Bible Commentary: 2 Samuel 8-9 and Related

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Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 8-9 and Related

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The Israelite Empire

Here we see David extending the dominion of Israel. God's covenant with him included the promise that he would be victor over his enemies. Furthermore, in conjunction with his movement north, his purpose is directly stated: "to establish his power by the River Euphrates" (1 Chronicles 18:3). All of this expansion was, no doubt, carried out with God's promise to Abraham firmly in mind—that the land God was giving him would extend "from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18). Perhaps he also had direct instructions from God that Scripture does not reveal.

Of defeated nations, the accounts explain that they became David's "servants," bringing tribute—that is, vassal states indirectly ruled by David. The conquest of one of these, Moab, may have been undertaken with mixed feelings—David's great-grandmother Ruth having come from there (Ruth 4:13-17) and him having sent his own parents there to Moab's king for protection while he hid from Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). Perhaps Moab had a new ruler at this time. Nevertheless, Moab was a pagan nation that had posed a serious danger to Israel in the past (see Numbers 25:1-3, Judges 3:12-30) and would do so repeatedly throughout Israel's history.

Mephibosheth Exalted

In 2 Samuel 9, we read of David wanting to show the "kindness of God" (verse 3) to a son of Saul's son Jonathan in fulfillment of David and Jonathan's covenant of friendship (compare 1 Samuel 20:14-15). In learning of Jonathan's crippled son (2 Samuel 4:4), David sends for him immediately. Mephibosheth has good reason to be afraid at this point, as the founders of new dynasties in ancient times often killed the children of former rulers to eliminate contenders for the throne. But David reassures him, promising to restore his family estate and that he will be like an adopted son, eating at the king's table for the rest of his life.

Perhaps we can see in the story of Mephibosheth an illustration of our lives under God's grace—going from nothing, undeserving of blessing, living under threat of danger, to complete security with royal treatment at the table of the King of the universe.