Prince and Shepherd

2 Samuel 5:1-16
1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.
2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’ ”
3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.
5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.”
7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.
8 And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”
9 And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward.
10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
11 And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house.
12 And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
13 And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.
14 And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon,
15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia,
16 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.

After weeks of plowing through 1 Samuel and taking in the first few chapters of 2 Samuel, we are finally rewarded with the high point of David’s story; he is finally made the leader of all of God’s people. As we look back over David’s story so far, you have to admit that for the most part, He has followed God’s lead. Now he moves on Jerusalem and claims it as his capital. But first he has to clear out the Jebusites who were the descendants of Canaan living in and around the hills of Jerusalem. The whole dialogue between David and the Jebusites is interesting. There is some debate about that and little agreement on the part of commentators. For the most part, it is believe that these were merely verbal taunts that were thrown around before the battle that removed the Jebusites from the city. It cannot be said that David had anything against the lame or blind, as his actions say differently later on in his story. Also, the story is being told thematically rather than chronologically. The king of Tyre didn’t send materials and skilled laborers to Jerusalem until almost 20 years into David’s reign. So David’s taking of the city and building of the palace did not happen at the same time, as the text would indicate. For the Hebrew hearer of the story, this would not have been a problem as chronology is not as important as theme.

Verse 2 is the stand out verse in this passage for me. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” The promises of God are finally being realized and David is places over God’s people as their shepherd and their prince. If you will recall, we have already discussed the fact that God didn’t place a king over His people; instead he called them “prince” as He is their true and only king. David was seen by God as His emissary. David was God’s prince to the people. But more importantly, David is called a “shepherd” of the people. This is the first time a leader of God’s people is called shepherd. Numbers 27:16 & 17 allude to the leader being “like” a shepherd, but do not actually call the leader Shepherd. (“Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”) David is the first to bear the title. In this he continues in his role as a “type” of Christ.

“Understanding that the figure of the shepherd would be immediately familiar to their subjects and that they would readily associates it with gentleness, watchfulness, and concern, ancient Near Eastern rulers commonly referred to themselves as “the shepherd”. Since it is the shepherd’s task to lead, feed, and heed his flock, the shepherd metaphor was a happy choice for benevolent rulers and grateful people alike (cf. Jeremiah 3:15; 23:4). David thus becomes the paradigm of the shepherd-king (Psalm 78:70–72; Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24), and it is not surprising that “great David’s greater son,” Jesus Christ, should be introduced frequently and glowingly in the New Testament as the “good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14), the “great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20), and the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4), the one who provides for his sheep all things needful for the abundant life.” *

When we first met David as a teenager, he was literally a shepherd. As he grows into manhood and leaves behind the actual role of shepherd, we still see the same strong attributes in his character that point us toward what a great leader looks like. We also see those same qualities in our Savior Jesus Christ. He is strong, gentle, and willing to lay down His life for the sheep. While David’s story continues into some areas of darkness and struggle with sin, we never see that in the life of Christ. His perfect life remains true until He surrenders it for you and I. Our Good Shepherd sees to our every need as provider and protector. His love for us is unquestionable and His sacrifice bought us life eternal. While Jesus’ great-great-great . . . grandfather was the first to be called shepherd, Jesus was the one who truly lived it out for all of us.

* Youngblood, R. F. (1992). 1, 2 Samuel. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 3: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (850). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.