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II Samuel 8

Expanding David's Kingdom Under God's Blessing


He defeated and subdued the Philistines

He defeated the Moabites, and spared 1 line, slaying 2 lines. Ryrie thinks this either means he spared every third man, or he measured height, so that he was slaying the adults and sparing the children. Survivors became their servants.


Then it says he defeated the king of Zobah as he went to restore the rule at the River. And the generic word river was capitalized. So it made me wonder what river and why we got that extra little commentary. The only info in my Ryrie footnote was that Zobah was north of Damascus and Zobah was an Aramean kingdom. Because of the capitalization, I assumed the river was the Jordan; but I looked at the map and it seems to distant for the Jordan. There are rivers there that may connect to the Jordan; but it isn't clear.

Saul, David, and Solomon Kingdoms

Then, I ended up down a rabbit hole.

I was looking at the map in the back of my Bible for David's Kingdom and the best choice was the one that compared Saul, David, and Solomon's kingdoms. (right side of the image below) Here are some thoughts I had:

  • Saul's is much smaller than David's, which isn't a surprise, except that Saul was the first king of Israel and he was king over all 12 tribes.
  • So I compared Saul's kingdom to the map on the twelve tribes of Israel as it was given to them by the Lord through Joshua. (left side of the map below)
  • Saul never reclaimed much past the Dead Sea, which left chunks of Simeon and Judah.
  • Then there was this chunk missing from the north Trans-Jordan side; but the section right below it was expanded.
  • So. East Manasseh was severely shrunken and Gad was expanded.
  • At first I thought that must be Saul's tribe, because he would focus on his own, but he was of the tribe of Benjamin.
  • According to the map on the right, none of these kings fully conquered Philistia, which is carved out of Judah and Dan. I expect we'll hear about this phenomenon later.
  • It also shows Phoenicia being oddly untouched, as it seems it would be prime territory just a sliver between them and sea; but if you look at the map on the left, it wasn't given to any tribe. It's outside the boundary of the Promise Land. The Phoenician King was the one who send David the materials for his house and made alliances with his as well. One commentary (Ryrie or Wiersbe?) suggested it was an attempt to preempt warfare and that these two nations had become dependent on one another because of the geography. The Phoneticians needed the agricultural output from Israel and Israel needed access to the sea and the wide array of good the Phoneticians brought back from their sea travels.
  • It is impossible to know God's thoughts and reasons, but it seems like He had a special blessing or protection on Phoenicia. I remember from World History what a significant influence they had across the world with their sea-going civilization. They spread goods and culture, like the alphabet, across the world. And as blessed and successful as David and Solomon were, they didn't seem to touch this kingdom. I just found this interesting.
  • Looking closer, Damascus is north of the Promise Land, so to my original question, David was expanding, not just restoring. Which is the title of this post; but I didn't have the map out to understand the actual territory yet.
  • Similarly, Moab is the square below Reuben's inheritance. SO even taking that was expansion...see how much more you learn when you use the reference materials! I should know better.
  • However, as mentioned above, the Philistines weren't an expansion. They were part of Judah and Dan's inheritance. So we can see why God wanted the enemy completely defeated, or they would never stop coming at Israel until it was enslaved or destroyed.
  • So, in conclusion...I guess...since it was just a random set of looks like Saul did rule over most of the original Promise Land, except the chunks I mention above. It just looks small because David expanded so far, and Solomon even further.
Map image from The Ryrie Study Bible, NAS, 1978
The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago

One more observation from looking at the map. I think in the back of my mind I wondered how Saul, the King, couldn't find David with such a large contingency attached to him. I used to think it was just David on the run; but when I learned he had a huge entourage, plus their families, it was harder to imagine them hiding. But looking at the map, I can see God's long-term planning. David was from Judah and Judah is HUGE. And, it is placed at the far reaches of the kingdom. And Benjamin is tiny. Saul would have to enter deep into Judah's territory and couldn't necessarily depend on the locals for supplies and intelligence. As King, he probably could force that a little bit; but tribe is tribe. Again, the map brings the story to life more.

I'm just now on verse 4!

Ok, got a little off track there.

