from the tribe of Judah. Technically, He was not qualified to be a priest, let alone the high priest. And the writer of Hebrews makes it perfectly clear that Jesus “did not exalt himself to be made high priest, but was appointed by him [God]” (Hebrews 5:5 ESV). So unlike Korah, Jesus was not guilty of trying to anoint Himself high priest. He, like Aaron, was chosen by God to serve in this capacity.

But Jesus was of a different priesthood than that of Aaron. He was “designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10 ESV). Melchizedek was an obscure figure mentioned in Genesis 14. Abraham had rescued Lot and his family, who had been taken captive when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had been overrun by an alliance of kings. After having defeated the kings and taken back Lot, his family and all their possessions, Abraham was met by Melchizedek, king of Salem. The text tells us that Melchizedek was also a priest of God Most High. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the plunder he had taken. That is the extent of the information we have about this priest-king known as Melchizedek. But the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was appointed by God after the order of Melchizedek. In other words, He was of a different priesthood than that of Aaron and his sons. In the chapter seven of this letter, we are given more insight into who this man was and why Jesus was appointed high priest after his order and not that of Aaron:

He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. – Hebrews 7:2-3 ESV

This does not mean that Melchizedek was a divine being who was never born or died, but that we have no record of his ancestry. He appears on the scene in the book of Genesis, then disappears. He serves as a foreshadowing of the King-Priest who was to come. He was the king of righteousness and the king of peace. Interestingly enough, Salem is the city that David would later make his capital and rename Jerusalem. And one day, Jesus will return and reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem when He establishes His Kingdom on earth. Unlike Aaron and his sons who served only as priests, Jesus was the King-Priest, appointed by God, and He received both titles when he ascended back to earth after His death and resurrection.

Jesus received these two divine appointments because He was obedient, faithfully completing the assignment given to Him by God the Father. Jesus did not simply offer sacrifices on behalf of the people as Aaron and his sons had done. Jesus offered Himself. He made the ultimate sacrifice of His own life. And even though He divine, the Son of God, as the human Jesus, “he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 ESV). And His obedience, while it led to His death, resulted in His perfection, His glorification. He was raised from the dead and restored to His rightful place at the side of God the Father. And “he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9 ESV). Jesus wasn’t just a different high priest than that of Aaron. He was a better high priest who offered a better sacrifice. His sacrifice was a permanent, once-for-all sacrifice that never has to be repeated. He was the sinless high priest who offered Himself as the unblemished Lamb of God for the sins of man. And as a result, those who place their faith in His sacrifice can share in His righteousness and have peace with God. We can be justified, made right with God. He is the great high priest.