From the tragedy of the death of Abner and Ish-bosheth we are immediately greeted with a congratulatory in chapter 5: the wedding of Israel to her true head Jesus Christ. “Behold, we are your bone and flesh” is but an echo of Genesis 2:23, as a woman is to her man. V.2 in particular refers to the replacement of the head of Israel in the appointment of David over Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14; and so, as David had promised to Abner that Israel is to be united to Judah, the covenant first began with the house of Jonathan. This is why the ray of hope is not in Saul’s immediate descendants who were murdered (c.f. chapter 4) or killed in battle; rather, this ray of hope is in Jonathan’s house, for it is Jonathan who covenanted with David first (1 Samuel 18:3). This covenant is thus kept, as a reminder that even when Israel is rejected, the LORD is faithful to the covenant promise and a remnant is preserved for this remnant stands firmly in Christ Jesus the only Elect One (c.f. Romans 9-11). His reign lasts for forty years (v.5), the same length of the period of peace for most judges (Judges 3:11, 5:31, 8:28) after their victories. Yet, this is but a foreshadow of Christ’s period on earth (as the short seven years as ‘king’ of Judah) and the far longer period of time as the king of the whole of Israel. David is but a type of Christ, and his symbolic reign of forty years as king shows that even his reign is short-lived. Even he is not the everlasting LORD and Messiah in whom the Israelites find the Promised Offspring long foretold in Genesis 3:15. Simply put, v.4 confirms that David and his story are but shadows and types of the true Messiah who has yet to come (c.f. Isaiah 9:7).
The overcoming of the Jebusites as his first role confirming himself as king (v.6-10) is extremely significant. In the words of Matthew Henry:
“If Salem, the place of which Melchizedec was king, was Jerusalem (as seems probable from Psa_76:2), it was famous in Abraham’s time. Joshua, in his time, found it the chief city of the south part of Canaan, Jos_10:1-3. It fell to Benjamin’s lot (Jos_18:28), but joined close to Judah’s, Jos_15:8. The children of Judah had taken it (Jdg_1:8), but the children of Benjamin suffered the Jebusites to dwell among them (Jdg_1:21), and they grew so upon them that it became a city of Jebusites, Jdg_19:11. Now the very first exploit David did, after he was anointed king over all Israel, was to gain Jerusalem out of the hand of the Jebusites, which, because it belonged to Benjamin, he could not well attempt till that tribe, which long adhered to Saul’s house (1Ch_12:29), submitted to him.”
The winning over of the Jebusites is the first confirmation of David’s enthronement – the winning over of a tribe which had long adhered to Saul’s house; and it is utterly important that these idolatrous Jebusites are entirely rooted out so that the promised new city will indeed be set apart for the LORD (Jeremiah 37:9-10).
However, the key verse is v.6; why would the Jebusites think that the ‘lame and the blind’ will ward off David? This is furthermore curious when all that David had been doing was spend time with ‘worthless’ men. Even the LORD in Jeremiah 31:8-10 expressed that through the true David, the lame and blind would be called into New Jerusalem. It is indicative therefore that the Jebusites may not have been referring to actual lame and blind men, as if David was some sort of arrogant fool who would not even touch the lame or the blind. Rather, the Hebrew descriptions imply an analogous application, which could be applied to idols which are in God’s eyes lame and blind:
“The Jebusites’ defiance of David and his forces. They said, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither, 2Sa_5:6. They sent David this provoking message, because, as it is said afterwards, on another occasion, they could not believe that ever an enemy would enter into the gates of Jerusalem, Lam_4:12. They confided either, 1. In the protection of their gods, which David, in contempt, had called the blind and the lame, for they have eyes and see not, feet and walk not. “But,” say they, “these are the guardians of our city, and except thou take these away (which thou canst never do) thou canst not come in hither.” Some think they were constellated images of brass set up in the recess of the fort, and entrusted with the custody of the place. They called their idols their Mauzzim, or strong-holds (Dan_11:38) and as such relied on them. The name of the Lord is our strong tower, and his arm is strong, his eyes are piercing. Or, 2. In the strength of their fortifications, which they thought were made so impregnable by nature or art, or both, that the blind and the lame were sufficient to defend them against the most powerful assailant. The strong-hold of Zion they especially depended on, as that which could not be forced. Probably they set blind and lame people, invalids or maimed soldiers, to make their appearance upon the walls, in scorn of David and his men, judging them an equal match for him. Though there remain but wounded men among them, yet they should serve to beat back the besiegers. Compare Jer_37:10. Note, The enemies of God’s people are often very confident of their own strength and most secure when their day to fall draws nigh.”