In verse 4, Chapter 8 of II Samuel, for those who lost lists some of the booty David captured from the King Zobah. In the Ryrie footnote, it assumes a copyist's error because the numbers do not match the I Chronicle account. There have been a few of these so far, where the math doesn't make sense, or it is contradicted in another place in the Bible. This seems like evidence against Biblical Inerrancy. I think it's worth sorting out what i think about this.

From my understanding from others who are much more learned about theology than I, the Word, as it was given to the original author, in inerrant. God breathed into a person with their own personality and voice; but inerrant none the less. Then passed through CENTURIES and MILLENNIA, it was passed down through careful copying and sharing. The New Testament books have thousands of copies to compare across time and they remain consistent. The Old Testament has fewer, but has a single cultural group who fostered their copies as prized possessions.

So what does that mean. It does seem like some human error has been introduced here. Doesn't that, but definition make this errant? Not to mention simply reading two translations side-by-side and noting some significant word choice differences. Which one is "correct"?

These are fair questions. And to an unbeliever I think the investigation stops there. These are hard arguments to counter without the aid of the Holy Spirit. However:

  • Again, the inerrancy comes at the point of God giving the Word to the author. It is incumbent on the reader to pursue the original language to the degree to which they are able if there is something they suspect is being lost or confused in the modern translation. We can't always read it in our modern language and culture and grasp the complete meaning. We are called to be able to make a defense of our hope and faith and that's going to take a lifetime of study, not a drunken debate about copyist errors.
  • The Bible is a complete artifact and no one part can be excised. So, even if there are errors, they can be easily spotted because the Bible continually references itself and tells a story along a consistent arc.
  • Also, and most importantly, even more importantly than all theology, Jesus is the Word. And Jesus was perfect. So when He left us with His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, so He could be with each of us always...we have His Word in our hearts all of the time. I have complete faith that, if I am reading a man-made, translated version of His word, and I run across an error, I have Him. He's going to handle it. Most of the time, from what I've seen, it's an issue with a number transcribed, or a single letter, not a whole story or concept. So I don't have much concern. But again, if it's more than that, it will stand out because it won't align with the rest of the collection that God wrote with a consistent arc using 40 authors, 66 books, 6000 years of history and two testaments.
  • I know how this sounds. It sounds like I am admitting to errors or, at a minimum, variations and then dismissing them to still use the term inerrant.
  • Again, I can see how an unbeliever would come to that. And they are correct. IF. If you don't have an eternal relationship with Jesus, through His saving grace, you only have the old man; not the new man to comprehend the world, let alone heaven. Heaven is now.

I'm just now on verse 5!

Wow. I am on a roll. Slow going through the chapter. I was sick earlier in the week and took the previous two days off and completely rested. It was really, really nice. I also fasted for breakfast and lunch for both days. The rest and fasting has left me felling so refreshed. Able to concentrate. And think more deeply than I have in a long time.

So, back to II Samuel 8, now on verse 5!

v.5 The Arameans had help arrive and David slayed 22,000 of them. (Ryrie labels these as Syrians)

v.6 David built garrisons to help control the Arameans, as they became servants and paid tribute. "And the Lord helped David wherever he went."

v7-12. David collected substantial wealth from those he defeated. Gold shields, silver, bronze. What's significant was, he dedicated it all to the Lord. He was accumulating personal wealth, but treasure to build his Lord's temple, when the time came after his reign.

If we can just get our mind to that perspective. It's seems like a small thing; but it's actually everything. If we can consider all of the workls of our hand and all of our victories to be collecting resources for the Lord, we would see our finances and all of our resources, including our time and talents, as sacred. Not as ours but His. We would make different decisions and we might even find that: "the Lord helps us wherever we go."

v. 13 David was making a name for himself.

v. 14 He also put garrisons in Edom. They also became servants. "And the Lord helped David wherever he went."

v. 15 "David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteous for all of his people."

v.16-18 Lists his various entourage: Joab= army; Jehoshaphat=recorder; Zadok and Ahimelech=priests; Seraiah= secretary; plus other administartors, including his sons.

These last verses, 15-18, show an incredibly well-rounded leader. He delegated big jobs to others. this requires trust and shows that the leader isn't a cult of personality trying to hoard power with fear and greed- such as demonstrated by Saul. This is what the Lord had in mind for His people, if only they had worshiped and trust Him. Now they had David, who was shepherding them as a people, as a nation, and as the Lord's city on a hill for the world to see and through whom they could come to know the Lord.

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