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Story of the Bible by  Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
Table of Contents


 

 

THE SOUND IN THE TREE-TOPS

II Samuel v: 1, to vii: 29.

A 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 land."

Then David and the elders of Israel made an agreement together before the Lord in Hebron; and they anointed David as [310] 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 thirty-three years.

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 our city."


[Illustration]

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 David's kingdom.

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 [311] 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 with fire.

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.

[312] 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 a tent."

"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.


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