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THE SOUND IN THE TREE-TOPS
II Samuel v: 1, to vii: 29.
FTER David had reigned as king over the tribe of Judah for
seven years, and when Saul's son, Ish-bosheth, was
dead, all the men in Israel saw that David was the one
man who was fit to be king over the land. So the rulers
and elders of all the twelve tribes came to David in
Hebron, and said to him, "We are all your brothers; and
in time past, when Saul was king, it was you who led
the people; and the Lord said, 'David shall be the
shepherd of my people, and shall be prince over
Israel.' Now we are ready to make you king over all the
Then David and the elders of Israel made an agreement
together before the Lord in Hebron; and they anointed
king over all the twelve tribes of Israel, from Dan in
the far north to Beersheba in the south. David was now
thirty-seven years old, and he reigned over all Israel
He found the land in a helpless state, everywhere under
the power of the Philistines, and with many of its
cities still held by the Canaanite people. The city of
Jerusalem, on Mount Zion, had been kept as a stronghold
by a Canaanite tribe called the Jebusites, ever since
the days of Joshua. David led his men of war against
it, but the Jebusites, from their high walls and steep
rocks, laughed at him.
To mock King David, they placed on the top of the wall
the blind and lame people, and they called aloud to
David, "Even blind men and lame men can keep you out of
THE WALL OF JERUSALEM AS IT NOW IS
This made David very angry, and he said to his men,
"Whoever first climbs up the wall, and strikes down the
blind and the lame upon it, he shall be the chief
captain and general of the whole army."
Then all the soldiers of David rushed against the wall,
each striving to be first. The man who was able first
to reach the enemies and strike them down was Joab, the
son of David's sister Zeruiah; and he became the
commander of David's army, a place which he held as
long as David lived. After the fortress on Mount Zion
was taken from the Jebusites, David made it larger and
stronger, and chose it for his royal house; and around
it the city of Jerusalem grew up as the chief city in
The Philistines soon found that there was a new king in
Israel, and a ruler very different from King Saul. They
gathered their army and came against David. He met them
in the valley of
Rephaim, a little to the south of Jerusalem, and won a
great victory over them, and carried away from the
field the images of their gods; but that the Israelites
might not be led to worship them, David burned them all
A second time the Philistines came up and encamped in
the valley of Rephaim. And when David asked of the Lord
what he should do, the Lord said to him, "Do not go
against them openly. Turn to one side, and be ready to
come against them from under the mulberry-trees; and
wait there until you hear a sound overhead in the tops
of the trees. When you hear that sound, it will be a sign
that the Lord goes before you. Then march forth and
fight the Philistines."
And David did as the Lord commanded him; and again a
great victory was won over the Philistines. But David
did not rest when he had driven the Philistines back to
their own land. He marched with his men into the
Philistines' country, and took their chief city, Gath,
which was called "the mother city of the Philistines."
He conquered all their land; and ended the war of a
hundred years by making all the Philistine plain
subject to Israel.
Now that the land was free, David thought that the time
had come to bring the holy ark of the Lord out from its
hiding-place, where it had remained all through the
rule of Samuel and the reign of Saul. (See Story
51.) This was in Kirjath-jearim,
called also Baale, a town on the northern border of
Judah. David prepared for the ark a new Tabernacle on
Mount Zion; and with the chosen men of all the tribes,
he went to bring up the ark to Mount Zion.
They did not have the ark carried by the priests, as it
had been taken from place to place in the earlier days;
but they stood it on a wagon, to be drawn by oxen,
driven by the sons of the man in whose house the ark
had been standing, though these men were not priests.
And before the ark walked David and the men of Israel,
making music upon all kinds of musical instruments.
At one place the road was rough, and the oxen stumbled,
and the ark almost fell from the wagon. Uzza, one of
the men driving the oxen, took hold of the oxen, took
hold of the ark to steady it. God's law forbade any one
except a priest from touching the ark, and God was
displeased with Uzza for his carelessness; and Uzza
fell dead by the ark of the Lord.
This death alarmed David and all the people. David was
afraid to have the ark of God come into his city. He
stopped the procession and placed the ark in the house
near by of a man named Obed-edom. There it stayed three
months. They were afraid that it might bring harm to
Obed-edom and his family; but instead it brought a
blessing upon them all.
When David heard of the blessings that had come to
Obed-edom with the ark, he resolved to bring it into
his own city on Mount Zion. This time the priests
carried it as the law commanded, and sacrifices were
offered upon the altar. They brought up the ark into
its new home on Mount Zion, where a Tabernacle was
standing ready to receive it. Then as of old the
priests began to offer the daily sacrifices, and the
services of worship were held, after having been
neglected through so many years.
David was now living in his palace on Mount Zion, and
he thought of building a temple to take the place of
the Tabernacle, for the ark and its services. He said
to Nathan, who was a prophet, through whom the Lord
spoke to the people, "See, now I live in a house of
cedar; but the ark of God stands within the curtains of
"Go, do all that is in your heart," answered Nathan the
prophet, "for the Lord is with you."
And that night the voice of the Lord came to Nathan,
saying, "Go and tell my servant David, thus saith the
Lord, 'Since the time when the children of Israel came
out of Egypt, my ark has been in a tent; and I have
never said to the people, build me a house of cedar.
Say to my servant David, I took you from the
sheep-pasture, where you were following the sheep, and
I have made you a prince over my people Israel, and I
have given you a great name and great power. And now,
because you have done my will, I will give you a house.
Your son shall sit on the throne after you, and he
shall build me a house and a Temple. And I will give
you and your children and your descendants, those who
shall come from you, a throne and a kingdom that shall
last forever.' "
This promise of God, that under David's line should
rise a kingdom to last always, was fulfilled in Jesus
Christ, who came long afterward from the family of
David, and who reigns as King in heaven and in earth.