The events recorded in 2 Samuel 5:1-5 were vital for David’s progressive reign over Israel. He was anointed by Samuel many years before (1 Samuel 16) and had proven himself a valuable, loyal leader of God’s people. Yet not until 2 Samuel 5, at the Judaic capital Hebron, did corporate Israel confirm David’s kingship in unity and clarity.
Saul was made king quickly, satisfying Israel’s lust to be like surrounding nations (1 Samuel 8-10). He looked the part of a king, too: “Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2). In contrast, David was small in stature, chosen to be king at a young age. David ascended to the throne slowly: only when the elders of Israel were certain he was a man of character (cf. 2 Samuel 5:1-2) did they anoint and enter covenant with him, that he should be king.
This demonstrates at least three things:
- God’s people will have God’s blessings in God’s timing. Instead of forcing events into a mold of how we think our lives should play-out, the best course of action is to live righteously and trust the sovereign hand of God. Where we see God working, we join in. Consider also Abraham and Sarah’s effort to have a son by their own means with Hagar, instead of how God promised through Sarah.
- Leadership positions must be earned by character and never stature. Did Saul’s physical appearance make him a great leader? Did David’s make him less of a king? Of course not. The Lord examines the heart, and so should we.
- Some form of democratic government is always necessary, because Christ is the only perfect monarch. David became king by a majority opinion. He did not force his way to the throne, elected king by the elders of Israel. While the specifics can be debated, the general principle seems to be that “rule by congregation” is a Biblical concept.