The Lord gives and takes away
2 Samuel 8
8 In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.
2 David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.
3 Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the River Euphrates. 4 David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.
5 When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. 6 He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.
7 David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze.
9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.
11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom[f] and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
13 And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
14 He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.
15 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.
Military history can be a bit dry to read sometimes – especially over 2,000 years later. This chapter is essentially a catalogue of some of the military activities of King David. We read of him attacking and subduing another king and taking that king’s property.
What struck me as I read through this passage was the final statement in verse 14 – the Lord gave David victory wherever he went. The story is recounted this way to remind the audience that it was God’s blessing, and not David’s skill, that lead to David’s continued success.
It is tempting, when you encounter success in life, to attribute it to your own skill, or to luck, or to ‘good karma’ or something similar. As Christians, we believe that the workings of the universe are in God’s hands. Personally, I try not to refer to having good (or bad) luck – the greater calling is to, like Job, acknowledge that God gives and takes away, but still we will praise Him.
Head: there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. If you think about the events of your life yesterday – was there any moment where, on reflection, you perhaps were a little too smug?
Heart: is your first thought, when something happens in life, to thank God? If not, can I encourage you to consider audibly saying ‘Praise the Lord’ next time you get news of something. Let’s work on forming attitudes of thankfulness and gratefulness.
Hands: this passage also mentions that David did what was ‘just and right’ for his people. While what is just or right can get pretty subjective sometimes, is there something you could do or stop doing to ease the burden on someone else in your life?
Prayer: Lord, thank you that in David I see examples of what happens when you bless a life dedicated to your service. I pray that I can be thankful for what happens in my life and always praise you as sovereign & ruling over all things.
A song to listen to: Blessed be the name
Living Church – Creek Road