This is therefore the most likely reason for the new proverb in v.8, that “the blind and the lame shall not come into the house”. This proverb bears so much weight and that it indicates a two-fold meaning: that no idol shall enter the house of David (Isaiah 42:18); and that the true David shall overcome the lame and the weak, redeeming them into the house of God and granting them true and everlasting rest (c.f. lame and blind walking and seeing: Acts 3; Matthew 9:27).
Furthermore, the joining of the rich nation of Tyre (Psalm 45:12) with Israel, and the cedar trees rooted in living waters (Numbers 24:6) are but shadows of the fruit we shall receive in true Canaan under Christ as the Head. It is therefore in the overcoming of the lame and the blind, the overcoming of the idolatrous Jebusites, then coupled with the gifts from a foreign non-Israelite nation that David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, exalted not for David’s sake but for the sake of the church. So also the ascension of Christ was done for our exaltation (v.12), secured in the defeat of old pagan Jerusalem and the joining of heart-circumcised Israelites and foreigners (represented by Tyre) under the banner of His Name.
And so we move onto v.13-16 which emphasizes once more that any one of these descendants are to be the line through which Jesus will reign; and despite the names given to all of these, almost all of which are inspired by Eli, by God Himself, Solomon is the only son of the eleven born in Jerusalem who will bring about the golden era of Israel. All the others will only be mentioned sparsely in the rest of the Bible, especially in 1 Chronicles 14, but Solomon the peaceful and perfect one as his name indicates, will be the one who builds God’s temple.
The consolidation of David’s kingship comes with it the enemy symbolic of David’s initial election as mediator and saviour of Israel so recognized – this enemy is the Philistine. It is important to see the chiastic framework of David’s life – that the Philistines as enemies in the Promised Land should be destroyed through the death of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, and once again destroyed by David. This two-fold destruction affirming that David was never a servant of Gath (1 Samuel 27), but that he was and always is the Head and anointed One of Israel We must not overlook that over Baal-perazim, where the LORD bursted through for the first time (v.20-21), the Philistines have left their idols and yet they escaped alive. Only upon the second attempt, standing symbolically at the Valley of the remnants of the Giants (Joshua 11:22), does the LORD shift tactic. Instead of facing them head-on, the LORD advises David to come against them opposite the balsam trees by their rear.
Why this change in strategy? Why the focus on the balsam trees? This narration impacts us the same way we are taught about the dispensation of the Old and the New Testaments – that in the Old, the effect of the Mediator is but to cripple the Philistines and to rob them temporarily of their idols which they can always rebuild with their own hands (Judges 8:27); yet the fulfillment of all prophecies, the fulfillment of the hope of the race of adam in the New Covenant means that this crippling has condemned Satan to eternal death, that He has bound the strong man in the house. “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (v.24) – this is a committed cleansing in the midst of trees with red-wine like berries which upon crushing is akin to the crushing of the vine at the winepress (Isaiah 63). So Satan stands in the Valley of the Giants, only to be surprised by Jesus’ resurrection from the death of the cross, this surprise from the rear leading to the tearing down of the old temple, of old creation, and leading to new creation and an everlasting temple.