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2 Samuel 8:1-18 – David Establishes His Kingdom


A variety of materials has been gathered together to summarize David's wars, to describe the extent of his kingdom, and to make the theological point that "the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went."


This summary of David's victories shows him at the zenith of his royal power. Previously, we have seen David's defensive wars (5:17-25); in contrast, these wars depict David on the offensive, with no seeking of divine guidance (5:19a, 23a), no communication from God (5:19b, 23b), and no credit given to God as in 5:20b. Here, David receives credit for the victories: "David won a name for himself" (8:13a, emphasis added).

His kingdom extends from the Euphrates River in the northeast to the Egyptian border in the southwest as the geographical arrangement of the defeated peoples shows: the southwestern enemies defeated in verse 1; eastern enemies defeated in verse 2; northeastern enemies defeated in verses 3-8; northern enemies defeated in verses 9-10; and southern enemies defeated in verses 13-14.

A different structure superimposed over this geographical backbone of David's victories, however, highlights the theological identification of the real "conqueror," the Lord, who "gave victory to David wherever he went" by placing this statement at the climactic end of the two panels (vv. 6, 14):

A David's victories result in tribute (vv. 1-5)
B Garrisons among the Arameans (v. 6a)
C Arameans become David's servants (v. 6b)
D "The LORD gave victory to David wherever he went" (v. 6c)
A′ David's victories result in tribute (vv. 7-13)
B′ Garrisons among the Edomites (v. 14a)
C′ Edomites become David's servants (v. 14b)
D′ "The LORD gave victory to David wherever he went" (v. 14c)

That David recognized the source of his success is seen in his consecration of the spoils of his campaigns to God (v. 11). The silver and gold were later deposited in the temple (1 Kings 7:51). Thus, David is shown to be an ideal ruler, victorious in war, faithful to God, and, as seen in verses 15-18, an able administrator who executed "justice and equity to all his people."

The list of officials in verses 15-18 serves to mark the end of this section of 2 Samuel. Three other lists serve the same purpose: David's sons born in Hebron (3:2-5); sons and daughters born to David in Jerusalem (5:13-16); and David's officials (20:23-26).

2 Samuel 8:1-18

David’s Wars

8Some time afterwards, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines.

He also defeated the Moabites and, making them lie down on the ground, measured them off with a cord; he measured two lengths of cord for those who were to be put to death, and one length* for those who were to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute.

David also struck down King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah, as he went to restore his monument* at the river Euphrates. 4David took from him one thousand seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot-soldiers. David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but left enough for a hundred chariots. 5When the Arameans of Damascus came to help King Hadadezer of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand men of the Arameans. 6Then David put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus; and the Arameans became servants to David and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went. 7David took the gold shields that were carried by the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. 8From Betah and from Berothai, towns of Hadadezer, King David took a great amount of bronze.

When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had defeated the whole army of Hadadezer, 10Toi sent his son Joram to King David, to greet him and to congratulate him because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him. Now Hadadezer had often been at war with Toi. Joram brought with him articles of silver, gold, and bronze; 11these also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued, 12from Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, Amalek, and from the spoil of King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah.

13 David won a name for himself. When he returned, he killed eighteen thousand Edomites* in the Valley of Salt. 14He put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.

David’s Officers

15 So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and equity to all his people. 16Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over* the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.

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